Posts Tagged ‘Tupper Lake’

Friday, May 18, 2007

In The Adirondacks, Newspapers Are The Deciders

The Glens Falls Post Star recently came under fire from Brian over at MoFYC for their removal of anonymous reader comments to letters to the editor on the web. According to the PS website:

The Post-Star has decided to remove all commenting on letters to the editor at this time. Our letter writers are held to a standard that requires them to sign their letters. The commenting feature online does not require the respondent to be identified. We don’t feel that is fair. If anyone would like to respond to a letter, they must be held to the same standard as the letter writer and be identified. They can do this by writing their own letter to the editor through the Web site or responding directly to the editor.

Brian notes that:

1) editors already approve comments before they appear
2) the paper has it’s own anonymous “Don Coyote” feature
3) the paper encourages anonymous comments in it’s “It’s Debatable” feature

Meanwhile, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Tupper Lake has turned on one of its opinion cartoonists – Adirondack local Mark Wilson, a.k.a, Marquil – after THE PAPER ran his cartoon critical of the recent New York State Police standoff that ended in the death of one of the troopers (above left). The cartoon elicited a pile of letters to the editor from people who apparently didn’t agree with the OPINION. The paper’s response, as noted in the Daily Cartoonist, was a gem:

In hindsight, we think it was the wrong decision, and we apologize to all those who were hurt by it. At the time, we felt a certain obligation to publish this opinion despite our aversion to it, but we feel no such obligation now. A syndicated cartoon — even one by a local cartoonist — is not the same as a letter to the editor written by someone whose sole motive is to be heard. It’s a service we pay for, drawn by a cartoonist who draws them for a living. As a customer, a newspaper has no obligation to publish a cartoon that will damage its relationship with its readers.

There’s still a fine line between finding something disagreeable and finding it unacceptable. Looking back, we think this cartoon crossed that line.

What really gets under the skin about this one is that the paper’s editors actually had the guts to say:

We normally find Mr. Wilson’s cartoons insightful, and we respect the intelligence of his opinions whether we agree with him or not.

Really? Then why fire him over one comment you disagreed with?

We’ve defended the ancient right to write anonymously a number of times in our stint here at the Almanack. We’re proud to be part of a long history of anonymous writings from people like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin whose Poor Richard’s Almanack this blog derives it’s name from.

Like Franklin, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) wrote using various names to protect his job and make political commentary. Lewis Carrol and Bill O’Reilly have both used false names for their work. The respected British weekly The Economist prints articles without by-lines. The American Federalist Papers, without which the American Constitution may not have been ratified (at least in a timely manner), were written anonymously. Voltaire never publicly admitted to having written Candide; he used the name Monsieur le docteur Ralph. Besides, Voltaire was a pen name itself for Francois Marie Arouet, the man behind the defense of civil liberties and opposition to censorship that helped form part of the enlightened movement that led to the American Revolution.

Some women, like Mary Ann Evans (a.k.a.George Eliot) and Charlotte Bronte (a.k.a. Currer Bell) published under false names to assure that their work would be accepted by male publishers. The science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein’s earliest stories were set in a single future he created; he then used false names for stories set in other times and places.

Fear from retribution over unpopular views expressed at work, in the press, and in the polling booth is one of the most important underlying principles of our liberal democracy.

Luckily, the old media patriarchs we have suffered under for so long now are quickly finding themselves more and more irrelevant in our new media world, slowly pushed aside by the increasing relevance of blogs and citizen journalism.

We welcome the change.

While we’re at it. Check out the new home of our friend Matt at Matt’s Totally Biased Commentary. Here’s what Matt says about his new spot on the web:

All of the staff here at MTBC are truly biased and opinionated. To paraphrase Amy Goodman, we are “advocacy editorialists”. Rather than hide any of this from you, we are awfully proud of it (just ask any of our friends). We believe in democracy, open and civil discourse, Ralph Nader, third party politics and less consumerism. Beware that there will be occasional bursts of intellignet thought mixed with angry knee-jerk repsonses to the insanely misguided actions of all kinds of people … mostly Democrats, Republicans and journalists. There will be much railing against the lapdog media, the ruling class felons who call themselves our “leaders” and the thieves and welfare cheats who comprise corporate America. Be careful not to get blood on your shoes. Banging your head against these brick walls can get pretty messy!

