Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Celebrate Downtown Stamford: Visit the New Businesses

A Tale of Two States- A Tale of Huge Deficits: A Tale of Two Governors: California Versus Connecticut. Part II, Governor Malloy and the Unions

This is Part II (for Part I, click here).

We already know that Jerry Brown has it 'on the agenda' to extract concessions from California Unions--a reduction in Union pensions in order to close the gap on a $26.6 Billion shortfall in revenues.

Malloy, here in Connecticut announced on May 13 that he had negotiated a $1.6 Billion dollar deal with the Unions in order to avert a threatened layoff of 5,000 state workers. The Governor originally sought $2 Billion in concessions.

Several points need bearing in mind.

First, there is no real deal until 14 of 15 state unions ratify it and there are 34 bargaining units in toto. In addition 80% of the Union members must vote for it. Then the final deal must still be approved by the state legislature. Thus, there are still major hurdles to overcome.

Malloy agreed not to lay off any of the 45,000 unionized workers for four years.

The deal included no furloughs (mandatory temporary layoffs with no pay) and no reductions in hours for permanent workers; a two-year freeze in salary was included and then here would be a 3% increase in salary for each of the next 3 years. For employees retiring after 2017, there would be a 3 year rise in the retirement age. Undisclosed pension and health benefits would be scaled back.

Should not enough union members ratify the proposed deal, the two year budget would collapse!

The republican minority opposition in the Connecticut legislature has pointed out the government spending is staying at the same level (with no cuts); this is concommitant with a massive increase in state taxes--the largest in its history.

According to the New York Times, "the new budget depends in large part on almost $1.5 billion in increased taxes on personal income, corporations and an array of purchases and services, from yachts to inexpensive clothing, to plug a deficit once estimated between $3.2 billion and $3.5 billion."

The state still must find an additional $400 million in revenue to balance the budget. It is unclear what the source of these unaccounted funds will be though the Governor made a surprise announcement on Friday, May 27th on the eve of the Memorial Day weekend.

Finally, it could take over a month for the unions to ratify the deal.

At this point Jerry Brown has a longer way to go to balance his California's skewered budget--he has yet to cut a deal with the state unions! ; on the other hand, Malloy has initiated a process that has many steps to climb before his two year budget will be cemented in place!

The blogger wishes to acknowledge the Stamford Advocate, The Hartford Courant and the New York Times for their input in composing this blog.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Should I Be Flying at Night? Here are some variables--You make the decision. Part II

Yours truly, with Cherokee 29'er Hotel at Oroville Municipal Airport

This is Part II of my 3 prior blogs on the subject of night flying. ( And it won't be my last!)

A few caveats on night flying. Most pilot fatalities, I have read, occur on take off and landing. This is due primarily to pilot error. As I mentioned earlier, I pre-flight my plane with a flashlight; even though, I have had a habit of topping off the dual tanks to the 'tabs,' I still would visually check the check to be sure the avgas is where I visualize it to be-- actually at the tabs. There is no room for error.

There is an AOPA Air Safety Foundation report about a very short night flight by a pilot flying a Cessna 150; an accident occurred on final and the pilot who survived reported that "the fuel gauges indicated 'a little less than full' on the left tank and about 1/4 on the right fuel tank." His engine failed on landing. A post accident report by the Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed "only a small amount of fuel remaining in the tanks."

The question that comes to mind is whether this pilot had visually checked the fuel levels by flashlight before taking off. Read the report for yourself to determine where this pilot went wrong.

Now, should you be flying deep into the night, especially if you know you are an early morning person?

My answer to the question is yes!

From my prior blog, you should already know that I am an early morning person--meaning I am most alert in the early morning hours from 3 AM and that my energy level begins to level off around 3 PM and then shifts to a somnolent stall, precedent to falling asleep, at about 6PM.

So how it it that I am taking off on a 4- hour interstate cross country flight at 9 PM one February evening with 30 mile an hour headwinds?

