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What are you thankful for this year?


Thanksgiving is two days away. We’ll bring you stories of your Lower Hudson Valley friends and neighbors who’ve overcome tragedy and other tests of strength in these challenging times.

In the face of a still-struggling economy, wars, devastating storms and general dissatisfaction with American political leadership, what are you thankful for?

Let us know in a comment below or send me an e-mail at eforbes@lohud.com.

Posted by Ed Forbes on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Opinion roundup: Still a flood of problems


Today’s editorial, FEMA funds stall in GOP mire, gets an update: Last night, the Senate passed a measure that clears $7 billion for emergency disater relief funding for the Federal Emergency Disaster Administration (eight Republican senators defied leadership and voted for the funding). But now the House bill has to be reconciled with the Senate action. More politicking is expected, so replenishment of FEMA funding is far from a done deal and House GOP leadership differs on the amount needed and whether “offsets” with cuts are needed. (Here’s an article from the Albany Times Union.)

And, for a quick update of how some locals are faring with FEMA and post-Irene, I spoke this morning with Jo Hallett of Suffern, whose house was damaged beyond repair by Irene’s floodwaters. She says she’s so grateful for all the volunteers who helped her, and called the FEMA inspector “a very nice man.” Her home’s foundation is damaged, so she cannot even go back in. However, first responders went in to retrieve clothing, pictures and important medical records.

In other Opinionating:

The Democrat and Chronicle Editorial Board in Rochester looks at the United States Postal Service’s struggles and says: “Revise rules for postal service.” Closer to home, LoHud reports that the USPS cost-saving proposals could end some of the mail-sorting duties at the Monsey Post Office, with those duties going instead to the large Harrison facility off Westchester Avenue.

USA Today has an editorial, “Why cut taxes for wealthy investors?” and a rebuttal from Newt Gingrich, “Capital gains tax deters investment.

And we end with an editorial from the LA Times (Dakota Meyer and a grateful nation), hailing the remarkable bravery of Sgt. Dakota Meyer, the first living Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Meyer received the Medal of Honor on behalf of his colleagues; it is tribute to him that he did so, and a reminder to all Americans that servicemen and women risk their lives every day in defense of this nation’s interests. They deserve their country’s undivided gratitude.

PHOTOS: TOP: a section of North State Road between Route 9A and Pleasantville Road remains closed in Briarcliff Manor because of damage from Hurricane Irene. (Sept. 08 Journal News file photo), ABOVE: Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor Thursday at the White House.

Posted by Nancy Cutler on Friday, September 16th, 2011 at 11:38 am |


Opinion roundup: Bugged by cutbacks


Happy Friday! Today, the Editorial Board is bugged by the idea of cutting mosquito prevention programs. Today’s editorial, “Mosquito control’s the wrong budget bite,” says:

Whether it’s a wholesale cut to West Nile programs or nibbling around the edges of prevention, counties need to proceed with caution. Skipping preventive methods could quickly land counties right back to 1999, when West Nile sent fear around the region as the little-understood disease showed up in mosquitoes, birds and people. New York City, Rockland, Westchester and other counties sprayed aerial pesticides in 1999, and again in 2000. After that, aggressive prevention efforts, such as using larvicide and even mosquito-eating fish, helped tamp down the risk. … Counties shouldn’t be so quick to scrap or scale back simple and relatively cheap storm-drain treatments. Skipping such a basic preventive measure could quickly lead to more dramatic and costly intervention.

In other opinion news, a new blog, Public Authorites, looks at those quasi-governmental entities that operate so much infrastructure and so many services in New York. The blog is a project of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School. Recent posts address the toll hikes proposed for the Port Authority’s bridges, tunnels and roadways, and the proliferation of Local Development Corporations around the state (Rockland’s considering one that would buy the nursing home complex from the county and operate it.) It’s a great public service that explains the ins and outs of little understood government operations.

Posted by Nancy Cutler on Friday, August 12th, 2011 at 4:55 pm |

Opinion roundup: It’s the economy


Dropped credit ratings, stale job growth and political bickering. What does it mean for jobs, and the economy, in the Lower Hudson Valley? We’ll seek answers during an Editorial Board discussion on the economy in the Lower Hudson Valley at 2 p.m. Thursday LIVE on LoHud.com. A panel of stakeholders will weigh in on where we are, and where we’re going, as the economy heads down a bumpy road. Join us at www.LoHud.com/ editorialspotlight, and add your voice by using the CoverItLive feature to ask questions and make comments.

Today, the Editorial Board comments on the economic gyrations that impact the U.S. and beyond. In the editorial, “Markets pay price for U.S. dysfunction,”  the Editorial Board writes:

Because “compromise” and “cooperation” are such poisonous words in Washington, no one knows where the crisis will lead. The answers have implications for our wallets, investment accounts, local school and government budgets, and state pension funds.

