Archive for February, 2015

STATE BUDGET FORUM SET FOR WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4

February 27, 2015

STATE BUDGET FORUM SET FOR
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4

The Fiscal Policy Institute, Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., Central New York Labor Council, and other community groups will hold their annual New York State Budget Community Forum at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4 at the Cornerstone Community Church, 500 Plant St., Oneida Square, Utica. The group will issue its annual budget analysis at the forum which will highlight the impact of the proposed budget on New York State and our local region. The forum will discuss income inequality, austerity budget, public school and human services funding, the Governor’s 2015-2016 budget, and an alternative opportunity agenda.

Refreshments will be served. Residents will be provided an opportunity to speak out on the budget and learn how they can participate in advocacy efforts to influence the budget process. For more information, call 315-725-0974 or email cnycitizenaction@gmail.com.

The forum will examine various aspects of the governor’s Executive Budget including such topics as:

Income Inequality in New York State: How does our current tax system exacerbate the problem? The forum will provide the most recent research and analysis on the issue.

Austerity Budgeting/Financial Plan: What are the impacts of continued austerity spending resulting from the governor’s self-imposed 2 percent state spending cap? Is it necessary to continue this austerity spending which will result in billions in unspecified cuts in out years when incomes and tax receipts are growing 4-6 percent per year?

2015-16 Executive Budget: What are the major policy issues that the governor addresses in the Executive Budget? Are there any glaring omissions in the issues being addressed? What is the overall impact of the governor’s proposed budget on the ability of the state to meet its major social and economic challenges and opportunities such as the exceptionally high child poverty rates in the major Upstate cities? We provide our analysis of the governor’s proposals on taxes, education, human services, economic development, bank settlement funds, local government and minimum wage.

Shared Opportunity Agenda for New York: Progressive public policies will be outlined that can be adopted to ensure that we create more “shared opportunities” to help lift New Yorkers out of poverty and provide avenues for upward mobility.

The speaker for the forum will be Ronald Deutsch, Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute.

The Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and education organization committed to improving public policies and private practices to better the economic and social conditions of all New Yorkers. The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is a multi-issue community advocacy organization.

For more information on FPI and its work, and for copies of all of FPI’s publications, visit http://www.fiscalpolicy.org. Information on the Central New York Citizens in Action is available at https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com

Advertisements

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 23, 2015

February 24, 2015

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER
FEBRUARY 23, 2015
Vol. 2, No. 5

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

You can view newsletter on:
https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com

 

austerity

 

 

HEADLINES

CNY PRO-PUBLIC ED “ALLKIDSNEED” RALLY & MARCH

CONGRESS: DON’T BETRAY DEMOCRACY! NO “FAST TRACK” FOR THE TPP

DONATE TO CENTRAL NEW YORK CITIZENS IN ACTION

TELL CONGRESS TO STOP HUMAN SERVICE CUTS

REFORM NEW YORK’S RAINY DAY FUND CREATE A TRUE SAFETY NET FOR NEW YORK’S MOST VULNERABLE

THE DESTROY-EVERYTHING CONGRESS HAS ITS SIGHTS SET ON THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU (CFPB)

OPPOSE CUTS TO CONCURRENT SSDI AND UI BENEFITS

LEGISLATIVE EDUCATION AND ACTION DAY TO END INCOME INEQUALITY

THE NO-COST WAY TO DO YOUR TAXES THIS YEAR:
MYFREETAXES, THE NATION’S ONLY FREE ONLINE TAX PROGRAM AND HELPLINE

GROUNDED

SUNY POLY TO HOST FREE SERIES ON CONSTRUCTION BUSINESS

GETTING STUFF DONE

ELECTED OFFICIALS LIST

 

No-more-separate-and-unequal-education

CNY PRO-PUBLIC ED “ALLKIDSNEED” RALLY & MARCH

Thursday, March 5 at 4:00pm
Oneida Square Roundabout
Utica, New York 13502

SAVE THE DATE!!

What: #AllKidsNeed Rally/March down Genesee St. Utica, NY.

When: 3/5 at 4:00 p.m. starts at Oneida Square

Bring: Wear warm clothes, put your long johns on, comfy shoes, your kids, your students, your clubs, your teams, your significant others, neighbors, friends, congregation, temple, organization, etc. all of those interested in fighting for public education in NYS.

Signs/Banners: yes!

Join us along with fellow locals & allies from around CNY to make our voice heard! Now is the time!

This is a rally “sponsored by” AQE NY
(Alliance for Quality Education, NY)

 

TPP-secret-400x298

 

CONGRESS: DON’T BETRAY DEMOCRACY! NO “FAST TRACK” FOR THE TPP

There is bi-partisan opposition in Congress to Fast Track and many citizens and groups are mobilizing to stop it.

The corporate media is reporting that since the Republican leadership and President Obama support Fast Track trade authority, it is a done deal. And that message, also heard by countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is driving the race to finalize that agreement.

The truth is: Fast Track is not a done deal. There is bi-partisan opposition in Congress and a large movement organized to stop it.

Across the political spectrum there is mass opposition to fast tracking the secretly negotiated TPP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, aka TAFTA) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). People remember the impact of NAFTA on job loss, destruction of Mexican agriculture, expansion of inequality, environmental degradation and increased immigration. The most recent South Korean trade pact, which Obama touts as a success, is leading to similar results of lost jobs and an expanding US trade deficits.

Members of both parties know that Obama will be out of office when the negative impacts of these trade agreements are felt. Congress will be alone facing an angry electorate while Obama is raising money for his post-presidential career from the transnational corporations who get rich off these agreements at the expense of everyone else.

Fast Track faces widespread opposition in the U.S. Congress and among the U.S. public. Though a Fast Track bill was tabled about one year ago, it has gone nowhere due to massive opposition from most Democrats and a sizeable bloc of Republicans. This past September, nearly 600 organizations sent a letter opposing Fast Track to Chair Ron Wyden. A poll earlier this year found that 62 percent of U.S. voters oppose Fast Tracking the TPP.”

Indeed, a year ago when the Congress considered Fast Track there was a massive outpouring of opposition. Congress received more than 40,000 phone calls and 600,000 emails opposing Fast Track in ten days. More than 100 organizations joined the Stop Fast Track coalition, 5.4 million users were reached in a social media “Thunderclap” and 50 rallies and protests were held in the US, Canada and Mexico.

In November 2014, the opposition to TPP grew significantly when the world’s largest trade union, the International Trade Union Confederation representing 176 million workers added their voice to the growing list of organizations and individuals speaking out against the trade pact. They urged that the negotiations be stopped and a transparent process be developed before they begin again.

In November, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit there were protests held around the world against TPP. In the United States, a broad coalition of labor unions, environmental, consumer, faith, online, and other groups assembled on Capitol Hill to deliver 713,674 petition signatures opposing Fast Track. Eyes on Trade reporting on these worldwide protests says “The message of citizens across the globe is clear: we are not willing to accept a ‘trade’ deal negotiated in secret in the interest of corporations and at the expense of our rights to safety, democracy, and health.”

The arguments are on our side. Public Citizen published a report reviewing the 20 year history of these corporate trade agreements. The data paint an ugly picture:

– Trade deficits have exploded, growing more than 440 percent with countries with Fast Tracked trade pacts. Since Fast Track was used for NAFTA and the WTO, the U.S. goods trade deficit has more than quadrupled, from $216 billion to $870 billion.

– Good American jobs were destroyed; nearly 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs – one in four – were lost since the Fast Tracking NAFTA.

– U.S. wages have stagnated and inequality has soared with three of every five manufacturing workers who lost a job finding reemployment with pay cuts, one in three losing greater than 20 percent, according to the Labor Department. U.S. wages have barely increased in real terms since 1974 – the year that Fast Track was first enacted – despite American worker productivity doubling.

– U.S. food exports have stagnated while food imports have doubled under NAFTA and the WTO. The average annual U.S. agricultural deficit with Canada and Mexico under NAFTA’s first two decades reached $975 million, almost three times the pre-NAFTA level. Approximately 170,000 small U.S. family farms have gone under since NAFTA and WTO took effect.

This is a hard record to defend. Congress must be made aware of the failure of corporate trade agreements and warned that they will be the ones paying the political price. Congress needs to live up to its constitutional duty and oppose Fast Track and examine these agreements closely.

These trade agreements are game changers for climate justice. People can work to stop extreme energy extraction or create a new energy economy in the face of climate change, but if these treaties become law, their efforts will have been in vain and their successes reversed.
The same is true for Internet activists who are working to ensure a free and open Internet. All of the work on raising wages will be undone by trade agreements that allow corporations to sue for expected lost profit from laws passed in the public interest.

On issue after issue, if we fail to stop these trade agreements, it will be a major setback. The only way these agreements can become law is through secret negotiations in league with transnational corporations followed by Congress giving up its constitutional responsibility and not having a democratic and transparent review process. Stopping Fast Track is the essential task ahead.

