Archive for May, 2015

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION – MAY 7, 2015

May 7, 2015

may day

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER

MAY 7, 2015

Vol. 2, No. 9

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

You can view newsletter on:

https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com

HEADLINES

VOTE ‘YES’ FOR KERNAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ADDITION

SUPPORT NEW YORK HEALTH ACT

SENIOR GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY DAY – TUESDAY, MAY 12

2015 COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS LUNCHEON

“OWN THE CHANGE” FILM SCREENING & TEACH-IN

BLAIR HORNER TO SPEAK ON ETHICS REFORM AND

THE NEW YORK STATE BUDGET ON MAY 16

THE REAL POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF THE TPP

HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH TRADE

BOMB, BOMB, BOMB. BOMB BOMB IRAN – NOT!

 

VOTE ‘YES’ FOR KERNAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ADDITION

Kernan Final Scene C1

On May 19th, 2015, the Utica City School District will be issuing a referendum for public vote to allow for a new addition to the Kernan Elementary School. It will entail demolition of the 1916 portion of Kernan Elementary while incorporating two floors of new classrooms and will also house the District Administration Offices. Some of the key benefits to the project:

· Implement an updated and modernized educational facility.

· Bring Administration back within the District’s own Buildings.

· Funding Dollars will come from State Education Department and savings from the current Capital Improvements Project with minimum Public Tax Increases.

· Reduce yearly maintenance costs

· Reduce yearly operational costs

· Provide long term savings.

· Create construction jobs and use union labor.

· New facility to help develop West Utica.

· Help beautify the neighborhood.

Please refer to the Utica City School District Newsletter which will be in your mailbox within the following week or refer to the District Website http://www.uticaschools.org/ under Facilities Capital Project for latest information.

 

SUPPORT NEW YORK HEALTH ACT

What if all working people had access to health care guaranteed as a basic human right? We are urging members of the New York State Assembly to approve the Gottfried/Perkins New York Health Act (A5062/S3525).

The New York Health Act will create a publicly funded, universal single payer health care system in our state, guaranteeing health care to all NY State residents with no out of pocket costs. Everyone will be covered, regardless of immigration or employment status. Unions will be able to negotiate for wage increases, instead of struggling to keep their benefits. New York State could negotiate lower drug prices by creating a statewide market with more purchasing power.

Providers will have streamlined billing and payment procedures, and no more haggling with insurance companies. Employers will have lower, predictable costs, without restrictive networks. Local governments will save on public employee benefits. According to the most recent study of New York Health, 98% of us would see our healthcare costs go down. Without a doubt, New York Health will be a win for the majority of New Yorkers.

We are asking that the State Assembly pass the bill in this session. Please call your Member of the Assembly to urge him/her to support this bill.

More information at nyhcampaign.org or email ursula@nyhcampaign.org

 

SENIOR GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY DAY – TUESDAY, MAY 12

You are invited to join NY StateWide Senior Action Council for Grassroots Advocacy Day on Tuesday, May 12, 10 AM – 3PM.

The day is FREE (lunch and transportation included) and will start at 10A in Meeting Room 6 on the Empire State Plaza, followed by lunch in the Convention Center. Attendees are encouraged to make appointments with their State Senator and State Assemblymember between 1:30 and 2:30. For those who are not able to visit their legislator, there will be an alternative program in Meeting Room 6. The day ends at 3 PM.

There is space on buses leaving from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Buffalo, Utica, Potsdam, Malone, Clifton Park and Albany.

There is limited seating still available. For more information, call Gail Myers at 518-703-2617 or email statewide4@gmail.com.

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champions

2015 COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS LUNCHEON

2015 marks the 11th year that Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency, Inc. celebrates the community champions who are working each and every day for the rights of low-income families in our community. This year’s event is chaired by Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi.

