This blog is of, by and for the progressive members of our Jefferson County community. Our mission is to provide information about fellow progressives for all to view, to provide a forum for forward looking candidates and to offer other varied items of interest. Your opinion is important to this blog and if you wish to write us an item or send us a picture please email it to THIS BLOG IS NOT AN OFFICIAL BLOG OF THE JEFFERSON COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE

Monday, June 29, 2009

John McHugh sees the light

Rep. John McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, was among only eight Republicans to vote with Democrats for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, making the difference needed to pass the bill.
McHugh said he decided to support the measure after the bill's sponsors agreed to support parts of his proposal to impose new limits on the pollution that causes acid rain.
McHugh, whose district includes much of the Adirondacks, has worked on the acid rain issue during his nine terms in office.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Senator Aubertine
A True North Country Leader

Senator Aubertine describes in plain language
How to move the NY State Senate forward.

Check it out

That should work Darrel!

Our guy in the state Senate has offered a mechanism by which the egocentrics might
be able to take off their clown faces and actually save a bit of face. Here is the report from Capital Confidential (Times-Union.)
As negotiations continue (we think?) Sen. Darrel Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent, has offered up a proposal to close out the session.
In short, the proposal would be to have a one-day session, during which all of those who claim leadership would step aside, allowing a neutral rank-and-file member to take the title of Senate President Pro Tempore for one day to move legislation that needs to be voted on this session.
Aubertine said that Democratic leaders have agreed, but claims that Sens. Pedro Espada and Dean Skelos, who lead the predominantly GOP coalition, have refused.
Bythe way if you want one of these T shirts the Mahattan Young Democrats are selling them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

All you Republican farmers need to check this out

When Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was here she got an earful from LaFargeville farm activist Floyd Hall. Apparently she paid attention.

Senator Gillibrand held a conference call today and laid out her plans to ease the pain of NY's dairy farmers. Her plans include, from the press release:
First, Senator Gillibrand is introducing legislation this week that would double the amount of money farmers get from the MILC program retroactive to the low point of the crisis in March. While raising the MILC payment rate to 90 percent will not completely make up the gap between cost of production and market rates, it will certainly help prevent more New York farms from going under.
Second, Senator Gillibrand will introduce legislation that would index the MILC rate of $16.94 to inflation. The price floor of $16.94 per hundredweight has not changed since the 1990’s, yet the cost of production has increased exponentially. The MILC program payments were originally designed to help dairy farmers in their time of need, but have remained stagnant. While this legislation would not address the current crisis, it would help farmers in the coming years by providing a safety net that allows farmers to break even.
Finally, as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Gillibrand pledged to hold Senate hearings on dairy pricing both in Washington, DC and New York State. The hearings will focus on reforms for the daily pricing system. Senator Gillibrand hopes to work with stakeholders and economists to develop a proposal before the next Farm Bill is written in 2012.

The Senate may not be working but Addie is in the Assembly

Assemblywoman Russell’s tax repeal passes Assembly

Bill will now be sent to the Senate for approval

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) announced the legislation she sponsored that would repeal the costly “floor tax” imposed on wholesalers, retailers, taverns, restaurants and other store owners who sell beer and wine passed the Assembly today (A.8576). The measure would also refund taxes paid upon application by those who already complied with the floor tax and paid their bill ahead of the July 20 deadline.

“I thank my colleagues for hearing the call of small businesses all around the state and for joining me in my fight to repeal this unfair tax,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “I thank all those from the business community, and all those who signed my petition. Together we sent a loud, clear message to Albany , that being taxed twice is unfair and cannot stand.”

Since the start of Assemblywoman Russell’s petition campaign, she has received thousands of signatures calling for the repeal of this tax.

Rodney Misch, General Manager of Arsenal Street Wines and Liquor in Watertown said, "I congratulate the Assembly for passing the repeal of the floor tax bill. Assemblywoman Russell and the Assembly have recognized that taxing our inventory twice is truly inappropriate."

“This is a huge victory for small business, but my work is far from over,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “I will continue to work with the community, my local businesses, and business leaders on other important legislation such as strengthening our empire zone program so small businesses can continue to expand and grow in New York State . It is these very small businesses that will create the jobs and the economic activity that will help the state grow our way out of this current economic recession.”

“I am hopeful the Senate and Governor will act on this bill before the July 15th deadline,” Assemblywoman Russell said.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

BRAVO Governor!

This from the Daily News.