Phantom Falls on Table Mountain, a few miles Northeast of
of Oroville Municipal Airport, Courtesy of Ben Sheriff Photography

Consider these circumstances. I had been living in the Sierra foothills and my plane had been tied down at Oroville Municipal Airport. At this time, I was checking out a job opportunity up in Eugene, Oregon some 500 miles north. After the deal was sealed, I decided to take up temporary digs with a friend in Lane County. My new business associate, on the other hand, owned a Piper Cub and offered to fly me down to Oroville so that I could relocate 29'er Hotel up to Mahlon Sweet Airport; Eugene is a beautiful community-- the crown jewel in the Oregon 'Emerald Empire'-- and that is where I intended to reside for at least a year.

Our plan was for Leon, my new business associate, to ferry me from Mahlon Sweet to Oroville at sunset (a four hour flight) where I would hop out and rev up my plane and the two of us would fly back together as wingmen. We planned on taking off from Eugene at 4:30. The weather was clear and there were moderate tail winds. Leon, who runs a construction company, is a competent pilot and his high wing craft is a very reliable workhorse that was used to train thousands of World War II American pilots. (It reaches a maximum speed of 87 MPH but with tailwinds we were averaging close to 110 MPH.) Our flight was smooth and as I recall we made a fuel stop along the way.

We took off from Oroville for the return trip at 9:15 PM when it was dark; we flew in tandem all the way back to Eugene. By now headwinds had increased to about 30 mph: this meant that my cherokee was flying about 80 MPH (at best economy of 7.8 GPH) and the Cub was doing about 60 MPH. Amazingly enough, even though I was flying faster, I could see Leon's wing lights all the way back to Eugene. The nice part is that we were able to maintain radio contact with each other all the way back.

Of course, I had written down my visual checkpoints on my flight log grid. We followed Route 5 all the way from Redding North to Shasta Lakes, past the noble and majestic 14, 142 foot Mount Shasta (a magnificent, elegant white clothed lady reflecting the moonlit night), Weed, Yreka, past the Siskiyous into Ashland, Oregon, then Medford, Grants Pass northward to Lane County--then finally Roseburg, Cottage Grove and my destinatio Eugene.

(The cities and towns are backlit like sparkling diamonds clustered along a delicate sinuous necklace caressing the ephemeral, yet eternal raiment of the earth)

Aerial View of Mahlon Sweet Airport in Eugene, Oregon
Photo Courtesy of CardCow.com

We landed within minutes of each other at Mahlon Sweet Airport and finished tying down about 2 AM. (I called flight service to cancel my flight plan!)

A beautiful, safe journey....

So, the obvious question is why and how I undertook a night flight that began so late at night?

First off, I was keyed up well in advance about bringing my bird up to Oregon...So, I made sure to get plenty of rest in anticipation of the the night flight. Of course, I had my waypoints and alternate airports clearly demarcated in advance.

Next, I was flying both ways with a very experienced pilot with several thousand hours of flight time; in addition, we both were tuned to EFAS or enroute flight advisory service for up to the minute weather updates and pilot weather reports (pireps)

Lastly, the events described in my earlier blog about nearly falling asleep at the controls at 5:30 PM occurred some months later....so I had yet more insights to gather about my natural body rhythm.

I hope my blogs about night flying have been helpful. They are rooted in my own live experiences.

Please, email me comments and experiences-- similar or otherwise-- you might have had.

Perhaps, together we can organize a VFR pilots' chat room on night flying.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Tale of Two States- A Tale of Huge Deficits:A Tale of Two Governors: California Versus Connecticut

Jerry Brown, Governor of California
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Dannel Malloy, Governor of Connecticut
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

California a state with about 37 million souls is running a deficit of about $26.6 Billion just short of a third of next year's budget

On the other hand, Connecticut with a population of about 3.5 million has a $3.5 Billion deficit (in the $40.1 Billion dollar budget two year budget); the shortfall is only one-sixth of next year's budget

Jerry Brown is the 39th governor of California (and at age 73, the eldest to be sworn in as governor); he just started his new term in 2011; he previously served as the 34th governor from 1975-1983. He was California Secretary of State from 1971-1975, served as Mayor of Oakland from 1999-2007 and Attorney General of California from 2007-2111. He graduated from University of California at Berkeley after leaving a Jesuit seminary on the way to becoming a priest.

