Archive for November, 2014

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION – NOVEMBER 23, 2014

November 24, 2014

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER
NOVEMBER 23, 2014
Vol. 1. No. 18

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

 

 

activism is rent

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE CENTRAL
NEW YORK CITIZENS IN ACTION

2014 BLACK FRIDAY WALMART PROTEST – NOVEMBER 28, 2014

SHOP SMALL ON SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY AND THROUGHOUT THE HOLIDAY SEASON

CNY CITIZENS IN ACTION SHOWS SUPPORT FOR THE ROOSEVELT RESIDENCES PROJECT AT UTICA COMMON COUNCIL MEETING

BUY NOTHING DAY

WHY BUY LOCALLY OWNED?

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRANT FAMILIES

FACTS ABOUT WALMART

UTICA UPTOWN DOWNTOWN ART FAIR

OPEN STUDIO RECEPTION AT THE SCULPTURE SPACE STUDIO

STOP WHINING. DO YOUR JOB. PASS A BILL.

 

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE CENTRAL NEW YORK CITIZENS IN ACTION

Dear Friends,

We are #grateful for so many things this Thanksgiving.

We are #grateful for your support, your commitment to social justice, and your dedication to helping end inequality in Central New York.

Your support and involvement are critical to helping people across our region secure living wage jobs, obtain affordable and quality health care and housing, and ensure their children receive the best possible education.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Central New York Citizens in Action.

 

walmart-strike-701

2014 BLACK FRIDAY WALMART PROTEST – NOVEMBER 28, 2014

This Black Friday you’ve got a chance to be a part of history. Walmart workers are taking on the wealthiest family in the country, and they’re counting on your help.

Walmart is the largest private employer in the world and it’s a perfect picture of everything that’s wrong with our unequal economy. Far too many Walmart workers continue to live in poverty and rely on public programs like food stamps to survive, while Walmart rakes in $16 billion a year in profits. The Walton family that controls Walmart has more wealth than 43 percent of Americans combined. That’s why 2,000 stores (more than half of Walmart stores nationwide) have joined calls for $15 an hour and full-time work.

This Black Friday we need to send the Waltons a message.

We can’t sit back while their workers go hungry any longer.

Can you take action on Black Friday in Central New York?

2014 BLACK FRIDAY WALMART PROTEST – NOVEMBER 28, 2014

WHERE: Walmart at Consumer Square in 4765 Commercial Dr., New Hartford, NY, 13413

TIME: Just 30-45 minutes will do the trick at 11:00 am

WHY: Workers at Walmart want the company to publicly commit to paying them for their hard work, but a select few behind the country’s largest employer are robbing them of a decent living.

The Waltons (who own Walmart) choose to ignore what’s happening to workers – and their families – as Walmart manipulates schedules and hours to pay the majority of its workers less than $25,000 a year. The Waltons are focused on growing their $150 billion in wealth while turning a blind eye to the hundreds of thousands of workers unable to feed and clothe their families or provide them with basic financial security.

The Waltons could decide tomorrow to pay a fair wage to the workers who help the company make $16 billion in annual profits. Across the country, workers and their supporters are delivering petitions to the Waltons that call on Walmart to publicly commit to pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour and provide consistent, full-time work. Please bring signs.

315-725-0974
cnycitizenaction@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/events/814127435297082/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

 

shop small

SHOP SMALL ON SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY AND THROUGHOUT THE HOLIDAY SEASON

Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving? Door busters at 4am? Skip the headache at the big box stores and support local business this holiday season on Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday is November 29, a day to celebrate the small businesses of our area and their immense contribution to our local economy.

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc.’s Only in CNY Initiative is excited to promote shopping locally on Small Business Saturday, November 29, and throughout the holiday season with the Shop Small campaign, supported by American Express and Delta Airlines. Now in its fifth year, Small Business Saturday serves as the ceremonial kickoff to the holiday shopping season for small businesses across the United States.

#ShopSmall. #SmallBusinessSaturday

affordable housing

 

CNY CITIZENS IN ACTION SHOWS SUPPORT FOR THE ROOSEVELT RESIDENCES PROJECT AT UTICA COMMON COUNCIL MEETING

On Wednesday, November 19, Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. members demonstrated their support for the Roosevelt Residences Project at the Utica Common Council meeting. Members argued that the Roosevelt Residences Project would revitalize the city by adding new, affordable housing in lots around the former Roosevelt school site.

The lots being considered are currently empty or occupied by dilapidated buildings, making them excellent candidates for this type of project. CNY Citizens in Action Board Member Kevin Nugent gave a short speech at the Utica Common Council meeting Wednesday night in support of the project. “The Roosevelt Residences Project would create jobs, give working class families access to affordable housing, and allow local residents to spend a larger percentage of their income in the local economy,” Nugent said. “It will also improve the appearance of the city of Utica by reclaiming abandoned lots and buildings, as well as adding new properties onto the city tax rolls and helping with the city budget.”

The Utica Common Council voted to allow the sale of the properties, as well as a PILOT Program. The PILOT program, which stands for “payment in lieu of taxes,” is an alternative taxation structure which will help get the program off the ground. Stay tuned for additional news and developments considering the Roosevelt Residences Project.

buy nothing day

 

BUY NOTHING DAY

Are you tired of the commercialism of Christmas? Then, this special day is for you. Buy Nothing Day is a 24 hour moratorium on holiday shopping. It was created as a protest against the commercialism of this most sacred of holidays.

Buy Nothing Day is an international day of protest against consumerism. In North America, Buy Nothing Day is held on the Friday after Thanksgiving (on Friday, November 28, 2014); elsewhere, it is held the following day, which is the last Saturday in November. Buy Nothing Day was founded in Vancouver by artist Ted Dave. Aside from abstaining from shopping on this day, we suggest you reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas. Take a minute to remember what this season is really all about.

buy local

 

WHY BUY LOCALLY OWNED?

There are many well-documented benefits to our communities and to each of us to choosing local, independently owned businesses. We realize it is not always possible to buy what you need locally and so merely ask you to Think Local FIRST!

Top Ten reasons to Think Local – Buy Local – Be Local

Buy Local — Support yourself: Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community

Support community groups: Non-profit organizations receive an average 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

Keep our community unique: Where we shop, where we eat and have fun — all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit. “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” ~ Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust

Reduce environmental impact: Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
Create more good jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, provide the most jobs to residents.

Get better service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.

Invest in community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.

Put your taxes to good use: Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.

Buy what you want, not what someone wants you to buy: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

Encourage local prosperity: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

Think local first + Buy local when you can = Being a local!

Credit: Sustainable Connections

 

 

iommigrant

 

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRANT FAMILIES

The President’s action to stop deporting parents and immigrants brought here as children will help millions.

Please tell Congress to do its job.

Yesterday, President Obama announced steps he is taking to improve the lives of millions of immigrants who work hard and contribute to our economy and our communities. His executive order will prevent parents from being snatched from their children by deportation. They will finally be able to come out of the shadows, work legally, and stop living in fear.

Send an email to President Obama telling him you support his action, and urge Congress to support it as well.

The President’s actions will mean nearly 4 million undocumented immigrants will no longer have to worry about being deported, including nearly 3.7 million parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents, and nearly 300,000 people brought here as children who have grown up here. They will now be able to work legally, get better jobs, and pay taxes. We can’t overstate how huge this is.

Unfortunately, some in Congress have vowed to fight the President’s actions “tooth and nail.” Congress needs to hear that you support these historic steps to help immigrant families and that you don’t want them standing in the way of this progress.

With just one minute of your time, you can thank President Obama and tell Congress that you want them to (1) support the President’s action and (2) go ahead and pass the comprehensive immigration reform that’s been languishing on Capitol Hill. And tell them you strongly oppose holding up government funding as a way to try to prevent this long-overdue help for immigrant families.

Thanks for taking action.

