Friday, December 9, 2011

Who needs food stamps? We're too fat already

When possible, I like to spend the first hour of my day reading the news, because it really does inform the political work I do.

Mark Bittman in this morning's New York Times asks, What's the difference between eating a cookie for breakfast and having a helping of a sweetened breakfast cereal?  Usually, the cereal has more sugar!  Bittman outlines the lobbying and political pressure that the "breakfast food" industry applies to any attempt to reduce sugar content or marketing to children.  So far, the industry wins every time.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is calling for big cutbacks in the federal Food Stamp program.

If hunger is a problem in America, then why do we have an obesity problem among the people who we say have a hunger program?” Santorum asked.   ThinkProgress.

Three-quarters of those who live in this country are either overweight or outright obese.  The health problems that accompany obesity are well-documented.  What Santorum doesn't understand is that access to calories does not mean access to nutrition. 

Some few people manage to resist  marketing and the lure of cheap food, but the deck is stacked against us.  Occupy Breakfast? 

Photo from Frapestaartje's photostream at Flickr.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Send in the stenographers: City Council votes to appeal PRE's building permit

It was all over in less than ten minutes....eleven councilors showed up for last night's special meeting, and nine of them voted to appeal Palmer Renewable Energy's building permit to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Thanks, guys! I don't know when the appeal will be heard yet but I do know it'll be important for the community to attend.  I am also appealing, as well as one of  PRE's abutters.

Something interesting did happen last night, though: PRE sent stenographers to record the proceedings.  That in itself is not unusual; they've done it before.  But what I did find interesting is that PRE didn't bother to send stenographers for the first attempt of city council to appeal the permit.  Why didn't they send the stenographers for that meeting?  Because obviously, they knew that no vote would be taken.  And why was no vote taken?  Because Councilor Katari Walsh invoked Rule 20.  My, my, my.. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Biomass opponents still in the game

We had a good piece of news yesterday and expect another step forward today.

Commissioner Ken Kimmell,  Mass. DEP, rejected his Presiding Officer's recommended decision that a ten citizens' group (that is, those of us in Springfield who are appealing the air permit issued to Palmer Renewable Energy) do not have the standing to appeal, and sent the case back to the officer to be determined on its merits!  Of course, he reserved the right to challenge our standing after the determination is made.  So we're back in the game.

Tonight, at a special meeting, the Springfield City Council will take a vote to appeal the building permit issued to PRE by Building Commissioner Steve Desilets.  The city council revoked PRE's special permit back in May, and thought that would be the end of the matter, only to find out that its vote didn't count for much-- PRE is saying tit never really needed the special permit that it asked for and received in 2008. 

Every day that we hold off this plant is a day that Springfield residents-- and the rest of the Valley-- don't have to breathe air even more polluted than we already have to live with.