Cold weather prompts higher natural gas prices and ice jams, Schdy schools superintendent continues push for large state aid increase, SUNY Upstate doc warns of "stupid stoners"

The recent very cold weather has prompted an upswing in the price of natural gas. And the state power grid set a record for peak winter demand on Tuesday. (Much of New York's electricity comes from natural gas-fired power plants.) [TU] [NYISO] [US EIA]

Large chunks of ice on local waterways from the long, deep freeze + warmer temperatures and rain this weekend = concerns about possible flooding caused by ice jams. Said a Ballston Spa man of the ice jam that caused flooding in his basement this week: "It looked like a big glacier." The Coast Guard has been running an ice breaker up in the Hudson out of the Port of Albany to keep the shipping channel open. [Daily Gazette] [News10] [WNYT]

Many of the proposals in Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address might sound familiar -- because they've been proposed before, by other governors. [TU]

As the Schenectady school district looks another budget gap, superintendent Larry Spring continues to bang the drum for a large shift in state aid for the district: "[Andrew Cuomo] really should be thinking of increasing aid to Schenectady by 20 percent a year for the next three years." [Daily Gazette]

Among the goals of Richard Ball, the Schoharie County farmer (his farm includes the Carrot Barn) nominated to be the next state commissioner of agriculture and markets: to continue building connections between upstate farms and New York City restaurants seeking local produce. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

Cecilia Tkaczyk has proposed legislation that would make not providing adequate shelter to animals a misdemeanor instead of a violation. [News10]

Rensselaer County exec Kathy Jimino told a Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce crowd that developers have discussed "a couple of other spots in Rensselaer County" -- in addition to the waterfront site in Rensselaer -- for a possible casino. She also said the county industrial development agency "will pursue meetings with companies in Silicon Valley" in an attempt to attract new companies. [Troy Record] [TU]

St. Peter's Health Partners has compressed the timeline and budget for the renovation of Samaritan Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital. The plans include a new emergency department at Samaritan. [TU] [Troy Record]

The ongoing soap opera of Troy politics continued with drama on the city council about appointments. [Troy Record]

Albany County exec Dan McCoy has spent more than $15k recently on radio and TV ads to tout himself and the county budget -- and he's not up for re-election until next year. [TU]

The Albany Fire Department says 8 people were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after using a kitchen oven for home heating in a South End apartment. [TU]

The son of the owner of a downtown Schenectady bar (map) was arrested in connection with what was originally reported as an alleged mid-morning stabbing or clubbing. The liquor license for the bar has been under review during the last year at the request of the city. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Two that's-not-the-brake car/building crashes Thursday: in Delmar and Wilton. [TWCN] [Saratogian]

Clifton Park's ice arena, which turns a profit for the town, is in need of renovations, according to the town supervisor. [TU]

Farther afield: The director of addiction psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse on the Cuomo admin plan to allow limited trial for medical marijuana: "Hyping it as a medical treatment is ridiculous ... You will end up with a bunch of stupid stoners in New York with lung disease who think maybe they should go out on disability because they don't want to get off the couch." []


"Hyping it as a medical treatment is ridiculous ... You will end up with a bunch of stupid stoners in New York with lung disease who think maybe they should go out on disability because they don't want to get off the couch." []

Now, that's a carefully-considered, well-thought out professional medical opinion if I ever heard one.

There are no known cases of lung disease as a result of smoking pot.

Mark J. Pletcher, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, In Residence, in the Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, stated the following in a press release titled "Marijuana Shown to Be Less Damaging to Lungs Than Tobacco," available on

"We found exactly what we thought we would find in relation to tobacco exposure: a consistent loss of lung function with increasing exposure. We were, however, surprised that we found such a different pattern of association with marijuana exposure...

An important factor that helps explain the difference in effects from these two substances is the amount of each that is typically smoked. Tobacco users typically smoke ten to 20 cigarettes/day, and some smoke much more than that. Marijuana users, on average, smoke only two to three times a month, so the typical exposure to marijuana is much lower than for tobacco...

Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for these or other purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function. On the other hand, our findings do suggest an accelerated decline in pulmonary function with heavier use – either very frequent use or frequent use over many years – and a resulting need for caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered...

I was surprised at these findings. I thought we were going to find some small negative affect on pulmonary function from marijuana use. But we didn't. At the level of marijuana that most marijuana users smoke, we did not find any appreciable negative consequence on pulmonary function on marijuana use."

Jan. 11, 2012 - Mark J. Pletcher, MD, MPH

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