Thursday, April 29, 2010

Owens Declares “War on Debt” with New Bill

Legislation aims to remove ownership
of debt from foreign nations
and control future spending



WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Bill Owens introduced H.R. 5157, the War on Debt Act. The legislation enacts a specific blueprint to force Washington to get serious about reducing the national debt and eliminate American dependence on foreign creditors.

“This legislation will map out an exact plan to end the culture of reckless spending we have seen out of Washington for most of the past decade,” said Owens. “Any successful business owner will agree that you must budget your expenses based on how much money you are taking in. It is time Congress takes a cue from the working families of Upstate New York and learns to live within its means.”

The War on Debt act attacks overblown federal spending on two fronts. First, it creates a type of savings bond that funnels money exclusively to pay down the national debt, particularly debt that is held by foreign entities. The legislation also sets spending limits in place for the federal government – 3% of the GDP for the annual deficit and 10% of the nation’s three-year average GDP for the national debt. These limits would ensure a top rating on the money borrowed and make certain that the federal government makes good on repaying the bonds. Americans can buy the bonds knowing that they will be used to pay down the national debt, and get the benefit of a unique bond that has no state or federal taxes levied on the interest.

“With our debt approaching $13 trillion, it is well past time to put our fiscal house in order,” Owens said. “As I travel around our community, I hear from countless Upstate New Yorkers who are concerned about the effect our national debt, especially debt owed to foreign nations, has on our economic and national security. As we reduce the trillions of dollars we owe to countries like China and Japan, we will increase our negotiating strength in global markets.”

The bill specifically states that the revenue generated from purchase of these “War on Debt” bonds will be required to repay our national debt, taking interest payments on existing debt out of the hands of foreign countries and into the wallets of the American people.

The introduction of H.R. 5157 is the latest in a series of efforts by Congressman Owens to create jobs, spur economic development in Upstate New York, and reduce the federal debt. In his first few months in office, Owens has introduced job creation bills such as the Rural Jobs Tax Credit Act and worked to rein in federal spending by supporting PAYGO legislation and voting twice against raising the federal debt ceiling. He has also worked to cut taxes for small businesses and family farms by supporting an increase in federal estate tax exemption from $3 million to $5 million.

Earlier this month, Owens introduced H.R. 5085, to expand tax breaks for small business owners who create full-time jobs.
To read more about Congressman Owens’ agenda Click HERE

DiNapoli Statement on Arizona Immigration Bill

“Arizona’s new immigration law is wrongheaded and counterproductive. Everyone agrees that immigration reform is necessary, but SB 1070 is simply the wrong way to strengthen our borders, protect taxpayers, and create a path to citizenship for undocumented workers. Arizona’s new law may not be constitutional and it will invite racial and ethnic profiling while fostering distrust among neighbors. This is not the American way.

“Immigrants have enriched the social and economic life of New York. My January 2010 report gives a pretty clear picture of the contributions of foreign-born workers in New York. New York was built by immigrants. We need to remember our heritage as a nation that welcomes newcomers from every corner of the globe, and we need to raise our voices in dissent against this badly-conceived, mean-spirited law.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Word of Thanks For a Terrific Event

First, I want to thank all of our volunteers for putting together such an incredible 2010 Spring Dinner!
Babette Hall, Patti Shaughnessy, Michelle Coullier, Carla Walker, my wife Betsy, and everyone else that spent countless hours making sure that our Spring event would be something to remember. I know I won't soon forget.
The comments I received yesterday from Elected officials, Labor Leaders, Committee members and Community Organizers was that the Jefferson County Democratic Party knows how to have a party and what a party it was!

I also want to thank all of you for giving me the honor of being your 2010 Jefferson County Democrat Achievement Award. As you could tell from my reaction I was totally taken by surprise and I am truly honored.
I have to say though, that without the selfless dedication that all of you have for our organization we would be in a very different place. I am proud to see how much of a team spirit the North Country Democrats can rally. I think Darrel was on the money last night when he said that we have a really great team of elected's, and though we don't all agree on specific issues we can come together and work as a community to reach our goals.
In tough times we have to stick together, and so I was glad to be reminded last night that you're happy to be stuck with me as Chairman. This award is something that I will treasure and I hope you know how much all of you mean to me and my family.

That being said we have a bunch of work in front of us and with your help we will make 2010 another banner year! Thanks again and God bless!

Sean M Hennessey
Chairman
Jefferson County Democratic Committee
95 Public Square, Box 5A
Watertown, NY 13601
(315) 788-4590

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Looking Forward To Seeing Everyone!

Tonight is the big night for the Democratic Party in Jefferson County. The party will be holding it's annual Spring Dinner at the North Side Improvement League in Watertown. The County Committee has a BIG announcement to make so make sure to get there early for the Reception and Dinner! We're looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Owens Bill Will Help Creat Jobs

Owens' bill would expand tax credits
for job-producing businesses



MARC HELLER / TIMES STAFF WRITER
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 2010

WASHINGTON — Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, introduced legislation Wednesday to expand a tax deduction for businesses that create jobs.

Mr. Owens said the measure, which offers a tax deduction on purchases of equipment, could give the economy an extra push as a gradual recovery is underway. He is pitching the idea to other lawmakers, including Rep. Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, he said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office.

“As the economy is picking up, hopefully this will accelerate the pickup,” Mr. Owens said.

Under the proposal, businesses could deduct an unlimited amount of capital expenditures from federal taxes for five years, up from the current limit of $250,000 — as long as each $100,000 generates one full-time job.

Mr. Owens said the bill is broad enough to affect businesses as large as major manufacturers or as small as a dairy farm.

