Martha Robertson is the right choice for students and young people.

The following article was written by guest columnist Paolo Cremidis, from Elmira, NY. Paolo is a friend of the New NY 23rd and is in his last semester at Brooklyn College. He is working on a double  major –Political Science and Journalism.

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I’m an NRA member, a Union activist, a student, and an advocate for students. Ever since Congressman Tom Reed was elected in 2010 he has failed the students and young people of the Southern Tier. Whether it was denying that he voted to increase our student loan rates. Or take away the choice for us as students to stay on our parent’s plan by voting to repeal the Affordable care act he does not stand for the future of the Southern tier.

We have a choice as young people to decide our future. We can vote for Tom Reed and have someone who is too afraid to talk about his voting record or we can choose a real advocate. For the past four years Tom has washed his hands of our problems, blaming the lack of action on student debt on the Congress itself. I was taught that if someone is looking to blame anyone but themselves for their actions, that person is not to be trusted. student-debtEvery time Tom justified a vote he took in Congress on the issue of student debt, he justified it as if he was voting to reduce our debt. Someone like that should not be in charge of increasing our student loan interest rates, because he will never give a straight answer on this issue.

 

We live in a diverse beautiful district with many emerging communities and industries. We have the potential to spur economic growth and have the economy which allows us to come back home. Let’s face it, since 2010 youth unemployment in the Southern Tier has been notoriously high. Politicians like Tom talk about ways to spur economic growth by attacking public education, and signing pledges to outsource jobs. Yet if you approach him on these issues he will deny his own record. We can move beyond this petty politician and his sad bickering.

YouthVote1.largeWe need someone who will stand up for young women and our LGBT community. Who will support young women against sexual assault that plagues our campuses, and actually fight for legislation to end campus sexual assault. A fierce advocate for middle class jobs for millennials and not using our wages to support tax cuts for his buddies.  We need someone who will actually fight for veterans not call it bipartisan when both Democrats and Republicans get it wrong and agree to cut veterans benefits.

The person who will represent all of us and not just some of us is Martha Robertson. She’s not afraid of standing up for the people of the Southern Tier. This November 4th I am pulling the lever for Martha not as a Democrat but as a student staggered by student debt. Congressman Reed has not addressed our issues since day one, Martha pledges to reduce student debt and fight for the future of the Southern Tier. We have the ability to reclaim our home, and actually build a sustainable 21st economy. Martha Robertson is the choice for us; she will put students before the oil companies, before the wealthiest Americans. The choice is ours; we can begin to end the student debt crisis. But in order to do that we need to ensure that we have an advocate in Congress, Martha Robertson is that person. She deserves all of our support and will fight for us, the choice is ours we are the future let us win this for Martha.

 

Posted in 2014, Constituents, Economics, Education, Environmental, Hydrofracking/Gas& Oil Industry, pro-life/pro-choice, Reed's Views, Shutdown, Veterans | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Women and minorities in political and judicial office

YouthVote1.largeThe arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.–Martin Luther King Jr.

Jelani Cobb, in a New Yorker magazine article titled “Voting by Numbers,” which appeared in the Oct. 27th issue, explains that while women make up 51% of the population they occupy just 20% of the Senate seats. Further, Cobb notes that most Americans believe that we would be better off with more women in elective office.  Cobb explains several reasons that women and minorities are underrepresented in politics; in particular she notes that when Christine Quinn ran for Mayor of NYC, only 16% of woman voters preferred her in the primary. Somehow women and minorities running for office need to overcome what seems to be a preference among the electorate for white male candidates.  Cobb concludes that while one might expect changing demographics to be reflected in Congress, we have to make it happen.

In another article in the Oct. 27th issue, “The Obama Brief,” Jeffery Toobin discusses the makeup of the Federal courts. Here is a summary of recent President’s appointments

 Women  Minorities
 Clinton  29% 24%
 Bush  22% 18%
 Obama  42% 36%

Toobin goes on to discuss judicial appointments and confirmation by the Senate at length. I only note that we are making progress.

© William Hungerford – October 2014

 

 

Posted in Political, Congress, 2014 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

View Your Ballot

Milo BallotThe above is a sample  of the November 4, General Election ballot of the Town of Milo, Yates County. If  you click on it, it will enlarge.

All ballots in the NY 23rd will be set up in a similar format for the Governor/ Lt Government, Comptroller, Attorney General and Representative in Congress columns.  The other columns could be different depending on the races in your State Senate District, State Assembly District, County, City, or Town. The NY 23rd Counties in the 8th Judicial District (Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua) will have a race for FIVE Supreme County Justices. Those columns will be between the Attorney General and the Representatives column.

As of October 23, the following counties have their ballots on line (click on the name to go to the Board of Elections web sites): Chautauqua, Ontario, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates. (Chemung  County residents need to “sign in” to view their map.)

To view, and download/print your sample ballot, you need to go to the presented links and then find the link to your town (or City). You may want to email the links to others—many people are known to study their ballot before they vote.

