VIDEO: “On Climate Change, Energy and Infrastructure” with Kate Hudson of Waterkeeper.

“It’s difficult to overstate the seriousness of the environmental threats coming from this administration. We have never had a head of the EPA so hostile towards the mission of the agency, and never had a President so unwilling to make decisions based on science and law.”
- Kate Hudson, Waterkeeper Alliance

KingstonCitizens.org's recent community educational forum "PART II:  On Climate Change, Energy and Infrastructure" was at capacity.  Our special guest Kate Hudson of Waterkeeper helped participants understand better what was a stake today and what citizens can do.

VIEW video from the event.

Please be sure to visit our upcoming SCHEDULE to learn more about future community educational forums.

Special thanks to Kate Hudson for her generosity in sharing her knowledge as our guest panelist; Peter and Julie at Church des Artists for their space, kindness, and for making this video; and, to all of our KingstonCitizens.org volunteers for their assistance.

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Resources:
VIEW:  KingstonCitizens.org's "Trump Administration Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws"

8:46 - 11:25
Introduction: On KingstonCitizens.org’s Community Educational Forum Series

11:27 - 15:50
Introduction: Kate Hudson
“Give us a background on how you came to the work in NYS?”

15:52 - 17:12
Kate Hudson on SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act), unique to New York State.

17:13 - 18:54
“What other states have the equivalent of SEQRA in the Nation and what is NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act)?"

18:55 - 24:23
Kate Hudson discusses her work while at Riverkeeper that include Fracking, Pilgrim Pipeline and Anchorages as well as her work now in Colorado for Waterkeeper.

24:24 - 31:52
“Lets look at what’s happened since the inauguration, starting with Scott Pruitt, who now heads the EPA.”

“It’s difficult to overstate the seriously of the environmental threats coming from this admin. we have never had a head of EPA so hostile to the mission of the agency and never had a president so unwilling to make decisions based on science and law.”

“Congress has a role to play. They can refuse to enact whatever it is the President (via executive orders), which have no legal effect. Executive orders are wishes or direction.  The recently released budget has no effect until it is passed by Congress. We have the potential in this room, in this state, in this country - to influence Congress. That is where we need to focus our efforts.”

31:55 - 34:48
Discussion on citizen lawsuits against the federal government and the attorney general of NYS.

34:49 - 40:45
"What do Trump's budget plans indicate about environmental protection in our country?"

40:46 - 44:00
“One of Trump’s initiatives speaks to canceling billions of payments to UN climate change programs and use these "savings" to fix America's infrastructure.  What does this all mean?"

44:01 - 45:54
On budget cuts that impact the environment including brownfield programs, state grants for brownfields, drinking water grants, etc.

45:56 -  51:56
“Can you describe the Congressional Review Act?”

51:57 - 57:05
"What can be done on a national level?"

“We are watching you. We are not going to stop and we will remember come election time.”

57:06 - 59:18
"What can we do in NYS?"

59:19 - 1:02:48
“Speaking to the law, SEQRA is going through changes currently.  Can you speak to that and how can citizens participate?”

Comment period for proposed SEQRA revisions   VIEW

1:02: 49 - 1:07: 15
“In order to push back, we have to understand how we got here. It’s a long game that we are fighting.  What’s at stake is a huge amount of money in fossil fuels. It is all about money and power."

Recommended reading:
1. “This Changes Everything”  by Naomi Klein   VIEW
2. “Dark Money”  by Jane Mayer  VIEW

 

1:07:20 - 1:09:00
On gerrymandering and the NYS Census.

1:09:01 - 1:14:01
NYS residents exercising their power as it pertains to oil pipelines. Support passage of Skartado’s legislation.  “NYS Transportation Corporation Law”  VIEW

1:14:02 - 1:19:06
"In closing,  what is going on right now is a wake-up call that we all needed.  I think that the relationship between first nation communities and the earth water - air - the nature of that relationship and its importance is critical.  Earth, plants, animals and water were not just put here for human beings.  This is fundamental, the connection that first nations have with their earth. They are teaching us how we need to respect, protect and preserve all of these if we are to survive. I urge you all to become water, creature, forest protectors. Every sort of protector we can possibly muster."

PROPOSED BAN ON MEMORIALIZING RESOLUTIONS. Process and Actions in March and April.

Last year, the Ulster County Legislature passed Resolution No. 251 "Amending The Rules Of Order To Set Procedure For Memorializing Resolutions"  In it, it sets some protocols for memorializing resolutions stating that "any resolution which memorializes the New York State Legislature, Congress of the United States, or any other body to take an action which will not require a home rule message, shall be submitted and considered in Committee in accordance with the procedures set forth in these Rules of Order. When presented for consideration at a monthly or special meeting of the Legislature, Memorializing Resolutions shall not be debatable. Memorializing Resolutions shall, however, be amendable, may be referred to a Standing Committee of the Legislature, or may be withdrawn prior to a vote by the Legislative body."

Only eight months later,  District 18 Republican Legislator Richard A. Parete along with Legislators Dean Fabiano (District 3: Town of Saugerties, Town of Ulster) and Kenneth J. Ronk  (District 13: Town of Shawangunk) have taken it a step further with a new resolution that would prohibit Memorializing Resolutions altogether.

VIEW Resolution No. 32

"Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions"

Many citizens were present at the regular legislative meeting in February to speak during public comment and to encourage the legislature to reject a ban on memorializing resolutions. Only upon arrival did we learn that earlier in the day, the Ulster County Legislature's Laws and Rules committee tabled the resolution instead of passing it through to the floor as anticipated.

As reported in the Daily Freeman,  Legislator Richard A. Parete stated that  "The main reason [I pulled it] is because the full Legislature wasn’t there, and I don’t know if it had the votes to pass."  Parete said he would wait until March when he expects more legislators to be in to introduce the measure."    VIEW The Daily Freeman Article.

How does this appear to the public?  Not only is a ban on memorializing resolutions undemocratic, but tabling proposed legislation due to not having the votes for it to pass lacks transparency.

Thanks for your support and in following this issue through to the end with us. It is not only important for citizens to speak to the issue but to also be a witness.

 

WHAT'S THE PROCESS?

In February of 2017, District 18 (Town of Hurley, Town of Marbletown) Legislator Richard Parate withdrew Resolution No. 32 "Amending the Rules of Order to Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions" for the Ulster County Legislature.  

1. LAWS AND RULES.  On Monday, March 13th at 6:30 pm it is anticipated that the UC Legislature Laws and Rules Committee (K.L. Binder Library on the 6th Floor of the Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston) will discuss whether or not to pass the resolution out to the floor the following evening.   VIEW Facebook Event.

2. FIRST READING. If approved, the Resolution will have its first reading (though not out loud) on Tuesday, March 14th (Legislative Chambers on the 6th Floor of the Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston) at the regular legislative session that begins at 7:05pm.  No action can be taken.  VIEW Facebook Event

3.  SECOND READING AND VOTE.  On Tuesday, April 18th at 7:00pm during its regular Legislative session (Legislative Chambers on the 6th Floor of the Ulster County Office Building 244 Fair Street, Kingston), it is anticipated that the legislation will have its second reading and folloing, the full body will vote.   VIEW Facebook Event

 

TAKE ACTION.

 1. CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR.  We encourage citizens to contact their Legislator and request that they reject the ban on memorializing resolutions throughout the months of March and April.    VIEW: Ulster County Legislature Website to Find Your Legislator.

2.  DEMOCRAT LEGISLATOR JOHN R. PARETE SAYS HE SUPPORTS A BAN.  Given this is a Republican supported ban, it is important for citizens to know that District 22 Democratic Legislator John R. Parete has announced that he supports the ban, and could be the swing vote on the matter.

If you live in the Towns of Denning, Hardenburgh, Olive or Shandaken, please consider calling or emailing your representative directly to discuss his point of view, and to share yours.   (845) 657-8500 or send an email to  jparete@msn.com

3. SIGN OUR PETITION.  Sign our PETITION where your name and any comments that you make go directly to Legislators Richard Parete, Kenneth Ronk, Dean Fabiano and John Parete.

4. PLAN TO ATTEND UPCOMING MEETINGS.  Please consider:  a)  Attend and speak during public comment at the regular Legislative sessions on Tuesday, March 14th (7:05pm) when it is anticipated the legislation will have its first read. No action will be taken and;   b)  Tuesday, April 18th (7:00pm) when it is anticipated that the Resolution will have its second reading and a vote by the legislature.

5. SHARE WITH FRIENDS!  Please share this post with friends to help us to get the word out. Thank you for your support.

REVIEW:  Tell Ulster County Legislature That a Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions is Undemocratic.

Tell Ulster County Legislature That A Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions is Undemocratic.