You can find contact information for the President and submit questions and comments online at whitehouse.gov/contact.

Rep. Richard L. Hanna

DC Address:
The Honorable Richard L. Hanna
United States House of Representatives
319 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3222
DC Phone:
202-225-3665
DC Fax:
202-225-1891
Contact Representative Hanna:
https://hanna.house.gov/email-me

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
DC Address:
The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3205
DC Phone:
202-224-4451
DC Fax:
202-228-0282
Contact Senator Gillibrand:
http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact/
WWW Homepage:
http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/
Charles E. (Chuck) Schumer
DC Address:
The Honorable Charles E. (Chuck) Schumer
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3203
DC Phone:
202-224-6542
DC Fax:
202-228-3027
Contact Senator Schumer:
http://www.schumer.senate.gov/Contact/contact_chuck.cfm
WWW Homepage:
http://www.schumer.senate.gov/

 

walmart3

FACTS ABOUT WALMART

If we can change Walmart, we can improve the lives of all working people.

As the largest U.S. employer, Walmart sets the standard not just for the retail and service industries, but for the economy as a whole. Walmart’s poor labor practices and standards put pressure on many other businesses to lower wages and benefits in order to compete. The result is a Walmart economy where our jobs, health care, and labor standards have all downgraded. But if we can change Walmart, we can improve the lives of all working people.

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is committed to pushing Walmart to reform its business practices and ensure wholesale changes across the retail sector.

Although the company will often cite higher numbers, the average Walmart Associate makes just $8.81 per hour according to a study published by Bloomberg News. An employee who works Walmart’s definition of full-time (34 hours per week) makes just $15,500 per year. That means hundreds of thousands of people who work full-time at Walmart still live below the poverty line.

Many Walmart workers are forced to utilize state subsidized benefits. Three major studies—one in Georgia, one in California, and one in Massachusetts—found that Walmart was the employer that had workers most reliant on government assistance. It is estimated that Walmart employees cost taxpayers more than $1 billion nationwide.

As of January 2012, Walmart no longer offers health benefits to employees who work less than 24 hours per week. Walmart also raised premiums for full time employees by up to 120 percent.

Walmart has a long history of denying its employees the right to organize and right to collectively bargain. The company deploys numerous anti-union tactics, including requiring workers to attend anti-union meetings and specially training supervisors in union avoidance.

Back in 2005, a memo from Walmart’s then Vice President of Benefits Susan Chambers outlined a strategy for how the company could remove sick workers from the payrolls and avoid paying healthcare benefits.

Many Walmart workers are forced into “flexible” schedules, which means “shorter shifts, [making] it difficult to schedule their lives, and unleash Darwinian forces on the sales floor that damage[s] morale.”

“The [flexible scheduling] policy is designed to force higher-paid full-time workers to reduce their status to part-time, or quit (and be replaced with part-time workers), since this would save Walmart ‘enormous amounts of money from reduced salaries and benefits paid.’”

The company will not disclose how many of its workers are part-time, but employees across the country report an increase in part time staffers, even for numerous employees seeking full- time status.

Between July 2005 and June 2011, Walmart settled an estimated 70 state and federal class action wage and hour lawsuits and lost one jury trial of a wage and hour case, involving a total of well over a million current and former employees and costing the company over $1 billion. The lawsuits covered wage and hour violations that occurred between the late 1990s and 2010, including unpaid wages and lack of legally required breaks.

Walmart subcontracts warehouse work to third party companies who then subcontract with temp agencies to supply workers. At one Walmart contractor, Schneider Logistics, which operates several warehouse facilities in Southern California, Illinois and other parts of the country, workers recently filed a class action lawsuit in federal court detailing a pattern of abuses leading to workers being paid below the legal minimum.

Because many warehouse workers are “temporary”, despite working for the same facilities often for years on end, they are subjected to rock-bottom wages, dangerous working conditions and do not receive any kind of employer-provided benefits.

Walmart’s business strategy relies on a global supply chain to deliver cheaply made products to its store shelves. This system puts relentless pressure on suppliers to cut costs which often leads to workers in developing countries such as China and Bangladesh to toil for incredibly low wages, sometimes as low as $80 per month.

 

uptown fair

UTICA UPTOWN DOWNTOWN ART FAIR
Arts Market/Sale

Saturday, November 29, 2014 – Sunday, November 30, 2014
10:00AM – 5:00PM

The second annual Utica Uptown Downtown Art Fair will be held on Saturday and Sunday, November 29th & 30th from 10 AM-5 PM each day. The public is invited to visit eight professional artist’s studios and galleries over the course of two days. Some studios will feature the work of several artists that include a wide variety of art objects for browsing and for sale: photography, ceramics, jewelry and metal-smithing to drawings, prints sculpture and paintings.

Participating Artists are:

Uptown

Keiko Soga • Paper Jewelry & Reliefs; & Takashi Soga • Sculpture & Drawings – @ Yaosen at 18 Auburn Avenue

Celeste Friend • Sterling Silver Jewelry; Art Baird • Pottery;

Cynthia Baird • Handwoven Clothing and Accessories @ 37 Emerson Avenue

Sylvia de Swaan • Photography @ 19 Rose Place

Tony Thompson • Paintings; George White • Sculpture @The Other Side – 2011 Genesee Street

Downtown

Betty Murtagh • Silkscreen Prints; Lisa Juen • Contemporary Jewelry @ 519 Plant Street

Vartan Poghosian • Ceramic Art; Victor Lenuzza – Oil Paintings
4 Elements Studio @ 617 Tracy Street

Marc Anthony Polizzi • Sculpture; Stephanie Wysluzaly • Pottery; Steve

Nyland • Paintings @ Upstate Flux, 920 Columbia Street

Jon Petro • Abstract Painting @ Mayro Building – 239 Genesee Street

Visit Utica Uptown Downtown Art Fair on FaceBook for map and details. Maps can also be picked up at Café Domenico on Genesee Street, Yaosen on Auburn Street and Tramontane Café on Lincoln Avenue.

 

sculpture space

OPEN STUDIO RECEPTION AT THE SCULPTURE SPACE STUDIO

The public is invited to attend a free Open Studio Reception on Friday, December 5 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, at the Sculpture Space studio, 12 Gates Street, Utica.

The reception will be the first event open to the public since the fire at the studio in June. The reception provides an opportunity for local residents and supporters of the organization to meet current artists-in-residence, view their artwork in progress and learn more about their creative process.

The reception will feature current artist in residence Anthony Sonnenberg (http://www.anthonysonnenberg.com/) and artist Daria Souvorova (http://www.dariasouvorovaart.com/).

Anthony Sonnenberg received his BA from the University of Texas at Austin in his MFA form the University of Washington. His work ranges in media from sculpture and installation to performance and video. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibition across the United States and Canada. He attended many international artist residencies such as the Emerging Artist Residency at Pilchuck Glass School, Summer Residency at Archie Bray Foundation of Ceramic Arts.

Daria Souvorova is a painter and designer. She received her Master of Fine Art from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. Living and working in Baltimore, Daria works primarily in graphite, pastel, and oil on linen with a focus on narrative figuration. Daria has exhibited in New York and Australia and her work was included in exhibitions across the country. Daria has taught in undergraduate and community education programs and has given lectures on her work and the fine arts at PrattMWP, Guildford Grammar School, Pratt Institute, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She currently works as an art instructor at the Carver Center for the Arts in Maryland.

The sponsor of the December 5 reception is Tiny’s Grill, 1014 State Street in Utica.

 

 

STOP WHINING. DO YOUR JOB. PASS A BILL.

By Rick Cooley

Last week, when President Obama announced executive action on immigration policy, many Congressional Republicans were up in arms, saying he was acting like a monarch or dictator and poisoning the well by acting unilaterally without Congressional approval. He fired back that all they have to do to negate his action was to pass a bill for his signature that dealt with the issue. The US Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill over a year and a half ago. John Boehner and the House GOP caucus sat on their hands, refusing to either vote on the Senate bill or produce one of their own.