After college, he went on to earn a law degree from Yale University.

Dan Malloy is the 88th Governor of Connecticut and just stared his first term earlier this year. Previously, he was Mayor of Stamford from 1995-2009 the longest serving Mayor. He earned his degree magna cum laude from Boston College and then studied the law at Boston College Law School. He served as Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, New York from 1980-1984.

Under his mayoral administration, he focused on reducing crime so that currently, Stamford ranks as the 9th safest city in the nation and the third safest in the Northeast. on the other hand, the city of Oakland, California has one of the five highest violent crime rates in the country.

How is each state leader approaching the reduction of the deficit and restoring a balanced state budget?

According to a recent New York Times magazine article, Jerry Brown's Last Stand, Brown will be eliminating a" $26.6 Billion shortfall in state revenues with equal measures of spending cuts--to public schools, higher education, health care programs for the elderly, economic -redevelopment funds for communities -and extension of modest surcharge on the state's income tax (0.25 percent), sales tax (1 percent) and automobile registration (0.5 percent) that would otherwise expire."

According to the same article, Brown has signed over $10 Billion in cuts into law. He declared that if need be he will enact further spending cuts and would not 'paper over' the shortfall with methods of "fiscal trickery." Also on the agenda are reductions in pension benefits for union workers; indeed this spring, Brown took heat for "negotiating agreements with California unions ...that fell short of winning the concessions he had promised and that fiscal analysts say are critical for his state's long-term health."

What worries everybody in California is just how deep the cuts will be. There is no plan B, if he does not get what he wants the first time around, the cuts will continue until he has reached his goal. He will "starve the beast" --the idea being that with no tax increases, the government service will shrink to such an extant that the public will agree to any measures--including tax increases to rescue the beast.

Good luck, Governor- especially in the light of the US Supreme Court's decision, announced on May 24, that the state must clear up to 46, 000 inmates from their overcrowded jails.

How Governor Malloy of Connecticut is dealing with so many of these issues in sealing an agreement of substantial concessions from 'Big Unions" will be dealt with in Part II of this Tale that haunts governors in just about every state in the Union.

Indeed the slashing of bloated state budgets may be the key to saving our Union, our peace of mind, our precious American way of life of freedom as we know it.

Tighten the belt America-- we are collectively in for dramatic adjustments to our 'spend and spend and spend like there is no tomorrow' mentality.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Stamford, Connecticut's WCTZ-FM 96.7 is off the Air: To be Replaced by Christian Contemporary K-Love

It has now been almost a week that my visit to 96.7FM, Cox Broadcasting's The Coast, has been met with an abundance of static and a notable absence of the music with which I have grown comfortable.

The 96.7 frequency debuted in 1948--that is 63 continuous years of being accessible on the air. Here is an excerpt from a Time Line for Connecticut Broadcasting compiled by Michael Collins who recently passed on:

1948 Connecticut has 13 FM stations on the air, including 5 which will survive: WSTC-FM 96.7Stamford, WNHC-FM 99.1 New Haven, WMMW-FM 95.7 Meriden, WDRC-FM 93.7 Hartford and WTIC-FM 96.5 Hartford. Eight will not survive: WSTC-FM 96.7Stamford, WNHC-FM 99.1 New Haven, WMMW-FM 95.7 Meriden, WDRC-FM 93.7 Hartford and WTIC-FM 96.5 Hartford. Eight will not survive:
WAVZ-FM 95.1, WBIB 100.7, and WELI-FM 107.9 all in New Haven, WNLC-FM 99.5 New London, WKNB-FM 103.7 New Britain and WTHT-FM 106.1 of the Hartford Times

Cox first began broadcasting in December 2006 with a broadcast license in Port Chester and its broadcast area centered in Stamford, Connecticut. The station's former call letters were WKHL and marketed as "Kool 96.7" featuring an 'oldies' format. Cox positioned itself as the 'New 96.7 the Coast" for its 4 and a half years.

