Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Big Box "Targets" Unions

Big Box store "Target"
is a Union Busting shop.
Boycot them today!


Stay Union-Free’ Pushed by Target, Michaels as Obama Law Looms
December 29, 2009, 11:16 AM EST
Published by BusinessWeek

By Holly Rosenkrantz

Dec. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Target Corp. retooled a training video to warn workers against a bill that would make union organizing easier. Michaels Stores Inc. told investors “our businesses could be impacted” by the measure. Enrollment in Jackson Lewis LLP’s “How to Stay Union-Free” seminars tripled.

Companies are rallying to fend off a so-called card-check law sought by labor leaders and backed by President Barack Obama. While the bill stalled in Congress this year as health- care legislation dominated debate, anti-union groups say they expect the president and Democrats to deliver next year on a compromise version of the legislation.

“As we approach the 2010 elections, the unions are really going to want their pound of flesh,” said Randy Johnson, who handles labor issues for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobbying group. “Even if we defeat the card-check bill, it’s entirely possible that other changes to the National Labor Relations Act will come up, and some of those will likely make it easier to organize the workplace.”

Companies have added anti-union videos to training programs, required employees to sit through anti-union meetings and hired outside labor-relations consultants as a pre-emptive strike against a union organizing campaign.

“The whole culture that currently allows us to be a low- cost producer while paying top wages would probably be destroyed” by the legislation, Craig Milum, president of Milum Textile Services, a Phoenix-based linen supplier, said in an interview.

Paying Weekly Dues

“You may be paying weekly dues for something you don’t want” if the union-organizing measure passes, the company says in an anti-union video introduced in September for its 45,000 employees. Among customers of closely held Milum Textile are Darden Restaurants Inc., Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. and Waste Management Inc., according to Craig Milum.

Leaders of unions that spent a record $450 million electing Obama and congressional Democrats in 2008 had promised members that the legislation easing organizing would be passed in 2009. Andy Stern, president of the 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union, said in an interview this month that he now expects Congress to take up the bill in the first quarter of 2010. Stern was the most frequent visitor to the White House during Obama’s first six months in office, according to a log released by the administration in October.

The Washington-based Chamber of Commerce and other trade associations have poured millions of dollars into efforts to kill the legislation.

Dropping Namesake Provision

To get enough votes in Congress, supporters of the card- check bill have agreed to drop the provision that gave the measure its name: a requirement that companies grant union recognition as soon as a majority of employees at a workplace sign cards saying they want a union.

A compromise version backed by labor leaders calls for a secret-ballot election a week or two after workers petition for a union. The bill also calls for binding arbitration if companies fail to reach a contract with a new union after a certain period of time.

Minneapolis-based Target, the second-biggest U.S. discount retailer, updated its anti-union video for employee training to explain the consequences of the bill, company spokeswoman Donna Egan said in an e-mailed statement.

“If proposed labor relations legislation is adopted, allowing third-party involvement or interruptions to our business, our business could be impacted,” Michaels Stores of Irving, Texas, the world’s largest arts-and-crafts retailer, said in its earnings filing this month.

Research on Unions

Registration for Jackson Lewis’s $595 “How to Stay Union- Free” seminars has increased to about 100 executives a session, according to Michael Lotito, a partner in San Francisco with the New York-based law firm. Jackson Lewis also has done research for companies on unions that could come to their workplaces if there is a change in labor law.

“We look at their financial reports, strike records, and what the leadership of the organization is all about,” Lotito said.

Exploiting business fears of card-check has become a profitable pursuit, said Pat O’Neill, organizing director for the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Read more here from BusinessWeek.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Governor Paterson Pardons Army Specialist

Governor David A. Paterson today announced that he has pardoned Osvaldo Hernandez, a decorated Army veteran who has served his country in Afghanistan, so that Mr. Hernandez can fulfill his lifelong dream of pursuing a career in law enforcement.

“Osvaldo Hernandez has demonstrated that individuals can turn their lives around and that we need not let our mistakes define us,” Governor Paterson said. “In certain exceptional and compelling circumstances, an individual’s sincere efforts to repay his or her debt to society warrant a grant of this extraordinary relief. I commend Mr. Hernandez for his exemplary military career and am proud to assist him in attempting to further his career in law enforcement.”

On November 22, 2002, Hernandez was arrested after an unlicensed loaded handgun was recovered from his car. At the time of his arrest, Hernandez was twenty years old and working as a private investigator while attending LaGuardia College. Hernandez accepted responsibility for his crime, pled guilty to Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree and was sentenced to a one year term in prison.

After his release, Hernandez enlisted in the United States Army and volunteered to serve in the infantry. Hernandez successfully completed paratrooper training and was deployed to Afghanistan in February 2007, where he served for 15 months. During the course of his military service, Hernandez received a number of commendations and medals, including a Combat Infantryman Badge, two Army Commendation Medals and three Army Achievement Medals. He was honorably discharged in June 2008 and returned to New York City.

Hernandez was recalled to active duty in August 2009, and is expected to redeploy to Afghanistan in January 2010. Hernandez hopes that, upon his release from active duty, he can become a police officer with the New York City Police Department or pursue another career in law enforcement.

