Village & Town Issues

BESS Bombs, Part 1: The huge explosive toxic batteries the wind & solar companies are sneaking into your backyard

BESS Bombs (Part 1) The huge explosive toxic batteries the wind & solar companies are sneaking into your backyard.

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

August 28, 2019

This is the

Lithium-Ion Batteries

(huge numbers of them, tightly packed into these innocent-looking white containers)

What are these things designed to do?

Basically, utility-scale Battery Energy Storage Systems smooth out the delivery of electricity from solar panels to the regional grid. Think of it as getting rid of electricity “hiccups” from industrial-scale photovoltaic (PV) panel installations. (Lithium-ion batteries are also used with home and commercial building PV panels, along with cell phones, laptops, and of course electric cars.) Older solar arrays used lead-acid batteries. Li-ion are now preferred, since they are far superior at storing electricity.

In an article published in April of this year, “Large-Scale Solar Plants Require Large-Scale Battery Systems,” energy expert Willem Post explains why BESS (Battery Energy Storage Systems) are essential for large PV solar arrays.  His key points are the following, all of which is quoted verbatim:

"Still having problems with the hiccups, Mrs. Hill?"

“Clouds are the main reason PV solar generation experiences intermittency (excluding the normal nighttime disappearance).”

“PV solar generation can rapidly decrease by 60% within seconds, due to a cloud passing over the solar panels causing a reduction in solar insolation.”

“Batteries have quick reaction times, i.e., can quickly charge and discharge electricity. Any rapid solar output decreases (downward spikes) due to clouds are quickly offset.”

“The upward and downward spikes of wind output are much slower, MW/min, instead of MW/sec. Gas turbines (and hydro plants) can easily adjust their outputs to offset any wind up/down spikes.”

“Till

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BESS Bombs, Part 2: The huge explosive toxic batteries the wind & solar companies are sneaking into your backyard

BESS Bombs (Part 2) The huge explosive toxic batteries the wind & solar companies are sneaking into your backyard.

August 28, 2019

Watch this PowerPoint (right) made several years ago by the Senior Laboratory Safety Coordinator, Pam Koontz, at the Univ. of Tennessee (Knoxville). The cover image was added by me.

Play Video

Notice this slide (#32) from the PowerPoint.

The video, below, evidently taken by a security camera at a chemical plant in So. Korea, graphically illustrates the horrors of HF.  (There is no soundtrack.)  Everyone you see in the video, died.  Immediately.  Read the details, below on the left. Use the + (zoom in) button to expand the text or, better yet, click on the pop-out icon in the upper right corner.

Play Video

In case you’re thinking this can’t happen with these BESS Bombs — think again. The article below, published in Nature, the world’s most prestigious science journal, will disabuse you of any such notion.

Focus on the article’s conclusions (pp. 6-7), shown here. (You can pause the carousel by hovering your mouse over the text.) 

 "If extrapolated for large battery packs, the amounts [of HF] released would be . . . e.g., a small stationary energy storage [system]." 

As it happens, the township next to mine is about to allow a 20 MW BESS to be built sometime this fall:

(1) 20 x 20 kg = 400 kg = 882 lbs of HF

(2) 20 x 200 kg = 4000 kg = 8,818 lbs of HF

the energy industry has always been reckless with hydrogen fluoride. One might call it

The Law of Conservation of Corporate Evil (Judith Shapiro)

This has long

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The Doors

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

The Doors

If you live in Malone you’ve doubtless seen the striking new doors on the Congregational Church.  Meet the builder.  Surprisingly young. (I’d guess he’s in his late twenties.) I figured that the art of making iconic wooden doors would be more likely found in an elderly, seasoned artisan. Someone with a gray beard.  Not in this case.

David Lacroix

David is largely self-taught.  He watched his grandfather (who raised him) and several other craftsmen. The rest came from YouTubes and websites.  A graduate of Clarkson with a business degree, he turned his back on all that to work with wood.  To work not so much with power tools, but his hands.  It’s kind of mystical.  Don’t ask him to build you a house.  Tell him you want a set of beautiful doors, and watch a grin spread over his face.

First Congregational Church

Notes on my conversation with David:

David tried to match the doors to the originals, including the width of the diagonal pieces/insets.  “On the 45° angle portion, there is one little piece that is slightly wider on one door than on the other, because this is what the original doors had. I matched everything up with the original doors. The originals did not match perfectly, either.” 

“The original doors were made of individual bead boards, not glued together. I made the new ones out of panels that were glued together to look like the originals, because I didn’t want water infiltrating them and rotting them like the originals.  Thus you will notice differences in the doors in that respect. Also, the moldings on the interior of the new doors are more elaborate than the originals, because I wanted to add something unique to the new set and I felt the more elaborate moldings would set them off nicely.”

The Franklin County Historical Society was insistent about wanting original doors. “The

originals were oak of some sort, though it was so rotted you couldn’t tell what kind of oak, plus the originals had a softwood core, like a Douglas fir.  My doors are built of solid white

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Malone’s Roads from Hell

Malone's Awful Roads!