He said he crafted the proposal after discussions with north country businesses.
Click HERE for more from the WDT

Dems "Give Us Our Money Back"

Local Dems of All Stripes Demand Levy Return
Tens of Thousands of Dollars in Past Contributions

New Group Will Unveil Online Grassroots
Effort to Recruit More Dems who Will
Ask Steve to: Give Us Our Money Back!!


Suffolk County Democrats who had donated to Steve Levy today launched a grassroots effort to demand that Democrat-turned-Republican Gubernatorial candidate refund their campaign contributions. The Democrats launched a new website and online outreach effort to recruit other Suffolk County Democrats to join their cause. The Democrats promised legal action if Levy does not return their donations immediately.

“Steve took their money and ran right in to the arms of the right wing. When you don’t get what you pay for, you ask for your money back and that’s what exactly they’re doing,” said Charlie King, Executive Director, New York State Democratic Committee

The group today launched http://www.levypayusback.com/, a website aimed at recruiting other Suffolk County Democrats who contributed to Levy’s County Executive campaigns having them ask for their money back.

Today, several loyal Suffolk County Democrats each sent personal letters to Levy asking that he refund their contributions. One letter wrote “You should have been honest with me, and all of your Democratic donors who gave you millions over the years, about how you planned to use our contributions. But you hoarded our money and are using it to support ideas and a vision for reform in Albany that we do not support. The last thing New York needs is another politician who isn’t up front and honest about how they spend their campaign contributions.”

The group promised legal action if Levy doesn’t refund their money immediately.

Levy has raised at least $4 million in his campaign fund while he was a Democrat, the vast majority coming from Suffolk County Democratic donors.

President Obama to Wall Street: 'A free market was never meant to be a free license'

DAILY NEWS STAFF

President Obama brought his message of financial reform to New York to address the tycoons of Wall Street, and the voters of Main Street.

Among the 700 guests invited to attend Obama's speech were Mayor Bloomberg - who arrived via the 6 train - and Governor Paterson, each of whom were seated in the front row.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney joined them, with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Controller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio seated behind them.

Following them in the rows of chairs were Wall Street heavyweights and business leaders.

The more populist lines of the speech were given the most appreciation. For example, Obama's declaration that he would not accept another slump into crisis received cheers, as did his call to put "cynical" Washington politics aside.

There were applause when the President spoke about a fee on finance firms to recoup taxpayer money. Obama also remarked that claims the Dodd bill contained a facility for taxpayer bailouts.

"That may make for a good sound bite, but it's not factually accurate," Obama said.

"Mr. Volker, I love you!" was called out when Obama's gave his chairman of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board kudos. He was seated in the front row, along with Rahm Emanuel.

Click HERE for more from the NY Daily News

Watertown to Receive EPA Funds

Seven New York Communities to Receive
EPA Funds to Assess and Clean Up
Abandoned and Contaminated Sites


(New York, N.Y.) Seven communities in upstate New York will be the beneficiaries of a total of $2.73 million in brownfields grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Brownfields are properties at which redevelopment is hindered by toxic pollution. The cleanup of contaminated properties previously used for industrial or commercial purposes and the ultimate investment in their redevelopment protects the environment, reduces blight, revitalizes neighborhoods and takes development pressure off open space.

“The EPA brownfields grants will help revitalize parts of seven very different New York State communities from both an environmental and economic development perspective,” said Judith Enck, Regional Administrator. “Not only will these cleanups protect the health of area residents, they will provide opportunities for development projects that benefit communities, produce jobs, and improve the quality of people’s lives.”

In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was adopted by Congress to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize brownfields sites. Under this law, EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants through four competitive grant programs: assessment, revolving loan fund, cleanup, and job training. EPA’s brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.

The New York villages, towns, cities and counties receiving brownfields grants:

· The Village of Camden in Oneida County will receive a $200,000 hazardous substance grant to do cleanup work at the Laribee Machine Company site on Main Street. The site housed a machine shop with coking operations. Coke is carbonized coal, a product produced by baking coal in a heated oven. The property is now contaminated with heavy metals, which can result in damaged or reduced mental and central nervous function, and damage to lungs, kidneys, liver, and other vital organs, as well as coking byproducts, and potentially cancer-causing PCBs.

· The town of Fort Edward in Washington County will receive two grants totaling $400,000 to assess hazardous substances and petroleum contamination. Fort Edward has more than 50 brownfields resulting from its industrial history, which included timber and paper industries.

· The city of Auburn in Cayuga County will receive a $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant and a $200,000 petroleum contamination assessment grant. To date, the city has identified 15 brownfields sites spanning 63 acres, and the assessment grants will help in identifying and assessing more properties for future cleanups.

· The city of Ogdensburg in St. Lawrence County has been selected to receive a total of $1.2 million in cleanup and revolving loan funds. The $200,000 hazardous substances cleanup grant will be used to do work at the former Standard Shade Roller site at 541 Covington Street. The site was formerly used for manufacturing boats, matches, and shade rollers and the property is now contaminated with metals and volatile and semi-volatile compounds, which can cause respiratory, allergic, or immune effects in infants or children. Ogdensburg will also receive $1,000,000 in revolving loan fund grants for hazardous substances. The grant will be used to capitalize a revolving loan fund from which the city will provide loans and sub-grants to support cleanup activities for sites contaminated by hazardous substances. The city expects to fund three loans and two sub-grants.

· The city of Rochester in Monroe County will get $200,000 to do cleanup work at 62-64 Scio Street, the site of a former warehouse and storage unit that has been contaminated with petroleum product. When the site is cleaned up, the city plans to sell it to create additional production space. Cleanup and redevelopment of the site are expected to create about 10 new jobs and expand the tax base.

