Archive for January, 2016

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER – JANUARY 18, 2016

January 19, 2016

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER
JANUARY 18, 2016
Vol. 3, No. 2

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

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

HEADLINES

SEEKING VOLUNTEERS AND INTERNS FOR THE CENTRAL  NEW YORK CITIZENS IN ACTION

HEALTH CARE FOR ALL IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES LUNCH AND PLANNING MEETING
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 20, 12 NOON

BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES IN ONEIDA, HERKIMER, MADISON COUNTIES ON JANUARY 19

WORKING FAMILIES PARTY TO HOLD
FUNDRAISER ON JANUARY 28

SEEKING UTICA COMMON COUNCIL MEMBER TO
SPONSOR RESOLUTION OPPOSING TPP

 

SEEKING VOLUNTEERS AND INTERNS FOR THE CENTRAL
NEW YORK CITIZENS IN ACTION, INC.

Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc.is an independent progressive social justice organization. Since 1997, Citizen Action has helped to win victories on increasing the minimum wage and ensuring affordable health care. The involvement of our members has been key to our success. That’s why we need your help. If you’d like to get involved, please call us at 315-725-0974 or email cnycitizenaction@gmail.com. You will receive a follow-up call from us who can discuss with you specific ways you can help out that best fit your time and interests. Volunteers are needed to research and write articles, promote the organization in the media, maintain the new website conduct surveys, and serve on the board and committees. Thanks again for your support of Citizen Action!

HEALTH CARE FOR ALL IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES LUNCH AND PLANNING MEETING – WEDNESDAY JANUARY 20, 12 NOON

The NYS Immigration Coalition, Health Care for All NY, Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. and Citizen Action of NY are working on a new campaign to get health care coverage for all immigrants including undocumented in NYS. Claudia Calhoun with the NYS Immigration Coalition and Bob Cohen with CANY & HCFANY are doing a tour around NYS holding meetings to educate folks about the issue and how we can advocate for this in the coming new year. They will be in Utica on Jan 20, 2016 at 12 Noon.
Mary Clark Citizen Action of NY
607-232-2084cabing@citizenactionny.org

Health Care for all Immigrants and Refugees!
Join us for a lunch and planning meeting
Wednesday January 20 2016
12:00 Noon
DeSales Center 309 Genesee St., Utica NY 13501
Special guests: Claudia Calhoon from the NY State Immigration Coalition
Bob Cohen from Citizen Action NY and Health Care for All New Yorkers

Learn how NYS can expand Health coverage for all Immigrants and Refugees
For more information & RSVP call 607-723-0110 or email cabing@citizenactionny.org

Bernie Sanders Campaign Launches in Oneida, Herkimer, Madison Counties

The public is invited to the Bernie Sanders for President Campaign Kick-off on Tuesday, January 19 at 6 p.m. at the Utica Public Library, 303 Genesee Street, (Gallery, 2nd Floor),
Utica.

At the Kick-off, supporters will be informed of Bernie Sanders Campaign plans in New York State, how to get involved in the campaign and what can be done to make sure Bernie Sanders is on the New York State ballot in April. Refreshments will be served. For more information or how to volunteer, contact John Furman at 315-725-0974, ElectBernieMidNY@gmail.com or
John Dzialo, 518-222-2878, johndizzylo@gmail.com.

What: Bernie Sanders for President Campaign Kick-off

When: Tuesday, January 19, 6:00 PM

Where: Utica Public Library, 303 Genesee Street, (Gallery, 2nd Floor),
Utica

Who: Bernie Sanders NYS Campaign. Working Families Party, Citizen Action of NY, and Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. have endorsed Bernie Sanders

 

Working Families Party to Hold Fundraiser on January 28

Assemblyman Brindisi and Mayor
Palmieri Featured Speakers

Utica, NY: The New York State Working Families Party will host its third annual fundraiser on Thursday, January 28 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at The Stief, 618 Varick Street, Utica. Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and Mayor Robert Palmieri of Utica are featured speakers.

Hosted by the Herkimer-Oneida-Madison Counties Working Families Party Chapter, the Winter Cocktail Party will celebrate 17 years of progressive victories on the local, state, and national levels. Tickets are $125 and two for $200 (WFP enrolled voters and regular monthly contributors can qualify for special pricing.) Tickets may be purchased by contacting John Furman (315-725-0974), Jesse Lenney (585-414-4274), uticaromewfp@gmail.com, online at https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/2016uticawfp or by sending a check made payable to “Working Families” to: Working Families, P.O. Box 20498, Rochester, NY 14602.