As you may have heard, Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is saying he wants to reintroduce Fast Track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this month — right after Members of Congress return from this week’s Presidents Day recess. Now’s the time to tell Congress: no Fast Track for the TPP! http://org.salsalabs.com/o/1034/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16706

Leaked documents suggest the TPP would have disastrous effects on the economy, public health and environment here in the United States and beyond. Fast Track would allow the TPP and other harmful trade agreements to be rushed through Congress, circumventing ordinary review, amendment and debate procedures. We can’t allow that to happen.

The corporations behind the TPP are now going all-out in support of Fast Track, with teams of lobbyists trolling the halls of Congress and applying as much pressure as they can. When Members of Congress are back home, in-district this week for the Presidents Day recess (from February 14 to 23) it’s absolutely critical that they hear from you and other constituents. At the end of the newsletter, please find a list of federal representatives you should contact to voice your opposition against Fast Track.

Take Action! Text TPP to 877877 or call 888-706-4535 and tell Congress to stop the Fast Track authority of the TransPacific Partnership.

 

contribute now

DONATE TO CENTRAL NEW YORK CITIZENS IN ACTION

Please support the work of Central New York Citizens in Action!
Your support today is an important investment in the progressive advocacy, education, research, organizing, and consumer protection work that we do to lift up the engine of our economy – hardworking Central New Yorkers and the families.

Please send your check to:
Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., P.O. Box 411, Utica, NY 13503-0411. Because we are an advocacy group, donations are not tax deductible.

Thank you for your support.

 

Stop-the-Cuts

TELL CONGRESS TO STOP HUMAN SERVICE CUTS

Across all the states, about one-third of the revenues used to fund state programs come from the federal government. Beyond that, millions rely directly on Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, low-income tax credits, housing assistance, and federal health care programs. Therefore, the federal budget is of vital importance to us. We believe that by making the right investments in essential services, the federal budget can and should be an engine of prosperity for all Americans.

We are asking local citizens to contact their members of Congress to urge them in their budget decisions to preserve the capacity of the federal government to invest in shared prosperity and to help people escape poverty. Federal budget choices should be based on four principles espoused by the Strengthening the Values and Economy (SAVE) for All campaign: (1) protect low-income and vulnerable people; (2) invest in broadly shared prosperity that raises incomes across the economic spectrum; (3) increase revenues from fair sources; and (4) seek responsible savings by targeting wasteful spending in the Pentagon and elsewhere. Specifically:

(1) Protect low-income and vulnerable people: More than 45 million Americans live in poverty. About 28 percent of working age people with disabilities and one in five children are poor. Even more sobering, about one in three African American and Latino children is poor. But taking into account vital federal safety net programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), low-income tax credits for working families, unemployment insurance, and Social Security, millions have been lifted out of poverty. Congress’ goal should be to strengthen the role of these programs, plus Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Affordable Care Act, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), in improving economic security for low-income and vulnerable people. Reduced benefits or eligibility will inflict harm. We strongly oppose straitjacketing SNAP and Medicaid by rigid limits such as block-granting or per capita caps. Broadly shared economic growth depends on maintaining the capacity of these programs to respond to need.

Congress should protect vital services for low-income people by ending the sequestration cuts scheduled to resume next October. Adequate appropriations for programs providing child care, education and training, affordable housing and home energy assistance, nutritious food for young and old alike, health care, mental health and substance abuse services, offer routes out of poverty. These domestic and international (“non-defense discretionary”) programs have already suffered serious cuts. Under existing caps, domestic discretionary spending in 2015 would fall to its lowest level as a share of the economy in 50 years. If sequestration resumes in FY 2016, overall cuts in this category would rise to 17 percent since FY 2010, taking inflation into account. Sequestration holds us back.

(2) Invest in broadly-shared prosperity: There are many ways the federal budget can promote economic growth that leads to more jobs with decent pay and benefits. One lesson is clear: merely continuing or expanding tax cuts for upper-income individuals or corporations is not an effective means of increasing access to good middle-class jobs. Such policies have helped those at the top to increase their income and wealth, but have done far too little to promote shared prosperity. In fact, by reducing federal revenues needed to fund investments, these unfair tax cuts have denied opportunity to low-income people and worsened inequality. With the same bipartisan approach that led to the reauthorization of the Workforce and Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA), we urge Congress to provide funding for all levels of education, from early childhood through post-secondary, apprenticeships, and subsidized jobs to make sure that workers have the skills and experience they need. We also urge your support for job-creating investments in infrastructure, renewable energy, and other sectors.

(3) Increase revenues from fair sources: Federal revenues are inadequate to meet our nation’s current needs. It harms economic growth to slash needed investments by keeping revenues far below almost all other industrialized nations as a percentage of GDP. Despite the higher statutory tax rates, effective tax rates for the richest Americans are low: the Wall Street Journal cited IRS data that the 400 richest taxpayers (averaging $265 million in income) paid an effective federal income tax rate of 18 percent in 2010. Corporations have been able to avoid taxes on trillions of dollars of income stashed in tax havens overseas. Because they fail to pay their fair share, our nation is losing the competitive advantage that comes from a skilled and healthy workforce and cutting-edge infrastructure and technology. We strongly support closing tax loopholes that target benefits to the wealthy and profitable corporations. For example, Congress should raise the income tax rate on investment income (e.g. capital gains or dividends) to match the rate on earned income. Congress has repeatedly extended a large number of mostly corporate tax breaks on a temporary basis. To the extent that continuation of these tax cuts can be genuinely justified, they should not deepen the deficit, but should be paid for by reducing tax breaks judged inequitable and/or ineffective at promoting shared prosperity. Any tax reform plan should result in net increased revenue.

In order to maintain fairness in the tax code, it is vital that Congress makes permanent the 2009 improvements in the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). If these improvements are allowed to expire in 2017, 16 million people, including 8 million children, will fall into poverty or become more deeply poor. Tax credits for low-income families have a demonstrated track record of encouraging work and improving children’s education and earnings in adulthood. Expanding EITC benefits for low-income childless workers and non-custodial parents has bipartisan support, would encourage work and prevent these workers from being taxed into or deeper into poverty.

(4) Target wasteful spending in the Pentagon and elsewhere: Wasteful spending does not help our security. Since 2001, Pentagon spending has nearly doubled. Flawed weapons systems like the F-35 fighter plane and spending $348 billion over the next decade on our outmoded nuclear arsenal are examples of waste that reduce our security. Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding has allowed the military to avoid substantial impact from sequestration and other funding limits by moving non-war items into the uncapped OCO account. Military experts and bipartisan leaders have identified billions of dollars in responsible savings in the Pentagon budget, while still keeping our service men and women safe, protecting our security, and maintaining our commitment to veterans. We strongly oppose increases in military spending at the expense of domestic programs that educate our children, meet our health and nutrition needs, support our seniors in retirement, and invest in economic growth.

Please contact your member of congress and them to support a budget that adheres to the SAVE for All principles. Disinvesting in human needs or cutting some important programs in order to fund others will jeopardize our nation’s future prosperity by excluding millions from full economic participation. Please see a list of members of Congress you should contact to express your support for a budget that is consistent with the SAVE for All principles.

 

cuts

REFORM NEW YORK’S RAINY DAY FUND CREATE A TRUE SAFETY NET FOR NEW YORK’S MOST VULNERABLE

While New York currently has a Rainy Day Fund (RDF), it has proven insufficient in providing protections against cuts to human services and the social safety net when New Yorkers need them most. During the Great Recession the RDF was not utilized for a variety of reasons including its use as a cash flow fund and prohibitive repayment restrictions. As a result, human services suffered funding cuts estimated at $1 billion, just as demand for those services reached peak levels. FPWA supports positive changes in the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal released recently regarding the RDF. In light of this year’s $5 billion surplus, FPWA urges the legislature to create additional guidelines and further ensure funding adequacy for future budget stabilization. FPWA proposes the following reforms to bolster the fund and guarantee its appropriate utilization:
• Set aside a specific portion of the RDF to protect human services funding, and bolster anti-poverty safety nets • Close current loophole which allows funds to be utilized as a cash flow fund
• Raise the fund cap to reflect a realistic safety net given New York’s tax revenue volatility
• Create a deposit mechanism (a percentage of a surplus that reaches an agreed upon level) that allows the fund to grow during times of surplus
• Abolish the three year repayment requirement, as a sufficient deposit mechanism will ensure the fund is replenished when it is fiscally reasonable

cfbp

 

THE DESTROY-EVERYTHING CONGRESS HAS ITS SIGHTS SET ON THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU (CFPB)

The agency was the brainchild of then-professor, now U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. And in just a few short years, it has won tremendous victories to protect consumers against financial industry abuses.

So of course, Wall Street and its puppets in Congress are bent on defunding, defanging and destroying the agency, and House Republicans have already proposed a slew of bills to do just that.

Now we must rely on principled Democrats and reform-minded Republicans in the Senate to block these destructive House bills.

Tell your senators: Block the Big Banks’ shameless attacks on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Thousands of Wall Street lobbyists prowl Capitol Hill every day looking for ways to poke holes in the protections that you, me and millions of Americans rely on to safeguard us from dubious financial schemes and outright fraud.

The CFPB has recovered millions for military families that were overcharged during the housing crisis. It has shed light on the unethical practices of private debt collectors. And it is even poised to address forced arbitration clauses (the fine print banks use to prevent you from taking them to court if they rip you off).