· The city of Watertown in Jefferson County will receive a petroleum cleanup grant for $200,000 to start work at the Ogilvie site at 148 North Pleasant Street. The site was formerly used as a dairy processing plant and an evaporator processing plant to process whey. The property has petroleum storage tanks and the soil and ground water became contaminated when product spilled from one of the tanks. The grant funds will be used to remove contaminated soil and treat contaminated ground water at the site. Upon cleanup, the city plans to redevelop the property into residential housing.
Click HERE for more from the EPA

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sen. Aubertine Named New York Snowmobile Association 2010 Legislator of the Year

Working Together With Dedicated Sportsmen and Women


What struck me was the tremendous turnout and support shown by the riders, club leaders, and land owners for their sport. The large ballroom was full for the awards luncheon, where the club honored its groomers, dealer, club and snowmobiler of the year as well. It is the clubs and the individuals who give their time, effort and land to create and maintain the trails that make this sport what it is today-a sport that continues to grow in this recession, even if the snow sometimes will not cooperate.

To help this growth, I've sponsored legislation the Senate that Assemblyman Will Barclay is carrying in the Assembly. This legislation would enable certain businesses to sell registrations to out of state residents so that our local clubs can benefit from the distribution of money raised by these registrations for trail maintenance. Of course, that fund must remain in place for just that-snowmobile trails, not a means to balance the budget.

Snowmobiles are a Part of our Upstate Way of Life
Snowmobiles are an integral part of our upstate economy and way of life. The sport supports and creates jobs, raises revenue and provides many with a fun winter activity. I can remember when I bought my first sled some 40 years ago. There were quite a few members from Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties at the event and Oswego County had a great display showing off the fishing, hunting and riding opportunities in the county. I enjoyed listening to the people I met, sharing stories of our experiences in the sport, and talking about its future.

Part of that future is the work students at Clarkson University completed this year, finishing in third place this year in a competition to create a zero-emissions snowmobile. Their success was a 50 horsepower sled with a range of 20 miles or more, which can be found at the university now, but will make its way to Greenland in May. Three students from the team were on hand to explain their work modifying an existing snowmobile with hundreds of battery cells.
Outdoor recreation is a big part of our lives here in Central and Northern New York. Snowmobile season has passed, but now many of us have switched to fishing, hiking, biking and riding all-terrain vehicles for the spring and summer months. As a sportsman myself, I am committed to protecting our rights and growing our outdoor recreational industries.
Click HERE to read more about Senator Aubertine

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Owens introduces bill to help maple producers


WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Bill Owens has introduced legislation designed to help maple producers increase production and promote economic development and job creation.

House resolution 5011, the Maple Tapping Access Program Act of 2010, would direct the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to establish a program to let state and tribal governments apply for grants to create programs that encourage landowners to allow access to their property for maple tapping.

"Agricultural development is economic development," Owens said in a press release. "The more opportunity we provide for our local agriculture leaders and small-business owners, the better chance our community has at a complete economic recovery.

"We have an abundance of untapped maple trees, and providing resources for our maple producers to expand their operations will benefit our entire area."

The release states the country imports four times the maple syrup that is produced domestically, and only one of every 250 maple trees is tapped. The act would promote use of almost 2 billion additional taps.

Larry Rudd, representative of the New York State Board of Maple Producers for Lewis, Oneida, Oswego and Jefferson counties, said the measure would immensely increase production and create a large economic impact.
Read more HERE from The Press Republican

Friday, April 16, 2010

Obama Orders Mine Safety Crackdown, Six Massey Mines on Serial Violators List

by Mike Hall, Apr 15, 2010

President Obama today ordered a federal safety blitz on coal mines with a history of safety violations, like Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch where 29 miners were killed April 5. He also called for stronger enforcement of current mine safety laws and closing loopholes “that permit companies to shirk their responsibilities.”

Speaking specifically of the West Virginia mine disaster, Obama says:

The people of West Virginia are in our prayers. But we owe them more than prayers. We owe them action. We owe them accountability. We owe them an assurance that when they go to work every day, when they enter that dark mine, they are not alone.

Owners responsible for conditions in the Upper Big Branch mine should be held accountable for decisions they made and preventive measures they failed to take.

Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts, who yesterday called for the arrest and jailing of Massey CEO Donald Blankenship, says Obama “hit the nail on the head.”

The issues surrounding the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine are very troubling, and we need to get to the bottom of what happened there. But we must go further and deal with the larger issue of serial “safety violators like Massey” that must be addressed.

Before addressing reporters in the Rose Garden, Obama met with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) chief Joe Main and other MSHA officials who briefed the president on the latest in the investigation of the Upper Big Branch blast.

Obama told Solis to work closely with Congress to strengthen existing laws and also to consult with the U.S. Department of Justice “to ensure that every tool in the federal government is available in this investigation.”

The focus on mine safety, says Obama, isn’t “just about a single mine. It’s about all of our mines.”

The safety record at the Massey Upper Big Branch mine was troubling. And it’s clear that while there are many responsible companies, far too many mines aren’t doing enough to protect their workers’ safety.

Yesterday, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, released the list of 48 mines (32 coal mines and 16 other types of mines) identified by MSHA officials in August 2009 for increased scrutiny, but were not targeted due to unresolved appeals filed by mine operators. Upper Big Branch and five other Massey coal mines are on the list.

When a violation is under appeal, it does not count in the formula MSHA uses to initiate the tougher inspections and penalties, including closure of the mine for unsafe conditions. Miller says he released the list because

we owe it to the families of these fallen miners, all mining communities across the country, and the American people to ensure that all relevant information regarding potentially dangerous conditions at mines be made public, especially as investigations into the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine continue. Mine operators who game the system to avoid tough scrutiny by federal safety officials must be held
Click HERE for more from the AFL-CIO

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mine Workers President Roberts: Massey’s Blankenship Should Be Jailed

Mine Workers President Roberts:
Massey’s Blankenship Should Be Jailed



by Mike Hall, Apr 14, 2010
Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts says that Massey Energy Co.’s continued inaction on safety violations at its Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 West Virginia coal miners died in an April 5 explosion, should send Massey CEO Donald Blankenship to jail.

