Wednesday, December 13, 2006

DCDOH: MTBE contamination in eight towns across Dutchess this year-- why is it so hard to get DCDOH to tell us what they know re: poisoned water?...

How many more children must die of cancer here in Dutchess because our county's Health Dept. won't inform the public with the information they know about groundwater contamination across the county?...
Time for a reality check on the "Dutchess Cares" hype now inundating our airwaves-- and askingonce again for our County Executive and our county's Health Department to addinformation to their website about specific MTBE contamination across our countythat they've been well aware of for a while now through their regular testingof public wells...

Our airwaves and newspapers are now inundated with messages from ourCounty Executive and the Dutchess County Health Department about how 'DutchessCares'-- yet our County Executive and our county's Health Department stillrefuse to adequately inform the public with the information they know about groundwater contamination throughout the county-- including serious MTBE contamination foundby the county itself in eight towns across Dutchess this year alone. This informationfrom testing of public wells should be put up online at the county's websitewithout further delay. How many more children need to die of cancer from MTBE herein Dutchess before this happens?...

[See comments just below from Hyde Park's Colleen Berrian (from neighborhoodof Greenbush) on this-- from the "Hidden Poison" series of articles onMTBE contamination of water that the Albany Times-Union did back in April-- it's still online at (click on "SpecialReports").]

This is from "No Easy Fix for $25B Problem" (part of the series above):

"Residents in Greenbush, which lies downhill from several gas stations, found out they had an MTBE problem in late 2000. Greenbush residents share the same complaint of most impacted communities: Authorities were slow to notify residents they had a problem, even after one well tested with 700 parts per billion MTBE.
Greenbush resident Colleen Berrian is convinced MTBE made her neighbors sick. Without prompting, she runs through a list: `'A lady a few houses down died of bone cancer. A 17-year-old boy died of a brain tumor. A 4-year-old had a tumor. Another couple on Greenbush Drive both died of cancer. Many pets in the neighborhood have died of cancers. Another boy had leukemia. Up on Bircher Avenue, across 9G, there were a lot of cancers up there. I know a gal who grew up there who said that several people in her family all had brain cancers.'' No health study has been done in Greenbush."

"Arguing that MTBE does not cause cancer is like saying that cigarettes don'tcause cancer. There is absolutely no question that MTBE causes cancer."-- Dr. Myron A. Mehlman, Ph.D. (former head toxicologist for Mobil Oil Corp. and current Mount Sinai School of Medicine faculty member)["Ex-Mobil Man: MTBE Causes Cancer" [7/30/00 Exeter News-letter]

"Well Test Bill Faces Hearings" by David Paulsen

Three more sources of information:

Curious, isn't it, how the same Republicans in our county governmentwho profess to care about the cost of well-testing refuse to see the merits of resolution I submitted over two years ago suggesting that our county sue oil companies for MTBE contamination across Dutchess (as Suffolk County, Nassau County, Village of Pawling, Town of Wappinger, eighteen other municipalities across NY, and a total of 157 different communities across the country have done already-- some succussfully-- Santa Monica; South Lake Tahoe Public Utility District; see ...
See below information I've received through Freedom of Information Act request from our county's Health Department about extensive MTBE contamination well over 10 ppb (ten parts per billion) of our county'sgroundwater found this year in eight towns across the county...

This information from our county's Health Department is in stark contrast topublic statements from Dutchess County Health Department officials about how such contamination of our county's groundwater is "isolated"(!)--and abouthow county residents needn't worry about MTBE contamination of water becauseit was banned from being put into gasoline as of January 1, 2004(!)...

Even Dutchess County Department of Health (DCDOH) Environmental Director Steve Capowski and Dutchess County Water and Wastewater Authority Director ThomasLeGrand themselves have made public statements this year about how highly water-soluble MTBE is-- and how quickly it moves through the ground to contaminate drinking water...

Note as well-- the rule of thumb, generally, has been a measurement of a minimum of 5 ppb MTBE for a filter from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in contaminated neighborhoods like Greenbush in Hyde Park; the listbelow only reflects DCDOH well measurements over 10 parts per billion (ppb)...
Finally, it should also be noted that I'm fairly convinced that all of the businessesbelow where DCDOH has found MTBE contamination have been giving their customers clean drinking water-- bottled or otherwise; his primary concern is thatwith MTBE, more often than not, "when there's smoke there's fire"--my concern is for residences and other establishments nearby in those neighborhoods-- especially given public statements made just this year by Capowskiand LeGrand on how quickly MTBE travels underground...

Without further ado, this below is information I FOIA'd from DCDOH thisfall on MTBE contamination found throughout the county this year-- long after MTBE was banned from being put into our gasoline on January 1, 2004:

[this particular well-test list is what should be put online at DCDOH site withoutfurther delay!]


Clove Valley Deli & Cafe 1/25/06 57 ppb MTBE contamination

East Fishkill:

Archway Plaza 3/27/06 330ppb MTBE contamination
Blue Hill Mind & Body 4/6/06 409 ppb MTBE contamination
Brettview Acres Water Company 9/26/05 12 ppb MTBE contamination
Gulf & Snack Shop 4/18/06 450 ppb MTBE contamination


Potluck 2/3/06 40 ppb MTBE contamination

Hyde Park

Darrows Mobile Park 4/26/06 26 ppb MTBE contamination


Cinnamon Tree Day Care Center 1/17/06 16 ppb MTBE contamination

Pleasant Valley

Gasland Pleasant Valley 3/14/06 39 ppb MTBE contamination
Pleasant Valley Chestnut Mart 4/21/06 40 ppb MTBE contamination
Rudy's Market II 7/26/05 20 ppb MTBE contamination


F & D Mart, Inc. 12/13/05 24 ppb MTBE contamination


Cobble Pond Farms 3/21/06 14 ppb MTBE contamination


7-11 Convenient Food Store 3/7/06 47 ppb MTBE contamination
Associated Aircraft Group 1/20/05 28 ppb MTBE contamination
Creek Side Plaza 3/15/06 170 ppb MTBE contamination
New Hackensack Plaza 10/11/05 29 ppb MTBE contamination
Rt. 376 Gulf 3/28/06 270 ppb MTBE contamination


Mabbettsville Convenience Store 3/21/05 66 ppb MTBE contamination
Mabbettsville Dairy Cream 6/2/05 21 ppb MTBE contamination

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Recall this list of more than three dozen different stores, restaurants, and other entities across Dutchess County who have had wells that tested at overthe level of 10 parts per billion MTBE at some point over the last several years, according to Steve Capowski, Director of Environmental Health for the Dutchess CountyHealth Department (the same source for the information above):


Getty Rt. 9/9G-- 6/04...55 ppbF & D Mart Inc.-- 9/02...200 ppb


Wassaic TDDSO-- 8/01...11 ppb


Beekman Square Diner-- 12/02...24 ppb
Clove Valley Deli & Cafe-- 12/02....180 ppb
Sunoco Food Market-- 7/01...16 ppb

East Fishkill:

Archway Plaza-- 5/03...490 ppb
East Fishkill Realty, LLC-- 8/03...37 ppb
Gulf & Snack Shop--1/02...5600 ppb
Jake's Tex Mex 6/03...627 ppb


Convenient Deli Mart-- 10/03...307 ppb
Potluck-- 7/03...73 ppb

Hyde Park:

Citgo Food Mart-- 7/02...55 ppb
Country Plaza DC-- 11/01...12 ppb
Crum Elbow Apartments-- 3/04...39 ppb
Darrows Mobile Park-- 4/04...59 ppb
Dutchess Co. Auto/Consumer-- 12/01...20 ppb
Georgie O's Restaurant-- 12/03...15 ppb
Hidden Brook Estates-- 6/03...54 ppb
Hidden Plaza (Bell Copier)-- 12/03...24 ppb
St. Peter's School-- 2/02...18 ppb
TNT Furniture Strippers-- 7/03...30 ppb
Touch of Naples-- 5/04...12 ppb


Cinnamon Tree Day Care Center-- 7/01...58 ppb
Merchants Associates-- 2/03...130 ppb
Page Industrial Park-- 5/01...21 ppb
Rt. 55 Mart, Inc.-- 6/04...110 ppb

Pleasant Valley:

Ennis Parc-- 8/04...14 ppb
Family Circle Plaza-- 10/02...20 ppb
Four Brothers Pizza-- 9/02...10 ppb
Gasland Pleasant Valley-- 2/04...36 ppb
Pleasant Valley Chestnut Mart-- 6/04...130 ppb
Rudy's Market II-- 5/03...56 ppb


Cobble Pond Farms-- 2/02...584 ppb


7-11 Convenient Food Store-- 5/01...35 ppb
Creek Side Plaza-- 12/02...1600 ppb
Dutchess Medical Arts Building-- 7/04...23 ppb
New Hackensack Plaza-- 3/04...31 ppb
Rt. 376 Gulf-- 3/04...690 ppb
Stoetzel Mobile Home Park-- 7/01...23 ppb


Mabbettsville Convenience Store-- 3/04...160 ppb
Mabbettsville Dairy Cream-- 6/04...27 ppb
Tuxis Real Estate LLC-- 4/04...200 ppb
Joel Tyner
County Legislator

Help make Dutchess Healthcare Access Plan a reality...

