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Global IMC Network

Binghamton Blueprint Charrette

October 11, 2013 by imc-editor

A charrette is an intense period of working on a design and the Main ST to Court St. corridor through Binghamton will be under scrutiny Oct. 19th for ordinary citizens to get involved.

Discussions Will Focus On Updating Zoning Code Along The Main And Court Streets Corridor

Blueprint Binghamton Is The Ongoing Update To The City’s 2003 Comprehensive Plan

BINGHAMTON, NY—Today, the City of Binghamton announced a week of opportunities for residents to participate in updating the zoning code along the Main and Court Streets corridor as a major component of Blueprint Binghamton, the ongoing update to the City’s 2003 Comprehensive Plan. The first discussion will begin this Saturday, October 19, 9:00am to 12:00pm, at the MetroCenter Atrium.

The City is considering adopting a form-based code for the corridor, which moves away from the conventional zoning emphasis on use and density to instead focus on building form and streetscape design. Updating the zoning code will help foster predictable building results, a higher quality public realm that reinforces Binghamton’s character, and encourage a more attractive and walkable Main Street.

“Form based code is friendlier to developers, more predictable, emphasizes what is wanted instead of what is prohibited, and comes directly from the community—which is the best part of all,” said Tarik Abdelazim, Director of Planning, Housing and Community Development. “That’s why Saturday’s hands-on design exercise is so important. What our consultant team hears from residents on Saturday and over the next few days will largely determine how our form-based code will be written.”

The City’s week-long exercise to discuss form-based code entails three major public events:
· Saturday, October 19, 9:00am to 12:00pm, Public Workshop at the MetroCenter Atrium
· Tuesday, October 22, 6:00pm to 8:00pm, Open House at the Project Design Studio located in the former First National Bank at 49 Court Street
· Thursday, October 24, 6:00pm to 8:00pm, Final Presentation at the Black Box Theater at Binghamton High School

To increase community input, the City earlier this month mailed postcard invitations to every property owner along the corridor, distributed email invitations through multiple listservs, and communicated extensively with Council members and elected officials at the County and State levels.

“The City may have secured the federal grant award from HUD to update our comprehensive plan, but Blueprint Binghamton has been driven entirely by the citizens who care deeply about creating a positive vision for our city,” said Abdelazim. “It has been very rewarding to see residents so engaged and excited about their city’s future, and we look forward to another inspiring week.”

Code Studio out of Austin, Texas, part of the consultant team hired by the City to carry out Blueprint Binghamton, will lead the form-based code design week from October 19th through October 24th. Based on feedback and input from this Saturday’s community event, stakeholder meetings, and one-on-one interviews with members of our community, Code Studio plans to leave Binghamton at the end of the week with 90% of the new code recommendations.
"We're excited to hold this hand's-on design sessions with the public, giving them the opportunity to express their view of the future of the Main/Court Street corridor,” said Lee Einsweiler, Principal, Code Studio. “Form-based codes are a great way to implement specific planning for a specific area. Zoning updates can help ensure we keep the places we want to save, and allow for the transformation of the sites that need redevelopment.”

Many communities in the last five years have moved to adopt form-based codes, from urban metro cities like Miami and Denver, to places like Peoria IL (pop. 110,000); Gulfport, MS (pop. 65,000), which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina; and Malta, NY, a rural town of about 11,000 outside the Capital region.

“More and more I present projects to the City that have zoning restrictions that are realized as being illogical, such as requiring a building setback along commercial streets,” said Jeffery Smith, Architect and Blueprint Binghamton Steering Committee Member. “This setback, while required by zoning, would leave the appearance of an open empty void along the streetscape. Such may be desirable for sprawling suburbia, but not a thriving City. I look forward to a more logical zoning code appropriate for Main and Court.”

For more information on Blueprint Binghamton, please visit the website or contact Melissa Enoch, Sustainable Development Planner, at 772-7028. For more information on Form Based Code or Code-Studio, please visit www.formbasedcodeinstitute.org and www.code-studio.com.