Sound familiar?


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Screwed: Adirondack Beaver Pond Hermit Alan Como

A regular reader of the Almanack sent us this article from the Chronicle writer Gordon Woodsworth with the following note:

Although I suppose I agree w/ the rational for the charge – it saves innocent victims trouble, time and expense,and I assume he’s guilty of breaking and entry and burglary. There is something a bit dark and sinister that he’s charged with the felony of cutting the State’s trees and brush to make himself a shelter in the wild. Sounds like Robin Hood’s Merry Men who were mostly criminalized for “hunting the King’s Deer.”

We couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the heavy hand of our new-found police state isn’t above charging people for unrelated crimes to save a DA’s time. Four years is in no way an appropriate sentence for cutting $250 worth of trees.

It should be noted by the way, that no one even considered a jail sentence for whoever at DOT was responsible for cutting some 5,000 trees in the State Forest Preserve along Route 3 between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake in the summer of 2005. Our guess is no one even got a reprimand in that case.

We’re certainly not condoning a hermit’s theft of minor items from isolated camps. That’s a crime that should be punished. But the Beaver Pond Hermit case is a clear signal that if you choose to live outside the boundaries of mainstream society, you may find yourself a target for the police state.


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Commentary: Adirondack Winter Sports Under Threat

If it wasn’t painfully obvious before, weather for this early January week that stretched into the sunny 60’s at some Adirondack locations should serve as a reminder that global warming is going to have serious impacts on the Adirondack region. Unfortunately, few here in the mountains seem to understand the gravity of the situation for our local economies.

Our friends working at Gore Mountain Ski Resort have been hardly working at all and consequently spending a lot less on dinners out, winter gear, and even beer and other important winter supplies. The few trails open on Gore are so crowded (with even the small crowd that’s there) that the die-hards refuse to make runs for fear of being run-over. Whiteface in Lake Placid has been forced to cancel its annual World Cup Freestyle competition (now being held at Deer Valley, Utah) and has virtually no beginner trails open.

Meanwhile, two of the largest developments in Adirondack history are expected to be rammed through the Adirondack Park Agency by pro-development George Pataki appointees. The most bizarre part of these projects is that they, believe it or not, have relied on development of two area ski resorts to appease locals and persuade some that the good they’ll provide for the local economy by way of skiing will outweigh the damage to the park.

Fred LeBrun noted in his column today:

[Tupper Lake project] developer Michael Foxman’s mega-vision to create the high-end Adirondack Club and Resort, which would include 700 expensive units on 6,400 acres, much of it in back country, has been highly controversial since it was proposed three years ago. Part of the plan, a sop to the locals, is reopening Big Tupper Ski Center as an economic engine.

In North Creek (Warren County), local politicos and real estate agents are pushing (with the help of newly appointed APA member, Warren County Board of Supervisors Chair, and Johnsburg Town Supervisor Bill Thomas) a project called – get this – Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain that would include exclusive trailside housing, an equestrian facility, retail shops and restaurants, a major hotel, two smaller inns, a spa, a private ski lodge, and a 9-hole golf course, on 430 acres, some of which on what was a town-owned park and before that the historic North Creek Ski Bowl where downhill skiing an early start in New York State.

Folks – skiing in the Adirondacks in the future will be all but dead. If there hasn’t been a proper ski season for Adirondack resorts in at least four years, and the experts agree that the coming year will be the warmest on record (again), it’s time to see the forest for the trees – no project tied to the ski season has a hope of being successful on that basis in the long run.

A recent regional global warming meeting reported that:

In the Northeast, the climate may be changing even more rapidly, particularly in winter. Compared to 1970, there are now 15 to 30 fewer days of snow on the ground in the Northeast, one study found. Some regional models also show an increase in average temperatures of 1.4 degrees over 102 years, but a spike of 2 to 4 degrees over the past 30 years.

“Climate has always been changing, so we can’t talk about climate change as something new,” said Art DeGaetano, director of the Northeast Climate Data Center at Cornell University. “Clearly, the temperatures we’re seeing today … are much warmer than we’ve seen for the last 1,000 years. Clearly, there’s warming almost everywhere.