You're all invited to join the CHANGES/Real Majority Project's Eleventh Annual Holiday Interfaith Candlelight Vigil for Economic Justice Thursday, December 21st at 5:30 pm in frontof our County Office Building at 22 Market Street in Poughkeepie!...

We'll be officially kicking off our efforts to get our County Legislature topass a home rule request asking permission from Albany for a Countywide HealthcareAccess Plan for Dutchess similar to the one being implemented on a local level inSan Francisco (see )...

Speakers will include Rabbi Paul Golomb (Dutchess Interfaith Council President), Rev. Philip Carr-Harris (current Dutchess Interfaith Council Executive Director), Rev. Gail Burger (former Dutchess Interfaith Council Executive Director), Rev. Luis Perez (Rhinebeck Reformed Church), Michael Ignatowski (Hudson Valley Network of Spiritual Progressives Cofounder), Brian Riddell (Dutchess Outreach Executive Director),Brian Doyle (Chair of City of Poughkeepsie Common Council), long-time community activists Mae Parker-Harris, Ann Perry, Willye Bromfield, and Carola Madrid, PatLamanna (Dutchess Peace Coalition Cofounder), Peter Leonard (Vassar College Field Work Director), and Tom Midgley (of AllianceIBM); Richard Hathaway of PoughkeepsieFriends Meeting and Mar Peter-Raoul of the Marist College Praxis Project have also endorsed this effort and will try to attend (Fred Nagel of the Dutchess Greens has endorsed the effort too but will be unable to attend)...

The fact is that county taxpayers already spend millions each year reimbursing local hospitals for health care for the uninsured at the most expensive point-- in emergency rooms-- why not divert some of those millions to help the uninsured have health insurance?...

Fact: County taxpayers pay millions more annually on Medicaid for employees of profitable companies that still pay poverty wages (see Westchester County report on this). Why not move to do what the Republican-led Suffolk County Legislature did over a year ago and make sure those profitable companies help pay for their employees' health care so other responsible businesses and the rest of us don't have to unfairly subsidize such poverty wages?...

The San Francisco Health Access Plan combines both of these common-sense ideas to save tax dollars; "according to San Francisco County Supervisor Tom Ammiano,SFHAP could save taxpayers $8-24 million annually" ( ).

They've crunched the numbers in San Francisco and found that combining the two ideas above brings in enough revenue for the county and city there to offering the voluntary option of health insurance coverage to local residents at the cost of only $35-a-month premiums for those making between $20,000 and $40,000 a year-- and $200-a-month premiums for those making $50,000 a year-- a bargain...

Sign on to if you think we need the same type of program here in our county-- pass it on!

Note-- the specifics of a plan for our county don't necessarily have to be completely identical to the San Francisco model-- but it's a viable one that provides a good starting point for us to do something real here in Dutchess like this.

Fact: St. Francis Hospital spokesman Larry Hughes stated on his radio show on WHVW 950 AM this summer that the hospital spent $14 million over the last two years alone on care for uninsured patients.

Fact: "Uninsured patients treated at Saint Francis Hospital climbed dramatically from 16 percent in 2000 to 33 percent in 2004. The cost escalated too, up 20.6 percent to $12.9 million from 2004 to 2005 alone. That amounted to 9 percent of the Poughkeepsie hospital's budget."
[from "Soaring Health Costs Leave Many in a Bind" by Dan Shapley Poughkeepsie Journal 3/23/06 ]

Fact: "New York has 2.9 million uninsured residents, who last year cost hospitals $1.7 billion in so-called uncompensated care...$908,000 in 2002 at Northern Dutchess Hospital, $4.1 million at St. Francis Hospital, and $1.7 million at Vassar Brothers Hospital."
[from "New York's Uninsured Need Not Be" by Mary Beth Pfeiffer (9/03 Poughkeepsie Journal): ]

This excerpt below from a November 1st report from Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano points out how taxpayers in counties like ours now are forced to shell out millions for health care for workers of profitable companies paid poverty wages... [ ]

"An extensive survey by Westchester County of its employed Medicaid recipients has revealed that many of them are not provided adequate health insurance by their employers and therefore turn to the government for health care -- at an estimated cost to Westchester taxpayers of between $11.5 million and $34.5 million...
It is estimated that it costs about $4,000 a year to provide Medicaid to an adult who is neither disabled nor elderly and $12,000 for a family of four where the main wage earner is covered. Based on these numbers, the county estimates that the total cost to county taxpayers for providing Medicaid to the county's working poor is between $11.5 million and $34.5 million, depending on size of family (this range represents the county?s 16 percent share of the program. The remainder of the costs is picked up by the state and federal governments)...

Based on the total survey results, the following companies were the ten largest employers of individuals receiving Medicaid benefits (and the number of employees involved):

A&P Supermarket (55)
Stop & Shop Supermarket (55)
McDonald's (48)
Mile Square Transportation Inc. (37)
Best Care Inc. (36)
Shop Rite Supermarket (33)
Pathmark (31)
Royal Coach Bus Lines Inc. (31)
Dunkin' Donuts (29)
Personalized Home Care Service (27)"

On that note-- this from the New Rules Project/Institute for Local Self-Reliance... [ ]

"Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs - by UC Berkeley's Institute for Industrial Relations, August 2004

California taxpayers are spending $86 million a year providing healthcare and other public assistance to the state's 44,000 Wal-Mart employees, according to this study. The average Wal-Mart worker requires $730 in taxpayer-funded healthcare and $1,222 in other forms of assistance, such as food stamps and subsidized housing. Even compared to other retailers, Wal-Mart imposes an especially large burden on taxpayers. Wal-Mart workers earn 31 percent less than the average for workers at large retail companies and require 39 percent more in public assistance. The study estimates that if competing supermarkets and other large retailers adopt Wal-Mart's wage and benefit levels, it will cost California's taxpayers an additional $410 million a year in public assistance.

Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart - by the Democratic Staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Feb.2004

Although this study uses different methodology than the one above, it arrives at the same conclusion: Wal-Mart's low wages and meager benefits are costing taxpayers. The average Wal-Mart employee requires $2,100 per year in public assistance, including Section 8 housing vouchers, reduced-cost lunches for dependent children, health care programs, and tax credits for the working poor."

On a personal note, honestly, this issue is rather personal for me-- May 29th this year marked the seventh anniversary of the death of my stepfather, Bob ("Piggy") Malstrom from heart attack at 59-- way too young.
Though he worked most of his adult life (twenty years for IBM), he didn't have health insurance at the end, and was too proud to go to anyone for help, though he knew something was wrong with his health; the CPR I gave him in his last dying minutes failed (recall-- http:/

It's not just Bob Malstrom though...