Other than passing over 50 bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act (which everyone knew would go nowhere in the Senate), the House has done little more of significance since it was taken over by a Republican majority following the disastrous 2010 midterm elections. That’s if you leave out the two week shutdown in October of 2013 precipitated by Tea Party representatives in the House listening to Senator Ted Cruz and refusing to allow passage of legislation to prevent the shutdown. Immigration reform was one area where the Senate was permitted to actually accomplish something in a bipartisan fashion and avoid the fate of myriad other potential bills and presidential nominations which became mired in the muck of seemingly endless filibusters and other procedural obstructions initiated by GOP senators designed to bring productive work in that body to a virtual standstill.

Had Speaker Boehner permitted the Senate immigration bill to be voted on in its entirety on the House floor at that time, it very well might have passed. Enough Republicans may have chosen to side with the Democratic minority to allow passage. Despite the fact that the bill was imperfect, the President would have signed it and made executive action on the matter unnecessary. Thus, recalcitrance on the part of the House GOP (as well as the Senate GOP) to pass anything on the Administration’s stated agenda continues to this day.

Many items brought up by the President in his State of the Union speeches, as well as other policy speeches throughout his tenure in office, have met with approval by a vast majority of the American public, as has proven true in various opinion polls right up to the present. Failure by Congress to act on proposed jobs legislation the Administration put forth has resulted in an extremely slow recovery with mixed results in terms of who has benefitted most during the recovery. Those at the top of the economic pyramid have gained almost all of the fruits of the recovery, with tremendous increases in income, record stock prices and corporate profits. At the same time, middle class and poor people have seen wage stagnation and a lowered standard of living. Even attempts to increase the minimum wage to make it closer to a living wage have been denied by Congressional GOP members’ intent on representing the 1% rather than the bulk of the people living in their districts.

The immigration issue is an important one from many respects. Millions of people daily face the threat of deportation. Families with some members who are citizens by birth and others who are not face the constant threat of being broken up by these deportations (which, contrary to Republican talking points, have reached record levels under the Obama Administration). People who have lived, worked and paid taxes in this country for years face this insecurity on a daily basis. Minors have been brought to the border seeking refuge from homelands which have levels of domestic violence which threaten their very lives. Congress chooses to go on recess rather than deal with these difficult issues.

Years of obstruction by the GOP in Congress have left many policy issues that affect millions of Americans unaddressed for far too long. They have benefitted at the polls, despite having record low approval ratings – ratings significantly lower than the President’s own. They will have a majority in both the House and the Senate come January. The time for them to stop their foot-dragging and start acting in a manner that shows they can govern so as to improve the lives of us all. They need to deal with budget issues, war and peace, and every other responsibility as is laid out for them in the Constitution which they claim to hold so dear.

The President should not NEED to take executive actions to deal with issues like immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, improving working conditions for federal workers which also need to be improved for all workers, repairing a tax code that contributes to ever increasing economic inequality, or providing health care to all. Poverty programs need to be fixed and strengthened, not dismantled. Education needs to be improved, not privatized for corporate profit. There is only so much that the President can do on his own to remedy these and other problems that face us.

Congress needs to stop whining about the fact that the President is constitutionally allowed to take action when action is needed and they refuse to act. Now that they have a majority in the Senate as well as the House, they should be able to pass legislation that we need to not just keep government running, as they have done exceedingly imperfectly so far, but to actually bring the country forward. Help us reach our potential as a nation and as individuals, rather than continuing to hold us back with policies designed to benefit only the privileged few who continue to enable them to stay in office.

We need to solve the problems of inequality, poverty, racism, sexism and every other ill known to our society. The answer is not to pretend all is well and that suffering people are to blame for any misfortune or injustice they may face. We must remove barriers that prevent many of us from achieving our full potential, while enabling others to reach heights of wealth and power over others which they have neither earned nor deserve. The current system bolsters certain classes, races, genders, and other features among us at the expense of others for no logical reason. It survives by pitting us against each other for irrelevant differences rather than rather than uniting us in our commonalities.

To move forward, we need bold action to change the system that is failing the vast majority of us. We need to be treated as equals as human beings, not just bank balances or test scores. The leadership in Congress that we will face next year has shown no inclination to do anything other than drag our society down in a frenzy of unfettered vulture capitalism that leaves the vast bulk of the American people living in virtual wage slavery unable to rise above the level of mere subsistence and little if any voice in our own governance. We need democracy and much more equality and individual sovereignty in our day-to-day lives than the likes of Boehner, McConnell or the Koch brothers seem willing to allow us. Don’t let them keep denying us our due.

 

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

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CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER – NOVEMBER 16, 2014

November 17, 2014

progressive action

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER
NOVEMBER 16, 2014
Vol. 1, No. 17

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

 

RALLY FOR THE GENERAL BODY AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY

CONGRESS’ MUST-DO IN THE LAME DUCK – CONTACT MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TODAY

SUPPORT THE CNY LABOR COUNCIL COAT DRIVE

NOT ONE WELL: RALLY AGAINST FRACKING AND FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY AT CUOMO’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS

THE HAMILTON COLLEGE JAZZ BAND COMES TO UTICA – NOVEMBER 18TH @ 6:30PM

MAYOR PALMIERI ANNOUNCES ART & VINE TO OPEN IN DOWNTOWN UTICA

THE MOHAWK VALLEY LATINO ASSOCIATION 11TH ANNUAL FUNDRAISER GALA

ANOTHER GREAT MIDTERM ELECTION

 

su

RALLY FOR THE GENERAL BODY AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17 AT NOON
IN FRONT OF SU’S HALL OF LANGUAGES, BY REMEMBRANCE MEMORIAL

THE General Body at Syracuse University is calling for a NOON RALLY, MONDAY NOV. 17 in support of their grievances and actions concerning transparency and diversity, in the face of new punitive threats by the administration. A number of local organizations have signed a community statement of support and they are garnering widespread and active faculty support as well. To learn more, go to thegeneralbody.org.

Please come and bring signs and energy to cheer on these heroes and heroes who are leading the university toward a future of democracy, inclusion, and respect for all. If you support them, do all you can to come to the Remembrance Memorial in front of the Hall of Languages at 12pm or earlier. Dress for the weather so you’ll want to stay!
Check for updates at https://www.facebook.com/events/1576402209256869/

From THE General Body’s Facebook event:

Join more than 100 faculty, staff, students, and community members to rally and address Chancellor Syverud and his administration’s refusal to provide definitive actions. We want final actions not final words. We want our campus to be a just, inclusive, and safe space. Nothing about us without US. We have come too far. As an old civil rights song rings “ain’t gonna let nobody turn [SU] around.”
12:00 Noon, Monday, November 17
Location: In front of Hall of Languages by our Remembrance memorial.
Bring signs, chants, energy, and concerns.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1576402209256869/

The Working Families Party and the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. stand in solidarity with these students, who in one bold act have manifested their commitment to racial justice; access to quality higher education; women’s equality, fair wages, and a vision to address the crisis of climate change. We support the students’ efforts, have reached out them to discuss ways our organization might assist them now and in long-term efforts, and thank them for their commitment to social justice. We encourage all WFP/CNYCIA supporters and members of the community at large to support them as well.

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/11/syracuse_university_student_protesters_continue_weeklong_sit-in_talk_with_admini.html#incart_river

http://www.buzzfeed.com/thegeneralbodysu/25-powerful-messages-why-syracuse-university-stud-13tkw

http://thegeneralbody.org/grievances-needs/

unite against austerity

 

CONGRESS’ MUST-DO IN THE LAME DUCK

Congress returned to work last week for the first time since the elections. For some, it will be a victorious return. For others, it will be the start of their last two months in office. Either way, they have a lot to do before the end of the year, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Congress previously approved a temporary spending bill (a “continuing resolution,” or CR) to fund the government through December 11. To avoid a government shutdown, Congress must pass an appropriations bill during this lame duck session. This is their “Must-Do.”