Please see the attached flyer for all the information and dates of public meetings..

Obama's Stealth Attack on Social Security and Medicare: The “Debt Ceiling” Smokescreen

October 8, 2013 by NewEarth

 

Obama's Stealth Attack on Social Security and Medicare
The “Debt Ceiling” Smokescreen
by MIKE WHITNEY
October 08, 2013
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/08/the-debt-ceiling-smokescreen/

The media is ratcheting up “debt ceiling” hysteria to launch a surprise attack on Social Security and Medicare. President Obama has already stated that he’s willing to cut so called entitlements as part of a broader strategy for reigning in the debt. In 2011, during tense negotiations with GOP congressional leaders Obama made it clear that he was prepared to sell out his base by slashing vital funding to the old and infirm in order to reach a “grand bargain” with the opposition party. Here’s what he said at the time:

“We keep on talking about this stuff and we have these high-minded pronouncements about how we’ve got to get control of the deficit and how we owe it to our children and our grandchildren. Well, let’s step up. Let’s do it. I’m prepared to do it. I’m prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done. And I expect the other side should be willing to do the same thing — if they mean what they say that this is important.”

DE-PROFESSIONALIZATION OF CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKERS

October 5, 2013 by activ60

DE-PROFESSIONALIZATION OF CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKERS

In the first wave of incendiary downsizing in 2010 Broome County clinical social workers were encouraged to take a $10,000 pay cut and go work for a private non-profit agency who had just been anointed as a certified OMH outpatient clinic. Our local senator approved of this as two clinicians would also move to the state GBHC Children’s Clinic at higher pay. There was a delay in service since the building and psychiatrist were not ready. Three years later OMH proposes to close inpatient children’s services that are a critical continuum of services and waste your tax dollars spent on that refurbished building. There continue to be wait times at the other agencies. There was never a wait at the Clinic.

Clinicians were not involved in any of the planning. There was not a ‘plan on paper’, nor public hearings, nor consultant study, rather there were a lot of smoke and mirrors and vagueness. Is this the way most men seek employment? There is an underlying gender effect since most social workers are women. The new mantra is that a clinician should be able to ‘pay for their position’. Do you hear others with higher salaries being told that? Or to give up their benefits? And to have a defunk union is a worse slap in the face.

GOING OUT OF BUSINESS

October 3, 2013 by activ60

GOING OUT OF BUSINESS

As a point of reference in 2009 the Broome County Mental Health Clinic had 14,391 regular visits, another 1511 brief visits and 2394 group visits for a total of 18,296.
The BC Commissioner of MH states that OMH licensed programs, i.e. which now includes Private non-profits like Lourdes and Family & Children’s Society, will have 12,050 contact visits in 2014.

The ‘retirement purge’ became paramount during the Fiala administration. So if every
Department continues this attrition requirement indefinitely that abolishes positions, a department could cease to exist. Everyone who has left the BCMHC has not been replaced.

In 2009 there were 26 clinicians and as of Dec 2013 there will be 3 fulltime and 3 part time clinical social workers. Another Psychiatrist is cutting hours and adding them to the contract agency and there will be only one part time nurse practitioner out of four left for medication management. In 2008, 1718 adults and 425 children were served. In 2010, 1200 adults were served and 51% were seriously and persistently mentally ill (SPMI). In the same year 250 children were served and 48% were SPMI. The Children’s Unit was closed in Dec 2010. 12.5 staff positions were eliminated. In 2010-11 OMH approved Lourdes and Family & Children’s Society applications for licensure as mental health clinics. They were encouraged to seek such.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE CAPACITY

October 3, 2013 by activ60

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE CAPACITY
One Size Does Not Fit ALL

It is interesting that the elected officials who subscribe to the Unshackle NY clamor about unfunded mandates make no plea for the mentally ill of our community. Since 2000 or before the County Mental Health Clinics in New York have been gearing up for transition to the Federal ambulatory patient group (APG) payment rates that were supposed to go into effect in September 2012. These rates also were part of the Medicaid Redesign and Medicaid Managed Care and Family Health Plus plans for clinic reimbursement. The ruse is that these billable units of service do not cover the cost of the service (practitioners and overhead). Thank your Congress representatives for that. In addition, as the Affordable Care Act starts people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for the federal subsidy and those who make income under the poverty line are not eligible for subsidy either in states that rejected the ACA Medicaid expansion.

