Archive for May, 2014

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER May 12, 2014

May 13, 2014

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER
May 12, 2014
Vol. 1, No. 8

NEWSLETTER OF THE CENTRAL NEW YORK CITIZENS IN ACTION, INC. (ESTABLISHED IN 1997)

HEADLINES

LACK OF CONSUMER UTILITY ADVOCATE OFFICE LEAVES NEW YORKERS PAYING SOME OF THE HIGHEST RATES IN THE NATION

FIGHT FOR BUDGET PRIORITIES

WE DO NOT ACCEPT THAT AUSTERITY IS THE ONLY OPTION

SIGN PETITION FOR PEACE IN UKRAINE

TWITTER STORM TUESDAY: #RENEWUI

ROC2VOTE
(Register Oneida County)

GAINING GROUND MOVIE MAY 19

GENESEE TED TO PERFORM AT
SHERRILL COMMUNITY COFFEE HOUSE

NEXT MOVIE IN SOLUTIONS: HOW TO BOIL A FROG

 

 

high utility rates

LACK OF CONSUMER UTILITY ADVOCATE OFFICE LEAVES NEW YORKERS PAYING SOME OF THE HIGHEST RATES IN THE NATION

Consumers may not know that usually when a New York utility seeks and gets approved for a rate increase, consumers are charged twice: once when they pay the increased rate and again when the cost for what the utility company spent on representing itself while seeking the rate increase is passed along to the consumer in their bill. New York utilities charge their ratepayers more than $10 million a year to cover the costs of experts who argue for higher rates before regulators. Yet unlike 40 other states, New York has no independent, sufficiently funded utility consumer advocate office to fight rate increases on behalf of residential ratepayers or to appeal a rate increase in court.

New York utilities charge some of the highest prices in the nation. Large numbers of low- and moderate- income seniors and families are falling behind in making payments for high-priced utility service they cannot afford, often incurring additional late payment charges. Every month hundreds of thousands of households face great stress when utilities threaten shutoff of essential electric or gas service as a bill collection measure. New York’s investor-owned utilities terminated electric or gas service to more than 283,974 households in 2011.

The rates New York’s investor-owned utilities charge are approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) after a hearing during which the rate request should be thoroughly reviewed in an administrative hearing. The utilities’ expenses for the lawyers and experts they hire to justify rate increases and advance utility interests in regulatory matters are included in the rates they charge.

A review of the annual reports of New York’s investor-owned utilities shows that through rates they recover approximately $10 million they spend per year to support their rate increase and other regulatory requests. This totals about $43 million that the utilities have sent to their customers from 2009-2012. Essentially, ratepayers are paying to propose and defend increases in their own rates. In contrast, ratepayers have little to no representation at the PSC during rate proceedings, even though the ratepayers are paying the legal bills of the party who is trying to raise their rates.

Additionally, New York State’s support for utility consumer advocacy has dwindled to the point that New York consumers lack full and independent representation in major matters affecting the reliability and affordability of essential utility services. New York’s support for this function also lags in comparison with other states’ allocations of resources for utility consumer representation. For example, New Jersey allocates $7 million in resources, and Maryland allocates $3,162,242 to represent consumers, as noted in the February 2013 paper, “Utility Protection and Oversight and the Need for Improvement and Oversight,” by AARP and the Public Utility Law Project.

More than 40 states and the District of Columbia have independent offices charged with the mission to represent residential utility service consumers in cases before state and federal utility regulatory commissions. These offices typically appear on behalf of consumers as parties in state and federal regulatory commission proceedings and in judicial review proceedings concerning rates and conditions of public service utility. They typically have independent authority to commence proceedings; to take legal positions that are different from those of utilities and their regulators, and to seek judicial review of state and federal regulatory agency decisions. No such office exists in New York State.

When AARP examined the residential electric rate savings for customers reported by several states that have independent utility consumer advocate offices, it dwarfed the costs of the operations.

For example, Connecticut, a state much smaller than New York, reported approximately $730 million dollars in direct savings to ratepayers in the 2012 fiscal year on a $3 million budget—a 243-1 return on investment according to its advocate, the Office of Consumer Counsel. In other states:

Illinois saved more than $300 million in 2011 on a $2.6 million budget (a 115-1 return on investment) according to its Citizens Utility Board.

Maryland saved at least $114 million in 2012 for its residential utility ratepayers as a result of its $3.2 million investment (a 36-1 return) according to its Office of People’s Counsel.

Maine saved its residential customers at least $24 million in 2012 on a $1.7 million investment (a 14-1 return) according to its Public Advocate.

Ohio saved $107 million on a $5.1 million budget (a 21-1 return), its Consumer Counsel reported.

Pennsylvania saved more than $500 million in two 2006 cases and operates on a $5.1 million annual budget (a 98-1 return) according to its Consumer Advocate.