They’ve started bipartisan work on a bill that will that will cover the rest of the current fiscal year and incorporate all 12 of the spending bills they were supposed to pass (but didn’t), also known as an omnibus. But there are some in Congress who only want to pass another CR to cover funding for another few months and let the new Congress deal with it next year. This will leave federal agencies in a holding pattern, unsure of how much they have to work with for the year, making it extremely difficult for them to effectively address service needs.

We support a full-year omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2015 that responds to our nation’s current urgent needs, to be enacted as soon as possible before the December 11 expiration of the current continuing resolution. We know our nation depends on adequately funded and well-planned housing and home energy, public health,
nutrition, education, child care, and many other community services.

Agencies providing those services need to know how much they have to work with for the full year in order to operate the programs efficiently and effectively. They must be able to respond to emergency needs, such as combating the Ebola virus or protecting children fleeing from violence in Central America, that were not anticipated when FY 2014 funding was approved. Congress should shoulder its responsibility to make funding decisions based on today’s realities, while avoiding cuts to vital services that help individuals and families rise out of poverty.

Full-Year Funding: It is especially important that Congress makes full-year funding decisions, as opposed to another short-term continuing resolution. Leaving agencies in a holding pattern for half the fiscal year will make it extremely difficult for them to address service needs. It will also make it more difficult for Congress to turn its attention to FY 2016 funding decisions in a timely way. The bipartisan Ryan-Murray budget agreement over FYs 2014 and 2015 appropriations caps demonstrated that Congress can come to responsible agreement, and also narrowed the differences between the House and Senate so that a full-year appropriations bill responsive to individual program needs is not out of reach. Agreement could be blocked, however, if Congress allows itself to be distracted by fights over controversial policy riders. Please reject extraneous riders that will stand in the way of enacting a full-year spending bill.

Avoid Cuts to Vital Services: Funding for programs that help people get jobs, protect and care for children, secure housing, and prevent violence has been shrinking for years. In an analysis of over 100 programs of special importance to low-income people and communities, we have found substantial cuts from FY 2010 through FY 2014. To mention just a few: rural health services have been cut 29 percent, adjusting for inflation. Low income home energy assistance (LIHEAP) has been slashed by 38 percent. Child welfare services have been cut by 12 percent or more. Juvenile justice programs have lost one-third or more of their funding. Many education programs have been cut by 8 percent or more, including grants to states to educate children with disabilities. Various job training programs have been cut 18 percent or more. The Public Housing Capital Fund was cut by almost one-third. These cuts illustrate why it is especially important to make program-by-program decisions about funding, making every effort to stop service losses that can deny people the opportunity to move forward.

Emergency Funding: When we are faced with emergencies such as the need to protect against the Ebola virus, there is a history of bipartisan support for designating the resources needed as emergency funding, so that other services do not have to be sacrificed to meet these new needs. In 2006, President Bush signed an emergency funding measure to prepare for a possible pandemic. In 2009, President Obama signed emergency appropriations legislation to address the H1N1 influenza virus. We urge Congress to take similar action to respond to Ebola and other urgent needs, such as protecting children who have fled violence in Central America. Congress should finish work on full-year FY 2015 appropriations before the expiration date of the current temporary measure. It should focus in the new year on preventing the recurrence of sequestration in FY 2016, which, if left unchecked, will result in still deeper cuts harmful to the most vulnerable among us and to economic progress for all.

Please call your member of Congress to pass a full-year funding bill that responds to current needs, addressing inadequate funding in many human needs programs and providing for emergency spending to meet unanticipated and urgent needs related to Ebola and child migrants fleeing violence in Central America. This is their “Should-Do.”

By taking the “should-do” path rather than simply the “must-do” route, Congress has the potential to actually turn the lame duck session into something fruitful for those in need. Let’s do what we can to make sure they choose the right road.

TELL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS TO:

PROVIDE FULL YEAR FUNDING
RESTORE CUTS TO PROGRAMS
AVOID SEQUESTRATION
PROVIDE EMERGENCY FUNDING

Rep. Richard L. Hanna

DC Address:
The Honorable Richard L. Hanna
United States House of Representatives
319 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3222
DC Phone:
202-225-3665
DC Fax:
202-225-1891
Contact Representative Hanna:
https://hanna.house.gov/email-me

 

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
DC Address:
The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3205
DC Phone:
202-224-4451
DC Fax:
202-228-0282
Contact Senator Gillibrand:
http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact/
WWW Homepage:
http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/
Charles E. (Chuck) Schumer
DC Address:
The Honorable Charles E. (Chuck) Schumer
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3203
DC Phone:
202-224-6542
DC Fax:
202-228-3027
Contact Senator Schumer:
http://www.schumer.senate.gov/Contact/contact_chuck.cfm
WWW Homepage:
http://www.schumer.senate.gov/

 

share the warmth

 

 

 

SUPPORT THE CNY LABOR COUNCIL COAT DRIVE

Whether we like it or not fall is here and winter is approaching fast. The Central New York Labor Council will begin its annual coat drive on November 3, 2014 and will collect new or gently used children’s items until December 12, 2014. This is to give us enough time to distribute the items to the needy in time for the colder days.
Adult items will be accepted, but please stick to the winter items!

Every year we collect and distribute hundreds of items and by doing that, we make the walk to school or work, just a little bit easier.

Items can be dropped off at
287 Genesee St. Utica, NY 13501
or arrangements can be made for pick up by calling Enesa at 315-735-6101 or email cnylaboragency@gmail.com

stop frackin g

 

 

NOT ONE WELL: RALLY AGAINST FRACKING AND FOR RENEWABLE

ENERGY AT CUOMO’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS

On January 7th in Albany, New York, it is URGENT that we send a loud message to Governor Cuomo: NOT ONE FRACKING WELL!

Governor Cuomo has announced that the state’s fracking health review, on which he has said his decision hinges, will be completed by December 31.

An overwhelming body of science shows that fracking endangers our health, water, and climate. But with the election over, Cuomo may issue a health review that was conducted in secret and open New York to fracking.

Alarmingly, the governor recently said there was science on both sides of the issue, when we know that science increasingly shows just how dangerous fracking is.

January 7 is Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address, and we need every single New Yorker against fracking in Albany to tell Cuomo we will not accept even ONE WELL.

It is imperative that we pack the Capitol to call on him to ban fracking, reject fracking infrastructure, and lead New York in a transition to safe renewable energy.

What: Not One Well! Rally to Ban Fracking, Reject Fracking Infrastructure, Prevent Climate Change, and Promote Renewable Energy

NOTE: THE RALLY IS INDOORS

When: Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Time: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Where: Concourse Hallways, outside the entrance to the Convention Center, Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York

There will be buses and carpools from across the state.

Bus/carpool links and co-sponsors coming soon.

To RSVP, for transportation interest and to co-sponsor, sign up here:http://bit.ly/1qEEvQk

 

THE HAMILTON COLLEGE JAZZ BAND COMES TO UTICA – NOVEMBER 18TH @ 6:30PM

The Hamilton College Jazz Band will perform at St Matthew’s Temple in Utica, NY on Tuesday, November 18, at 6:30 PM. Under the direction of professor of music, “Doctuh” Michael E Woods, this is the fourth time the college big band has been in concert at the church. The concert will be comprised of jazz standards and popular music arranged for the band by “Doc” Woods. The concert will be held at the church located at 110 Washington Street, and is free and open to the public.

 

 

MAYOR PALMIERI ANNOUNCES ART & VINE
TO OPEN IN DOWNTOWN UTICA

Art & Vine Will Be Utica’s First
Dedicated Paint and Sip Business

Mayor Robert Palmieri and Art & Vine owner Connie Pratt today announced that Utica’s first dedicated paint and sip business will be opening at 157 Genesee Street in a newly renovated space that was formerly the Oneida National Bank building.