“Climate change is upon us,” he said. “Climate is going to warm, so we do have to act and we do have to prepare.”

If there are any segments of the Adirondack economy that you can count on to take a nose dive in the next 20 years it’s winter sports. It doesn’t take a genius to understand “15 to 30 fewer days of snow on the ground” means that investing hundreds of millions in Adirondack skiing and snowmobiling industries is not a good idea. Despite the ignorant claim by Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center that there is “No cause for alarm. Enjoy it while you have it,” you might also forget large investments in ice fishing shanties and winter carnival concessions in case you needed to be told.

So why – oh please tell us why – are state and local governments spending so much money on these debacles?

Let’s start with ballsy developers:

The [Tupper Lake] developer is calling for the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency to come up with $50 million to $60 million for infrastructure costs. In essence, that would require the county taxpayers to guarantee the bonds for his private venture. That is a stupefying request. Even more mind-boggling is that there are those in the town and county who are ready to go along with the developer.

And add a dose of misguided Republican cronyism:

Gov. George Pataki, down to his final weeks in office, announced plans Friday for a $7 million expansion of the state-run Gore Mountain Ski Center that will enable the Johnsburg attraction to boast having the eighth-largest vertical drop in the eastern United States.

The state will spend an additional $3 million to complete the railroad line connection between [Republican] Saratoga Springs and [Republican] North Creek.

Skiers from Saratoga Springs, as well as the Albany and New York City areas, will be able to take the train to North Creek and leave their personal vehicles at home, Pataki said.

“You’re not going to have the traffic; you’re not going to have the pollution, and you’re not going to have the congestion. But you are going to have the economic growth,” he said during a press conference at the North Creek train station.

Bill “Snow Is All We Have” Thomas:

When completed, skiers from New York City and elsewhere could take a train up to North Creek, delivered within a half-mile of the ski bowl area, Thomas said. “It’s very important to tourism in Johnsburg,” Thomas said of the resort plans. “I see it as a big catalyst for Main Street businesses.”

Betty “I’m Not Running For Congress” Little:

“Gore Mountain is a tremendous asset for the state and for our region. All of us here today share the desire and realize the importance of making an already great skiing experience at Gore Mountain even better. That requires sizable investments by New York State.”

Ahhh… Betty… New York State doesn’t make “sizable investments,” the people of New York State do.

Since 1995, the state has poured $70 million into the Olympic Regional Development Authority. If we assume about 100,000 year-round residents, that’s $700 per person! And that doesn’t count state and local tax discounts, increased costs of services for local communities serving ski resorts, the higher costs of goods and services priced for the tourist market, county funds (like the Tupper Lake 50 or 60 million), and who knows what else. According to NCPR, “This year, Lake Placid’s sports and tourism venues received more than $40 million in state subsidies. That’s roughly $15 thousand for every man, woman and child living inside the village limits.”

Developers, local politicians, ill-informing media – go outside! See, that there is no snow, and not likely to be regular snow at anything near historic levels in our lifetimes. Stop pushing fantasies that hide your real motive – unlimited development of the last great wilderness area east of the Rockies.

And while we’re at it – we received an e-mail from Bill McKibben today announcing a “a day of demonstrations for April 14” – a great idea (info at Stepitup2007.org).

It’s going to be an unusual day. People will be rallying in many of America’s most iconic places: on the levees in New Orleans, on top of the melting ice sheets on Mt. Hood and in Glacier National Park, even underwater on the endangered coral reefs off Key West and Hawaii. But we need hundreds of rallies outside churches, and in city parks, and in rural fields. It’s not a huge task — assemble as many folks as possible, hoist a banner, take a picture. We’ll link pictures of the protests together electronically via the web—before the day is out, we’ll have a cascade of images to show both local and national media that Americans don’t consider this a secondary issue. That instead they want serious action now.

If you are planning to organize an event, please let us know – we’ll list events as they’re organized – wouldn’t events at local closed ski resorts be something?