Special event sponsor opportunities include: Chair Level – $1,250 (8 tickets), Champion Level – $1,000 (7 tickets), Leader Level – $750 (6 tickets), Activist Level – $500 (4 tickets), Friend Level – $350 (3 tickets). More information on the event can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/442461479298395/.

Founded in New York in 1998 by a coalition of progressive unions, community organizations, and activists, the Working Families Party’s goal is to use electoral politics and issue campaigns to win concrete victories for working people. In the November 2015 election, the Working Families Party recruited and supported 111 candidates through its Progressive Pipeline Project in local races in New York State. Seventy-one of them won. More information can be found at: http://workingfamilies.org/ .

With chapters in ten states and a supporter-base that spans the nation, the Working Families Party has won public policies that make a difference in the lives of working families, from paid sick days laws and minimum wage increases to reforms to criminal justice laws and policing practices to wins on student debt and environmental protection. The WFP’s progressive candidates’ Pipeline is recruiting, training and electing the next generation of progressive leaders.

2015 has been a momentous year for the Working Families Party. On December 8, it endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary for President, the first-ever national endorsement for the Working Families Party. In Chicago, United Working Families backed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Mayor and held Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a historic run-off election, and helped elect the largest-ever progressive city council caucus. Working Families Party members won special elections for state legislative seats. Connecticut State Senator Ed Gomes and New York State Assembly member Diana Richardson became the first two state legislators elected only on the Working Families Party ballot line. In Ferguson, Missouri, WFP helped increase African American turnout in the city’s municipal elections following the killing of Michael Brown. Pennsylvania Working Families successfully backed Philadelphia Mayor-elect Jim Kenney in his competitive Democratic Primary. In November, Elizabeth, New Jersey voters approved a ballot measure guaranteeing paid sick days with 86 percent of the vote, making Elizabeth the tenth municipal paid sick days victory for New Jersey Working Families; and Hartford elected three WFP members to the Hartford City Council. New Working Families chapters were launched this year in Wisconsin and Rhode Island.

SEEKING UTICA COMMON COUNCIL MEMBER TO SPONSOR RESOLUTION OPPOSING TPP

The Syracuse Common Council is expected to pass a resolution against the TPP. We need to do the same in Utica. Syracuse Common Councilor at-Large Jean Kessner is sponsoring a resolution in opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership trade “agreement.” Come support the Syracuse Vs. the TPP by attending the Common Council Resolution Study Session on Wednesday, January 20, 12pm NOON 233 E. Washington St. Room 314. At this meeting, please speak out against the against the TPP, a global corporate power grab. Bring signs in opposition to the TPP. The vote on the resolution will take place on Monday, January 25, 1pm NOON 233 E. Washington St. Room 314.

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.

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./315-725-0974315-725-0974 cnycitizenaction@gmail.com https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com

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CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER – JANUARY 13, 2016

January 14, 2016

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER
JANUARY 13, 2016
Vol. 3, No. 1

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

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

HEADLINES

Climate and Minimum Wage Activists Converge in Albany Today

Tell The NY State Senate: Support the $15
Wage and Stand With Working People!

Cuomo Urged to be National Climate Leader in 2016

Community members pay tribute to Martin Luther King

Bernie Sanders Campaign Launches in Oneida, Herkimer, Madison Counties

Working Families Party to Hold Fundraiser on January 28

Urge Congress to Say NO to the TPP
Hundreds of activists, parents gather at Capitol to advocate for education

American Political Tomfoolery, Part 4: Time to Get Real

minimum wage climate

CLIMATE AND MINIMUM WAGE ACTIVISTS
CONVERGE IN ALBANY TODAY

TELL THE NY STATE SENATE: SUPPORT THE $15
WAGE AND STAND WITH WORKING PEOPLE!

Hundreds of low wage workers rallied today at New York State of the State Speech to call for a $15 statewide wage for all workers. The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is proud to support these efforts! Please contact your member of the New York State Senate and tell him/her that millions of working New Yorkers back a $15 wage that would begin to reverse decades of stagnant wages and move families toward real economic recovery

In September 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Labor Commissioner approved a state wage board’s recommendation to raise New York’s minimum wage to $15 for fast-food workers – by 2018 in New York City and by 2021 statewide – an action that will improve the lives of at least 136,000 workers from Long Island to Buffalo.