Art & Vine is a new kind of entertainment, where beer and wine can be purchased while participating in a painting class. According to the Small Business Administration, there are currently 200 paint and sip companies in the US and Canada. Most of these are independent and artist owned.

Connie Pratt, who earned a Masters of Fine Art from Syracuse University, believes her paint and sip business is a perfect fit for downtown Utica.

“Another exciting day in the City of Utica,” Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said. “Our downtown is truly transforming because of people like Connie believing and investing in our City. I thank Connie and we welcome Art & Vine with open arms.”

Art & Vine will offer both public and private painting parties, as well as, sessions for corporate team building, fund raising, family painting days, children’s parties, birthday parties, bachelorette parties, etc. Paint, canvas and brushes are provided and an artist leads you through the step-by-step painting process, within a two hour time frame. Patrons can enjoy their favorite glass of wine or beer, from Art & Vine’s drink menu while re-creating the featured painting of the night and socializing with friends. At the end of the painting session, participants will have their painting to take home.

Visit http://www.uticaArtandVine.com or email at info@uticaArtandVine.com for more information. To make an appointment you may also call 315-725-0331.

 

THE MOHAWK VALLEY LATINO ASSOCIATION 11TH ANNUAL FUNDRAISER GALA

The Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc. (MVLA) will host their 11th Annual Mohawk Valley Latino Association Gala on December 6, 2014, Saturday, 6-11 pm, at Daniele’s Banquet Hall, Seneca Turnpike, New Hartford. More information to follow. The event helps to raise funds for the organization’s programs while sharing its heritage with the entire community with traditional Hispanic food, music and dancing. Live entertainment by Grupo Pagan, from Syracuse, with their diverse backgrounds combined into a high energy intoxicating brew of sounds, with influences to include, Santana, Shakira, Sade and more.

NOTE: PLEASE CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS AND TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MVLA FUNDRAISER GALA!

 

 

ANOTHER GREAT MIDTERM ELECTION
By Rick Cooley

November 8, 2014

The 2010 midterm elections were great from a GOP perspective and horrible for just about everyone else. The ones we just experienced were, in most respects, even worse. The 2010 elections left the GOP with a majority of seats in the US House of Representatives, including a vocal group of uncompromising Tea Party standard bearers and governor seats in the hands of several hardline conservatives backed by staunch GOP legislative majorities as well. After the heady days following passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, these blows would make further progress on the Obama Administration’s policy agenda and the President’s re-election more problematic, to be sure.

The 2012 election was significantly different, as turnout was up for the Presidential contest. Republicans maintained their edge in the House and made gains in the Senate, but were unable to take control of that body, thanks in no small part to the nomination of extremist Tea Party candidates unable to gain sufficient support in their states’ general elections.

In the states where the GOP took control of legislatures and governorships in 2010, many proceeded to enact legislation that would give people a taste of what would be in store for the rest of us if they ever got that kind of power over the entire country. SCOTUS helped them out, by enabling states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion included in the Affordable Care Act. This alone has left millions of people uncovered by the provisions of the law that would make health insurance affordable for them. Harsh anti-choice legislation passed in several states that made reproductive choice and women’s health care much less accessible to those most in need of it, restricting abortion as well as other health services while forcing the closure of many clinics providing such services.

SCOTUS has also played a key role in this rightward swing. The Citizens United ruling and subsequent other rulings have opened up the floodgates of campaign finances to huge influence by wealthy donors, corporations and unaccountable sums of anonymously contributed dark money and Super Political Action Committees that can skirt all manner of campaign finance laws by campaigning for issues rather than being directly connected to individual candidates. Previous campaign finance laws have become meaningless in the absurd world where Corporations are to be treated as people and money as free speech not to be curtailed. Public funding of campaigns which had been in place for decades became a thing of the past. Barack Obama himself aided in that happening in 2008 when he decided not to accept public campaign funds so his campaign would also not be subject to certain spending limits.

Anti-labor laws have passed in some states, with new limits placed on public employee bargaining rights in Wisconsin and Right-to-Work legislation passing in Michigan, for example. Voter ID laws and other laws making voting more difficult, more expensive or both have also passed in many states. SCOTUS again played a key role here when it struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Some of these laws have been struck down in the Courts, others backed by them and still others remain in limbo. Congress, as has been its way since 2011, has chosen not to tackle legislation to regulate campaign finance or strengthen voting rights since these Supreme Court decisions were handed down.

For its part, the divided Congress has been under de facto control of the Republicans since they took the House after the 2010 elections. While not having a majority in the Senate, legislation and confirmation of administrative nominees has been stymied to the greatest degree ever by abuse of Senate rules (filibusters and holds) that make passage of anything with fewer than 60 votes almost impossible. Democrats haven’t had 60 senators since the 2010 election, either. Crossover votes were rare before the passage of the ACA and appear to have been extinguished ever since. A significant backlog exists in judicial appointment, ambassadorships, regulatory bodies and just about any category of nomination requiring Senate confirmation. Lest some think these are trivial, consider the fact we have no ambassador to Russia during the current Ukraine crisis and no Surgeon General to deal with the Ebola crisis. It took two years to fill the post of Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and longer than that to fill vacancies in the NLRB that made it totally ineffectual.

Routine functioning of Congress, like passing a budget and paying bills, have become exercises in crisis management. A shutdown last year and a threat to default on the National Debt by failing to raise the debt limit are but two examples of Congressional refusal to perform satisfactorily under the current gridlock conditions. Budget cuts to key government agencies have curtailed safety net programs combatting poverty in all its forms while simultaneously maintaining giveaways to certain corporations and wealthy individuals and carrying on two ill-conceived wars have helped to contribute to an overall economic malaise that has persisted even throughout the purported recovery from the economic crisis that met Obama upon his election in 2008.

The fact that people are still suffering from the effects of that crisis even six years after its inception did not help Democrats in either midterm election. What puzzles many is why, when so much of the political disconnect and lack of progress in fixing these problems can be placed squarely at the feet of Republican governors and legislatures at the state level and obstructionist Republicans in Congress, Democrats have been unable to make inroads in subsequent elections. Tuesday was, if anything, even worse than November 2010 when it comes to the election of people to office at the state and national level who will work to meet the needs and solve the problems faced by everyday working people in this country.

Opinion polls showed many close races leading up to Tuesday’s voting. Most erred significantly in showing more support for Democrats than they ultimately received at the polls. Only one of the Tea Party class of conservative governors who sought re-election on Tuesday was actually defeated. Tom Wolf beat Tom Corbett in PA, but his popularity was so low just about anybody on the Democratic line would’ve beaten him. Other embattled governors, such as Brownback in KS, Walker in WI, Snyder in MI and Scott in FL all kept their jobs. Walker has won three elections in four years including a recall, despite his attacks on workers rights and horrible record on job creation.

Losing the Senate was easier to explain – most of the states incumbent Democrats lost in were red states which voted for Romney and/or McCain and have been predominantly Republican for decades. Losing the governor races in MA, MD and IL – heavily Democratic states – is tougher to understand. It is also difficult to understand why four red states voted in favor of increasing the minimum wage while simultaneously electing staunch opponents to high level state and federal government offices. Some states have the ability to pass referenda to affect such changes while others don’t. We have no similar method to affect change at the national level.

So why are people electing representatives and leaders who espouse positions that directly oppose their own stated interests? A big part of the answer is many of them don’t. I can’t explain why any individual would actually vote for a proposition and a candidate who opposed it, but public opinion polls are tricky. Many of the ideas and policies proposed by left-leaning politicians and even more moderate ones who seek to genuinely represent the majority of their constituents by improving their lives are backed by a large majority of the people eligible to vote.