In addition to featuring classic hits from the 60's to the present, Cox offered public broadcasting content early on weekend mornings featuring recorded interviews with personalities and businesses that were performing community services.

The last day of operation for Cox was on midnight Thursday May 19th and the last song played was "Good Night" by the Beatles.

The Educational Media Foundation (EMF) announced on November 4, 2010 its future purchase of the 96.7 license and the moving of its transmitter to Trump Tower in New Rochelle, New York, According to Wikipedia the station with be the K-LOVE affiliate for New York City with the call letters changing to WKLV-FM.

The Contemporary Christian music radio programming of EMF is carried on over 440 FM stations and translators in 45 states.

This from Bill DeFelice posted on Radio-Info.com discussion Boards on November 6, 2010:

"At least they new operators can really say 'new' as opposed to the Coast, which has been touting themselves as 'new' for years now."

Many of us will miss the Coast...Good luck to Educational Media Foundation.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Short Takes from South Campus, Columbia College Commencement 2011. Roar Lions Roar

This year over 1,000 students received their Columbia B.A. degrees in a class that is most definitely co-ed. (Back in 1962, we graduated a class of 575, not a single member of the opposite sex)

This class is notable for having a 95% participation in the Class of 2011 Class Fund, the highest ever for a graduating class. They collected $21,341 and received a matching grant of $50,000. Kudos to 2011--all 950 plus of you who donated!

Seen on a large blue and white banner on South Gate facing 114th Street-- adjacent to Carmen and Lerner Halls (formerly Ferris Booth Hall) - CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CLASS OF 2011; Underneath, written in smaller but very noticeable script:


Bart Nisonson and Richard Rothenberg, both graduates of the class of 1962, were remembered vividly by former NCAA fencing champs who proudly showed up for the Parade of Classes champagne breakfast at John Jay Hall Dining Room.

J. Ezra Merkin, Class of 1976, proudly carried the banner for his class. Later, after the ceremonies the Ramaz and Harvard Law graduate was seen adjacent to Lerner Hall congratulating his daughter Sophia Ariel Merkin, class of 2011, attired in her light blue uniform. Congratulations to Ezra and family.

Paul Alter, who carried the 1962 banner along with myself, has been practicing Real Estate Law in New York City for nearly a half century. He recently lost his lovely wife Joanne to a protracted illness. and we all share in his loss. Thank you for showing up Paul and being a part of the festivities under your trying circumstances.

And, not to be forgotten: Thank you, Paul, for hosting a memorable cocktail party at your Park Ave. digs in honor of our 40th graduation event(s). I look forward to working with you to lay the groundwork for our 50th year reunion celebrations next year in NYC.

Be sure to read my earlier blog on the Columbia Parade of Classes event.

Coming soon a synopsis of the memorable addresses to the Class of 2011 by Dean Michelle M.Moody -Adams, Alexandra Wallace Creed (class of '88 and Senior VP of NBC News) and President Lee C. Bollinger.

Have a great day, all!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Notable Speakers at 257th Commencement Ceremonies for Columbia College in NYC

Butler Library, Opened in 1934, First called
South Hall, then renamed for Columbia University
President Nicholas Murray Butler
Photo courtesy of WikiCu

Several excellent speakers entertained the audience of thousands under the big tent on Tuesday morning, May 17th.

Alexandra Wallace Creed Keynote speaker

Alexandra Wallace Creed, class of 1988, delivered the Keynote Address. She is Senior Vice President of NBC news and former executive in charge of NBC evening news along with Brian Williams. She urged the students to follow her directive to determine early on where your passion lies. Building upon her own experience, she described how, early on, her kindergarten report card commented how she-- the journalist- to- be-- expressed her journalistic impulses by constantly asking questions about who created the universe, where is God to be found, etc.

Upon graduation from Columbia, she took off for London to find a job, visited many many prospective employers dropping off her resumes (way too many, she says) and wound up being hired by the London office of CBS and became a reporter there for the next 17 years.

As she says, she never stopped asking questions..which continues to this day.