We need every vote we can get to defend this essential agency.

Sign our petition right now urging senators to block any bills that would undermine the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers.
http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12696

The CFPB was one of the most important outcomes of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Senator Warren envisioned a Wall Street watchdog — and she, along with Public Citizen, our supporters and our allies, fought tooth and nail to make it a reality.

We must not let Wall Street’s Capitol Hill cronies dismantle the CFPB.

Tell your senators: Vote NO on any legislation that would weaken, restructure or otherwise harm the CFPB.
http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12696

 

overcoming poverty

 

LEGISLATIVE EDUCATION AND ACTION DAY TO END INCOME INEQUALITY
Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
Westminster Presbyterian Church, 85 Chestnut St., Albany
(1/2 block west of the Capitol)
9:30 AM Registration  10 A.M Issue Briefing  Free Lunch
Noon Rally  1-4 P.M Lobby Visits

It’s Time to End Income Inequality
1. Raise & Expand Minimum
Wage; Stop Wage Theft
2. Increase Access to Education
and Training
3. Raise Welfare Grant
4. Fair Taxes
5. End Hunger – More HPNAP, Jobs
6. Single Payer Health Care

To Register call 315-725-0974
MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD AT THE STATE CAPITAL!

 

disabled

 

OPPOSE CUTS TO CONCURRENT SSDI AND UI BENEFITS: S. 499, H.R. 918, S. 343,
and Similar Proposals Would Hurt SSDI Beneficiaries
and Their Families, Discourage Work

Congress should reject proposals to reduce or eliminate benefits for individuals who concurrently receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Unemployment Insurance (UI):

• Social Security should not be cut. Cutting extremely modest SSDI benefits for people who also qualify for UI could worsen the financial security of workers with disabilities and their families.

• UI should be there for all American workers, including workers with some of the most significant disabilities who receive SSDI – it’s a question of fairness. SSDI beneficiaries who qualify for UI should not be treated differently from other workers under the UI program.

• SSDI and UI are earned benefits, paid for by workers and their employers. Workers who qualify for both should be able to receive the insurance benefits they have earned.

• Encouraging SSDI beneficiaries to work has long been a cornerstone of bipartisan Congressional policy. Cutting or eliminating benefits for SSDI beneficiaries who have tried to work but have been laid off through no fault of their own, and qualify for UI, could penalize beneficiaries and discourage attempts to work.

• Questions exist about how the Social Security Administration would administer such proposals at a time of serious underfunding of SSA’s administrative budget, particularly within the already-complex SSDI work incentives framework.

Congress should reject proposals to cut concurrent SSDI and UI benefits. Contact your member of Congress to oppose these bills.

 

my free taxes

THE NO-COST WAY TO DO YOUR TAXES THIS YEAR:
MYFREETAXES, THE NATION’S ONLY FREE ONLINE TAX PROGRAM AND HELPLINE

You no longer need to spend money on tax programs and costly tax prep services this year. MyFreeTaxes.comis a fast, easy, secure way for individuals and families to file their federal and state taxes online for free — and get their refunds quickly.

Taxpayers can self-file for free using MyFreeTaxes’ simple step-by-step process that includes a free telephone Helpline, email and online chat support from IRS-certified specialists, six days a week from 10 to 10. The program does the math for you and built-in checks and calculators help you avoid costly mistakes. In addition, it is a resource for information regarding tax preparation, valuable credits including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).

All you need to file your income taxes online using MyFreeTaxes.com is:
• Access to a computer
• Earned Household Income of $60,000 or less in 2014
• A valid email address
• A valid Social Security Number

Funded by the Walmart Foundation and operated in partnership with Goodwill Industries International, the National Disability Institute and United Way, MyFreeTaxes works with filers to maximize their refunds and help eligible families and individuals claim valuable tax credits to keep more of their hard-earned money and invest in their futures. Last year, nearly 1.7 million households saved $340 million in tax preparation fees thanks to MyFreeTaxes.

For more info about MyFreeTaxes go to http://www.MyFreeTaxes.com or call 1-855-698-9435.

 

grounded

GROUNDED
Please join us for a free performance of this highly-awarded play

A gripping one woman play about a drone pilot, by George Brant and starring Katelyn Burrello

Monday, March 9th, 7-9pm
(doors open at 6:30)

May Memorial Unitarian Society (3800 E. Genesee St., Syr.)

Free admission
Refreshments served after

From the award-winning playwright George Brant comes the story of an ace fighter pilot whose career in the sky is ended early due to an unexpected pregnancy. Reassigned to operate military drones from a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas, she hunts “terrorists” by day and returns to her family each night. As the pressure to track a high-profile target mounts, the boundaries begin to blur between the desert in which she lives and the one she patrols half a world away. Katelyn Burrello, a member of The Theater Institute at Russell Sage College, plays the role of the pilot in the Syracuse production.

GROUNDED has won the Smith Prize for Political Theatre, Fringe First Award-Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Off-West End Theatre Award for Best Production of 2013. It was named a top ten London play of 2013 by both the Guardian and the London Evening Standard. Ann Hathaway will perform GROUNDED in NYC’s Public Theater this spring.

This production is free; sponsored by the Syracuse Peace Council, MMUUS Green Sanctuary Committee and Upstate Drone Action and is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

The day following the performance, Tuesday, March 10, is the start of a consolidated trial of four Hancock drone resisters. Please join us at the Town of Dewitt Courthouse, starting around 9am (and going until about 5pm). The trial is expected to last several days.

For more information, contact Carol at carol@peacecouncil.net or 315.472.5478 or http://www.peacecouncil.net/grounded

sbdc

 

SUNY POLY TO HOST FREE SERIES ON CONSTRUCTION BUSINESS

The Mohawk Valley Small Business Development Center and SUNY Polytechnic Institute will host a FREE, six-part series titled “Grow Your Construction Business.”

The free program offered for women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, or small business contractors in the construction industry taught by experts in the field. Program topics include bonding, capital access and loan support, planning, insurance, construction management, and conflict resolution. The training program will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. on the following dates: March 25 and April 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29 at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. A light dinner will be provided at each session.

Applicants should contact Pam Palazzo or Roxanne Mutchler at:
Telephone: (315)792-7547
Email: palazzp@sunyit.edu
Address: SUNY Polytechnic Institute
100 Seymour Road
Utica, NY 13502

 

 

GETTING STUFF DONE

By Rick Cooley

The GOP fought long and hard to retake control over Congress. In the 2010 midterm elections, they took control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats, vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act – calling it Obamacare. Since then, they have voted over 50 times to repeal the law, only to have it die in a Senate controlled by the Democrats. Since the Republicans took control of the House, Congress has lurched from one deadline to the next, basically accomplishing less than any Congress in modern times. They barely avoided a debt ceiling crisis, limped along with continuing budget resolutions rather than a budget and even culminated in a two-week government shutdown in 2013 before agreeing to short-term funding.

In 2014, the GOP finally retook control of the Senate with another dominating midterm election performance. The House is now more thoroughly dominated by the GOP than it has been for decades. They can basically pass anything they want. If only they could get the Senate Republicans and a few Democrats to agree to it. There’s the rub. The Senate is still subject to the same rules as when the Democrats were in control, meaning most measures need 60 votes, not 51, to pass, due to filibusters. The Republicans in the House are far from a unified group on many issues. Yet they still cling to the demands of those calling for repeal of the Health Care law and continue passing that legislation knowing full well it will neither pass in the Senate nor survive a certain Presidential veto were it ever able to get that far.

Many Congressional Republicans were outraged when the President signed executive orders attempting to at least partially fix a broken immigration system that would have been largely repaired by a bipartisan bill that passed in the Senate, but which the Speaker and House Republicans refused to even vote on. Trying to get the executive orders cancelled or overwritten, they decided to play a new budgetary hostage-taking card by passing funding bills enabling the government to function through the end of the current fiscal year, which ends September 30. The one exception involved only funding Homeland Security through February. That’s less than two weeks away, and Congress is in one of its frequent recesses this week. To top that off, before heading off on recess, Congress (both House and Senate) passed and sent to President Obama a bill authorizing the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline, setting up the first of many possible veto confrontations between the President and the Republican Congress.

As for Keystone, the avowed reasoning behind GOP backing of the project is an abject sham. They tout it as a job creation bill, even though it would create fewer than a hundred jobs that lasted longer than it takes to actually build the pipeline. Environmental concerns, including the impact the pipeline and the oil it carries would have on climate change, far outweigh the economic impact of the few American jobs it creates, not to mention that the oil transported through it would ultimately be exported abroad and not improve gas prices in this country in the least. The potential (or should I say inevitable) environmental degradation caused by massive oil spills across the American heartland means that the main upside of the project goes to the Canadian firm strongly backing it, not to the American economy or workers. Trying to make us think we are drinking Koolaid which tastes an awful lot like dirty petroleum won’t work. The project should’ve been quashed years ago, but was kept alive for political reasons and potential corporate profits. The time has come too put an end to it, once and for all.