Governor Cuomo, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, recently announced that he is launching the nation’s first campaign to extend a $15 minimum wage statewide. This far-reaching action could help up to 3 million more New York workers and set the standard for how leaders across America respond to the ongoing wage crisis that is leaving millions of working families behind, even as the economy continues to recover and corporate profits
and CEO compensation soar.

Governor Cuomo’s proposal for New York will be the nation’s first push for a statewide $15 minimum wage.

Job growth in most upstate metro areas has improved over the past year and a higher minimum wage will help sustain job growth since higher wages means more purchasing power, particularly for low-wage workers likely to spend any additional wage earnings.Raising the wage floor in several steps to $15 an hour helps the upstate economy in light of the fact that much of the net job growth in recent years has been among low-wage jobs.

Small businesses will benefit from a higher minimum wage since, in addition to boosting consumer buying power in low-income communities, data from New York State retail and fast-food sectors show that smaller businesses already pay better than most large companies. Since a statewide minimum wage increase would apply to all businesses across the board, no individual small business would be put at a competitive disadvantage.

There is a growing recognition on the part of businesses and institutional investors that higher wages are key to reducing turnover, improving customer service, and enhancing profitability. Several large employers, including Walmart, Target, Aetna, IKEA and the Gap, are starting to raise wages as a result. A recent study from Purdue’s tourism management school concluded that the fast-food industry could accommodate a $15 an hour minimum wage through savings related to reduced turnover and small price increases not much greater than recent experience.

An increase in the minimum wage would reduce companies’ ability to shift costs to government programs, and would result in considerable savings at all levels of government in spending on various forms of public assistance as well as generate increased payroll and individual income taxes paid by workers. A recent Urban Institute report analyzed several policy options for reducing poverty in New York City and concluded that the net fiscal savings to all levels of government from an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour represented roughly 43 percent of the rise in aggregate earnings as a result of the minimum wage increase.

It makes good fiscal sense for the state to increase human services contract funding to help cover the cost of raising the pay of low-paid nonprofit workers. Analysis such as the recent Urban Institute report show that a large minimum wage increase will generate significant savings for the state budget from Medicaid savings and increased tax revenues – a portion of  which could be used to pay for such human services contract increases. Raising human services worker wages will also cause high employee turnover to decline, yielding savings in hiring costs and improved service quality. Moreover, many of these government-funded services are intended to help low-income families get back on their feet and to better care for their children and other family members. Improved delivery of these essential services will save taxpayers in the long run, as will the reduced use of public assistance by nonprofit workers. Since nonprofits provide such services under government contracts, New York State should increase contract funding to enable nonprofit employers to meet a higher wage floor and to invest in worker skills.

climate rally

Cuomo Urged to be National Climate Leader in 2016

Groups Urge Him to Support 100% Renewables, Off Shore Wind in SOS Time to End Fossil Fuel Era – Stop pipelines, other infrastructure, oil bomb trains

Climate change activists held a State of the Climate rally and march today at the Capitol to urge Governor Cuomo to commit to 100% renewable energy and to announce the end of the fossil fuel era in New York. The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is part of this state-wide movement to fight for new policies to support sustainability.

The themes of the rally were: Rapid action on climate change; support 100% Renewables Now; Climate Justice; Living Wage Jobs, and a Just Transition.

There are numerous pipelines and fossil fuel projects under construction or proposed that climate activists want the state to halt. They also want the state to commit to ensure a Just Transition, ensuring that the needs and voices of those most impacted by climate change are addressed. In Albany, oil bomb trains carrying Bakken Crude pass within feet of low-income neighborhoods on a daily basis.

Groups want the Governor to increase funding and support for renewable energy, especially the stalled development of offshore wind. They want him to adopt a legally binding, comprehensive state climate action plan with benchmark and timelines; and invest in need infrastructure (e.g., charging stations for electric vehicles.)

“We want New York to replace California as a world leader on climate change. The City of San Diego recently announced a goal of going to 100% renewable energy by 2035. We would like New York to match if not better that goal. What is really missing is a commitment to offshore wind,” noted Mark Dunlea of the 100% Renewables Now NY campaign.

Advocates are urging the Governor to support a Power Purchase Agreement for 5,000 MW of offshore wind (OSW) by 2025 and 10,000 megawatts by 2030. The federal government says its top priority for OSW development is off Long Island.