Additionally, California’s Division of Ratepayer Advocate reports a 153-1 return on investment in terms of reduced residential utility rates.
In June 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Act Commission on Utility Storm Preparation and Response found that New York needs “a robust, permanent, professional consumer advocate office to represent ratepayers.” To effectuate the Moreland Commission’s recommendation, substantive legislation is needed to reform the structure for utility consumer advocacy, and the level of budget funding for consumer representation must be increased.

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. believes that the Governor and the Legislature should take action to implement this Moreland Act Commission recommendation in the 2014 budget and legislative session and give ratepayers an independent voice. Please contact your member of the Assembly and Senate and let them know that you support the creation of an independent utility consumer advocate office.

Source: AARP

 

budget priorities

 

FIGHT FOR BUDGET PRIORITIES

The great American middle class, the engine of our economy, wasn’t created by accident. We build the middle class by decisions we made together, through our government, to provide security and opportunity for our families and make investments that paved the way for business and industries to grow.

But today working and middle class families are getting crushed while the richest are getting richer and corporations cut our wages and benefits and ship our jobs overseas. To build a strong middle class, we need our government to work for all Americans, not just the rich and powerful. At the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., we are fighting together to take back our country and rebuild the dream – good jobs, secure health care and a strong economy, with liberty and justice for all.

To raise the money to pay for the things we need, CNYCIA believes:

We must allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, and tax millionaires and billionaires appropriately.

We must close corporate loopholes and eliminate off-shore tax havens.

We must end wasteful Pentagon spending on outdated, obsolete weapons systems, and bring a responsible end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

With this newly recovered revenue, CNYCIA believes:

We must invest in our infrastructure. Restoring roads and bridges and rebuilding crumbling public schools won’t just make America stronger, better. It will create jobs. Good jobs.

We must protect and strengthen Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and defend other vital programs such as Head Start, Pell Grants and food stamps.

 

kids against cuts

 

 

We Do Not Accept That Austerity Is the Only Option

In 2014, the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. will be developing a paper on local alternatives to austerity. Among our major recommendations will be to increase state revenue sharing with municipalities as well as eliminating tax breaks for the rich, corporations, and banks. Please contact us if you would like to assist with this project.

 

SIGN PETITION FOR PEACE IN UKRAINE

We the People of the Global Community encourage the United States to act as a mediator seeking peaceful resolution in Ukraine and between Ukraine and Russian Federation. We do not encourage the use of force in Ukraine as it will destabilize the region and radiate out to involve other regions, including the United States. We encourage the Secretary of the United States, John Kerry to contact the Supreme Council of Ukraine, and advise them to void the decree sanctioning military operations in Southern and Eastern Ukraine.

We encourage the E.U, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and United States to respect and work to implement the tenets and agreements of the Geneva Agreement of 17 April 2014, and other such peaceful, transparent agreements as they become necessary to be made in order to ensure de-escalation of the crises in Ukraine. U.S., Russia, E.U. Ukraine should endeavor on behalf of their peoples mediate in good faith, transparently, without any hidden agenda toward a peaceful diplomatic resolution in Ukraine. This is the only way to resolve this crisis.

Time is of the essence, and our goal is to send this petition to the United Nations.

It is the job of the United States citizens to encourage its leaders to not engage in actions that will destabilize International Rule of Law, or violate adherence to sovereign integrity as outlined in resolution A/Res/25/2526 of the United Nations, put into effect on 24 October 1970. We want to see a peaceful resolution in Ukraine, and To See Peace between Russia and Ukraine. Please Adhere to the Geneva Agreement of 17 April 2014.

Also, we want our Leaders and Secretary of State Department to Concentrate Economic policies that reflect the United States citizens desire to foster friendly relations with other countries, and also we want our leaders, senators and representatives to concentrate on the Domestic Issues at Home. Do not put our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles to engage in anymore foreign conflicts. We need to concentrate on using our newly found oil wealth wisely and for the benefit of American Citizens.

Please sign the petition at this website: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/press-the-red-light-encourag-1

Twitter Storm Tuesday: #RenewUI

Every Tuesday, we will be featuring two representatives for you to target on twitter to push the House to #RenewUI. Please join us in tweeting and urging these representatives to renew unemployment insurance.
This Tuesday, May 13 at 2pm ET, we are targeting Representative Shelley Moore Capito (WV) – @RepShelley and Representative Patrick Meehan (PA) -@RepMeehan
Sample Tweets:
Every week 72,000 more Americans lose a vital lifeline. @RepMeehan tell @SpeakerBoehner that it’s time to #RenewUI
Every week 72,000 more Americans lose a vital lifeline. @RepShelley tell @SpeakerBoehner that it’s time to #RenewUI
FACT: Over 2,500 West Virginia constituents have been harmed by the loss of UI benefits. @RepShelley Help your constituents and #RenewUI
FACT: Over 123,000 Pennsylvania constituents have been harmed by the loss of UI benefits. @RepMeehan Help your constituents and #RenewUI

Or Create your own tweet, but please use the hashtag #RenewUI so we can track your actions!