Building a time bomb into the Crominibus that Congress passed last December seems counterproductive, to say the least. The immigration bill passed by the Senate was far from perfect, though the President has said he was willing to work with it. Included in that are provisions which strengthen border security. Many people who opposed the bill did so on the grounds that it places too much emphasis on further militarizing the border (primarily the one with Mexico, of course). What sense does it make to show disapproval of the President’s loosening of restrictions on immigration as outlined in his executive orders by shutting down the government department most closely assigned to executing the laws pertaining to border security?

Instead of working on an acceptable immigration bill that can be signed into law, Congressional Republicans are putting themselves into a position where they may, in fact, cause at least a temporary shutdown of a key government department that it needs in order to just maintain the status quo dealing with immigration issues, rather than solve and improve on them. They continue to duck the main issue by refusing to pass the legislation they think is needed to resolve the many pressing long-term issues dealing with immigration. Shutting down Homeland Security will be blamed squarely on House Republicans, should it happen, and rightfully so. Mitch McConnell spoke with glee as he foresaw a new era of getting stuff done now that Republicans have control of both the House and Senate. At this point, it would appear that rumors of the death of DC gridlock were greatly exaggerated.

Once they extricate themselves (and us) from the Homeland Security mess, they get to deal with the whole budget for the next fiscal year, which promises to be as cantankerous as ever, judging from the proposals put forth by the Administration and the grumblings coming from the likes of Paul Ryan and the other Republican Congressional leaders dealing with government funding. Every single progressive-sounding proposal coming from the White House seems to be met with more of the tax-cuts-for-the-rich-and-big-corporations and cut-all-domestic-social-welfare-programs that we have learned to know and loathe from the GOP ever since Ronald Reagan gained the White House back in 1980. To top it off, they appear to remain unwilling to raise revenues to pay for ongoing and desired (by them at least) military adventures in the revised War on Terror.

President Obama may be willing to act more boldly to forge a lasting positive legacy for his administration in its remaining tenure, but I see no signs yet that the largely intact Republican leadership in Congress is any more willing to compromise for the good of the people (and by extension, the nation) than they were during their last session. Makes some of us wonder if not only the Chief Executive needs term limits. Incumbents seem comfortable with business as usual. We certainly need to take action to curb the undue influence of big money in our political campaigns and all sorts of laws affecting the election of legislative bodies and other officials at all levels who make up the government controlling our lives. Cut the crap. Do your jobs. Get stuff done. Pass laws, confirm appointments, fix problems to the benefit of the many, rather than the few who paid big money to get you elected and serve their interests. You govern the people. You allegedly represent all of us. Make it so the word “allegedly” has no place in that last sentence.

ELECTED OFFICIALS LIST

FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVES

Representative Elise Stefanik
512 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
DC Phone: (202) 225-4611
DC Fax: (202) 226-0621
Email: https://stefanik.house.gov/contact/email

Representative John M. Katko
24th Congressional District
1123 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
DC Phone: (202) 225-3701
DC Fax: (202) 225-4042
Email: https://katko.house.gov/contact/email

Rep. Richard L. Hanna
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/

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik proudly represents New York’s 21st District
Washington, DC Office
512 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4611
Fax: (202) 226-0621
https://stefanik.house.gov/contact/email

John M. Katko
24th Congressional District
Washington, DC Office
1123 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3701
Fax: (202) 225-4042

https://katko.house.gov/contact/email

STATE REPRESENTATIVES

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Fax:(518)474-3767
Tel:(518)474-8390
email: gov.cuomo@chamber.state.ny.us
web: http://www.state.ny.us/governor

Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, 214 Farrier Ave., Oneida, N.Y. 13421; phone: 361-4125; fax: 361-4222; email: mageew@assembly.state.ny.us
· Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, 235 N. Prospect St., Suite 101, Herkimer, N.Y. 13350; phone: 866-1632; fax: 866-5058; email: butlerm@assembly.state.ny.us
· Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, 5176 St. Route 233, PO Box 597, Westmoreland, NY 13490; phone: 853-2383; fax: 853-2386; email: tenneyc@assembly.state.ny.us
· Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, Room 401, State Office Building, 207 Genesee St., Utica, N.Y. 13501; phone: 732-1055; fax: 732-1413; email: brindia@assembly.state.ny.us
· Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, State Office Building, 207 Genesee St., Utica, N.Y. 13501; phone: 793-9072; fax: 793-0298; email: griffo@senate.state.ny.us
· Sen. David J. Valesky, D-Oneida, 805 State Office Building, 333 East Washington St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13202; phone: 478-8745; fax: 474-3804; email: valesky@senate.state.ny.us
· Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, 235 N. Prospect St., Herkimer, N.Y. 13350; phone: 866-1632; fax: 866-5058; email: seward@senate.state.ny.us

NEWSLETTER ARTICLES ARE NEEDED

Please submit your articles, news items, 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 Our Office is located at 500 Plant Street in Utica, NY at Cornerstone Community Church./315-725-0974 cnycitizenaction@gmail.com https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-New-York-Citizens-in-Action/265689434204

 

Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. was developed from the Utica Citizens in Action, a multi-issue public interest association affiliated with Citizen Action of New York. It was founded in 1997 to address critical social, economic and environmental issues facing residents of Oneida, Herkimer, and Madison Counties. Members of our group worked to empower low and moderate income Central New York residents to participate in shaping the policies that affect their lives, such as economic justice, environment, housing, education, economic development, health care, public benefit programs, and consumer issues. Our projects include research and policy development, public education on a wide range of public policy issues, development of educational materials, community outreach and grassroots organizing, coalition development, training, and lobbying. Please join our email list by sending an email to cnycitizenaction@gmail.com with the subject heading – Join List. We also invite you to become a member of our group and attend our meetings.

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER – FEBRUARY 8, 2015/ Vol. 2, No. 4

February 10, 2015

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER
FEBRUARY 8, 2015
Vol. 2, No. 4

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

austerity

NO MORE BUDGET CUTS; PRESERVE SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE; TAX THE 1%

 

HEADLINES

 

CNYCIA OPPOSES GOVERNOR’S EDUCATION PROPOSALS

MAYOR PALMIERI FUNDRAISER FEBRUARY 12TH

BLACK HISTORY MONTH JAZZ CONCERT WITH “DOC” WOODS ON WEDNESDAY, FEB. 11

FAST TRACK IS COMING (AHEM) FAST

URGE CONGRESS TO INVEST IN CHILD CARE

HOW GREEN IS YOUR MONEY?

POLICIES THAT DO AND DO NOT ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES OF RAISING WAGES AND CREATING JOBS

UPCOMING CNY COMEDY SHOWS

ARTRAGE GALLERY EVENTS

UTICA WORKING FAMILIES PARTY FUNDRAISER A SUCCESS

EXPANDED PAID LEAVE FOR WORKERS

FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVES

 

education funding

CNYCIA OPPOSES GOVERNOR’S EDUCATION PROPOSALS

The gap between schools in our area and wealthier districts in New York State has grown appallingly large. Recent reports by the #WeCantWait Coalition indicate that the gap between the 100 wealthiest districts in the state and the poorest grew from $8,601 per student to $8,733. Locally, the gap in Rome is $8,974, in Herkimer $12,414, and in Utica $13,542. This is a totally unacceptable situation.

Students in the Utica school district come from many countries, and speak 46 different languages, and a large number have learning disabilities. These students need more funding and resources – not fewer. If the money cannot be derived from local taxes, then school budgets must be supplemented by the state. Every student has the right to a quality education. Economic circumstances should not condemn a child to inferior educational opportunities.

The Board of Directors of the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. believes that Governor Cuomo’s 2015 budget proposal for education reform is unacceptable in its attempt to link additional funding to basing teachers’ ratings on student test scores, boosting the charter school sector and offering a generous tax credit to donors who support private school scholarships.

Young people are our future. If we shortchange their education, we shortchange our own well-being as a nation. The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. urges citizens to ask Governor Cuomo and their state legislators to support increasing education funding by $2.2 billion to compensate for prior cuts, expanding pre-k programs throughout the entire state, and opposing more charter schools.
Dawn Laguerre, Member
Board of Directors Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc.

mayor

MAYOR PALMIERI FUNDRAISER FEBRUARY 12

Please Join Mayor Robert Palmieri as we celebrate Utica’s continued growth.

A fundraiser for the Mayor is scheduled for Thursday, February 12th at Valley View (620 Memorial Parkway) from 5-7 pm.

Tickets are $50 a person and include food and drinks. We look forward to seeing you.”

 

doc woods

 

BLACK HISTORY MONTH JAZZ CONCERT WITH “DOC” WOODS ON WEDNESDAY, FEB. 11

The Hamilton College Department of Music presents a Black History Month jazz
concert with “Doc” Woods on Wed., Feb. 11, at 8 p.m., in Wellin Hall, Schambach Center.
The concert will feature “Doc” Woods, composition and bass; John Piazza, trumpet; Bob Cesari,
saxophone; Tom Witkowski, piano; and guest artist Nasheet Waits, drums Drummer and music educator Nasheet Waits is a New York native. His interest in playing the drums was encouraged by his father, legendary percussionist,

Prior to the jazz concert, in a special collaboration with the Ruth and Elmer Museum of Art,
Nasheet Waits will perform an interpretation of his composition created for artist Alyson Shotz’s
animated film The Bedroom: Time Lapse at 7 p.m., also in Wellin Hall, Schambach Center.
The film will be screened alongside Waits’ musical performance.

Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, all the box office at 859-4331 or
visit http://www.hamiltonpa.org.

 

 

tpp

FAST TRACK IS COMING (AHEM) FAST

Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is saying he wants to reintroduce Fast Track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this month — right after Members of Congress return from the Presidents Day recess. Now’s the time to tell Congress: no Fast Track for the TPP!
As you know, leaked documents suggest the TPP would have disastrous effects on the economy, public health and environment here in the United States and beyond. Fast Track would allow the TPP and other harmful trade agreements to be rushed through Congress, circumventing ordinary review, amendment and debate procedures.

The corporations behind the TPP are now going all-out in support of Fast Track, with teams of lobbyists trolling the halls of Congress and applying as much pressure as they can. When Members of Congress are back home, in-district for the Presidents Day recess (from February 14 to 23) it’s absolutely critical that they hear from you and other constituents.

The Central New York Citizens in Action is organizing an event in our area to oppose Fast Track. We need your help. Please call us at 725-0974 or send us an email to cnycitizenaction@gmail.com.

Please call or email your members of Congress to tell them that they should oppose the TPP. Please see the list of elected officials at the end of this newsletter.

 

child care

 

URGE CONGRESS TO INVEST IN CHILD CARE

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Investing in child care
Helps children & families, too!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and this year, we’re asking Congress to have a heart for children and families by investing in child care.

Last fall, Congress reauthorized the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) for the first time in nearly 20 years. Although this vote marks an important step toward building a strong early learning system, we’re not done yet: Congress still needs to provide the funding necessary for the program to truly help children and families succeed.

With the right funding, here’s what CCDBG reauthorization would do:

Improve the health and safety of children in child care settings
Make it easier for women and families to get and keep the child care assistance they need
Enable children to have more stable child care
Strengthen the quality of child care
High-quality child care is linked to the success of children and their parents. Child care provides early learning opportunities to children and enables women to work so they can support their families. With significantly increased funding, this bill can make a critical difference.

Ask your Members of Congress to support young hearts and minds by investing in child care.

Please call or email your members of Congress to support CCDBG reauthorization. See the list of elected
officials at the end of this newsletter.

 

HOW GREEN IS YOUR MONEY?

Come join us for a talk and discussion about investing locally, supporting alternative energy development and fossil fuel divestment.
Monday February 23 – 7:30 pm
Kirkland Town Library
55 1/2 College Street Clinton, NY

Since 2005 Erik Lehtinen has owned Integrative Wealth, a financial management firm that links values to financial services. Erik serves as a fully independent insurance and securities broker for a number of different carriers and programs that specialize in New Economy and Socially Responsible Investing. His talk will include his personal experiences in the world of modern financial management.

Philadelphia-Italian-Market-325x260

 

POLICIES THAT DO AND DO NOT ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES OF RAISING WAGES AND CREATING JOBS

By Lawrence Mishel
President, Economic Policy Institute

It is encouraging that there is now widespread agreement across the political spectrum that the key economic challenge is middle-class income stagnation. To address this stagnation we must confront two underlying trends. The first is to address the ongoing but incomplete jobs recovery from the financial crisis that Wall Street inflicted on the global economy. The second trend is the stagnation of wages for the vast majority of workers since the late 1970s, an era of “wage suppression.” That wage trends lay at the heart of income stagnation is just common sense. After all, middle-class families rely almost completely on what they earn from their jobs to support their consumer spending. These families do not own many financial assets that produce income; at best they have a little stock (only one-third of households have more than $5,000 of stock), and their home accounts for most of their wealth. This is also true for low-income households, who obtain 70 percent of their income from wages and related items (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit). Raising households into the middle class and fueling middle-class incomes thus boils down to generating widespread wage growth.

The goals that economic policy must focus on are, thus, creating jobs and reaching robust full employment, generating broad-based wage growth, and improving the quality of jobs.

Jobs

The good news is that 246,000 jobs were created each month in 2014, faster than any year in the last recovery and since 2000. This job growth allowed us to lower unemployment to 5.6 percent in December. Unfortunately, we still have far to go before we recover from the financial crisis of 2008 and the recession that started after December 2007. Specifically, ‘the Great Recession and its aftermath has left us with a jobs shortfall of 5.6 million—that’s the number of jobs needed to keep up with growth in the potential labor force since 2007 and current job creation rates will get us to ‘pre-recession labor market health in August 2016’.1 And even attaining this pre Great
Recession labor market health is an insufficiently ambitious final goal – instead we should strive to reach genuine full employment with roughly 4 percent unemployment. Much is at stake.2 If we do not attain a robust full employment then many communities, particularly those of color, will be left out of the recovery. Moreover, under current policy conditions significant wage growth for the vast majority may only occur when we achieve much lower unemployment than we now have.

Policies that help to achieve full employment are the following:

1. The Federal Reserve Board needs to target a full employment with wage growth matching productivity.

The most important economic policy decisions being made about job growth in the next few years are those of the Federal Reserve Board as it determines the scale and pace at which it raises interest rates. Let’s be clear that the decision to raise interest rates is a decision to slow the economy and weaken job and wage growth. There are many false concerns about accelerating wage growth and exploding inflation based on the mistaken sense that we are at or near full employment. Policymakers should not seek to slow the economy until wage growth is comfortably running at the 3.5 to 4.0 percent rate, the wage growth consistent with a 2 percent inflation target (since trend productivity is 1.5 to 2.0 percent, wage growth 2 percent faster than this yields rising unit labor costs, and therefore inflation, of 2 percent). The key danger is slowing the economy too soon rather than too late.

2. Targeted employment programs

Even at 4 percent unemployment, there will be many communities that will still be suffering substantial unemployment, especially low-wage workers and many black and Hispanic workers. To obtain full employment for all, we will need to undertake policies that can direct jobs to areas of high unemployment. The tool for this is the public and non-profit employment programs that several members of Congress have introduced in the last several years that create jobs by meeting unmet needs.

3. Public investment and infrastructure

There is widespread agreement that we face a substantial shortfall of public investment in transportation, broadband, R&D, and education. Undertaking a sustained (for at least a decade) program of public investment can create jobs and raise our productivity and growth. In the early years this program would most effectively create jobs if we borrowed to finance it, but as we approach full employment we can raise revenues to cover its costs. In this way budget policy can be a tool to allow us to raise productivity and bring us closer to full employment.

Policies that do not help us reach full employment include:

1. Corporate tax reform

There are many false claims that corporate tax reform is needed to make us competitive and bring us growth. First off, the evidence is that the corporate tax rates U.S. firms actually pay (their “effective rates”) are not higher than those of other advanced countries. Second, the tax reform that is being discussed is “revenue neutral,” necessarily meaning that tax rates on average are actually not being reduced; for every firm or sector that will see a lower tax rate, another will see a higher tax rate. It is hard to see how such tax reform sparks growth.

2. Cutting taxes

There will surely be many efforts in this Congress to cut corporate taxes and reduce taxes on capital income (e.g., capital gains, dividends) and individual marginal tax rates, especially on those with the highest incomes. It’s easy to see how those strategies will not work. Look at Figure 1, which shows that these taxes have been reduced over the last 35 years since 1980. Yet, economic growth was slower since 1980 than in the preceding 30 years, when tax rates were much higher. Another useful comparison is to the last recovery following the Bush era tax cuts, which had slower job growth than the current recovery.

UPCOMING CNY COMEDY SHOWS

Saturday, February 14, 2015
LGBT Valentine’s Day “Young, Hot, & Gay!” Comedy Tour at Cavallo’s in New Hartford – 8PM

Saturday, February 14, 2015
LGBT Valentine’s Day “Young, Hot, & Gay!” Comedy Tour at Cavallo’s in New Hartford – 10:30PM

Thursday, March 5, 2015
Moody McCarthy, Mikael Gregg, and RJ McCarthy at Cavallo’s in New Hartford – 8PM

ARTRAGE GALLERY EVENTS

Forces for Change: Local Civil Rights Activists
February 6, 2015 12:00 pm to March 28, 2015 4:00 pm
ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Avenue Syracuse

This photography display (located in the ArtRage Gallery windows) honors our local Civil Rights Activists. The people shown here are only a fraction of the Central New York residents involved in local and national organizing during the Civil Rights Movement. We pay tribute to their dedication, compassion, and courage as they worked, and still work, to transform our society into one of equality and justice. – See more at: http://artragegallery.org/forces-for-change-local-civil-rights-activists#sthash.2KhXo5g2.dpuf

SELMA to MONTGOMERY MARCH AT 50: Civil Rights Photographs by Matt Herron
February 7, 2015 12:00 pm to March 28, 2015 4:00 pm
ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Avenue Syracuse
– See more at: http://artragegallery.org/selma-to-montgomery-march-at-50-civil-rights-photographs-by-matt-herron#sthash.Zj0i3nh2.dpuf

