CNY Progressive Action
FEBRUARY 23, 2014 VOLUME 1, NUMBER 3
NEWSLETTER OF THE CENTRAL NEW YORK CITIZENS IN ACTION, INC. (ESTABLISHED IN 1997)
A BLACK PANTHER SPEAKS! FORMER SEATTLE BLACK PANTHER CAPTAIN AND AUTHOR AARON DIXON TO SPEAK IN UTICA!
CNYCIA TO PARTICIPATE IN ALBANY LOBBY DAY TO DEMAND FAIR STATE BUDGET
ASK YOUR ASSEMBLY/SENATE MEMBER TO SPONSOR WAGE THEFT LEGISLATION
UTICA AND CNY SHOULD SUPPORT ARTS AS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
BEAT THE WINTER BLUES PARTY SET FOR MARCH 1
A BLACK PANTHER SPEAKS! FORMER SEATTLE
BLACK PANTHER CAPTAIN AND AUTHOR AARON
DIXON TO SPEAK IN UTICA!
Monday, February 24, 2014
MVCC Utica Campus
ACC Commons (Cafeteria)
Former Black Panther Aaron Dixon is slated to speak in Utica on February 24 as part of a statewide speaking tour that has six other stops. The MVCC prisoner justice organization Incarcerated Flavors decided to bring Dixon to Utica as part of Black History Month and to encourage people to become actively engaged in social justice and social change. In addition to speaking at MVCC, Dixon will also speak at Proctor High School earlier in the day, an event set up by the MVCC Science & Technology Entry Program (STEP). Dixon will speak about his life as an activist and his recently published memoir My People Are Rising. Books will be available for purchase and autographs.
In an era of stark racial injustice, Aaron Dixon dedicated his life to the revolution, founding the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968 at age nineteen. In his new memoir, he traces the course of his own radicalization and that of a generation. Through his eyes, we witness the courage and commitment of the young men and women who rose up in rebellion, risking their lives in the name of freedom. My People Are Rising is an unforgettable tale of their triumphs and tragedies, and the enduring legacy of Black Power.
Although the Panthers are seen as a controversial organization to some, the group was crucial in the struggle to expand the rights of not only Black people but poor people of all races. Across the nation, the Panthers established free medical clinics and dental clinics, free schools and childcare, and countless other free services to the disenfranchised. One of their most well known programs was the Free Breakfast for Children program which fed over 10,000 hungry children every day. The Panthers were also a leading antiwar and economic justice organization.
As an adolescent, Dixon marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to end housing discrimination in Seattle, and was one of the first volunteers to participate in the busing program to integrate schools. While a member of the Black Panthers, Dixon started the Free Breakfast for Children program that fed thousands of hungry Black children; and he helped to open a free community medical and legal clinic. The clinic continues to this day as the Carolyn Downs Clinic, now part of Country Doctor Community Health Center.
AARON DIXON is one of the co-founders of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party. He has since founded Central House, a nonprofit that provides transitional housing for youth, and was one of the cofounders of the Cannon House, a senior assisted-living facility. Aaron ran for US Senate on the Green Party ticket in 2006.
CNYCIA SLATED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE
EMPIRE STATE ECONOMIC SECURITY (ES2)
CAMPAIGN’S LEGISLATIVE EDUCATION AND ACTION DAY IN ALBANY ON MARCH 12TH
The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. will participate in the NYers for Fiscal Fairness Lobby Day in Albany on Wed. March 12.
Key issues for the Lobbying Day will be :
Demand a fair and equitable budget
Make sure that the very rich pay their fair share of taxes.
Restoration of funding for education and schools
Raise and expand minimum wage; stop wage theft
Pass Education Access Bill for Welfare Participants
Stop Welfare Sanction Abuse
Fair Taxes – Reinvest in Human Services, Job Creation
End Hunger – More HPNAP, SNAP
On the heels of six years of austerity budgets, the Executive Budget proposes another year of spending cuts in a host of areas, and lays out a multi-year plan of steep spending cuts that will extend the austerity measures for three more years, and that will result in an “austerity decade” for New York. One purpose of the multiyear expenditure cutting plan is to create the appearance of a budget “surplus” in order to justify multi-year tax cuts.
While the Governor has avoiding direct cuts in a lot of programs that we are concerned about, he continues the cuts that have totaled more than a billion dollars in recent years – and plans multi-billion cuts in years to come. Funding for emergency food (HPNAP) remains flat. Rather than say a $100 million dollars for jobs for welfare participants (paid for out of the $1.3 billion TANF surplus), the Governor wants to eliminate the meager allocation for jobs program while continuing to divert a billion dollars to local fiscal relief.