UPDATE: Pam Mandrel, over at BlogHer, has linked to this post and included some other posts about global warming’s impact on the American ski industry. Thanks Pam for a great follow-up.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Timing of Pataki’s APA Appoints Questioned

We just received this press release from the Adirondack Council and thought it was worth sharing, in light of our last post. Also, Adirondack Base camp has an interesting post on the APA and what needs to be done.

Timing of Pataki APA Appointments to Park Agency Could Boost Chances of 800-lot Tupper Lake Subdivision

Governor Pataki has appointed (and the Senate confirmed at 2:15 p.m. today) two Adirondack Town Supervisors to serve on the 11-member Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners. The board has regulatory authority over all major development projects in the six-million-acre Adirondack Park.

The Adirondack Council is disappointed by these two appointments at this time, for two related reasons. First, both gentlemen are being asked to serve two masters. Both are the chief financial officers for their towns, as well as being representatives of their towns on their respective County Board of Supervisors. How, then, can they be impartial judges of development projects that might bring needed revenue into their communities, but would also harm the environment?

Worse, the two are from Warren and Hamilton counties, which together comprise more than one-third of the entire Adirondack Park, making a conflict of interest more likely. The Park Agency has no formal rules or guidelines to clarify what commissioners should do when faced with such conflicts. In some cases, commissioners have recused themselves, while in others they have not.

More curious is the timing of the appointments, one day before the Adirondack Park Agency is set to rule on whether it will accept as complete the application of failed savings & loan executive Michael Foxman for a sprawling 800-lot subdivision on the slopes around Big Tupper Ski Center. We are very much opposed to the project. However, the co-applicant for the project is the Town of Tupper Lake, causing us some worry that the appointments were made to grease the skids for the Tupper mega-development.

The appointees are Frank Mezzano, Supervisor of the Town of Lake Pleasant, Hamilton County, and Bill Thomas, Supervisor of the Town of Johnsburg (North Creek is the biggest community) in Warren County.

There are two more interesting twists here. One: We and many other environmental advocates think Bill Thomas will, over time, be a good commissioner. He’s a smart guy and a dedicated public servant. We had suggested his name to the next administration, but cautioned that they wait until his tenure as Town Supervisor had ended in January 2007 (to avoid pressure and conflicts as commissioner). His appointment fills the seat vacated by Deanne Rehm of Bolton, who resigned at the end of her term this summer. Thomas’s term will run until 2010.

Two: Frank Mezzano resigned from the APA Board of Commissioners in the summer of this year, stating he would not serve out his term. He said some bitter things about the APA and the way commissioners made decisions. Yet, here he is again. He has been appointed to fill the vacancy left by his own resignation. This appointment is good only until June.

Thus, our suspicion that the Pataki Administration is scrambling to pack the APA board of commissioners prior to the Thursday/Friday vote to determine the fate of the Tupper mega-development. If the APA says the application is complete and sets a date for the first public hearing, the entire project could be ready for a final decision on the permit before June.

Keep in mind that Governor-elect Spitzer will have the authority to appoint his own chairman of the APA board, but cannot remove a sitting commissioner without just cause (proof of malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance). He will have to await new vacancies to appoint his own commissioners.

John F. Sheehan
Communications Director
The Adirondack Council


Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Tupper Lake’s Adirondack Dark Skies

Associated Press reporter Michael Virtanen is now offering a nice piece on the Adirondack Public Observatory:

The not-for-profit Adirondack Public Observatory in its first year has raised about $40,000 toward a $500,000 goal, according to board members. They have chosen a site in Tupper Lake, about 110 miles north of Albany. The parcel, at 1,600 feet in elevation, overlooks the town beach and campground at Little Wolf Pond.

“We are in what’s called a dark puddle here,” Staves said, noting the contrast in nighttime satellite images of the Earth. “We can actually see the Milky Way, which is something you can’t actually see most places now.”

The observatory had been offered a spot near the new Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks being built on the other side of the village. The reason it wasn’t? “there was too much light pollution from nearby Sunmount hospital, said Jan Wojcik, observatory board member.”

Great planning folks… the lights from a hospital reduce the overall impact of having both facilities within walking distance. Imagine the draw for something like that – now imagine how many visitors to the new museum will leave the museum, climb into their car, and drive to the observatory – we’ll guess not too many.