The 1965 Selma marches were pivotal events in the Civil Rights Movement, bringing international attention to the brutality of racist segregation and amplifying Alabama’s denial of voting rights to African Americans. Herron’s powerful photographs convey not just the political but the personal impact of this momentous struggle.
Herron’s photographs have appeared in virtually every major picture magazine in the world. Based in Mississippi in the early 60’s, he covered the Civil Rights struggle for Life, Look, Time, Newsweek, and the Saturday Evening Post, as well as providing pictures for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). His photographs are in the permanent collections of the George Eastman House, the Smithsonian Institution, the High Museum of Art, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
– See more at: http://artragegallery.org/selma-to-montgomery-march-at-50-civil-rights-photographs-by-matt-herron#sthash.Zj0i3nh2.dpuf

Valentine’s Day Dance featuring the music of THE NINES!
February 14, 20157:30 pmto10:00 pm

Join us for a rare Valentine’s Day treat! Dress to the nines and dance to the all female jazz ensemble, The Nines to benefit two great local non-profit organizations – SAGE Upstate & ArtRage Gallery.
The dance will be held at the CNY Philanthropy Center Ballroom located at 431 East Fayette Street in Syracuse. The Ballroom is handicapped accessible.
Tickets for this fundraiser are $10 -$20 sliding scale. Cash bar and nibbles!
For more information call Rose at ArtRage 315-218-5711 or Kim Dill at SAGE 315-478-1923.
– See more at: http://artragegallery.org/#sthash.f1rtoVsF.dpuf

wfp fundraiser

 

UTICA WORKING FAMILIES PARTY FUNDRAISER A SUCCESS

The Central New York Citizens in Action and the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison Counties Working Families would like to thank everyone who attended or supported the WFP Winter Party on Feb. 5. We were honored to have Mayor Robert Palmieri and Assembly Member Anthony Brindisi as our keynote speakers.

 

paid sick days

 

EXPANDED PAID LEAVE FOR WORKERS

By Rick Cooley

There have been calls for expanded paid leave for workers in this nation for years. Perhaps the two most frequently mentioned forms of such leave pertain to sick leave and maternity/family leave. The United States has fallen behind many nations in its refusal to make such practices the norm in its workplaces.

Many employers do provide for paid sick leave for their workers. Doing so is beneficial to the employees, employers and the general public for a number of reasons. If the worker has a job that deals with other people ( co-workers, customers, the general public, etc.), exposing them to the illness may spread it further. The productivity of the sick person will normally suffer, as will the future productivity of any coworkers who become ill as a result of contact with them.

Spreading the illness to customers or the general public would certainly provide bad publicity for the employer, at the very least.

It is difficult to expect an employee who is barely scraping by on the wages they earn to begin with to voluntarily lose work hours to stay at home nursing a cold, flu or other illness. They can’t afford to lose the pay. Since many employers obviously refuse to pay employers for not working for any reason unless they are legally obligated to do so, the right thing to do is obligate at least a minimal amount of paid sick leave for employees. The law already allows employers to pay wages that provide substandard income for many employees – even many of whom work fulltime. Refusal to provide sick time is just adding insult to injury (or sickness, as the case may be).

Most people who have jobs where they get paid a decent wage or salary with decent benefits also get paid sick leave. One place I worked for allowed employees to earn one day per month and accumulate the time indefinitely. The military gives unlimited paid sick leave – as long as its doctors find it is required for the health of the soldier. Some places even buy back accumulated time if the worker so desires. Other employers are not so generous. They are often dealing with employees closer to the bottom of the pay scale – working close to the already inadequate wage that the government has designated as minimum. In some cases, such as wait staff at many restaurants, they make even less than that, depending on the largesse of customers to make up the difference through voluntary tips. Sneezing or coughing into someone’s meal is not likely to encourage generous tipping. (Tipping is a practice that needs to end, but that’s a subject for another essay).

Common practice in retail these days is to employ a substantial percentage of workers as part-time employees with pro-rated or no benefits. An example would be discount chains like Dollar General and Family Dollar (where I have personal experience). Often, the only person in one of these stores who gets any paid sick leave is the store manager. Assistant managers and sales associates – whether fulltime or part-time, get none. Forget about paid holidays off for most of these workers, as well. I’m not personally familiar with fast-food or other restaurant or hotel employees, but since the law allows employers in most states and cities to not offer employees such benefits, many if not most do not.

Most employers will pay the lowest wages and provide the fewest benefits that the law will allow, unless prevailing market conditions force them to pay more to attract sufficient workers to maintain their business and turn a profit. Unfortunately, this situation, along with an organized labor movement which has been decimated in recent decades by anti-labor legislation at the national, local and state levels has been deteriorating to the point where there are now millions of workers either unemployed or underemployed to the point where they cannot make ends meet with one or even two fulltime breadwinners in the home.

Pro-business opponents of providing better wages and benefits for all workers – so that they may meet the needs of their families for food, shelter, clothing, health care, etc,. come across as extremely uncaring to many of us. Employers who provide their worker with these benefits and still make a hefty profit stand out due to their rarity, but we do know they exist. Union membership obviously helps – in those jobs and locations where they have not been decimated by anti-labor legislation. Taking advantage of the fact that people are so hurting for a job – any job – even if it doesn’t pay enough for a decent standard of living does not make these employers good “job creators” in my opinion, but rather good wage-slave drivers. A company that pays its lowest level employees minimum wage or less while paying their CEO and other executives seven or eight figure salaries with perks and benefits the average worker dare not even dream of is a morally bankrupt employer, whatever the corporate bottom line may read. Workers’ lives and wellbeing must become a bit higher on the priority list relative to shareholders for the system to become more fair.

For a country that prides itself on “family values” ours does not seem willing to put its money where its mouth is. During the 2012 campaign, when aspersions were cast upon Anne Romney for being a stay-at-home mother to her sons while they grew up, all hell broke loose. She was performing a socially important function and should be praised, not reviled for it. However, when it comes to single parents or parents of lower socio-economic levels, they are often expected to work multiple jobs more than 40 hours a week while simultaneously finding good childcare and raising their children. The days of the single-income middle class family is pretty much a thing of the past. Why the sympathy for the wealthy stay-at-home parent at the same time as making it economically impossible for lower income people to spend more than a few waking hours a day actually raising their children? This is particularly obvious for the case of parents with very young children and the issue of parental leave – or in the case of the US, the absence of it.

As for maternity leave, the US is one of the few modern economies that does not mandate paid leave for employees. Some use accumulated sick leave for income in the interim, but all that is required by law at this point is the right to have an equivalent job available when the employee returns from unpaid maternity leave. Compared with other advanced economies, this is antiquated, to say the least. It also contributes further to the demonstrated lack of gender equality in the workplace. Women who choose to raise children often fall behind male peers in the workforce while doing so. Advancement opportunities may be missed. Pay equity has been identified as a problem for decades, but still has not been adequately addressed by legislation.
The fact is, our laws have been written to serve the interests of the employers and corporate shareholders over those of their workers for way too long. Those spouting platitudes about the virtue of family values, including providing quality time for parents to nurture their children through to adulthood, go out of their way to make it increasingly difficult for them to do so. How many single-income families exist today compared to 50 years ago? Growing income and wealth inequality has eroded the ability of most Americans today to maintain the standards of living available when today’s parents were children. Mass incarceration of young males for relatively minor non-violent offenses also contributes to the number of single mothers raising children alone. An economic system that has become so skewed in the way it rewards “work” that a few live in luxury and many are just a paycheck or a natural catastrophe away from homelessness, is not only unequal but grossly unfair.

Our political and economic leaders cannot have it both ways. If they want to promote good parenting and responsible family living, they need to make it more attainable for more people. Making money needs to not be so difficult that it leads to the sorts of lifestyles where parents must choose between working 50 hours a week for minimal pay with few benefits and not being able to provide decent living conditions for their families. Stop eroding benefits and wages and start adding to them to provide more social and economic equality. Mandatory paid sick leave and family leave would certainly be a step in the right direction. These steps have already been taken elsewhere without society totally falling apart. Ours wouldn’t suffer that badly, either. Take care of the workers so they can take care of their families adequately, and some of the social safety net programs that the wealthy takers grumble so much about having to pay for may become less costly in the long run. Maybe they could start looking past the short-term bottom line for a social and economic system that is both more humane and more sustainable on a long-term basis.

FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVES

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/

NEWSLETTER ARTICLES ARE NEEDED

Please submit your articles, news items, 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 Our Office is located at 500 Plant Street in Utica, NY at Cornerstone Community Church./315-725-0974 cnycitizenaction@gmail.com https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-New-York-Citizens-in-Action/265689434204

February 2, 2015

austerity

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER

FEBRUARY 1, 2015

Vol. 2, No. 3

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

HEADLINES

Working Families Winter Party 2015 – February 5th

Twitterstorm 2/3: Tell Congress to #StopTheCuts

Contact Rep Hanna And Tell Him To Stop The Cuts!!