"our taxpayers deserve better" (andrea stewart)

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

First, a disclaimer.  Not all the roads in Malone township are horrible. Secondly, there are plenty of roads in the Village of Malone that got hammered this past winter by the relentless freeze-thaw-rain cycle, but this article is not about them.  At the moment I’m focusing on the chronically horrible township roads — several of which I ride my bike on, year after year.

Consider the Houndsville Rd.  Spectacularly terrible! For years it’s been terrible! Parts of the road are literally falling into the creek. Yikes!

Houndsville is one of many such casualties. If this were an isolated problem perhaps it wouldn’t be so alarming. But it’s not. There are lots more, some far more egregious.

It’s often said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Perhaps it is.  In the case of Houndsville Rd, I can affirm it’s paved with lots of busted asphalt about which the intentions of Highway Superintendent Bruce Mallette remain unclear.

Malone Town Supervisor Andrea Stewart finally got fed up with complaints from residents.  At the town board meeting on May 8, speaking on behalf of We, the People, she charged Bruce Mallette with incompetence: 

RiverCityMalone takes a road trip . . .

RiverCityMalone had one of its reporters take the following route and take the photos shown below:

We went down Lower Park St to go to Lovers Lane Rd.  Then south on Rte 30 to Whitten Rd.  Traveled that to the end.  Took a left on Houndsville Rd to check on the bridge/culvert.  Turned around to travel Houndsville to Route 11.  Turned right on Rte 11 to Goodman Rd (left turn) and traveled Goodman to the Teboville Rd.

Drove Teboville to the end, into Bellmont, to see the difference between the two municipalities.  Bull Run and Brick Church Rd( these are off of Teboville Rd):  just looked at from Teboville.

Drove Webber Rd to Fayette Rd, and turned onto Webster Street Rd, to Royce Rd (left), Child, then Cosgrove, then left onto Rte 30 south to McCabe Rd to view the Riley Rd. 

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Beware of LED streetlights in Malone (or anywhere else)!

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Ten or so years ago, cities and towns across America began swapping out HPS (High Pressure Sodium) streetlights for LEDs.  (Malone did not fall for this fad.  We currently have HPS streetlights — and pray to God we keep them!)  LEDs became the municipal rage.  After all, said the hucksters selling them, they’re cheaper in the long run and use less juice, thus cutting down on the electric bill — except they are very expensive to buy.
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The uproar was swift and, frankly, predictable, if municipal officials had done their homework.

When my city of Newton, Mass., announced plans to install LED streetlights in 2014, I was optimistic. I’m all for energy conservation, and I was happy with the LED bulbs in my home office. But months later, returning from a week’s vacation in rural Maine, I was shocked to find my neighborhood lit by a stark bluish blaze that washed out almost all of the stars in the night sky.1


In the meantime, human beings are making their own displeasure known based on health, environmental, and quality-of-life concerns. Some residents of Brooklyn, Seattle, and Houston have joined the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in fighting installations of blue-rich LED street lighting. And in Canada, public outcry over the city of Montreal’s $84 million plan to replace existing streetlights with LEDs centered on light pollution and health impacts.2


In interviews with the media, my fellow experimental subjects have compared the nighttime environment under the new streetlights to a film set, a prison yard, “a strip mall in outer space” and “the mother ship coming in for a landing” in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Although going half-blind at 58, I can read by the beam that the new lamp blasts into our front room without tapping our own Con Ed service. Once the LEDs went in, our next-door neighbor began walking her dog at night in sunglasses.3

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I have published a photograph, at the top of this page, from one such community. Here are several more, all taken at nighttime, believe it or

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Why solar energy farms are a bust!

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD
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I recently sent the following exposé to numerous communities being stalked by Big Solar.  I wrote it as a member of FARM.  Friends Against Rural Mismanagement.  A bunch of cranky old-timers who object to farmland, woodland, wildland, marshland, rivers and lakes being screwed — regardless of who is holding the screwdriver.

Here is a screenshot of the beginning of the document.  Click here to access the entire article online.  You’re welcome to circulate and otherwise use as you wish.

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Click here to continue reading . . .

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$5K loans, 1.5% interest for federal employees!

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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I got paid yesterday. The Border Patrol agent wearing the above vest did not.  Neither did this one, below.
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I might be indifferent to this if I lived in a state without an international border. But I don’t. NYS has a notoriously porous border with Québec, Ontario, and the St. Regis Mohawk reservation.

Allow me to be more graphic.  This is my street: Clay Street, Malone.
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Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t rocket science. When the United States Border Patrol and Border Protection are obliged to continue working during the federal shutdown to protect my street from hypodermic needles — you’d better believe I’m going to get involved. And you should, too.

These men and women are not protecting an abstraction named “America”; they are protecting Malone Châteaugay Burke Constable Ellenburg Plattsburgh Westville Massena Ogdensburg Potsdam Canton Saranac Lake Lake Placid, and on and on.  All the communities we call the North Country.
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You and I have a moral obligation to assist these federal officers to make certain they can pay their bills.  We can’t simply shrug and blame Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi.

Last Friday I checked with several banks and credit unions in Malone to see if any were extending zero or low interest credit to federal employees working without pay. Only one financial institution is doing so: the North Franklin Federal Credit Union (NFFCU) at 494 E. Main St., Malone.