Fact: In 2002 the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine found in their "Care without Coverage: Too Little, Too Late" study that 18,314 Americans die each year because they lack preventative services, a timely diagnosis or appropriate care. This includes about 1,400 people with high blood pressure, 400 to 600 with breast cancer and 1,500 diagnosed with HIV. Odds are the number of deaths is even higher.
[see ]

Fact: That's over a thousand New Yorkers dying each year because they don't have access to health insurance.
Fact: A 2001 Dyson Foundation/Marist Institute survey found uninsured in one of every four households here in the Hudson Valley. Basic insurance costs for individuals range anywhere from $350 and above per month, while a family plan is over $1000 per month and is too prohibitive for most residents. [ ]

Fact: 80 percent of those without health insurance have jobs or live in working families, according to the Cover the Uninsured Week, a national coalition that includes both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and A.F.L.-C.I.O.
[ ]

Fact: Three years ago an ABC News/Washington Post survey of over 1000 Americans found that 80 percent of us say it's more important to provide health care coverage for all Americans-- even if it means raising taxes-- than to hold down taxes but leave some people uncovered. [ ]

Fact: "The overwhelming majority [of Americans]-- 75 percent, according to an October 2005 Harris Poll-- want what people in other wealthy countries have: the peace of mind of universal health insurance."
[ ]

Fact: 89% of Americans believe our system of health care is broken. [ ]

Of course I still support health care reform at the national and/or state levels to cover everyone with health insurance-- but how many more years do we have to wait for this?

Recall-- hundreds of us from across the county came out to the big Poughkeepsie Journal National Issues Forum at DCC earlier this spring to deliberate on health care-- and how the overwhelming, vast majority of those there were decidedly for universal health care-- that's our local mandate right there; failing to act on this is just plain irresponsible.

Letters to county legislators can make this a reality-- at and

You never know what might happen if enough of us pull together on this-- tens of thousands of Dutchess County residents need a Dutchess Health Access Plan like the one being implemented in San Francisco; let's not let them down.

Joel Tyner
Dutchess County Legislator, D. #11
(845) 876-2488
[for more info on San Francisco model see and below; also ]

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More from the New Rules Project/Institute for Local Self-Reliance...
[ ]

San Francisco Universal Healthcare Initiative

"The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the San Francisco Healthcare Access Program (SFHAP) in July 2006 with legislation entitled the San Francisco Health Care Security ordinance. The program would give the city's 82,000 uninsured adults access to healthcare regardless of income, immigration status, or medical condition. The majority of the uninsured cannot afford healthcare, yet earn too much money to qualify for the state public health insurance program, Medi-Cal. SFHAP is not insurance in that it is not portable--residents must be treated within the city limits.

The plan would be paid for with tax dollars, local business contributions and individual enrollment fees that are income-adjusted. The 15% of local businesses that do not currently provide healthcare to employees will be required to pay an annual fee to go towards the program?a provision that has put many from the business community on edge.

SFHAP is a merging of different plans by Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Tom Ammiano. The mayor's Universal Healthcare Council released a report in June with recommendations for the creation and implementation of SFHAP. Shortly thereafter, Ammiano incorporated SFHAP into his Worker Healthcare Security Ordinance. The plan has been enthusiastically received by many-- when the first reading of the ordinance passed on July 18, it was followed by a standing ovation...

The program is voluntary; it is hoped that 15,000 people will enroll when phase one of the program debuts in 2007. If all 82,000 uninsured residents were to enroll in SFHAP, it would cost approximately $200 million per year. The city already pays $104 million annually to cover uninsured care in emergency rooms and clinics. According to Ammiano, SFHAP could save taxpayers $8-24 million annually by requiring employers to share the costs of healthcare..."

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"Newsom Urges Health Care for the Uninsured: Proposal to Cover Health Costs Would Be Subsidized by Taxpayers" by Cecilia M. Vega
[excerpt below from San Francisco Chronicle 6/21/06]

Mayor Gavin Newsom announced an ambitious proposal Tuesday that would make San Francisco the first city in the country to provide taxpayer-subsidized health care to all uninsured residents, covering services like doctor visits, surgeries and prescription drugs.

San Francisco is home to an estimated 82,000 uninsured residents, who typically go to public clinics and hospitals for treatment. The plan, dubbed San Francisco Health Access Program, would offer people the primary and preventative health care they lack and allow them to access hundreds of doctors in public and private hospitals and clinics.

Efforts to provide universal access to health care in San Francisco have been attempted before but have failed. But Newsom, who is facing re-election in 2008 and has made the topic a cornerstone of his administration, is optimistic that his plan will be implemented beginning next year.

"This is not a pipe dream," Newsom said. "This city is going to be the first city in America to achieve universal health care access."

The plan is not health insurance and therefore differs from other proposals. Those who sign up would have access to care only in San Francisco and, despite paying monthly premiums, would not be covered by the plan if they sought treatment outside the city limits.

The estimated $200 million-a-year price tag, or $2,400 per person, would be paid through a combination of sources, including tax dollars, local business contributions and individual premiums.

In April, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to require individuals to carry health insurance or face financial penalties. San Francisco's plan would not be mandatory and assumes people without other coverage will volunteer to chip in for the coverage.

"To treat chronic health issues, to treat ear infections and strep throat so they don't get really bad and end up in the emergency room ... ultimately that's what most people want," said Nathan Nayman, executive director of the business lobby group Committee on Jobs and a member of a task force created by Newsom to study and devise the health care plan.

Individuals who earn $50,000 a year, or 500 percent of the national poverty level, would pay $201.25 a month in premiums under the proposed San Francisco Health Access Plan, Newsom said. Those who make between $19,600 and $40,000 a year would pay $35 a month. The figures are comparable to what individuals pay for insurance under private providers, industry experts said.

"This is about the people in the middle," Nayman said. The plan applies only to those people whose incomes are too high to qualify for federally subsidized health care under Medicaid...the proposal introduced Tuesday is backed by a broad coalition of business groups, labor unions, health care providers and members of the Board of Supervisors...

Newsom proposes a voluntary program and predicts that businesses opting to join to provide their health care to their workers probably would spend about $30 million. Meanwhile, the city would chip in $104 million annually by redirecting funds that it already pays to cover the cost of treating those uninsured who visit emergency rooms and clinics. The rest would come from premium payments and other sources.
But today the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss legislation introduced by Supervisor Tom Ammiano that would require every business with 20 or more employees to contribute $1.60 an hour into health care savings accounts that the city could use to in turn provide health care to the uninsured...

Ammiano's measure could be merged with the mayor's plan, making the employer contribution mandatory rather than voluntary...

Under Newsom's plan, all adult city residents would be eligible, regardless of employment, immigration status or pre-existing medical conditions. Children in San Francisco already have access to government subsidized health care.

Newsom said the plan is not meant to take the place of private health insurance. It would, however, offer a means of treating people without insurance so they don't rely on hospital emergency rooms for care.

The plan would be administered by the San Francisco Health Plan, which currently provides health insurance to more than 50,000 low-income city residents and who receive care at city public health clinics, city-supported private nonprofit health clinics and most city hospitals, including city-owned San Francisco General Hospital.

Participants in the new program essentially would join the existing San Francisco Health Plan. They would receive a medical card and could seek treatment from more than 400 primary care providers in the network and at nearly all private and public hospitals in the city.

Everything from emergency room stays, physical therapy and psychiatric care to radiology, allergy tests and prosthetics would be covered. Dental care and fertility and cosmetic procedures would not.

"San Francisco," Newsom said, "is moving forward to fulfill its moral obligation."

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From ...

The San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance

What does it do?

The San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance creates a Health Access Program(HAP) that will offer comprehensive healthcare services to uninsured San Franciscans and their employers at a reasonable cost. The program will emphasize preventive care that keeps people out of emergency rooms by providing regular checkups, performing screenings and managing chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. The ordinance also sets a "minimum health spending requirement" for medium-sized and large businesses. This helps level the playing field for the majority of businesses that already pay for their workers' coverage and discourages companies from dumping even more of their workers into the taxpayer-financed public health system. By establishing an affordable Health Access Program for the uninsured, the ordinance helps better guarantee access to care for all San Franciscans. By requiring medium-sized and large businesses to pay their fair share, the Health Care Security Ordinance will help reduce the taxpayers' burden to shoulder the costs of caring for uninsured workers.

The Health Access Program-- what is it?

The Health Access Program will replace San Francisco's current system for taking care of the uninsured. Employers and individuals will be able to enroll in the program for an affordable monthly fee. The cost of the program will be subsidized for low- and moderate-income individuals and small- and medium-sized businesses. The Health Access Program will assign individuals to a primary care doctor, nurse or medical assistant at one of the City's public or nonprofit clinics, deliver acute care and specialty services through a network-- including San Francisco General Hospital and the city's nonprofit hospitals-- and cover prescription drugs and home health care. By expanding access to health care, rather than creating an insurance program, the City can maximize the funds it receives from state and federal programs, including Medicare. However, the structure of the plan will not cover services residents receive outside of San Francisco.

