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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You call this a Senate?

YUUUCH! Just mentioning the state Senate and all the inane squabbling going on there is enough to make any sane person want to take a long, hot shower with lots of soap.

   If it weren’t so serious it would sound like a script for a screwball comedy. The Democrats, who won a two-seat majority in the Senate last fall were barely able to agree who would lead them because a handful of Democrats from New York City threatened to defect to the GOP if they didn’t get the powerful posts they coveted. Their tantrums got them most of what they wanted, but then two of them defected anyway, and early this month those two Democrats helped Republicans stage what’s been called a “coup,” taking over the Senate with a one-vote majority and installing as president of that body none other than one of the dissident Democrats.

   No sooner had they done that than the other Democratic defector decided that, well, he really was a Democrat, and he went slithering back to his party—which was apparently glad to have him—leaving each side with an equal number of votes: a deadlock. Are you following this?

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Start over with St. Charles

MY, MY. IF THIS COUNTY gets any more efficient it will make more money than it spends, and everybody who lives here will get a big fat dividend check at the end of the year instead of a tax bill. Sounds like paradise.

   You might think the county is well on its way to this mythical goal based on the crowing this week from the leadership of the Board of Supervisors over its latest proposal. Board Chairman Art Baer (R-Hillsdale) and his supporters believe the taxpayers could save as much as $400,000 a year to house, feed and transport our neediest neighbors if the county leases the St. Charles Hotel—the only sizeable hotel in the county—as an emergency housing facility. The hotel would also become a satellite office for the Department of Social Services (DSS) after that department moves to Claverack in 2011.

   That’s a big savings, and the figures have a basis in fact. But the way this proposal surfaced suddenly out of nowhere gives it a nasty odor that won’t go away anytime soon.

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