In a speech at the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO convention yesterday, Roberts said, “If there is any justice in America,”

U.S. Marshals should go to where he lives, get him, handcuff him, put him in chains, take him to jail, set his fine at $40 million.


He told the delegates the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors had “shut this mine down over and over and over again.”

They brought the men outside, they brought them to a safe place. But as soon as they left the same thing happened again and again. They didn’t correct the violations.

In 2009, MSHA proposed nearly $1 million in fines for more than 450 safety violations at the nonunion mine. Just last month, MSHA cited the mine for 57 safety violations that included repeatedly failing to develop and follow the ventilation plan. Ventilation is vital to prevent the build-up of highly explosive methane gas, which is most likely the cause of the April blast.

Roberts said the Massey mine was cited several times for “failure to abate.”

What does that mean? They were told to do something by the United States government. They said here’s a violation you are being cited for. I’ll be back in five days and this better be corrected. This inspector came back over and over again and they didn’t correct the violations.

Some people, Roberts said, say mining is inherently dangerous and these things will happen and “there’s nothing we can do about it.”

They are damn sure wrong. We need good laws, we need those laws to be obeyed and we need those laws to be enforced and those who fail to obey those laws should be punished.

One of the miners killed, 25-year-old Josh Napper, was concerned about safety, especially ventilation problems at the Upper Big Branch Mine, his mother told CNN reporters after the blast. Roberts said he left a letter for his family before he went to the mine April 5. Napper “left it with his mother and fiancé and his baby fearing he was not going to survive working in this coal mine.”

There is something wrong with this picture. When young men go off to war, they write these kinds of letters, saying how much we love our mothers, our fathers, our wives and our kids. But in America, you’re not supposed to write that letter when you’re going off to work.

Click here for an audio file of Roberts’ speech, courtesy of “The Rick Smith Show.”

In a statement today, Rep George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee which will hold hearings on the Upper Big Branch disaster and Massey’s safety record said

Every miner who goes to work each day must be able to return home safely to their families at the end of their shift. And Congress has an obligation to ensure that remains the case.

Meanwhile, Art Levine at the Huffington Post explores coal field union-busting campaigns, especially Massey’s attacks on workers, and the relation between nonunion mines and disasters like the one at Upper Big Branch.

With the union weakened by closed mines and the rise of untrammeled union-busting, unsafe, deadly conditions were allowed to continue unchallenged at the growing percentage of non-union mines that put profits above safety.

In contrast, “what unions, particularly in a dangerous profession like mining, mean is that they give workers protection and the leverage of a working group with management to vocalize and bring forward concerns about safety without fear of retribution,” says Kimberly Freeman Brown, executive director of American Rights at Work. She adds, “In the absence of a union, in hard economic times, workers feel more vulnerable about losing their jobs and less confident about expressing their concerns about safety.”

UMWA Communications director Phil Smith tells Levine that while three out of 10 coal miners are UMWA members, only “about one in every 10 fatalities is a union miner.”

And he notes that the fatalities involving union miners generally involve individual accidents, not mine-wide disasters like fires and explosions that periodically shock the country and, it seems, are soon forgotten by the federal government’s generally lackluster regulators.

Miners at Upper Big Branch tried to organize three times with the UMWA, the last time in 2005, Roberts told MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” last week. But Blankenship launched a full-out attack:

This guy, making $30-some million in 2005, went inside the coal mine and sat down with every single worker and said: “If you vote for the union, you’re not going to have a job because I will close this mine down.”

Roberts said the first election was a “tie vote,” adding, “We lose on all ties. We had 65 percent to 70 percent of the workers signed cards and they wanted the union but they couldn’t get a union.”

In his 2008 book, Coal River, Michael Shnayerson looks at the Massey empire. He told ABC News that when it came to defeating the union, Blankenship “made it his own personal campaign.”

He began flying in every week in his helicopter. He gave pep talks. He took a whole bunch of [Upper Big Branch miners and their families] on trips to Dollywood, where

Click HERE to read more from the AFL-CIO

SCHUMER: NEW HIRE NOW TAX BREAK JUST SIGNED BY PRESIDENT COULD CREATE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF JOBS IN NEW YORK METRO AREA, URGES EMPLOYERS TO START HIRIN

Schumer, Labor Commissioner to Stand With 3
NYC Businesses Who Will Hire Workers Using Tax Break

All NYC Businesses, Large and Small, Can Benefit
Under Tax Break: Unemployment Still
Unacceptably High in NY

Most Small Businesses Don't Know New Tax Break
Has Taken Effect - It's Simple, It's Easy, and Could Put
Tens of Thousands of NY'ers Back to Work




Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner urged New York City area businesses to take advantage of his “Hire Now Tax Cut” proposal that now provides businesses that hire unemployed workers a critical tax break. The plan was signed in to law by the President last month and is now available to be taken advantage of. Under the plan, businesses can now avoid paying the employer’s share of Social Security taxes on that worker for the duration of 2010. The more a business pays a worker (up to the maximum Social Security wage of $106,800), and the longer a business has a worker on its payroll, the greater the tax benefit – so there is an incentive to hire people sooner, and pay them more.

“Both sides of the aisle have heard the call to focus on jobs,” said Schumer. “This proposal is not a panacea, but it will start the long process of putting people back to work, and I hope it will also be the crack in partisan dam that has caused so much gridlock in Washington.”

State Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner said, “In this recession, New Yorkers are collecting unemployment benefits more than twice as long as they would under normal circumstances. I hear it from jobseekers all the time – they are looking at job postings, applying for jobs, enrolling in training but still can’t find work. My message to employers is clear. If you hire a long-term unemployed jobseeker you will receive thousands of dollars in tax breaks – not next year, but immediately. We have a responsibility to get our state’s businesses growing again and New York’s unemployed back to work. That’s what the HIRE Act will do. ”

Schumer and Gardner said the plan had the following advantages and benefits:

· Simple. The Schumer-Hatch idea is easy to explain and administer: “No employer payroll taxes on unemployed workers hired in 2010.” Since the proposal is for a complete elimination of the 6.2 percent payroll tax for eligible workers, rather than a fixed or capped dollar amount, employers will know to simply zero out the tax for eligible workers.
· Focused. Given our budgetary constraints and the nagging problem of long-term unemployment, any employment incentive should be focused on the hiring of workers who are currently unemployed. Only by focusing on the unemployed can we get people off the unemployment rolls at an affordable cost to taxpayers. Plus, unlike some versions of a payroll tax holiday, this proposal is not biased towards either low-wage or high-wage workers. Under the Schumer-Hatch plan, a business saves 6.2 percent on both a $40,000 worker and a $90,000 worker.
· Front-Loaded. The credit provides an incentive for businesses to hire workers earlier in the year, because the tax benefit will be greater. A $60,000 worker hired in April will save a business about $3,000 in taxes.
· Immediate. In the current environment, no business wants to wait until next quarter or next year to receive a tax credit. Our proposal puts money into a business' pockets immediately, since the tax is simply not collected in the first place.
· Affordable. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that this provision will cost $13 billion, a far lower cost than other proposals that are not focused on the unemployed, or that would give a credit based on any increase in payroll.
·
The payroll tax reduction will be for private-sector jobs only, although nonprofit organizations and state institutions of higher education would be eligible; new jobs that are created by tax dollars in the first place would not be eligible. An employer cannot receive the benefit for hiring someone to replace an existing worker, unless that worker left voluntarily or for cause. To reduce double-dipping, an employer would also have to choose whether they wanted an employee to be eligible for the payroll tax relief or the work opportunity tax credit (WOTC), but not both. Finally, to promote long term employment, the plan also adds the following bonus: For any eligible employee kept on payroll for a continuous 52 weeks, the employer would receive an additional $1,000 credit on its 2011 tax return

Schumer and Gardner offered the following examples of savings that businesses would receive under this proposal:

· Hire a $35,000 worker in April, save $1,808.
· Hire an $80,000 worker in May, save $3,720.
· Hire a $70,000 worker in June, save $2,893.

Schumer and Gardner said that close to 849,000 people in New York are eligible to be hired by businesses who take advantage of the Schumer-Hatch program.

· In Long Island, about 102,000 people will be eligible to be hired under this tax cut.
· In New York City, about 415,000 people will be eligible to be hired under this tax cut.

Schumer added, “This is a win-win-win: it is a win for businesses, a win for the economy, and a win for job creation.

A Statement from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli Statement on Pension Fund Investigation

“I am outraged by the criminal acts that occurred during the Hevesi Administration. Anyone who has violated the law and the public trust must be held accountable.

“As the Attorney General’s investigation has revealed, I inherited a mess. But it is a mess that I have fixed. I have thoroughly and methodically evaluated and reformed the operations and investment policies of the Pension Fund.

“While some public officials have touted proposals of varying merit, I have ended the potential for the shameful corruption that had plagued the Pension Fund. I have banned placement agents and lobbyists and ended “pay to play” in the pension system. I continue to urge the SEC to implement a national ban on “pay to play."

“I have managed the Office of the State Comptroller and the New York State Common Retirement Fund with transparency and integrity from the start of my tenure. Any suggestion or innuendo to the contrary is baseless.

“The Attorney General was asked today whether I have been interviewed as part of this investigation. The answer is no.

“I have built my career in public service on honest and ethical behavior. My decisions and reforms protect the interests of the one million members of the New York State Common Retirement Fund and the taxpayers.”

Background Information: Reforms Implemented by DiNapoli Since Taking Office

Changed the Way the Fund Does Business:

•Banned pay-to-play practices by issuing in September 2009 an executive order that prohibits the Fund from doing business with any investment adviser who has made a political contribution to the State Comptroller or a candidate for State Comptroller. The ban, which closely parallels proposed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations, will last for two years from the date of the contribution.
•Banned the involvement of placement agents, paid intermediaries and registered lobbyists in investments with the Fund. The ban was implemented in April 2009 and includes entities compensated on a flat fee, a contingent fee or any other basis;
•Created a Pension Fund Task Force to review the practices and policies of the Fund chaired by Shannon O’Brien, the former Massachusetts Treasurer;
•Expanded internal and external vetting, review and approval of all investment decisions
•Formed a special commission, headed by former NYC-Mayor Ed Koch and Wall Street guru Frank Zarb, to review operations of the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC);
•Created a mandatory ethics training program for all staff, including the Comptroller;
•Drafting legislation to codify the pension fund reforms to eliminate the potential for abuse in the future.
Strengthened Oversight of the Fund:

•Partnered with the State Insurance Department to develop new regulations governing the operations of the Fund;
•Hired an independent consulting firm to conduct a compliance review of every transaction approved by DiNapoli since he took office in February 2007;
•Hired an outside law firm and an independent investment consulting firm to review Fund investments with firms under investigation by the New York Attorney General and the SEC;
•Created Inspector General position as recommended by the Koch-Zarb Commission, to monitor and review investment transactions and the activities of the Comptroller and all OSC employees;
•Hired Special Counsel for Ethics to monitor and review investment transactions and to develop and implement a comprehensive ethics program.
Increased Transparency in Fund Transactions:

