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, December 13, 2006

North Creek: Center of the Adirondack Universe?

Lame duck Representative John Sweeney has gone over the edge, into debt, and apparently, on vacation from the rest of the duties Adirondack voters once hired him to carry out. Rumors are also circulating at the Times Union’s Capitol Confidential blog that his house is for sale and he’s moving to DC – meanwhile, he has apparently never called Gillibrand to concede the race or to assist in the transition.

In North Creek, the bar owned by Sweeney spokesperson Maureen Donovan (Casey’s North), is up for sale. Donovan is now a two-time loser. She was let go from the Warren County Economic Development Corporation last January but landed on her feet as Sweeney spokesperson. We wonder if they’re both headed to the K Street lobbyists, for their next bite of our pie.

All of this saddens the North Creek New Enterprise. The NCNE was once a great little paper that was published in North Creek – was that is, until it was taken over by Denton Publications entitled “Local leaders hope for the best with this summer and became a mouthpiece for the Sweeney crowd. There was a funny article after the election on November 18thGillibrand.” Here’s a great quote:

Bill Thomas, Chair of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, said the election showed that people felt they wanted a new direction.

“I was very, very satisfied with everything John Sweeney did for us,” he said. “He was a great Representative for me, the Town of Johnsburg and Warren County, and I hope this new person will do the same.”

You “hope this new person will do the same”? Bill – her name is the Right Honorable Representative from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. I mean, come on, you can’t even say her name? And how proud are you of Sweeney now that you know he intends to blow off the rest of the job we hired him for because he’s a sore loser?

And speaking of North Creek and Bill Thomas. The Press Republican (now also under new owners) is reporting that Thomas (who has also served as Johnsburg Town Supervisor for-ever) will be appointed to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in a flurry of last minute Republican appointments by George Pataki. Thomas has been a major proponent of the Gore Mountain – North Creek Ski Bowl connection – he says he’ll recuse himself.

The Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain is planning upscale trailside housing, an equestrian facility, retail shops and restaurants, a major hotel, two smaller inns, a spa, a private lodge, and a 9-hole golf course, all on 430 acres adjacent to the town’s Historic Ski Bowl Park, the original site of skiing in North Creek (and one of the first in the nation). The proposal has drawn tremendous opposition from locals who resent the Johnsburg Town board’s (led by Bill Thomas) turning over part of Ski Bowl Park to sweeten the developer’s deal (they’re from Connecticut).

The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) – the state authority that operates Gore Mountain – has recently come under fire from some local business people (including Bill Donovan, Maureen Donovan’s husband) who objected to a 20-year contract that gave ORDA the rights to the Ski Bowl Park Base Lodge’s concessions, and use of a new lodge in winter – the Donovans apparently think that money from the sale of soda pop at the Ski Bowl should have went to them.

Which brings us to the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA), which has filed suit opposing the way the whole Gore-Ski Bowl-Private Development plan is being carried out (much to the dismay, no doubt, of local real estate guy and Johnsburg Planning Board member, Mark Bergman). Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the organization since 1994, to us some time ago that the plan to connect Little Gore and Big Gore was considered separately from the rest of the Ski Bowl development plans rather than as one interconnecting large-scale development as the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) requires.

And that brings us back to the newly Republican North Creek News Enterprise. This week they are reporting (in screaming HUGE HEADLINES) that “local officials wary of RCPA recommendations” – turns out that Peter Bauer has been named to Eliot Spitzer’s transition team and that apparently upsets the powers that be at the paper and their friend – you guessed it – Bill Thomas.

Of course we don’t take much stock in what the NCNE has to say anymore – back on November they were telling us that Hudson Headwaters Health Network guru John Rugge was “looking a little nervously at the future” – but he’s just been named to Spitzer’s transition team as well.

Keep up the (ahem) good work News Enterprise.