The other counties may place their sample ballots on line. You may want to go to the NY 23rd’s link to the Board of Elections to see if your county add your ballot.

Please realize there will be at least 3 propositions which you can vote on. They will be on the back of the ballot. Keep an eye open for an article on the New NY 23rd summarizing those propositions.

Vote To Be Heard

 

Posted in 2014, Constituents, Rights | 5 Comments

Tom Reed’s Awards

Tom likes photo ops, particularly those showing him accepting an award. But what is the justification for the award? That is seldom explained.

farm awardThis one from the Farm Bureau in the midst of the 2014 election campaign. The Farm Bureau forgot to have a flag in the picture, but NFIB made up for that with two.

 

 

 

NFIB award

NFIB is a Koch funded organization that supports big business interests.

 

 

 

 

 

us cocU.S. Chamber of Commerce “Spirit of Enterprise” award – awarded to House and Senate Members supportive of pro-economic growth legislation. One wonders what Tom did to deserve this accolade.

 

 

 

reed 60 plusThis was from “60 Plus,” the Koch funded alternative to AARP. The ironic sign at the top speaks for itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2014 | Tagged , | 2 Comments

For a Government that Works, Elect Martha Robertson

Republicans are making hay out of a number of recent missteps by federal government agencies.  The CDC’s slow response to ebola in Texas, the failure of the Secret Service to prevent an intruder from entering the White House, and the website snafu when Obamacare was first rolled out, all come in for incessant criticism. This criticism is overdone, of course. Only two people have been infected by the ebola virus in the United States, and the official response has steadied in recent days. The President wasn’t actually in the White House when the intrusion occurred, and he continues to be heavily protected by Secret Service agents wherever he goes. Obamacare has turned out to be a great success after overcoming its initial hiccups.

Meanwhile, the federal government, acting under the 2009 stimulus legislation, has spearheaded a lengthy economic recovery that has created 2.5 million jobs.  Even the much-maligned Veterans Health Administration remains popular with its users, veterans themselves, because of the excellent health services it provides.

Still, there have been missteps, and it’s fair to ask where the fault might lie.

Some of the problems are decades old. The Carter administration, faced with a court decision finding the civil service entrance exam discriminatory, did away with the exam altogether — an serious case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The exam, which had channeled bright young people from around the country into entry-level federal management positions, has been replaced by a cumbersome application process that delays hiring and absorbs endless hours of time in federal offices. The armed forces and the foreign service continue to use entrance exams, suggesting that ways could have been found to overcome discrimination concerns and retain the civil service exam as a major path for entry into a government career.

During the Reagan era, the civil service retirement system, with a defined benefit package, was replaced by a more portable system including a 401k component and Social Security. This reform tended to make government service less a career, in which one accepted lower pay than in the private sector in exchange for a secure retirement, and more of a way station where talented young people gain credentials before moving on. In this same era, government came to rely more and more on contractors rather than the civil service itself to perform work — a change that led directly to the breakdown of the Obamacare website.

But the problems of government do not lie exclusively in the distant past.

Our current Congress and other recent congresses must bear much of the blame for breakdowns in the civil service, where morale is at all time lows. For nineteen years, Congress has failed to pass the critical appropriations bills, needed to fund government agencies, by October 1, when the fiscal year begins. This year, Congress is batting exactly zero when it comes to appropriations legislation, creating uncertainty and delays in government agencies trying to figure out exactly what can be spent and when. Typically, the appropriations process concludes months into the fiscal year, usually through a vast omnibus bill covering all unfinished appropriations. Then agencies rush to spend unused funds, creating inevitable inefficiencies.

Rumors of possible shutdowns start to spread through the civil service when the appropriations process slows, undermining morale and wasting time as managers start to plan for a crisis that may not occur. In the worst-case scenario, a shutdown does take place, as happened in 2013. The estimated cost to the economy was $24 billion, and the impact on morale and efficiency in the federal workplace was devastating. Before the shutdown, while workers fretted, managers devoted precious time to deciding which were essential and which would be laid off. Some 800,000 were actually furloughed in this Republican-induced debacle that seemed designed to weaken the federal workforce.

Budget reductions and the sequester have further damaged the capabilities of government. The harm done to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health has received much attention during the ebola crisis.

Finally, federal workers have been denied a pay increase, thanks to Congress, for three of the last four years. The increase for 2014, when a raise was finally granted, was just 1 per cent. This is a formula for discouraging workers from trying their best, and for encouraging talented, experienced people to leave government service.

So if you’re wondering why the federal government doesn’t seem to be working as well as it should, look no further than Congress.

Our congressman in New York’s 23rd, Tom Reed, has been at the forefront in promoting budget cuts, the sequester, and the 2013 government shutdown.

Voters in our district deserve a federal government that functions at peak efficiency, and to get it, we need to elect a candidate who knows that government has a vital role to play in crating jobs, protecting the environment, helping seniors, strengthening education, and repairing infrastructure. That candidate is Martha Robertson.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

People Vote! (Corporations Don’t!)