•Releases monthly reporting on investment transactions completed by the Fund since February 2007, including placement agent and intermediary information where applicable;
•Publicly announces pension fund performance quarterly instead of annually;
Click HERE to read more...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gillibrand announces push to bring fresh food to underserved communities

WASHINGTON – To help approximately four million New Yorkers living in so-called “food desert” neighborhoods that have little or no access to fresh, nutritious foods, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today joined Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to launch the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. With food insecurity and obesity rates on the rise, Senator Gillibrand’s new legislation would invest $1 billion through loans and grants to help build approximately 2,100 new grocery stores and farmer's markets across the country, including an estimated 357 stores in New York State. The legislation would create an estimated 200,000 new jobs nationally, including an estimated 34,000 in New York State. President Obama has already dedicated $345 million in his FY2011 budget for a similar proposal.

To combat rising rates of obesity and food insecurity, the Healthy Food Financing Initiative would provide start-up grant and loan investments in some of the most marginalized rural and urban communities in order to expand access to fresh food and create sustainable, good-paying jobs. Senator Gillibrand is working on the legislation in coordination with First Lady Michelle Obama, who included the initiative as part of her “Let’s Move” agenda to combat childhood obesity.

“Obesity and diabetes rates are reaching crisis proportions in our country and it is time to take aggressive action,” said Gillibrand, who, as the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years, is helping lead the fight in the Senate to combat child obesity and promote good health. “Millions of New Yorkers do not have access to fresh, healthy food. By building new grocery stores in underserved areas across the state we can give people the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives, save billions in health care costs, and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. I am proud to work with President Obama and First Lady Michele Obama on their efforts to combat obesity in America. We cannot back down from this fight.

Click HERE for more from empirestatenews.net

Monday, April 12, 2010

Congressman Owens Announces Congressional Art Competition

Washington – Congressman Bill Owens today announced that he is currently accepting submissions from high school students in New York’s 23rd Congressional District for an annual Congressional Art Competition. The theme for this year’s competition is “An Artistic Discovery”.

Interested students can submit a digital photo of their artwork to NY23art@mail.house.gov by April 30th, 2010. One winner will be chosen to have his or her submission sent to Washington, D.C. to be displayed for one year as part of the national student art exhibition in the U.S. Capitol. Ten finalists will also have their art displayed in Rep. Owens’ district offices throughout Upstate New York. Also required for submission is a completed student information and release form. The form can be found here.

A reception will be held Thursday, June 17th in the Cannon Caucus Room of the U.S. House of Representatives to honor the winners. All travel and lodging arrangements are the responsibility of the winners and their guests.

TIMELINE
·April 30th: Art Submission Deadline
·May 10th: Winner Announced
·June 17th: Reception in Washington, DC

CRITERIA
·Artwork must be two dimensional
·Each piece can be no larger than 28”x28”x 4” (28 inches high, 28 inches wide, and 4 inches deep) including the frame. Artwork cannot weigh more than 15 lbs.
Each entry must be original in concept, design, and execution and may not violate any U.S. copyright laws. Any entry that has been copied from an existing photo (not the student’s own), painting, graphic, advertisement, or any other work produced by another person is a violation of the competition rules and will not be accepted. Work entered must be in the original medium (that is, not a scanned reproduction of a painting or drawing).

More information can be found HERE

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cuomo finds fault with college health plans, widens probe

ALBANY -- College-sponsored health plans are often fraught with troubles that can put students at risk of not being covered for medical problems, but at the same time can provide big profits for insurers, an investigation by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has charged.

Cuomo said Thursday his review found students are often required to enter into costly health-insurance plans to attend college, but can be saddled with plans that offer low-coverage limits.

Some plans do not cover students for pre-existing conditions or even if they injured themselves in suicide attempts, he said. Some plans also cap a student's coverage at less than $25,000, Cuomo said, and others have caps of $700 for each illness. Yet students may have to pay up to $2,500 a year for such health-insurance policies.

At the same time, the investigation alleges that the insurers are paying out only a small fraction of what they receive in premiums from those they insure.

"Many of the sponsored health care plans looked at during our investigation leave students at risk while providing massive profits for insurance companies," Cuomo said in a statement.

The investigation, however, comes as the federal health care bill signed last month may resolve some of Cuomo's complaints. The law, for example, will allows parents to continue to cover their children until age 26 under their health care plan and also limit how much insurers keep from premiums.

Some experts said the students who often have to get college-sponsored insurance are older students, such as those seeking graduate or law degrees.

A report from the American College Health Association in 2007 found that 57 percent of schools require health insurance as a condition of enrollment. Cuomo estimated that the industry generates about $1 billion a year in revenue and covers about 1 million students.

Dr. James Turner, the association's president and director of student health services at the University of Virginia, said the group puts out guidelines that schools should follow that ensure students are offered affordable and adequate coverage.
Click HERE to read more from pressconnects.com

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lt. John F. Finn Memorial Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament

Hello Friends,

Our friends in Corrections are holding a fundraiser for a great cause that I'd like you to know about. Council 82, which represents law enforcement and Correction workers here in Jefferson County and across our state, are organizing a Golf outing. This event is named after Lieutenant John F. Finn who lost his life in the line of duty. Funds raised at the outing will fund much needed scholarships for children of our first responders. What better way of thanking the family of John Finn then to take part in this worthy cause.

Please check your calendar and sign up today for this fun way of saying thank you to all those in Corrections and Law Enforcement. These are workers that keep our homes, roads and families safe. Let's show them how much we appreciate all their hard work and selfless dedication to our community by signing up today.