Groups want the Governor to use his regulatory authority to halt the construction of additional fossil fuel infrastructure in New York, including a slew of proposed oil and gas pipelines, compressor stations, power plants and storage facilities. They want a halt to the oil bomb trains, barges and pipelines bringing Bakken crude oil into and through the state.

“We need to simultaneously stop fossil fuel infrastructure and promote renewable energy resources to maintain a livable planet. If we don’t stop fossil fuels we’ll have less incentive to create renewables. If we don’t promote renewables, people will wonder if we can live without fossil fuels. We’ve had a war on poverty and a war on drugs, now we need a war to save our environment. If we put the same resources and energy into defeating global warming that we did in winning World War II, we’d be at 100% renewables in no time,” said Becky Meier of Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline.

“New York needs a Green New Deal — an all-out mobilization for 100% clean energy by 2030 at the latest. Public Power is how we will get Solar Power. We need a publicly-owned energy system that is operated democratically for public benefit — not for private profit. We need Energy Democracy,” said Howie Hawkins of the Green Party.

Scores of New York residents have been arrested in recent months to block the construction of local fossil fuel projects, including actor James Cromwell at the CVP plant in Orange County and Prof. Sandra Steingraber at the Seneca Lake LNG facility, both of whom spoke at the State of the Climate rally.

“The Governor has a choice to make. He can shred New York’s forests and wetlands with pipelines, sicken New York families with compressor station emissions, and turn Seneca Lake into a giant fracked gas storage tank, thereby risking another Aliso Canyon gas leak disaster in the heart of wine country. Or he can build on his climate legacy—begun with his bold decision to ban fracking—and declare a curfew on further fossil fuel build-out in New York State, which is what both the scientific evidence and the Paris Climate Agreement require,” said Sandra Steingraber of We Are Seneca Lake, a co-sponsor of the State of the Climate rally and march.

Three members of the Wawayanda 6, who were arrested after locking themselves together last month to protest the CPV Valley Energy Project, a 650 gas power plant now under construction in Orange County, participated in the rally.

“The residents of New York, our natural resources, and all sentient beings that depend on these resources, are facing unprecedented peril from ever-expanding gas infrastructure. Despite the ban on fracking and the Governor’s announced renewable energy goals of 50% renewable by 2030, our states current energy policies are largely predicated on the expanded use, transportation, and dependence on fracked gas. The rhetoric of the state’s energy policy does not reflect the brick and mortar reality currently under way. The CPV Valley Power plant, a 650 MW gas plant, now under construction in Orange County, approved and facilitated by Governor Cuomo, is a demonstration of the state’s actual intent. It will use fracked gas from Pennsylvania for the New York’s wholesale energy market. The magnitude of the environmental, public health, and climate change impacts of fracking render this project and policy incoherent and incomprehensible,” said James Cromwell, one of the arrestees.

Pramilla Malick, Chair of Protect Orange County, who was also arrested, explained that “each new power plant carries with it hundreds of miles of pipelines along with compressor stations, metering stations, and fracking wells; all posing an existential threat to frontline communities and our climate. Projects like CPV will lock us into fossil fuel dependency for 30 years.”

“Governor Cuomo has mandated a renewable future for NYS. If his intentions are authentic, then we have to halt the buildout of gas infrastructure and start building wind and community owned solar,” said Kim Fraczek, Co-Director of Sane Energy Project.

Every day the oil industry sends millions of gallons of highly flammable, dangerous crude shale oil through our cities, towns and backyards. Our railroad was not built for this, our families, communities and environment should not be put in harm’s way for corporate America to profit. Citizen Action of New York stands with our brothers and sisters in the South End of Albany and throughout the state against oil trains that go “boom”, said Julia Caro, Deputy Campaigns Director of Citizen Action.

Many groups are calling the Constitution Pipeline Cuomo’s Keystone moment. The 121 mile pipeline to move fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County needs a water quality certification from DEC. Groups are drafting state legislation to halt the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.

While the Governor has won praise for supporting the expansion of renewable energy, the recently adopted state energy plan promotes a major expansion of “cheap” natural gas in the state. Methane however is 87 times more potent short term as a greenhouse gas that carbon dioxide. Groups also oppose his bail out of coal and nuclear plants.

