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Feedback 11/19 

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Derrick Smith will be missed

Derrick Smith, one of our favorite people and singer extraordinaire, died yesterday at Strong Memorial Hospital surrounded by his loving family. His wife, Merideth, who is county attorney, posted a notice on Derrick's "CaringBridge" account last evening, and about 100 people have responded to it so far. Thomas Warfield posted a particularly lovely and moving tribute to Derrick on his Facebook page.

We are going to miss this gentle giant of a human being an awful lot. He meant a great deal to us and our family, as I'm sure he did to voice students at Eastman School's Community Education Division, where he taught for many years.

Derrick had a seizure around Labor Day and had been hospitalized since. He was discharged briefly from Strong and was admitted to a rehab unit at Unity Hospital, but suffered a heart attack the same day and was readmitted — first to Unity Hospital, then back to the ICU at Strong.

A beautiful person with a magnificent voice, Derrick left a legacy to be proud of. His four wonderful children, his work on "Race and Reconciliation,” and his splendid recordings all speak of his humanity and sensitivity. The world is a much poorer place today without him.


Protecting Seneca Lake

Some of my neighbors drove to Watkins Glen recently to take part in a protest against a proposed natural gas storage facility being built by a Texas based company called Crestwood. They joined several hundred others on the shores of Seneca Lake to call for a halt to the project, which would fill a salt dome with pressurized natural gas.

Seneca Lake is part of Lake Ontario's watershed. Some portion of any brine chemicals or radioactive materials that end up in Seneca will eventually make its way to our drinking-water supply. It's all connected. It's also connected through economic activity. Seneca Lake by itself is important, but it's not just one lake. It's the whole region. The entire region needs to come together. The storage of gas in underground caverns has been done before and has proved disastrous.

The gas storage facility poses risks to both ground water and, if it leaks, to Seneca Lake itself. No information on geological integrity of the salt cavern has been made available to the public or for independent scientific review, and many people fear that a catastrophic explosion similar to that of a 2012 accident in Bayou Corne, Louisiana, could occur after the cavern is filled.

In that accident, a salt dome filled with gas collapsed resulting in a huge (and still expanding) sinkhole and many millions of dollars of damage. Back in the 1960's, when compressed gas was stored in the Seneca Lake shoreline cavern, it suffered a massive roof collapse. The cavern is currently filled with brine. Opponents of the project say it's too risky to re-use it for gas storage.

Between 2001 and 2004, at least three explosions and fires resulted after failures of other underground gas storage areas around the country, according to the Public Education Center's investigative news website. The same news story quotes from a report by Dr. Rob McKenzie, retired CEO of the Cayuga Medical Center, who did a risk analysis of the proposed salt dome storage project.

"Worldwide," said that report, "the percentage of incidents involving casualties at salt cavern facilities as a percentage of facilities in operation in 2005 was 13.6 percent, compared to 0.63 percent for depleted (oil and gas) reservoirs and 2.5 percent for aquifers." McKenzie's report adds that his risk analysis shows the chances of a "serious accident" within Schuyler County within 25 years is over 35 percent.

Our entire regional economy will impacted by the proposed facility. While it will bring a few construction jobs to the Seneca Lake area for a few months, the long-term impacts of truck traffic, on-going compressor noise, methane flaring, and other activity associated with a large potentially hazardous industrial facility in the heart of the Finger Lakes' best wine country are almost certain to be negative. There are better ways to store natural gas.


Lessons from the election

Did the Dems learn the right lesson? I am afraid they did not. I am afraid they may not learn much of anything in the next two years!

Mary Anna Towler quoted Peniel Joseph: "In passing the Affordable Care Act, Obama succeeded in institutionalizing the signal policy achievement of our era." But where do we go from here? People are saying that Obama lost the US Senate because of his lack of direction. "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there" (Lewis Carroll).

Obama could focus now on a "War on Error and Ignorance" with education. He could become our "Education President." He could fire Education Secretary Arne Duncan and get more inspiring educational leadership. He could get rid of Common Core and teach the nation the value of lifetime learning, with the internet.

Obama has the bully pulpit, and he could speak out on the value of learning, constantly (with or without the funding from Congress).

I say Obama's big opportunity is education!


Nice example of irony in the first two pages of the November 12 City. Mary Anna Towler cites the alignment of Democrat ideas, inequality, labor, infrastructure, public health, and civil rights with the interests of low and middle income Americans. In the letter from "IN" on the opposite page, we have a crystal clear reason why the alignment doesn't happen.

In the world according to IN, New York's problems are all about lazy folks collecting generous New York State welfare benefits, ignoring the ridiculous golden parachutes from tax-subsidized, job-exporting CEO's. IN would like Upstate to secede from Downstate, presumably since Upstate doesn't need the money Downstate sends our way in subsidies.

And of course we should repeal the Safe Act, because any lunatic who wants a gun at a gun show should get one without question, and they should have more than eight bad shots in one round to stop a home invader or any other collateral damage resulting from their paranoia.


The continuing attitude of "We (the Democratic Party) know what is best for you, and if you don't agree with us you are stupid, if not worse" is the elitist attitude that caused the rout.

Any chance that the public does, in fact, understand the issues and has rejected all those positions you mention? Of course not. It has to be low voter turnout, ignorance, and, of course, Republican issue spending (even though they spent less than the Dems).

Rationalization is so much easier than re-evaluation.


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