Monthly Archives: April 2013
April 27, 2013 Monthly Board of Directors Open Meeting
Highlights of the April 27th Board Of Directors meeting included a spirited discussion between directors over the correct way to report on Emerald Bar and Grill revenue and expenses. During his Treasurer’s Report, Treasurer Earl Frank described the combined bar and grill as $10,000 over budget. Director Joe Miller objected to this characterization, arguing that his figures showed a ‘profit’ of about $146.00. It appears that both are correct. Director Frank’s numbers reflect a comparison to the 2012/2013 budget, basically a prediction of both cost and revenue, while Director Miller is simply subtracting cost from revenue. In any case, an amenity that was budgeted to cost $40,000 annually only five years ago is now costing less than a tenth of that. If the trend line continues, the bar and grill will, in the near future, see revenue exceed costs, providing a modest stream for association funds.
Director Frank also reported that overall, the association was $92,000 under budget year-to-date with a large portion being $28,000 under budget in snow removal.
Earlier in the meeting, President Alex Leslie thanked Director Daniel Glasgow for his work on the association’s official website (www.elainc.org) and the director’s promise to monitor the site and provide recommendations for improvements at the rate of one per week.
In the area of Finance and Planning a recommendation from the committee that quarterly payments be allowed only for members who pay on time. The recommendation called for any member who is 10 or more days late on a quarterly payment to immediately have due whatever balance remains. Thus, a member who does not pay the first quarter by May 10th of any given fiscal year would forfeit the right to quarterly payments and owe the full balance, currently $1,000, forthwith.
There was also a recommendation by Finance and Planning that the membership be offered a vote on a short term trial of a CPI increase, suggesting that it be tried for three years, with a cap of 3 or 4% to be determined by the board.
Paul Capozzoli, Appeals Committee chair, reported that two appeals had been denied and that each appellant requested a further appeal to the board of directors.
The manager reported that checks are currently underway to determine if warranty repair is needed on roads. Further, an estimate of $85,000 to pave the compactor area has been received. He also reported that a DEP approval of bog removal in East and West Emerald Lakes is in hand and we are now awaiting an okay from the Army Corps of Engineers.
It was announced that the Fishing and Conservation Club would be stocking East and West Emerald Lakes, Mountaintop Lake and Pine Tree Lake with bass. This year the bass will be fewer but larger. It seems that smaller bass are quickly taken by pickerel. The hope is that the larger fish will begin to build a sustainable population. It was also announced that a Fishing Rodeo for kids up to 14 years of age would be held on June 15th. For those wishing to join the Fishing and Conservation Club, the initial fee is $25, with subsequent annual fees of $15.
Director Carmen Broadnax reported that she currently has 5 individuals willing to sit on the reconstituted Real Estate Committee. Both she and President Alex Leslie said that its main initial goal would be to develop rental policies for the association. Director Broadnax cautioned that she was aiming for a balanced committee, one with those opposed to rentals and those who favor them. She is hoping for a balanced approach and a resulting policy that would be fair to all parties.
Director Broadnax also reported that results from a survey of members of the various committees will be used to formulate a Committee Procedures Manual and goals and objectives for each committee.
In somewhat pro forma actions, Zavada and Associates was named as the 2012/2013 fiscal year independent auditor at a fee of $6,300. The approval of the purchase of a much needed audio system for the Community Center was passed for a system costing $649.
Finally there was discussion on the cost of individual amenities. One suggestion was that each be broken out of the budget and reported separately. Another suggestion was to poll members on whether they supported the continuing of certain amenities, including the indoor pool, outdoor pool, bar and grill and Community Center as whole. Since no single amenity, excluding the compactor, attracts more than 50% of the members, it could be predicted that each amenity would fail to attract enough supporters to remain funded. This would result in a severely divided membership, with homeowners pitted against one another over each’s favorite amenity. One attendee asked the room, “How many of you use the Allegheny River bridges?” While all our taxes go to support them, as much as 90% of Pennsylvanians might vote against funding them in a referendum. Would it be wise to close them? “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization,” it was pointed out, “and dues are what we pay to have a community. Each of us pays a little for each amenity, though we might use only one. But isn’t it good that our choice is there?”