PETITION:  " A Proposed Ban on Memorializing Resolutions is Undemocratic"

VIEW: Attend next session of the legislature to speak on Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 pm (arrive at 6:45 pm)

READ:  Resolution No. 32 of February 15, 2017  "Amending The Rules Of Order To Prohibit Memorializing Resolutions"

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By Rebecca Martin

WHAT IS A MEMORIALIZING RESOLUTION?
A memorializing resolution does not set forth policy or law. Instead, it creates text to cause people to remember. It is a tool to both educate and in this case, to remind us of our principles and values.

So why would members of the Ulster County Legislature want to "prohibit" this critical tool? In our opinion, it is incredibly short sited and potentially damaging to county governance.

"County Legislature Chairman Ken Ronk, R-Wallkill, said he has agreed to co-sponsor a resolution (#32 of 2017) introduced by Legislator Richard Parete to change the body’s rules by banning any resolution in which legislators aren’t taking action on issues directly under their control.  Parete has repeatedly referred to these as a “waste of time.”

Such a ban is rare in legislative bodies.   Memorializing resolutions state a legislative body’s position on an issue that may be outside its purview without taking direct action.  However, they represent a significant opportunity for regional leadership and intergovernmental relationships.

In the past few years, the Ulster County Legislature has passed three memorializing resolutions on the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline and one on the proposed anchorages of crude oil on the Hudson River.  In the last year, the legislature has been unanimous in its support of these statements, which add to the voice of an entire region that stands against these potentially hazardous projects.

Citing the recent use of memorializing resolutions as a “mockery” by the democrats, Chairman Ronk pointed to Legislator Jonathan Heppner’s (D-Woodstock) resolution opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as having not being relevant to county business.  With approximately 20,000 residents now relying on the ACA for their healthcare coverage and the potential loss of $3 million in federal Medicaid funding, this is certainly the business of Ulster County.

Furthermore, do we want to lose the ability to take a stand on things that could severely impact our environment, such as pipelines and anchorages, without adding to the voices in the region who oppose them?"

District 7 Legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky regarding the proposed ban on memorializing resolutions by the UC Legislature:

Please sign our PETITION and plan to attend the next session of the legislature Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 pm to speak out on this proposed ban.  Citizens who wish to speak should arrive early at 6:45 pm to sign in be prepared to speak no longer than 3 minutes.   Address: Legislature Chambers, 6th Floor, Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston, NY 12401.

President Trump’s First 100 Days: New York State and Local Initiatives, Policy and Laws Document

 

By Rebecca Martin

VIEW: Trump Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws

Something has changed throughout the recent presidential campaign that led to Donald J. Trump becoming president. Whichever end of the spectrum you found yourself on, the citizen dialogue was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Over the past couple of years, I have witnessed hateful rhetoric. Anonymous blogs and posters throughout social media debating half truths fed by the media, slaying people in ways that were unfair, inappropriate and in some cases downright violent in nature. As overt as it has been, the anger leading up to where we are today has been a slow and simmering trajectory downward.

So now what? America is about to inaugurate an unapologetically crass multi-national business man turned reality star celebrity  who lost the popular vote to become president.  A man without any political experience on the grand stage to be the leader of the free world.

It is our aim at KingstonCitizens.org with the issues that we take on to understand the law and process around them.  Whatever side one leans towards, we appreciate the bureaucratic processes in place because we know that when ciitzens choose to lean in, there is that to protect them as they come to better understand governing.  When it's not working, then there is a need for reform. Coming to better know the law and process provides a baseline, and these safeguards will most certainly erode if citizens do not become familiar with them.

Since December, KingstonCitizens.org has spent time preparing a document that outlines Trump's initiatives for the first 100 days of his being in office and disseminating their context to better match initiatives, policy and laws as they pertain to NYS, Ulster County and our locality. It's a 'living' document that we will work on throughout 2017  with volunteers  to provide insight so that your civic efforts might be more focused and pointed.

Government on every level is a civic responsibility. Beyond Trump, the challenges that we face today is a burden that we all must shoulder. To protect our republic for generations to come - if a future republic is even possible at this point- we must hold our neighbors hand no matter who that is or how different their point of view is from yours - and get to work.

A special thanks to all of our volunteer contributors.

VIEW: Trump Initiatives and NYS Local/State Policy and Laws

 

Public Educational Forum “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know” on January 28, 2017

Jon Bowermaster will be in attendance to speak and to show his film "A Pipeline Runs Through It' to be presented at the beginning of the event.

By Rebecca Martin

KingstonCitizens.org to host a public educational forum and discussion called “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts" on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers located at 420 Broadway, in Kingston NY from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  Guest panelists include Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper, Sue Rosenberg of Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline/CAPP-NY, Jen Metzger of Citizens For Local Power and a Rosendale Town Councilwoman and Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson. The short film “Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It” will be presented by Writer, filmmaker and adventurer and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council Jon Bowermaster.

The event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Co-sponsored by Riverkeeper, Citizens for Local Power, Scenic Hudson, CAPP-NY, the Local Economies Project and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston Land Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Earth Guardians NY, Citizen Action NY and Sustainable Hudson Valley. With support from the City of Kingston, the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislature and 103rd District Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

 

VIEW Event on Facebook for up-to-date information on this important local event.

 

Kingston, NY – Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines that would run along the NYS Thruway and through private property—one pipeline carrying Bakken crude oil south from Albany, NY, to a refinery in Linden, NJ, and the other carrying refined products north. The 170+ miles of pipelines, together with nearly 13 miles of lateral pipelines, would impact 31 communities in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland counties, as well as 30+ communities in New Jersey. The carrying capacity of each pipeline would be 200,000 barrels (or 8.4 million gallons) per day, which would more than double the number of trains carrying volatile Bakken crude to the Port of Albany at the peak of Bakken crude production in 2014.  The increase in crude-by-rail volume means that the project will also impact many communities north and west of Albany through which the CSX and Canadian Pacific rail lines run.

The proposal has the potential for significant environmental impacts, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which stated that the Pilgrim Pipelines project “…would cross 257 streams and waterbodies (232 along mainline pipelines and 25 along laterals), including the Hudson River (two times) and multiple major and minor tributaries of the Hudson.  There are also 296 (9.2 linear miles) crossings of wetlands; including 25 crossings of NYSDEC protected freshwater wetlands (approximately 19 along mainline pipelines and 6 along laterals). Additionally, there will be four pump stations and 215 permanent access roads and temporary access roads at every mile.”

Pipelines would run through several sections of the City of Kingston, with even more pipelines crossing through the Town of Ulster.  It is also being proposed that one of the four pump stations (the only one that would be located near a residential area)  is to be placed only 200 feet away from a trailer park on Sawkill Road in Ulster, also potentially impacting the Town of Kingston, as well.

KingstonCitizens.org is pleased to present “The Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: What Ulster County Citizens Need To Know and How Local Action Makes Global Impacts" on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Kingston City Hall Council Chambers located at 420 Broadway, in Kingston NY from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  The afternoon will begin with opening comments by award-winning journalist, author, filmmaker and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council, Jon Bowermaster, followed by his short film “Hudson River at Risk 6: A Pipeline Runs Through It” (that features several of our guest panelists that afternoon).

A powerpoint on the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines project will be presented by our panelists that include:  Jeremy Cherson, Campaign Advocacy Coordinator, Riverkeeper, Sue Rosenberg, Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines NY (CAPP-NY), Jennifer Metzger, Director, Citizens for Local Power and Rosedale Town Board Member and Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson.  They will give an update on the Pilgrim Pipelines proposal as well as discuss next steps in the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQRA) and what “Involved” agencies in Ulster County (including the City of Kingston, the Towns of Ulster, Marlbourgh, Lloyd, Esopus, Saugerties, Rosendale, New Paltz, Plattekill, and Ulster County) can do in anticipation of the draft ‘Scope’ document.

“Scoping” is a “process that develops a written document that outlines potential environmental impacts of an action (the project) that will have to be addressed in a DEIS or EIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement).  Its purpose is to narrow issues and ensure that the draft EIS is accurate and complete, ensuring public participation, open discussion, and inclusion of all relevant public issues for a final written scope.”  It will provide an opportunity for the public to identify local impacts that are of concern to them and their individual city/town in the Pilgrim Pipelines proposals path (that includes a pumping station in the Town of Ulster).

A question and answer period will follow, as well as a call to action and next steps for all participants.

The event is brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Co-sponsored by Riverkeeper, Citizens for Local Power, Scenic Hudson, CAPP-NY, the Local Economies Project and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston Land Trust, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Woodstock Land Conservancy, Earth Guardians NY, Citizen Action NY and Sustainable Hudson Valley. With support from the City of Kingston, the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Town of Rosendale, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislature and 103rd District Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.