Oh yeah… the reward for the NCNE’s support for Bill Thomas and his crew? The paper gets to be named the official paper for legal notices, something Thomas and the Johnsburg board had refused to do when Denton first took over.

UPDATE 12/17/06: One local resident reports that MARK Bergman (thanks for the first name correction) is not the only real estate agent on the Johnsburg Planning Board. Our tipster also reports that Bill Donovan is on the Planning Board and is using the Front Street (Gore Mountain Village) project as a selling point for Casey’s North. Tipster also reports that the Donovan’s home in Wevertown is also up for sale “for $350,000… about twice what they paid for it a couple of years ago.” And…

I have known Bill Thomas for 20 years and I have a great deal of hope (okay, some hope…) that he will be relatively fair as an APA Commissioner. Especially as he is not running for re-election next year. He does much better when personal political considerations are not on the table… And, I can assure you that Bill Thomas is not at all displeased with Sweeneys departure. He immediately reached out to Gillibrand and I think they will have a good working relationship.

Regarding the NCNE [the North Creek News Enterprise]… they ran no less than 6 pro-Sweeney stories in the months before the election. When Kirsten came to town in September, they ran the story 3 weeks later in the form of a picture caption buried in the middle of the “paper”.

I also have a source deep within the republican party who tells me that Sweeney is in despair because he has no real prospects for his future. K Street likely doesn’t want him. He’s damaged goods with no where to go. Boo freakinhoo!

Thanks tipster… and thanks for reading the Almanack.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Winter Camping in the Adirondacks

Jim Muller of Holland Patent has been backpacking since the 1960s, but about nine years ago he and a few friends (age 20 to 50) began camping in the Adirondacks in the winter months – no bears, no black flies, no mosquitoes. “We have done a wide range of trips, from simple hikes to lean-tos while pulling a plastic sled to backpacking trips and multi-day dog sledding adventures,” Muller told the Adirondack Almanack in a recent e-mail.

We think that winter camping has advantages over summer camping: You can reach areas that are too wet or overgrown during other seasons, and the clear and open view is unparalleled. Winter camping provides solitude and a feeling of exploration; even heavily traveled trails seem like virgin territory when covered by a fresh blanket of snow. Camping in the winter inspires a feeling of independence and gives people confidence in their survival skills.

Winter camping also relieves some pressure from heavily (over) used High Peaks trails. Check out the Winter Campers web site at www.wintercampers.com. The site includes an Expedition Log, a list of winter Leave No Trace principles, winter camping Tips and Tricks, a comprehensive Gear List, along with Gear Reviews, and even some Poetry, and a Discussion Board.

The Outdoor Action Program of Princeton University also offers an outstanding introductory winter camping manual.


Suggested Reading

Bill Ingersoll’s Snowshoe Routes: Adirondacks & Catskills

Backpacker Magazine’s
Winter Hiking & Camping: Managing Cold for Comfort & Safety

Calvin Rustrum’s Paradise Below Zero: The Classic Guide to Winter Camping

Chris Townshend’s Wilderness Skiing & Winter Camping

AMC’s Guide to Winter Camping: Wilderness Travel and Adventure in the Cold-Weather Months


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Adirondack Council Releases "State of the Park" Report

From John Sheehan, Communications Director for The Adirondack Council, we recently recieved the Council’s 21st annual State of the Park Report. You can view and download a low-resolution version from their website at www.adirondackcouncil.org.

According to Sheehan:

State of the Park is a non-partisan report card on the political decisions and actions that had the greatest impact — good or bad — on the health and well-being of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park over the past 12 months. You will find that State of the Park is the most detailed and comprehensive annual environmental review produced for any park in the United States. However, it is written for a general audience, not scientists, making it a useful tool for environmentally minded voters.

The Adirondack Park comprises 20 percent of New York State’s total land area. It has only 130,000 permanent residents, but hosts nearly 10 million visitors a year. The park contains 90 percent of all roadless Wilderness from Maine to the Everglades.

