EPA v. NYS
New York fought the law, and New York won. The state was in a stand-off with the federal EPA over a clean-up plan for the Chesapeake watershed. On Wednesday the EPA announced that it's come to an agreement with the state, including compromises on pollution limits that were opposed by farmers, waste companies and the state itself. The Press & Sun-Bulletin reports:
The New York Farm Bureau opposed a backstop that would have required small farms to implement extensive new procedures to deal with agricultural runoff, which is a main contributor to nitrogen in the Susquehanna. Under the final TMDL, the EPA accepted New York's proposal to implement "Centralized Animal Feeding Operation" standards on farms with more than 200 animals, and will consider extra regulations only if the pollution limits aren't being met.
"It looks like we will not have this massive federal bureaucracy suddenly regulating our farms," said Peter Gregg, a spokesman for the Farm Bureau. "It has basically been turned over to the DEC, who we already work very closely with in protecting our waterways. We're hopeful that we will be able to work with them to come up with a reasonable plan to help clean the Chesapeake Bay."
State job cuts
The Times Union reports that labor is making a last-minute stand to protest outgoing governor David Paterson's decision to cut hundreds of state workers:
About 100 members of the Public Employees Federation and the Civil Service Employees Association gathered in West Capitol Park to offer an alternately mournful and angry rebuke to Gov. David Paterson's decision to lay off almost 900 state workers at the end of this week.
"We all know these layoffs are unnecessary," said PEF President Ken Brynien. " ... This is the governor's last chance to do the right thing."
TV time out
A row between Sinclair Broadcasting and Time Warner could cause TV blackouts in many markets. The Buffalo News reports that the two have worked out a deal to bring shows like Glee and American Idol to viewers while they work out the details of their dispute - but:
Cable viewers, however, would not have access to local or syndicated programming on WUTV or any programming on WNYO if a blackout takes effect at midnight Friday.
“We prepare for all possibilities as to what might happen,” said Matthew Tremblay, a Time Warner spokesman in Buffalo.
The Democrat and Chronicle reports that neither side seems to be sure where negotiations actually are, over Time Warner's bill for carrying Sinclair stations:
So what will appear on your screen on cable channel 7 at, say, 3 p.m.?
"That is a question for Sinclair Broadcasting," Tremblay said.
No, [Sinclair general counsel Barry] Faber said, "That's really more a question for Time Warner. I don't know. It wouldn't be our station."
What you almost surely wouldn't be seeing are local and syndicated shows such as People's Court or the Fox First at 10 newscast.
The Democrat and Chronicle has a look at how local representatives are reacting to anti-earmark sentiment in Congress. Republicans like Chris Lee of Buffalo are standing strong against the practice, while Democrats like Louise Slaughter point out the number of projects that earmarks have funded in the Rochester area:
Though the earmark process has been criticized, the way the federal government spends other money is less transparent, some observers say. Earmarks have something of a paper trail, while other federal spending often does not.
Other ways that members can request money for projects without an earmark, including making phone calls or writing letters to federal agencies, add to a lack of transparency.
If earmarks are struck from bills, the funding usually is spent on other federal programs, and is not eliminated.
The Innovation Trail's Zack Seward and Daniel Robison took a look earlier this month at what the failure of an omnibus spending bill - full of earmarks - means for the region. Zack has the round-up of what failed, and Daniel checks out the University at Buffalo's plans for funding an expensive piece of equipment without federal money.
Local tax cut opposition
A website that calls on wealthy Americans to reject the extension of Bush administration tax cuts was co-founded by a Cornell professor, the AP reports in the Post-Standard. The site is giveitbackforjobs.org, and asks the rich to calculate their cut and give it to charity:
[Yale Law School professor Daniel] Markovits, Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker, and Cornell law professor Robert Hockett started the campaign. Hacker is co-author of “Winner Take All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.”
The three recommend giving to groups such as Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Aid Society and Salvation Army that they say promote fairness, economic growth and a strong middle class. They say the contributions could replicate good government policy and, in effect, draft the government as a funding partner when the donation is tax deductible.
It's a tough time in the Southern Tier for education funding. The Press & Sun-Bulletin reports that there are a number of lines of funding that could be frozen, or which could dry up entirely:
"Given the prospects of a property tax cap, and stimulus money going away, this may be the most difficult year of my career," said Suzanne McLeod, superintendent of the Union-Endicott Central School District.
At the same time, the New Year is filled with uncertainties.
One unanswered question is how much school aid will be coming from the state. School officials are not optimistic, and believe the best-case scenario, given the state's budget problems, is no decrease from 2010-11 levels. Some are predicting a cut of as much as 5 percent.
The Buffalo News is reporting that an analyst says growth at M&T and First Niagara could push Buffalo to become a banking capital like Charlotte, North Carolina.
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