Assemblyman Brindisi will preside over an outstanding field of award recipients this year:

CATHERINE BULLWINKLE—TREVA WOOD COMMUNITY ACTIVIST

JESSICA NEARY—COMMUNITY ACHIEVER

DELORES CARUSO—COMMUNITY BUILDER

THOMAS REVELS—COMMUNITY BUILDER

THE HON. ANTHONY PICENTE—COMMUNITY VISIONARY

THE 2015 COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS LUNCHEON HONORING THEM WILL BE HELD THURSDAY, MAY 14TH, AT THE RADISSON HOTEL IN UTICA AT NOON. SEATS MAY BE PURCHASED FOR $30 EACH BY CONTACTING MVCAA AT 315-624-9930

own the change

“OWN THE CHANGE” FILM SCREENING & TEACH-IN

https://www.facebook.com/events/915802201803500/

Thursday May 14, 7:00-9:00PM, 800 North Salina St, Syracuse, 13208

Following the film, we’ll have a teach-in including:

> Facilitated discussion using the guide from the the film’s producers Toolbox for Education and Social Action
> Worker Co-op Walkaround Activity: A participatory way to get a group thinking about what a worker cooperative could look like in your community
> Co-op Readiness Activity: Is your co-op idea ready for action? Evaluate using this rubric and find out!
> Co-op Resource Mapping Activity: Who can you turn to in your community to get started and stay successful?

Co-Sponsored by:

Onondaga Small Business Development Center
Cooperative Federal
Workers’ Center of CNY
Green Party of Onondaga County
Urban Jobs Task Force
Independent Media CNY
Alchemical Nursery
Transition Syracuse
Bread and Roses Collective
Bitternut Homestead on Otisco Street
Workforce Development Institute (WDI)

 

horner

BLAIR HORNER TO SPEAK ON ETHICS REFORM AND THE NEW YORK STATE BUDGET ON MAY 16

Blair Horner, former and current legislative director of NYPIRG, will be the keynote speaker at the League of Women Voters’ meeting on Saturday, May 16. His topic will be ethics reform and the New York State budget.

He began his career with NYPRG as a college student in the 1970s, and has been with this organization, with some breaks in between, for over 30 years. From 2011-2013 he oversaw advocacy efforts for the American Cancer Society, focusing on the dangers of smoking and other public health programs. His other stint away from NYPIRG was to work for then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, where he helped set up a public data aggregator now known as NYOpenGovernment.com.

The meeting will be held at

Hart’s Hill Inn

135 Clinton St.

Whitesboro, NY

SCHEDULE:

10:00 Registration

10:30 Business Meeting/Annual Meeting

11:30 Buffet and Speaker

COST:

$25/person (includes tax &gratuity)

To make reservations, contact Trudy Kennedy at 315 733‐6244 or email: reservations@lwvuticarome.org by Tuesday, 5/12. Attendees not wanting a meal may attend free of charge.

 

CNYCIA News Conference

 

THE REAL POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF THE TPP

HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH TRADE

By Eric Weltman and John Furman

Up until a few weeks ago, most Americans did not know that President Obama was pushing a new trade deal. But the White House, Republican congressional leadership and the entire corporate lobbying industry are all united to pass a new trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Most people have had enough of trade deals that ship jobs overseas, undermine our food safety and consumer protections and threaten the environment. It is time for Congress to stand up for the American people and reject special interest trade deals.

For the past year-and-a-half, the mainstream media largely ignored negotiations over a trade deal covering an estimated 40 percent of the global economy. In part, this news blackout reflected the absurd secrecy of the trade negotiations. The administration has negotiated the deal almost entirely in secret, keeping Congress out of discussions up until recently. While even congressional staff, governors and municipal leaders have been kept in the dark, nearly 500 companies and industry trade associations have been shown the trade pact and have provided special interest suggestions to U.S. trade negotiators.

The little we know for sure about the deal has been leaked to the public, but the TPP is expected to largely expand the pro-business North American Free Trade Agreement and many critics rightly call it NAFTA on steroids. The TPP is expected to expand a huge and growing trade deficit as companies offshore U.S. jobs. New York State lost more than 200,000 jobs from NAFTA and the China trade deal alone, according to the Economic Policy Institute, and the TPP is expected to further erode the number of manufacturing and service sector jobs.