I spoke to a loan officer at Community Bank (Malone) and another at NBT Bank (Malone).  Neither bank was doing anything special for these people.  I called SeaComm Credit Union (Malone) and spoke to a loan officer.  SeaComm is offering a 9% personal loan or 2.99% secured loan to SeaComm members, only. I did not check with other Malone banks.

Click here to read SeaComm’s response to the crisis, reproduced below.
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As of this writing, only NFFCU is offering something humane and socially responsible to these people and their families.

The individual chiefly responsible for this decision is this man.

I met with Darin for an hour yesterday.  He was raised

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Jesus on Elm: St. Joe’s at 90 Elm St.

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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All the photos, below, are from the St. Joe’s “supportive housing” project at 90 Elm Street, Malone. St. Joe’s has christened it “Main on Elm.”

As many of you know, this beautiful rambling building was for many years an Ursuline convent. (Note that the Ursulines are a teaching order.)

After that it housed the nursing program for North Country Community College.

After a spectacular $5.6 million renovation, it is fitting that the building and its grounds have joined the nationwide supportive housing network.  (NYS has been for years a leader in this movement.) Main on Elm is designed, architecturally and programmatically, to be a place of teaching and healing. The Ursulines and nurses would be proud.

More than anything else, Main on Elm is a community project.  Not because it’s funded by NYS tax money — which it is.  The genius of 90 Elm is its commitment to the principle of grace, which is hardwired into human nature.  Evolutionary biologists call it “altruism,” and puzzle over its origin and possible hereditary mechanism.  Anthropologists have long witnessed this grace as the “gift” which is the main driver within all aboriginal societies. The “gift” predates, by tens of thousands of years, economic institutions such as trade, commerce, usury, the accumulation of wealth and, of course, capitalism and corporations.  (No, the “gift” is not the same as “barter.”  And so-called “Indian giving” in the colonial era is a complete perversion and misunderstanding of what actually transpired. But I’m straying beyond the immediate topic.)
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St. Matthew tells us that Jesus spelled out the parameters of the “gift” as follows.
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People with the title “Saint” before their name took these terms seriously. (Mother Theresa comes to mind.)  The rest of us, myself included, are more comfortable nodding pious assent as we sit solemnly in a church pew.

What’s unnerving is that St. Joe’s insists we take these terms seriously.
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St. Joe’s just gambled $5.6 million of taxpayer money on bricks & mortar and 10 highly trained staff to bring Jesus to 90 Elm Street.  No, not for

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The Chair

 

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Behold the chair!   What’s remarkable is its location.  (As realtors are fond of saying, Location, location, location!)  Several weeks ago its owner, a tenant at 21 Washington St., discarded  it as trash, dropping it off the front porch where it shamelessly sat in full view in a neighborhood trying oh-so-hard to be a showcase for civil behavior in this beleaguered village of ours.

The neighborhood is mine, and by “civil behavior” I mean public behavior that respects the social contract.

The social contract?  Never heard of it?  Actually you have, though perhaps by a different name.  The social contract has been the linchpin of community organization dating back to Paleolithic times and doubtless even earlier, into the distant horizons of human evolution.  We witness it among hunter-gatherer societies as well as modern nation states.  It’s what makes group living bearable—or hell.
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Jesus of Nazareth, the man who said he knew the mind of God, invoked the social contract when he exhorted us to, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  In fact, 95% of his teaching and public performance were about the social contract—as in feeding thousands of hungry people on several occasions.
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The social contract—be decent and courteous and thoughtful toward your neighbors and community—has been, for millennia, a major theme in philosophy, ethics, and community governance the world over.  Along with the Ten Commandments, God gave us lawyers and judges to get us out of a jam or provide a reality check when we fail to honor this contract.  Everyone in the slammer violated it in one fashion or another.
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote passionately on the social contract, as did his compatriot Voltaire, both of whom were struggling to reform French society from the top down.  (Lots of people lost their heads in this fiery debate known to history as the French Revolution.)

I write this on behalf of the Clay-Milwaukee-Washington Neighborhood Group, a loose collection of homeowners, landlords, and tenants living in this section of town where this offending chair brazenly held

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Our Picks: Mike Maneely, Andrea Dumas, Carl Sherwin

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— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD
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Mike Maneely

One reason I support Mike for village trustee is his uncompromising support of our police department.  It never ceases to amaze me how people living outside the village express the (stupid) opinion that Malone doesn’t need its cops.  Nitwits who say this obviously don’t have to deal with the craziness that I and my neighbors deal with.

Sit down sometime with Chief Chris Premo and ask him about drug dealers and drug users in the village and surrounding area.  Then sit down with the two local magistrates and ask them about crime in the village and surrounding municipalities.  That is, municipalities where our judges are called for arraignments when the local magistrate isn’t available.  You will get an earful in each case.

Are you aware that there are now drug gangs in Massena?  Drive-by shootings in Massena?  I’m told this by a law enforcement official.  What’s keeping this from happening in the Village of Malone?  Answer:  The Village Police Dept.

It’s common knowledge that Franklin County is an easy mark for welfare-seekers from anywhere in the state or even out of state.  This makes the Village of Malone one of the preferred welfare destinations of NYS.  (I’m told you can drive down Main St. as the sun is coming up and find strangers sitting on the steps of the courthouse, with a garbage bag of their meager belongings.  Question them, and they tell you they’re from out of the area — and waiting for the Dept of Social Services office to open so they can sign up.)  Because they don’t have cars, these people prefer to live in the village.