What services will participants get that they don't get now?

The HAP will place an increased emphasis on preventing illness by providing an integrated package of primary care, hospitalization services, specialty care and prescription drugs. These services will be more highly coordinated, easier for participants to navigate, and will allow enrollees to have a "medical home"-- a place they can go for primary care. One of the goals of the program is for patients to be able to get primary care early in their illness, rather than emergency care later on. That said, the HAP is not an insurance program but rather an integrated package of health care services available only inside San Francisco County.

How do people enroll in the HAP?

The uninsured will be able to be enrolled in one of two ways:

1) individual enrollees could pay a premium, set according to an income-based sliding scale;
2) employers could enroll their employees as a group, by paying their premiums.

The Department of Public Health will develop the rules and regulations governing enrollment-- including rules to discourage employers who currently provide health insurance from dumping their employees into the Health Access Plan.

How much does it cost?

The Department of Public Health has estimated that the program would cost about $201 per enrollee if it were implemented today. If all of San Francisco's 82,000 uninsured residents were to enroll in the HAP, the total cost would be about $200 million. To finance the program, the City will contribute $104 million that it currently spends onthe uninsured; the remaining costs will be borne by individual enrollees and businesses that enroll their employees. If fully enrolled, premiums and co-payments (mostly from higher income individuals) would make up about $60 million of the total, and business premiums would raise another $30 to 40 million. The program is expected to reap another $10 million through increased federal cost-sharing.

The minimum health spending requirement-- what is it?

The Health Care Security Ordinance will require medium-sized and large employers in San Francisco to spend a minimum amount per employee per hour on health care for their workers. Large companies (100 or more workers) will be required to spend a minimum of $1.60 an hour per employee on health care services. For a full-time employee, this is equivalent to 75 percent of the average amount that the 10 largest counties in California (other than San Francisco) spend on individual health coverage for their employees. This rate will go up 5 percent in 2007, 5 percent in 2008, and 5 percent in 2009. From 2010 on, the rate will be indexed once again to 75 percent of the 10-county rate. Medium-sized companies (20 to 99 workers) will be required to spend a minimum of $1.06 an hour per employee on health care services. For a full-time employee, this is equivalent to 50 percent of the average amount that the 10 largest counties in California (other than San Francisco) spend on individual health coverage for their employees. This rate will go up 5 percent in 2007, 5 percent in 2008, and 5 percent in 2009. From 2010 on, the rate will be indexed once again to 75 percent of the 10-county rate. Small companies (fewer than 20 workers) are exempt. Non-profit organizations with fewer than 50 employees are also exempt, as are non-profit job-training programs.

Which employees does it cover?

Companies will have to meet the spending requirement for all workers, except for managerial, supervisory, and confidential employees who earn over $72,450 per year. Employees who are eligible for Medicare and/or CHAMPUS/TRICARE (veterans' benefits) are also exempt (so that they continue to receive those benefits). Employers will pay on hours worked by part-time as well as full-time workers, up to a cap of 172 hours per month. This avoids any incentives to cut employees' hours in order to avoid the requirement. To be a covered employee, an individual must work a certain number of hours per week. This threshold is set so that businesses can more easily anticipate for whom they need to make contributions, and so that there is no incentive to adjust workers' schedules in order to evade the ordinance. This requirement is phased in: during 2007, a worker must work 12 hours per week; during 2008, a worker must work 10 hours; from 2009 on, a worker must work 8 hours. Workers who verify that they receive health services through another employer (either as an employee, or as a spouse, domestic partner, or child of another person) and who sign a voluntary waiver will also be exempted. This opt-out can be revoked by the worker at any time.

What are employers required to spend money on?

Health care expenditures are defined as "any amount paid by a covered employer to a covered employee or to another party on behalf of its covered employee for the purpose of providing health care services for its employees." This includes, among many other options:

1) insurance;
2) contributions to a public program for the uninsured (i.e., the Health Access Program);
3) health savings accounts;
4) direct reimbursement to employees for health expenses.

The Health Care Security Ordinance gives employers a choice as to how to spend this money-- it does not require employers to buy health insurance or to pay money to the Health Access Program. These are just two options for meeting the spending requirement.

Why are the minimum health care spending requirement and Health Access Program so closely linked together?

Without making medium-sized and large businesses pay their fair share of health costs, the Health Access Program would fail. Many businesses that currently provide health coverage to their employees might drop that coverage and force their employees onto the public health care system. Conversely, without the HAP, medium-size businesses would have few affordable options for meeting the health spending requirement. One way to meet the minimum health care spending requirement will be to enroll uninsured employees into the HAP. The financing model for the HAP assumes that the payments required of businesses under the ordinance will be sufficient to enroll that employer's eligible workers in the HAP. At $1.06 an hour, employers with between 20 and 99 workers would be paying $182 per month for a full-time employee and $91 per month for a half-time employee to enroll those workers in the Health Access Program.

Why place a minimum health care spending requirement on employers?

The minimum health care spending requirement will help maintain the current base ofemployer-sponsored health insurance while also securing the resources necessary for the City to offer the Health Access Program. The minimum health care spending requirement will significantly diminish the incentive for employers to drop their employees' existing health care coverage and dump them into the HAP. The vast majority of San Francisco's employers currently provide health care coverage for their employees. If these employers were to drop that coverage in response to the HAP, the City's health care system as well as its budget would be swamped. Creating a floor for health care spending by medium-sized and large businesses will help ensure that these businesses maintain employer-sponsored health care coverage for their employees, while at the same time securing the additional resources necessary to offer the Health Access Program from those employers who aren't currently doing their fair share.

Isn't this unaffordable to smaller businesses?

No. Small businesses are exempted entirely. And among businesses that are covered by the minimum health spending requirement, the vast majority already pay for their workers' health care. In fact, 83 percent of all workers at companies of 20 or more employees have employer-sponsored health coverage. It is a small minority of businesses that don't provide coverage. The Health Care Security Ordinance levels the playing field for those businesses that are already doing the right thing, and reduces their competitive disadvantage. Moreover, the ordinance will provide a steeply-discounted program for medium-sizedbusinesses to enroll their uninsured workers. For a full-time employee who works 40 hours, the $1.06 spending requirement amounts to just 50 percent of what other employers pay for individual coverage. For part-time employees, it's even less-- because this is an hourly spending requirement, an employer would pay just 25 percent for a half-time worker. This makes the program much more affordable for restaurants and other businesses that rely heavily on part-time workers. Finally, the spending requirement is phased in over several years, allowing companies to plan ahead of time. For the first three years (through 2009), the spending requirement will rise by a fixed 5 percent per year. Each year thereafter, the rate will be pegged to the 10-county survey amount. For businesses with 50 or more employees, the spending requirement does not go into effect until July 1, 2007. For businesses with 20 to 49 employees, it doesn't go into effect until March 31, 2008.

If this is so affordable, won't businesses dump workers into the HAP?

In addition to the disincentives to dumping created by the minimum health care spending requirement, the Department of Public Health will set enrollment rules to restrict crowd out. If there is a problem, DPH will have the flexibility to revise regulations accordingly.

Why not just require businesses to pay directly into the HAP?

Federal law (ERISA) prohibits state and local governments from doing this. Moreover, it is good for employers to have a choice as to how they meet the spending requirement. What option is best will vary for both workers and businesses.

Health care costs are soaring-- doesn't this create huge liability for the City in the future?

Health care inflation is currently leading some businesses to dump their workers into the public health system-- so that taxpayers are increasingly footing the bill for irresponsible employers. By creating a floor for health spending, the Health Care Security Ordinance actually reduces the City's exposure to this trend. The costs of the Health Access Program will rise over time with inflation, as will premium rates. The program will utilize best practices from around the country to contain costs while providing quality care. The spending requirement is in turn indexed to actual employer healthcare spending in California. As a result, employers will continue paying their fair share for health care over time and the City will be able to meet its ongoing obligations.

Has any one else done this?

Many different jurisdictions are experimenting with health care reform, including the States of Massachusetts and Maryland, the Cities of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as many others. The San Francisco ordinance has the broadest reach of any local health care reform effort and is being studied closely by other jurisdictions.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Update on county budget: recycling initiative gets out of committee; crucial new info below from Diane Jablonski...