In furtherance of the Adirondack Council’s goal of holding public officials accountable for their actions, the Council doesn’t accept public grants or taxpayer-funded donations of any kind.

We know the Council has had its absolutley crazy moments – like when it supported Bush’s “Clear Skies” b-shit early in his first term.

Remember this, from Bush’s visit to help clearcut Whiteface?

I also call for new clear skies legislation, to set new tough standards to reduce air pollution. For decades, New Yorkers have been fighting acid rain. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments helped reduce the problem. And now we should do more at the Federal level. Some of the biggest sources of air pollution are the powerplants, which send tons of emissions into our air. Therefore we have set a goal: With clear skies legislation, America will do more to reduce powerplant emissions than ever before in our Nation’s history.

Sure folks, clear [ahem] skies.

Anyway, while they certainly disappointed us then, the Adirondack Council actually spends time and energy trying to protect the Adirondacks – for that they deserve our thanks.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Adirondack Hacks

Another in our occasional feature of Adirondack Hacks which offer randomly organized links to make life in the Adirondacks easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, and anything else that offers a better, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

TrackItBack Helps You Locate Lost Gear

The Baddest Job Site Radio (i-Pod compatable)

Dog Gone – GPS Dog Tracking System

Eleven Way to Improve Your VOIP Service

Geotag Your Photos on Flickr

Make Your Own Musical Instruments

Take a look at previous Adirondack Hacks here.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Holy Guest Editorial Adirondack Man! Poverty and ADK Jobs

George Bryjak of Bloomingdale, Essex County has written an incredible guest editorial for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise:

As I enter the seventh decade of life, my most enduring recollections are of people toiling in Third World nations. As a young Marine in Vietnam, I watched three men ploughing a field like beasts of burden in the scorching heat. Two were yoked to a plough while the third stood on the blade. After about 60 slow yards of muscle-aching drudgery, they stopped. The men rotated positions upon completing a row with each man getting a much-needed rest every third pull.

The rest is even more powerful. A quick search for Bryjak’s work turned up a lot of material including an excellent piece entitled “Outsourcing the American Dream” in Z Magazine from 2004 on the threat of out-sourcing jobs. A sample:

A study of 400 of the nation’s top 1,000 companies concluded that by 2006, between 35 and 45 percent of current full-time IT jobs will be sent overseas. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Bardhan and Kroll estimate that of the almost 128 million workers in the U.S., 11 percent—or just over 14 million individuals—are at risk of having their jobs outsourced.

IT positions will follow the millions of manufacturing jobs already lost, only at a more rapid pace. As Matthew Slaughter of Dartmouth College notes, “IT work will move faster because it is easier to ship work across phone lines and put consultants on airplanes than it is to ship bulky raw materials across borders and build factories.”

Significantly lower labor costs are the primary rationale for this job exodus. While telephone operators in the U.S. earn an average of $12.57 an hour, in India they make less than $1.00 Payroll clerks take home less than $2.00 an hour whereas their counterparts in the U.S. average $15.17 an hour. Business Week reports, “Soon, offshore accountants may do everything but on-site audits.” Medical billing may become the first occupational category to all but disappear.

We wonder – how did that estimate of 35 to 45 percent of IT jobs being outsourced by 2006 actually work out?

Mr. Bryjak, paging Mr. Bryjak.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Adirondack Wal-Mart Moves On

An important regional blogger Adirondack Wal-Mart will be writing only occasionally until the retail giant returns for another attempt at turning the Adirondacks into a suburban strip mall. According to a recent post:

I’ve been lured over to The Writing on the Wal. Until Wal-Mart raises its ugly head in the area, I’ll probably be posting only occasionally. If you want to see how Wal-Mart pretends to sleep after a defeat, read this post. It’s a very persistent company.