All this means — trouble.  Domestic violence.  Drugs.  Booze.  Brawls.  Lots of drama.  Drama drama drama!  No, not invariably, but a whole lot.  Enough to make a sweeping, general, and yes bitter statement like this with confidence — ‘cause I live in the middle of it, and have for 20 years.
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The village cops are essential!  Mike knows this.  “Don’t mess with the cops!”

 

Andrea Dumas

Santa Barbara Santa Fe Chicago Baltimore Washington DC

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Phil Hans is worried. You should be too.

 

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Notice the expression on this man’s face.  He’s smiling ever so slightly.  Why?  Because he’s looking out the window at this.

His name is Phil Hans.  He’s a member of the Malone School Board.  He’s running for Malone Village Trustee.  He’s a dairy consultant with Food Commodities International.

But this doesn’t explain why he’s smiling.  When I finished interviewing him for this article, I asked Mr. Hans to stand and look out my window — at the Flanders Elementary School playground, loaded with boisterous children.

You, too, would smile.  He’s witnessing the wild rumpus my wife & I get to enjoy several times a day.  (I tell visitors it’s better than Prozac.)

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He’s also smiling because his wife, Heather, is a 4th Grade teacher at Flanders.  (Perhaps he spotted her out there?)  He’s also smiling because he and Heather love children.  They had none of their own, so they adopted three.  Two twin boys (now aged 4) and a 6-year-old girl named Nina.

I’m partial to “Ninas.”  I married one.  I’m also partial to Grade 4.  It was the high point of my academic career.  I earned a Certificate of Achievement which I still cherish and examine on occasion.  Besides, 4th Grade is when I first fell in love (with shy Nancy Henderson).  Naturally, I fell in love with Miss Benson, my teacher.

I’ll bet all the kids love Miss Heather, Phil’s wife.

But I digress.  Phil grew up in Cohoes NY.  A dying milltown not unlike Malone.  Cohoes is in worse shape than we are, Phil tells me.  Drugs are real bad.  Crime, bad.  Abandoned, derelict, empty buildings.  Dispirited people.  A disease of the soul.

Phil doesn’t want Malone to go the way of Cohoes.  That’s why he’s running for Trustee.

The truth of the matter is, he’s worried.  He’s worried about the future of the kids he’s looking at — the kids his wife teaches — and the kids he and his wife adopted.

He’s worried because they’re all kids like this one.  Her name is Sue.  (Sorry for the grainy picture.  That’s her younger brother

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Why we support Dave Merrick for Malone Town Justice


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—  Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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Dave Merrick is running for Malone Town Justice.  (Yes, he’s the son of Don and Debbie Merrick. Don, as many of you know, was Principal at Franklin Academy for many years.  Debbie was a celebrated obstetrics nurse at Alice Hyde.)  Their son David, a Tenth Mountain Division veteran who saw combat in Somalia, is a sergeant in the Malone Village Police Department.
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If you’re like me, and have little clue about the Somalia campaign, here’s a glimpse of what it was like.
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Alpha Company landed at Baledogle Air Base the first week of Operation Restore Hope Eager to tangle with the warlord gangs.  Instead, the enemy disappeared into the red dirt like ants just before the rain. . . . At first nothing in Somalia worked. The ports and airfields were like the rest of the country: rusted, busted, or ripped off. . . . To Somalis, the US grunts — dressed in combat helmets and flak jackets and armed to the teeth – must have looked like giants from another planet. Their rules of engagement were sledgehammer simple and as loose as I have ever seen: fire if threatened. Early on, gang members in three Somali vehicles made the mistake of firing at a USMC Cobra helicopter. “Say your prayers, varmint,” muttered the pilot as he went in for the kill. He melted them like a candle in a bonfire. A machine gunner in a gun-mounted “technical” vehicle trained his weapon on a squad of Marines and was taken out by leatherneck fire.  Now the word is, Don’t mess with Operation Restore Hope.

Only a few weeks ago Mogadishu was an armed camp. Almost everyone, including 12-year-old punks, had AK-47’s. Now the gangs have stashed their AK-47s and gotten out of town. . . .

The military calls the tactical approach behind Operation Restore Hope the “oil blot.”  Once a new center is opened, food distribution and simple actions such as medical assistance and engineer support slowly seep out. As this blot grows larger, it connects with others, eventually covering the whole land. The technique used

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Is Burke hopelessly corrupt?

 

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

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The wind hucksters are back.  In Chateaugay, Belmont, and maybe Burke.

Just when it seemed the statewide Wind Energy gig had run its course, it wheezed back to life when Gov. Cuomo unexpectedly threw several hundred million dollars its way.  (My guess is Cuomo did it to appease all the people he pissed off by banning natural gas fracking.)

What’s killing wind energy, nationally, is Congress’s refusal to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC), the wind companies’ chief source of income — taxpayers’ money.  At the moment, Congressional die-hards have only managed to extend the “wind” PTC retroactively through December 2014.  Their opponents are holding the line.  (It’s a partisan tug-of-war.  Republicans argue that wind energy is little more than corporate welfare.  Democrats say wind energy is an answer to Global Warming, a bogeyman many Republicans consider vastly overstated if not outright bullshit.)