[Note crucial information below from County Comptroller Diane Jablonski pertinent to what the final levy on the county property tax will be, based on vacancy factorand fund balance; kudos to Leg. Fred Knapp for his tireless efforts on this particularissue; note as well the nonsensical nature of the CountyExecutive's proposed cuts to county funding for Workforce Investment Board andshort-term counseling for troubled youth in Youth Bureau next year in the face of too many of our youth still turning to crime because of lack of programming (recall previous posts to this blog with GET's Rob Lunski's letter and Michael Trimble's and Norene Coller's letters re: EMC as well...Joel (876-2488/ (and don't forget next Wednesday's full board vote on county budget-- your chance to speak out once again on YOUR priorities for our county's budget and tax policy at that meeting Dec. 6th at 7:30 pm before the entire County Legislature on the sixth floor of our County Office Building at 22 Market Street in Poughkeepsie-- pass it on!)]

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For well over a year now I've been pushing to make our Dutchess' recycling law real; last night our county came a bit closer to this. I got unanimous passage last night in our County Legislature's Budget, Finance, and Personnel Committeefor recycling containers to finally be placed in our county parks. The next stepis to make sure that all county office buildings are fully recycling-- and to make sure that all businesses in the county are in full compliance with the county lawthat's been on the books for fifteen years calling on every business to recyclepaper (along with other items). Our county's Recyclables Oversight Committee still needs to be rejuvenated as well.

Our county should also delay no longer in following the examples of Wayne and Yates counties in the Finger Lakes region of the state and recycle all plastics #1 through#7 (instead of just #1 and #2 as we do). Markets have been found here in the Northeastand across the country for plastics #3 through #7, with just a bit of effort. Studies have also proven that communities that allow recycling of all plastics greatly increasethe collection of plastics #1 and #2.

Finally, making sure that we in Dutchess are doing everything we can to address global warming includes doing as much recycling as possible-- as the official websitefor Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" notes (at
'Be sure you're recycling at home-- you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates.' [ ]

Hopefully this is something that will be taken into consideration at the "ClimateChange in New York's Hudson Valley" conference Monday at the PoughkeepsieGrand Hotel put together by the Hudson River Environmental Society and the state'sDepartment of Environmental Conservation, which I'll be attending."[see ;]

For more information on how the Western Finger Lakes Authority recycles all plastics#1 through #7, see: ; ;

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Kudos to County Legislator Fred Knapp in particular, along with Budget, Finance,andPersonnel Committee member Legislators Roger Higgins, Sandy Goldberg, and Fred Bunnell,for drafting a budget proposal on behalf of the Democratic Caucus that found a sound fiscal way to retain crucialcounty services, lower the property tax levy-- and reject the County Executive'sproposal to force county residents to pay sales tax on clothing and shoes again (see )...

We actually got every single Republican on our County Legislature's Budget, Finance, and Personnel Committee to vote last night for what is, in essence, a Democraticbudget (BFP Committee vote took place after 9 pm after over eight hours of wrangling)...

Originally the G.O.P. on the BFP Committee wanted to go along with County Exec'sproposal to make county residents pay sales tax on clothing and shoes again; we got them turned around on this...

The fact is that the sales tax has been proven to be just as regressive as the propertytax by various economists like folks from the Fiscal Policy Institute, Citizens for Tax Justice, and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. 80% of New Yorkers now actually pay more in sales taxes than they do in property taxes; see ...

County Comptroller Diane Jablonski recently provided us with this analysis below re: vacancy factor for 2007-- crucial information about approximately $5.4 millionbeing left over at the end of the year in the county budget's payroll accountwhich would automatically roll over to add to the fund balance (this information convinced Leg. Fred Knapp, Minority Leaders Roger Higgins and Sandy Goldberg, andthe entire Democratic caucus to come to the conclusion that more of the fund balancethan currently proposed should be used to lower the property tax levy on homeownersin 2007; Knapp led drafting of Democratic proposal):

"I ran a report pulling in positions, temp help, straight time Overtime, andOvertime for the whole county through 11/29. The original budget for 2006 was $93,546,998;the amended budget was $100,525,070. YTD we have expended $83,972,328.81 with $16,553,741.19left. (84%). The Current month transactions for November is $7,416.636.78 (2 payrolls)...Thereare 3 more payrolls for the year. Dec 1, Dec 15, and Dec 29. -- approximately $11,124,954if I determine an average payroll by dividing the November number in 2 and multiplyingby 3. That would make the YE total of $95,097,282-- leaving a balance in those lines of approximately $5.4M."

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I continue to work on (hopefully with your help out there!) building support across the county and in the County Legislature to make the common-sense budget initiatives below reality sooner as opposed to later:

[contact to make 'em reality sooner!]

1. Reject the County Executive's proposed cut to county-funded senior home care--"mostseniors prefer home care or assisted living to nursing homes" (from See page 127 of the County Executive's Tentative Budget for 2007-- it reportsthatthere will be 1,094 less county-paid home care visits to seniors next year-- thisis unconscionable and inexcusable. Period. [Also-- providing enough home care for seniors in our county saves tax dollars because Medicaid reimbursements for nursing home care won't be so high (keeping seniors cared for at home is obviouslyless expensive than in nursing homes-- besides usually being much more comfortablefor them).]

2. Reject the County Executive's proposed cut to short-term counseling for at-riskyouth-- page 159 of the County Executive's Tentative Budget reports that there will only be funding next year for 84% of the short-term counseling for youth inthe county's Youth Bureau budget compared to this year's funding. [See http://www.FightCrime.organd much more on this below; read the papers-- there obviously are still quite afew troubled youth still getting into trouble; also read Kara Singleton's letterto the editor from this week's Weekly Beat on the currently inadequate levelof programs for kids in our county now (I actually used to work with Kara years ago in the 90's at Community Family Development).]

3. $100,000 Scholarship fund at Dutchess Community College for fire and rescue squadvolunteers across the county (keeping volunteers saves tax dollars compared to paidfire; I've contacted DCC on this; currently-- unfortunately-- no such programnow exists; this should change).

4. Restore funding for corrections officers training to 2002 level (Jail AdministratorGary Christensen spoke of the need for this during Budget, Finance, and PersonnelCommittee review of the county budget earlier this month-- this should save money on claims from CO's being hurt on the job and provide for a safer workplace for all concerned).

5. Restore funding for an independent Environmental Management Council-- insteadof a new "Environmental Programs Coordinator" (see pertinent letters belowfrom EMC folks like Michael Trimble andNorene Coller); also see .

6. Save tax dollars by stopping chronically mentally ill homeless county residentsfrom cycling in and out of local hospital, jail, and mental hospital-- start "housing-first"program setting up such individuals with their own apartments and support services(Westchester cut their homeless population in half this way with Pathways to Housing;New York City, San Francisco, and Chattanooga have found success with this programas well; Jail Administrator Gary Christensen told county legislators recently thereare five to twenty homeless county residents in our Jail).[see ; http://www. ; ;]

7. Implement a bail loan fund like Tompkins County's-- and ALL common-sense alternatives to incarceration suggested by our county'sCriminal Justice Council-- such as housing for electronic monitoring of county residentscurrently without homes, and additional probation officers and social workers forexpanded and expedited juvenile electronic monitoring, court reporting, mental healthscreenings, and drug treatment programming.[see ; also some information on some of this in the County Executive's budget message at ; note--kudos to Leg. Fred Bunnell for his success in getting electronic monitoring/housingoption into county budget amendments package passed last night; for bail loan fundsee: . More funding for re-entryprogramslike Peter Young Housing Industries and Training (, Lancaster County's(PA) Job Court, and Harlem's Community Justice Center Parole Re-Entry Court would also save muchmore that initial investment; see: ; .]

8. Fully fund (with $100,000) our local microenterprise loan fund (GET: Gatewaysto EntrepreneurialTomorrows)-- currently the only funding GET has for actual loans to budding microentrepreneursis the $35,000 it now shares with a similar nonprofit in Westchester County.[see ; ; letter below from GET's Lunski himself]

9. "Shred-Mobile" to combat identity theft (as in Westchester County)[see ]

10. Adds to Consumer Affairs website-- list of ten worst businesses; firewood warnings(as in Suffolk County).[see ]

11. List of restaurants without trans fats on county Health Department website (asin Westchester County; our County Legislature's Clerk has agreed to send outmy letter to area restaurants on this, but agreement has not been forthcoming thusfar from the Health Dept. to put results up on their website).[see ]

12. Prescription drug take-back program with local pharmacies to protect drinkingwater (as in Maine)-- at least a pilot program/forum should be possible in 2007.