Columnist Phil Reisman, too, weighs in. His column, “What we need is a financial czar,” says:

The S&P downgrade has only added more kindling to the raging economic inferno that is burning down the American house. …

I’m beginning to think martial law should be declared on the financial front. It’s a fantasy, I know, but maybe we need some kind of a financial czar to make the tough, painful decisions that no one in elective office is capable of making.

The Editorial Board, along with the nation, also honors the brave fallen and remembers the cost of war, with a record loss of 30 U.S. service members in a helicopter crash over the weekend in Afghanistan.  We said:

Around the nation, from nearby Stamford to Hawaii, families learned that their loved ones had paid the ultimate sacrifice. More than one recalled brave men, “gentle warriors” dedicated to their country, and their duty.

Posted by Nancy Cutler on Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 at 12:27 pm |

Opinion roundup: Regents back, markets sink


It’s a frightful Friday, as shaky markets around the globe have us on edge. Today’s editorial, “Winter Regents saved — for now,” welcomes the return of January Regents exams in 2012 for schools statewide, thanks to private donations. But, we say:

This unique solution — using private donations to pay for mandatory public-education tests — hardly offers a permanent fix. But it gives students on both ends of the spectrum a chance to excel — at least for 2012. And it allows some breathing room for state education officials, and the elected leaders who determine state funding for education, to determine the true value of January tests.

Meanwhile, the dismal economic picture (hardly burnished by better-than-expected jobs numbers) grabbed media attention, including these opinions:

Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, in today’s column, “Stabilizing into a crisis,” says the complex causes of the economic turmoil befuddle most Washington politicians:

Whatever weak recovery we might have hoped for is being hindered by global commodity prices, consumer deleveraging, fears of flagging demand in emerging markets, earthquakes in Asia and much more. Globally, it’s been an almost uninterrupted run of crises and bad luck. Meanwhile, Washington just spent two months arguing over whether it would pay its bills or spark an unnecessary financial crisis.

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Paul Krugman writes that “Washington has been worrying about the wrong things” in today’s column, “The Wrong Worries.” He says:

It’s not just that the threat of a double-dip recession has become very real. It’s now impossible to deny the obvious, which is that we are not now and have never been on the road to recovery.

In other opinion:

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, in its editorial, “SUNY networks show promise,” lauds the State University of New York’s newly formed Campus Alliance Networks, a collaboration among campuses to allow shared services and trim administrative costs. The editorial says:

This kind of collaboration is overdue within SUNY, and one that local school districts should look at emulating, given the new property-tax cap, and districts’ fears of laying off more teachers and dropping programs.

Posted by Nancy Cutler on Friday, August 5th, 2011 at 10:49 am |


Opinion roundup: Bank switch, FAA


Today in “Bank sale good news for the region,” the Editorial Board looks at the planned $1 billion sale of 195 HSBC bank branches to First Niagara, including nine Rockland, four Westchester and two Putnam branches. Gov. Cuomo sounded optimistic in his comments, as did local business leaders here. Business Council of Westchester President Marsha Gordon told the Editorial Board:

They still need tellers, relationship managers … they are looking to maintain good talent. I see it as a positive that they’re here and that they want to grow their market here.

In other opinions, the FAA funding standoff continued to draw plenty of attention, including:

A New York Daily News editorial, “Congress flies away home and leaves badly needed FAA projects grounded,” calls Congress “miserable” for splitting from Washington after the debt-ceiling tug-of-war without funding the Federal Aviation Administration, which is now on Day 13 of furloughed workers, stalled construction projects and taxes on tickets going uncollected by the federal government and instead pocketed by the airlines. (The New York Times weighed in yesterday, with its editorial, “The F.A.A., after the Republicans,” which details the standoff over rules that make it easier for airline and railroad workers to unionize. The Albany Times Union also weighs in. Its editorial, “Another impasse grounds the FAA,” sums up the funding flap this way:

Tens of thousands of people are out of work over Republicans’ refusal to fund the Federal Aviation Administration, part of the GOP’s war on unions. This hard-line ideology is irresponsible.

Posted by Nancy Cutler on Thursday, August 4th, 2011 at 9:26 am |

Opinion roundup: Pensions; unemployed


Sing along! It’s Friday, Friday … Here’s a look at today’s Opinions, as we look forward to the weekend

Today, the Editorial Board addresses Gov. Cuomo’s push for a Tier VI pension. An editorial states:

The public-employee pension reforms unveiled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week are neither game-changing nor revolutionary; what they are is practical and necessary. They would mean significant cost savings to taxpayers and serve as a prescription to the real-world malady afflicting so many private-sector employees: benefits envy. Lawmakers owe it to exhausted taxpayers to move on the proposals before the legislative session ends June 20.