Regardless of which argument you support, without reliable federal subsidies (PTC), there’s no financial future for wind energy.

Congressional Republicans, incidentally, have a point.  Wind energy is intermittent, not “dispatchable,” and requires 24/7 “spinning reserve” power backup from coal, nuclear, natural gas, or hydro.  It’s absurd to imagine wind power as a contender in the nation’s energy mix.

Wind power will go the way of 19th-century sailing vessels.  All 29 sails on this schooner are obsolete for anything but recreational purposes.  This isn’t Politics 101, it’s Physics 101.

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In any event, Cuomo’s generosity brought the Jericho Rise wind project back from the dead — and the Burke Town Board wants some of the action.  To get in on the windfall ($206 million), Burke had to — and just did — pass a wind law permitting turbines in this dairy-farming slice of paradise.

Here’s where the cow manure hits the proverbial fan.

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Burke’s problem is straightforward.  It has nothing to do with the merits or demerits of wind energy.  Disregard whether you think they’re “ballerinas” in the sky or a monstrous eyesore.  In its heyday, the wind salesmen made all sorts of extravagant claims for their wares, including “getting the USA off foreign oil” and

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Sisters Café: (Hopefully) Coming Soon to Downtown Malone

News Flash (November 5th)

Andrea Dumas just won a seat on the Malone Village Board!  New to political office, she ran against two incumbents — and prevailed over both.  (We’re delighted to see Joe Riccio returned to office.  He’s a wise and thoughtful man, and essential on that board.  Brian Langdon did a creditable job as trustee, and deserves our appreciation.  It’s a thankless job and Brian did well.)

RiverCityMalone.com interprets Andrea’s win as big “thumbs up” for Sisters Café and a signal that we all need to take a fresh approach to our village.  (It is indeed ours!  No, it does not belong to the Franklin County Dept of Social Services and the slumlords and riffraff they recklessly and infuriatingly bankroll — hopefully the dept’s new leadership will change this.  Nor does it belong to NYS or Washington, with their outrageous and financially crippling directives, including those damn DSS mandates.  Starting today, with Andrea’s victory, remember this.  Malone is ours!)

Let us work with this gutsy woman to make her vision come true.  Andrea Dumas is the face of the new optimism and determination in town.

It’s a good day in River City Malone — CLM.

 

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD
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“What this country needs,” began Kansas Senator Joe Bristow, rising to address the US Senate on everything that ailed America — in 1917.  Today, a century later, nobody remembers a word the man said, except for the rasping phrase, “What this country needs  — ,” prefacing each item in his long list of solutions to America’s ills.

Presiding over the Senate that day was Woodrow Wilson’s Vice President, Thomas R. Marshall, a man notable for his wit and fondness for cigars.  As Bristow droned on and senators dozed off, an exasperated Marshall reportedly interrupted, “What this country really needs is a good five-cent cigar!”

cigar

I sometimes feel like Mr. Marshall as I listen to local politicians wind on about Malone’s ailing downtown and what’s required to get it “up and running.”  Solutions include:  grant money, state intervention, a hoped-for economic boom, “expanding the tax base,” “growing the economy,” another $20K

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Why Charles Gardner should be Malone’s municipal judge

News Flash (November 5th)

Charlie Gardner has won the Malone Justice position!  Mark Gonyea ran a spirited campaign, and we hope to see him run again in a year, when Judge Lamitie regrettably retires.  In the meantime, we encourage Mark to keep attending court sessions to hone his formidable skills even further.

All the letters to the editor in the Telegram were absolutely true in what they said about Mark Gonyea:  He’s an outstanding public servant and a gift to the community.  He should not interpret this (very close) vote as a rejection of him; it’s more a case of some people (me included) acknowledging that Charlie Gardner’s experience makes him the preferred candidate at the moment.  Mark has been heavily involved in local government for decades, and I have always admired and in fact supported his position on issues.

“Mark, please run again a year from now!” — CLM

 

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD
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Look closely at this map of NYS.

You’re looking at the drug war being waged against us by drug cartels south of the border (Mexico, Central America, South America), Afghanistan (the so-called Golden Crescent), and SE Asia’s Golden Triangle of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand.  A global narcotics super-economy with annual revenues in the $500 billion stratosphere.  Staggering as it is, experts concede that $500 billion is almost certainly a lowball figure.

855px-HeroinWorld-en fixed

You’re looking at a $500-billion-reason why Charles Gardner (Rep.) should be Malone’s next municipal judge.

New York has 17 counties officially designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) by the NY/NJ HIDTA Drug Trends Group (DTG) in a report funded by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, operating out of the White House.  The report is titled “Threat Assessment 2015.”

“High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.”  Roll the phrase around on your tongue for awhile.  (Go ahead, let yourself get angry.)  Nowadays wars are fought with more than just bullets and bombs.  This one is a shadow war fought chiefly with small plastic bags with white powder inside.  A war of white powder and hypodermic needles.

