Thanks For The Review
I’d like to thank Paul Smart for his excellent review of my new mystery, Mother, Murder And Me, in the June 21 Woodstock Times. Paul, as a writer, I really appreciate your fine use of language — in addition to the incisive analysis of my book. And, by the way, I’m definitely taking your comment about details of place into serious consideration in my current project, the second book in the series.
Black And White
I took the bus into New York City, and picked up a copy of metro new york, the free newspaper (because it has a first-rate sudoku puzzle). This was Thursday, June 14, 2012: Flag Day. On the second page of metro was the headline “Emotional day in court.” In February, an 18 year old boy named Ramarley Graham was shot in his own bathroom by an undercover cop. Apparently, Ramarley was trying to flush his stash of marijuana down the toilet. The policeman, of course, suspected the youth of having a gun. (Ramarley was black.) His mother said: “This has to stop. They can’t keep killing our kids.” The day before, the police officer had been arraigned for manslaughter.
The name of the cop? Officer Haste. The name of Graham’s mother? Constance Malcolm. (She is constant to the memory of Malcolm X.)
How many teenagers smoke pot? 13 million? Why has a white teenager never been shot like this?
Do Solar Right
We all agree adopting solar energy is good for the planet. The Woodstock Environmental Commission (WEC) enthusiastically endorsed the Town’s solar initiative as important for reducing global warming and for meeting Woodstock’s commitment for carbon neutrality.
One problem we are having is understanding its total cost. After a month, we are unable to identify any cost savings. In spite of the subsidies, incentives, and tax credits, it appears solar energy will cost the town more than continuing with Central Hudson.
Other towns have negotiated better deals from their solar providers. Easton, Massachusetts, just announced signing a contract with California-based Borrego Solar for a large scale solar installation on town property. Clearly, this is a town that did its homework.
Woodstock’s proposal commits the town to purchase solar power at 10 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour) during the first year with a 2.4% yearly price escalator over the 20-year life of the contract. Our total payments under this contract would be $2.4 million.
Easton, Massachusetts, will pay 8.6 cents the first year with a 2.0% yearly price escalator for 20 years. At these prices, Woodstock’s 20 years of solar power would cost $2.0 million, a $400,000 difference.
Both Woodstock and Easton would install the privately owned solar array on town property. Easton is leasing this property to the solar provider at $37,200 per year. Woodstock is donating the property to a private entity. Easton will collect property tax on the solar array; Woodstock is exempting the solar array from property tax.
The Woodstock Town Board approved signing a non-binding Letter of Intent to allow time to evaluate the solar proposal. Now that we understand that better deals are available, the Town Board should notify the principals that we intend to withdraw the Letter of Intent.
Many thanks for the article on the Princes Of Serendip in last week’s paper. Due to an oversight on my part, the photo of the Princes appeared without a credit to the photographer. The photographer was Hillary Harvey.
T. G. Vanini
Broken Cameras, Unbroken Dreams
The new film 5 Broken Cameras (playing at Hudson’s Time & Space Ltd. July 5-8 and 12-14) offers a deeply personal, eyewitness account of life under Israeli occupation. Collaborators Emad Burnat, a Palestinian Arab, and Guy Davidi, an Israeli Jew, overcame political and cultural boundaries to show one family’s steadfastness in the face of dwindling hope and resources.
Burnat picks up his first camera when his son Gibreel is born in 2005. At the same time, his neighbors in Bil’in village discover half their farmland is threatened by a planned separation barrier and the settlements mushrooming behind it. They organize weekly protests, hire an Israeli attorney, and petition the High Court of Justice — and win. Burnat records it all — at the risk of his life.
As Gibreel learns the Arabic words for “wall” and “army” and gets tear-gassed (“I hope he grows a tough skin”) his father tries to get as close to the action — now drawing international supporters — as he can. In five years, Burnat’s five cameras are shot or smashed by soldiers; he is critically injured and cannot work. Somehow he gets another camera and continues, often against his wife’s wishes.
When I attended a screening of this documentary at New York’s Film Forum, Burnat and Davidi said they hoped audiences might view 5 Broken Cameras with open minds and open hearts. With such a painful controversy, that openness is a risk: it’s a risk we have to take.