Snow date: Sunday, January 29th from 1 - 4 pm at Kingston City Hall.  For updates, visit KingstonCitizens.org on Facebook.

For more information, contact rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org.

MORE READING:

http://www.kingstoncitizens.org/2016/11/21/proposed-pilgrim-pipeline-project-why-kingston-and-the-town-of-ulster-must-stay-the-course/

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About KingstonCitizens.org: KingstonCitizens.org is a community-based organization committed to improving the quality of life of Kingston residents through accountability and transparency between the people and their local government. By providing citizens with current and important information through better communication, their work is meant to nurture citizen participation and empowerment through programs and education.

About Jon Bowermaster: Writer, filmmaker, and adventurer, Jon is a six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council. One of the Society’s ‘Ocean Heroes,’ his first assignment for National Geographic Magazine was documenting a 3,741-mile crossing of Antarctica by dogsled. Jon has written a dozen books and produced/directed more than fifteen documentary films.

His Oceans 8 project took him and his teams around the world by sea kayak over the course of ten years (1999-2008), bringing back stories from the Aleutian Islands to French Polynesia, Gabon to Tasmania, and more, reporting on how the planet’s one ocean and its various coastlines are faring in today’s busy world.

Jon lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. He is President of Oceans 8 Films and One Ocean Media Foundation, and chairman of the advisory board of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and a board member of the Celine Cousteau Film Fellowship.

About Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper:  Jeremy earned his MS in Environmental Policy at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy in Annandale-on-Hudson in New York’s Hudson Valley. Jeremy first engaged on environmental issues in Washington, D.C., organizing support for the Waxman-Markey climate bill for Environment America in 2007. He has since been an AmeriCorps member in central California, monitored conservation easements in Alabama and Georgia, and served as an assistant camp director at an urban environmental summer camp in Atlanta. Jeremy now serves as the Advocacy Coordinator for Riverkeeper.

About Sue Rosenberg of the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines (CAPP):  a retired social worker was originally from NYC, Sue has lived in Saugerties - in the beautiful Hudson Valley for the last 35 years. She has been involved with peace and social justice work most of her life and most recently co-founded Frack Free Catskills involved in NYS's fight to ban fracking, is an organizer with Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines, is one of the founders of the Extreme Extractive Energy Collaborative- a nationwide collaboration of grassroots organizations fighting all forms of  extreme energy which negatively impact communities from extraction to use  and for a truly just energy future.

About Jen Metzger of Citizens For Local Power:  Director of Citizens for Local Power, Jen holds a Ph.D. in Political Science with a specialization in environmental politics and policy. She is also a Rosendale Town Councilwoman and introduced the first resolution in New York State opposing the Pilgrim Pipelines in November 2014 and various resolutions relating to the SEQR for this project. As a Councilwoman, she has been working to inform and engage other affected municipalities along the pipelines’ path on this issue.

About Andy Bicking of Scenic Hudson:  Andy Bicking oversees Scenic Hudson's government advocacy. He has been instrumental in the passage of state budgets that have preserved conservation funding, and engaging members of Congress in environmental and farmland protection projects in the Hudson Valley. He also spearheaded advocacy leading to passage of an expanded bottle bill and the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act, and advanced work of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s natural resources sub-committee, the Hudson River Estuary Program, NYS Coastal Management Program, Hudson River Valley Greenway and Highlands Conservation Act, and been on the front lines of the campaign to rid the Hudson River of PCB contamination for nearly two decades.

Prior to his current position, Mr. Bicking directed Scenic Hudson's environmental education, public events, and grassroots activism efforts. He oversaw the Great River Sweep, an annual volunteer cleanup of the Hudson River's shores resulting in the removal of 400 tons of trash over 10 years.

Mr. Bicking holds a bachelor's degree from Oregon State University. He has held leadership roles in a variety of community organizations.

VIDEO: Memorializing Resolution Passes Through Kingston Common Council Opposing Anchorage Proposal.

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By Rebecca Martin

VIEW:  Kingston Common Council's Memorizing Resolution:  "Resolution 214 of 2016: Resolution of the Common Council of the City of Kingston New York, Approving a Memoralizing Resolution Opposing the Adoption of the U.S. Coast Guard Proposed Rule 2016-0132."

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Tonight, the Kingston Common Council passed a memorializing resolution "opposing the adoption of the U.S. Coast Guard Proposed Rule" for the Anchorage project with a vote of 7 - 1 (Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills being the solo 'no' vote, stating she had more questions. At this time, she seemed to be supportive of the Shipping Corporations request to create 43 berths in 10 locations, opening up 2400 acres to new anchorages in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the river.  42 of the 43 berths are proposed to be “long term” which means that barges could anchor there for days. This is not as the vessel operators like to say as being “nothing new".  This would represent a huge increase in the anchoring of commercial vessels in the Hudson between the GW Bridge and Albany, turning our river into a parking lot for large barges and vessels while they wait for dock space to open up in Albany.)  Ward 4 Alderwoman Nina Dawson was absent this evening.

READ:  "Citing navigational safety, Kingston alderwoman won't oppose Hudson River Anchorages."  (Daily Freeman)

The U.S.  Coast Guard is taking comments until Dec. 6 on its WEBSITE. With the passing of resolution 214 of 2016, the Kingston Common Council will now be in a position to submit theirs, and join Kingston Mayor Steve Noble who earlier in the year, on August 22, 2016, submitted comments ending with "The City (of Kingston) has spent decades revitalizing its waterfront. Many organizations have worked to clean up the Hudson, to protect its habitats and make it attractive to recreation and tourism. For safety sake, transient vessel berthing is acceptable. Long-term use is not."

VIEW 26:46 - 29:00:  Ward 7 Alderwoman Maryann Mills defend her position in support of the proposed Anchorage project during the Kingston Common Council Caucus on 10/3/16.  It begins at 26:46 and ends at 29:00.  (Video brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org by Clark Richters of the Kingston News.)

VIEW 40:46 - 44:09:  The passing of the memorializing resolution video is below. It begins at 40:46 and ends at 44:09.  (Video brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org by Clark Richters of the Kingston News.)

Ward 1 Alderwoman Lynn Eckert prior to the vote states that, "We are obligated to protect the public good. There are too many people who rely on a healthy, ecologically sound Hudson River."

Speaking With One Voice On The Proposed Anchorage Project.

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By Rebecca Martin

** Public comment has been extended to December 6th. Our post reflects this change. 

VIEW: Commercial Shipping Organizations Proposal

It is always great when we have the opportunity to sit down with Riverkeeper's Kate Hudson who is the Director of Cross Watershed Initiatives there.  Her clarity on all of the issues she is charged with, and in this case the proposed anchorage project on the Hudson River, is a big help to citizens all throughout the Hudson Valley Region.

One of our big take-aways was to come to understand where we are today on the crude oil transport front. Having more anchorages means that empty barges traveling up from NYC can cut their travel time in half to park until a berth opens up in the port of Albany where shipments of crude oil arrive. There is much activity in North Dakota, and crude oil is transported on 'bomb trains' to Albany. Shipping companies are waiting (perhaps 'frothing' is a better term) to transport it back down the Hudson River to NYC so it can be sent out and processed in NJ and PA. This will become more of a problem for us in the Hudson Valley.

Why?

Last year, "With the stroke of a pen, President Barack Obama ended 40 years of U.S. crude oil export limits by signing off on a repeal passed by Congress earlier in the day....The restrictions lift immediately under a provision in the spending and tax package that the president signed into law. Congressional leaders earlier in the week reached an agreement to end the trade restrictions, established during U.S. oil shortages in the 1970s, as part of a grand bargain that includes tax breaks for renewable-energy companies and refiners....Repeal of the crude-export restrictions reverses four decades of a policy that has defined the nation’s relations with the rest of the world. Without the trade limits, the U.S. -- now the world’s largest oil and gas producer -- is free to export its crude, as it already does with refined products including gasoline. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with a vote of 65-33 after the House approved the measure 316-113 hours earlier."

You might have noticed how low oil/gas prices have been lately. Or that there are fewer 'bomb trains' then there have been over the past handful of years. That's because we are extracting more than we are able to sell domestically.  There is a glut of oil in America which is mostly new. The lift of the 40 year restriction to exports is going to be a game changer and challenges all of the hard work that's been done to ween us off fossil fuels. Believe us, once the market is open, what you pay is going to change.

