Friday, February 27, 2015

Dr. Strangeglove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love SASS

GENERAL JACK RIPPER: Mandrake. Mandrake, have you ever wondered why I viscerally hate the SAFE Act, Article 10 and Governor Andrew Cuomo?
MANDRAKE: Well it did occur to me Jack, yes.
RIPPER: Have you ever heard of a thing called SASS?  Scenic Area of Statewide Significance?
MANDRAKE:  Ah, yes, I have heard of that, Jack. Yes, yes.
RIPPER: Well do you know what it is?
MANDRAKE: No. No, I don't know what it is. No.
RIPPER: Do you realize that SASS is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face?
MANDRAKE: Jack...Jack, listen, tell me, ah...when did you first become, well, develop this theory?
RIPPER: Well, I ah, I first became aware of it, Mandrake, talking with John Blows, Jr. He convinced me that if we can’t do a damn thing about the big hand of government like the SAFE Act and Article 10 that irritate the hell out of us, then let’s go after the little crap, like  SASS.
MANDRAKE: But Jack, SASS doesn’t involve a permit, it won’t cost you anything, it won’t increase taxes, it won’t destroy property values, it won’t harm your kids, it isn’t a health hazard.  Hell, Jack it won’t do a damn thing to harm anybody, in fact it will probably help tourism.
RIPPER:  I don’t care Mandrake, the point is to kill something in government, anything, and this time it’s SASS.   

Thursday, February 26, 2015

NYS Committee on Open Government Department of State responds to my inquiry concerning the video taping of public meetings

I recently requested an opinion from the NYS Committee on Open Government (Coog)
Department of State concerning an issue that came up concerning posting videos of public meetings on the Internet. Below is a copy of my email exchange between me and the Coog.


NYS Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Avenue, Suite 650
Albany, NY 12231

Mr. Freeman,
I have an issue concerning videotaping public meetings.
I posted two video clips from a Town of Alexandria town board meeting on the Internet.
One of a private citizen addressing the public, and a response to him from the executive director of the local land trust.
The resident has asked me to remove the videos from my website implying that I have done something wrong. He took issue with the the segments I chose to post and the titles of my videos etc...  In support of his request that I remove the videos he cited the opinion of “a client of his who is a lawyer.”
I have spoken to you in the past about these same issues when I was living in Cape Vincent,NY , and normally I would not be seeking your comments on this same issue,  however  I took this person’s comments to me regarding the opinion of “a client of his who is a lawyer.”  as a veiled  threat.  
So the question is, is it legal to record private citizens speaking at public meetings ,and then posting segments of the meeting on the Internet ?

Kathryn Muschell
Wellesley Island, Ny

NYS Committee on Open Government (Coog) Response to my inquiry

Dear Ms. Muschell:

It has been held that anyone may record an open meeting, so long as the use of the recording device is not obtrusive or disruptive.  Once the recording is made, you may do with it as you see fit.  Attached is an opinion that refers to two judicial decisions that deal directly with the issue that you raised. In both decisions, it was held that if a person speaks during an open meeting and is recorded, again, a person who records or gains access to a recording prepared by a government agency is unrestricted in relation to the use or distribution of the recording.  Please feel free to share the opinion, again, as you see fit!

A second copy will be sent separately.

I hope that I have been of assistance.


Screen shot of original emails below

The document below was sent to me via email  by the NYS Committee on Open Government

Department of State in  response to my inquiry

One Year Ago Today BP Announces they are pulling out of Cape

One year ago today BP Wind Energy announced it was pulling out of Cape Vincent after unsuccessful attempts to sell its 285-megawatt industrial wind farm project.
 “It’s a sad day for Cape Vincent. The few people who don’t live here are now running the town,” leaseholder Harvey J. White said, referring to how seasonal residents practically took control of the town board by changing their residencies for the sole purpose of voting for anti-wind candidates for Cape Vincent Town Council. Continue...