The groups urge the Governor – and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli – to build upon recent steps in California, Vermont and NYC and to divest the state pension funds from fossil fuels. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating Exxon for deceiving the public, elected officials and investors about climate change.

“ExxonMobil has knowingly concealed findings since the 80’s about its harmful climate impact while simultaneously funding a major misinformation campaign, jeopardizing the future of generations to come. Yet we shamefully still hold over a billion dollars of Exxon in our New York State Pension Funds. Why are we continuing to fund climate change, when those investments have lost billions over the last few years? We need to put that money towards an urgent and just transition to 100% renewable energy,” said Lyna Hinkel of 350NYC.

Speakers at the rally included Mark Dunlea, 100% Renewables Now NY, GELF; Kim Fraczek, Sane Energy Project; Becky Meier, Stop NY Frack Gas Pipeline; Suzy Winkler, People, Not Pipelines, Dominick Casolaro, PAUSE; As. Felix Ortiz; Matt Ryan, ALIGN; Julia Caro, Citizen Action; Sandra Steingraber, We Are Seneca Lake; Suzanne Hunt, NYS Sustainable Business Council, HuntGreen LLC; Lyna Hinkel, 350NYC; Howie Hawkins, Green Party; and, James Cromwell and Pramilla Malick, STOPMCS.

mlk sieu

Community members pay tribute to Martin Luther King

The Utica/Oneida County Branch of NAACP is coordinating a community-wide march and Ecumenical service on January 18, 2016 at St. Paul’s Church located at 219 Leah Street in Utica.

This 30th annual tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr will begin with a commemorative march starting at 6:30 PM. Participants will gather in front of the church and follow a designated route. Following the march, the community will gather inside St. Paul’s for an ecumenical service.

The keynote speaker for this event will be Rabbi Cassi Kail of Temple Emanuel- El, will deliver a moving tribute to the fallen civil rights leader. The ceremony will be filled with rousing musical performances and group singing.

All members of the Utica community are warmly encouraged to attend.

bernie-sanders-portrait-01

Bernie Sanders Campaign Launches in Oneida, Herkimer, Madison Counties

The public is invited to the Bernie Sanders for President Campaign Kick-off on Tuesday, January 19 at 6 p.m. at the Utica Public Library, 303 Genesee Street, (Gallery, 2nd Floor),
Utica.

At the Kick-off, supporters will be informed of Bernie Sanders Campaign plans in New York State, how to get involved in the campaign and what can be done to make sure Bernie Sanders is on the New York State ballot in April. Refreshments will be served. For more information or how to volunteer, contact John Furman at 315-725-0974, ElectBernieMidNY@gmail.com or John Dzialo, 518-222-2878, johndizzylo@gmail.com.

What: Bernie Sanders for President Campaign Kick-off

When: Tuesday, January 19, 6:00 PM

Where: Utica Public Library, 303 Genesee Street, (Gallery, 2nd Floor),
Utica

Who: Bernie Sanders NYS Campaign. Working Families Party, Citizen Action of NY, and Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. have endorsed Bernie Sanders

wfp logo

Working Families Party to Hold Fundraiser on January 28

Assemblyman Brindisi and Mayor
Palmieri Featured Speakers

Utica, NY: The New York State Working Families Party will host its third annual fundraiser on Thursday, January 28 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at The Stief, 618 Varick Street, Utica. Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and Mayor Robert Palmieri of Utica are featured speakers.

Hosted by the Herkimer-Oneida-Madison Counties Working Families Party Chapter, the Winter Cocktail Party will celebrate 17 years of progressive victories on the local, state, and national levels. Tickets are $125 and two for $200 (WFP enrolled voters and regular monthly contributors can qualify for special pricing.) Tickets may be purchased by contacting John Furman (315-725-0974), Jesse Lenney (585-414-4274), uticaromewfp@gmail.com, online at https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/2016uticawfp or by sending a check made payable to “Working Families” to: Working Families, P.O. Box 20498, Rochester, NY 14602.

Special event sponsor opportunities include: Chair Level – $1,250 (8 tickets), Champion Level – $1,000 (7 tickets), Leader Level – $750 (6 tickets), Activist Level – $500 (4 tickets), Friend Level – $350 (3 tickets). More information on the event can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/442461479298395/.