What's important to recognize here, is that the U.S Coast Guard is not the one proposing new anchorages on the Hudson River. Last year, citizens in the area noticed that barges had suddenly appeared, parked for long stretches of time in areas they had not been before. Complaints were made to Riverkeeper, who in turn, notified the Coast Guard. The barges, when investigated, were indeed parked illegally and were asked to move. So a month or so later, in January of 2016, "a group of commercial shipping organizations (representing Tug and Barge Operators, the HR Pilot’s Associations and American Waterways Operators) submitted a formal request to the U.S. Coast Guard...seeking to expand the number of official anchorage grounds for large commercial vessels in the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston from the current 2 (Yonkers and Hyde Park) to 43 berths in 10 locations, opening up 2400 acres to new anchorages in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the river.

To make things crystal clear on the 'benefit' front, our great Hudson River, and everyone living and relying on it would bear the brunt of the ongoing transport and any potential disaster. There will be no 'benefit' for you or for me. This is a situation where only the oil and shipping companies will stand to gain here.

With a proposal on the table, the Coast Guard must follow a process,  and the first step is in giving the public the opportunity to respond. Known as "a notice of proposed rule making" (take note, they are not rule making at this point) please help them to  build a record to enable them to DENY the commercial shipping organization's request by submitting a comment no later than December 6th.  It's so important that you do so now.

MAKE A COMMENT

Below is Kate Hudson's helpful explanation of all of this.  We'll continue to look out and to post as this process unfolds.

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By Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper Director of Cross Watershed Initiatives

There is much confusion, misinformation, and disinformation abound concerning this very consequential proposal.  I would like to take a moment to get at the facts about what’s being proposed, by whom and why so we can be clear and speak with one voice about what needs to be done in order to protect our river and our river communities.

# 1: - WHAT IS BEING PROPOSED AND BY WHOM?

Several commercial shipping organizations (representing Tug and Barge Operators, the HR Pilot’s Associations and American Waterways Operators) submitted a formal request to the U.S. Coast Guard in January, 2016 seeking to expand the number of official anchorage grounds for large commercial vessels in the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston from the current 2 (Yonkers and Hyde Park) to 43 berths in 10 locations, opening up 2400 acres to new anchorages in some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the river. 42 of the 43 berths are proposed to be “long term” which means that barges could anchor there for days. This is not as the vessel operators like to say as being “nothing new”. This would represent a huge increase in the anchoring of commercial vessels in the Hudson between the GW Bridge and Albany, turning our river into a parking lot for large barges and vessels while they wait for dock space to open up in Albany.

# 2 - WHY IS THIS PROPOSAL BEING MADE? WHAT THE SHIPPING INDUSTRY SAYS VS. REALITY.

Until late fall 2015, northbound tugs and barges frequently anchored off Port Ewen just south of the Rondout Creek. Riverkeeper received complaints from residents of communities on both sides of the river, which they referred to Captain Day of the Coast Guard, Sector NY. Day ultimately notified vessel operators that this was NOT an authorized, federally designated anchorage ground and that they had to cease using it. In response, the shipping organizations submitted their vastly increased anchorage request to the coast guard in January 2016.

Their clearly stated reason is exactly the point, the larger picture here: the vast increase in the transport of Bakken crude oil on the Hudson since the beginning of 2012

In its January 21, 2016, letter asking the Coast Guard to authorize additional anchorages, the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee noted Albany’s role as an “export port … of Bakken Crude Oil and Ethanol.”

The industry emphasizes one commercial incentive in particular in its request: “Trade will increase on the Hudson River significantly over the next few years with the lifting of the ban on American Crude exports for foreign trade and federally designated anchorages are key to supporting trade.”

The reality: Since 2012 up to 25% of Bakken crude oil from fracked wells in North Dakota is coming through the Albany Port and then being moved south through the Hudson Valley to refineries in NJ and PA. In 2011, half a million gallons of crude oil was being handled in the Port of Albany. Because of permits that the State of NY gave two transloading companies operating in the Port of Albany (Global and Buckeye), up to 3 billion gallons a year can now be loaded from bomb trains to barges and brought down the Hudson. A fossil fuel commercialization of the Hudson that we have never seen before.

Permits are also being sought to allow those companies to load tar sands oil on to Hudson River barges which Riverkeeper and others have been fighting in the courts since 2014.

More oil exponentially increases the risk of spills and a spill of Bakken or tar sands oil is a spill from which the river will not be able to recover. Responders agree that a successful response to a spill in a tidal river like the Hudson would be able to recover only 15-20% of the Bakken oil spilled and only 5-10% of a sinking tar sands spill.

# 3 - DO WE NEED THE INCREASE IN CRUDE OIL SHIPPING THAT THIS PROPOSAL WILL FACILITATE? WHO WILL BENEFIT?

"Shippers now say this is about safety, but it’s really about oil as they so candidly said in their January 2016 letter to the Coast Guard:

CLAIM: Permanent, authorized anchorages are needed for safety. Vessel operators need a place to stop in the event of fog and ice – or as the Coast Guard told the New York Times, to “park and catch up on rest and then move on.”

RESPONSE: This is a problem that doesn’t need to be fixed. Commercial vessels already have emergency anchoring privileges. To our knowledge, the Coast Guard has never denied commercial vessel operators the ability to anchor when needed due to safety concerns.

CLAIM: "The three anchorages in the “Kingston Hub” are essential because the upriver section should be navigated only during daylight. Otherwise it is unsafe."

RESPONSE: The barges anchored near Kingston weren’t waiting for daylight; they were waiting for dock space in the Port of Albany. Loaded crude oil barges routinely travel south through the Port of Albany, through this “narrow, dangerous” reach at all hours.

CLAIM: "Don’t you need gas for your car and oil to heat your home?"

RESPONSE: Refined products, like gasoline and heating oil, have been shipped from coastal refineries north up the Hudson to Albany for decades. That won’t change, and that’s not the issue. The barges that have been anchoring in the Hudson since 2012, when North Dakota crude oil production started, have not been barges transporting heating oil or gasoline. They are barges that transport crude oil and more often than not, they are anchoring because their loading terminals in Albany are at capacity. It’s disingenuous and dishonest to raise the specter of heating oil and gasoline delivery problems in this conversation.

During the peak crude oil years of 2013-14, we saw tremendous volume of crude oil traveling down the Hudson Valley: two trains a day, 3 million gallons each; a barge a day, with approximately 4 million gallons; and the tanker Aphrodite, doing a round trip from Albany to New Brunswick every eight days carrying 8 million gallons. That enormous volume was limited by what the coastal refineries could receive. But now that the United States has lifted its export ban on crude oil, industry predicts that we will see an enormous increase in volumes transported on the Hudson. Now, global market forces are the only limit.

CLAIM: "These products need to be transported by water. Maybe you’d prefer them sent up by rail or pipelines running through your backyards?"

RESPONSE: The maritime industry suggests that shipping oil by barge will prevent construction of a pipeline. The pipeline industry says that if we have a pipeline, we won’t need barges. And the rail industry says it’s the safest means of transport of all. They’re all wrong.

Having barges won’t prevent pipelines, and having pipelines won’t prevent barges, and transport by rail won’t prevent either of the others. None of these industries has made a compact with the others, saying, “If you move the oil, we’ll back out of the business.”

# 4 - IMPACTS TO THE RIVER, RIVER COMMUNITIES, CLIMATE AND OUR CHILDREN'S PLANET.

The risk of a catastrophic oil spill:

The cargo of greatest risk to the Hudson is petroleum. For decades and decades, refined petroleum products like gasoline, heating oil and diesel have traveled north to the Port of Albany. But starting in 2012, crude oil produced in North Dakota began arriving by train down the Champlain and Mohawk valleys. And the oil that does not continue by rail is being loaded onto barges and ships and carried south along the Hudson to refineries on the coast.

The risk of oil spill to the Hudson – already a serious threat due to the surge in barge and train shipments of Bakken crude oil since 2012 – will rise even further if new anchorages are granted to facilitate the movement of more oil.

And if these anchorages are authorized what else could we expect?
In other parts of the country, crude oil is being stored in vessels until prices rebound. Is that what we face here? Is that why so many anchorage locations are being requested? Or will the next request be a proportional increase in oil handling facilities in the Port of Albany to eliminate the current gridlock in the port and facilitate the movement of additional vessels?

More oil on the Hudson equals more risk of spills with all the impacts that would result: Including irreparable damage to the ecological health of the river as well as putting the drinking water of over 100,000 mid Hudson Valley residents on both sides of the river in jeopardy.

The sturgeon were here first. Several of the proposed anchorages are in areas relied upon by sturgeon for their survival. Both species of Hudson River sturgeon – Atlantic and shortnose – are on the endangered species list. Anchors and anchor chains scar and disturb the river bottom, where sturgeon spawn and feed and rest. The river bottom is disturbed by the anchor and chain that barges use. Scientists using side-scan sonar have documented anchor “scarring” of benthic (bottom) habitat used by federally endangered sturgeon at the existing Hyde Park anchorage and at the unauthorized Port Ewen anchorage that was used until the fall of 2015.