Richard A. Brown, the Queens District Attorney, said: “During my many years on the bench, as Counsel to former Governor Hugh L. Carey and now as a prosecutor, I have had the opportunity to review many hundreds of clemency applications. Frankly, I have not seen an application for clemency more compelling. Specialist Hernandez has acknowledged his mistake, turned his life around and served – and continues to serve — his country. He has paid his debt to society and has earned this second chance which will allow him to pursue his dreams of a career in law enforcement. I want to commend Governor Paterson for his actions today in granting clemency to Specialist Hernandez. It is well deserved.”

Major General Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General of New York, the Commander of the New York National Guard, said: “Specialist Osvaldo Hernandez served honorably and well in the 82nd Airborne Division, earning the trust of his leaders and fellow soldiers, and proving himself in combat. I would be proud to have a soldier like Hernandez serving in my command. I applaud the governor’s decision to give this young soldier a second chance through this action.”

The witch Hunt Continues: Another Congressman Scozzafava'd

Was George Radanovich "Scozzafava'd"

By David Dayen

The Sacramento Bee reports that George Radanovich, a Republican from the Central Valley of California, will retire in a statement happening at this hour. This could end the Washington speculation that a wave of Democratic retirements are imminent; here’s one coming from the Republican side.

The Bee report cites Radanovich’s wife’s ovarian cancer as a possible reason for the retirement, but they also mention that former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson was looking into a primary challenge.

This is true. Amazingly enough, despite his doctrinaire right-wing beliefs, Radanovich has been facing heat all year from members of his own party. Anger over Radanovich’s vote for the TARP bank bailout had metastasized, and led to criticism that the incumbent does not pay enough attention to the needs of the district. A Central Valley businessman, Bob Smittcamp, cast about for a credible challenger, and former State Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines had to publicly decline a run. Smittcamp may be more concerned with a local water project than Radanovich’s voting record, but he was reportedly making headway in finding a challenger from the right, perhaps with Patterson. Radanovich may have been scared out of re-election.

Given the hard-right push from the Republican base, it’s credible to speculate that this rock-ribbed Republican, a member of the far-right Republican Study Conference, was forced into retirement because of his “liberal” beliefs. That’s pretty incredible. Read More From FDL

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Look who's on "The Road" to progress

Viggo Mortenson chats with County Chair

Jefferson County Chairman, Sean M. Hennessey reports to The North Country Democrat that he had an impromptu meeting with none other than Watertown’s own Viggo Mortensen today at the Salmon Run Mall . Chairman Hennessey tells us that he was doing a bit of last minute shopping when he quite literally bumped into Mr. Mortensen. Once Sean recognized the international film star he introduced himself as the local County Chair, and was pleased to find that Viggo was still quite familiar with local politics. Viggo mentioned to the Chair that he was very pleased with the recent win in NY’s 23rd Congressional race and commended the County Committee for their hard work and dedication to their community. The first words out of his mouth were that he was, “impressed with the results of NY’s 23rd.”

Mr. Mortensen's successful movie career credits has recently added the lead role in the critically acclaimed movie “The Road”, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy. Mr Mortensen returns to his North Country roots on occasion to visit friends and family.

Chairman Hennessey told The North Country Democrat that, “I have to say I was very surprised by the meeting. Viggo has long been a big supporter of our Committee and our Candidates.” Many from across the North Country remember Viggo not only for his acting accomplishments, but also for the fund raising support he supplied to Dr Robert (Bob) Johnson’s in his run for congress in 2006. The Oscar winning actor has long been a vocal supporter of Universal Health Care as well as a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. His support for local and national candidates is much appreciated. The North Country Democrat would like to thank Mr. Mortensen for standing up for our troops; and for those families negatively affected by the ever shrinking availability of affordable Health Care.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Gouverneur Times printed this Holiday message from Senator Darrel Aubertine

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year. This time of year is an opportunity to spend time with family, reflect on the year which has passed and look forward to the possibilities of the coming year.

For me, the real joy of the Christmas holiday is spending a little extra time with my wife, my children, friends, neighbors and extended family. All of us need this moment to focus on what really matters in our lives, the people we have relationships with every day. Whether shared with a neighbor, the clerk at the grocery store, or just about anyone else we meet, I hope the warm greetings continue year round.

This past year has certainly had its share of challenges. The slumping national economy has taken its toll on New York State making it a difficult year for many in Central and Northern New York. Still I’m thankful for the progress we have made and the small signs of improvement have made me hopeful and optimistic.

But a few positive growth numbers from economists do not change the fact that we need to continue any and all efforts to improve our economy by building for the future. Over the past few months, I’ve travelled the state talking with businesses and other stakeholders about what the state can do with its low cost power resources at the New York Power Authority to sustain and create jobs. The input collected will be used to reform and improve on our existing economic development programs.

Also this fall, the Legislature moved forward on legislation that will help increase demand for permanent home and business improvements to improve energy efficiency. The increased demand will lead to the creation of new jobs. The Green Jobs/Green NY program will provide low cost loans for home and business owners that can be paid off out of the savings realized on
their electric bill within about 10 years. The PACE program, or property assessed clean energy bonds, is another means to eliminate that upfront cost
for homeowners.

In addition, the state and federal government have invested in infrastructure and other job-creating projects throughout the region. As our representative in Albany, I am working to make sure that we receive our fair share of state aid and funding for the projects and initiatives important to this district, while also striving to make our state more efficient, business friendly and prosperous. We all know the daunting task that lies before this state and I will continue working to deal with our fiscal crisis prudently and carefully, to protect vital services without raising our taxes.

So as we move forward into 2010, let me again wish everyone a happy and healthy new year. I will continue to work on behalf of all of us and know that I am very grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve in Albany. Thank you and have a joyful holiday season.

This post is from
The Gouverneur Times. Click here to read more from The Gouverneur Times

Assemblywomen Russell to Hold an Open House

we invite you to stop in at her Watertown office:

Tuesday afternoon, December 22nd
Dulles State Office Building, Suite 210
anytime between Noon and 4PM.

for a Holiday Open House. Addie and staff will all be there, so stop in for some refreshments and say hello.
Wishing you all the best in this holiday season and we hope to see you Tuesday.
Addie and Staff

Friday, December 18, 2009

Senator Gillibrand Introduces Gas Turbine Efficiency Legislation

Schenectady-Based GE Estimates Program Could Create Thousands Of Jobs Industry-Wide In Engineering, Construction, And Retrofits For Existing Gas

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today introduced legislation that would improve the efficiency of natural gas turbines used in electric power generation systems, and lead to significant savings for consumers. The Gas Turbine Efficiency Act would create a research and development and technology demonstration grant program through the Department of Energy to help companies study ways to implement better technology and ramp up efficiency. Congressman Paul Tonko introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

"The technology developed under this legislation would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, create thousands of good-paying engineering, construction and manufacturing jobs right here at home, lower energy costs, and spur economic activity across the country," said Senator Gillibrand. "The U.S. has been a world leader in developing gas turbine technology, and this legislation would create a public-private partnership to help the U.S. preserve its position and strengthen its economy."

"I applaud Senator Gillibrand for recognizing the critical importance of this bill. Energy efficiency should be our fuel of choice - which we should drill and mine like we currently drill for oil and mine coal. Not only will the efficiencies created by this program reduce our fuel consumption, save more than a billion dollars per year in fuel costs, and dramatically reduce the production of greenhouse gases, it will also create clean energy jobs and enhance our energy security," Congressman Tonko said

Click here to read how Senator Gillibrand is pushing job growth.

$ 3 Million Investment in New York Clean Energy Business Expansion

Governor Paterson Fights for North Country Jobs and a Green Future.
$3 Million has been bestowed to assist companies in business growth, creation of latest technologies and new economy employment in New York.

According to Governor, David A. Paterson, this sum will energize the extension of New York’s green energy economy as 18 Empire state companies will be able to sell clean energy technologies. Eventually, this prerogative of clean energy will strengthen New York’s status as leading in the new economy. Moreover, Governor Paterson strongly believes that “public partnerships with private industry are absolutely critical to foster our economic growth”.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has given this 3 million to facilitate New York businesses contact with markets and other stakeholders so as to supply customers with clean energy. Each company will receive an award of $200,000 as part of a formal agreement.

This project is also hailed by NYSERDA President and Chief executive officer Francis J. Murray as it will decrease energy consumption and enhance environment.
Read more on Green Funding here

A HOLIDAY GREATING FROM CONGRESSMAN OWENS

Dear Friend,

Now that the holiday season is upon us, Jane and I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a safe and blessed holiday.

This is a special time of year when all of us take a moment to reflect on the blessings of our great nation. As we gather with friends, family and neighbors this holiday season, we must remember the sacrifices of those who came before us to lay the foundation for our country, and the work being done by our men and women in uniform to keep us safe and free today.

I am thankful for your friendship and support over the past several months. Whether you are hitting the road or preparing a meal at home, I wish you the very best this holiday season and I look forward to working with you again soon to move our country forward.

Happy Holidays,

ADDIE’S ‘A-B-C’ BOOK DRIVE MOVES INTO THE DISTRIBUTION PHASE.

This holiday season Assemblywoman Addie Russell joined forces with the Community and Church Program in St. Lawrence County and the Community Action Planning Council in Jefferson County to hold a book drive. The drive was titled ‘A-B-C-Addie’s Books for Children.’ The goal was to try to put a book in every kid’s hands this holiday.


The Assemblywoman publicized and promoted the book drive and the social service agencies are distributing the books. The drive concluded December 11th and the results were impressive. Over 1,500 new and gently used books for children were collected. One book dealer alone, Kaylieghbug Books, in Morristown contributed over 200 new books. Thanks go out not only to the sponsoring agencies but Salmon Run Mall in Watertown and Kinney Drugs in Canton. The Jeff/Lewis Teacher’s Center laminated the posters promoting the book drive.


Addie Russell said, “I am very pleased that the ABC book drive frankly exceeded my expectations in its first year. Whether kids read themselves, or are read to, the joy of reading can be experienced by many kids this holiday season. We are starting early to expand the book collection next year. Once again our goal will be to get as many books in as many young hands as we are able.”

Sheri Wilcox of the Church and Community Program in Canton said, “It was a joy seeing the faces of parents and guardians light up when we combined the gifting of food, toys, clothes and books. The families that we deal with really appreciated the books.”


Melinda Gault of the Community Action Planning Council said, “It isn’t common for an outreach agency like ours to partner with an elected official to reach a common goal. But I’m so pleased we were able to do that this year. Kids will benefit and that’s always our goal at CAPC.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Congressman Bill Owens Supports Pay Raise for Troops, Military Families

Washington, DCCongressman Bill Owens today voted to support the troops by providing them with the weapons, support, and equipment needed to complete their mission overseas. Today’s legislation, the Defense Appropriations Act, also makes investments in the health, well-being and readiness of the armed forces, and provides armed services members and their families with a pay raise to reward them for their efforts in defense of the country.

“We have tasked America’s sons and daughters with a tremendous mission in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe, and it is our job to ensure that they have everything they need,” said Owens. “While our fighting men and women keep us safe here at home, we can do our best to keep them safe overseas by providing them appropriate body armor, safer vehicles and other equipment.”


In addition to a pay increase, today’s legislation includes a number of additional provisions to support our troops including:

  • $500 for every month that a soldier’s service is involuntarily extended through stop loss.
  • Over $29 billion in the Defense Health Program to support military families in need of job training, child care and other services
  • Allowing the Inspector General to hire additional investigators to ensure proper oversight of Department of Defense acquisition and contracting.
  • Increased funding for training and readiness to ensure that troops in the field are fully prepared

Congressman Owens is a Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Armed Services Committee.

THREE CHEARS FOR SENATOR GILLIBRAND

Gillibrand Helps Secure $5.1 Billion for Home Heating Assistance

Washington, DC – With dropping temperatures and rising energy costs, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand helped secure $5.1 billion for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). This matches last year’s investment – the largest amount of funding Congress has ever allocated to help seniors and low-income families heat their homes during the winter months. Senator Gillibrand is also introducing new legislation to provide low interest loans and tax credits to help cover the costs of energy, as well as providing a guidebook for families and businesses to help navigate federal grant programs and take advantage of funding available to heat and weatherize homes, schools and businesses.

“No New York family should ever be left in the cold,” Senator Gillibrand said. “But with the bad economy, job losses and rising energy costs, too many New York families struggle to heat their homes and stay warm. My legislation will help more families afford heating with new tax credits and affordable loans. And my guidebook will help every eligible family and business take advantage of the resources that are available to them to heat and weatherize homes and businesses – making them more energy efficient and saving millions.”

The cost of heating oil in New York is the second highest in the nation at $2.46 per gallon. Approximately 3 million New Yorkers rely on heating oil to heat their homes in the winter – making New York particularly vulnerable to shortages and price hikes as a result of extremely high demand.

Rean more on Senator Gillibrand here

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

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Climate Talks Near Deal on

Preservation of Forests

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

COPENHAGEN — Negotiators have all but completed a sweeping deal that would compensate countries for preserving forests and other natural landscapes like peat soils, swamps and fields that play a crucial role in curbing climate change.

Environmental groups have long advocated such a compensation program because forests are efficient absorbers of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. Rainforest destruction, which releases the carbon dioxide stored in trees, accounts for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

The agreement for the program, once signed, may turn out to be the most significant achievement to come out of the Copenhagen climate talks, providing a system through which countries can be paid for conserving disappearing natural assets based on their contribution to reducing emissions.

A final draft of the agreement for the compensation program, called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation or REDD, is to be given on Wednesday to ministers of the nearly 200 countries gathered here to hammer out a framework for a global climate treaty. Negotiators and other participants said that though some details remained to be worked out, all major points of disagreement — how to address the rights of indigenous people living on forest land and what is defined as forest, for example — had been resolved through compromise.

Read more from the NY Times Here

Conservatives take control of GOP while Democrats Entice Moderates

Has the GOP Collapse Begun? Hypothetical "Tea Party" Outpolls Republicans


By Adele M. Stan, AlterNet. Posted December 8, 2009.


Something is afoot among the conservative base -- voting Republican doesn't seem to cut it anymore, and incumbents are getting nervous.


Establishment Republicans, take notice. The Tea Party is about to steal your thunder.


According to a poll by Rasmussen Reports, likely voters in the 2010 congressional elections would rather cast a ballot for a candidate bearing the Tea Party brand than one on the Republican line.


In a national survey of likely voters, Rasmussen asked respondents to choose their favored political party for the congressional contests in what pollsters call a generic ballot. In a three-way contest, Democrats fared best, with 36 percent, while a hypothetical Tea Party came in second at 23 percent, and Republicans pulled up the rear with 18 percent. But there is one wrinkle in the Tea Party triumph scenario: There is no political party called the Tea Party, which might lead one to question whether Rasmussen is stirring the simmering pot of Republican Party politics.


Although the poll results look awful for Republicans, the absence of an actual established political party called the Tea Party makes the GOP the likely host party for Tea Party-endorsed candidates. While this could lead to some losses in 2010, the net effect will likely be to move the establishment GOP further to the right-wing Tea Party agenda of small government, lower taxes, union busting and virtually no social safety net.


Because there's no political party yet formed under the Tea Party banner, Tea Party movement groups are supporting primary challenges to establishment Republican candidates, such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who faces challenger Marco Rubio in the GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat. Tea Party activists could also, as they did with the Conservative Party in New York State during a special election last month in the state's 23rd congressional district, work with an established third party in areas where the Republican Party machinery is locked up.


Read more from Alternet.org

Aubertine Applauds the Creation of State Energy Plan

Plan Will Help Make Energy More Affordable, Reliable, Environmentally Friendly & Secure for New Yorkers

WATERTOWN (December 15, 2009)—State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, said today that the new State Energy Plan will provide the “framework” necessary for New York to build a clean energy economy that meets the needs of New York State.

“This State Energy Plan will provide the important framework to help New York establish itself as the nation’s leader in energy efficiency, development and independence for years to come,” Sen. Aubertine said. “Our goal must be to provide reliable, affordable, and clean energy to meet all of our needs, from business to residential customers. New York State’s energy industries face the challenge of meeting our needs as a state for a decade, but with that challenge comes the opportunity to revitalize our economy.”

Governor David A. Paterson today accepted the final 2009 State Energy Plan from the New York State Energy Planning Board. The Energy Plan provides a comprehensive blueprint for New York to continue to transition to a clean energy economy over a 10-year planning horizon, and is the first state energy plan since 2002. The recommendations and action items in the plan are intended to make energy more reliable, secure and affordable for New Yorkers, address the threat of climate change and result in a cleaner environment.“New York State’s future will depend on new energy sources, from a fourth nuclear reactor in Oswego County to agricultural sources, and efficiency, through weatherization and Smart Grid technologies, creating jobs that will also sustain our economy,” Sen. Aubertine said. “I want to thank the Governor, Deputy Secretary for Energy Tom Congdon and staff for giving all of us the opportunity to weigh in on this plan, holding the first hearing in Canton, and providing the leadership to make this a priority.”

In his comments to the Governor and Mr. Congdon, Sen. Aubertine expressed his support for the plan and legislation he supported, which the Governor signed, to re-codify the state energy planning process in law to ensure the critical work of comprehensive periodic energy planning and analysis continues.

The Senator noted that among the challenges and opportunities for New York State will be maximizing creation of green jobs and making key infrastructure investments to ensure efficiency goals are reached while also keeping prices down, especially in the near to mid-term until savings from these efficiencies are realized. Sen. Aubertine also noted the need to utilize existing state supplies of natural energy resources and develop new in state generation facilities, such as the proposed new nuclear reactor at Nine Mile Point in Oswego County.

The Senator also emphasized the needs of New York’s agriculture industry, both in terms of reducing costs for farms and agribusiness, as well as in terms of utilizing the state’s agricultural resources to develop alternative energies. In addition, Sen. Aubertine noted the work he has done as chair with the Assembly Energy Committee chair to gather input across the state to best use low cost power to create and sustain good paying jobs for hard working New Yorkers.

From Governor Paterson’s Release: The Plan identifies a number of specific policy initiatives that set forth a vision for a robust and innovative clean energy economy that will stimulate investment, create jobs and meet the energy needs of residents and businesses over the next ten years. The policy initiatives are organized by five overarching strategies:· Continue to expand opportunities to improve energy efficiency – the cleanest, cheapest energy resource. · Support the development of in-State energy supplies.· Encourage investment in, and identify future needs for, energy infrastructure. · Stimulate innovation in the clean energy economy and help the existing manufacturing base transition to low-carbon future. · Improve coordination between the State, other governments, and communities. Among the specific initiatives that Governor Paterson will propose in 2010 include:· Improve coordination and expand energy efficiency and renewable energy programs across the State in support of the Governor’s ‘45 by 15’ clean energy goal. · Submit legislation that will establish a power plant sitting process that will provide greater certainty to developers and greater opportunities for public involvement.· Submit legislation to establish a long-term Power for Jobs program and develop new selection criteria that encourages energy efficiency and improves coordination between NYPA and ESD.· Submit legislation to “green” the State’s energy code and remove loopholes that have limited the code’s effectiveness.· Submit legislation to require disclosure of energy characteristics of buildings at the time of sale.· Work with NYSERDA to issue at least two solicitations over the next year for large-scale renewable energy projects under the recently expanded Renewable Portfolio Standard.· Work with NYPA to issue RFP for 100 megawatts of solar energy statewide.· Work with LIPA and the NYC-Long Island Offshore Wind Collaborative to issue an RFP for an offshore wind project off the coast of the Rockaways.· Ensure stringent environmental safeguards are in place prior to processing permit applications for natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale gas reserves.· Release a Climate Action Plan that will identify strategies to achieve an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.· Develop energy facility sitting and permitting procedures to assess and consider disproportionate environmental burdens in potential environmental justice areas.· Establish incentives to repower existing power plants to reduce emissions and increase power output.

The complete 2009 State Energy Plan, which includes a detailed implementation table and 16 in-depth issue briefs and assessments, is available at http://www.nysenergyplan.com/.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

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JCDC Volenteers Take To The Streets

Ringing Bells and Giving Back

(updated)

Volunteers from the Jefferson County Democratic Committee spent Saturday ringing bells and raising funds for the Watertown NY Salvation Army. The day was a great success and the committee owes a great debt to our “Discover the Meaning” organizer Sandra Cole. Sandra not only “impressed” on the committee the importance of braving the elements, but she braved them herself. Sandra played clean up for the committee and finished out the day as the volunteer with the greatest number of hours accumulated in a single day.

North Country Democrat has confirmed today that: Patti Shaughnessy (Democratic Machine Tech. for the Jefferson County Board of Elections) and Michelle Coullier (Democratic Registration clerk for the Jefferson County Board of Elections) (City of Watertown) got the day started. The two Democrat BOE staff members braved the cold/wind and kept the team motivated as the day pushed on. Ezra "Ted" Ford (Orleans) and Doris Mcllalen (Rutland) both members of Assemblywomen Russell's regional team kept the crowd motivated to give. Their hard work payed great dividends through the day and democrats from across the district would be proud of their efforts. Long time committee member Mary Keichle (Theresa) was ringing bells with vigor and stayed well past her shift so that her replacement could arrive and relieve her. Ed Demattia (Chaumont, seen in picture) impressed long time committee members with his dedication and passion for the cause. Jefferson County Democratic Chairman Sean M Hennessey spent a few hours ringing bells and told North County Democrat “our volunteers are a credit not only to our party but to all our North Country neighbors. Their willingness to brave the elements and give until it truly hurts is a testament to their dedication to their community. I want to thank organizer Sandra Cole and all our volunteers that feel it’s important in these difficult times to give back to a community that has given so much to them.”

In the past few years they have proven that with hard work and dedication to our cause your dreams can be realized. In the coming weeks we’ll be rolling out our next “Discover the Meaning” project. The North Country Democrat urges you take the time to volunteer and show our neighbors how much we care about the future of all the residents of our North Country Community.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jobs Report Is Strongest Since the Start of the Recession

In the strongest jobs report since the recession began two years ago, the nation’s employers all but stopped shedding jobs in November, the government reported on Friday, and they appeared to be on the verge of finally rebuilding the work force.


The sudden and unexpected improvement surprised even the most optimistic forecasters. Instead of yet another six-figure job loss, only 11,000 jobs disappeared last month and instead of another rise in the unemployment rate, it went down, to 10 percent from 10.2 percent in October.


“This is an emphatic demonstration that the economy is moving in the direction of a self-sustaining recovery,” said Robert Barbera, chief economist at ITT Investment Technology Group, who joined many other forecasters in predicting that the work force would be growing again by early spring.


Click here for more on job growth

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A BIG NIGHT FOR WPBS AND JCDC
FUNDS WERE RAISED AND FUN WAS HAD


Last night a number of members of the Jefferson County Democratic Committee and office staff from Congressman Owens, Senator Aubertine and Assemblywomen Addie Russell came together and spent their night raising funds for our local Public Television Station WPBS. The night was very successful for the station and to be honest it was really fun for the County Committee as well.


Our volunteers got to the station at 7pm and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house thanks to all the calls that Sandra Cole did to get our first “Discover the Meaning” project off to a roaring success for 2009. The overwhelming turn out by the County Committee showed that the Democratic Party not only talks about giving back to the community but we back it up with action.


Apparently word spread about the JCDC being on the air because we heard from a number of Democrats from across the County and Country. In fact one of our very own Young Democrats, Jason Miles, called in from California and donated $50 (and you thought you could get away with that with out anyone knowing) to WPBS and wanted nothing sent or praise given for this sizeable gift. People like Jason drove the message home about how much we care about local broadcasting and especially local public television.


As the night went on the shows got better and better and the hosts (Lynn and Tom) were as gracious as they could be. In fact the Committee was treated so well that the Jefferson County Committee is slotted for another phone bank session in the coming months.


The County Committee would like to thank Lynn and Tom for all their years of service and support of WPBS. They are very seldom thanked for all the time they put in to not only fundraising, but to bringing the best local programming to our North Country community. We also want to thank all the volunteers that came and made last night so successful. Some of the Volunteers included: Board of Election staff - Michelle Coulier, Patti Shaughnessy, and Carla Walker. We also had another young Democrat and current Antwerp Village Trustee Jonathan Cole with us in studio. The Town of Clayton was well represented by Gerald Hill, Elaine Foster and none other then River Town Democrats District Director Patrick Young. The Town of Rutland was also being represented by JCDC Chairman Sean M Hennessey as well as JCDC Secretary Sandra Cole. With the help of our local County Committee and our elected State and Federal Legislators we raised thousands for public television. Nothing makes the JCDC leadership prouder than to see so many Democrats with fire and dedication to their community.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jefferson County Democrats "Discover the Meaning"

...can you tell me how to get...
how to get to Sesame Street..
We all remember being a kid and watching great shows like Mr Rogers, Big Bird and Sesame Street? Well the Jefferson County Democratic Party will be manning the phones tomorrow night at our local Public Television Station for their Annual “A Time to Treasure” Holiday Membership Drive. This Annual activity has been tremendously successful in helping WPBS bridge them through very difficult times. Last year was a banner year for the County Committee on the phones and we’d like this year to dwarf last years’ numbers.

I would like all our friends out there to call in and make a pledge at 782-8600 to this great organization. Our time slot starts at 7:00 -7:30pm with The Nightly Business Report, Gifts from the Table 7:30-8:00pm, To the Manor Born (25th Anniversary) 8:00-9:00pm -and finishing with Celtic Women – A Christmas Celebration 9:00-11:00pm. It’s going to be a bunch of fun and with your help a profitable night for PBS. Please call in at any time between 7 and 11pm and make a pledge,whatever the amount, for public television. We'll let all our friends at PBS know that Democrats support their local broadcasting of Arts, News,Science, Children and Educational programming. By making a small pledge you'll be on your way to "Discovered the Meaning"

Senate Passes Bipartisan Deficit Reduction Plan

Aubertine-led coalition led the fight to protect against new taxes, fees, devastating cuts

ALBANY (December 2, 2009)—In a truly bipartisan manner, State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine and the New York State Senate today passed legislation that will close the state’s budget gap by nearly $3 billion—without new taxes and fees, without sacrificing the quality of healthcare for our seniors and without shifting the burden of the fiscal crisis down to local property taxpayers.



“This deficit reduction plan required many difficult decisions and does not mark the end of the difficult decisions we will have to make,” said Sen. Aubertine, chair of the Senate Majority’s Upstate Caucus. “Our work is not finished, but this deficit reduction plan will keep New York strong and protect Upstate residents from mid-year cuts that would have pushed the state’s problems down to our local property tax bills.”



The deficit reduction plan passed today with widespread bipartisan support in both the Senate and Assembly. The three bills passed the Senate 62-0, 59-3, and 59-3. The plan fits into the parameters set by the Upstate Caucus last month by protecting schools and property taxpayers from mid-year cuts, and limiting healthcare cuts, without adding new taxes or fees. Of the cuts made, about 50 percent are recurring, meaning the difficult decisions made in this deficit reduction plan will provide savings in future budgets.



“As a caucus and as a conference, we were able to forge a bipartisan agreement with careful and deliberate cuts and other measures that do not include tax increases or the devastating cuts that had been proposed,” Sen. Aubertine said. “This deficit reduction plan seals a significant portion of our state’s budget gap this year, but it does not change the fact that more difficult decisions will have to be made next year. By taking the action we did today, we have kept our state in a position to temper the impact of next year’s cuts and reform the way we do business in Albany.”

Among the spending reductions passed by the Senate (other than the $485 million in agency cuts to be enacted by the Governor):
- 12.5 percent cut to remaining balances of local assistance grants;
- 5 percent cut to operating aid for SUNY, CUNY and community colleges;
- 5.4 Mental cut to Retardation and Developmental disabilities; and
- $107 million in health care actions.

Several one-time legislative actions were included in the DRP as well, including:
- $200 million from the Battery Park City Authority;
- $90 million from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative;
- $10 million from the Environmental Protection Fund; and
- $26 million from the Dormitory Authority.


By working with the Governor and Assembly to find alternative cuts, the Senate successfully turned back a number of proposals that would have cost the state hundreds of millions in lost funding, established new taxes and left nursing homes without the funding they needed to continue vital services for our elderly.



The Senate stood firm against the imposition of any new taxes on New Yorkers or businesses by reversing the Governor’s proposal to more than double the gross receipts tax on hospitals (from .35 percent to .75 percent).



The Senate ensured that outside sources of funding remain strong by finding more sensible cuts than the proposed $287 million to Medicaid programs, which would have triggered the loss of hundreds of millions in federal matching funds—the state would have lost $1.60 for every dollar saved, totaling $746 million (state and federal share).



The Senate eliminated the plan to delay rebasing payments to nursing homes and hospitals (costing them $60 million). The original proposal would have had a particularly negative impact on those Upstate and in suburban providers

Assembly Passes Deficit Reduction Package

“Early this morning, the Assembly passed a deficit reduction packagethat cut $2.7 billion from this year’s state budget and I voted to support this package. Over the past few weeks I have stressed the need for us to take action to close our budget deficit and while today’s actions will not completely eliminate the deficit, it was a necessary procedure.

“The Assembly made several painful cuts today, but did so very carefully, including making targeted cuts to health care so as to avoid a devastating loss of federal reimbursable aid. We also limited the cuts the governor proposed in aid to local municipalities that would have shifted the burden on to the backs of local property taxpayers. However, we did cut the legislative budget and member items.

“In addition, the Assembly did not make mid-year school aid cuts but are informing districts that there will be $391 million less in federal stimulus funds to education that were to be used in the 2010-11 budget and thus schools should plan their budgets accordingly. But we did reject the governor’s proposed cut to the school lunch and breakfast program. Our working families are in difficult times and it did not make sense to hurt them any more by cutting food programs for their children.

“We also rejected the governor’s proposed $26.2 million cut to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), because working families cannot afford to dig deeper to afford a college education for their children. In addition, we mitigated the proposed SUNY and CUNY cuts from 12.5% to 5%.

“The Assembly rejected the governor’s proposal of an $11.4 million cut to Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program that helps aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income to meet their most basic needs, like food, clothing, and shelter.

“The governor will need to address the remaining deficit with cash management actions. I have already begun contacting my local school districts and local governments to urge caution in spending for the rest of this fiscal year as the governor has warned of the possibility of withholding local assistance funding.

“The Assembly also passed pension reform legislation, establishing a new Tier V, which will significantly save taxpayers money in the long run.

“Although we have made progress, the hard work is far from over. I will continue my proactive approach, addressing the existing deficit and next year’s budget. I will propose real and recurring solutions to help the state regain fiscal health such as increases to out-of-state tuition, changing the way the state purchases information technology, and shrinking the overall size of state government. I was elected to work for my constituents and for the betterment of New York State and the North Country. Be assured that I will continue to be engaged and work hard on behalf of all the families in the North Country.”

10TH MOUNTAIN IS READY FOR ACTION

NY soldiers relieved that wait is over

FORT DRUM, N.Y. - FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) — Some soldiers at Fort Drum watched President Barack Obama outline his strategy for Afghanistan and felt a sense of relief that their wait was finally over.

"I'm just relieved to know where we're going," said 29-year-old Adam Candee, of Chicago. "It's nice to have a final answer and we know for sure."

Candee and several other soldiers from Charley Company 187 gathered at the John Hoover Inn, a bar outside Fort Drum, to watch the president announce his plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan on Tuesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

"After seeing this, it's like official. We know where we're going now, we just don't know the date," said Private Justin Danowit, of Estero, Fla.

Danowit, 24, who watched the speech at the Fort Drum home of a fellow soldier, spoke with his mom during the speech.

"She's proud of me, she supports me, but she worries about me just as much," Danowit said.

Other soldiers, though, had their doubts about the troop surge.

"I don't know exactly if it will fix the problem, but I think with our job we serve more purpose being in Afghanistan versus Iraq," said Lorenzo Young, 21, of San Bernadino, Ca.

"The war in Afghanistan is really confusing to me," said PFC Brian Transon, who belongs to an infantry unit expected to deploy to Afghanistan. "What is our exact motive?"

Both had just watched Obama's speech at a bar in nearby Watertown.

Befor the announcement, soldiers with the Army's 10th Mountain Division agreed that more troops were be needed to get the job done.

The light infantry division based at northern New York's Fort Drum has seen repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and is expected to be part of the new surge.

Troy Lockhart returned Monday from Afghanistan. Speaking at a Dunkin' Donuts outside the post's main gate near Watertown, he said a stronger force is needed as long as the nation is committed to the fight.

"I definitely feel there's a need for it if there's a need to stay in Afghanistan," he said. "At my level, I'm not what you call a big thinker, I'm an executioner. So all the people who do the big thinking, that make the ultimate decision whether we need to stay or not, we just have to put our trust in our government."

Leroy Orso, who has done tours in Iraq, also believes bolstering the force is a good idea.

"It'll take a couple of years, but overall I think it will definitely work," he said.

Read more from NEWSDAY

SHERRIF BURNS LEADS IN TOUGH TIMES

SHERRIF BURNS LEADERSHIP
SHINES THROUGH
IN THROUGH TOUGH TIMES

SENATOR AUBERTINE DELIVERS

Aubertine helps Morristown get nearly $1.5m grant

MORRISTOWN — With the help of state Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, the village has secured a nearly $1.5 million grant for its sewer treatment plant upgrade.

"I spoke with Mr. Aubertine myself," village Clerk Sandra A. Warren said Tuesday. "And I was floored. I didn't know what to say. It's amazing. It's just wonderful."According to Mrs. Warren, the village has received a letter of notification through Sen. Aubertine's office from the state Dormitory Authority.

"As part of their Regional Economic Development Program," Mrs. Warren said, "we received $1,467,000, even, in grant funding for the village sewer treatment plant upgrade."

Andrew G. Mangione, communications director for Mr. Aubertine, said the senator and the village have been working hand in hand to secure the grant.

"The senator has been working to move this project forward, to make much needed improvements to the village's infrastructure. The necessary paperwork is in the pipeline and the senator is pleased to have worked with the village to secure this funding," Mr. Mangione said.

The grant does not ensure the entire sewer and wastewater project for Morristown is a go, but it helps, according to municipal officials.

"We're still looking for additional funding," Mrs. Warren said. The village and town have been filing joint applications to help fund an approved upgrade to the sewer and wastewater processing facilities in Morristown.

Read more from the WDT