So why do so many of the people who would benefit by electing people whose views match their refuse to vote for them by not voting at all? Voter suppression efforts may dissuade some of them, if they don’t make it entirely impossible for them to get vote. Some people I talked to here thought they needed an ID to vote. Two years ago, the state of PA passed a law requiring a picture ID to vote. The law was never enforced and subsequently lost a court battle and was ditched entirely. At the time of passage, the state spent a large amount of money advertising the need of the ID to vote. It never spent a cent retracting that information after the law was scrapped. Other states have other stories to tell in this regard, some of which have been published in the media.

I don’t think voter suppression is the main reason why so many people are refusing to vote, however. It may be why some close races are won or lost, but isn’t enough to explain why our government at almost every level has come to represent moneyed interests and corporations more than ordinary citizens with each passing election. Many seem to be losing faith that voting will ever positively affect how government treats them. In 2008, Democrats swept to large majorities in the House and Senate and Barack Obama was elected by a huge margin. Since then, Health Care Reform has passed, the economy has somewhat stabilized (mostly for the benefit of the top 1%) and two wars have been ebbing and flowing at decreased cost to the US (for now).

What has not changed, for the vast majority of people in this country, is their standard of living. Millions of people who did not have health care a few years ago now have it – but they have no assurance that they will have it next year, because either the government will take it away legislatively or SCOTUS will quash it like a bug. There are way too many people in both of our major parties – the ones who rule – willing to play political games with other peoples’ lives and livelihoods in order to maintain their positions of power or wealth. The rest of, the ones they are supposed to be leading, are being ruled instead of led. What good does it do to vote into office people who say they will take action to improve our lives when they end up delivering nothing but excuses for not producing those results?

President Obama has made some excellent populist and progressive State of the Union and other speeches. So have many of the progressive members of Congress and leaders on state and local levels. People who are hurting now need to be helped now, not in some distant future when it’s more convenient. We need more leaders and fewer rulers in our government. Our society needs to become more equal economically, politically and in terms of opportunity. That won’t happen as long as our politicians are more concerned with raising money to campaign to keep their jobs than they are in doing those jobs. We have term limits for President and many states have them for their governors. Maybe we need them for legislators and judges as well. They might become more interested in swimming than treading water like they are now.

We definitely need to do something about the current campaign finance system. I have never given a monetary contribution to a political campaign in my life and doubt if I ever will. That doesn’t prevent me from campaigning for people and causes I believe in. In the course of this campaign, I was receiving 50-100 emails a day begging me for money – none of them from any candidates who appeared on my ballot on election day. The current system seems to be setup so that an enormous amount of time, energy and money is spent raising more money, and very little effort is expended discussing real issues. Probably half the money that does discuss the issues is used to misinform people rather than to honestly inform them. I know the media love all this money they get during political campaigns to spew nonsense over the airwaves, but I think we could use a little more honesty from our politicians, both when they are asking for our votes and when they are serving the public after being elected. The public needs to include all of us, not just a privileged few.

 

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

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER – NOVEMBER 3, 2014

November 4, 2014

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER

NOVEMBER 3, 2014 

Vol. 1, No. 16

 

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

  

VOTE TUESDAY!

YOUR VOTE IS VERY IMPORTANT! 

POLLS ARE OPEN 6 AM TO 9 PM.

state senate

HEADLINES

 

MAKE IT REAL. VOTE TO RAISE THE WAGE. VOTE FOR FAIR ELECTIONS. VOTE WFP

THE NATION ENDORSES WFP

 VOTE NO ON NYS BALLOT 1

VOTE YES ON PROPOSITIONS 2 AND 3

CAST A WRITE IN VOTE FOR THE 22ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

SUPPORT THE NEW YORK STATE PAID FAMILY LEAVE INSURANCE ACT

  FOLKUS PROJECT: THIS WEEKEND, BOXCAR LILIES AND UPSOUTH

 GET PARTISAN POLITICS OUT OF THE EBOLA CRISIS

 

raise the wage

MAKE IT REAL. VOTE TO RAISE THE WAGE. VOTE FOR FAIR ELECTIONS. VOTE WFP

Over the last few years, the Working Families Party (WFP) has helped win so many victories for working people across our state — things like the Green Jobs Green Homes Bill and more funding for good public schools.

This year, WFP is working to raise the minimum wage, win public financing for fairer elections, win the Dream Act, win the full Women’s Equality Act, and a lot more. All of this is within reach, and voting on the WFP line is the single best way to make sure it actually happens.

We can send a clear message to Democrats, Republicans, and especially Governor Cuomo that we expect them to deliver on their promises to progressives. Votes on the WFP line count the same, but they send a message to the politicians that there is a powerful, independent progressive party that will stay on them until the change they promised is made a reality.

Join us and tens of thousands of progressives across the state in pledging to vote the full WFP line on Election Day:

wfp

THE NATION ENDORSES WFP

The Nation just published their endorsement in this year’s race for governor in New York — and they are strongly urging progressives to vote the entire Working Families line. 
In their endorsement, The Nation says that voting WFP is “the best tool for ensuring that calls for ending corruption, reforming politics and countering inequality will be heard — not just on the campaign trail this fall, but in the corridors of power next year.” I really hope you’ll take a minute or two to read the piece in full.

Read the article below, then click here to share on Facebookclick here to share on Twitter, and forward this email to your friends.


Vote Working Families Party to Pressure Andrew Cuomo

In New York State, the best way to end corruption, reform politics and counter inequality is to keep the WFP strong.
The Editors – October 26, 2014

No matter how the 2014 elections turn out, in New York State and nationally, the clearest lesson of this frustrating campaign season has been that progressives must develop a robust political infrastructure—one that is muscular enough to advance an economic-justice agenda in the face of Republican pressure for austerity and Democratic willingness to compromise. This may yet take years at the national level. But in New York, voters have a real chance to support an effective political alternative, and they can do this on November 4 by voting on the Working Families Party ballot line for Governor Andrew Cuomo and the full slate of WFP-endorsed candidates.

We understand that a lot of New Yorkers are frustrated with Cuomo, who has governed from the right on economic, environmental and education issues. And we recognize that plenty of progressives are frustrated with the WFP for giving its ballot line to the governor this past May, after he agreed to support a number of long-sought progressive policies. But we believe that veteran economic-justice activist Bertha Lewis is right to urge progressives to vote the WFP line as part of a strategy to achieve both immediate ends and long-term goals. “Other people may vote personalities,” says Lewis, a frequent Cuomo critic and WFP founding member. “But I believe it’s also important to vote for the party—it’s only through organized people that we will transform our state.”

Needless to say, no political party is perfect. However, the WFP has forged a national reputation as a smart, disciplined political organization that serves, in Gloria Steinem’s words, as “the anchor of progressive reform across this diverse state.”

Since it was formed out of the shared vision of labor unions and community groups, the WFP has been dedicated to pulling the Democratic Party—and politics in general—to the left. It has done this for sixteen years, in races both large and small, and helped realign the New York City Council along a decidedly progressive axis in the process. It has also had a hand in virtually every recent victory for the forces of justice and equality in New York, including a minimum-wage hike, legislation for paid sick days, and ending stop-and-frisk abuses. So successful has the Working Families Party been that activists in other states are developing WFP affiliates with an eye toward creating a national network of state-based parties to reshape the debate around issues like living wages, paid sick leave and fair taxation.

One area in which the WFP has emerged as uniquely effective has been in getting Governor Cuomo and state legislators to respond to human needs rather than corporate donors. In the governor’s drive to win the WFP endorsement last spring, he bent where he did not want to bend. On the political side, Cuomo agreed to fight for a Democratic majority in the State Senate—a change that has the potential to free a raft of progressive initiatives from Albany’s legendary gridlock. On policy, Cuomo agreed to support a major state minimum-wage increase and to allow municipalities to raise wages still higher. He also committed to support serious campaign-finance reform, a New York State DREAM Act and a Women’s Equality Act.