Two endangered species, shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, live in the Hudson. The river off Hyde Park, for example, may have the highest concentration of Atlantic sturgeon on the entire Eastern seaboard at spawning time in early summer. The area off Kingston, and “Sturgeon Point” across the way in Rhinecliff – is an important area for shortnose sturgeon. And both species of sturgeon overwinter near the proposed anchorages at Tompkins Cove and Montrose. Before any new anchorages are approved, researchers must determine definitively whether the disturbance to sturgeon habitat is detrimental or not."

 

Actions We Can and Must Take. Here is your opportunity to get involved. 

We urge all local officials and concerned citizens to send their thoughts and concerns to the Coast Guard, so that the agency’s internal review leaves no risk unaddressed.

This stage of the process is vital. The Coast Guard is taking a hard first look at the industry’s proposal – and your comments and concerns. After that, the Coast Guard has the power to either:

  • reject the industry’s proposal outright,
  • modify it to address environmental or community concerns, or
  • consider the industry’s proposal in full.

The anchorage proposal must get comprehensive environmental review. The Coast Guard is so far doing what we need them to do: Giving the public advance notice and soliciting input before deciding on a future ‘official’ proposal, anticipated in Spring of 2017. New anchorage grounds would clearly have a range of significant, far-reaching environmental impacts that must be looked into and understood before any decision can be made.

The National Environmental Policy Act requires a detailed review for most federal proposals as part of the decision making process. However, anchorage proposals fall into a loophole, and no such review is required for this proposal. The public should ask for a full environmental impact statement.

Speak up! Your community has a say.  Many local communities have developed plans – Local Waterfront Revitalization Plans – for the future of their Hudson River waterfronts. The review of the anchorage proposal must address and be consistent with these plans. Don’t forget: Make sure your federal and state elected officials know specifics about where your community stands on the future use and development of its waterfront – whether you have an LWRP or not. Make sure your community files comments with the Coast Guard before December 6th.

Submit Your Comments by December 6th, 2016.

 

MORE READING

READ:  Proposed new Hudson River anchorage grounds: Critical issues and what you can do.

READ:  6 things you should know about the proposed Hudson River anchorages.

READ:  Fact-check: Industry’s false claims about Hudson River anchorages.

Water Powers Amended Legislation Passes Through Council

L/R  Kevin Smith (Woodstock Land Conservancy, Alex Beauchamp (Food and Water Watch), Kate Hudson (Riverkeeper), Heather Schwegler (KingstonCitizens.org), Steve Schabot (Ward 8 Council), Rachel Havens (KingstonCitizens.org/Earth Guardians NY), Aiden Ferris (Earth Guardians NY), Matt Dunn (Ward 1 Council), Deb Brown (Ward 9 Council), Charlie Grenadier (Kingston citizen!),  Rebecca Martin (KingstonCitizens.org), Bill Carey (Ward 5 Council), Jim Noble (Alderman-at-Large), Steve Noble (Environmental Specialist and Mayoral Candidate), Mary McNamara (Esopus Creek Conservancy).

By Rebecca Martin

Last night, the Kingston Common Council unanimously passed through an amended Water Powers resolution.

We will be following up with the Mayor's office to get a date on the public hearing that is to occur in the next 10 days (the Daily Freeman reported 20) so that you can organize your schedules in advance to attend.   This - after ten months - will be the last meeting of this sort and ask prior to the November ballot.

Thank you for your participation.

READ: Kingston Times Editorial "Moral, Business and the Moral Imperative" by Dan Barton

 

"We are pleased to witness the second reading of the amended local law regarding Water Powers to include the common council in municipal water sales outside of Kingstons corporate boundary this evening. Once passed, the legislation will be on its way to a referendum and a public vote this fall.

Shortly after February 13th of this year, when the Niagara Bottling Company choose not to locate to the area, our community was left with an opportunity to examine our charter and to consider who was to be included in the decision making process for water sales outside of our community.

Since then, KingstonCitizens.org and our great partners - some of which we am pleased to say are here tonight - have had the distinct pleasure to support you, our common council, as you have taken a very important step in identifying a solution to effectively protect the interests of the public whom you represent.  You understand that the more eyes that are watching, the more minds that are aware of how their government functions – the more likely we can expect transparent outcomes. 

Thinking about water and our watershed together as a people and elected/appointed body is new for our community. Some are calling it historic.  That, is now a part of your legacy and its something to be very proud of.

So thank you, to all of our council members and council president for your collective concern, smarts and follow through on this matter. Swiftly, you addressed a glaring item and your action tonight illustrates great leadership to our community."

- KingstonCitizens.org

 

PUBLIC SPEAKING 

Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org:   4:38 - 6:55

Alex Beauchamp, Food and Water Watch:  7:00 - 9:10

Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper:  9:21 - 11:05

Kevin Smith, The Woodstock Land Conservancy:  11:07 - 15:59

Jennifer Schwartz Berky:  16:03 - 18:27

Johannes Sayre:  18:34 - 22:34

Rachel Marc0-Havens, Earth Guardians NY:   22:52 - 24:44

Aiden Ferris, Earth Guardians NY:  24:52 - 26:14

 

SECOND READING, COUNCIL SPEECHES. RESOLUTION PASSES!

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Global Trade Deals, Water and You

tpp

By Arthur Zaczkiewicz, MSW

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  A version of the trade "fast track" goes to the senate. Contact our senator NOW. 

WATCH Robert Reich on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

There’s been a lot of chatter on social media sites, in blogs and – more recently – mainstream news sites about “TPP” and “fast tracking.” It has something to do with jobs and it could help or hurt the economy (depending upon who you ask). President Barack Obama is involved, and Democrats and Republicans are gnashing teeth over the darn thing. Ring a bell?

But what exactly is TPP and why should we care?

Without boring you to death, here’s a quick rundown of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal:

  • TPP involves the U.S. working with 11 other countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam) to reduce trade barriers.
  • The U.S. Trade Representative states that the “TPP is the cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s economic policy in the Asia Pacific. The large and growing markets of the Asia-Pacific already are key destinations for U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, and services suppliers, and the TPP will further deepen this trade and investment.”
  • And further, the USTR says as a group, “the TPP countries are the largest goods and services export market of the United States. U.S. goods exports to TPP countries totaled $698 billion in 2013, representing 44 percent of total U.S. goods exports. U.S. exports of agricultural products to TPP countries totaled $58.8 billion in 2013, 85 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports.”
  • President Obama has worked on TPP for the past six years – but mostly in private with about 600 business leaders and policymakers.
  • Recently, steps to make TPP a reality have been taken up in Congress, and lawmakers have struggled with a variety of proceedual aspects, including the so-called “fast track” policy that gives the President the power to negotiate trade deals (including TPP) on his own authority.

At first glance, TPP sounds like a great idea. It will bring down trade barriers that make it hard for U.S. to export goods to other countries. U.S. companies that would benefit from this include large manufacturers, multinational chemical companies, meat and processed food producers, drug makers and retailers.

Retailers in particular are interested in seeing this pass because TPP would lower the costs of goods they sell, which would boost their profits. And that’s good because two-thirds of our economy is fueled by spending on retail goods and services. And the retail industry is the largest private-sector employer in the U.S. with 42 million Americans working at retail, and in related services.

One key reason retailers are supporting TPP is that consumer spending and behavior is shifting. When the so-called “Great Recession” struck, consumers were essentially traumatized into earning less and spending less. Overtime, as economic conditions improved, shoppers remained cautious. And the consistent, year-over-year sales gains that retailers experienced was suddenly in flux. Consumers are more wary of where and how much they spend, and they are increasingly spending their money on “experiences” instead of on “things.”

And we see the ramifications of this locally. At the local mall, J.C. Penney shuttered its doors (and 75 jobs) due to a softer retail sales market. And Office Depot closed as its competitor, Staples, acquired it and closed stores.

So, who again would want to jeopardize this shaky industry – one that employs so many people? Well, taking down trade barriers is a two-way street. As noted above, the trade deal would help many businesses. But it would also harm many others as well. Such as smaller manufacturers and farmers, which is why Congressman Chris Gibson is cautious on TPP. In a letter to constituents last week, he wrote:

“Last week, I finally had the opportunity to read the TPP. I am opposed to this agreement as it is written currently. I have many concerns surrounding agriculture, small business, workers, the environment, our personal privacy, and national sovereignty. Specifically, I believe the TPP could do the kind of harm to agriculture that NAFTA did to manufacturing in our country, undermining the ability of our farmers to compete with our global competitors. I am confident that if we got a fair trade agreement that put our farmers, small business owners, and workers on a level playing field with our global competitors, we would do very well. The proposed TPP draft would not achieve that goal.”