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NYS has one of the highest number of

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The day the river destroyed Malone

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—Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

I imagine it happening in the middle of the night.  (These things often seem to occur in the wee hours, when no one’s around.  At least, I hope that will be the case.)

Nina and I are awakened by a huge crash.  A tremendous boom.  Like an explosion.  Our house shakes.  (We live on Clay Street; I’m almost certain our house will shudder like it does during an earthquake.  Except this earthquake will be man-made.)

Then, sirens.  Wailing, wailing as every fire company for 30 miles around arrives on the scene.  State police, village police, border patrol—all will be there.  Then huge klieg lights, eerily illuminating the downtown.  And the acrid smell, like a pall over the village.

Within minutes, I notice there’s traffic going down Clay Street.  (Ah, yes.  Main Street has been sealed off.)

Such will be the day when the river destroys Malone.

What I just outlined will be the best scenario, mind you, the one we should all hope and pray for.

The bad scenario is:  The collapse happens during the day.  A busy day of traffic downtown.  That is to say, an ordinary day of traffic crawling through the narrow canyon of centuries-old buildings lining Malone’s historic downtown—a downtown now turned murderous.  When suddenly the entire front of this huge building pitches forward onto traffic and perhaps pedestrians, oblivious to the time-bomb which has been silently parked there by the bridge, lo all these years.  Biding its time.

Building1aaa

Sirens.  Downtown cordoned off.  Casualties.  Ambulances.  And we all suck in our breath in horror and tell one another, “Such a tragedy!  Nina Pierpont was on her way to Price Chopper in her white Subaru.  Rescue teams are down there now, trying to extricate her from the car.  She appears to be alive, but there’s lots of blood.”

“Has anyone told her husband, yet?”

Nina Pierpont—or you, or me—won’t be the only one.

This building—#395 W. Main St—is going to fall into the Salmon River.

The most significant problem of this building is the questionable soundness and stability of the exterior walls, particularly the east, stone-masonry wall which is founded

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Governor’s message to Malone: “Consolidate services!”

“10,500 [municipal] governments in the State is unsustainable!”—Gov. Cuomo
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Now that “dissolution” of the Village of Malone has been rejected by voters, we must take the steps necessary to ensure the village’s financial survival.

RiverCityMalone.com urges all local government officials to watch this short video of Gov. Andrew Cuomo explaining that:

(a) NYS is not going to bail out municipalities like ours,

(b) NYS is already paying a huge amount of money into municipal coffers via Medicaid services,

(c) Hell will freeze over before he (Cuomo) gives yet more money to municipalities,

(d) Municipalities are going to have to balance their budgets either by reducing the cost of services or convincing taxpayers to override the 2% tax cap or, failing that,

(e) Municipalities can ask the state Financial Control Board to take over the municipality.

The best solution to achieve financial solvency, argues Cuomo, is for villages & towns & counties to consolidate their services.  In his words, “10,500 [municipal] governments in the State is unsustainable!”  No doubt that’s true, but it’s a slogan and like all slogans it’s overly simplistic.  In particular, it does not follow from this that the Village of Malone should have “dissolved” into the Town of Malone.  The day may indeed come when the two governments merge, but they should do so as two partners seeking union—as in a marriage.  “Dissolution” is not a marriage; “dissolution” is disfranchisement—always a bad starting point for a relationship, be it civic or personal.  

In sum, the governor is telling Malone:  “Consolidate village, town, and county services!”  (Note, there is a big difference between “dissolving” the Village of Malone and “consolidating services” between the village, town, and county.)

Maybe we should listen—before we find ourselves married to the NYS Financial Control Board.
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The Village of Malone needs to restructure taxes, not dissolve itself

—Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD

Two financial issues are driving the question of village dissolution:  high taxes in the village and the fear that the village may become bankrupt within a decade.  There is a common perception that the village has mis-managed its budgets and departments by allowing contracts/salaries/benefits to become recklessly generous.  Indeed, there is now a growing sentiment that we don’t really need these village employees who, not surprisingly, are starting to feel blamed for the village’s financial woes.

What’s going on, here, is a cascade of misinformation about village finances.  As I hope to make clear, village dissolution is not the only way—in fact, it is the least attractive way—to restructure taxes and service funding within the Township of Malone.

Dissolution will cause us to lose a critical service—the Malone Village Police.  The Town of Malone is unlikely to establish a town-wide police service (notice that town councilors refuse to commit themselves on this, while two councilors, including the supervisor, are vocally against it).  Nor is there any guarantee the state will designate a special police district within the town if the village is dissolved (we have heard so from Janet Duprey).  With dissolution, the police will go.

Let’s talk about how taxes and services are structured in Malone.  They are pretty complicated, yet essential to understand.

First, how do tax bills compare in village and town for an average family?  Let’s imagine a house and property valued at $80,000 in each place.  In the Town of Malone, this family would pay $893.08 per year in town/county taxes.  In the village, it would pay $605.40 in town/county taxes and $1326.05 in village taxes, for a total of $1931.44.  That’s $1038.44 more in the village.  (School taxes are the same in both locations.)

Why so much more in the village?  What’s different about it?

In the village we have municipal water, municipal sewer, drains under the streets, lights over the streets, sidewalks, street cleaning, a police force, a recreation program with parks and an ice rink, leaf and brush pickup, tree maintenance, and unsafe building demolition.

