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- Westchester Politics, Never Boring..
- Relentless Mother Nature Pummels Westchester Again!
- Stray Dogs. Why do People Let Them Stray?
- Don't put away that shovel just yet...
- Olympic Hopes Dashed
- Squeezing Blood from Upstate Stones
- Take Nothing for Granted
- He WILL Get That Dinner... and a New Spirit of Political Cooperation
2011 marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's historic visit to Peekskill.
Today, ground was broken for the interior construction of the Lincoln Depot Building which is slated to become the future Lincoln Depot Museum.
Westchester County Legislator John Testa was joined by County Executive Rob Astorino, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster, Former Peekskill Mayor Frances Gibbs and dozens of others to mark the beginning of the contruction.
The building, which is located near the Peekskill waterfront is the site where Lincoln made his speech before some 1500 people. It was one of his many campaign stops on a 12 day journey from Springfield, Illinois to his inaugural in Washington D.C. in 1861.
It is widely believed that Lincoln visited the City at the request of Peekskill Attorney William Nelson who served with Lincoln in Congress.
During his stint as Mayor of Peekskill Testa was able to obtain the necessary funding to purchase the Lincoln Depot site and facilitate the complete renovation of the exterior of the structure. The lifesize bronze Lincoln Statue that stands in front was dedicated in 2006.
Peekskill officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony today to mark the completion of the two year $73 million renovation of a portion of route 9 that runs through the city.
Four lanes of traffic were officially reopened today for the more than 33,000 vehicles that use the roadway daily.
The massive construction project involved road widening, rock blasting, the replacement of four bridges, new curbs, sidewalks, closed drainage systems and retaining walls.
More controversy in the 40th State Senate race.
A local grassroots group has been formed and has set up a Facebook page in opposition to one of the candidates in the race, Democratic Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz.
The group, calling itself "Stop Tax Hike Mike" is headed up by Robin Murphy of Chappaqua, whose district is represented by Kaplowitz. The group instead supports his oppponent in the race, Assemblyman Greg Ball.
In a news conference Friday, Murphy, said Kaplowitz, "Spent twelve years voting for increased taxes and higher spending. I don't see that in his campaign material." She went on to add "Thanks to Mike, Westchester is now stuck with the highest property taxes in the country and a deficit to boot."
Kaplowitz responded afterward to the charges saying his "record speaks for itself." Said Kaplowitz, "My record is a solid one. I have consistently fought for taxpayers-in fact the truth is I have saved over a hundred twently million dollars in wasteful spending and taxes. I Voted against my own party's increase in taxes; Voted against a pay raise for myself.--and as a financial planner saving people money for living."
State and local lawmakers were on hand in Peekskill today to take the wraps off a newly completed affordable senior-housing complex over looking the Hudson River.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino was joined by several Westchester County Legislators as well as Deputy Peekskill Mayor Don Bennett, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Greg Watson, the Regional Director of the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal, and officials with Conifer Realty LLC, which was responsible for construction and design of the facility. It features one and two bedroom units. Rent is about $800 a month for one bedroom apartments and $900 for two bedrooms.
Westchester County Legislator John Testa (R-Peekskill) announced today he's introducing legislation in which Westchester would file a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Testa was joined at the Cortlandt Train Station this morning by Putnam County Legislature Chairman Vinny Tamagna, saying the so-called "Payroll" or "Mobility" tax is unconstitutional. Tamagna called it ,"Taxation without representation," adding that the MTA doesn't even provide service in Putnam County.
Testa called the MTA Payroll Tax an "egregious tax" that unfairly burdens Westchester County businesses to the point that many are leaving the County. He says he's hopeful his proposal to join forces with Nassau County and sue the MTA over the tax, will receive broad, bi-partisan support on the County Board of Legislators. Said Testa, " At a time where counties such as Westchester are consolidating departments, overtime, pension benefits and health care costs, the MTA has done a poor job of finding ways to cut costs."
Testa cited a recent audit from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli which found overtime rampant in the MTA. DiNapoli found over 140 MTA employees literally doubled their annual salaries through overtime pay in 2009. And, some 3200 MTA employees received overtime pay equal to at least half of their annual salary last year. In 77% of the transactions checked, auditors found that the overtime was either unjustified or that no records were kept.
By a unanimous vote, the Westchester County Board of Legislators Monday voted to voice its opposition to proposed natural gas drilling projects of the Marcellus Shale rock formation in the Catskill Delaware Region.
The measure, sponsored by Legislator Peter Harckham (D-Katonah), urges Governor Paterson and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to ban hydrofracking, or drilling, for natural gas near the Catskill and Delaware watersheds, which provide Westchester and New York City with 80-90 percent of their drinking water.
The Legislators are asking that a moratorium be placed on hydrofracking throughout the state. Hydrofracking involves the use of chemicals that can infiltrate source and groundwater and pose other environmental and public health hazards. Said Harckham, "There are just too many unanswered questions about the safety of the technology, the chemicals used in the process, the amounts of water used and contaminated, as well as other risks to the environment." Harckham chairs the Board of Legislators' Energy and Envionment committee.
The sentiments were echoed by fellow committee member, Legislator John Testa (R-Peekskill) who says "The technology behind hydrofracking is imperfect at best."
Westchester joins other counties, like Cortland, Onondaga and Tompkins in calling for a moratorium on hydrofracking the Marcellus Shale rock formation.
The Westchester County Board of Legislators Monday night tabled a vote on a historic health care legislation package that would've required non-union employees to chip in on their health care insurance. Under the proposed legislation known as the Employee Health Insurance Contribution Bill, all elected officials, County officers, flat rate employees,certain non-union workers and retirees would have to contribute between 5 and 25% of their health insurance premiums. Republicans, led by Minority Whip Gordon Burrows (R-Bronxville), stalled the measure.
Around the Country
- Southwest to Cancel Flights as Jets Checked for Cracks - BusinessWeek
- Schumer: Dems slicing budget with scalpel, Tea Party using meat ax - CNN (blog)
- Duke lacrosse accuser arrested in boyfriend's stabbing - CNN International
- House GOP: $4 trillion in cuts - CNN
- Bachmann bids for 'bama eyes - Seattle Post Intelligencer
Around the Planet
- Afghans Continue Protests Over US Quran Burning - Voice of America
- Japan's nuclear workers try to trace leak, dump radioactive water - Los Angeles Times
- OSCE raps Kazakh election, presses for reforms - Reuters
- Newsmaker: Yemen survivor Saleh juggles forces to keep power - Reuters
- France says finds bodies in Atlantic crash wreckage - Reuters