- March 16, 2013 Board of Directors Open Meeting (emeraldlakesfreepress.com)
Ten Predictions Absolutely 100% Guaranteed to Come True
In December of each year I used to buy supermarket tabloids that featured predictions by expert psychics on what would occur in the coming year. There was usually something about Elvis being found alive, the queen abdicating in favor of her son, a cure for all forms of cancer and a miraculous appearance by some dead saint to warn the earth’s people about something evil afoot. I would save them for my Christmas party the following December and read them to gales of laughter. Nothing ever came true. Maybe I could do better, I often thought. So here are my predictions for the next 12 months or so. Save them and check me out next April 1st.
1. The weather will change.
2. Lindsey Lohan will have a new legal problem.
3. A big-time Major League Baseball player will tear something, ending his season.
4. Joe Biden will say something stupid.
5. Donald Trump will say something stupid.
6. Prices will rise.
7. Kim Kardashian will be in the news for something not newsworthy.
8. Somebody really, really famous will die.
9. There will be a mass murder and NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre will say that if more people had guns the tragedy could have been prevented.
10. The Pope will call for peace in the Middle East.
11. A professional athlete will apologize for a homophobic tweet.
12. President Obama will state that Iran absolutely, positively not be allowed to have nuclear weapons.
13. Iran will announce their nuclear program is peaceful and will continue.
The New Face of American Diplomacy
WASHINGTON, District of Columbia (FNS) The success of several recent diplomatic trips by amateur diplomats has encouraged the Obama administration to take a fresh look at diplomatic appointments. The first of these was the wildly successful trip to North Korea by Dunceness Oddman, a former professional basketball player of some renown. Although the strangely adorned Oddman was unable to convince the impulsive leader Kim Jung Un to stand down his military, reduce his bluster or cease his quest for deliverable nuclear weapons, he successfully convinced the dear leader that Americans played the best basketball. This was considered to be no small admission from the diminutive athlete who scored nine holes-in-one on the occasion of his first round of golf.
The second round of neophyte representation was the Cuban mission of Lay Z and his wife Bouncey. While eschewing any political or economic initiatives, the pair was able to convince a large cross section of Cuban music lovers that mediocre American pop culture has some sort of value. The hope is that as Hip Hopism sweeps the island, the average Cuban citizen will come to love America and its people.
Buoyed by these successes, Vice President Joe Biden told assembled reporters that more ambassadorial duties are in the offing. “We are planning to send Jerry Seinfeld and Joan Rivers to Iraq. Our hope is that two Jewish comics are just what the Mullahs need to lighten up. There are also plans afoot to draft Omar Sharif as an envoy to Russia. A little bridge with Putin might just soften the old KGB hand. Hey, Sharif was Doctor Zhivago. You don’t get more Russian than that.”
There were also rumors that singer and Voice judge Nicky Mirage might get a crack at Venezuela. Now that Chavez is gone, there just might be an opening for a temperamental diva to work her magic on the new guy, if they ever settle that election thing.
Gun Control: Can We All Just Get Along?
by Buz Whelan
The arguments on gun ownership and whether there should be new limits placed seem to be producing no movement on either side. Gun proponents, led by the NRA, resist any change in the status quo. The most extreme gun control advocates would allow only hunting weapons, controlled and licensed. And the arguments are beginning to appear to be irrelevant. Red state senators and congressmen and women know they cannot vote for any meaningful gun law and not expect a primary challenge. In most densely populated states where hunters are a small minority, gun laws are already strict by NRA standards. Realizing the futility of debate, I am nevertheless presenting my own view of the firearm landscape. What follows are my thoughts on the subject developed from a little research. I’ve divided this piece into three parts for easy digestion.
Part I: The Second Amendment
“A well established Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Seems direct enough, does it not? But throughout the life of our republic, we have disagreed on its precise meaning. Some feel it guarantees unrestricted gun ownership, while others point to the opening phrase. A careful reading of the entire Constitution reveals a certain economy of words. The entire purpose statement, called the Preamble, consists of only 51 words. Why, then, did the framers include the words “A well established Militia” in the statement? Why not just write, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” and leave it at that? Why mention “Militia” at all?
There were two important Supreme Court decisions on the Second Amendment during the 19th century. In the first, US v Cruikshank (1875), the court ruled that the Second Amendment “has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government.” This was reiterated in Presser v Illinois (1886) with the court stating that the Second Amendment “is a limitation only upon the power of Congress and the National government, and not upon that of the States.” These decisions state clearly that individual states and, by extension, such municipalities as New York City, Chicago, Washington, et. al., may impose whatever restrictions on gun ownership that they may deem necessary and prudent.