Both the town and village maintain roads, plow snow off

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Patrick Ward opposes dissolution

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—Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Does this man look worried to you?  (Notice the furrowed brow and hand gestures—a dead giveaway.)  In fact, he is worried.  And you should be, too!

That’s why he’s running for Malone Village Trustee—as a write-in candidate.  (More on the “write-in” procedure, below.)

A year ago, Pat & Liz Ward bought a 3-unit rental house next door to me, on Clay St.  (They had been living on Francis St, across from the Middle School.)  They fixed it up and moved into one of the apartments.  For 8 months, Pat & Liz and their 3 kids were my next-door neighbors.  Fabulous neighbors!  Wonderful people!

They then bought another 3-unit rental house on the corner of Washington and Frederick, and did the same thing:  fixed up the vacant apartment and moved in.  Click here and scroll down to see the stunning job they did on this second apartment.  Meanwhile, they rented the apartment—which they had vacated next door to me—to a fine young couple.

Through this process, the Wards and Martin/Pierponts became friends.

Patrick was Restaurant Operations Manager at Pizza Hut when he moved into the neighborhood.  Pizza Hut thrived during his tenure.  After buying the second apartment building (corner of Frederick & Washington), he resigned from Pizza Hut (with much regret from the staff, I’m told) to devote himself to buying-and-fixing-up distressed apartment buildings in the Village, then renting them out to decent tenants.

Now, savor everything I just said.  Patrick—ordained minister (see below) and businessman—and wife Liz (a trained schoolteacher) are the future of Malone.  Young, professional couple investing heavily in the Village’s future.  A young professional willing to run for public office (Village Trustee) and put in the hours and energy and sweat—and the homework—to rescue a Village headed for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy?  The Village’s revenues (taxes and other, miscellaneous sources of income) are not keeping pace with expenditures.  What’s strangling the Village budget are:

(1) “Retirement benefits” to retired municipal employees.  Like all of us, municipal retirees are tending to live longer, meaning their benefits are being paid out to them and their spouses for more years than originally anticipated.

(2)

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Malone: A story

—Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

There was once a brave little boat named “Malone”—a vessel ship-shape in every way.  Smartly fitted, seaworthy, and manned by a crew of two:  first mate on oars and skipper at helm.

With a dream and a star to steer her by, crew and captain launched themselves on uncertain seas.

Meanwhile the skiff somehow magically grew—imperceptibly, yet grew.  To become a stately ship clothed in sail, still following a dream—and a star to steer her by.

(Some say she grew so others might come aboard—seafarers seeking life on fairer seas.)

Year after year our good ship “Malone” navigated the sea lanes of Time under prudent command of captain and crew.

What the sea giveth, the sea also taketh away—and the wise sailor takes nothing for granted.  So there were times when billows grew large and battered the good ship “Malone.”

Through fair weather and foul, she proved her worth and sturdy timber—and mettle of captain and crew.

When sheets were shredded in screaming gales, and deck awash with deadly sea, “Malone” held course—to that star they steered her by.

Even so, fate is cruel to men who hunger for the sea.  So fate seemed to steer the good ship down channels uncharted and unknown, concealing reefs and shoals to make wreck of vessels like “Malone.”

There, with shuddering thud, sudden lurch to port and scream of rending timber—the brave vessel ran aground.

Aground indeed, but—thanks be to God!—not sunk.  Taking water below—yet no shouted command from captain and crew to lower lifeboats and abandon ship.

Serene stands the . . . captain.
He is not hurried, his voice is neither high nor low,
His eyes give more light to us than our . . . lanterns.

—Whitman, “Leaves of Grass” (1855)

From the bridge he calmly orders, “All hands on deck!”  With voice raised above wind-whipped seas, to all assembled he exhorts,  “Be of good cheer!  By our Lord’s grace and the willpower of every man, woman, and child on board, we can save our vessel.  For she is built of strong, well-joined timber—and we shall all live to

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Village Police: Yes or no?

—Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

This is a story about a Malone neighborhood which is saying “No!” to violent behavior and violent language in our neighborhood.

It’s a story about a neighborhood group which is pushing back against the “trashing” of our community by young men and women and teenagers (and even, believe it or not, children) who think they can freely vent their aggressions and anger on our streets.

It is a story about an experiment in “what it means to be a neighborhood” by a loosely organized group of property owners who call themselves the Clay-Milwaukee Neighborhood Group.  I am an enthusiastic member of this group.

First, a clarification.  We are not against the people who display this behavior in our neighborhood.  (Yes, it is our neighborhood, and we will go to great lengths to preserve its peace and safety and tranquility and beauty.)  We are against their behavior.  In fact, we are happy to welcome these people into our neighborhood, either as residents or just strolling through, so long as they respect this neighborhood ethic.  (“Ethics” is a good word.  It’s time to dust it off and reinstate it in our vocabulary and our daily lives—as a community.  Neighborhoods are “corporate bodies” and, like all corporate entities, they have an ethic—whether good or bad.  Our neighborhood has a good one—and we intend to protect it.)

