On February 3, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Senate Bill 880, which will delay the requirement for graduating students to pass a set of tests called the Keystone Exams or, if they fail, produce a project related to the exam areas. The exams focus on algebra I, biology and literature. The legislation says the exams will not be used to determine whether a student graduates any sooner than the school year of 2018-19. Read more
Residents of the Town of Highland have understandably created an organization to try to halt the construction of a compressor station on the Millennium Pipeline on property formerly known as the Eldred Preserve.
Information on the website, www.nyscram.org says, “The compressor station presents a danger to the health, environment and property values of all of us who live nearby. Highland and surrounding towns have already passed laws forbidding this type of facility, but without action from all of us, these laws will not be enough to stop it.” Read more
Over the past few years, Republicans all over the country have been passing laws or attempting to pass laws meant to prevent something that almost never occurs: in-person voter fraud. Well, it happens that here in Sullivan County we have dozens of probable cases of voter fraud, and no one seems to have the power or will to make the fraudsters pay for their crimes. Read more
On January 12, a federal agency decided to make a move that will make it harder rather that easier for Americans to know what’s in their food or how the food was raised. The issue is the “grass fed” label that had been defined since 2006 by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which is an organ of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Read more
While we don’t know exactly why the Millennium Pipeline Company bought 80 acres of land adjacent to the pipeline in the Town of Highland, we do know that Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) hopes to fuel a 650-megawatt power plant in the Orange County Town of Wawayanda with fracked gas shipped through the Millenium Pipeline. Read more
Cheers to the county legislature
Cheers to the new Sullivan County Legislature for coming together and voting unanimously for Luis Alvarez to become chair of the legislature. While there was clearly maneuvering for votes in the run-up to the election, once the choice was clear, all nine legislators dropped their previous preferences and made a show of unity in their first act as a legislature. Read more
The last four years at the Sullivan County Legislature have been truly interesting to watch. The legislature that took office in January 2012 included six new members out of a total of nine—the same situation, incidentally, that the new legislature faces in 2016.
The 2012 legislature faced a $5 million budget gap, and the lingering, crippling effects of the Great Recession. Against this backdrop, in 2012, the legislature launched a campaign to root out “waste, fraud and abuse” from the Sullivan County Division of Family Services (DFS) and its clients. Read more
[Best of 40 reprint from July 19, 2012]
At the Town of Highland’s first hearing on its Local Law 3 on May 4, a member of the committee working on its zoning, the Town of Highland Zoning Rewrite Task Force Phase I, was heard bemoaning the fact that, at that point, it looked like the law would pass by “only” three to two. At the time, it struck us as an odd concern; after all, a law passed by three-two is no less valid than one passed five-zero. Read more
Most of the attention on the presidential election races is going to the slate of Republican candidates this year—and especially some of the jaw-dropping declarations of real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump. But there is also a race on the Democratic side, and this year a growing, if still small, political party is having an impact on that race. Read more
One of the main reasons Pennsylvania’s budget this year is coming in December rather than June is because Gov. Tom Wolf really, really wanted the budget to include a severance tax, similar to those in every other state where shale gas resources are being exploited.
Wolf campaigned heavily on the notion of a severance tax and won the race. Other elected officials, even some Pennsylvania Republicans, also campaigned on adopting a severance tax, but most Republicans, especially those in positions of leadership, have heartily opposed the tax. Read more