In a later case, the court ruled on the National Firearms Act of 1934. This law, passed in response to public outrage over the carnage being wrecked by ‘Tommy guns’ (automatic weapons), authorized excise taxes to be placed on certain types of weapons (e.g., automatic weapons, parts for same, sawed-off shotguns), ordered the registration of these weapons, and forbid their transfer across state lines without special permit. In the case of US v Miller (1939), the court upheld the law, but did so in conjunction with Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which grants the power to congress “To raise and support armies” and further, “To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.” The court seemed to be indicating that the right guaranteed by the Second Amendment was tied to having an available militia, not non-affiliated personal ownership.
In its most recent ruling the court upheld the right of the individual in a narrow five to four decision. In the case of “District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)”, the majority ruled that the individual had a right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. A complete ban on handguns and a requirement that guns in the home be disassembled or trigger-locked by the District was thus declared unconstitutional. The majority stated that the initial phrasing about militia stated a purpose but was not a limiting phrase. Writing a dissent, Justice Stevens examined historical evidence and concluded that the amendment protects militia-related interests.
So, where are we now? The decisions indicate that individuals have a federal right to possess firearms, but that lower governments may impose reasonable limitations and restrictions on that right, and that ordering the registration of guns is constitutional.
Part II: Why I Need an Assault Rifle with Extended Ammunition Magazines
For me, at least, the silliest argument for assault rifles and magazines that hold more than ten rounds is protection from the United States government. Not only is oppression of the general population by our own government unlikely in the extreme, should such a thing ever come to pass, resistance by the people would be utterly futile. The idea that a ragtag bunch of civilians could in any way hamper a military operation is as realistic as Ralphie holding off Black Bart and his gang with a Red Ryder air rifle.
When I returned from combat in Viet Nam my first assignment was as company commander of an infantry training unit in Fort Polk, Louisiana. Upwards of 90% of our graduating trainees would be going directly to the combat arena. All of us cadre, drill sergeants and officers, took our training responsibilities seriously. Nevertheless, we often found amusement in the ineptness of the trainees. And these were folks who already had 8 weeks of basic training before we saw them. It would take 9 weeks of intensive training with us, then a period of adjustment with their combat unit before they were competent soldiers. Civilians with Bushmasters? Ridiculous.
In warning against the possibility of a government takeover, examples such as China, Russia and Nazi Germany are often cited. But both the Russian and Chinese revolutions were essentially civil wars. In Russia, the Bolsheviks battled the Czarists, and both armies were heavily armed. In China it was the communists under Mao Tse-tung against the nationalists under Chang Kai-shek. Again, both armies were heavily armed. In neither case did an existing government suddenly make war on its citizens. The German example is even more ludicrous. Hitler was appointed chancellor by President von Hindenburg after the Nazis elected the most delegates to the Reichstag. There was no war against civilians. And if you watch newsreels from the era you will see huge crowds deliriously cheering their Fuhrer.
Here’s a last example. During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the U.S. military and its allies faced Saddam Hussein’s ‘elite’ Republican Guard staffed by battle-tested veterans of the 8 year Iran-Iraq War. They lasted fewer than 100 hours against the coalition forces. Again, I point out the absurdity of civilians facing down the American military.
And finally, let me point out the most obvious fact: the federal government is already in control. There is no imaginable reason for them to war on their own people.
Part III: Making the Perfect the Enemy of the Good
There are no perfect solutions to the problem of gun violence in America. There is no law proposed or extant that would have prevented all the terrible mass murders we have experienced or that would absolutely preclude the possibility that another will occur. But we also know this: doing nothing will not improve the odds. And yet that seems to be the argument that so many proponents of unrestricted gun ownership advance. To any suggested measure that would provide some increased restriction on the type of weapons available or place some limits on who may own guns, they say, “That wouldn’t stop all gun violence; that wouldn’t have prevented Sandy Hook or Aurora or Columbine.” Here, we’ll break down some of the suggested remedies and the arguments for and against them.
Proposal: That all sales and transfers of weapons be subject to a background check on the recipient.
The counter argument goes that ‘criminals will still get guns; only legitimate buyers will be hampered.’ And it is true that some, even many, criminals will find ways to obtain guns. It’s also true that legitimate buyers may have to expend some extra effort obtain guns, but is this really too much to ask? But will all criminals have the same ease of obtaining weapons that they have today? Certainly, mobsters will find a way. But are mobsters the problem? The massacres of the last generation have not been done by career criminals. They have been perpetrated by disaffected individuals with little or no criminal backgrounds. Petty criminals, the type that hold up gas stations and liquor stores, do not have the connections that the ‘made guy’ has. If background checks were universal, it would make it more difficult for anyone with a criminal record or a history of psychiatric problems to obtain a weapon. Not impossible; just more difficult. And for the kid who just wants a gun because it thinks it would be ‘cool,’ the increased difficulty would often be enough to discourage him.