U.S. Marshall Wyatt Earp

Our neighborhood ethic would be doomed without the services of the valiant men & women wearing a badge.  Like U.S. Marshall Wyatt Earp, above.  Peace officers like Wyatt Earp make for great historical legend, but don’t ever forget that he was a real man and a real marshall (and sheriff) and he performed a real job—and that real job was really really essential.

Sames goes for our Village police and our code officer.  Take away the Village police and Malone becomes a 19th-century lawless, violent frontier town—on the frontier called the North Country.  Here’s a foretaste of where Malone is headed, from today’s Telegram, “Police Officer in Malone Is Injured in Altercation.”

In truth, the reason I’m telling this story at all

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“Heart & Soul Community Planning”: Blueprint for Malone?

Editor’s note:  Take a look at this video.  “Heart & Soul Planning” for communities like Malone.  It’s a program run by the Orton Family Foundation, Middlebury VT.

My thanks to Boyce Sherwin for bringing this to my attention.
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Unlock Your Potential: Heart & Soul Community Planning
from Orton Family Foundation on Vimeo.

In 2008, the Orton Family Foundation began a $10 million, five-year initiative to develop a new approach to values-based community planning designed to bring citizens back into the process of charting the future of their cities and towns. We call it “Heart & Soul Community Planning.”

We piloted the process in partnership with five communities in the Northeast and Rocky Mountain regions, testing new methods, tools and messages. Our early challenges and successes have inspired us to further refine our approach so that citizens have the tools they need to unlock their potential and keep their places special.

 

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“Place-Making”: Reviving downtown Malone!

“Virginia Developer Is on a Mission to Revive His Town” (Roanoke VA)

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Editor’s note
:  Could Roanoke VA become a model for Malone’s “renaissance” (rebirth)?  Read the NY Times article, below, and see what you think.  

There are interesting parallels between Roanoke, which is far larger than Malone, and Malone.  John Mills (Malone’s “Painted Lady” Genius), Hugh Hill (Exec. Dir. of the Malone Chamber of Commerce), and I have been discussing a concept rather similar to the one described in the article, below.  It has a name; it’s called “placemaking.”  Much of our concept has to do, believe it or not, with “paint.”  (You will notice that Frank Cositore used this approach with the Flanagan:  Once he fixed the windows and painted the building, it stopped being an eyesore and everyone stopped hyperventilating about “The Flanagan.”  There might be a lesson in that little story.)

Incidentally, Boyce Sherwin has been preaching “placemaking” for years.  That’s what the “Mullin Report” was all about—years ago.  (“Boyce, I think some of us, including yours truly, are only now beginning to grasp what you were talking about.”) 

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—by Melena Ryzik, NY Times (7/24/12)

ROANOKE, Va. — The Kirk Avenue Music Hall, a four-year-old club named for its downtown block here, offers an unexpected perk to its performers: an apartment. For a night or so, before or after gracing the stage, artists stay at no charge in a loft a block away, signing the guest book with notes of gratitude.

Community members involved in Roanoke’s revitalization gathered last week at a building that is to become a rock climbing gym.

“We don’t have money, we don’t have fame, so hospitality is really critical,” said Ed Walker, the club’s landlord and a founder.

It is hard to miss Mr. Walker’s brand of hospitality on Kirk Avenue. He owns nine of its storefronts, turning what was a forlorn block not long ago into a social destination. The music hall doubles as a microcinema and event space. There is Lucky, a restaurant run by a touring rock band that decided to stay put, and Freckles, a cafe and vintage shop

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Re-Imagine Malone (Part 2)

—by Hugh Hill, Malone Village Trustee & Executive Director, Malone Chamber of Commerce

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Checklist of Economic Opportunities:

(1) Develop our tourism economy by creating a modern and effective marketing effort funded by a fee collected from lodging visitors and managed by a private sector board of directors based on the proven record of success in Essex and Clinton Counties. (This opportunity deserves an essay all by itself!)

(2) Understand and exploit the seasonal resident potential by developing housing that takes advantage of our proximity to Titus Mountain, the golf course and the residential lakes in the area. Building. Selling 15-25 seasonal residences a year would have a multi-million dollar annual impact locally, providing new revenue for business and municipal governments. I think the potential is greater than the number I mentioned because we are 1.5 hour away from the nearly 4 million residents of Montreal, whose per-capita incomes are among the highest in North America.

(3) Domain and brand the area a value-added agricultural food basket specializing in agricultural products we already produce (dairy products, maple syrup, etc.) and are capable of producing in greater quantities (organic meats, tree fruits, specialty produce and high-value products like vegetable oils, beer, wine and more).

(4) Create an agricultural incubator space that would help small producers reach consumer markets by using shared administrative services (order taking, shipping services, etc.) and health department certified production equipment that they cannot afford to own when transitioning from home production to commercial production.

(5) Clean-up and fix-up local communities & neighborhoods through code enforcement, and deal with restrictive state and federal rules that prevent the removal of blight. This will be a small step in positioning our communities to better attract some of the estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers a day who are turning 65 years old (76 million people). That daily trend started last year and will continue every single day for the next 19 years.  America is ill-prepared to house and service the changing needs of this gigantic number of people. We have an opportunity here!

Communities like Malone are safe, have nearby high quality health care services, retail services, are walkable,

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