 

ROC2VOTE
(Register Oneida County)

Thursday May 15th

To REGISTER visit MVCAA
1100 Miller Street from 10am – 2pm
Open to the public

 

GAINING GROUND MOVIE MAY 19

I have shared this email with you as a part my effort to promote the awareness of, and bring solutions to, the growing problem of big developers continually building within our community without the accountability of creating meaningful local training, employment and contracting opportunities. The flier promotes a short movie on the topic. The movie entitled “Gaining Ground” will be shown on Monday May 19, 2014 at Tucker Missionary Baptist Church at 6:00pm. Tucker Baptist Church is located at 515 Oakwood Ave in the city of Syracuse. A community discussion will be held on the topic immediately following.
.

Reggie Seigler
Section 3 Coordinator
Syracuse Housing Authority
516 Burt St. Syracuse, NY 13202

 

 

GENESEE TED TO PERFORM AT
SHERRILL COMMUNITY COFFEE HOUSE

BAND NOTED FOR UNIQUE BLEND OF FOLK,
TRADITIONAL, MOUNTAIN, BLUES, BLUEGRASS MUSIC

Genesee Ted, a regional band noted for its unique blend of folk, traditional, mountain, blues, and bluegrass music, will be performing at the Christ Church Community Coffee House in Sherrill at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 17.

The band consists of Dana Cooke, Shirley Stevens, Eileen Rose, and Tom Burr. They have recently entertained at the Nelson Odeon, the Steeple Coffee House, Sparky Town, Cafe @407, the Tully Train Depot, Creekside in Skaneateles, the Oneida Public Library, the North Syracuse Public Library, Soule Library, and the Hillview Community Church Coffeehouse.

Dana Cooke is a well known local singer/songwriter who is also the President of the Folkus Project in CNY. He has several CDs for which he has five SAMMY award nominations. (See http://www.danacooke.com for more information.) Dana plays mandolin, guitar and strumstick.

Shirley Stevens is the lead singer/guitarist with Diamond Someday, a popular local bluegrass band recently voted the Syracuse New Times best Bluegrass Band (www.diamondsomeday.com). The title cut from their CD, Lady in Red, is a song she wrote about her grandmother in Oswego County. She also leads congregations in music for worship services on a regular basis.

Eileen Rose has also written several songs and plays the mountain dulcimer and percussion. She’s often seen with a washboard in her arms. She performs with Larry Hoyt and the Good Acoustics, Mark Zane and Friends, as well as other local groups.

Tom Burr, who has joined the group recently, is the bassist, and sometimes picks up his banjo to add even more zest to our performances. He has played folk and bluegrass music with several groups (including the popular Diamond Someday Bluegrass Band) for many years.

Examples of their repertoire include Cave in the Rock, a song about pirates on the Ohio River; Is the Blue Moon Still Shining, a bluegrass tune written by Melissa Monroe, the daughter of Bill Monroe; and My Dixie Darlin’, a real oldie, often performed by the Carter family.

Christ Church United Methodist is located at 417 Park St., Sherrill. Refreshments will be served. The coffee house is open to the community. A free will offering will be accepted. Children as well as adults are welcome.

 

NEXT MOVIE IN SOLUTIONS: HOW TO BOIL A FROG

Tuesday May 20 at 6:30 pm and Wednesday May 21 at 3 pm at the Kirkland Town Library

How to Boil a Frog is a feature length eco-comedy that mixes rapid-fire humor and hard-hitting facts to show the consequences of “overshoot” – too many people using up too little planet – and what it means for our future. With an upfront ‘Everyman’ approach, smart writing, world-class experts, and iconoclastic humor, How to Boil a Frog gives us the scoop on the imminent end of the world as we know it and 5 surprising ways you can save civilization – while laughing along the way.
This movie is sponsored by Kirkland in Transition a forming group dedicated to making the Town of Kirkland resilient in the face of upcoming challenges such as economic crises, rising fuel prices and climate change.
We don’t have to wait for government and we don’t have to work alone. Instead we are focused on building connections in our community; reaching out to other people and already formed groups; spurring each other into actions that are bold, poignant and exhilarating.
The next meeting of Kirkland in Transition is May 19 at p.m. in the Kirkland Town Library. Come join us and bring your ideas.

 

NEWSLETTER ARTICLES ARE NEEDED

Please submit your articles, news item, and calendar listings to cnycitizenaction@gmail.com.

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION is published by Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., P.O. Box 411, Utica, NY 13503-0411/315-725-0974 cnycitizenaction@gmail.com https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-New-York-Citizens-in-Action/265689434204

Advertisements