CNYCIA Launches Campaign to Restore the American Promise

CNYCIA To Develop Mental Health Initiative

Join the CNYCIA in Albany on February 12 to Oppose Federal Cuts

Recreating Disaster

The Invisible Man: Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Whistleblower

  •  wfp vote your values

Working Families Winter Party 2015 – February 5th

Please join us at the annual Working Families Winter Party 2015 to help us celebrate 16 years of progressive victories in New York State.   The Winter Party will be held on

Thursday, February 5th

from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

at the

Stiefvater Room

618 Varick Street

Utica, NY

(a notice for the event on :   http://www.uticaod.com/article/20150115/NEWS/150119652)

We are honored that Mayor Robert Palmieri and Assembly Member Anthony Brindisi will be joining us for the evening.Tickets may be purchased either by contacting John Furman (315-725-0974) or Jesse Lenney (585-414-4274).  Our email is:

uticaromewfp@gmail.com

You can buy tickets online at

https://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/1306/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=9968

or

Make checks out to Working Families and send to:

Working Families

PO Box 20498

Rochester, NY 14602

Tickets are $125

and $200 for 2 tickets

Founded 16 years ago, the Working Families Party has emerged into a potent force for progressive politics in New York State.

Last year we celebrated victories like the ban on fracking while also preparing for a campaign with our allies to save our public schools from the hedge funders’ privatization agenda.

We stand up to the powerful interests in Albany as a voice for working families of every stripe across New York. We remain united, even when we disagree, by our dedication to creating a New York State that works for all of us, not just the well connected few.

In Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, we have made a significant difference in progressive politics, providing an opportunity for voters to use our ballot line to send a message to their favorite candidates. Sometimes these voters even provide the margin of victory in local and state races, including the race for Mayor of Utica race in 2011.

We know that success on the state level requires champions like Anthony Brindisi in the Legislature.  Great candidates on the State level require great candidates on the local level and this year we hope to include the Utica area in our Progressive Candidate Program by bringing trainings and events of interest to the area to support great candidates and potential candidates as they begin public service.  We can talk a bit more about that work at our fundraiser this year.

We look forward to seeing you at this fundraiser to continue to build a progressive movement in Oneida, Herkimer, and Madison Counties.  Thank you for your support.

twiter storm

Twitterstorm 2/3: Tell Congress to #StopTheCuts

This coming Monday the President will present his budget request to Congress for FY2016. We look forward to reviewing the President’s proposals, and we’ve already heard about important investments he’d make in child care and community college. We’ve heard he will start to reverse damaging cuts to human needs programs. Our next step: we need you to join us in telling Congress our request – stop the cuts.
On Tuesday, February 3rd at 2pm ET, join the Coalition on Human NeedsMomsRising.orgMoveOn.org, the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. and other organizations for a Twitterstorm. Tell Congress that their FY2016 budget must protect programs that promote shared prosperity and help our nation’s most vulnerable.

Strong, well-funded federal programs create jobs, grow the economy, reduce inequality, and keep millions out of poverty. In 2013, 3.7 million people were kept out of poverty by SNAP benefits. Similarly, unemployment insurance kept 1.2 million people out of poverty. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit lifted 10.1 million people, including 5.3 million children, out of poverty in 2012. And the list goes on

But if the new Congress drafts a budget anything like the one the House passed last year, these successful programs will be slashed, along with education, housing, nutrition, and other services young and old alike need to escape poverty.  These will be on top of years of cuts that are keeping us down.  It’s time to tell Congress to #StopTheCuts.

Tell Congress real people are being harmed. On February 3rd raise your voice for human needs and share the real struggles people in your community face and the impact of cuts. Below are sample tweets – but we encourage you to tweet at your Senators and Reps with personal stories, too.

Who? You and/or your organization

What? A twitterstorm telling Congress to stop cuts to the programs that are most important to our nation’s future shared prosperity and ending poverty in America.
Where/When? Twitter, February 3, at 2pm ET How? Post the tweets and graphics telling Congress to #StopTheCuts because #CutsHurt. Have you or someone you know benefited from the programs facing cuts? Get personal!
Please spread the word and email your networks and this event.  You can download the images here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B39MIOQWguUJbnltRGNPNWVyb1E&usp=sharing

Sample Promotional Tweets:

  • Join @CoalitiononHN @MomsRising @MoveOn 4 a twitterstorm on 2/3 @2PM ET! Tell Congress to protect essential programs b/c #CutsHurt
  • Tell Congress to #StopTheCuts in #FY2016! Join the twitterstorm + tweet at your Reps/Senators 2/3 @2PM ET #TalkPoverty #EndPovertyNow
  • 45.3 mil Americans live in #poverty. OnFeb 3, 2pmET Tell Congress cuts to human needs programs are bad for America, our economy  #CutsHurt

Sample Tweets

  • We need more investments, not less, in programs that keep even more people out of #poverty
  • We need a #FY2016 budget that works for all, not just corporations and the wealthy #TalkPoverty
  • Continued cuts to human needs programs are bad for America, our economy #TalkPoverty #CutsHurt
  • In 2013, 3.7 million were lifted out of poverty by #SNAP. #CutsHurt this progress. #TalkPoverty
  • Only 1 in 4 households eligible for federal rental assistance receive it due to lack of funding #Sequester #CutsHurt #FY2016 #Budget
  • Federal rental assistance is effective, lifts millions out of #poverty. @RepTomPrice stop the cuts, stop sequestration #cutshurt #FY2016
  • Housing instability limits opportunity. Restore voucher funding so those eligible are not left waiting! #cutshurt
  • 5.3 million children were lifted out of poverty by #EITC and #CTC in 2012. #CutsHurt this progress. #TalkPoverty  #FY2016
  • Research shows children of #EITC recipients do better in school, attend college & earn more as adults #TalkPoverty #cutshurt @RepTomPrice
  • 1/4 people without a high school degree are living in poverty. Tell Congress to support job training in #FY2016 #TalkPoverty #JobsNotCuts
  • FACT: Since FY2010, 136 important human needs programs have been cut, 51 by more than 15% #CutsHurt #FY2016

twitter storm 2

Contact Rep Hanna And Tell Him To Stop The Cuts!!
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

west utica2

CNYCIA To Develop Mental Health Initiative

 

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is asking local citizens and organizations to join together in developing a mental health initiative to increase treatment options in our area.  In light of the triple homicide involving a man with possible mental health issues, the CNYCIA believes that it is important to begin a community conversation on providing more funding for mental health services, developing a 24 hour drop in center for individuals in emotional distress, improving acute psychiatric care services, and reducing the barriers and stigma associated with mental health treatment.  Please call or write for more information on how you can make a difference in ensuring that all persons have quality and affordable treatment options.  We can be reached at 315-725-0974 or cnycitizenaction@gmail.com.

 restore the american promise

 

CNYCIA Launches Campaign to Restore the American Promise

RESTORE THE AMERICAN PROMISE

A Campaign Across New York State to Defend Our Social Contract and Safety Net

 

What happened to the American Promise?  What happened to the American Dream?  This is the first generation of children not expected to surpass their parents in terms of success and security.

For the past three decades, Washington politicians and their benefactors have broken their promises, and have turned the American Dream in to an American nightmare.  First they froze our wages.  Then they took away our guaranteed pensions.  Then they took away our jobs, and looted our savings.  Now they’re coming for our Medicare, our Medicaid, our Social Security, all to pay for MORE tax cuts for the rich and sweetheart deals for big corporations.Soon they’ll be nothing left for us.

 We want our dignity back.  We want our security back.   We want our American promise.  Restore our jobs, restore tax fairness, protect our Social Security, our Medicare, our Medicaid and other vital social programs. Don’t say “we have no money” – it’s just in the wrong pocket.

 Contact the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. to join our efforts to Restore the American Dream

 promisesign

Join the CNYCIA in Albany on February 12 to Oppose Federal Cuts

 

YOU’RE INVITED!

“Creating an America that Works for ALL of Us!”

 

AN URGENT CALL-TO-ACTION MEETING ABOUT THE NEW CONGRESS

  

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is asking local citizens to attend a state-wide meeting in Albany on February 12 to organize opposition to impending cuts to federal human service programs and attacks on Social Security and Medicare.  Over next two years, dominant Washington politicians plan to do everything they can to deliver for Corporate America and the 1%, while making things even worse the rest of us New Yorkers as we cope with the results of the Great Recession.

* * IT’S TIME TO JOIN TOGETHER, STAND UP, AND FIGHT BACK! * *

Special Guest Speakers to Discuss Federal Budget Issues Related to:

 

  • Jobs, Trade, and Economic Recovery • Social Security and Medicare                     • Health Care • Tax Fairness • Social Safety Net Programs

 

…plus discussion of plans to take action all across New York State!

Thursday, February 12, 2014

10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

1199SEIU, 155 Washington Avenue, in Albany

RSVPs:  www.citizenactionny.org/RAPmeeting

Transportation from Utica

More info: 315-725-0974  cnycitizenaction@gmail.com

kids pay

Recreating Disaster

By Rick Cooley

Starting with a budget deal that concluded the business of the last Congress back in December, the newly ensconced GOP Congressional dominance has so far proven to be more of the same. The Cromnibus led off with provisions designed to begin rolling back some of the important provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. Once again, the US taxpayers find ourselves faced with the increased possibility that we will have to foot the bill for bailing out big banks that have been allowed to gamble our deposits on risky deals – pretty much where we stood when the economy collapsed back in 2008.