Apparently some planners in Tupper Lake neeeds a lesson on light pollution.

MSNBC has a nice image (on a screwy web page) of light pollution in New York.

By the way, the Natural History Museum construction is well under way.


Monday, January 2, 2006

In New York The State of The State is The State of The Adirondacks

We normally keep our post here at the Adirondack Almanack to regional concerns. But it’s time for Governor Pataki’s State of the State Address – and while the Pataki Administration has been piling it high and deep, a more sober assessment, relevant for those of us inside the Blue Line, comes from the People’s State of the State. A rally is planned in Albany for tomorrow to urge New York lawmakers to do something about poverty in New York including its “skyrocketing heating bills, lack of access to affordable quality health care, and high housing costs.”

Some highlights from their press release:

Food lines at food pantries and soup kitchens remain at historically high levels and expect the situation to worsen following federal budget cuts and changes in the federal TANF program.

If we look back in time 25 years, a few of our local churches were beginning closet pantries. Today we have 43 food pantries and 22 soup kitchens in Albany and southern Rensselaer County alone, serving more than 2 million meals each year. Programs do not have the resources to do what they are being asked to do,” noted Lynda Schuyler, Director of the Food Pantries of the Capital District.

Anti-hunger advocates are seeking an increase in state funding for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program from $22.8 million to $30 million. State funding is down $2 million from four years ago. Groups are also concerned about Congress’ elimination of all funding for the Community Food Nutrition Program, the main federal funding for anti-hunger organizations.

Unfortunately, there is probably no one monitoring the poverty situation in the Adirondacks (one of the poorest regions in the state) and no visible advocates for working poor families. There’s more here.

Another disturbing trend for our area is the effective elimination of the DEC ability to monitor our environment and deal with corporate polluters and exploiters. From Inside Albany this week we learned that nearly 800 staff positions have disappeared from the agency since the mid-1990s:

[Environmental Committee Chair Thomas DiNapoli, a Nassau county Democrat] invited DEC commissioner Denise Sheehan to answer questions about how the agency was coping with its severely reduced staff. However, she faxed her testimony, saying she was unable to appear. Sheehan gave no reason and didn’t send an assistant commissioner to read her testimony.

DiNapoli asked Assembly staffer Rick Morse to read Sheehan’s statement. It ran down a list of nearly a dozen examples of Governor Pataki’s “leadership” on the environment. They included the governor’s greenhouse gas initiative to cap carbon dioxide emissions. Also on the list were Pataki’s open space acquisitions. He counts 932,00 acres of land toward his goal of preserving a million acres. The statement did not mention the department’s decline in staff.

Not only were the numbers down, [Environmental Advocates] Tim Sweeney said. Governor Pataki’s general hiring freeze combined with early retirement incentives had stripped the agency of valuable knowledge. Valuable expertise and institutional memory had been lost in the retirements. The trend is likely to get worse. A comptroller’s report estimated that 38% of the department’s staff will be retirement-eligible by 2007. About a thousand more could go by then.

Worse indeed. More large scale developments like those at North Creek and Tupper, enormous development pressures on Warren and Essex counties, proposed wind farms in the park, roads being turned over to ATVs, snowmobile trails expanding every year, more visitors every year, all while year round residents deal with a serious lack of affordable housing, generations of local poverty, closing public schools, low-wage tourism jobs – the one state agency that should be taking a lead role on life in the Adirondack Park is asleep at the wheel.

2006 – here we come.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

At Gore and Tupper: Two New Adirondack Ski Resorts?

In North Creek the Gore Mountain – Little Gore Ski Bowl connection is moving forward and there are big plans afoot for the ski area in Tupper Lake as well.

Also in Sunday’s Adirondack news: The APA is cracking down on a rich guy in the Town of Webb who apparently doesn’t think he has to follow the same rules as the rest of us – and the search for the Adirondack League Club arsonist continues.


Sunday, November 6, 2005

Adirondack Natural History at Home and In Space

Two new developments in Adirondack Natural History. The Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks has announced they will open this July and an Adirondack Public Observatory is planned for Tupper Lake.


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