Michelle Moody-Adams 
speaking on Class Day

Next up, we heard from Dean Michelle Moody- Adams who has a most impressive academic background in Philosophy and Ethics; she earned B.A.s from both Wellesley and Oxford and then her MA and her PH.D. from Harvard.

Adams immediately connected with the class: she commented how pervasive facebook and twitter are in their lives; indeed texting is a way of life. She, however, warned against interpreting life always in 140 characters or less... She hoped the class would be defining their lives beyond the terseness (and impersonality) of short bursts of information. She referenced the Lincoln's Gettysberg Address, noted for its brevity (some 270 words in 10 sentences), yet replete with profound meaning drawn from the wisdom of the founding fathers inscribed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Great job, Dr. Adams.

Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University

Finally, we heard from President Lee Bollinger, himself a graduate of the Law School He prefaced his talk by speaking directly to the thousands of parents and friends showing sympathy for them I, too, he said, sat eagerly as a parent waiting for the granting of the diplomas. So, he emphasized that he would keep his remarks short; Come back tomorrow to hear a much longer speech to all other University graduates.

He continued, now addressing the college grads. Your lives, he explained, will span the greater part of the 21st century and the challenges are many. He then challenged the class to create new models for dealing with politics- local and global (indeed they are connected!), economics and job creation. He stressed that their generation would have to address the problem of the concentration of wealth in this country in the hands of the few. (Applause ensued).

I would have liked to have returned the next day to hear his hour long talk, but, alas, due to the constraints of time and the lack of a ticket, I will, like the rest of you, await its posting online.

Meanwhile here is a link to the Barnard college commencement which featured Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook addressing the graduates about the lack of women in top jobs.

For more in-depth coverage of these events check out this Columbia Spectator article.

The preliminary Parade of Classes event at John Jay Hall Dining Room and along South Walk adds 'rays' of sunlight to an otherwise rain soaked 257th Commencement.

For short takes on events occurring at South Campus at the 257th commencement click here.

Have a great day, all!

The 257th Commencement Ceremonies at Columbia College: May 17, 2011: Part I, The Parade of Classes

Low Library donated by Seth Low, built in 1897
served as main library until 1934
Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

On the 49th anniversary of my graduation from Columbia (in 1962), I accepted an invitation to represent my class in the 8th Annual Parade of Classes ceremony.

(Fellow classmate Eddie Pressman could not make it, but told me that Paul Alter would be joining me in carrying the blue and white banner for our class in front of 1,000 plus prospective graduates!)

This rainy day began with catching a 6:33 AM Metro North train into the city in order to arrive at John Jay Hall at 8:30 for a champagne breakfast for all the alumnni who ranged from the classes of 1956 until the present.

As I criss-crossed the rain-soaked 116th Street walk, I noticed a number of huge tents erected over South Campus--a signal that we would be covered for the ceremonies. (49 years earlier, the cathedral of St. John the Divine served as the canopy for our class of 1962 ceremonies as the weather was similarly wet and humid)

Once inside John Jay, I joined the 'chow line' for a buffet breakfast of scrambled eggs, bagels, lox and cream cheese and fruit. Next I joined a table consisting of mostly alumni from our fabled fencing team, classes of 1957 through the mid-sixties.

I'm queried if I know Bart Nisonson ( NCAA Saber fencing champ) and Richard Rothenberg (All American fencer) both top fencers from my year and I recall them with clarity. (After all, I had started off training in 1958 with our recently arrived freshman Hungarian coach--only to leave squad a few weeks later)

I engaged in a conversation with an Opthamoligist Dr. Janet Searle, wife of one of the banner holders; she teaches at Mt. Sinai Hospital and it turns out has probably trained my nephew Peter Schwartz with whom I have lost contact some 20 years ago.