Founded in New York in 1998 by a coalition of progressive unions, community organizations, and activists, the Working Families Party’s goal is to use electoral politics and issue campaigns to win concrete victories for working people. In the November 2015 election, the Working Families Party recruited and supported 111 candidates through its Progressive Pipeline Project in local races in New York State. Seventy-one of them won. More information can be found at: http://workingfamilies.org/ .

With chapters in ten states and a supporter-base that spans the nation, the Working Families Party has won public policies that make a difference in the lives of working families, from paid sick days laws and minimum wage increases to reforms to criminal justice laws and policing practices to wins on student debt and environmental protection. The WFP’s progressive candidates’ Pipeline is recruiting, training and electing the next generation of progressive leaders.

2015 has been a momentous year for the Working Families Party. On December 8, it endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary for President, the first-ever national endorsement for the Working Families Party. In Chicago, United Working Families backed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Mayor and held Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a historic run-off election, and helped elect the largest-ever progressive city council caucus. Working Families Party members won special elections for state legislative seats. Connecticut State Senator Ed Gomes and New York State Assembly member Diana Richardson became the first two state legislators elected only on the Working Families Party ballot line. In Ferguson, Missouri, WFP helped increase African American turnout in the city’s municipal elections following the killing of Michael Brown. Pennsylvania Working Families successfully backed Philadelphia Mayor-elect Jim Kenney in his competitive Democratic Primary. In November, Elizabeth, New Jersey voters approved a ballot measure guaranteeing paid sick days with 86 percent of the vote, making Elizabeth the tenth municipal paid sick days victory for New Jersey Working Families; and Hartford elected three WFP members to the Hartford City Council. New Working Families chapters were launched this year in Wisconsin and Rhode Island.

tpp

Urge Congress to Say NO to the TPP

The corporate push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is on. We need your help pushing back.

Last week, the Business Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other corporate lobbies formally launched their campaigns to get the TPP passed early this year. Then, last night, the President used his final State of the Union address to make a call for the TPP.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to oppose calls to pass the TPP in early 2016 and beyond.

There were a lot of excellent ideas in last night’s speech, but the idea that the TPP will help our economy wasn’t one of them.

The TPP would force U.S. employers into direct competition with corporations exploiting people in countries like Vietnam, where workers are often paid less than 65 cents an hour. That’s no way to build our economy.

The administration’s only major economic impact study on the TPP found it would result in 0.00% increased U.S. economic growth. A more-recent study out of Tufts University concluded that the TPP would actually reduce U.S. economic growth over its first decade and cost nearly half-a-million U.S. jobs.

Yet another study found that the TPP would put a downward pressure on wages for the bottom 90% of American households.

The TPP would have a tremendously harmful impact on U.S. jobs and wages. But it doesn’t end there. The TPP is also a disaster for the environment, food safety, access to medicines and democracy itself. What more should we expect from a trade deal that was negotiated behind-close-doors with the aid of hundreds of corporate advisors, while the public and press were shut out?

Enough is enough. Please email your Congress members now and ask that they publicly oppose the TPP.

The good news here is that, with your help, we are able to stop the TPP. Unlike almost any other line in the State of the Union, the President’s mention of the TPP did not receive thunderous applause from either side of the aisle. It seemed like the only ones to give it a standing ovation were the President’s own Cabinet members. This election year, Congress is finally getting the message that support for job-killing trade deals like the TPP is very dangerous politics.

Understanding that they’re really in a “now or never” moment, corporate interests groups are pushing hard for a TPP vote this year. But if we push back hard enough, we will overcome them. Please take action now by urging your Members of Congress to say NO to the TPP.

Credit: CITIZENS TRADE CAMPAIGN

Online: citizenstrade.org
Twitter: @citizenstrade

 

aqe rally

Hundreds of activists, parents gather at Capitol to advocate for education

Alliance for Quality Education, community groups call on Gov. Cuomo, legislators to focus on the needs of schoolchildren by fully funding CFE, raising revenue

On January 12, the Alliance for Quality Education along with Citizen Action of New York, Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change, NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Metro Justice of Rochester and hundreds of parents and students from across the state gathered at the New York State Capitol today to demand that Gov. Cuomo and state legislators make education a priority in 2016. The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is pleased to be part of the state-wide coalition to increase funding for public education in New York,

With a $2.7 billion recurring surplus, AQE and community groups believe that the Governor and Legislators could finally fully comply with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) court ruling, which stated that schools are unfairly funded. A report published by AQE earlier this week shows that the state owes schools $4.8 billion as a result of CFE with 72% due to high needs districts.