ALBANY - Gov. Paterson drew a line in the sand Sunday to warring do-nothing senators: Settle your differences or get ready to spend your summer in Albany.
A fed-up Paterson warned he will call a special session of the Senate for tomorrow and use his gubernatorial powers to call the lawmakers back every day until the two sides resolve their leadership dispute - even if it means weekends and the Fourth of July holiday.
"Over the last couple of weeks, the senators' conduct has been laughable, but what's going on around here these days is no joke and I don't find it funny," he said.
Although he has no authority to force lawmakers to end their differences and actually conduct business, he can, under the state Constitution, force them into the Senate chamber.
"There will be no excuses and there will be no tolerance for noncompliance with this order," he said. He even left open the possibility of using the state police to force them into the chamber.
"And as they have inconvenienced all New Yorkers for the past few weeks, maybe we'll see how they like feeling the same way," Paterson said.
Tomorrow's agenda, Paterson said, would include several time-sensitive bills that must be addressed immediately, including mayoral control of the city schools and the city's request to increase its sales tax by 0.5%.

"Oh, my God, what have we done?"

Found this today on The Politicker blog.
ALBANY—They're allied with him in the quest to wrest control of the State Senate leadership, but there are some lingering misgivings among Republicans in the chamber about the partnership with State Senator Pedro Espada Jr.
"Several of them are in ‘Oh my God, what have we done' mode," said one Republican who is close to many of the senators. "Pedro is obviously enjoying this immensely. The image of Dean standing mute while Pedro pontificates is a little much. And the general stoppage ... some are saying we never should have done it, some are saying, they should have said bring three or four or don't come."
That much seemed clear Thursday when the two top figures in the Republican-led coalition—Espada and State Senator Dean Skelos—emerged from a negotiating session.
Espada proclaimed he had Skelos' support. Skelos said nothing. When pressed, his comments were less than clear.
Later in the day, Skelos issued a statement decrying attacks against Espada and touting the historic nature of the first Latino to attain the title of president pro tempore. There was also this line: "The members of the Senate Republican Conference stand solidly behind Senator Espada as Temporary President and we look forward to building our reform coalition together."
Still, no first-person declaration. Skelos was pressed by the Times Union's Irene Jay Liu in a walk-and-talk. She asked if Skelos was "going to stand by him throughout this."
"I'm going to stand beside him because that was the vote of the Senate," Skelos said.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shelly Silver gets it right--as usual

(Liz Benjamin reports)
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is joining his fellow Democrats in the Senate in calling for Republicans to accept a power-sharing agreement in the upper house.

"Senate Republicans must end their obstruction and accept the power sharing agreement put forward by Senate Democrats," Silver wrote in a just-released statement.

With an evenly divided Senate, the Senate Democrats’ power sharing proposal is the only way the Senate will be able to reconvene and act on critical legislation including Mayoral control of New York City schools, an extension of the Power for Jobs program, stronger rent laws, green jobs, micro-stamping and gun permit renewal legislation, rights for farm workers and domestic workers, marriage equality and local budget authorizations that are essential to keeping cities, towns and villages solvent throughout the state.
These sorts of power sharing agreements are not new or novel and have been used successfully in the U.S. Senate and in state legislatures throughout the country to allow evenly divided government to continue to function.

The ongoing refusal of Senate Republicans to accept the Democrats’ proposal has paralyzed New YorkState and must end now.

Silver siding with Democrats might seem like a dog-bites-man story, but he has generally avoided getting involved in internal Senate affairs. Back when Republicans ruled the chamber, he came under fire for failing to use his fund-raising clout on behalf of minority Democrats -- with his supporters explaining that he needed to maintain good relations with the Senate GOP in order to govern effectively.

This is Silver's first major statement on the political warfare that has paralyzed Albany since the day of the coup, when he declared his support for Democrats maintaining control of the Senate without mentioning the name of the official Senate Democratic leader, Malcolm Smith.
Official Documents Show Bronx Senator, 1 Of The Renegade Democrats In Albany Coup, Listed His House In Mamaroneck
The Bronx politician at the center of the Albany coup has new problems, CBS 2 has learned exclusively. Official documents we obtained show Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. listed his residence as a home in Mamaroneck, not his Bronx district.

When Espada was first asked by CBS 2 HD whether he actually lives in the district he represents, he laughed. But now it's no laughing matter.

CBS 2 HD acquired documentation filed on June 24th of last year, by Espada and his wife Connie to post bail for their nephew, Carlos Mocete, who was arrested in Bridgeport, Conn. Twice, on two separate pages, Espada listed his residence as 115 Beechwood Drive in Mamaroneck, not the Bronx coop where he claims he lives to fulfill state residence requirements that he actually live in the district he's serving.

Espada did his best to dodge the questions when we approached him in the past. He may not be so lucky anymore. The documents are important because Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson now has an expanding criminal probe of whether Espada is violating state law by living in Mamaroneck.