Proposal: That assault weapons and magazines holding more than 8 rounds be declared illegal.
‘There are already more than a million assault rifles in private hands. Further, an experienced shooter can change a magazine in seconds, so limiting the capacity would have little, if any effect. Banning the weapons and magazines would only affect legitimate sportsmen.’ But what ‘legitimate sportsman’ needs an assault rifle? These weapons will fire a round with every trigger pull. They can fire at a rate of over 100 rounds per minute. The one time when a shooter is vulnerable is when they are changing magazines. If this must be done every 8 shots there will be more and sooner opportunities to stop the shooter, either by return fire, tackling the shooter, or for victims to run to safety. A ‘sportsman’ who needs more than 8 rapidly-delivered shots to fell his prey is not much of a sportsman. And as far as the number of weapons already in private hands, the same argument was made against restricting the sale of Tommy Guns, those fully automatic weapons favored by gangsters. But the National Firearms Act of 1934 was passed. It took years to make a difference, but how many Tommy Guns are around today?
There’s one more argument that must be examined. Over and over I hear gun advocates say that Chicago has the strictest gun laws, but the highest gun violence rate. But the problem with the Chicago gun ordinances is the Indiana gun laws, just as the problem with New York City regulations is the lack of Virginia gun regulations. As long as individuals can game the system by simply crossing state lines, the big cities will continue to have the greatest gun crime rates. And loosely-regulated but sparsely populated states like Wyoming will be used as examples of how more guns per capita equal less crime. It’s a false statistic, but it isn’t going away.
In Summation I should make clear that I am not against all gun ownership. I believe hunters have a right to their shotguns and hunting rifles and private citizens have a right to firearms for their own defense. But we must have some sane regulations to reduce the number of gun deaths and the ferocity of individual events such as Aurora or Newtown. If we ban rapid-firing assault rifles and magazines over 8 or 10 rounds it will take a generation or more for their numbers to be significantly reduced, just as it did with Tommy guns. But it will be a start. If we make all weapons transactions subject to background checks and registration it will reduce the number of guns going into the wrong hands and aid law enforcement in solving murders. That alone may have a deterring effect. We do it with cars. I can’t transfer my car to my wife without going through DMV. Why should guns be different? Has our government ever gone house to house to seize anything? If we do all this we still won’t eliminate all gun crime. People who shouldn’t, will still get guns and guns, and magazines that are banned will still find their way into criminal hands. But people still murder, steal and speed on the highways. Would it make any sense to drop laws against those things as well?
“Miraculous” Image Seen on Statue
DRY CREEK, New Mexico (FNS) Thousands of believers are flocking to the home of Maria Elena Antonia de la Montoya in this sleepy, sparsely populated New Mexico hamlet to view a mysterious image that has appeared in the folds of an outdoor religious statue. Many swear they can clearly make out the unmistakable form and coloring of a piece of French toast. “I seen it with my own eyes,” says Al Zymer of nearby Shimmering Heat, “It’s a message from God. Breakfast is the most important meal. Make sure you eat it.”
The statue is located in the front yard and apparently was stained by water overflowing from the drainpipe above. A small, squarish, mottled yellow and brown stain has been imprinted on the folds of the statue’s gown. Religious zealots, breakfast lovers and nutritionists crowd around daily, many feeling validated by the event. “I’ve been telling people to eat a good breakfast for over 20 years,” says nutritionist Vera Blande-Dyatt, “Now I feel like someone above is telling everyone I was right.”
The question remains, though, is this really an image of French toast or just a randomly-patterned water stain. Skeptics are in full throat on this. Danish phenomenologist Dr. Hedden der Klowd poses the question this way: “Do you want it to be French toast? Then it is. Do you only see a stain? Then for you there is no breakfast depicted. Believers see; cynics doubt. That’s the way of the world. You see what you want to see. Ever see Tiera del Fuego? Ever see the inside of a septic tank? No? That’s my point. You see what you want to see.” Of course, this clears nothing up. Decide for yourself. View the picture on page 13 and make up your own mind.