CFE, if fulfilled, would level the playing field for millions of students who are learning in schools that are severely underfunded and stretched for resources. Many of these schools, mostly urban and serving black and Latino students, have less art, music, libraries, sports, advanced placement courses and career and technical education – all avenues that would provide every child with exposure, and thus access, to a bright future.

The advocates let their feelings be known to the Governor and their local Assembly members and Senators with a delivery of balloons, symbolizing children, imprinted with the message #StandUp4Kids.

The advocacy day, an annual event for those who feel passionately about education, follows the release of AQE’s latest report, Students v. the State of New York: What Happens to a Dream Deferred?. Released last Sunday, the report notes that the state still owes New York State public schools $4.8 billion. The report, based on the data from the State Education Department, breaks down the amount owed by Senate and Assembly district. In addition, the report is accompanied by a website where anyone can look up how much his or her school district is owed. It is at http://www.cfemoneyowednys.org/

“As a mother of three, I organize to ensure the best education for my kids” said Diana Zarumeno, parent leader of Make the Road New York. “My assembly district is owed nearly $40 million dollars. This is money that can be spent on after school programs, the elimination of trailers as learning facilities and adequate translation services for immigrant parents who want to be involved in their kids schools. I urge our Governor and New York State Legislature to stand up for kids.”

“The argument that the state cannot afford to fund schools fully is not valid,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “We are starting 2016 with a $2.7 billion surplus. The Governor and the Legislature must fulfill the promise of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity because our schools steer students toward their dreams. The schools need the funding and resources to help all students succeed.”

“It is so very important to have advocacy days like this one,” said Jamaica Miles, a Schenectady parent. “Legislators need to hear from their constituents and know that education is a top priority for all parents, students and teachers across New York State.”

​”The future of our communities and our economy depends on our children getting a quality education right now,” said Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York. “New York State’s failure to fund our schools has held back students for too long, especially students of color.”​

 

American Political Tomfoolery, Part 4: Time to Get Real

By Rick Cooley

rick cooley

Now that 2016 has actually begun and actual votes are going to be counted for the purpose of determining the Presidential Candidates from each of the two major American political parties, efforts will hopefully be made to educate voters as to the stark differences in policy that exist making each candidate unique in his or her qualifications for ascending to the position of most powerful politician on Earth. Until now, most of what has passed for political campaigning, at least as far as mainstream media coverage is concerned, has failed miserably in achieving anything resembling a comprehensive listing of candidates’ positions on the issues that will have the greatest impact on us leading up to the election in November and the government it will leave us with next year.

To this point, the mainstream media has obviously paid way more attention to a few of the Republican candidates than it has to either the rest of them or the Democratic field. To be fair, there are way more GOP candidates, many of whom will not remain in the field past the March Super-Tuesday primaries. However, the differences that do exist among the GOP contenders, as expressed so far in the media, seem to me to be rather trivial and focused more on style than on substance. Little of any substance has been said contrasting the overwhelmingly oligarchic flavor of the GOP candidates to the more working class orientation expressed by the Democratic candidates let alone smaller party candidates. Concrete policy proposals have thus far been big on generalizations and included few specifics on how each candidate intends to achieve what seem to be generally agreed upon goals. What few differences currently being aired on stump speeches and in debates (if they can be called that on the GOP side) seem to focus on perceived shortcomings in personality of some as viewed by their opponents, as opposed to differences in approach to solving specific problems, let alone what policies should be priorities.

Donald Trump’s performances have been phenomenal in their almost universal offensiveness. About the only demographic he has failed to disrespect at some point or other is white males. He seems no more prone to suffering in the polls due to verbal gaffes than Ronald Reagan was. Just when some pundits believe he may have finally gone too far with one of his utterances, a new poll finds he has actually gone up in popularity. For months, journalists and politicians alike waited for his lead to dissipate. Time will tell if actual vote counting will turn the tide and allow people to see how he reacts to losing a caucus or primary. In addition to such outlandish proposals as refusing entrance to the country to followers of one of the world’s major religions and vowing to use torture along with intentionally targeting innocent civilians in fighting terrorism, he has also promised to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, build a wall on the border at Mexico’s expense and reinvigorated the birther conspiracy he championed so obnoxiously against President Obama to question the Constitutionality of the candidacy of one of his main rivals – Ted Cruz. Truth and reality have little to do with his campaign.