Sources tell CBS 2 that Johnson has subpoenaed box loads of records from thestate Senate, including Espada's travel vouchers and requests for pork barrelmoney. The DA wants records for Espada's present Senate stint, which began in January, as well as two other terms from 1993 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2002. CBS 2 has also learned the prosecutor also wants to know about a request made by Espada for $2 million in pork barrel money for two non-profits that were started in the spring.

Espada claims the DA's probe is retribution from the Democratic Party because he sided with Republicans in the state Senate coup. But CBS 2 first reported the probe over a month before the coup took place.

The DA and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo are also investigating the health clinics that Espada owns in the Bronx.

Only time will tell whether investigators will take action against Espada as a result of CBS 2's findings.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Windows Live Hotmail

"Espada-led Republicans
to Push Bad
Legislation for Farmers
Sen. Aubertine to Sen. Young: Real Leadership wouldn’t sell out Upstate NY for personal gain
ALBANY (June 17, 2009)—State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine said today that he and everyone in the farm community and Upstate New York should be concerned about the Espada-led Republican Conference’s push to pass a bill that would devastate New York’s agricultural industry.
“It’s clear that Sen. Young and her colleagues have put their desire for political power ahead of working for the people they represent,” said Sen. Aubertine, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “She has not only supported installing a Senate President who is under investigation and stands accused of attempting to put hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money in his own pocket, but one who has listed as one of his priorities a bill that would devastate the Upstate economy by driving farms out of business.”
Sen. Catharine Young, the ranking minority member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has stood behind Sen. Pedro Espada and Minority Leader Dean Skelos at press conferences as they attempt to wrestle control of the New York State Senate.
“It’s clear the Espada-led Republicans say one thing and do another. They talk about reform, but reject real reform. They talk about Upstate, but put downstate first,” Sen. Aubertine said. “Sen. Young and her Upstate colleagues have stood behind Sen. Espada and supported his efforts to take the reins of the Senate. They have sold out the interests of farmers for their own political gain. I call on Sen. Young and any lawmaker who truly cares about the Upstate Economy to set aside personal gain and support real reform through a power sharing agreement.”"

Sunday, June 14, 2009

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The President has long noted that skyrocketing health care costs will be disastrous for our long term national debt unless we pass real reform. In this Weekly Address, the President also explains how he will cover the upfront costs of reform by eliminating overpayments to Medicaid and Medicare and driving down costs contributing to governments health care expenditures across the board. (Public Domain)
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Is Barack getting involved right here in NY?

This, from the respected Rochester Turning blog is very interesting.

Obama now getting involved in the New York Senate fight
By Airbare8 ( June 13, 2009 at 4:17 pm) · Lookout Florida resident Tom Golisano, there’s a new heavyweight in town. According to New York Magazine, the President of the United States himself has been on the phone with Democratic defectors Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate in an effort to bring them back into the fold:
Though it’s been reported that the White House political director Patrick Gaspard has been on the phone with Albany, the rumor right now is that President Obama himself placed calls to both Monserrate and fellow defector Pedro Espada, Jr. - that’s unconfirmed, but if true, it’s presumably to coax them back into the Democrats’ fold. There’s also buzz that Obama might have spoken with another Democratic senator, Darrel Aubertine, who is reportedly considering a run for Congress.
Monserrate has also been meeting with Senator
John Sampson, the likely heir to Malcolm Smith as Democratic Leader. It is clear that at the very least, Monserrate is conflicted about his role in the coup and may be looking for a fast way out. Sampson has also been using some big guns in the caucus to persuade Monserrate to stick with them, none other than Carl Kruger and Ruben Diaz, the two of the “Gang of Three/Four” who didn’t defect

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Will he, or won't he?

Embattled State Senate Majority Leader (maybe) Malcolm Smith for weeks has been listed as the featured speaker at the Jefferson County Democratic Committee event at Watertown's Northside League Friday evening. One can't imagine a politician with a plate fuller than his right now. Will he show up or not? I'm guessing that he is a man of his word and he will.
There is also a rumor floating around that influential Congressman Steve Isreal will attend. JD will report.
Everybody present will be able to renew aquaintances with our County Judge of longstanding Kim Martuesewicz and meet our County Clerk candidate Gertrude Karris. All the candidates for the County Legislature will be onboard as well. Remember this is a Democratic Party event so there could be a couple of surprises too. After all, that uncalled special election for the 23rd Congressional seat is waiting in the wings. Stop by and check out who is schmoozing.
Its at the NSIL so you know the food will be good. Bring your appetite for turkey, ham, mashed potatos and politics.

Post Script--He didn't!

Strange bedfellows indeed

This one hurts a little to report. A potential underreported setback might be looming for our guy Malcolm Smith and and his crew of loyal Senate Democrats. And there are some Rs that just might consider this strategy not exactly what the conservative Republican coalition promoters really intended. Talk about unintended consequences! The always insightful Liz Benjamin wrote this today.

June 11, 2009
Party Linejumper Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. is making no secret of the fact that he is pushing the idea of bringing the gay marriage bill up for a vote as a means of luring other Democrats into the coalition government.

"We all want the Senate Democrats to come in and participate,” he said. “As I get the same sex marriage bill on the floor, they’ll take their seats, they’ll debate it.”
Espada told reporters today that he has spoken to the Senate sponsor of Gov. David Paterson's gay marriage bill, Tom Duane, who is "very ecstatic" about the idea that the measure might move. Ditto, he claims, for the Empire State Pride Agenda.

"The public would be excited," Espada said. "19 million people, if they could speak clearly and directly, would applaud this, because gridlock kept them from really have a government that they deserved."
(Apparently, the irony of this statement, given the fact that the Senate coup has caused its own special brand of gridlock, was lost on Espada).
Duane has been largely absent from the Capitol, although his spokesman, Eric Sumberg, said the senator had departed his hotel room and showed up here for meetings yesterday. He retreated when things got too "intense."
There has been much speculation about whether Duane might be willing to do a deal with the coalition government, agreeing to join them in exchange for getting gay marriage out of the holding pattern into which Sen. Malcolm Smith placed it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sen. Pedro Espada hounded by questions on ethics and residency

"They call him the Bronx's 'Teflon pol' for good reason - nothing ever seems to stick to state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. except maybe the whiff of trouble.
Espada, the Bronx Democrat whose defection allowed Republicans to retake the state Senate this week, has weathered a litany of ethical allegations over the years - a list that only seemed to grow Tuesday.
He stands accused of failing to file some 41 campaign reports since 2002, making it impossible to know how he raises, and spends, his campaign cash, officials say.
State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating whether Espada used a nonprofit he controls - Soundview Health Clinic - as a personal piggy bank for his campaigns."

While the Senate side of the Capitol delvolves into a circus. The Assembly side is at work and so is Addie Russell. She is trying to create jobs and lower energy cost.

A bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D- Theresa) to create a Power Authority representing 24 towns in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties has passed the Assembly Corporations Committee (A.6694B). The authority, being advocated by the Alliance for Municipal Power (AMP), would give the North Country a better position in energy pricing, Russell said.

Russell’s legislation aims to provide more reliable service for North Country residents. Under the bill, the authority would purchase National Grid’s energy distribution system, allowing for a seamless transition while providing a solid footing for planned infrastructure improvements that would provide customers further savings.

As a non-profit organization, customers would be spared many of the taxes now assessed on their bills. The bill would also open the door for the authority to explore generating electricity independently. They would focus on the development of clean, renewable energy sources.

Russell added that numerous accountability and oversight measures written into the bill would ensure that the authority acts in the best interests of the North Country. “Putting our municipal energy needs in local hands will help ensure that our communities come first – not the bottom lines of energy giants.” Russell said.

Russell noted that the bill is the product of 10 years of hard work from AMP in conjunction with state and local leaders, including Senator Darrel Aubertine, Senator Joseph Griffo, former Senator Jim Wright, and Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava.

“I have been working intensely with the Alliance for Municipal Power to iron out the details of this bill,” Russell said. “I look forward to advancing this important legislation and giving our economy a valuable advantage in economic development.”

A great editorial in the Syracuse Post Standard today

In a hastily arranged ceremony Monday, state Sen. John DeFrancisco swore in an ethically challenged colleague to be a heartbeat away from the governor's chair.
It was all in the name of reform.

First, following the Republican "coup" in the state Senate, DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, swore in his good friend, Republican Dean Skelos of Long Island, as majority leader. Then, at Skelos' bidding, he swore in Democrat Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx as temporary Senate president -- putting him first in succession if something should happen to Gov. David Paterson.

Espada has been fined tens of thousands of dollars over several years for failing to disclose political contributions. At the moment, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating Soundview Health Care Network, a nonprofit organization Espada ran until recently.

Espada's qualifications for the powerful Senate job? He was willing to throw his vote to the Republicans in return for the post -- and an apparent promise of help in next year's election from billionaire Tom Golisano. Espada was joined in his defection by fellow Democrat Hiram Monseratte of Queens, who has been indicted on felony charges of slashing his girlfriend's face with a broken glass.

Skelos, DeFrancisco and other Republicans insist they recruited these stalwart public servants to help them reform the Senate. "We were serious about all the good government reforms, the things Democrats said they would do as soon as they got the majority," DeFrancisco told The Post-Standard.

Republicans controlled the state Senate for decades, but somehow didn't catch the bug for reform until the Democrats took over in January and claimed the perks -- the plum offices and committee assignments, the fawning attention of lobbyists, and control of millions of dollars in pork-barrel grants to hand out to constituents.

It is clear that "reform" was merely a cover for Monday's coup. The Republicans wanted to get their power back, plain and simple, and they found two Democrats desperate enough to help them do it. Whether they will honor the spirit of the reforms they announced Monday has yet to be seen.

The apparent mastermind of the effort, Tom Golisano, is not an elected official at all. His main qualification is that he has millions of dollars. Golisano, who recently moved his residence to Florida to get out of paying his share of taxes under the new, Democrat-enacted surcharge for high earners, also insists it is "reform" that drives him.

GOP leaders spent weeks planning the coup -- weeks they could have spent attending to the vast problems facing their constituents. Now the chaos they created throws into doubt whether any meaningful work can be done in Albany in the final weeks of the legislative session. Once again, it is the citizens of the state who will be left behind.

Even for Albany, this is a new low. All New Yorkers should be embarrassed at what is happening in the capital this week, and all voters should take careful note of who is responsible for it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Senator Liz Krueger makes sense.

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I think this was a power grab because they felt totally threatened by Democratic ideals and Democratic agendas going forward in the State of New York, and Mr. Golisano, having failed to be able to get himself elected to office in New York State over and over again, decided to use his money behind the scenes in some way to broker this deal.
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Sunday, June 7, 2009

It looks like icicles hanging off the roof of New York State after a thaw and refreeze. The 23rd Congressional District was carefully drawn after the 1990 census as a 'just miss' area. It just misses Syracuse. It is north, west and south of Utica but just misses it. It even comes close to Amsterdam, Schenectady and Albany but, you guessed it, it just missed. It almost includes Lake Placid too, but not quite. Except for Lake Placid it is sort of the area left over after all the mid state metro centers were awarded to other districts for other political rationale.

As a result the 23rd then has its distinct character. Its mostly rural, very separate and hard as hell to campaign through. After John McHugh is confirmed not even one current office holder from either party will be widely, universally recognized. There are even a couple of high dollar types waiting to throw their dollars into the ring. There will be a special election forthcoming. And unless I miss my guess it'll come pretty fast after the Senate confirms John McHugh.

Carl Hulse wrote a piece in the NYT that resonated. See what you think of this part of it.

Sensing an opportunity to get a strong candidate for one of the toughest Pentagon jobs while simultaneously sowing confusion among Republicans, the White House pursued Mr. McHugh, 60, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee whose district includes Fort Drum.
The initial overture about an administration job was made by
Ray LaHood, the current transportation secretary and a former Republican colleague of Mr. McHugh in the House.
Once Mr. McHugh’s willingness to consider the post was ascertained, Mr. Emanuel wooed him on the patio of his White House office, a setting conducive to winning converts. Mr. Obama personally offered Mr. McHugh the Army’s top civilian job on Monday and the decision was made public Tuesday.
In accepting, Mr. McHugh noted that he was just the latest in a line of people of differing backgrounds and, in his case, “differing political persuasions, who have been provided by
President Obama the chance to heed, to answer new, important and challenging problems facing this country.”
Mr. McHugh was a highly regarded and popular House Republican. He held one of the minority party’s plum committee posts, serving on a panel that has a reputation for bipartisanship, one where Republicans can have substantial effect on military policy.
Many more junior Republicans aspire to reach his level and his decision to resign was no doubt interpreted by colleagues as proof that he does not expect Republicans to be back in charge any time soon, since he would be passing up a powerful chairmanship.
Not only did the party lose a respected, seasoned veteran, it won another special election in New York, where Republicans had already lost a race they probably should have won earlier this year, coming up short in a bid to win back a House seat

The odds are also pretty good that the Democrat candidate is going to have just as good a shot at taking this seat as the Republican. Obama won the 23rd last year and Kerry lost by something like 4% in the previous presidential race. Its even more guesswork on my part, but I'm of the opinion the choices for those candidacies will be made outside the geographic confines of the 23rd. The process may be artfully designed to appear to have the candidate decisionmaking appear local, but it probably won't be. In any event it will be fun to watch. The polling proceeds as I write.


The President speaks eloquently on the 65th anniversary of D-Day

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Speeches from the leaders of France,Canada,Europe,and America,We Will Never Forget
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