Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Picture of the Day

I never noticed this cool chimney before.
Iraqi Kid Runs For Water

One reason we shouldn't have our kids fighting a war. Let us old guys do it. I still suggest no one should fight in a war unless they are at least 50 years old.

Citizens for Fair Assessment?

I agree completely with Mr. Burpoe. Yes the NYS property tax system is broken, but waterfront property owners in the Saranac Lake area have never wanted to pay their fair share of taxes, especially in the Lake Kiwassa area. Mr. Burpoe's letter to the editor is reprinted below.

I feel compelled to write this letter following the Open Letter to All Harrietstown Taxpayers written by the Citizens for Fair Assessment in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on Nov. 15, 2006.

I hear and understand people complaining about their assessments and the tax levies that are distributed across the assessment roll. In these last years since Harrietstown completed its 2001 revaluation, market values have soared. Some property values have increased at greater rates than others. If you looked at the shift in the tax burden, the residential portion has decreased while the waterfront burden has increased. An example of this, as everyone knows, is the almost logarithmic increase in waterfront property values. Now, in the letter written by the Citizens for Fair Assessment, it appears that the group is not only taking issue about their assessments but also is taking exception to assessed values placed on state land. This is the land that makes up approximately 68 percent of the town.

What gets me about the whole Article 78 proceeding is:

1. The group wants the 2006 assessment roll to be declared null and void and to go back to the 2005 assessment roll. This group is also asking the people of the town to support them. By reverting back to the 2005 assessment roll, a larger burden of the real property tax will be shifted back to the non-waterfront property owners. The result will be that the residential landowners’ (your and my) real property taxes would go up, while those of the people who have filed the complaint, of whom a majority appear to be waterfront owners, would go down. Why would non-waterfront landowners go for this when the marketplace says that waterfront values have gone up and have gone up tremendously?

2. The attorney representing the Citizens for Fair Assessment is complicit in the entire process. He was the general counsel and deputy executive director of the former NYS Division of Equalization and Assessment, now called the Office of Real Property Services. He helped formulate and enforce the entire process that is being used today! If anything, he should be called as a witness for the town, county and school in which he is suing on behalf of the group.

3. The cost of this Article 78 to the taxpayers is going to be tremendous! Who are the beneficiaries of this complaint? The only beneficiaries will be the attorneys involved in defending and executing this complaint. One of the attorneys helped to create/perpetuate this mess in the first place. There will be no positive results of the complaint. The assessor for the town of Harrietstown followed the process that was created by the associates of Robert L. Beebe and the successors to the NYS Division of Equalization and Assessment.

The bottom line is this: The group suing the town, county and school is going to cost us, the taxpayers, a lot of money. They are fighting a process that is broken and outdated, and their attorney is complicit in the breakdown of the entire process. The real property system needs an overhaul, or it should be changed to an income tax-related method. Our system of real property taxation should be based entirely on a person’s “ability to pay.”

Thank you for listening.

Timothy Burpoe

Franklin County legislator, District 7

Saranac Lake

NYS to Revamp Town and Village Courts

It's about time.

The justice courts are a sprawling system of more than 1,200 courts that are often the first—and frequently the only—stop in the state legal system for people in the 57 counties outside New York City. Dating from Colonial times, the courts occupy something of a time warp, with often poorly trained justices, sometimes convening in town firehouses or highway department garages — or their own kitchens — and dispensing a form of justice unlike any other in the state.

More classroom training for justices, more professional staff for consultation, word-for-word transcripts of proceedings and annual audits of court books

More here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Toxoplasma gondii and Sons

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that can cause serious problems in the fetus during pregnancy. It causes less serious problems in adults, but once infected you are infected forever with the parasite cysts living in your brain. That means if you are going to receive immunosuppressive therapy for cancer or transplantation treatment, you probably should get tested for toxoplasmosis. Above is a photomicrograph of the rapidly dividing 'tachyzoite' stage of the parasite. Some of the parasites are being taken up or invading a macrophage.

You become infected with toxoplasma primarily by eating poorly cooked meat although getting it directly from cat feces when changing the litter box can also happen. The life cycle of the parasite is above. The sexual cycle of the parasite life cycle takes place in the cat or other felines. The asexual stage occurs in almost any other warm blooded creature. 20% to well over 50% of some human populations are infected with T. gondii.

So what? Well, an interesting article has come to my attention through the Faculty of 1000. The title is "Women infected with parasite Toxoplasma have more sons." The work is out of Charles University in the Czech Republic. These researchers have reported that women infected with T. gondii have more sons than daughters, a lot more. For every 260 boys born, there are only 100 girls born to women infected with T. gondii. Even more interesting, this phenomenon correlates with high anti-T. gondii antibody levels.

The full text of the article can be found here.

Monday, November 20, 2006