Thank you,
Sean M Hennessey
Chairman
Please click HERE for more informatio on this worthy cause.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gillibrand Visits Orphanage During Trip to Haiti


This trip was an important opportunity for me to see firsthand how the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children are faring,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As a mother of two young children, I was heartbroken to see so many young children in Haiti suffering. I pledged to the Haitian President and First Lady that America would stand with the people of Haiti as they recovered. My focus now is on continuing our aid efforts and on crafting legislation that would help to significantly improve life for Haiti's children.”

On Monday, Senator Gillibrand met with President René Préval, First Lady Elisabeth Delatour Préval and other governmental officials to discuss the challenges Haiti is facing. Senator Gillibrand also toured the Rose Mina Orphanage to see firsthand how the earthquake has impacted Haiti’s youth.

Senator Gillibrand plans to work with Haitian leaders as they increase access to education for all of Haiti’s children, improve conditions in Haiti’s orphanages, with the ultimate goal of keeping families together. In the Senate, she plans to work with her colleagues to increase support for public education, register all children, and improve the adoption process to ensure that children may be reunited with families, and when that is not possible, may be adopted by qualified families.

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, was devastated by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12. The powerful earthquake destroyed schools, hospitals, and much of Port-Au-Prince’s infrastructure, leading to the loss of over 230,000 lives and displacing over 1.3 million people from their homes. Many of those affected are young children who have been separated from their families.

Haiti has a very young population. Prior to the earthquake it was estimated that 65 percent of the population was under the age of 25, and 40 percent was under the age of 14. It was also estimated that over 300,000 children were unaccompanied by their parents, with about 50,000 living in orphanages. Only 20 percent of Haiti’s school children attended public schools. With the earthquake’s recent devastation, the number of vulnerable children in Port-Au-Prince has risen drastically.

Prior to the Earthquake, many children were sent to unregulated orphanages, not because they did not have parents, but because their families were too poor to give them shelter, food and education. Thus about 80 percent of the children in "orphanages" had families. Only a small number of orphanages were regulated by IBESR, Haiti’s children’s welfare agency. Since the humanitarian parole of almost 1,000 orphans who joined families in the U.S., due to the devastation caused by the earthquake, the already slow adoption process has been virtually stopped.

Aubertine, Senate Majority Push for Budget Reform




Sen. Aubertine:

Legislature must seize opportunity

to make long overdue fundamental reforms

ALBANY (April 7, 2010)—State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine today joined his colleagues in pushing for significant budget reforms that would address several of the root causes of New York State’s current fiscal trouble.
“As we continue working to close our budget gaps and restore our state’s economy, now is the time to seize the opportunity to make long overdue fundamental reforms to the budget process,” said Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine. “This package of proposals, which includes performance-based budgeting and common sense ‘pay as you go’ accounting, will address many of the decades old systemic problems that have only made this economic downturn worse. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass legislation that includes these changes and moves us beyond this year's spending plan."
The 7-point legislative package addresses the structural deficiencies in the budget process. For decades, Albany ignored the inherent problems in the budget process and the need for wholesale changes, relying on short term fixes and simple bandages without treating the root causes. This package of reforms builds on a series of reforms pushed by Sen. Aubertine to help New York State government emerge from decades of dysfunction.
The Legislative plan unveiled today will:
· Establish a two-year budget and require the Executive to submit two-year financial plans in order to ensure proper long-term fiscal planning (S7160).
· Remove fiscal manipulations by requiring both the Executive Budget proposal and Enacted Budget to be balanced according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which will “fundamentally realign recurring spending with recurring revenue to restore the State's fiscal health” as recommended in a recent report by the state Comptroller (S7284).
· Task a 15-member Empire State Performance Commission with designing a performance based management and budgeting blueprint to streamline government and end waste and fraud within programs and services (S7259).
· Create a non-partisan Legislative Budget Office modeled after the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, which will remove the politics from revenue forecasting while simultaneously ensuring funds are not being used to create hidden slush funds by being stuffed away in “off-budget” public authorities. (S4526).
· End New York’s status as the only state with a budget date prior to the federal tax collection date, and shift the start of the fiscal year to June 1 to allow for proper fiscal planning (S5221C). The Senate Select Committee on Budget and Tax Reform has issued a new report, A New Fiscal Year — A Better Budget, highlighting how many of the state’s budget woes stem from the 1943 decision to move the start of the State’s fiscal year to April 1. The full report can be found online at: www.nysenate.gov/report/select-committee-releases-report-changing-new-yorks-fiscal-year
· Require the Executive, in their Annual Tax Expenditure Report, to list a cost-benefit analysis of all New York’s 380-plus tax break programs, to allow for the strengthening of programs which work, and ending of programs which waste revenue (S7347).
The Senate is also developing legislation to require a regular review of the state’s tax breaks systems by enacting automatic sunsets phased in over five years (excluding programs with pre-existing sunsets), so that good programs can be expanded and ones that do not work can be eliminated.
“It’s important we continue pushing the envelope for change in New York and learn from these trying times so that we emerge stronger as a state and better prepared for the future,” said Sen. Aubertine, who sits on the Senate’s bipartisan Task Force for Government Efficiency, which aims to find and root out government waste. “For too long we’ve seen the symptoms addressed and the underlying problems ignored. This is our opportunity to take a stand against decades of mismanagement and continue pushing forward with a new era of reform.”

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The JCDC Invites you to Dine with the Dem's

Spring has Sprung
Why Don't you Join us for Dinner?!

Above you'll find the ad that our Committee has taken out with Newzjunky for our Annual Spring Reception and Dinner. Apparently many of you out there have heard about the Annual event and are responding loudly. Our thanks to Babette Hall and Patti Shaughnessy for stepping up and taking care of the RSVP's!