1000 Islands RiverQuest by Helicopter

Published on Aug 2, 2013 The St. Lawrence 1000 Islands area is one of the most unique areas in the world. Comprised of 1864 islands shared by Canada and the USA, the islands experience 20% of the world's unfrozen fresh water flowing past their shores. This is the river that opened up central North America and was the chosen Summer home for 19th century inventors, entertainers, Presidents and everyday nature lovers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Erica M. Demick: Giving state more control a bad idea

 I am a proud, lifelong resident of Hammond and the Thousand Islands region.
As a member of the Thousand Islands Regional Assessment Project advisory board, I have supported looking into the merits of a Scenic Area of Statewide Significance Designation since its introduction. I have firsthand experience with the entire process through which SASShas been brought to the attention of our community. Continue reading at this link to the Watertown Daily Times

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Assbackwards Thinking in the Thousand Islands

The Game Where the Right Answer is Wrong

(2/20/2015) ~ Watertown Daily Times article "Support unravels for scenic-area designation as Orleans drops out"

Following are two reasons given by town officials who represent communities opting out of SASS, a designation from the Department of State that would simply require a non-binding review for large industrial scale projects:
  1. "Why do I need another form of review,"
  2. I am "...opposed to the additional layer of review that the Department of State would require under the SASS designation."
But in the same article there is an invitation by a town official for oversight and regulation from the heavy hand of state government through Article 10 and the Public Service Commission:
  1. "I support the development of wind projects in the region due to their economic impact in generating property taxes."
So, town officials along the St. Lawrence River feel threatened by the little hand of state government in a scenic designation, but feel comfortable, even welcoming, to the heavy hand of government that could seriously curtail home rule.

This is assbackwards thinking. Our town officials should be fighting Article 10 and its state mandates and embracing a scenic designation for the Thousand Islands.

Wind towers are a benefit to community

I read the article on Burke looking at regulations on wind towers. It isn’t a bad idea, but there is one statement that should be expanded.
I live in Clinton County and don’t have enough land to place a windmill on it, but...
Continue reading at this link to the Watertown Daily Times

Saturday, February 21, 2015

SASS ~ Protecting Valuable Scenic Resources:

Early traditions of stewardship set a high standard for safeguarding and overseeing the aesthetic character of the landscape that has continued to return dividends over the years. Early efforts, motivated in significant part by a desire to protect the Thousand Islands’ environment, scenic beauty and recreation, have resulted in the acquisition of areas of public park and conservation land. The New York State Legislature summed up compelling reasons to address management of scenic resources when they enacted New York State (NYS) Executive Law 42 in 1981, and established the Division of Coastal Resources to “achieve a balance between economic development and preservation that will permit the beneficial use of coastal resources while preventing the loss of living marine resources and wildlife, diminution of open space areas or public access to the waterfront, shoreline erosion, impairment of scenic beauty, or permanent damage to ecological systems.” (Article 42, s. 912). The State Legislature included scenic character as a key coastal resource protected by law. The law’s Policy #24 encourages guarding of Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance and discourages the modification or destruction of geological forms, vegetation and structures that contribute to the scenic quality of these areas. The policy also discourages the location of inappropriate structures in scenic areas.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Support unravels for scenic-area designation as Orleans drops out

CANTON - A plan that called for 10 communities along the St. Lawrence River to earn a Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance designation has begun to unravel because some officials are concerned it could result in unwanted land conservation and create a restrictive business climate. Continue reading ...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

 Heerrrrrrre's Johnny!

Johnny's back!.

John Droz, Jr., Washington lobbyist, real estate investor and hobby physicist, sneaked back in town and this time he is contacting Thousand Islands residents with a bogus email query fishing for attitudes about SASS.

Remember Johnny's last PR debacle? He may have enlisted the good name of Mike Ringer and drafted a letter sent to selected members of the SASS Advisory Committee. In the letter Ringer encourages advisory committee members to attend an upcoming meeting in Hammond and request immediate termination of SASS. No one showed! Ringer's letter, failed.

Why would John Droz, Jr. use the good name of a well-known artist and local celebrity in a PR campaign against SASS, a program initiative that would among other things preserve the scenic beauty of the Thousand Islands?

"Employ a well-known spokesman with star credibility."

Using Mike Ringer was the perfect fit to a PR strategy formulated by Droz for fighting wind energy (National PR Campaign Proposal marked CONFIDENTIAL, Edited by John Droz 1/23/2012)

Droz is known for lobby and advocacy activities that focus on creating fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). Look for more FUD from Droz in his anti-SASS campaign of the Thousand Islands?

The first Link below is to the  original source for Confidential Droz Proposal ~
Checks & Balances Project~

American Tradition Institute and Senior Fellow John Droz: Honesty Problem?