The fact that Tom Reed  out-funded Martha Robertson was expected. The power of incumbency is undisputed: He had the political contacts of the 2010 and 2012 campaigns, and a history of supporting, and being supported by, the Gas/Oil, Insurance, Securities & Investment, and Real Estate Industries just to name a few. As of September 30, he has received $1,785,687 from Political Action Committees (PACs). That is 56% of his total campaign donations.

Martha Robertson received less than 1/5 of that amount from PACs —$$313,895 which made up 15% of her total funding. Her top financial sources were the retired, teachers, women’s issues organizations, and Pro-Israel groups.

Contributions from individuals are a different story—Martha out raise Tom with Individual’s contributions to their campaigns, $1.6 million to $1.2 million.   She had 2.5 times as many contributors as Tom. The average contribution for Martha per person was $502; for Tom it was $1062.

The figure that may be the most important: The people of the NY23rd contributed $503,740 to Martha, and $199,902 for Tom. She received more than 2.5 times what he received from the people he represents. That fact says a lot.

Yes, Reed has received more money. His cash on hand is about Martha’s  ($919K to 498K).  That will buy him a lot of Television Commercials, but this race is winnable for Martha. She has the grass-roots support and is on the people’s side of the issues. The key is getting the voters out on November 4. We can’t depend on Governor Cuomo to bring out the voters; we have to get them to come out for Martha.

The New NY 23rd has collect the following records of Rep. Reed’s Voting Record. A way we could combat the expected onslaught of Reed’s television ads, is by copying and pasting one (or more) of these short articles in an email and send it vote-loidagarciafebo-wordpresscomto contacts to remind them of Reed’s record. If the voters have not decided by know who they want to vote for, or even if they will vote, your email might jolt them a bit. If we do this early enough, they may send it on to others.

Rep. Reed’s Voting Record on American Association of University Women (AAUW) issues. 

Rep. Reed’s ZERO rating on Women’s Health Issues (Planned Parenthood) 

Rep. Reed’s Voting Record  on Retires & Senior Citizens issues. 

Citizen’s Action of NY’s Comparison of Tom Reed’s and Martha Robertson’s Views 

Citizens for Honest Representation Comparison of Martha Robert’s & Tom Reed’s Views. 

Posted in Constituents | 14 Comments

Sandra Steingraber on Seneca LPG storage

steingraberThis letter by Sandra Steingraber appeared in the Elmira Star-Gazette on October 21.

My parents collected Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. I read them all, discovering, only years later that “condensed” meant “abridged.” “Jane Eyre” was a darker tale than I knew.

Excising unpleasantries from literature is an old practice. To create The Family Shakespeare in 1818, publisher Thomas Bowdler eliminated prostitutes. Lady Macbeth cries, “Out, crimson spot!”

Such tamperings seem quaint, but the impulse to delete problematic truths is apparently alive and not confined to fiction.

In 2012, the Cuomo administration took an editorial hand to a report on methane in groundwater commissioned from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The result — as revealed by Capital New York’s Scott Waldman — was a version that downplayed the dangers of fracking and eliminated the topic of gas storage.

Happily, science has a way of prevailing. In the last two years, multiple independent studies have documented methane leakage from fracking operations. We now know the problem is more — not less — widespread than previously appreciated.

Also happily: This knowledge emerged within the context of a statewide moratorium on fracking. Nobody’s basement had to blow up to prove the point.

But there is no moratorium on underground storage. Hence, in the Finger Lakes — where abandoned, lakeside salt caverns are targeted by Houston-based Crestwood Midstream for a massive natural gas storage project — we find ourselves unprotected and at the mercy of bowdlerized science.

We know the 2011 draft of the USGS report raised red flags about underground storage of compressed gas. We also know that all reference to this problem was expunged from the final version.

It gets worse. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has now issued its own go-ahead for underground gas storage at Seneca Lake on the basis of findings that remain hidden from the public.

Crestwood has argued that key data about the structural integrity of these old salt caverns is proprietary information. Both FERC and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation have complied with this request for secrecy.

Journalistic sleuthing — by Peter Mantius for DC Bureau — has uncovered old reports that document unstable geology within these caverns, while independent scientists have called for an end to secrecy, pointing to catastrophic fires and explosions within other salt caverns around the nation that were repurposed for gas storage.

Nevertheless, after consulting documents that we residents cannot see, federal regulators have announced that construction can start immediately — as reported by Gannett’s Ray Finger. Crestwood indicates it will begin on October 24.

This is unacceptable. The facts of science are not fictional passages that can be deleted, or hidden, at will. Our families are not characters in gilded books. Our safety should not be jeopardized by secrecy and censorship from state and federal agencies.

The Finger Lakes urgently appeal to President Barack Obama, Cuomo, and Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand for immediate help. Step in, publicly acknowledge the validity and gravity of the public health and economic objections, and stop this reckless project — before we lose what we cannot replace.

Steingraber is a biologist and co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking.

http://www.stargazette.com/story/opinion/readers/2014/10/20/guest-viewpoint-truth-seneca-lake-project-hidden/17646869/

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments