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

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Who: Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell

What: A Town Hall Meeting

When: Saturday February 27th at 2:00 PM

Where: The OFA Auditorium, 1100 State St.,

Ogdensburg N.Y.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (Theresa, NY) announced today that she will hold a Town Hall Meeting Saturday February 27th in Ogdensburg. The forum will take place at 2PM at the Ogdensburg Free Academy auditorium.

The Assemblywoman stated, “Local voices truly need to be heard in Albany now. Families from all over the North Country will be affected by the Governor’s proposal to close the Ogdensburg Correctional Facility. Our Town Hall Meeting will give our people the opportunity to be heard.”

“The concerns and the issues identified in this forum will be recorded and carried by me to Albany. I’ll also make certain that the Governor and Legislature will be aware of the concerns of North Country citizens as budget deliberations continue. The most pressing need for our region is job retention and job creation. All citizens are invited to express their opinions.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sean Hennessey's Northcountry Democrat Blog Hit the Highlights of Kathleen Rice's visit

Assemblywoman Russell: Governor’s budget ‘gimmick’ is wrong, hurts working families and small businesses

Governor’s budget would defer income and business tax refunds

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) is criticizing Governor David Paterson for aspects of his budget that would harm both working families and small businesses by deferring tax refunds until the next fiscal year.

“Families and small businesses count on their tax refunds to make ends meet, and by freezing refunds, the governor’s holding on to money New Yorkers need in their pockets now,” Russell said. “Overpayments belong to the taxpayer and should be returned as quickly as possible, not be used as an interest-free loan by the state. Our families can not afford it.”

Under the governor’s plan, New Yorkers who file their taxes electronically will have to wait months for a refund instead of days, a move that will delay the return of more than $500 million until the next fiscal year.

Also, the governor has frozen $200 million in business tax refunds, which will hamper already struggling small businesses and prevent them from hiring new employees.

“Right now we need to get New Yorkers back to work, and that means doing what we can to create new jobs right here at home,” Russell said. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and as long as they can not hire,
New York is not going to get back on track. The governor’s budget would tie the hands of small businesses and force our economy further in the wrong direction.”

Monday, February 8, 2010

From the "Capitol Steps"

Waiting for the other shoe

The rumor mill has been running overtime in recent weeks about Paterson and the possibility that a major newspaper is about to drop a bombshell story about his personal life that will be far worse than his acknowledged extramarital affair with a former state employee.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Truthtelling from Tom

These sentiments from the Comptroller were echoed at the Addie Russell open forum in Massena yesterday.

Your weekly address

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thought for the day

A very old man lay dying in his bed. In death's doorway, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite chocolate chip cookie wafting up the stairs.

He gathered his remaining strength and lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort forced himself down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands.

With labored breath, he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the kitchen. Were it not for death's agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven.

There, spread out on newspapers on the kitchen table were literally hundreds of his favorite chocolate chip cookies.

Was it heaven? Or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted wife, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?

Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself toward the table. The aged and withered hand, shaking, made its way to a cookie at the edge of the table, when he was suddenly smacked with a spatula by his wife.

"Stay out of those," she said. "They're for the funeral.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Addie asks the Governor for a 'one on one' meeting on OCF

Here is the whole letter describing the situation. Check the last paragraph.

February 2, 2010
Governor David A. Paterson
Albany, NY 12248

Re: Proposed closure of Ogdensburg Correctional Facility

Dear Governor Paterson:
I respectfully request that you remove the proposed closure of the Ogdensburg
Correctional Facility by April 2011 from your proposed 2010-2011 budget during the 30 day
amendment period. I do not feel that the state will be well served by closing this facility and its
closure will have a devastating effect on the City of Ogdensburg and the North Country.
In the early 1980’s when the state needed to add capacity to the corrections system
Ogdensburg welcomed the facility, especially given that they were facing the downsizing of the
state operated St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. Other areas of the state fought the location of a
prison in their community. A few years later Ogdensburg welcomed a second facility, Riverview
Correctional Facility. The location of two facilities in Ogdensburg and the three others within
the hub has resulted in hundreds of North Country residents becoming state correction officers.
The correction officers at Ogdensburg and the other four Watertown Hub facilities are all North
Country residents. Further, hundreds of correction officers working at other facilities throughout
the state are North Country residents, putting in their time until they have enough seniority to
transfer back to the Watertown Hub.

The direct economic loss to Ogdensburg as calculated in your proposed budget is at least
$22 Million of the $23.9 Million in operating expenses, which is attributable to employee
compensation. The loss of $22 Million in compensation will be extremely devastating to the
North Country economy. However, that is only a fraction of the direct compensation loss
because those hundreds of North Country correction officers hoping to transfer back up north
will likely abandon their efforts and permanently leave the area, taking their compensation
elsewhere. The impact on the property tax base compounded with the crushing loss of dollars
and benefits that are pumped into the local economy will ravage Ogdensburg and St. Lawrence

There will be little state savings related to salary expenses by closing the facility.
Correction officers will not lose their jobs, instead they will be reassigned to other facilities and
professional staff will have the same experience. They will not be looking for other work locally
such as in the green jobs sector. They will uproot their families to finish out the roughly five to
ten years most of them have left and will retire elsewhere, possible even out of state.
The proposed budget also asserts that there will be $12,431,000 in five year capital cost
avoidance. Of that figure, $9,431,000 is designated for replacing the hot water boiler house.
This proposed capital project is baffling. There is no need for a new boiler house. In fact the
facility receives FREE steam heat based on a 25 year contract that the state’s Office of Mental
Health has with a private facility located on the psychiatric center’s grounds. There are nine
years left on that contract and that private facility is actually trying to work with OMH to make
changes to their contract so that they can expand their operation to generate 26 MW of power
from biomass, creating approximately 50 permanent new green jobs. The proposed upgrade of
the perimeter closed circuit television system for $800,000 is not an immediate need, nor is the
$200,000 rehabilitation of the Flower Building basement. The upgrade of the shower controls
for $300,000 should actually pay for itself in reduced water consumption. The estimated capital
cost avoidance is a theoretical and remotely possible savings.
Another compelling argument against closing the Ogdensburg facility is the impact this
closure will have on the security staff and inmate population. Throughout our state’s
correctional facilities there are 4000 double-bunked beds. The Ogdensburg Correctional Facility
has double bunked inmates just like other facilities. Dormitories are designed for fifty inmates.
Ten of those beds have become bunk beds (double bunked), so a dormitory unit now houses up
to sixty inmates. The closure of the Ogdensburg facility will exacerbate this problem. Even
when factoring in Department of Corrections projections of a reduced inmate population, there
will still be double bunking and the closure of the Ogdensburg facility and other medium
security facilities will max out the current double bunks and require further double bunking.
Double bunking dormitory style facilities presents increased risk to correction officers and
essentially warehouses inmates. The state has been working to get away from the warehousing
of inmates that occurred in the past within the Department of Corrections. We are finally seeing
the numbers of inmates that our facilities are designed to hold and the proposed closures will
only mandate further warehousing.

The Ogdensburg facility is the type of facility we should keep open. Ogdensburg is a
model of the kind of facility the state has been working to achieve through recent reform
measures. At the Ogdensburg facility there are rare inmate on inmate incidents as well as
inmate on staff incidents. The facility runs smoothly and repeatedly scores high on their regular
inspections. While I understand there are concerns about the distance family members must
travel to visit an inmate in Ogdensburg, the fact that there is minimal violence and inmates have
an environment conducive to making progress in their rehabilitation and educational programs
surely out weigh those inconveniences.

The state will not be well served by closing the Ogdensburg Correctional Facility. If
closed the actual cost savings will be minimal to the state, other facilities will be forced to
warehouse inmates at unsafe levels, undermining rehabilitation efforts and a community that has
always been a good partner with the state will be devastated. The state would be better served
by reducing the amount of administrative staff at the Department of Corrections. While the
inmate population has decreased markedly in the past decade, the amount of administrative staff,
particularly in Building 2 at the Harriman Campus in Albany has exploded, essentially doubling
in size. Cutting staff in Building 2 by twenty percent (20%) would immediately save the state
roughly $15 Million in salary and benefit expenses. Those 180 jobs can be more easily absorbed
in Albany than they can be in Ogdensburg.

I have been receiving emails and letters of support to keep the Ogdensburg facility open
since the presentation of your proposed 2010–2011 budget. They are increasing in volume daily.
The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators has appointed an ad hoc committee and the City
of Ogdensburg a task force to address the closure. Dozens of people attended a press conference
I held on the matter last week and hundreds of people attended a public rally last Friday to
support keeping the facility open. Thousands more North Country residents have signed
petitions to keep the facility open. The community support to keep the Ogdensburg Correctional
Facility open has been strong from the beginning and is only increasing in strength.

Thank you for your courteous consideration of my request. I would like the opportunity
to meet or speak with you to discuss this critical issue further. I can be reached on non-session
days at (315) 786-0284 and during session days at (518) 455-5545.
Addie J. Russell
Member of Assembly
118th “River” District

Monday, February 1, 2010

Saturday night's 'Wolf Moon"

photo by longtime local blogger
"Miniature Rose"

Great Pic!

This is the closest the moon in its oval orbit gets to earth (perigee) this year and its full. Socco.

Addie Russell wants to find out what you have to say


Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell invites all interested constituents to an open forum at the Massena Town Hall, 60 Main St. on Saturday February 6th at 3:00PM.

The Assemblywoman intends this event as a venue for constituent questions.

If constituents are unable to attend the open forum please be aware that Assemblywoman Russell’s District office is open daily. She and her staff are pleased to assist you by phone, e-mail or in person.

P.S. The Watertown forum will be coming up at JCC shortly. She has already done one at SUNY Canton.

The S Post Praises Pot

Medical marijuana is legal in 14 states; why not New York?

By The Post-Standard Editorial Board

February 01, 2010, 5:02AM

0201marijuana.JPGVIAL OF MARIJUANA displayed at the Pure Life Alternative Wellness Center in Los Angeles Jan. 26.

It makes no sense whatsoever to treat cancer patients and other chronically ill folks as criminals for trying to ease their debilitating pain or nausea.

But that’s just what New York has been doing by refusing to allow its sickest residents to use marijuana under a doctor’s supervision. For many, prescription painkillers or other medicines fail to help. Only marijuana is effective. Denying them that level of comfort is nothing less than cruel.

Fourteen states have legalized medical marijuana use for qualified patients since 1996. The most recent, on Jan. 18, was New Jersey; that state’s law takes effect in six months.

In New York, a bill in the Legislature would bring the state in line with the other 14. But lawmakers have considered seven versions of the current legislation since the 1997-98 session. In 2007-08, the proposal died in the Senate, then controlled by Republicans. The fate of this year’s bill remains to be seen.

The bill is modeled after Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law, though there are some differences. For example, patients in Rhode Island can legally possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 12 marijuana plants that must be stored indoors. New York’s bill also allows 2.5 ounces but leaves out plants — an approach that appears to be better suited to prevent the wrong people from getting their hands on the controlled substance.

Both states would allow children to use medical marijuana, but Rhode Island’s law seems to afford more protection for sick kids. In Rhode Island, a medical practitioner must explain the potential risks and benefits of marijuana to the child and to a parent or guardian. The parent or guardian also must consent in writing to allow the child’s medical use of marijuana, serve as one of the child’s primary caregivers and control the acquisition, dosage and frequency of the youngster’s marijuana use.

New York’s bill requires only that a parent, guardian or someone designated by the parent or guardian be the caregiver. There is no informed consent clause in the bill, although the medical practitioner must give a copy of his or her certification for marijuana use to the patient. The bill needs some retooling to better inform kids and their parents of what they’re getting into.

In the meantime, marijuana use and possession remain illegal for everyone in New York. Possessing 2.5 ounces, as the bill would allow patients to do, is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Seriously ill people, for whom marijuana is the only thing that will relieve their symptoms, have an unenviable choice: break the law or continue to suffer.

It’s time for lawmakers to show some compassion by making medical marijuana legal.