But the TPP is about more than just exports and imports, it also contains insidious provisions that can undermine or weaken U.S. consumer protection, environmental and public health safeguards. The deal really serves as a sort of secret venue for transnational businesses to push a more aggressive agenda to eliminate commonsense protections by challenging the rules as trade barriers.

For example, trade deals like the TPP can also overturn or block commonsense food labels that inform consumers of the ingredients contained in their food and where products comes from. The U.S. country-of-origin labeling laws for beef and pork have been under attack by Canada and Mexico at an international trade tribunal since 2008.

It even has investment rules that allow companies to challenge federal, state and local laws and regulations that the companies claim “indirectly expropriate” their “reasonable investment-backed expectations.” That is trade jargon for rules that prevent them from profiting at the public’s expense.

This would allow corporations to sue (for financial damages) over rules that curb dangerous or abusive business practices (like pollution or financial fraud) or even require companies to provide sensible disclosure (like food labels). The oil and gas companies are already using a similar investment provision under NAFTA to prevent local governments from regulating fracking. A natural gas company has challenged a fracking moratorium in the Canadian province of Quebec, which was put in place to study the impact of fracking on the St. Lawrence River.

These kind of special investment rights for foreign companies put very commonsense local rules in jeopardy and have a chilling effect on municipalities like New York City that have strong public interest safeguards. That is why New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote last week that these provisions are “particularly worrisome to those of us in states, such as New York, with robust laws that protect the public welfare — laws that could be undermined by the TPP and its dispute settlement provision.”

The public has had enough of these trade deals that put corporate interests first. To get Congress to accept the flawed TPP, Republican leadership and the President want Congress to pass legislation known as Trade Promotion Authority, or Fast Track, which forces Congress to either accept or reject whatever is in the entire deal. These trade deals are too important and cover too much ground for Congress to surrender their ability to address the shortcomings of the TPP.

We are asking local residents to contact their members of Congress at 877-852-4710 and tell them vote NO to Fast Track authority for secret trade deals like the TPP. The TPP and Fast Track are a bad deal for the residents of Central New York and will cripple our community’s efforts to get back on track from the recent recession. We must let our representatives know that they are accountable to us and must put our interests first before those of big corporations

Eric Weltman is a Brooklyn-based. Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch. John Furman is President of the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. For further information, please contact Mr. Furman at 315-725-0974 or cnycitizenaction@gmail.com.

 

BOMB, BOMB, BOMB. BOMB BOMB IRAN – NOT!

By Rick Cooley

There seems to be a never-ending insatiable desire for war among far too many of our leaders in Washington these days. No lack of advice exists for spreading more military mayhem in the Middle East, be it in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan or that most recent member of Bush’s Axis of Evil to become the target of the animosity of hawks everywhere from Congress to Netanyahu – Iran. The vast majority of Republican Senators even went so far as to sign a letter to the leaders of that country not to get their hopes up about a deal with the US and other world powers concerning their nuclear program and sanctions levied on them because of it. They tried to gum up the works by threatening to nix it in the Senate.

The desire of Congress to become involved in foreign affairs and potential or actual wars is their right under the Constitution to a certain extent. They are responsible for declaring war and funding military engagements, as well as authorizing the use of military force, ratifying treaties and approving Presidential appointments for cabinet level officials and others who deal with foreign and military affairs on a daily basis. This sudden interest on their part with the situation in Iran, as well as the well-publicized invitation by House Speaker Boehner for a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to Congress in the midst of a heated election campaign in that country seems to many to be a political gambit designed to thwart efforts by President Obama and his Administration to solve a tense situation diplomatically rather than through force of arms.

The dust-up caused by the letter still hasn’t resulted in any legislation to be signed or vetoed by the President, and the negotiations are still underway. Another deadline approaches in the negotiations at the end of June, at which point voices are likely to be raised about it again in Congress, especially if an agreement is reached between the two sides (UN Security Council plus Germany and Iran). Where were these concerns when Congress was led by the nose into approving authorization of the invasion of Iraq on evidence and intelligence that turned out to be both flimsy and false?

