Making Politics Great Again

It is over!  You are reading this after the election...now we can exhale. Some of us will be happy. Some will still be upset. Some may be in fact stunned.  All of us can go back to posting pictures of food and pets and vacations!

However I am writing this before the election. Today our country is in the throes of partisan rancor, anxiety and the kind of craziness that only happens at the end of a presidential race. I have an upset stomach and I don’t think it is only because I raided my kids’ Halloween candy.  I am fighting with friends on Facebook.

 

 

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Ali Boak - A Class Act

I climbed up the steep hill to my mailbox the other day.  As I sorted through the mail, walking back down the driveway, I noticed a flashy 8x10 card with a huge and relatively unappealing picture of Ali Boak; she’s the Democratic candidate running to represent the 40th District in the New York State Senate, which encompasses parts of Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester Counties.  I’d recently met and interviewed Ms. Boak and found her to be an engaging, attractive, and unusually competent woman. So, as I stopped to more closely examine the card and where it came from, I thought, “This must be a hatchet job from her Republican rival, Terrance Murphy.”

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Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport

 When you think “politics” today, you probably think national issues, Clinton vs Trump, jobs and the economy.  If someone asked you how are things in your local community, you would probably say “fine”. Because so long as your taxes don’t go up, your road gets plowed and your garbage gets picked up, local government doesn’t matter much to you.

There is no shame in being honest - you are probably in the majority who doesn’t pay attention to local politics.  For the most part our garbage does get picked up and our roads do get plowed.  But right under our noses, our local government has become a bit of a mess.

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Heroes and Sheroes

Heroes and Sheroes

Since Mahopac is such a sports town, and since the Olympics just ended, I thought I would take time to write about sports! (And a little politics, because of course.)

I am a soccer mom, and a mom who plays soccer. I am a fierce competitor in business and take team work seriously. I teach my kids to leave everything on the field, whatever field they are playing. Sports have defined me in many ways.

I love that Mahopac is a sports town, and I appreciate that we show commitment to our daughters as well as our sons. I used to get weepy at the Nike ads years ago that showed the statistics on how sports help girls’ self-esteem, and now I get to live that as a mother – seeing the positive impact on both my kids.

I recently had the opportunity to take my kids to the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio. I used to be a football fan in my younger days. Despite my increasing disappointment in the sport itself and the league, I found myself really enjoying the place, caught up in the emotion of teams I used to love, childhood heroes, and new success stories. Dedication, integrity, teamwork.

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Your Putnam County Government at Work!

By Bernie Kosberg

A week ago last Tuesday, I went to an evening meeting of the county legislature at the historic Putnam County Courthouse in Carmel.  The timeworn courtroom, used mostly nowadays for large public gatherings, was packed, and the energy and emotion present in the room was palpable.  Tired and frustrated county residents, fed up with an arrogant and pandering county government dominated by Republicans, were angry and ready to do battle with their district legislators, most of whom unequivocally support the corrupt planning of MaryEllen Odell, the County Executive.   

 

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Gun Rights Are Killing Us

The profusion of gun violence and mass shootings in America - whether by domestic terrorists or unhinged religious zealots - is spreading like wildfire and creating a pervasive sense of fear.   To many - regardless of social standing, race, religion, ethnicity or political beliefs - this country is beginning to feel unsafe.

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Small Town Totalitarianism

$5 Million in Missing Funds from the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department raises a lot of questions.

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What's at Stake?

In the wake of the first Republican Presidential Debates, the Carmel Democratic Committee brought together community leaders to discuss the relationship between government actions and working people, the dangers of the Algonquin Pipeline expansion, gun safety and the attacks on women's health. The speakers were impressive... the conversation inspiring.

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Budget Hijinks

MaryEllen Odell is playing games with the Putnam County budget. The ramifications could be costly!

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Year of the Family

The Year of the Family

Jennifer Colamonico and Marsha Waldman

The Carmel Democratic Committee applauds County Executive MaryEllen Odell for declaring this to be the Year of the Family in Putnam County.  However, we have recommendations for actions that would make this idea meaningful for real families in Putnam, not just a slogan.  

Putnam families deserve an open and honest government that represents all of us, not just the elite. A golf course is lovely for those who can afford it, but community centers could do so much more to serve the needs of families. In addition, we appreciate the attention paid to our seniors, but we would like to see equal attention paid to hard working families and other vulnerable populations.

Families in Putnam County – and across the country – are working harder for less. Real wages for most of us have not increased for many years, while income inequality has devastated the middle class. We encourage Ms. Odell to work harder to bring good jobs to Putnam County – jobs that pay a living wage and benefits to help our local families get ahead. About 90% of New Yorkers earning a minimum wage are over age 20 and, nationally, more than a quarter of them are parents.  Imagine trying to raise a child on $350 a week around here!

The stress put upon parents who are working hard and not making ends meet strongly impacts their children - disrupting their education and perpetuating a cycle of economic struggle. When families can’t get ahead financially, they often also have poor diets and poor health, which can burden an already burdened health system.  Establishing a countywide living wage would be a profound investment in our families.

Putnam families face a disproportionate tax burden that relies too much upon income and property tax as our economic development lags. Too many families drive out of the county or go online to shop for basic needs. We would love to “Shop Putnam” but how many nail salons, Italian restaurants and auto parts shops do we really need? What about bustling marketplaces with bookstores and cafes and diverse restaurants…farmer’s markets that bring us the bounty of the Hudson Valley… places to congregate and come together as a community?

Yet, Putnam is still home to many empty storefronts and unfulfilled needs. We call on Ms. Odell to demand accountability and results from the IDA (Industrial Development Agency), the EDC (Economic Development Corporation) and the Tourism Bureau to show results that strengthen our tax base and take the burden off our family taxpayers.

We encourage the County Executive and her colleagues to reach deep into the community and do more to support all the families that call Putnam County home – not only those who grew up here, but young families who choose to be here, including new immigrant families who are working hard to put down roots. Information is often hard to find, especially when using the Putnam County website that is outdated and hard to navigate. Are we really doing enough to create the engaged and connected community that would help Putnam families thrive?

We commend the efforts of Putnam County to curb the heroin epidemic that is ravaging too many local families. But our leaders can and should do more to give our young people meaningful after-school activities, internships and jobs to help keep them out of trouble. Our sports activities are top notch, but not every child is an athlete, and we should be providing resources for ALL the families in our community. Ms. Odell should focus time and resources towards preventing drug abuse as much as catching those who are selling drugs to our children.

Young people need to learn about building healthy families. The Putnam/Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center had been providing educational programs in our schools to teach teens about safe, healthy relationships; but they no longer have adequate funding to provide this essential outreach. Since prevention is always better than cure, the County should back the Center's efforts to guide our teens as well as providing services to families already fractured by abuse, addictions and mental illness.

Many families move to Putnam County because of our beautiful lakes and natural environment. The County can and should do more to protect the health of our lakes, and take steps towards greater energy efficiency in county buildings and vehicle fleets. We support the Legislature’s efforts (which unfortunately have been sidelined)) to ban polystyrene and plastic bags that end up polluting our neighborhoods and watersheds, endangering the health of humans and wildlife.

Putnam families are working too hard and paying too-high taxes to settle for lip service from county government.  We need fresh thinking and new ideas to really make this county work for our families. Local leaders too often reward friends and associates rather than seeking the best and the brightest solutions from the world around us. Putnam County families deserve bold leaders who will not settle for less than the best.