13. Interactive map on county Health Department website of MTBE/other groundwatercontamination [with links to information from NYSDEC, Albany Times-Union, and][see ]

14. Alternative non-salt de-icing materials for county roads to protect drinkingwater (as now in Rhinebeck-- thanks to Highway Superintendent Kathy Kinsella)
[see ]

15. Help Dutchess County Arts Council with new capital projects fund for Center for the Performing Arts, Mill Street Loft, etc. (I've been pushing hard for this within the Democratic caucus).

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Why funding should not be cut in the 2007 county budget for our county's WorkforceInvestment Board-- see ...

"According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2005 American Community Survey, the education level of the approximate 186,186 Dutchess County residents 25 yearsand According to the national accepted average, 1 out of 5 adults (over the age of 16 and not in school) are functionally illiterate; which means that a person cannot function independently because of a lack of basic reading, writing and/orspeaking skills. When applied to Dutchess County, it can be inferred that there are a number of residents who have attained higher education credentials that are, or would be deemed, functionally illiterate. This is one reason that it is equally important to emphasize the need for skills development and the application of knowledgeas it is to encourage education and lifelong learning."

Page 421 of the County Executive's Tentative Budget notes that county fundingfor the Dutchess County Workforce Investment Board is completely zeroed out for next year-- from $115,000 this year to literally nothing next year (this-- in theface of the Youth Resource Development Corporation and YWCA shutting their doorsjust last year)...

Regarding this past Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal editorial (and coverage in today's paper)--

I agree that it's a good thing for folks in the community to cooperate with law enforcement officials to address gang activity from the likesof Partners N Crime; you do the crime, you do the time-- fine with me...

But the names of some of the gang members arrested do ring a bell with me; I recall teaching many of them in the late 90's when I was subbing extensively in Poughkeepsie schools...

My point is that if federal, state, county, and local governments invested more in programs for children up front we would save tax dollars down the road-- and stop kids from turning to a life of crime...

It's a point that the folks at make effectively over and overagain...

Note the letter to the editor just below on this from Kara Singleton that came out in yesterday's Weekly Beat (I worked with Kara at Community Family Developmentback in the late 90's as well; Stefon Singleton was murdered about a year ago)...

Let's stop any more of our youth from turning to gangs-- and let's save tax dollars-- by truly investing in our youth (and our future)....

Our county's new Youth Bureau Director Will Sanchez told me himself this week that such services in our county are still under-funded and that many more program slots are still needed...

[Many in Poughkeepsie and across the county recall how Lincoln Center "back in the day" provided needed recreational activities in the day and evening-- we need something like this again-- badly.]

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From the Weekly Beat...

Positive youth outlets needed

To the Editor:

The increase of violence and the need for beneficial activities for the youth wasa subject that caught my attention during the city's Common Council meeting.Peggy Dennis was a speaker on the safety of the youth in Poughkeepsie. She expressedthe need for after-school activities, youth programs and the increase in deaths of young people. These were great subjects to bring up at the meeting because ofthe urgency.

There should be an increase in extra-curricular programs for youth because withouta place to go kids are using the streets as a hangout. In the streets, youth areintroduced to a rough lifestyle, a way of life that may lead to crime, violence,gangs or even death. Although not every teen that hangs out in the streets is influencedby the very rough way of life, this doesn?t mean that it will not have a significanteffect on the life of an impressionable teen.

There is a necessity for positive activities in the community to counteract the striving temptation of the streets. When there are more activities for youth to participate in, they will not have to look to the streets for entertainment. It will be a great accomplishment for the city to establish a place where children and teens have positively influenced.

The lack of homework centers, study groups, intramural sports and clubs for the youth is working against the community. As a neighborhood, we need to take our childrenfrom the streets and place them in productive programs. The seed has to be plantedinto the lives of youth to ensure that they will not stray to the streets for activity.The Common Council should take the concerns expressed by Dennis and discuss it furtherbecause it is extremely serious. Every minute wasted could be another life lost,or another young person fallen captive to the streets.

Kara Singleton

Monday, November 27, 2006

Current petitions online-- click, sign on, fwd along...

[click on "View Signatures" to see comments from others]

Four ways to lower our jail population by 97 inmates-- and save $3.5 million a year for county taxpayers...

[Note: Event being held today in response to misinformation being spread in our county on the issues below (with all due respect, the fact is that jail expansion is unnecessary-- this is proven below); much credit is due to County Legislator Fred Bunnell for his hard work and advocacy on ATI's #2, #3, and #4 below; note as well two more ATI's worthy of emulation here in Dutchess County-- Lancaster County's (PA) Job Court: , and Harlem'sCommunity Justice Center Parole Re-Entry Court: .]

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[Info: 876-2488]






You're all invited to join us for a crucial press conference tomorrow, Tuesday November 28th at 12:30 pm in front of our County Jail at 150 North Hamilton Street in Poughkeepsie-- to call on our County Legislature to make reality four effective, cost-saving common-sense alternatives to incarceration for certain women, children, and those accused of nonviolent misdemeanors-- before any expansion of our county jail:

1. Bail loan fund-- saving a million dollars a year for county taxpayers;

2. Supervised community residence for women-- saving $1.5 million a year for countytaxpayers;

3. Supervised community residence for youth-- saving half a million dollars a yearfor county taxpayers;

4. Electronic monitoring/housing-- saving half a million dollars a year for countytaxpayers.

See information just below on the bail loan fund; also see below much more on the last three of these four from long-time Criminal Justice Councilmember Sam Busselle and our county's Criminal Justice Council (CJC) Executive Committee May 9th memo to County Legislature Chair Brad Kendall.

Also see -- and "Enlightened Criminal Justice Helps Ease Jail Overcrowding" [Poughkeepsie Journal 9/17/06] by SamBusselle here: .

Contact our County Legislature now at 486-2100, and on these-- and to come out to the annual hearing on the county budget this Thursday, November 30th at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House at 7 pm (on Market Street in downtown Poughkeepsie)!...

Recall as well how even Republican state legislators up in Tompkins County answered the request of county officials there like Legislature Chair Tim Joseph to effectively lobby the New York State Commission of Correction to oppose the NYSCOC's unreasonable demand for expansion of their county jail. The fact is that every single Republican state legislator representing Dutchess County has refused to lift a finger to do the same here when our County Legislature's Democratic Caucus asked for the same help here-- in the face of the NYSCOC trying to force an unneeded expansion of our county jail-- an unfunded mandate that would cost Dutchess County taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

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Fact: According to Jail Administrator Gary Christensen as of November 16th there were over thirty inmates in our county jail with bail of $1000 or less (meaning local judges had made the decision that such individuals posed no threat to public safety if they could come up with their bail).

Fact: There's a United Way agency called Offender Aid and Restoration in Tompkins County (population 90,000) that now bails out 45 county residents accused of nonviolent misdemeanors a year with such loans, and saves $300,000 annually for taxpayers there-- we could save about a million dollars a year with our population of 280,000. [This can be verified with OAR at (607) 272-7885.]

Fact: The Daily Freeman strongly criticized the G.O.P. majority in our County Legislature last year for rejecting our proposal merely asking our county's Criminal Justice Council to evaluate the feasibility of a bail loan fund here for our county. According to the Daily Freeman, "rather than a knee-jerk reaction, Dutchess Republicans might better address the overcrowding situation at the jail by considering every reasonable alternative to freeing up limited space."

Note-- such a bail loan fund would only be for some of those accused of nonviolent misdemeanors like disorderly conduct, shoplifting, etc. Sadly, many have inaccurately branded a bail loan fund as "giving tax dollars for criminals."[ ]

Fact: In Tompkins County, much like our county, 75% of inmates sitting in their jail are never convicted or sentenced. Inmates who qualify must have a co-signer on the bail loan (someone who has the assets to pay off the loan, usually a family member-- this is important because it means a commitment must be made by the inmate to their family as well as the county). The forfeiture rate is extremely low (only one or two a year-- better than with most bail bondscompanies).