Earlier last year, when ISIS was seen as a threat in both Iraq and Syria, the President acted and went to Congress for approval of actions seeking to thwart the advance of the ISIS reign of terror. He has even requested a new Authorization of the Use of Military Force to set parameters for US military intervention in the region. No new authorization has been forthcoming from Congress since the authorization for the Iraq war over a decade ago. Congress and the media seem to have forgotten all about it, since no formal document has been approved by either House to date. Selective interference in the conduct of foreign policy seems to have joined failure to act on confirming Presidential nominees and refusal to pass needed legislation in the GOP Congressional Obstruction Playbook. Would that they had as much concern over the details of a proposed trade deal that promises to further impoverish their middle class constituents as they do over the details of an international deal that could avert a hot war that has the potential of making the last two wars in the region seem pale in comparison.

Other than Netanyahu, who may owe his continued position in Israel to the gamesmanship displayed by himself and his backers in Congress, the folks in Congress who are continuing to try to force a shooting war with Iran are a mixed lot. Some are military veterans like McCain who see a real threat in Iran’s nuclear program and worry that no negotiated deal that will stop Iran from getting a bomb is possible. Others are simply playing politics, acting like they are backing a longtime ally in Israel and being tough in response to a threat posed to world peace by a longtime nemesis. Few, if any, of them has real skin in the game. Most of those who do are those same small percentage of Americans who have been volunteers serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan for practically all of this century (and their families, of course). The politicians don’t even feel the need to pay for the bombs, bullets and missiles needed to destroy yet another country or five in the region. They’ll just cut back on human services at home and watch the arms merchants continue to wrack up the windfall profits.

Current events in all the countries in the region, including the additional escalation involving Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, illustrate how dangerous the situation has become. People like Tom Cotton displaying the sort of foreign policy and military acumen which asserts that a few bombing raids and a few weeks or months of military action would bring Iran to its knees and solve the problem for once and for all don’t deserve seats in the Senate, let alone on the world stage. Following in the footsteps of George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment in Iraq in 2003 should inspire circumspection rather than further bravado.

As we approach the impending 2016 campaign season, the sensationalists seem to be more concerned with getting publicity and free airtime than with real problem solving. We’ve had enough war to last several lifetimes already. The time has passed for continuing along the path that has brought us to this place where too many people continue to want to waste too many other peoples’ lives, destroyed too many other peoples’ homes and have nothing of consequence to show for it in the end. Using improved technology to remove some of the people responsible for carrying out the orders to kill and destroy from directly experiencing personal danger while doing so does not negate the damage they cause or the immoral consequences of their actions. Just because we have become more efficient killers does not make us any less guilty of murder.

The number of nations currently capable of using nuclear armaments continues to rise. The number of those who have actually used them has not risen since 1945. Politicians in Washington and Tel Aviv only seem worried about Iran because they think they can most easily solve the problem militarily. Where was this outrage when all the other countries developed the weapons? Why aren’t more people working to disarm the weapons already in existence? We are currently seeing a very dangerous situation in the Middle East get even worse by the day. Our intervention is largely responsible for spreading the problem, not lessening the danger. Escalating the conflagration by throwing ever more weapons – conventional or otherwise, with boots on the ground or not – will not bring about a better result. More diplomacy is called for, not more war.

Tell the chicken hawks in Washington to sit down and shut up unless they can come up with a better solution to the current situation than throwing more explosives or cannon fodder at it. There is a big difference between defending oneself and attacking others. Our government seems to have forgotten that ever since they renamed the Department of War to the Department of Defense. 1984 may not have all come true, but our government has certainly perfected the art of doublespeak. Tell Congress to spend more time and money helping solve the problems of average people here, and less trying to enrich the oligarchs they have come to serve in their stead. I have no love for the terrorist tactics used by ISIS and other groups fighting us and our allies abroad (often with weapons we provided), but I have even less desire to continue contributing to the ranks of the innocents killed or made homeless by these wars we either started or fueled with no vision of how to end. Any signers of that letter to Iran or advocates of escalating the killing abroad do not deserve to remain in Congress, let alone become our next President.

 

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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

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