Now, however, the WFP finds itself at a critical juncture. The party’s ability to put pressure on Cuomo, and to shape better politics and policies, is at stake on November 4. It must receive 50,000 votes for governor to maintain its ballot line—and the more votes that are cast on that line, the more the WFP will be able to pressure the governor, the Legislature and Democratic Party to meet its demand for “a fair economy and a real democracy.”

Yes, this is practical politics. But it is a practical politics of the left—what author and democratic socialist Michael Harrington used to refer to as “the left wing of the possible.”

The Nation endorsed Cuomo’s challenger, Zephyr Teachout, in the primary, and like the many New Yorkers who voted for her, we long for the day when the politics we have aligns with the politics we need. That’s one reason we applaud Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins’s campaign against Cuomo, which has challenged the governor’s positions on issues such as fracking and education policy. We believe, however, that a WFP vote remains the best tool for ensuring that calls for ending corruption, reforming politics and countering inequality will be heard—not just on the campaign trail this fall, but in the corridors of power next year.

Without a strong, organized political force—in New York State and nationally—the only direction in which top Democratic officials are likely to move in this era of money-drenched politics is toward corporate power. The WFP has shown that it can provide the necessary counterweight to that power—one that New Yorkers cannot afford to lose. The single best way to keep the pressure on Governor Cuomo and the Democratic Party to govern in the interest of the people is by voting on the WFP line.
prop1logo_rev2_400

VOTE NO ON NYS BALLOT 1

Why Vote No?

New Yorkers need a process that draws fair, transparent and impartial voting maps – but that’s not what we’re getting from Albany. Ballot Proposal 1, a constitutional amendment on the back of the ballot this November 4, would make our faulty redistricting system even worse, locking in political control of district maps for decades to come.

Why Vote NO? Ballot Proposal 1 is:

NOT INDEPENDENT, enshrines partisan control into the state constitution
NOT TRANSPARENT, complicated and confusing—on purpose
NOT FAIR, ineffective and expensive for taxpayers

The Proposed Redistricting Commission is not impartial and not independent.

Experience with the State Board of Elections shows that this Commission will be beholden to the political parties and is likely to fail through partisan gridlock. Just the fact that this Commission has an even number of members makes tied votes more likely.
Politicians and political parties, not voters, remain in control

Complicated voting rules and partisan staffing requirements not only enshrine political party control of the redistricting process in the state’s constitution for the first time, but make it mandatory.

Costly litigation will continue. The amendment does nothing to foster fair and impartial redistricting by removing sections of the state constitution that are illegal under Federal rulings, inviting more litigation in future cycles.

The Legislature has the final say.  The Legislature will be allowed to reject the Commission’s lines if they don’t like them, and substitute their own, making a mockery of the entire process. In the end, this so-called reform allows politicians and the parties to continue to rig election results.

We strongly support redistricting reform, but we oppose this constitutional amendment. Instead of offering meaningful reform, Proposal 1 relies on cosmetic changes and locks-in unfair partisan practices.

The amendment creates a 10 member Redistricting Commission—appointed by legislative party leaders—that is not independent or impartial. This Commission of legislative proxies is almost guaranteed to deadlock, leaving final control of district lines with legislators who will continue to stack the deck to favor incumbents as they do currently.

This plan will roll back the ban on prison-based gerrymandering that we fought so hard to achieve. It will also institutionalize the cracking and packing of minority communities in the suburbs that has divided these communities, resulting in underrepresentation in the State Senate.

This proposition pretends to offer real redistricting reform but, in fact, it the same old political game. “It locks in control of political parties. It locks out the voters. In other words, it promises to make a bad system worse,” said Robert Perry, of the New York Civil Liberties Union.  I’m voting NO.

Here’s a link to the ballot texts of all the propositions and opinions.

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2014/10/8555670/guide-three-ballot-questions

VOTE YES ON PROPOSITIONS 2 AND 3

PROPOSITION 2

Allows electronic transmission of bills rather than on paper. It’s silly that this requires a constitutional amendment. It’s probably done already so why not allow it. Saves paper. PLEASE VOTE YES.

PROPOSITION 3

This is for a $2 billion bond act for technology upgrades, expanding pre-K classrooms, construction for overcrowded schools and security upgrades for public and non-public schools.

It’s money that schools need for technology and new classrooms, especially for pre-K. NYS United Teachers supports it.

 

Here’s a link to the ballot texts of all the propositions and opinions.

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2014/10/8555670/guide-three-ballot-questions

Here is a link to the propositions in full:

http://www.elections.ny.gov/ProposedConsAmendments2.html

CAST A WRITE IN VOTE FOR THE 22ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

In the 22nd congressional district of New York State, there is no nominee of the Democratic Party named to run against the incumbent Republican, Richard Hanna.

Even though Mr. Hanna probably has this District locked-up in terms of the ratio of Republicans to Democrats, it is also possible for a Democrat to win, simply by conducting a targeted effort to get out the VOTE of certain groups such as college students, single women, minorities, recently naturalized citizens, those living in poverty and the working poor, along with certain Seniors who will be affected by cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

It is clear from individual conversations, consultations with other groups, and from a small survey, that many Democrats in the 22nd NY district are very frustrated and angry that there is no one opposing Mr. Hanna.

Because there is no third party candidate running against him, we decided that a Write-In campaign is the only option left.  And, here’s where YOU come in!  A write-in vote could not be easier with the new ballot.  At the bottom of the column that is devoted to the Candidates for Congress, there is a notation titled “Write-in:” All you have to do is write-in the name of someone you think would make a progressive congressman; someone who would be expressive of your frustration and your values.  Then you deliver your paper ballot as usual to the electronic voting machine and your write-in will be counted along with the rest of your votes.   What could be easier?

BABY

 

 SUPPORT THE PAID FAMILY LEAVE INSURANCE ACT

The Paid Family Leave Insurance Act (A. 1793-B / S. 4742-B) will provide workers in New York State with up to 12 weeks of paid leave a year to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill family member, or address certain issues arising from a family member’s military service.

  • Paid family leave insurance (PFLI) will make it easier for parents—both mothers and fathers—to care for newborn or newly adopted children without undue financial hardship.
  • PFLI will provide crucial support when a family member becomes seriously ill. PFLI will be available to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, or the parent of a spouse or partner.
  • PFLI will help military families during times of need. Workers will be able to use PFLI to address certain legal, financial, and childcare issues related to the military service of a spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent.
  • PFLI will not create new administrative requirements on business. PFLI will become a part of New York’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program, in place since 1950. By using a long-standing, familiar insurance system, implementation of the PFLI program will create no administrative changes for New York businesses.
  • The proposed legislation will provide meaningful financial security to working families. Workers will receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage while taking PFLI, up to a maximum benefit level. This maximum benefit level will be

raised in steps over four years until it equals 50% of the statewide average weekly wage. The proposed bill will also modernize New York’s TDI system by raising the TDI benefit level for the first time in 25 years.