From the website of Offender Aid and Restoration:[ ]

"While media representations suggest that all incarcerated persons have been convicted of a crime, those closer to the reality know that over 85% of the people who pass through the jail are pre-trial detainees. In keeping with our mission to ensure that all members of our community, regardless of economic status, race or gender, obtain equal justice before the law, we post bails of up to $1500 for people who are carefully screened and meet our criteria. Since those who have the financial means will post their own bails, our clients are typically the people without means who would otherwise remain incarcerated while awaiting trial. In addition to promoting justice, this program saves the county over $200,000 annually in potential incarceration costs. Each bailee-day saves county taxpayers at least $70."

New Jersey, Illinois, and Rhode Island have had bail funds as well: .

The Victim Offender Reconciliation Program of New York has pointed out how badly bail funds are needed here in our state ( ).

Read the quote below from Ed Martone, director of Public Education and Policy for the Pennsylvania Association on Corrections-- he endorsed the need for a bail fund there.

"Bail May Answer Overcrowding Problem" by Bernie Mixon[Camden Courier-Post 3/10/04-- excerpt]

Seven months before the first inmates would step through the door of the newly builtCamden County Prison, a federal judge came up with a creative solution to five yearsof fluctuating overcrowding.

An order was signed in 1987 that forced county freeholders to set aside $250,000to help bail out the jail's most indigent inmates.

With overcrowding still a problem 17 years later, could such a program be institutedagain that would release inmates charged on minor offenses?

Would it have made a difference for Joel Seidel?

Seidel, 65, was murdered in January in the jail's psychiatric unit by cellmateMarvin Lister, 35, authorities say...

There's no way to know, but Ed Martone, director of Public Education and Policyfor the Pennsylvania Association on Corrections, sees it as a possible option for prisoners not considered a threat.

"One is to have this kind of fund for people who don't pose that kind ofthreat," Martone said. "Another solution is to increase the public defenderbudget so there are enough public defenders to meet with clients on a timely basisand go to bail reduction hearings."

The judge's order was the end result of a 1982 class-action lawsuit filed bythe State Public Advocate's Office on behalf of inmates.

The inmates were protesting overcrowding conditions at the former jail on the sixthfloor of the combination city hall and county courthouse building in Camden.

The bail fund was to be used for indigent defendants accused of nonviolent and non-drug-relatedcrimes...

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Sam Busselle-- Re: Women's Issues (p. 10)-- "The two day workshop on genderspecific issues resulted in some specific treatment programs for the female populationincluding a residence. Since 1999 the CJC has been recommending a residence forwomen. Such a residence would reduce the number of women in jail, increase the likelihood of a comprehensive habilitation plan, and be likely to return individuals to theworkforce. Funding is now available for a few women and their children. Gaining site acceptance has been difficult. (Assuming a $40/day cost of a supervised residence and a $150/day cost in jail, the taxpayer realizes a $40,000 annual savings per person and a more promising treatment plan.)

We must redouble our efforts to promote this humane and effective alternative. It would be beneficial to publicize the innovative work that the county and non-profitagencies are doing and disclosing the cost of doing nothing. This has served thepublic well when the comprehensive approach to issues of domestic violence was featured with a community workshop and news articles."

CJC Exec Committee May 9th Memo: "Research indicates that women respond totreatment and other programs differently than men. It is important to understandthe key components that women need for success in treatment when developing services for women. In 2005, a Women's Task Force of the Criminal Justice Council was formed to address gender-specific issues. The Task Force sponsored a two-day workshop with technical assistance from the National Institute of Corrections. The Task Force serves as the Steering Committee to implement the action plan agreed upon at the workshop. Gap analysis is being conducted and a plan will be formulated.

Cost: NIC-funded technical assistance. Planning process underway, cost to be determined for program development.

Women's Residential Treatment Program: In 1999, the CJC identified a need for,and designed a program using a gender-specific approach, a residential treatmentprogram for women, women with children, and pregnant women. Mid-Hudson Addictions Recovery Centers, Inc. as the lead agency for this program has searched for a site to develop this residential service. Locations identified in 2005-2005 have notgained approval from local government zoning and planning entities.

Need statement: In 2005, approximately 39 women were identified in the DutchessCounty Jail as pregnant or women with children who could have been referred to thisprogram. In addition, the Family Treatment Court identified approximately 15 pregnantwomen or women with children who could have utilized this facility and 45 womenwith children and 12 pregnant women receiving outpatient treatment services couldhave been referred. These women were at risk of incarceration if they did not followtreatment recommendations.

Cost: New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services will fund capital and operating costs.

Given past difficulties in gaining site acceptance, strong support by communityleaders, local and county government leaders who support effective ATI programsas an effective option for women with alcohol, tobacco, and other drug issues involvedin the criminal justice system is necessary to implement this program."

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Sam Busselle Re: Supervised Community Residence for Youth (p. 6)-- "This recommendation has been made to the CJC and by the CJC to the legislature since the 1999 report. At that time it was stated that 12-15 jail beds would be saved. There has been nothing since then that has suggested that this residence would be anything but beneficial. It is substantiated in this report based on the number of youth in the Community Transitions day reporting Center who do not have adequate housing. Six years later we are still studying the feasibility of such a residence! Using the estimate of $40 per day for a supervised residence, this would save the county around $500,000per year and as stated in the report: 'not only have an impact on the jail, but also on the rest of the criminal justice system.'"

CJC Exec Committee May 9th Memo: "The Executive Committee continues to recommenda supervised community residence in conjunction with intensive interventions asan alternative to incarceration for youth. As the 1999 and 2005 recommendationsnote, "poor educational experiences, possessing low academic and educationalskills and lack of stable housing" are significant risk factors. Many of theseyouth are referred to the Community Transitions Center (CTC), and it is believedthat housing would enable the participants in the program to be engaged more effectively.Lack of suitable and stable housing has been identified as a major impediment tosuccessful outcomes. Potential participants will be identified at both the pretrialand sentencing criminatl justice stages with an actuarial assessment used at thelatter stage to identify both risk level and needs appropriate to the program.All participants will be court-ordered.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) entitled "Exploration of Need and Justificationfor a Residential Component to the Dutchess County Office of Probation and CommunityCorrections Community Transitions Center" was issued. The contract for programand cost analysis services is currently being developed by the county Probationdepartment. The RFP allocated $30,000 to study the issue of a residential componentfor the Community Transitions Center (CTC). CTC, a day reporting program, providesa wide range of services to a population of primarily young adults. The clienteleconsists of individuals who lack any positive support system at home or in the communitywhile they are participants in CTC and after they leave the program.
It has been proposed that adding a residential component to this program will significantlyincrease the chances of the probationers' success. The County is seeking ananalysis of the past and current populations of those attending our Day Reportingprogram and related jail populations to determine if there is in fact a need fora residential component to the Day Reporting Program. If in fact a population doesexist, what size facility would be necessary and what degree of security, if any,would be needed to successfully administer such a program?

Managing or maintaining the jail population requires both controlling the numberof admissions and readmissions. By targeting the youthful population who representthe chronic offenders and providing them with housing so that they can engage inprogramming designed to lower recidivism, we will not only have an impact on thejail, but also on the rest of the criminal justice system."

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Sam Busselle Re: Electronic Monitoring/Housing-- "At least one of the recommendations (#2 to contract with an agency to provide 16 beds in a supervised existing rooming house) was described as "time sensitive." This program would save the County taxpayers as much as $110/day for each of 16 individuals or $52,800 per month according to the report. (Assuming the "operational" cost per day in jail is $150 cited on page 16) It would also reduce the number and cost of 'housed out' individuals by 25-40%."

CJC Exec Committee May 9th Memo: "The 2005 report notes that the Office of Probation and Community Corrections has had difficulty placing otherwise eligible inmates on electronic monitoring due to the inmate's lack of housing. These inmates are often young, women, and individuals with mental health issues.
In order to meet this need the [Criminal Justice] Council recommends that DutchessCounty fund 16 beds in an existing rooming-house type structure within the County.We propose contracting with a not-for-profit agency to run and operate such a facility.The Dutchess County Office of Probation would oversee this new Alternative to Incarceration program.

This facility would have a staff member on site 12 hours per day, 7 days a week.In addition, the probation department would be available as needed to respond, 24hours per day, 7 days a week through the existing electronic monitoring program.