The subject turns to Columbia tennis stars. Does anybody know the whereabouts of Lloyd ('60 CC) and Leslie  Moglen (CC'62)? Someone mentions they both became doctors. They were outstanding players--as their dad Maxwell would work them out at the clay court behind the Durst home on the Esplanade. My family lived across from the mansion and when Maxwell wasn't using his tennis ball machine with the two brothers, the youngest brother Leland and their younger sister Betty Lou-- Les and Lloyd would be playing sets to keep themselves in shape. They both attended the Scarborough School in Briarcliff Manor and they both played number one singles at different times of course at Columbia. Lloyd even played in the qualifiers at the Forest Hills National Tournament!

(Sadly, Lloyd passed on in 2002 after enjoying an illustrious  32-year career as a psychiatrist in Foster City, California and radio talk show personality /counselor  on San Francisco's KQRA  for  7 years. See Columbia College Today.)

(Archie Oldham's name comes up. He was about 6 feet 7 inches, a St. John's Basketball star in the late 40's ,  a shy, yet competitive tennis player and coach of our tennis and basketball teams, until terminated mid-season in 1962.)

We are interrupted in our reminiscences by the event leader who calls out the names of the banner holders beginning from 2010 and working back to the 1950's.

It is then that I espy Paul Alter and the two of us retrieve our banner and join the Procession of classes as we march in the rain past Butler Library and then turn north and pass by some 1,000 soon- to- be graduates.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kudos to C-Span's Coverage of Bin Laden's Death: The National Audience is Introduced to Al Jazeera TV

Two amazing events occurred simultaneously the other night.

At 2PM on the morning of May 1, the world had already learned 2.5 hours earlier that Osama bin Ladin, the global promoter of terrorism had been killed.

A few of us daytime wage earners were awake at the time to witness the events on TV as they occurred.

I was among the lucky few!

And, of course, there was the standard fare 'lineups' of CNN and Fox TV with their up-to-the minute on the scene broadcasting.

The newcomer on the scene was CSPAN-1 a surprise 'first-timer' offering live coverage--of an unusual sort. No one associates C-Span as being in the 'business' of having a host of live reporters and commentators on the 'scene'; but this was what transpired!

How did this come about?

C-Span offered a simulcast from Al Jazeera TV of the Obama killing .

The network has been virtually banned from US airwaves for the first 15 years of its existence (it is available on US TV in only in 3 American cities: Washington, DC, Burlington, Vermont and Toldedo, Ohio.) So, this is the the first time that the network, which prides itself on presenting both sides of an issue, was seen on national TV.

Supposedly, one should be able to watch the live feed on the internet, but the night in question, I only got a blank screen!

Like CNN and Fox News, Al Jazeera had reporters on hand for live coverage of the crowds gathered at Times Square and in front of the Capitol Building.

In addition, two correspondents stood out: Simaira Khan who gave us the terrorist roots of Osama from his embracing Afghan liberation from Soviet Occupation in 1979, formation of Al Qaeda, masterming the 9/11 attacks until the present.

Then a live report from Ahmed Rashad in Madrid: Mr. Rashad is an expert on the Taliban.

The network has been "constantly demonized by the American media" said Glenn Greenwald in the wikipedia article.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is killed in daring raid on his Pakistran compound by US Navy Seals

The Special Warfare Insignia or "Seal Trident" courtesy of Wikipedia

Details are slowly being filled in by excellent live on the scene reporting by Fox News and C-Span I.
  • The President went on live TV at about 11:35 PM eastern standard time to make the announcement
  • Bin Laden had been under surveillance since last September
  • He was residing in a compound located in Abbottobad, a largely military community located 62 miles North of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. The city has a military academy and residences of many army generals.
  • 40 US Naval seals were flown in 4 helicopters--Chinooks and Blackhawks- all 40 landed and 24 were involved in the actual storming of the compound which offered resistance.
  • The entire operation lasted 40 minutes before the Seals high-tailed it.
  • Four people were killed including Bin Laden: two were his couriers (his two brothers)
  • One helicopter experienced mechanical failure and crashed into the compound and was destroyed to prevent capture of sophisticated avionics.
  • Live feeds from Pakistan show the compound in flames.
  • The President speaks of the "enhanced potential" for anti-US acts of violence here and abroad at our embassies: a High Alert is declared
  • Burial is said to have been at sea early Monday in accordance with Muslim rites.