New York residents will lose $600 to $700 million in SNAP benefits due to recent cuts. So far the Governor has not proposed any response. We feel that part of the $1.3 billion surplus should be used to provide a state food supplement to SNAP participants.
Please let us know if you plan to attend.
The following is an analysis of state budget issues:
Quality education, affordable healthcare and housing, a healthy environment, a strong safety net and a sound transportation infrastructure are things all New Yorkers value and rely on. They are essential to job growth and for a strong state economy for all of us, today and in the future.
Unfortunately, though, ours is a tale of two New York’s. One New York where the wealthiest 1% of residents receive 35% of all income and have seen significant income gains over the last two decades … and another New York where families live paycheck to paycheck (if they are lucky enough to have a job) and have seen their wages remain virtually stagnant and their services reduced. New York State now has the dubious distinction of having the greatest income inequality of any state in the nation. The economic reality is this:
Either we take steps to grow together or we continue to pull apart.
New Yorkers don’t want the Governor and Legislature to continue to cut human services and the other quality-of-life services we depend on and value. New Yorkers want the safety net available for families who need it and they want people to have opportunities for economic mobility. They want existing resources used efficiently and to raise additional revenues in ways that will not harm our already fragile economy and will create jobs. Our state must not respond with
actions that will further hinder the growth of New York’s economy or hurt the children and families hit hardest by the recession.
The Governor is proposing an “austerity” budget for 2014-2015 along with a multi-year plan of steep spending cuts that will extend the austerity measures for three more years. Coming on the heels of six years of austerity budgets beginning in 2008, this will give New York an “austerity decade,” despite moderate actual or projected state personal income growth over most of the years in that period.
On top of $1.7 billion in spending cuts for 2014-2015, the budget proposal calls for further cuts of $4.4 billion in 2015-16, $5.6 billion in 2016-17, and $7.1 billion in 2017-18. This includes an average of $2.7 billion in unspecified cuts in future
years to justify multi-year tax cuts that grow to more than $2.5 billion annually. The budget plans are presented to show an apparent “surplus” in future years, a surplus called into being by severe budget cuts. That manufactured surplus is used
to pay for an array of “something for everyone (but the poor)” tax cuts.
Some of the major spending reductions instituted over the past few years:
• State school aid is $5 billion below where it would be had the state honored its 2007 legislative response to the Campaign for Equity lawsuit. In relation to total school spending, school aid is at its lowest level in 65 years;
• State aid to SUNY has declined by nearly $500 million (over 40 percent) in real terms since the start of the Great Recession;
• State funding for various human services agencies has fallen over the past three years and is projected to decline by 12 percent in real terms from 2011-12 to 2014-2015; and
• At a time when a growing number of local governments are fiscally stressed, the proposed budget holds aid to municipal governments flat for the next four years despite an inflation-adjusted 75 percent reduction in such aid
In assessing the tax cuts proposed in the 2014-2015 Executive Budget, the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. believes that:
• The property tax freeze is ill-conceived and will disproportionately benefit wealthier localities;
• The homeowners’ and renters’ personal income tax credits are ineffectively targeted;
• The proposed business tax reductions should be put in the context of an already declining corporate share of state tax collections, and the tripling in business tax credits to $1.7 billion over the past 8 years (over $1 billion of those credits are
refundable and represent checks written by the state to individual companies);
• The proposed bank tax repeal and its replacement are likely to mean a sharp reduction in state tax payments by the largest New York City banks; and
• The proposal to slash the estate tax by 40 percent holds great irony given the state’s pronounced income polarization in recent years. This cut will cost almost $800 million annually, with more than half going to just 200 super-wealthy
households a year.
There is also a lot of hype about high-income households fleeing New York for lower tax havens. Data from the Internal Revenue Service shows that New York has a rising national share of households with incomes of $1 million or more from
2000 to 2011.
Economic conditions in the Empire State suggest that budget-makers need to do more to respond to those conditions. Although New York has fared better than many states during the Great Recession and the weak recovery, income gains
have been concentrated at the top and pronounced economic hardships have taken a toll on millions of New Yorkers. The indicators are disturbing: continued high and prolonged unemployment; high mortgage debt burdens; and faltering wages,
incomes and living standards, precipitating a rise in poverty, hunger, homelessness, and economic insecurity.