One example of who would be harmed is local dairy farmers and milk producers, like Boices Dairy. If TPP was passed, the market could be flooded with cheap milk from overseas and our local producers would not be able to compete. Apple farmers would also be threatened. Ulster County is the largest apple producer in the state, which is the second largest supplier in the U.S.

On the manufacturing side, TPP presents more problems than it solves. Last month, Kevin L. Kearns, president of the U.S. Business & Industry Council, said in a letter to council members that since 2000, “the U.S. has lost more than five million manufacturing jobs and 57,000 manufacturing establishments. This lost manufacturing has come at a real cost for America's middle class. What should be paramount on the minds of our elected officials is how to rebuild this lost industrial capacity. The TPP is emphatically not the answer. Instead, it’s simply the latest in a long line of trade deals (like NAFTA, China, CAFTA, South Korea, etc.) that have opened the door to predatory trade with countries that have only their own interests at heart.”

Kearns is angry, and rightfully so. Economists repeatedly urge for policy that encourages bolstering manufacturing and related infrastructure. Why? Because these types of jobs pay the best and without it, the middle class can’t exist, and our economy would tank, which is what is slowly happening, according to economists from the Pew Research Center who say the middle class is evaporating.

Ok…so aside from harming dairy and apple farmers, how else is TPP a questionable policy? Well, according to drafts of the TPP released by Wikileaks and media outlets such as The New York Times, there’s a policy in TPP that would allow multinational companies to overturn local laws that impede their path to profitability via appealing to an international tribunal. But what would that look like? And why would that be bad?

Consider this possible scenario:

A major drug maker such as Pfizer – under the TPP policy – could say that certain laws in the U.S. (or any of the member countries) are limiting its ability to make profits. This could be laws that prevent the drug maker from releasing products without testing its safety on humans first. Pfizer could appeal to the tribunal and overturn these laws.

Or it could be a food company that says certain laws that prevent food additives thwarts its sales and profitability, and could appeal to the international tribunal to overturn these laws.

Another example would be Monsanto saying that local laws that ban pesticide use is reducing its sales and profits. It too could appeal to the international tribunal and have those laws overturned.

And the examples go on and on, which is why many environmental groups are against TPP. And they are joined by some strange bedfellows: Tea Party activists who see this as a threat to U.S. sovereignty. The biggest threat, though, is to environmental and consumer protection laws.

Last year the Sierra Club inked a position letter on the chapter in the TPP that allows for the tribunal review. Read it HERE

The Sierra Club said in a separate statement “a joint analysis by Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reveals that the current TPP environment chapter…could lead to increased stress on natural resources and species including trees, fish, and wildlife.”

Here’s another example of how this could be harmful. Consider this scenario – one that strikes close to the hearts of Kingstonians:

Let’s say Niagara Bottling (or another company like Nestle) decided to reconsider its business strategy. So they decide to go ahead and build a distribution center for their fleet of vehicles that serve the Northeast at Tech City. There will be no bottling at the plant – at least initially.

And then one day they decide to start drawing water, filtering it and then bottling it to augment their product supply. It could just be drawn from the current supply at Tech City and it could be a very small amount, say 40,000 gallons a day.

After a year, they could document that local laws in Kingston that regulate corporate or commercial use of large quantities of water via the Town of Ulster or directly with the Kingston Water Department is impeding their path to better profits – noting that their strategic plan is to expand water bottling in the Northeast region.

In that scenario, they too – under TPP – would be allowed to have an international tribunal review and overturn any local Kingston City law that thwarts their path to profits.

Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed one of the steps that would allow TPP to happen.

The National Retail Federation, which represents the retail industry, immediately sent out a press release applauding the move. As mentioned above, retailers have a lot riding on passage of TPP; remember that their profits and long-term outlook depends upon it.

“Today’s vote on trade promotion authority will grant Congress new powers and responsibilities to craft and monitor our 21st century trade policy, and aid our trade representatives as they work to negotiate pending and future trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” the NRF statement said.

Up next is a senate version of the bill. They could include language that allows for Congress to give input on the component policies within trade agreements, including TPP. That might help protect consumer and local environmental laws. We’ll have to keep an eye on how things progress in D.C.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  A version of the trade "fast track" goes to the senate. Contact our senator NOW. 

WATCH Robert Reich on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Get informed about TPP by checking out the USTR website HERE

And the Sierra Club SITE

And here is the TPP draft pages from WIKILEAKS

###

Arthur Zaczkiewicz, MSW, is an editor and writer with over 20 years of journalism experience. He is also a social worker and a community educator and organizer, and a Desert Storm combat veteran.

Become a Water Board Commissioner for Kingston’s Water Department.

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By Rebecca Martin

To be considered as a Commissioner of the Kingston Water Board:

  1. Please submit your resume/CV (Curriculum Vitae) to Carly Williams, City of Kingston Clerk: cwilliams@kingston-ny.gov by April 30th, 2015 (because we were not given a date by the Mayor’s office, this date is arbitrary. However, we presume that it gives the city time to collect interest and make a decision).
  2. The term is five years.
  3. You must be a city resident or business person.
  4. Please let us know that you have applied by contacting KingstonCitizens.org at Rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org

On May 31st 2015, Water Board Commissioner Al Radel's term will expire. Radel has served as a Commissioner on the Water Board now for 15 years, which is three terms. We appreciate his service.

That means, that a spot is opening up - and we are hoping that citizens who are interested in serving will step up.

The Mayor of Kingston appoints citizens (and business persons) to most Commissions/Boards/Councils in Kingston. Recently, we reached out to the Mayor's office to find out what the process was. You know how fast we move around here, and after the second request without getting information, we decided to lay out our questions in a PETITION to give the public a chance to weigh in. That petition is live now, so have a look, consider signing it and leave a comment.

The questions were simple.

KingstonCitizens.org requests that Mayor Shayne Gallo require Water Department Superintendent Judith Hansen to:

  1. Make both the description of the Board of Water Commissioner's role and length of term visible and public on the City of Kingston's Water Department web page.
  2. Make all of the current members of the Board of Water Commissioners biographies and length of service to date visible and public on the City of Kingston's Water Department web page.

Furthermore, that:

  1. The City of Kingston's Mayor, who appoints Board of Water Commissioners, publish a public notice in a timely fashion announcing its search for new candidates for the upcoming term. This announcement should include a description of the Board of Water Commissioner's expected role; preferred experience / qualifications for candidates; contact info and deadline for submissions; and the term length.

Yesterday, we heard from Water Department Superintendent Judith Hansen who responded:

“The Mayor asked that I contact you to let you know that appointments to the Board of Water Commissioners are made by the Mayor and that if you have anyone that would like to be considered for the position, they should submit their CV to him via the City Clerk’s Office.  Neither the Board nor any employee of the Water Department, including the Superintendent has any role in or input into the selection process.”

Not much in the way of answering our questions. Then later, we heard directly from Mayor Gallo’s office:

“This is in reply to your inquiry about how vacancies and/or appointments are made to the Board of Water Commissioners or any other City board or Commission. Be advised the following process has been used since the City Charter has been adopted: Any interested City resident and/or business person may apply for consideration to any City Board and/or Commission by providing a letter of interest with a resume and background information and/or curriculum vitae of said individual. The interested party should submit the above to the City Clerk’s Office.  Upon receipt, the letter of interest shall will forwarded to my office for review and consideration.   If you know of an interested City resident who would like to be considered for appointment to the Board of Water Commissioners and/or other City boards and commissions, please share the above information with them. Thank you for your interest.”

The points unanswered at least expose something critical.  We have some information on the process, but nothing that we didn't already know.

So why can't the City of Kingston provide a description of a Water Board Commissioner? Or nail down their term? Or share their biographies and experience so that we know who is at the helm of our water supply? Or put out a notice in the papers to residents with a deadline for their response?

As we are entering into an election cycle, we will take these things up again at an appropriate time.  We intend to advocate for Kingston to overhaul it's city charter at a future date.

Until then:

To be considered as a new Commissioner of the Kingston Water Board:

  1. Please submit your resume/CV (Curriculum Vitae) to Carly Williams, City of Kingston Clerk: cwilliams@kingston-ny.gov by April 3oth, 2015 (because we were not given a date by the Mayor’s office, this date is arbitrary. However, we presume that it gives the city time to collect interest and make a decision).
  2. The term is five years.
  3. You must be a city resident or business person.
  4. Please let us know that you have applied by contacting KingstonCitizens.org at Rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org

WHAT TO EXPECT: Town of Ulster Town Board Meeting Thursday, 1/22/15 at 7:00pm

By Rebecca Martin

The Town of Ulster (ToU) Town Board will meet on Thursday, January 22nd at 7:00pm.

It was REPORTED that the new deadline for the Chazen Companies to submit a draft scoping document for Niagara was to occur on 1/22/15 which is tomorrow. Although at the last ToU Town Board Meeting Supervisor Quigley stated "We have no notice from Chazen of a delivery date of the scoping document" (VIEW the recorded meeting that starts at 30:15) the public anticipates tomorrow as a deadline as there hasn't been any formal communication otherwise.

The ToU has released tomorrow evenings AGENDA where nothing regarding Niagara is noted. That doesn't mean that it will not be added sometime tomorrow, and we will keep you updated.

According to the SEQR TIMELINE  that the Town of Ulster posted on their website, it states that the 'Projected publication date of the draft scoping document' was to be December 22nd and that the date "May be extended by Town Board Resolution".  That did not occur last month.  We are hoping to learn the Board's course of action tomorrow evening in this regard.

As a reminder, the public may speak at the front of the meeting on matters that are on the agenda, and then allotted time at the end of the meeting to speak on anything else. If Niagara is not on the agenda, be prepared to step up to the podium when Supervisor Quigley invites the public to address the board later in the evening. Their meetings run on time, and are brief - so if you intend to come, place be prompt.

 

WHAT TO REQUEST?   A draft scoping document IS submitted:

1. 60 Day Public Comment Period

Last December, KingstonCitizens.org generated a letter to the Town of Ulster as lead agency requesting a total of 60 days for public input during the public portion of the scoping process. This was due in part to the process start date being December 22nd - January 22nd and in the midst of three major holidays.

As the date was reported to be moved to January 22nd, giving The Chazen Company a total of 60 days to deliver their scoping document.

The public, in turn, wishes for the same courtesy.

In addition, for as long as it takes The Chazen Companies to deliver their draft, the public will request the same amount of time.

 

2. Additional Hearings/Locations to Allow Public Input on Draft Scope

Because the proposed project is a complex and multifaceted one that has the potential to impact multiple communities and environmental resources, the public should ask the Town of Ulster to consider more than one public hearing on the scoping document to include locations in Kingston, Woodstock and Saugerties. Additional time and hearing locations in communities that will be potentially impacted would allow for greater public participation and input on the proposed environmental review laid out in the applicant's draft scope.

FOLLOW:  SEQR Pos Dec Review Timeline on Facebook.

WHAT TO REQUEST?   If a draft scoping document IS NOT submitted:

1. That the Town Board Initiate and Pass a Resolution on Submission of Draft Scoping Document for the Amended SEQR Timeline.

In the SEQR Timeline that the ToU posted on their website, it states that the 'Projected publication date of the draft scoping document' was to be December 22nd and that the date "May be extended by Town Board Resolution".  The Town Board did not do so to extend the change in December to January. Request that the ToU be transparent and follow their own protocol so that the public has the information that it needs to continue to track this process.

BE PREPARED. 

We ask that all residents prepare a statement in advance to be no more than 3 minutes in length and to please show respect to municipalities where you are a visitor.

Town of Ulster meetings are generally audio taped, however we will be on hand to to film the event thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News.

If you have any questions, please contact me at: rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org

Thank you.

 

 

TOWN OF ULSTER
TOWN BOARD

WHAT
Town of Ulster Town Board Meeting

WHEN
Thursday, January 22nd, 2014
7:00pm

WHERE
Town of Ulster Town Hall
1 Town Hall Road
Lake Katrine, NY

AGENDA
Click on this LINK 

WHAT TO EXPECT: Town of Ulster Town Board Meeting Thursday, 11/20/14 at 7:00pm

By Rebecca Martin

The Town of Ulster Town Board will meet on Thursday, November 20th at 7:00pm.   Scheduled to occur that evening is the Town of Ulster Town Board to give final approval of itself as being "Lead Agency" in the proposed Niagara Bottling Company SEQR process.

The public is invited. Public comment on any matters will be made available following “Old Business” at the end of the evening. We expect that to occur between 8:00pm – 8:30pm, though it may be later.   Please see Supervisor James Quigleys' note below.
We ask that all residents prepare a statement in advance to be no more than 3 minutes in length. Please show respect to municipalities that you are visiting.

Here are several posts to research that will help you to create your 3 minute speech so to hit key points that evening.

On a Positive Declaration in SEQR.
LINK1   LINK2  

Why the City of Kingston should be an Involved Agency.
LINK1   LINK2

Insightful letter to the DEC from Town of Woodstock Supervisor Jeremy Wilber.
LINK

Their meetings are always audio taped by the Town and we will be on hand to to film the event thanks to Clark Richters of Kingston News.

If you have any questions, please contact me at: rebecca@kingstoncitizens.org

Thank you.

 

TOWN OF ULSTER
TOWN BOARD

WHAT
Town of Ulster Town Board
1 Town Hall Road
Lake Katrine, NY

WHEN
Thursday, November 20th, 2014
7:00pm

WHERE
Town of Ulster Town Hall

AGENDA
Click on this LINK

 

As per Supervisor James Quigley regarding this month's meeting:

"A DRAFT AGENDA will be posted Tuesday morning (we have linked it above) and is subject to change. There are no items currently listed on the Agenda related to Niagara Bottling. I am awaiting the Resolutions from Counsel prior to place the item on the Agenda. A Revised Agenda will be posted as soon as possible. There are two opportunities for the Public to speak during the meeting. In the beginning Statements may be made on Agenda Items. At the end of the meeting is Public Comment for any and all topics. Remember these are times for the Public to make statements to the Board not enter into a debate with the Town Board.  Anyone who wishes will be able to address the Board during these periods. Comments are limited to three minutes per speaker and there is no yielding time to other speakers."

 

The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee Meeting 9/18/14

Attached is the recent Comprehensive Steering Committee meeting held at Kingston's City Hall led by Consultant Shuster Associates. A new 85 page Comprehensive Plan draft was distributed to the committee (according to some, about a week ago). It is not available at this time for the public.

The Steering Committee is now set to read the document and make new comments by October 3rd. Shuster Associates hope to pass off a final pass to the Committee to present to the public by years end.

As Deb Brown (Ward 9 Alderwoman) is the Liaison from the Common Council to both the CP Steering and Zoning Committee, it is reasonable to request that any interested public have access to the draft plan to review accessibly on the City of Kingston's website.

We'll be updating this page to highlight important moments for the public.

Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org. Filmed by Kingston News.

@ 33:05
Alderman at Large James Noble: Any other questions? If not...
Emilie Hauser: Is there public comment?
AAL James Noble: Public comment?

KingstonCitizens.org Hosts Public Educational Forum and Discussion on City Administrator and City Manager Forms of Government on Tuesday, March 25th.

City_Manager

KingstonCitizens.org will host a public educational forum and discussion on "City Administrator and City Manager Forms of Government" on Tuesday, March 25th at the Kingston Public Library 55 Franklin Street, in Kingston NY from 6:00pm - 8:00pm.  Panel guests include Meredith Robson, City Administrator of the City of Beacon, NY and Chuck Strome, City Manager of New Rochelle, NY. 

Kingston, NY -  For the past twenty years, the city of Kingston, NY has what is known as a 'Strong Mayor' form of government, where a mayor is elected into office based on popular vote to manage the city’s $36+ million dollar budget, departments, committees, commissions and an aging citywide infrastructure.

KingstonCitizens.org is pleased to present a public educational forum and discussion on two alternative forms of government titled "City Administrator and City Manager Forms of Government" on Tuesday, March 25th from 6:00pm - 8:00pm at the Kingston Public Library located at 55 Franklin Street in Kingston, NY. All are welcome to attend.

Guest panelists include Meredith Robson, City Administrator of the City of Beacon and Chuck Strome, City Manager of New Rochelle, NY to discuss their roles and relationships with the public and elected officials.

The evening will be co-moderated by Rebecca Martin, founder of KingstonCitizens.org and former Executive Director of the Kingston Land Trust and Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Principal at Hone Strategic, LLC and the former Deputy Director of Planning at Ulster County.

For more information, contact Rebecca Martin at: rebbytunes@earthlink.net

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Our Panelists

Meredith Robson, City of Beacon Administrator:   Meredith Robson has served in a variety of governmental positions for over 26 years.  She has served in all levels of government, except County government, and her career has spanned three states.  She is currently the City Administrator for the City of Beacon. Ms. Robson has been very active in professional associations throughout her career, including serving on the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials Executive Committee and in her current roles as President of the New York City/County Management Association and Northeast Regional Vice President for the International City/County Management Association. Ms. Robson is an ICMA Credentialed Manager and has a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University and a Master of Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  She has participated in numerous professional development programs, including the following leadership training opportunities:  Wallkill Valley Community Leadership Alliance, Leadership Greater Waterbury and Pace University Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program.