It is expected that the residents of this facility would attend either existingday treatment programs or be employed. Current staff in the Public Defender adnMental Hygiene departments would provide social work and case management type services to the residents. Length of stay is projected to be similar to the existing electronic monitoring program, ranging from 1 to 6 months. This type of housing arrangement is flexible enough to accomodate diverse populations so that the project could be tailored to any changes in the jail population.

Cost: The cost of running such a facility would include start-up costs of $54,789 for minor renovations and furnishing of the house. In addition we propose enteringinto a two-year contract with a not-for-profit agency for approximately $230.00per annum. This is a cost of around $40.00 per bed per day. Some of the per daycost would be offset through funding from the Social Security Administration andrent charged to residents who are employed.

Funding of this proposal is a priority as cost and feasibility are time-sensitive."


More from Sam Busselle (CJC Citizen Appointment) on CJC Executive Committeememo to County Legislature Chair Brad Kendall - May 9th "ATI Cost Analysis":

"Given the importance of the issues discussed in this memo, the urgency of dealingwith the costs associated with 'housing-out' for the jail and the need toinformthe public; it is disappointing that it took three months just to get this documentcirculated to members of the Legislature and the Criminal Justice Council...

It is useful to revisit the 1999 CJC Report to the Legislature whichrefers to the National Institute of Corrections findings that don't seem to havechanged:

-- The jail's population, which has averaged around 350 this year, (1998) includes220 awaiting trial. Roughly 50% of these are charged with misdemeanor (petty) crimesof a non-violent nature and could be housed and held, at little public risk, inless or non-secured settings-- perhaps eliminating or reducing the need for additionalcells. Operating savings would be a bonus.

-- The rate of recidivism of sentenced inmates in the jail is 62% but is running30-40% in community alternatives to incarceration programs. The rate has reachedas low as 17% this past year when community-based ATI were preceded by innovativein-jail transitional programming?"

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The Pretrial Services Resource Center reports there are more than 300 pretrial services programs in place now across the country and points to "A Second Look at Allevating Jail Overcrowding: A System Perspective."
[ ; ]

Also see Dana Kaplan's fact sheet on Cost Effective Solutions to Jail Overcrowding: .

"The National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA) has developeda set of standards for pretrial diversion programs that provide an excellent startingpoint for jurisdictions looking into developing them."
[ ; ]

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Re: media reform-- help get the Dutchess County Legislature to pass a resolution asking FCC to protect us from monopolies...

[note-- see on this as well; read, sign on, and fwd to all u know!]

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Hey folks...

Late Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 21st) I submitted the resolution below calling on our County Legislature to weigh in on the Federal Communications Commission's review of ownership regulations regarding television and radio stations and newspapers (deadline for public comment on this is December 21st-- possible thru FCC website directly)...

I knew Rhinebeck resident Andi Novick of Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media ( would be hosting an extremely well-attended public hearing on this issue at the Wallace Center at the FDR site in Hyde Park with Rep. Maurice Hinchey and FCC Commissioner Michael Copps (and she did!); to their credit, fellow County Legislators Diane Nash and Bill McCabe were in attendance as well...

Would you like to help get our County Legislature to pass this resolution below?...

Contact them at and -- pass it on...

Joel Tyner
County Legislator
(845) 876-2488

p.s. Also let us know if you'd like to help us get off the ground a new publication-- "Common Sense for Dutchess County"!...(a bunch of folks who came to the house last weekend expressed an interest, but we could always use more help)...


[note-- the vast majority of the text below is from and ...(also see )]

WHEREAS, Thomas Jefferson once stated, "The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents;there is no safe deposit for these but the people themselves, nor can they be safewith them without information; where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe," and

WHEREAS, much is at stake now in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) review of ownership regulations regarding television and radio stations; the FCC's Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making on June 21st this year launched a process of reviewing media ownership regulations, with the intent of relaxing or abolishing several longstanding ownership rules, and

WHEREAS, currently a single company is prohibited from owning a broadcast television or radio station and a major daily newspaper in the same city, though there are currently about two dozen cross-owned newspaper-broadcast combinations, most are "grandfathered" combinations that existed before1975; the FCC has indicated it might completely eliminate the newspaper-television cross ownership ban in all but the smallest media markets; if this cross-ownership ban is removed, along with other FCC-proposed rule changes, a single company could potentially own the major daily newspaper, eight radio stations and three television stations, as well as the cable television system all within in the same town, and

WHEREAS, currently a single company can own up to two TV stations and six radio stations or one TV station and seven radio stations in a single community, as long as there are at least 20 independent outlets including TV, radio, newspapers, etc. in the market; the FCC has indicated it may weaken this ownership protection and in the largest markets completely eliminate any restrictions on radio/televisioncross-ownership, and

WHEREAS, currently companies are allowed to own two stations in only the biggest markets where there are eight or more stations, but only one of the two stations can be a top-four-ranked station; the FCC has indicated it may change the rule to allow a single company to own two TV stations in smaller markets (those areas with only 5 stations), and the FCC may allow a single owner to control three stations in the country's largest markets, and

WHEREAS, currently a single company can own up to eight stations in the biggestmarkets and up to five stations in smaller markets; it is possible that noncommercial stations will be included in the total count of a market's stations, making it easier for large media giants to acquire more stations in smaller markets, and

WHEREAS, if the media ownership rules are eliminated, the last vestiges of local media competition will be swept away, replacing varied viewpoints with "mediacompany towns"; if the changes are approved, one company could potentially own the major daily newspaper, eight radio stations and three television stations in thesame town; once the digital television transition is completed in 2009-- allowingstations to broadcast multiple signals-- one company could control 12 or even 18television channels in a single city, and therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Dutchess County Legislature hereby requests that the FederalCommunications Commission not weaken media regulations, and that Congress pass Rep. Maurice Hinchey's Media Ownership Reform Act of 2006 (H.R.3302), which would reinstate cable/broadcast cross-ownership rules forbidding any company from owning and operating a broadcast station and a cable station in the same market, limiting the influence of that company on the various media outlets, and which would also restore the Fairness Doctrine, compelling broadcast news outlets to investigate issues thoroughly and present their findings in an unbiased way, and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to President George W. Bush, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Chuck Schumer, Representative Maurice Hinchey, Representative Sue Kelly, & Representative John Sweeney.

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Excerpts below from ...

The Federal Communications Commission is once again taking up the issue of media ownership and deciding how media ownership rules should be changed. As FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has warned: "They screwed it up once. Believe me, they're 100 percent capable of screwing it up again." That'swhy it's crucial for the public to weigh in now...

In 2003, the Federal Communications Commission attempted to loosen media ownership rules that would have unleashed a massive wave of corporate consolidation of radio, television and newspapers entities across the country.The courts sent these rules back to the FCC for a rewrite. Now, as the FCC embarks upon writing new rules, the stakes are even higher:

A handful of media companies dominate what you watch on television. As their influence spreads to other outlets, the diversity of what you see diminishes. Five media conglomerates — Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, News Corp. and NBC/GE — control the big four networks (70 percent of the primetime television market share), most cable channels, as well as vast holdings in radio, publishing, movie studios, music, Internet and other sectors. (To learn more, visit's ownership charts)

Minority ownership — a crucial source of diverse and varied viewpoints -- is at a 10-year low, down 14% since 1997. Today, only 1.9% of television stations are minority-owned.
Over the next few years, television conglomerates will begin broadcasting digitally. This means that in the space it used to take to broadcast the local affiliate of ABC, NBC or CBS, these corporations will now be able to fit six or more stations — ABC-1, ABC-2, and so on. This opens up countless new revenue streams, and indeed, plans are already in the works to have infomercial-driven new channels pump up corporate profits.

The total worth of the publicly owned airwaves that U.S. broadcasters utilize has been valued at $367 billion -- more than the GDP of many nations — but the public has never been paid a dime in return. Now, these conglomerates claim they can't afford to be accountable to the public interest...

Since 1975, two-thirds of independent newspaper owners have disappeared, and one-third of independent television owners have vanished. Only 281 of the nation's 1,500 daily newspapers remain independently owned, and more than half of all U.S. markets are dominated by one paper.

Moreover, the number of radio station owners has plummeted by 34 percent since 1996, when ownership rules were gutted. That year, the largest radio owners controlled fewer than 65 stations; today, radio giant Clear Channel alone owns more than 1,200.