But what if people flush it down the toilet?

Capitol Tonight reports that a poll shows over 70 percent of New Yorkers in support of legalizing medical marijuana. (Click the link for a video report.)

Assemblyman Richard Gottefried, who introduced the bill, argues marijuana shouldn't be treated differently than any other drug used for pain management.

"New York and other states always have legalized the medical use of morphine and codeine and a host of drugs that are highly addictive and have a high potential for abuse. We understand that using drugs like that under a doctor's care is one thing, recreational use is another. It is just political correctness gone crazy that we don't apply that political correctness to medical marijuana," Gottefried said.


Ulster County blog kerfuffle

Ulster County political types really like the Internet. Comptroller Eliot Auerbach has a blog. So do legislator Mike Madsen and former Kingston mayoral candidate Rich Cahill. There's Jeremy Blaber, a Democratic campaigner with a lively blog on the Ulster County political scene.

And then there's Ulster Mojo.

Ulster Mojo is hilariously, outrageously, wickedly mean. It knows where the bodies are buried, and it enjoys exhuming them. It's got a slew of anonymous commenters eager to heap abuse on both Auerbach and county exec Mike Hein (a.k.a., "The Mighty Heiny").

Seems like a recent Mojo item razzing Auerbach's campaign finances was the final straw for Blaber. Yesterday, Blaber outed the anonymous Mojo as former Republican county legislator Joe Roberti.

Pork for farms

Congressman Maurice Hinchey just announced funding for a food business incubator project in the Hudson Valley. The goal: creating a strong Hudson Valley brand to market to NYC consumers.

Hinchey obtained $350,000 from Congress as part of the fiscal year 2010 appropriations process in order to help the non-profit, Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC), develop a "food corridor" along Route 209, running from Ellenville to Kingston.  HVADC, which serves farms in Ulster, Orange, Dutchess, and Columbia counties, will serve as an agriculture incubator service that offers business assistance programming for startups; centralized costly processing and marketing services and facilities; and financing services and client networking.


Gas drilling: A heavy load

Not all of the social costs (or, as the economists like to say, "negative externalities") of horizontal natural-gas drilling are related to the actual fracking process. For instance: wear and tear on rural roads from dramatic increases in heavy truck traffic. It hasn't gotten as much attention as water contamination, but it's a huge headache for towns in gas-drilling regions.

Sue Heavenrich, a thorough and careful chronicler blogging at The Marcellus Effect, has a recent post on gas-industry trucking contractors who've gotten caught breaking the rules of the road.

...What really galls most people is the idea that the gas companies will tear up the roads, extract the natural gas, and skip town leaving the taxpayers to cover the costs of repairing the roads. People are outraged at the idea that the public will be subsidizing the profits of wealthy multinational corporations - and a few lucky landowners who happen to strike it rich.


National livestock-tracking program dead? Maybe!

The NYT reports that the National Animal Identification System, a proposed program for tracking all US livestock with implanted microchips, has been scrapped. This is welcome news for a lot of small farmers:

...the system quickly drew the ire of many farmers and ranchers, particularly cattle producers. Some objected to the cost of identification equipment and the extra work in having to report their animals’ movements. Others said they believed the voluntary system would become mandatory, that it was intrusive and that the federal government would use it to pry into their lives and finances.

The Daily Yonder, an online rural news outlet, doesn't believe the NAIS is dead, just shifting focus.

The USDA plans to "convene a forum with animal health leaders" from the states and the Tribes to "initiate a dialogue" about ways to build a new NAIS. What does all this mean? Stay tuned.



Bat expert tells it straight

White-nose fungus has decimated bat populations in the Northeast over the last few years. Bucknell University bat ecologist DeeAnn Reeder isn't holding out much hope for most of our native bats:

I think within several years there will be practically no bats left in Pennsylvania. New York is empty. Massachusetts is empty. There are just handfuls. One of our sites that we study heavily, the Shindle Iron Mine, normally has over 1,000 bats. Now it has six.

Fracking wastewater: A tough problem

The AP has a really good story on horizontal natural-gas drilling that's been making the rounds of many newspapers, both in and out of the Marcellus Shale.

Explained: why "fracking" creates more waste than conventional techniques, why getting rid of the powerfully salty wastewater is a far tougher problem in New York than it is in Texas, and why some bright entrepreneur is probably going to make a killing on recycling the stuff.


NYT on dairy farmer suicide

The New York Times paints a devastating portrait of Dean Pierson, the Copake dairy farmer who shot and killed 51 of his cows and then himself last month.

George Beneke, the family vet for 40 years, said Dean Pierson was a good farmer, just as his father was. But being a good farmer gave Helmer Pierson a successful farm to pass down to his son and being a good farmer gave Dean Pierson a life where you worked a 15-hour day and at the end of it handed someone a $100 bill for the privilege.


Gilboa landowner sues summer camp for $1.25 million

The former owner of a shuttered Gilboa resort is suing the site's new owners, accusing them of fraud, stealing his golf cart, hot-wiring his tractor, and letting animals trample his lawn.

In 2006, Jerome J. Gauthier sold the site of the former Golden Acres resort in Schoharie County to Oorah, Inc., a New-Jersey-based organization that runs Jewish Girl Zone, a girls-only summer camp with a mission of “awakening Jewish children and their families to their heritage.”

Last May, Gauthier filed a complaint in state court demanding $1.25 million from Oorah and its CEO, Eliyohu Mintz, for breaching an agreement to buy more of his land. On January 8, the case was transfered to federal court, where a hearing is scheduled for March 4. 


Delaware County formally accuses Cuomo of violating 1997 agreement

Delaware County Board of Supervisors chairman Jim Eisel submitted a grievance today to the Watershed Protection and Partnership Council.

**Update: It has come to our attention that the letter below is a draft.

***Update 2: The county has sent it to the WPPC.

In the letter, Eisel claims that:

the actions of the Attorney General in creating his own set of regulations for the management of excess pharmaceuticals and forcing small poor rural health care facilities to implement his program subject to fines, stipulated penalties, his attorney fees, and without any opportunity to negotiate a practicable and legal solution has destroyed the trust created by the MOA and destroyed any sense of security that the upstate communities had that the MOA would ensure that the State, EPA and the City would operate openly, in good faith and in cooperation with their upstate partners in protecting the City Water Supply.

Full text below.



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