The latest in Saranac Lake is the possibility of an Aldi Supermarket – but guess who won’t support it? That’s right, the big Wal-Mart supporters. Apparently it was more of a political issue for them as well and less of a matter of getting an affordable store in town. We still think a community co-op, something like Honest Weight down in Albany, is the best path for isolated communities to protect their economies and provide the goods we all need.

Thanks again Adirondack Wal-Mart for all the great posts and for keeping us informed in a far more in-depth way that any of our local newspapers could (or would).

Check out the Adirondack Almanack’s previous Wal-Mart posts.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Adirondack Almanack Mentioned in Adirondack Life

In case you haven’t seen it, a piece by Adirondack Life editor Galen Crane in the December 2006 mentions the Adirondack Almanack.

The idea of falling through ice—certainly the possibility of it— probably occurs to you when you step onto a frozen lake. At the very least, you make a quick assessment of conditions. If such thoughts don’t enter your mind, they should. Last winter, a rash of incidents on Adirondack lakes—mostly the big ones—made headlines here and as far away as Long Island. And now the ice is on its way back in.

Falling through is, as the wife of a repeat winter swimmer put it, a fact of life up here. Some stories are almost comical. In the late 1800s, a general store was being moved across Brant Lake’s frozen surface to a new location when it dropped through. There’s the occasional account of ice fishermen adrift in Lake Champlain on a huge sheet of ice that the wind and waves have broken off, floating slowly toward the Richelieu River and Canada before being rescued. Cars, log trucks and bulldozers have all failed to make shortcuts over big lakes.

Sound familiar? Regular readers know how obsessed we are here at the Almanack about falling through.

We’d also like to welcome Mr. Crane to our long list of movers and shakers in our region who read the Almanack regularly. Remember this story covered by NCPR’s Brian Mann?


Suggested Reading

Adirondack Life Magazine’s 2007 Calendar


Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Adirondack Region Election Results

North Country Public Radio has done a great job with election coverage this year – check them out for Adirondack / North Country results and Ellen Rocco blogging from Washington DC.

Great job NCPR!


Sunday, November 5, 2006

Sweeney Gillibrand: Pres Clinton Coming to Glens Falls Monday

Allison Price, spokeswoman to John Sweeney’s Democratic challenger Kirsten Gillibrand, announced today that former President Bill Clinton will be in our region for a get out the vote rally at the Glens Falls Airport in Warren County Airport in Queensbury totomorrowMonday) at 1:45 p.m. According to a new Siena Poll, she’s running neck-and-neck with Sweeney in the North Country part of the 20th CD.

New York Cowboy has the complete poll data that shows Sweeney was already in danger before the wife beating allegations.


Wednesday, November 1, 2006

20th CD – The End of Congressman John Sweeney?

According to a New York State Police document unofficially obtained by the Times Union [pdf] Corporate Republican Congressman John Sweeney‘s wife told police last year that he was “knocking her around the house.” According to the TU:

Sweeney’s wife, Gaia, [twenty years his junior] placed the emergency call to a police dispatcher in Saratoga County at 12:55 a.m. on Dec. 2, according to the document.

“Female caller stating her husband is knocking her around the house,” a dispatcher wrote. “Then she stated ‘Here it comes, are you ready?’ and disconnected the call. Upon call-back, the husband stated no problem … asked the wife if she wanted to talk. Wife (caller) then got on the phone and stated that she’s fine and that she’s drunk. Caller sounded intoxicated. She advised that she was endangered for a moment, but everything is fine.”

He’s claimed the report is, if you can believe this, fake! What’s more, he’s threatened any media that reports on it:

“If any media outlet plans to run a story based on this unauthentic, false and concocted document the outlet should be prepared to deal directly with our counsel.”

There is really no surprise here. Just two weeks before the alleged wife beating incident Sweeney’s son seriously beat another young man in a fight:

Less than two weeks earlier, his son, John J. Sweeney, then 19, pleaded guilty to felony assault charges for his role in a fight that left another young man with skull fractures and blurred vision. The younger Sweeney initially faced the prospect of spending up to 15 years in prison, but a plea deal gave him youthful offender status and a sentence that included four months of weekends in jail and community service.

No surprise there either. Remember that bar fight from almost a year ago?

New York Daily News reported Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, took a blow from a Red Sox fan who’d had enough of Sweeney’s pro-Yankees banter one evening earlier this month at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. Sweeney spokeswoman Melissa Carlson flatly denied the report, saying the alleged incident was nothing more than a “heated discussion about Yankees vs. Red Sox.”

No suprise there either – remember the Miami-Dade County Board of Elections Republican riot? Guess who couldn’t keep his anger in check there either; guess who “gave the signal”?

The suddenly prominent Mr. Sweeney is credited for giving the signal for last week’s productive Republican fracas inside the Miami Dade county offices, after which the canvassing board abruptly canceled a hand recount of votes that would have helped Al Gore.

How about his refusal to answer questions about the ORDA sweetheart deals he was passing to his lobbyist buddies?

How about his lies regarding why he won’t debate?

How about his lies about his opponents place of residence?

How about his attempt to distance himself from his record of supporting the Bush Administration.

Or his voting in support of the positions of the Christian Coalition 69% of the time.

Or his voting for prayer in public schools on numerous occasions. The National Education Association gives him only an 18% approval rating.

Or his voting for making it a federal crime to transport minors across state lines for an abortion. His record is 90% anti-abortion.

Or his voting to ban adoptions by gays or other individuals who are not related by blood or marriage (HR 2587). Sweeney has just a 21% rating by the ACLU.

Or his support for free trade, tax cuts, and social security privatization.

According to his wikipedia entry:

Sweeney also opposes environmental protections and was given a “D” grade by EANY for opposing GE dredging of PCB aka Polychlorinated biphenyl from the Hudson River.

In 2001, Sweeney voted against a bill that would require increasing average fuel efficiency standards and offer incentives for alternative fuel vehicles. (Bill HR 4).

Sweeney received an “F” on the Drum Major Institute’s 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle class issues.

According to EMILY’s List, Sweeney has taken more campaign contributions from special interests than any other of New York’s 29 Representatives.

Sweeney is also the seventh largest recipient of contributions from lobbyists out of all 435 House representatives.

Then there is the January 2001 trip Sweeney made to the North Marianas with Tony C. Rudy, an associate of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Sweeney has said that the North Marianas Islands government paid for the trip, but the government denied that. And just what is the Jack Abramoff – Lake George – John Sweeney connection?

Then there is also this:

On April 11, 2003, Sweeney began paying a company called Creative Consulting for fund-raising. The company had been founded a day earlier by Gaia (goes by the name Gayle) Ford. Between April 2003 and December 2003, Sweeney’s campaign paid $42,570 to the firm.

Sweeney’s wife, who had no previous fund-raising experience, gets 10 percent of whatever she raises. Between January 2005 and April 2006, Ford was paid $30,879. And that’s not all the fundraising scandals.

And there was this classic:

On April 22, 2006, Sweeney reportedly appeared at a registered party at the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity of Union College. Witnesses reported that, after leaving a bar, he appeared to be intoxicated. Photographs and videos captured some of the events. Sweeney denied being drunk and denied drinking at the party.

All of this seems to pale by comparison, if that’s possible, to his alleged drunk driving incident:

On the night of January 23, 2001, around 10:00 p.m., Sweeney lost control of his 2001 Jeep Laredo and hit a utility pole on a rural upstate road, shutting down power to the homes of several residents and to the nearby Willard Mountain ski resort, stranding skiers aloft on the chairlifts. Sweeney was not charged or ticketed, and the state trooper on the scene refused the offer by a volunteer-fire-department chief to send a crew to the site to direct traffic (instead, a local resident did this, for an hour and a half, with downed and live electrical wires about). In early February, a local newspaper reported that Sweeney had been in a bar before the crash. Witnesses came forward to insist that Sweeney had only one or two glasses of wine. The newspaper noted that Sweeney was not given a sobriety test by the state trooper on the scene.