Since the GOP Senate majority took office after the first of the year, both the Senate and a bolstered GOP majority in the House of Representatives have gone about business as usual for them since President Obama took office. No longer handicapped by having a majority of Democrats in the Senate, they set about trying to enact a conservative legislative agenda that has done little more than block any real progress for the people of this country for years. They can continue to do so with impunity as long as they continue winning elections despite behavior and policy positions that have been regularly opposed by a vast majority of the inhabitants of this country.

Potential progress being made in the area of regulating the financial services industry (most notably the big banks) which caused the financial collapse at the end of the Bush Administration have been delayed and are now in real danger of being dismantled entirely.  The GOP majority in Congress seems more intent on serving the short-term interests of their Wall Street benefactors than those of the American people as a whole. A significant portion of the Democratic minority has also participated in this effort – Corporate Democrats need campaign contributions, too.  The bailout provisions reintroduced in the budget deal are only the beginning. The GOP appear to be bound and determined to put the economy back into the same situation that precipitated the Great Recession in the not-so-distant past.

Early legislative efforts have also included a renewed effort to force through legislation giving the Keystone XL Pipeline approval, as well as efforts to outlaw most abortions and otherwise cripple many of the most beneficial aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Some are still determined to scrap the ACA altogether. The law is still under threat in the Supreme Court as well. The Republicans have become masters of obfuscation, trying to sell the Keystone XL pipeline as a job creation effort, despite the fact that permanent jobs created by its completion would number in the 10’s, not the thousands they purport. Despite demonstrable cost savings already brought about by the health care law, along with the millions of previously uninsured now being helped by it, the GOP still seek ways to weaken or destroy it.

For the seventh consecutive year, the President has given an excellent State of the Union address, filled with items comprising a progressive agenda aimed at enhancing the lives and livelihoods of people who have been held back from prosperity by an economic system that has resulted in stagnant wages and limited economic mobility for the vast majority of Americans. Rather than boosting the economy for all, trickle down economic policies have exacerbated economic inequality here for decades. Even the alleged recovery from the economic downturn has primarily benefitted the already wealthy. One of the most frustrating aspects to listening to such a positive speech advocating common sense, creative solutions to vexing problems that would improve the lives of millions is the knowledge that most of them will never even come to a vote.  Congress no longer represents the vast majority of people affected by their actions. They get away with it by systemic gerrymandering, voter suppression and campaign finance laws that make a mockery of the concept of “one person, one vote”.

The only major area of agreement between the Congressional GOP leadership and President Obama at this juncture seems to be in the area of trade negotiations – a position which sets the President at odds with many in leadership positions in his own party, along with many traditional supporters of Democratic and progressive candidates. In other areas, such as immigration reform, wages, taxes and education policy, we are pretty much dependent upon the President to veto bills passed by Congress which would set back the country or enact better policies through executive action, which he has been willing to do, but which has much more limited scope than legislation would carry.

This country needs to progress to an economic and social system that alleviates economic inequality and poverty rather than exacerbating it as past and present GOP proposals have done consistently since the Reagan era. Despite the fact that many of the financial deregulation that ultimately precipitated the financial crisis of 2008 was enacted under a Democratic president, it certainly had the stamp of approval of a Republican Congress and was far from being either progressive or even responsible legislation. To revert to the status quo pre- Dodd-Frank would be a recipe for disaster repeating itself. We need to strengthen regulation of the financial sector, not weaken it again. We also need to reform tax and other policies that increase the share of the benefits that accrue to those who reside at the top of the economic pyramid at the expense of the rest of us.

We need to get away from having the best government money can buy for those who have wealth, and strive for one which seeks to improve the situation of all the country’s inhabitants. Equal opportunity needs to become a reality, not just a catch phrase justifying preferential treatment of certain people over others on an arbitrary basis. Money and greed should not be glorified, institutionalized and protected by further unwarranted political influence as has become the case in governments at every level within this country. Our priorities need to be based on more humanistic and humane values than those often expressed by the oligarchs and plutocrats who are currently enabled to purchase influence in our government to an unprecedented extent. Continuing on the current path is dangerous for maintaining our democratic ideals. We need to become a society where people vote and dollars don’t.

Increasing attention will be paid in the days and months ahead to the 2016 elections. We need to be careful to make sure that a GOP majority in both houses of Congress does not undo the good that has been done for us by not having had to deal with President McCain or Romney. We’ve dealt with unfair sequestration, a bloated defense budget (which in reality is just a war budget) and policies which enabled the 1% to gain 95% of the benefits of an unequal recovery. We do not need to compound these with further attacks on living standards, economic conditions, civil and human rights for most of us to further benefit those who need more the least. We do need to make our voices heard louder than the lies being used to subjugate us to the whims of those who seek only self-aggrandizement.

sterling

The Invisible Man: Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Whistleblower

By Norman Solomon

The mass media have suddenly discovered Jeffrey Sterling — after his conviction Monday afternoon as a CIA whistleblower.

Sterling’s indictment four years ago received fleeting news coverage that recited the government’s charges. From the outset, the Justice Department portrayed him as bitter and vengeful — with the classic trash-the-whistleblower word “disgruntled” thrown in — all of which the mainline media dutifully recounted without any other perspective.

Year after year, Sterling’s case dragged through appellate courts, tangled up with the honorable refusal of journalist James Risen to in any way identify sources for his 2006 book State of War. While news stories or pundits occasionally turned their lens on Risen, they scarcely mentioned Sterling, whose life had been turned upside down — fired by the CIA early in the Bush administration after filing a racial discrimination lawsuit, and much later by the 10-count indictment that included seven counts under the Espionage Act.

Sterling was one of the very few African American case officers in the CIA. He became a whistleblower by virtue of going through channels to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2003 to inform staffers about the CIA’s ill-conceived, poorly executed and dangerous Operation Merlin, which had given a flawed design for a nuclear weapons component to Iran back in 2000.

Long story short, by the start of 2011, Sterling was up against the legal wall. While press-freedom groups and some others gradually rallied around Risen’s right to source confidentiality, Sterling remained the Invisible Man.

Like almost everyone, for a long time I knew close to nothing about Sterling or his legal battle. But as I began to realize how much was at stake in the government’s ongoing threat to jail Risen for refusing to betray any source, Sterling started to come into my peripheral vision.

Last spring, I worked with colleagues at RootsAction.org to launch a petition drive titled We Support James Risen Because We Support a Free Press. As petitions go, it was a big success, for reasons well beyond the fact that it gained more than 100,000 signers with plenty of help from other initiating groups (The Nation, FAIR, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, The Progressive and Center for Media and Democracy).

The Justice Department, which had been aggressively pursuing Risen for a half-dozen years at that point, was set back on its heels by the major favorable publicity that came out of our mid-August presentation of the Risen petition in tandem with anews conference at the National Press Club.

Quick media ripple effects included a strong column by Maureen Dowd in support of fellow New York Times journalist Risen (though she didn’t mention the petition or the news conference, which she attended). In the fall, I teamed up with a colleague at ExposeFacts.org, the incisive investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler, to write what turned out to be a cover story in The Nation, The Government War Against Reporter James Risen, providing the first in-depth account of the intertwined cases of Risen and Sterling.

But throughout the fall, for the mass media as well as all but a few progressive media outlets, Jeffrey Sterling remained the Invisible Man.

The principle of supporting whistleblowers as strongly as journalists is crucial. Yet support for the principle is hit-and-miss among individuals and organizations that should be clear and forthright. This need is especially great when the government is invoking “national security” claims.

As the whistleblower advocate Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project has said: “When journalists become targets, they have a community and a lobby of powerful advocates to go to for support. Whistleblowers are in the wilderness. … They’re indicted under the most serious charge you can level against an American: being an enemy of the state.”

We encountered this terrain when the same initiating groups launched a new petition — this one in support of Jeffrey Sterling — Blowing the Whistle on Government Recklessness Is a Public Service, Not a Crime.

Some groups that had been wonderfully supportive of the Risen petition — notably the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Committee to Protect Journalists — opted not to have anything to do with the Sterling petition. In sharp contrast, quick endorsement of the Sterling petition came from Reporters Without Borders and the Government Accountability Project.

Two weeks ago, Jeffrey Sterling went to trial at last. He was at the defense table during seven days of proceedings that included very dubious testimony from 23 present and former CIA employees as well as the likes of Condoleezza Rice.

When a court clerk read out the terrible verdict Monday afternoon, Sterling continued to stand with the dignity that he had maintained throughout the trial.

At age 47, Jeffrey Sterling is facing a very long prison sentence. As a whistleblower, he has done a lot for us. He should be invisible no more.

Norman Solomon is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

NEWSLETTER ARTICLES ARE NEEDED

 Please submit your articles, news items, 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  Our Office is located at   500 Plant Street in Utica, NY at Cornestone Community Church./315-725-0974 cnycitizenaction@gmail.com https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-New-York-Citizens-in-Action/265689434204