A report in June of the White House Summit on mental health noted that public spending on mental health services has been slashed across the country in recent years, driven by the recession and by a zeal to shrink government. Were you aware that there was a NYS bill proposing the Mental Health Public Awareness Tax Check off last session?

Immigration Rally Sat. Oct. 5th

October 2, 2013 by pegjohnston

 

This weekend marks 100 days since the Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill -- and the House of Representatives still hasn't taken it up. I would love to tell you it's because Speaker Boehner and his friends are having a fair and vigorous debate about it, but you only have to look at the news and their recent government shutdown to know that's not true.

If we're ever going to make immigration reform a reality, we're going to have to make our voices louder now than ever before. The House needs to know it won't get away with ignoring our broken immigration system and just hoping we back down. This summer, since Action August, we were able to get seven Republican members of Congress to come out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform -- now it's on us to keep up the momentum.

That's why this week, we're holding immigration reform events to raise our voices all over the country. We're having one in Binghamton this Saturday -- can you make it?

What: Immigration reform event in Binghamton
Where: 92 Court St. Binghamton, NY 13901
When: Saturday, October 5th 1:00 pm
We're seeing more and more every day that the House of Representatives likes to create its own problems instead of dealing with the ones right in front of them -- that's why we need to keep them on task. It's not going to be easy, because obviously they have been avoiding doing the tough work Americans sent them there to do.That's when I remember that we spent August building momentum for our side. Now's the time to keep it up.

Showing up at the event this Saturday is a great way to let our members of Congress know that you think reform is a priority -- and that we expect them to act.

Transparency, if not Divestment

October 2, 2013 by tim wolcott

 

The power needs to shift. It didn’t usually take me so long to decide to financially support my university. But this year, I did not contribute until recently. This was after receiving numerous postal, email and telephone requests from Binghamton University to support their mission. It took a particular letter to help fund a program in Environmental Law as a memorial tribute to Dr. Herman Robinson to get me to write my check.

For the past decade I have annually contributed a modest amount to Binghamton University. At various times it was intended for the General Fund or Geology Department or Graduate School of Education. I am proud to have earned two degrees from B.U. – a B.A. in Geology 1974, and a M.A.T. in Earth Science 1990. Binghamton University continues to earn both my respect and my financial support.

My concern is that as a trained environmental scientist, Science educator and grandfather, I shouldn’t and can’t ignore the effect that combustion of fossil fuels (around 5% of Binghamton University Foundation’s investments are in fossil fuel companies) has on our planet’s sustainability. There is near universal scientific consensus that atmospheric CO2 levels above 350 ppm create ecosystem instability and increased human health risks. Atmospheric CO2 ranged around 280 ppm before the industrial age. Today, it is higher than 390 ppm and rising. People all over the world (and locally, due to the two, 100+ year floods in 2006 and 2011) are abandoning ruined homes and lands made uninhabitable by weather disasters. Arctic sea ice and glaciers are melting at alarming rates while the sea becomes acidified (thereby dissolving coral reefs). Furthermore, time lags in the replacement of fossil fuel use by clean energy use has the world on pace for 6 degrees Celsius temperature rise by the end of this century. That rate of heating, recorded 250 million years ago, extinguished 90% of the life on earth. We will only accelerate the pace, if we continue to expand the consumption of fossil fuels through mountain top removal for coal, biome destruction to remove tar sand’s oil or drilling ever deeper into ocean waters for oil and gas.