  • Employers’ payroll costs will not be affected by PFLI. The weekly PFLI benefit will be financed solely through employee payroll deductions of up to 45 cents a week in the first year. In subsequent years, New York’s Superintendent of Financial Services will determine the amount of employee contributions based on the cost per worker of providing PFLI through the state insurance fund. The cost of raising the TDI benefit level will continue to be shared, as in the current TDI program, by both workers and employers.
  • A PFLI program will save employers money. PFLI will benefit employers by lowering turnover, boosting productivity, and enhancing employee morale. PFLI will not interfere with businesses that already provide paid family leave and will help to offset existing costs. As in the TDI program, employers will be able to provide PFLI through the state insurance fund, or they may provide benefits through a private insurer or as a self-insurer and receive reimbursement for some of their costs.
  • PFLI will help to make small businesses more competitive. PFLI will ensure that all workers can receive paid family leave regardless of the size of their company. Small businesses often cannot afford to provide the same paid leave benefits as larger companies, and they lose valuable workers as a result.
  • Employers can require notice and proof of the need for leave. The proposed PFLI program will provide for written notice and proof requirements related to a worker’s need to take leave.
  • Workers will be protected when they take PFLI. Workers will have job protection during their leave, ensuring they can use their PFLI benefits without fear of discrimination or job loss.
  • PFLI has proven successful in other states. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have successfully integrated PFLI into their TDI programs. PFLI is substantially benefitting workers and businesses in those three states.\\ This Friday, November 7, the BOXCAR LILIES will appear in the Folkus Project series. The show will be at May Memorial UU Society (3800 E. Genesee) and starts at 8 p.m.  Tickets are just $15 and are available now at http://www.folkus.org.

folkus

 FOLKUS PROJECT: THIS WEEKEND, BOXCAR LILIES AND UPSOUTH

When choosing acts for the Folkus series, we often look to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival to see who’s getting popular — which made this booking especially easy.  The Boxcar Lilies were an audience’s choice when they appeared in Falcon Ridge’s emerging artist showcase, and since then they have been gigging everywhere.  They are definitely an up-and-coming act, offering a signature mix of folk, country, and bluegrass-tinged Americana music with spine-tingling, innovative harmonies and top-notch songwriting. They accompany themselves on guitar, clawhammer banjo, ukulele, electric bass, and washboard. (If you like Red Molly, for example, this is another act for you!) We hope you’ll come out this Friday and enjoy this debut Folkus act.

Then, on Saturday, UPSOUTH will play in the Second Saturday series over at the Westcott Community Center.  That show also starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15; call the WCC at 478-8634 for info or to make a reservation.

At the heart of UpSouth are Mac Benford and Marie Burns, already known to WCC audiences in various configurations, and now returning with a band that highlights old-time classic country and Texas swing. Supplementing Mac’s uber-trad banjo and Marie’s affecting vocals will be John Hoffman on fiddle, Randi Beckman on guitar, and Sally Freund on bass.

We’ll see you at one (or both) of the shows this weekend!

GET PARTISAN POLITICS OUT OF THE EBOLA CRISIS

By Rick Cooley

October 25, 2014

The Ebola virus and the disease it causes are not new.  It was first recorded in Africa in 1976. It has reappeared since and earlier this year began an epidemic of proportions never before encountered. The main instances of occurrence of the disease in the latest outbreak have been Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Thousands have died from the current outbreak, and many more have contracted the disease, for which no known cure exists and which has a high mortality rate. The main difference in this outbreak has been that the disease has finally spread outside of Africa – both to the USA and Europe.

Though there is no vaccine to prevent Ebola and no known cure, treatment has developed which can reduce mortality, and procedures developed to control the spread of the disease. Unlike some other diseases, such as the flu, it is not easily spread from person to person. Isolating infected individuals and preventing contact with their bodily fluids while they are infected, or after death, is of paramount importance in preventing its spread to new people.

In this country, Ebola has become somewhat of a cause for knee-jerk reactions and fear-mongering among sensationalist journalists and politicians seeking to appear decisive and knowledgeable in their quest electoral success in November. While the disease indeed invokes fear due to its severity and the lack of a cure, much of public outcry and call for extreme measures to stop its spread here has become almost totally political in nature.  Political opponents blame the Obama Administration for both failing to keep the disease from spreading to our shores, and then seeming to botch containment when it arrived in Dallas, Texas.

Calls by GOP politicians to halt all travel from the African countries bearing the brunt of the current epidemic, appointment of a Czar by the President to be the point person for all Ebola-related activities and mandatory quarantine of all people coming into contact with diseased individuals, along with media coverage which has seemed at times designed to increase fear among the populace rather than curbing it,  have abounded. Such behavior has been evident in every phase of the development of the story, from the first diagnosis, subsequent diagnosis in nurses treating the first patient, his death and so on.

Under pressure to do so, the President named a Czar to oversee activities related to Ebola. He was immediately criticized for his selection, since the choice was not a health care professional. This criticism rings hollow when the fact that the natural person to perform the function – the Surgeon General – does not exist at the moment, because the Senate GOP blocked the President’s nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, from confirmation to the Surgeon General post. Seem he upset the National Rifle Association by talking about studying the deleterious effects of firearms on the health and well-being of American citizens. If the tobacco lobby had the lockstep control over our politicians that the NRA does, we’d all start smoking cigarettes when we started school. But I digress.

In recent years, while Congress has seen fit to fund any and all means of military ventures and wars under both the Bush and Obama Administrations, it has simultaneously cut funding to health and scientific research that could have perhaps discovered a cure or preventive vaccine to win the very real and suddenly very important fight against Ebola. While we continue to spend enormous sums to defeat opponents in undeclared wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, Congress quibbles over each additional penny requested by the Administration to provide equipment and trained personnel to fight the disease both here and in Africa. Some of our politicians think the best way to fight Ebola is to basically quarantine Africa.  Those who wish to provide humanitarian assistance in the form of food and bombs in Iraq and Syria seem unwilling to spend comparable effort to treat and cure a disease that has already decimated three countries and overwhelmed their capacity to adequately respond medically to the situation they face.

At first, it seemed somewhat contradictory to send a sizable military presence to deal with a medical emergency, but on second thought, it is true that the military have the capability to rapidly construct the medical facilities necessary to bulk up treatment on the scale necessary in the African nations affected most severely. Unduly restricting travel of medical personnel between the countries only discourages highly-trained medical personnel who have already been risking their lives on a regular basis to treat these people. Charitable organizations such as Doctors Without Borders have done the bulk of this work, often with little government assistance.

The situation seems to be stabilizing here from the perspective of hospitals and what needs to happen to train, equip and properly safeguard the general public and especially the health care professionals at highest risk of infection. The question then becomes one of providing the resources necessary to perfect treatment and find a cure and/or vaccine that will make the disease less of a threat in the future for everybody. Is the fact that the disease has, until very recently, affected only poor countries in Africa been the reason that it has gone so long with minimal attention and  resources being expended to find a more permanent solution?

For-profit pharmaceutical companies cannot be expected to provide the resources to solve problems like this. It costs too much to develop drugs and vaccines to expect a capitalist enterprise such as our pharmaceutical giants to develop a cure or effective treatment with little or no prospect of recouping their costs – especially from the people who’ve been affected the most by the disease. That is why publicly funded research in the area is essential to obtaining and maintaining a high state of readiness in the eventuality of new health crises. Building and maintaining a strong military may placate and enrich those responsible for building the tanks and guns and planes and ships and drones that blow things up that could make life hard on us if deployed against us by other people, but does us little good in fighting a microscopic organism that can just as surely snuff out our existence.

The political hypocrisy and media pandering for ratings at the expense of truth needs to calm down. People’s lives are at stake in this fight against Ebola, just as they are when facing ISIS in Iraq and Syria or terrorism anywhere. The chicken hawks who clamor for more boots on the ground (usually filled with the feet of others’ children) and bombs to rain down on people in faraway lands need to recognize that heavy-handed spur-of-the-moment reaction does not replace calm, informed decision-making in dealing with crises of any sort. The length and breadth of quarantine for dealing with Ebola needs to be established by medical professionals, not people spouting conspiracy theories about ISIS weaponizing Ebola to kill us by coming over our overly porous borders. I’d listen to the advice of the physicians I’ve been seeing on TV over Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert and the rest of the Bombs Not Food crowd that seems to populate the airwaves at Fox News and right wing radio these days. .

Ebola needs to be dealt with. People suffering its effects now need adequate treatment. Long term solutions in the form of better drugs and vaccines need to be developed and provided in the amounts needed to serve the needs of all wherever they may be. Over reacting can be as dangerous as not reacting at all. Dealing with a cold snap by burning down your house for the heat is the sort of short-term thinking that really becomes counter-productive very quickly.

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