ASK YOUR ASSEMBLY/SENATE MEMBER TO
SPONSOR WAGE THEFT LEGISLATION
Ask your state legislators – especially Assemblymembers – to cosponsor a bill to strengthen action against wage theft. The bill is A8045. Assemblymember Rosenthal just sent a letter to Assemblymembers inviting them to co-sponsor.
We Work Hard. Shouldn’t We Get Paid For It?
More and more workers are getting cheated of our wages. They are not getting the minimum wage, or overtime pay, or wages for all the hours that we work. Some estimate that $1 billion a year is stolen from workers in New York City alone. Employers are using many tricks to cheat workers out of our pay. Once workers go to the Department of Labor or file lawsuits, employers are shutting down their businesses (only to reopen under another name), “selling” their homes to family members, filing for bankruptcy and emptying their bank accounts. By the time workers win a settlement agreement or court judgment, employers have hidden all their assets and plead poverty.
Workers get robbed of wages. Our government gets cheated of payroll taxes. Legitimate businesses are undermined by scofflaw employers. This hurts working families, law-abiding businesses, and our state’s economy.
It’s Time to Toughen Enforcement – We should get paid for our work!
In June 2013, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, working with SWEAT, introduced State Assembly Bill No.8045 that will greatly improve workers’ ability to secure stolen wages. The bill has three main components:
1. Expand New York’s mechanics’ lien law to include all workers – Establishes a “wage lien” so that workers can put a hold on employers’ property until their owed wages are paid. The measure would also create an alternative right of action by the DOL or NYS Attorney General to file a wage lien on behalf of claimants who they have determined are owed wages.
2. Hold employers’ assets before they run away – Allows workers to “attach” or hold an employer’s property prior to the resolution of a case that claims unpaid wages.
3. Hold the largest shareholders personally liable for wage theft – Makes it easier for workers of nonpublicly traded companies
Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi
Albany, NY 12248
Senator Joseph A. Griffo
88 State Street Room 612, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-3334
Fax: (518) 426-6921
UTICA AND CNY SHOULD SUPPORT ARTS AS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Research shows that developing a local creative economy based upon the arts and heritage industries can help to turn around struggling rural and urban communities. A study of the craft industry in Ashville, North Carolina revealed that the “craft community contributed $122 million to our region – four times that of burley tobacco our major agricultural crop.
The City of Utica has a vibrant and growing arts community. The development of the Pratt Institute at Munson-Williams Proctor Institute demonstrates how the arts have helped to rebuild the Oneida Square neighborhood. The City of Utica needs to invest additional resources to grow arts-related businesses. Action steps include developing a community arts advisory council consisting of artists and art organizations, creating a special loan and equity fund to capitalize arts businesses, developing loft housing for artists in Downtown Utica, encouraging artists from Downstate New York to migrate to Utica and purchase low cost housing, and assisting in sponsoring arts festivals in Downtown Utica.
BEAT THE WINTER BLUES PARTY SET FOR MARCH 1
SHERRILL COFFEE HOUSE FEATURES ELVIS
TRIBUTE SHOW AND KARAOKE
The Christ Church United Methodist Community Coffee House will be hosting the “Beat the Winter Blues” party on Saturday, March 1 from 7–9:30 p.m. The coffee house, which is open to the public, will feature an Elvis Tribute show as well as karaoke by local DJ Rusty Aldrich.
The church is located at 417 Park St., Sherrill. Non-alcoholic tropical drinks as well as coffee, hot chocolate, pizza, snacks and desserts will be served. The coffee house is open to families, children, teens, seniors, and singles. Prizes will be offered for the best karaoke performances. A free will offering will be accepted.
Co-sponsored by the church’s Youth Group, the “Beat the Winter Blues” party will feature an Elvis Tribute show by Doug Tudman. Tudman, a member of the church, has been performing as an Elvis Tribute artist for over 25 years with his wife Pickie as his backup singer. His exceptional ability to sound like Elvis has captivated audiences in Canada as well as in cities in Pennsylvania, New York, and North Carolina. Doug has also performed on a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship and at Turning Stone Resort Casino in the Showroom.
A resident of Rome, Aldrich is owner of Imaginations Unlimited Photography & DJ Service. He has been a semi-professional photographer for nine years and a DJ for two years. He has been working with people with disabilities for the past 15 years through ARC and Headstart programs. Aldrich is also producer of CNY Kids Talk. He loves training dogs and wildlife photography and plans to produce a documentary in the future.
For more information, call 363-1061 or 725-0974. The church website is http://www.christchurchsherrillny.com.
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