Now for the resignations:

State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett
Awarded for allowing Sweeney to get away without a sobriety test in 2001 and for covering up the domestic abuse incident.

Saratoga County Republican Chairman John “Jasper” Nolan
Awarded for lying to the citizens of his county by stating that the domestic abuse document was forged and saying “In my mind, that certainly came from the Gillibrand camp. And I think it’s low and disgusting.”

Warren County Republican Chairman Michael Grasso
Ditto, though he said “It’s obviously garbage”

The Editors of Glens Falls Post Star
Awarded for failing to protect the citizens of their community by endorsing Sweeney.

“Kirsten Gillibrand is a strong candidate and has waged a solid campaign. But she’s just not experienced enough to have her first elected position be congresswoman. If you want a candidate who has the political clout and experience to help the region, then put aside any misgivings you might have about his conduct and vote for John Sweeney on Nov. 7.”

Yeah… sure – exactly what job did he have before being elected in a heavily germandered district held by the retired Gerald Solomon? That’s three years as Executive Director & Chief Counsel of the New York Republican Party and then two years appointment by George Pataki as New York State Commissioner of Labor.

What he does have experience in, as someone at the TU Capitol Confidental blog pointed out:

No oversight of Bush
No oversight of the war in Iraq
No oversight of the war in Afghanistan
No oversight on whether or not we are torturing detainees
No oversight of the Dept of Homeland Security
No oversight of the Katrina reconstruction
A Congressman who turns a blind eye to sweatshops

A Congressman who thinks that NYS taxpayers should pay for junkets for his campaign contributors

A Congressman who, through his wife, collects a percentage of all the money that is donated to his campaign fund.

But hey, at least he’s experienced. He may be a disgrace to his office, but he’s an experienced disgrace.

We couldn’t agree more – the people of New York’s 20th Congressional District, perhaps one of the most important of the Adirondack election districts deserve better that one of the 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress. Even veterans don’t like him any more – but that’s ok with Sweeney, he likes millioniares more than veterans anyway.

Oh.. and one last resignation – Sweeney Spokeswoman and North Creek resident Maureen Donovan, the former Warren County Development Corp [read scam development corp] leader who seemingly opposes both the rights of women and the electorate. The first volley in the Sweeney Gillibrand campaign was fired by Weeney in May 2006:

“You can’t take a resumé and a pretty face from New York City and say to people this is good for you simply because we can spend a lot of money and raise a lot of money,” Sweeney told the Troy Record.

“Someone should tell John Sweeney that it’s 2006, not 1906,” Former State Democratic Chiar Judith Hope said, adding that “the remarks jumped out at me because I think it’s so inappropriate for the congressman to use. … As a woman in politics, I call on Mr. Sweeney to represent the district and address the issues and provide accountability and some answers.”

What was Donovan’s response?

Sweeney campaign spokeswoman Maureen Donovan fired back that Hope “needs to lighten up a little bit.”

That’s no suprise either. Anyone who’s met Donovan’s husband – who is the notorious owner of Casey’s North bar on Route 28 – can probably already guess what the Donovans think of local Adirondackers, male or female.

We only hope local Adirondackers will remember what Sweeney thinks of them.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Battenkill, Fish, Food, and a Field and Stream Blog

One of the sites we keep tabs on here at the Adirondack Almanack is Dave Hurteau’s blog Field Notes. He’s often got his huntin’ and fishin’ blinders on, but Hurteau (an editor at Field & Stream) lives in Upstate New York and many of his posts are about our region – last month he looked at the fish stocking controversy over at the Battenkill in Washington County.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife announced a plan to stock the Battenkill with non-native rainbow trout, the Orvis Company threatened to take back a promised $100,000 grant for the stream’s habitat restoration. Guess who won that battle.

Why you’re there, check out these two recent posts:

According to the latest study, 43 percent of the fish consumed by humans now come from aquaculture, compared to just 9 percent in 1980. That’s 45.5 million tons of farmed fish, worth $63 billion, eaten each year, according to this press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. [Link]

and…

Malden Nesheim, a professor emeritus of nutrition at Cornell University and chairman of the Institute of Medicine committee, said the panel actually found slim evidence for many claims about the health benefits of fish as well as the dangers. “We were surprised at the lack of reliable data on the distribution of contaminants in our seafood supply or on how the benefits might counteract the risks,” he told reporters. [Link]


Suggested Reading

The Battenkill, by John Merwin

Mid-Atlantic Trout Streams and Their Hatches: Overlooked Angling in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Naughty Nurses and the Cult of Halloween Sex

Strange things happen on Halloween. Perhaps the strangest is the tendency for women across America to abandon all pretense of Red State virtue and don the most outrageous, barley decent, costumes – so for your Halloween reading pleasure this year we offer the following notes on Halloween and Naughty Nurse Sex.

Let’s start with the Times Union’s “Sexy Scare,” written by Times Union intern Kelly Smith, which points to the latest tendency of costume manufacturers (presumably supplying a need) to provide the scantiest clad costumes for, well, kids.

For years, Halloween parties have had their share of hot nurses and seductive pirates. But these are parties for adults, right? Not anymore. With names like “Transylvania Temptress,” “Handy Candy,” “Major Flirt,” and “Red Velvet Devil Bride,” there is no doubt that costumes marketed to children and teens have become more suggestive.

Such costumes, which typically feature plunging necklines, fishnet stockings, knee-high boots and very short skirts, dominate the display at most costume shops and party supply stores, and parents are having a hard time avoiding them.

Parents might be having a hard time avoiding them, because they are so busy finding their own sexified costumes, their presence points to a failure to understand the kinds of messages these companies (and their financial supporters) are sending:

When it comes to Halloween, Sharon Lamb, a co-author of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers’ Schemes, the costumes marketed to girls severely limit the options they see for themselves. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a little girl dressing up as a pretty princess, Lamb said, but the problem comes when such feminine, passive characters are all girls can envision for themselves. And she thinks it is that same ideology that pushes girls toward hyper-sexual costumes as they get older.

Doubt it’s true what they say about “the problem comes when such feminine, passive characters are all girls can envision for themselves”? Consider the role of the “naughty nurse” when you’re out in Pottersville at the Black Bear Halloween Party this Saturday night.

According to the Center for Nursing Advocacy the naughty nurse is a cultural phenomenon that sexualizes one of America’s most important professions:

Linking sexual images so closely to the profession of nursing–to even the fantasy idea that working nurses are sexually available to patients–reinforces long-standing stereotypes. Those stereotypes continue to discourage practicing and potential nurses, foster sexual violence in the workplace, and contribute to a general atmosphere of disrespect. Desexualizing the nursing image is a key part of building the strength the profession needs to overcome the current shortage, which threatens lives worldwide, and to meet the challenges of 21st Century health care.

Most people today probably don’t think the average nurse goes to work in lingerie, looking for sex. But the relentless fusing of lingerie with nurses’ work uniforms in popular media images, and the frequent exposure of sexy “nurses'” bodies in these images, still associates the profession with sex in the public mind… Other people may simply see nurses as looking to meet a physician–even an already married one–to take them away from the dead end job of nursing, a horrific stereotype that was actually expressed in late 2004 by Dr. Phil McGraw on his popular television show.

Wow… and let’s just say right now, that media images matter – we wouldn’t consider for a minute that children don’t learn from Sesame Street, why should we think the naughty nurse imagery doesn’t have a similar impact, even with adults.

Don’t think this is really a serious problem? France Presse recently reported that a study of just over 1800 adults found that “Nurses and firemen dominate the sexual fantasies of men and women in Britain.” What’s important here is something the Nurse Advocates picked up on:

It reports that a new poll has found that 54% of British men have sexual fantasies about nurses. No other profession hit the 50% mark for male or female, though 47% of women apparently dream about “firemen.” The results seem to show that nursing leads a list of traditionally female, service-oriented jobs about which men fantasize.

In addition to nurses, men fantasize about maids (44%) and flight attendants (40%), rounding out the stereotypical usual suspects. For their part, women also dreamed of soldiers (28%), businessmen (27%), and physicians (26%). At the other end of the list, less than 2% of women fantasized about politicians, while less than 7% of men fantasized about “traffic wardens.”

The jobs that women fantasize most about are associated with economic, physical, and/or mental power, while those that top the men’s list are associated with care-taking or service–a classic dominant-submissive division. It is not clear if any allowance was made for the possibilities of male nurses or flight attendants, or female firefighters or physicians. Perhaps no one would fantasize about such freakish people, who defy all the accepted rules.

Indeed, the deep-seated–and this study suggests unparalleled–association of nursing and sexuality continues to discourage practicing and potential nurses, foster sexual violence in the workplace, and contribute to a general atmosphere of disrespect that weakens nurses’ claims to adequate resources. When you combine the lack of respect that this poll reflects, the college-level training nursing actually requires, and the difficulty and stress of actual nursing practice, it is no surprise that the profession remains in the midst of a crisis driven by rampant short-staffing. In fact, we hear short-staffing has gotten so bad, nurses don’t have as much time as they once did to spend in male sexual fantasies.

This has serious economic effects for local Adirondack health care (as outlined in this CDC report):

It’s diverting for some men, apparently, to think that the little handmaiden job of nursing is populated by disposable bimbos, which may also help such men handle the notion that female nurses actually have some power over them in clinical settings. But the disposable bimbo is not an image that appeals to most career seekers, particularly men, which is a key reason the profession remains over 90% female–never a prescription for power and respect. And it’s not an image that persuades decision-makers to allocate sufficient resources to nursing practice, notably adequate staffing. Get back to us… about how sexy you feel after a 12-hour shift spent rushing from room to room in a desperate effort not to kill any patients, hauling the obese ones around until your back throbs, all the while contending with leering demands for a little sexual healing.

So this Halloween we side with JockeyStreet [sadly now long gone) who says:

Don’t even get me going on the Adult stuff. Guys get the typical choices. The ladies get, essentially, Hooker Combo 1, Hooker Combo 2, Stripper Kit A, Stripper Kit B.

Maybe I sound like a prude. I’m not. Really, really, really. I’m not.

But it offends me that we continue to shove these roles down our kids’ throats at such an early age. It offends me that our culture has taken to sexualizing and objectifying girls so young. It offends me that [costume retailer] Party City seems to think that the only thing a female over 13 might want to be for Halloween is “sexier.”

Agreed.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Ku Klux Klan in the Adirondacks

We recently received a note from a reader about the Ku Klux Klan presence in the Adirondack region. A Wilmington (Essex County) woman had the following story to tell. She believes it dates from the 1930s –

My mom had told me how when she was a little girl the kkk had burned a house down just up a ways on the Whiteface Memorial Highway, and had run the family out of town. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 20, 2006

TAUNY Presents North Country Heritage Awards

Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) has announced its 2007 North Country Heritage Awards:

Chief Tom Porter (Sakokwenionkwas), spokesman and spiritual leader of the Mohawk community of Kanatsiohareke (Ga na jo ha lay go) in Fonda.

Vincent and Louise Boyea, French American musicians from Westville.

The Greek pastry makers of St. Vasilios Church in Watertown.

Barry Gregson, rustic furniture builder from Schroon Lake.

The awards recognize “masters of local traditions and celebrates their contributions to the traditions and local culture of the region.”