I find Ted Cruz even less attractive as a potential President of the US than Donald Trump, but also find unbelievable the amount of ink, television and radio airtime that is being devoted to discussing this obvious distraction from addressing real issues that are now and will for years to come seriously affect the daily lives of average American citizens. The only lip service the Republican candidates have made so far to addressing budgetary, tax, education and other economic and social issues facing us all has involved almost unanimous calls for lowering tax rates (particularly benefitting the wealthy) and cutting spending on social programs in such a manner as to make Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush appear to be bleeding heart liberals in comparison. Doubling down on policies which will exacerbate the already intolerable inequalities of wealth and income and further decimating any remaining vestiges of democracy as it pertains to American society is a given for these people. They compete to see who has the least compassion and the most macho bravado when it comes to any policy issue, foreign or domestic. The media “reports” all this unquestioningly, as if this is the available choice, which do you choose.

Recently, Donald Trump held a rally in Burlington, VT (Apparently, Bernie Sanders, former mayor of the city I used to call home, has started getting under his skin. Trump has about as much chance of winning VT in November as I do as a write-in candidate). It was on the same night as the President’s town meeting on gun control. Trump’s campaign gave out about 20,000 tickets to the event, (which is enough for more than half of the population). The venue was a theater seating about 1.400 people. it’s almost as if he would give out a million tickets to New Yorkers to see him speak at Yankee Stadium. Beyond the absurdity of the setting, MSNBC broadcast practically his entire stump speech and treated it as of basically equivalent in importance to the Presidential Town Hall Meeting. No other candidate, an any party, is receiving the amount of free advertising Trump is getting.

The DNC is helping feed this lack of balance in the media favoring some of the more repulsive Republican candidates. By scheduling fewer debates to be conducted at times known in advance to guarantee smaller audiences than those held by the GOP, the Republican candidates are effectively allowed to set the agenda for the public debate. While the other candidates for the Democratic nomination themselves are making substantive statements dealing with issues of great domestic and international importance and calling for policy changes designed to address systemic shortcomings in the treatment of most Americans in their daily lives, their proposals are being drowned out by calls to not allow Muslim refugees settle here because there are too many terrorists among them or to carpet bomb their countries till they glow in the dark. Bill Clinton’s sex-capades of decades past, Ted Cruz’s birth status and Jeb Bush’s and Ben Carson’s propensity to put people to sleep are better ratings grabbers than tax, policy, alleviation of poverty, equal rights for all and affordable education, so the pundits and networks discuss the former almost to the exclusion of the latter.

GOP attempts to gloss over their unwillingness to allow permanent change to the status quo to the benefit of most people in this country and elsewhere in the world must not be allowed to remain unchallenged. Hopefully, there will be enough time after the nominations are settled to have meaningful debate encompassing issues of importance to all of us that includes clear articulation of exactly what each candidate intends to do to improve our lives over the next four years. The appearance of favoritism for the candidacy of Clinton on the part of the DNC (and particularly its Chair) may end up dividing the Democratic Party even more than Trump and Cruz do the GOP. I hope that is not the case, as turning over the Federal Government to one of these GOP candidates in the White House with a GOP Congress would result in a bigger disaster than we suffered under W. But you can’t expect to excite the electorate to vote when you strive mightily to force the voters to choose the least undesirable candidate available.

If the next several months allow the candidate who best serves the needs and interests of the 99% instead of the oligarchs, and people are elected to office at the state, local and Congressional levels who will seek to bring about needed change in the areas of equality and social justice – not just in the USA but the world at large – perhaps the past several months of this interminable campaign will have been worth it. If, instead, we awake the following morning to a nightmare rather than a dream come true, we will find it that much harder to fix a broken democracy which perpetuates too much inequality, injustice, poverty and strife among the vast majority to benefit an increasingly smaller proportion of the privileged few. Make sure the people win this time, not the money.

Suggested Further Readings:

Trump Brings His Ugly Circus to Sanders’ Hometown
45 Million Americans Live in Poverty, but You Wouldn’t Know It From Watching 2016 Coverage
Trevor Noah: Ted Cruz’s ‘birther’ issue is insane — ‘I didn’t know this shit could happen to Republicans’
American Presidential Candidates Are Now Openly Promising to Commit War Crimes
Shunning Hillary is the Prescription for a Trump-Cruz White House
Mein Trumpf Makes a Stop in Vermont

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