Chuck Strome, New Rochelle, NY City Manager On November 12, 2002, the City Council unanimously approved the appointment of Charles B. "Chuck" Strome, III as City Manager. Mr. Strome served as Acting City Manager since March 2002 and as Deputy City Manager since 1995. Prior to that, he served as Director of Emergency Services from 1989 through 1992, and then became Assistant City Manager / City Coordinator. 

Mr. Strome has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communications from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and a Masters of Public Administration-Government from Pace University. 

Before joining government, Mr. Strome held positions at Hudson Westchester Radio where he was News Director, Vice President, and Program Director. 

Mr. Strome is a member of the International City Managers' Association, and former president of the New York State City / County Managers Association. He is also past President, Vice President, and Secretary of the Municipal Administrators Association of Metropolitan New York.

Our Moderators

About KingstonCitizens.org: KingstonCitizens.org is a non-partisan, citizen-run organization focused on relevant and current issues about Kingston, N.Y and working to foster transparent communication by encouraging growing citizen participation.  The founder of KC.org and evening co-moderator Rebecca Martin is a world renowned and critically acclaimed musician who has 25 years of experience as a manager, community organizer and activist.

About Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Principal at Hone Strategic, LLC:  Berky, the evening's co-moderator, has over 25 twenty years of experience in the fields of architecture, conservation, economic development, and urban planning in the non-profit, government, academic and private sectors. Prior to launching Hone Strategic, she served as Deputy Director of Ulster County Planning for over seven years, where she was the lead researcher and liaison to the Ulster County Charter Commission. Before moving to Ulster County, she worked in Washington, DC at the World Bank and Urban Institute, at the University of Rome (Italy) and as a project manager of design and construction for New York City's major cultural institutions. Berky has lived for extended periods in Argentina, Chile, France, Israel, Italy, and Spain. She earned a B.A. in Art History from SUNY Stony Brook and Masters’ degrees in Urban Planning (M.Phil.) and Real Estate Development (M.S.) at Columbia University, where she is also currently completing a Ph.D. in Urban Planning on the subject of environmental economics.

 

MORE ON – Kingston: “Strong Mayor” or “City Manager” Form of Government?

council-manager

(This piece was originally printed in the Kingston Times in August of 2013 after a flurry of firings at Kingston City Hall in Kingston, NY.  This is an edited version).

###

“When you find that change is constant, will you shun complacency?” - J. Harris

As a kid, I grew up in a household of 'activists.'  That’s what my parents were called anyway. It never occurred to me then, or now, that they were anything out of the ordinary. For is it activism or ones duty to shine the light on a problem that lies inside or out of the community?

In the mill town where I am from, my father was a family doctor and my mother a nurse. Together, the two cared for generations of people who one day began to show up at an alarming rate with both common and also extremely rare types of cancers. Wanting to understand this phenomenon led my parents to the discovery of a dioxin contamination that was produced by the mill. A by-product of the bleaching process in papermaking, it’s a severe carcinogen also found in the notorious Vietnam War defoliant Agent Orange. All day long, they put out a large pool of muddy dioxin-laced sludge right out in the open. Without good management regulations at that time, it was disposed of by being dumped into the rivers, buried on mountaintops and burned close by. The geography of the area made for a noxious smog that hung over the valley like an impending death sentence. But noone listened.

Years later, my hometown was later dubbed “Cancer Valley”. You'd think it to be enough to wake even the staunchest of cynics. But it wasn’t. The industry scurried about to downplay the statistics and public officials obliged. “Those damn elitist activists.” they'd say with their heads buried in the sands.

How do you get away with such a thing?

The people’s needs are simple. They want a job to best utilize their skill set, a roof over their head, food on the table and a good education for their children. With jobs scarce in most rural places, a lack of alternatives allow for easy management of a problem like this. Vocal residents were diminished by threats from their large employer to pack up and leave.   Residents without options would resort to nostalgia.  "Our town will prosper as it always has”.  Even as it slowly bled to death.

Now thirty years later, the town that I knew is barely recognizable.  The population has aged out. Young families have moved away. Generations no longer generate.  It is necessary today for mill workers to be brought in to keep the mill in business with those who haven't a connection to the history or the spirit that once was.  The wealthy are no longer professionals. They are those who have the means to gobble up foreclosed properties to use as Section 8 housing.

A cautionary tale.

I turned out to be an artist. Things that the average person fear are just a part of ordinary life for me - and so that "fearlessness" and then a knack for organizing make for one hell of a tool chest in these times.  Four years after moving into this adopted city of mine  (and today, I'm a Kingston resident now for 12 years - the longest I've lived anywhere else other than my home town) and shortly after becoming a mom, I became what they call a 'community organizer' or 'activist' I suppose - and what I found was a gaping hole between the people and city hall that was downright disconcerting. Over the years and with the help of many volunteers and good souls, close to 50 initiatives both large and small to help repair that disconnect were created and diligently worked upon that would serve the public for a long time to come. Those of you who have come along for the ride for the past 8 years know what I'm speaking of.

***

I’ve been dismayed by recent events in Kingston.  The decisions and reactions of our mayor have disappointed me, but it’s not something I haven’t already seen in one form or another in Kingston's recent past.  On first blush, I find my inner dialogue focused on the politicians short comings. But the truth is, that our collective lack of knowledge and resignation in how local government works is where the problem lies.

Furthermore, the people's collective acceptance of bad behavior from those working on their behalf is mystifying. With such low expectations, what chance is there to develop and attract a greater range of talent and professionalism in high office elected positions?

Starting from the top down, Kingston has what is known as a “strong mayor” form of government. That means that whoever is elected into office essentially has full administrative authority. The people are encouraged to vote 'across the line' (promoting lazy voters in my estimation) and your mayor ends up navigating a $36.8 million dollar budget, a population of about 24,000 people and an entire aging citywide infrastructure.

Here's the thing.  He or she isn't required to have any specific qualifications for a job like this because qualifications is unconstitutional for any elected official. Did you know that? In essence,  that means that anyone at all can be your mayor, whether they are experienced in city management or not.  Think about that for a moment and try not to panic.

The city charter currently allows 'mayor' to appoint department heads and membership to the city’s internal committees without much or in some cases any oversight.  They might choose to cast a net to hire the most qualified candidates locally, or enlist those whose merit lies mainly in having helped them to become elected into office. As we have recently witnessed, the latter approach has led to an unprecedented number of firings.

Take a look sometime at the City of Kingston’s charter and read Article IV: "Mayor “General Powers and Duties.”  The executive duties are light at best.

Compare that to municipalities with a City Manager (Oneonta, NY) or City Administrator (Beacon, NY).  Pretty astonishing don't you think?

What would be in the public's best interest is to have an ongoing community discussion on the choices that exist for how a city like ours could be run.

Twenty years ago for a hot minute Kingston actually had a city manager form of government. It was a hard earned effort that was forged by a group of active citizens with the support of the chamber of commerce. There is an article written by Tom Benton that the Kingston Times  published describing how it all came to light. Prior to that, the mayor's role was considered a full time position, but with only part time pay.   More of a role had by a retiree with some clout in the community as I understand it.

City Manager wasn't long lived here in Kingston - as  T.R. Gallo, who petitioned at the last minute to reverse the 'City Manager' outcome before he himself ran for mayor, strengthening its role to what it is today.

If set up correctly, a city manager could diminish the power of party politics by placing more responsibility on a larger body of elected officials and therefore, placing more control in the hands of the people.

I like that.

How about requiring those newly elected council members to take a course in civics and in Kingston government? (new school board trustees get mandatory training.) Furthermore for our council, what about term limits with a maximum of two terms? It should be a common man's position. Like jury duty. There is no better way to learn how your local government works than by landing a role in it for a short time. If you find that you have a knack for public service?  Run for higher office.

Kingston is in the midst of rewriting its citywide Comprehensive Plan, a process that hasn’t been undertaken since 1961. They are calling it “Kingston 2025” and it’s meant to act as a road map for creating a resilient and sustainable community over the next 12 years. That’s entirely possible given the efforts of a good number of initiatives that have been underway for some time.  Kingston citizens, get in there.  Give your input and ask that once the new plan is in place, that it is looked at again for proper updates under each new executive office term. That's every four to five years.

City government is ours and as soon as we are afraid of it, we no longer live in a democracy. What is necessary to make things run smoothly in todays climate is organization, cooperation and different points of view. Be inquisitive, stay current and together make the changes that are needed and available to us.

- Rebecca Martin