In a letter to the editor, Camp Venture president and Rockland County Legislator John Murphy, R-Orangeburg, addresses recent reports of mistreatment of individuals who reside in upstate group homes that are overseen by the state. Venture is a nonprofit that provides care and services to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Murphy writes:

Good care comes from good people; the best way to ensure the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens is to promote the recruitment and retention of workers who have proven their merit. Caring is a sacred trust that must be supported.

Here’s some Opinionating from around the region and nation:

USAToday tackles a concerning trend, companies seeking to hire only those who already have jobs, even though unemployment drags on for many. The editorial, “Telling the jobless not to apply is plain dopey,” mentions legislation in New York that would bar discrimination against the unemployed. The legislation is sponsored by state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers. USAToday‘s editorial states:

… Businesses across the USA are warning in their want ads that the jobless need not apply. … Up-to-the-minute skills could be an asset. But knowledge isn’t lost overnight. To exclude everyone without a job when nearly 14 million people are unemployed — and 427,000 filed new claims for jobless benefits last week — is just plain dumb.

In an opposing view, “Let business hire whoever it wants,” New Jersey state Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, a Republican, calls his state’s proposed legislation to disallow the practice of declining to hire the unemployed “feel-good legislation” that’s a “silly law.” Carroll writes:

Although the practice seems silly, not every stupid business policy warrants a lawsuit. And that’s precisely what a statute produces: employment opportunities for attorneys. If a business believes its interests lie in hiring only those already employed, that should be its choice. Besides, as soon as it hires someone who already has a job, that, by definition, opens up another position.

Posted by Nancy Cutler on Friday, June 10th, 2011 at 10:41 am |

Opinion roundup: Hillcrest sale, ethics reform


Here’s a glance at Opinion-related news for Thursday:

Editorial: Hillcrest sale in East Ramapo

A report by the state education commissioner makes clear that East Ramapo’s school board failed to fulfill its responsibilities to its taxpayers regarding sale of Hillcrest Elementary School to Congregation Yeshiva Avir Yakov of New Square. In ordering the sale nullified, Education Commissioner David Steiner concluded that the board had “abused its discretion by hastily approving the sale.” The editorial states:

The commissioner made plain … that the school board failed taxpayers: “… (A) board of education has a fiduciary duty to secure the best price obtainable” on behalf of its taxpayers. There was nothing in the record to show that the trustees took even modest steps to ensure taxpayers were treated fairly.

Letters: Stop hate; government meddling

Valhalla letter-writer John Fitzgerald (Bipartisan meddling harms business) says “Three recent legislative actions prove the point that government is not the solution; government is the problem” and cites three examples, including:

… Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Assemblyman Bob Castelli, R-Goldens Bridge, and others are throwing federal funds, borrowed from China, at local not-for-profit foundations to “educate” the unemployed. While students graduating from college can’t find jobs, foundations that feed at the public trough will somehow endow the chronically unemployed with magical work skills.

Letter-writer Joseph Coe of Pomona, in his letter ‘Rockland residents, don’t tolerate hate,’ calls for vigilance and outspoken advocacy to fight intolerance. He supports Not in Our Town/Rockland, and says:

We have learned tragically from history that complacency is acceptance.

In other opinion around the region, Editorial Boards weigh in on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ethics reform bill:

The New York Post: On ethics: limited but necessary

The Albany Times Union: Reform leaves an ethics vacuum

The Times Herald-Record: Good ethics law better than none

Posted by Nancy Cutler on Thursday, June 9th, 2011 at 10:49 am |


STAC grads


Here are the Rockland area 2011 graduates of St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill

Airmont: Elese Klein
Bardonia: Daniella Birrittieri
Blauvelt: Kelly Melia, Briana Rizzi
Congers: Matthew Alfieri, Amy Aquilina, Amy Ascatigno, Kevin Christiansen, Nicole Kennelly, Dana Munoz, Stephanie Olivieri, Alexis Power, Francesca Principe, Christian Sayegh, Kristen Simon, Alecia Vilandry
Garnerville: Marianne Kugler, Rekha Dewan, James Prendergast, Justin Rivera, Danielle Young
Haverstraw: Raget Alceus, Christopher Bagarozzi, Gabriel Mateo
Monsey: Cherline Coriolan, Roodeline Fils-Aime, Maryanna Keary
Nanuet: Jason Barnett, Alyssa Cantor, Anna Cardillo, Matthew Carter, Lindsay Crotta, Heather Edsall, Laura Eichenholtz, Samantha Gargano, Christopher MacRobbie, Selwyn Mathew, Derek Mertens, Kurtis Pickford,
Mary Preap, Theresa Rangel, Maria Rinaldi, Jacqueline Russo, Patricio Sancy
New City: Danielle Barry, Nicholas Bluszcz, Keith Brady, Saisha Escoboza, Allison Feger, Kristyn Forker, Jake Kapustin, Victoria Kokoros, Pete Koutros, Jonathan Madrid, Shadi Soliman, Sayed Tajdar, Kathryn Zebrowski
New Hempstead: Kevaughn Isaacs
Nyack: Gregory D’Auria, Jr, Tanya Freeman
Orangeburg: Emil Cherian, AnnaMaria Dermos, Christine Gunning, Jessi Van Buren, Geneva Barr
Pearl River: Madeline Barr, Thomas Carle, James Cirner, Brandon Harrington, Jennifer Ill, Kaitlyn Keller,
Christopher Madden, Michael Mitchell, Kaitlin Page, Katelyn Senise, Nicholas Stabile, Chitraa Thirunarayanan
Piermont: Matthew Wolf, Tania Zurnaci
Pomona: Melissa Landi, Denise Lauria
Sloatsburg: John Sheehan, Patrick Sheehan, Thomas Smith
Sparkill: Stephanie Costa, Dione Keith Zacarias
Spring Valley: Leslie Emery, Annie Endanattu, Sarah Mims, Kristina Vega-Flores
Stony Point: Danielle Bicknell, Anthony Bragaglia, Gina Celenza, Geoffrey Greene, Jonathan Gribben, Christina Hanley, Danelis Henriquez, Danielle Locke, Valerie Massaro, Anthony Reda, Amanda Skinner, Kristina St. Pierre
Suffern: Reginalda Berrouet, Alyson Caloras, Jennifer Chillino, James Curley, Erica Davieds, Samantha Fontanella, Marissa Greany, Joseph Russo, Ellen Shenouda, Arianna Villarreal
Tappan: Laura Jones
Thiells: Marcello Apostolico
Tomkins Cove: Brittany Anderson
Valley Cottage: Keri Annesi, Andreia Gaspard, Daniel Lonergan, David Lopez, Ryan Memoli, Sarah Ungerleider, Vincent Vaillancourt
West Haverstraw: Mayra Minchala, Jenika Morel, Betsaida Pabon
West Nyack: Steven Di Filippo, Alaina Gach, Victoria Imbornoni, Danielle Ippolito, Michael Mandell, Tom Nikolaj, Erin Ready

Bardonia: Bryan Flaherty, Courtney Flaherty, Joanna Simone
Blauvelt: Daniel Connolly, Jenny Favre
Garnerville: Taryn Brechbiel, Asvinee Ruiz, Deirdre Stracci,
Haverstraw: Michael Bailey-Ludwig, Corie Bailey-Wickins
Nanuet: Jennifer Burger, Carly-Anne Caneparo, Maria Coupe, Joseph Hroncich, Chelsey Ires-Cohen, Lauren Mandarino, Blair Million
New City: Laura Dobransky, Patricia Doherty, Christopher Frank, Jr., Paul Glotzer, Manuela Guarascio, Michael Lynch, Sara Nybro, Feby Philip, Brooke Reichman
Nyack: Audrey Vital, Áine Whelan
Orangeburg: Kristina Tuske
Pearl River: Kristin Breslin, Bridget Emsworth, Lauren Fregonese, Mary Shields
Piermont: Joseph Barbagallo
South Nyack: Frances Loftus
Stony Point: Julia Andrews, Dimitra Fragkiadoulakis, Jennifer Gallagher, Caroline Gizzi, Sheena Paivandy, Jaclyn Palminteri, Stephanie Welsh
Suffern: Giuseppina Gaglione, Kendrick Madronero, Mathew Malden, Scott Malden
Tappan: John Barry, II, Dietmar Cziborra, Jennifer Kietur, Gregory Rosko, Mary Stapleton
Theills: Brian Hutto
Valley Cottage: James Lanser, Lauren Leahy
West Nyack: Laura Bimbo

Posted by Nancy Cutler on Friday, May 13th, 2011 at 3:35 pm |

About this blog
Welcome to the community conversation/editorial page blog for Rockland. It's your place for two-way talk with the people behind the opinions on The Journal News editorial pages and LoHud.com. Look here daily to talk back to the opinion writers, find out what's on our agenda, and steer us to the hot topics in your community. Contributing to this blog are deep-rooted Rocklanders Nancy Cutler, editorial page editor in Rockland, and Bob Baird, longtime Rockland columnist and editor, along with Ed Forbes, interactivity editor, with occasional contributions from other opinion staff.


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