Step One: Control Your Own Guns
According to the Pocono Record, 14 guns were stolen from a Long Pond home last week. They were subsequently recovered when a woman the thief had threatened reported him to the police. Also, WNEP reports that a drug ring in the area was busted and, in the course of the investigation, many guns were taken into evidence. Just last month, one of our Long Pond neighbors was arrested at Newark Airport because he “forgot” about the loaded gun in his bag. And two years ago we had a Halloween party here in Emerald Lakes that ended in gunfire, injuring teenagers and terrifying residents.
Newtown may have awakened many to the dangers of guns in our communities, but it shouldn’t take a mass shooting to remind us all of how to be responsible gun owners. That tragedy and others like it, bring this issue to the forefront of our minds and hearts, and all too often they polarize our discussions, making it nearly impossible to find common ground. But we are, quite literally, sharing common ground here in Emerald Lakes, and we must do everything we can to make that ground safer for all. No matter where your opinion falls on the gun control debate, we should all be able to agree that proper care and storage of the guns that we and our neighbors own is the first step to keeping our families safe. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert, but there are very simple things that I have learned from reading and from the gun safety courses that I have taken that it seems many of our neighbors have forgotten. Too many excuses and instances of lazy gun ownership end up with weapons falling into the hands of those who would use them to do harm.
One very important consideration to remember is that child-proof does not always equal theft-proof, and nothing is fool-proof. No discussion about gun safety should overlook the simple fact that statistically you are more likely to be injured by a gun if there is a gun in your home. Choosing not to have a gun is the safest choice of all. However, I understand that statistics are simply not enough comfort for some, and not possible for others. If you must have guns in your home, you must find the absolute safest way to store them that meets the needs of your household.
Collectors should choose the best cabinets they can afford. (Hint: if you can afford a collection, you can afford the best cabinets to display them.) Tempered glass, keypad locks, steel bars and reinforced wood are features that add to the safety of your collection in a way that still allows for their display. Some of these features include methods of ensuring that your guns cannot be removed even if the glass is broken. Guns should be stored unloaded, with ammunition put away in a separate storage place. For hunters who don’t need to display their guns, heavy-duty gun safes, hidden and bolted to the structure of the house provide security that is both child-proof and theft-proof.
In the case of guns kept for home defense, owners must weigh the dangers of the weapon with the desire for quick access. A gun in the bedside table or a rifle behind the door not only pose dangers to children or other family members, but are also easily found and taken by burglars. They then become a danger to everyone. When you are not home, these guns are defending no one, and the dangers are multiplied. One habit that it will pay to cultivate is to store a home defense weapon in a gun safe in the bedroom. Open the safe when you are at home or in bed and place your house keys and/or car keys in the safe with the door open. This way, you will never forget to lock them away before leaving home. Of course, this does not keep your children safe from discovery and misuse of your gun, and there is always the possibility of an intruder getting to your gun before you do. Many safes are designed for quick access, and the added safety is well worth the few extra seconds it takes to get into it. Whatever you do, do NOT underestimate the ingenuity of young children and teenagers to ferret out any hiding spot you may use. (I have personally seen a toddler reach the top of a cabinet using the drawers to climb.)
If gun owners want to begin to curb the attacks and anger that come their way every time there is a tragedy, they must police their own behaviors and take the first step. Assess the safety and practices of gun ownership in your own homes. Be the model gun owner that you would want everyone to be. Had those 14 guns stolen last week not been recovered by police, they would have been added to the growing number of guns in our community that are obtained illegally and often used to harm others. While no one wants to blame a burglary victim for harm done by another, imagine the guilt you would feel if, due to your careless handling of your own guns, they were stolen and used to injure a member of your family or a neighbor. Hundreds of thousands of guns are stolen in the US every year, but proper safety precautions and storage could greatly reduce this number and, in turn, increase the safety of our community.
Local Chides God on Easter Holiday
LONG POND, Pennsylvania (FNS) A Christian critic, known for voicing his displeasure with Heavenly decisions released a statement Thursday criticizing the timing of the resurrection. Iben N. Esshol told FNS that God had it all wrong over 2,000 years ago. “Look,” said Iben, “think of the situation. You’re God, for His sake. You know everything, you know the future. You’re sending your only son down to Earth to die a horrible death and redeem the sins of mankind. You’re going to raise him from the dead, and you know this is going to be a pretty big deal. You know it’s gonna be a holiday for thousands of years in the future. And you pick a SUNDAY? That’s the best you come up with? You can’t leave the Kid down there for another 24 hours so people could have a 3 day weekend almost forever? That is really piss poor planning. I’m sorry but I gotta call ‘em as I see ‘em. Easter is a bogus ‘holiday.’ The Big Guy screwed up on this one.”