If you're unfamiliar with this event, The Jefferson County Democratic Committee holds a dinner every spring to kick off the official start to the 2010 political season. The event is also used to raise much needed funds for local candidates.

The dinner this year will be held on Sunday April 25th at the North Side Improvement League in Watertown NY.
Apparently this year's function has caught the eye of some of NY's most influential leaders.

Many aspiring NY State Attorney General Candidates have already RSVP'd and will be attending. We're expecting candidates like: Senator Eric Schneiderman, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky,and nationally acclaimed litigators like: Sean Coffey, Eric Dinallo, and Kathleen Rice.

We're also expecting our favorite list of local political stars ...

US Congressman Bill Owens, Senator Darrel Aubertine, Assemblywoman Addie Russell, Sheriff John Burns, County Treasurer Nancy Brown, and many more. Come by to thank them for their hard work in representing us. This will be a historic night so so plese make sure you RSVP today!

Call Babette Hall @ (315) 583-5386 or

Email Patti Shaughnessy @ claybella2@gmail.com

Friday, April 2, 2010

Aubertine Bill Would Promote Fishing Events for Veterans

Legislation provides for free temporary licenses
to use fishing as rehab for military personnel


WATERTOWN (April 1, 2010)—With trout and salmon fishing season beginning today, State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine said he is pushing legislation that would encourage more fishing events as physical and emotional rehabilitation for veterans or active duty members of the armed forces.
“Our veterans and armed service members give so much to our country, it’s only appropriate we take this opportunity to give back by opening new access to an essential part of our way of life in Central and Northern New York,” Sen. Aubertine said. “This bill addresses a need and an opportunity. With Fort Drum here in Jefferson County, we have the demand for these events and of course, plenty of great fishing spots, whether on the St. Lawrence, the Salmon River, Lake Ontario or one of our many inland streams, rivers and lakes.”
State law currently allows the State Department of Environmental Conservation to designate and host up to four free fishing events per year in each region, where all non-licensed residents can learn about fishing. The purpose of these events, such as DEC’s Free Fishing Day Clinics, is generally to promote recreational fishing to the general public. Current law, however, makes no distinction or special exception to allow still more rehabilitative events for veterans.
“Providing our veterans and active duty personnel, who have sacrificed bravely for our country, with more opportunities to learn the rehabilitative nature of fishing is a small way of saying thank you,” said Sen. David J. Valesky of Oneida. “Our veterans and military service personnel deserve more of these opportunities, and we should do everything we can on the state level to help make that possible.”
The bill, which Sen. Aubertine has sponsored with Sen. Valesky, would specifically allow the DEC to designate additional free fishing events for veterans and active duty personnel. Designation as an official event would allow veterans and military personnel to participate whether or not they currently have a fishing license. In our region and across the country, events that introduce veterans to fishing’s rehabilitative effects, promoted by organizations like Project Healing Waters, have been met with broad approval by veterans groups.
“When the Region 7 Fish and Wildlife Management Board (FWMB) realized Project Healing Waters was having difficulty gaining access to the Salmon River for an event, because some wounded war veterans lacked a one-day fishing license, the nine-county board unanimously agreed to do our part,” Jim Petreszyn, Region 7 FWMB Sportsmen’s Representative, said. “As we often do, we contacted Senators Valesky and Aubertine for their help finding a solution to the problem, which lead to this proposed legislation. It’s not often we have the opportunity to positively impact a person’s life, especially a person who has given so much.”
“It’s a small token of appreciation, but it fits with the mission of groups such as Project Healing Waters which use the simple joy of fishing to help wounded veterans,” Sen. Aubertine said. “This is an opportunity to share with our veterans who have sacrificed for us the pleasure so many of us enjoy fishing throughout the region.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Statement of Rep. Bill Owens on the Senate’s Failure to Extend Unemployment Insurance

WASHINGTON - Congressman Bill Owens today released the following statement in regard to the almost 50,000 New Yorkers that will fall off Unemployment Insurance next week because of the U.S. Senate’s failure to pass an extension prior to a two-week recess period in observance of Passover and Easter. Last week, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) blocked efforts to vote on a one month extension of jobless benefits. Without the extension, benefits are set to expire next Monday, April 5.

“It is disappointing to see the actions of one Senator stand in the way of benefits for tens of thousands of unemployed New Yorkers,” Owens said. “It is unacceptable that partisan politics are standing in the way of hard-working families. Upstate New Yorkers are concerned with paying their bills and putting food on the table, not who scores the most political points in Washington. I strongly urge the Senate to act quickly to extend these benefits to those who need it the most.”

Also included in the bill that was set to extend benefits for the jobless of Upstate New York was the extension of COBRA healthcare subsidies for the unemployed, the prevention of cuts to scheduled Medicare payments to doctors, and a DTV provision that would allow rural residents to view network television.

A Sad Day for the Democratic Party

We learned a few days ago that Arlene Ingerson, former Town Clerk for the Town of Cape Vincent, Passed on Monday. Arlene was not only a VERY strong Democrat but a dedicated public servant and community leader. Arlene will be missed by us all and I hope we all thank god for the time she spent with us. Please say a prayer for Arlene and keep her family in your thoughts.

The following is the obituary from the Watertown Daily Times and can be found by clicking HERE

Arlene V. Ingerson, 72, of 188 W. Broadway St., Cape Vincent, died Monday, March 29, 2010, while under the care of her family and Hospice of Jefferson County. She was born December 11, 1937 in Cape Vincent the daughter of Michael and Esther Miller Mason. She graduated from Cape Vincent High School and the Rochester Business Institute.

She married William E. Ingerson, July 17, 1957 in Antwerp, NY. Mr. Ingerson died, January 7, 1989.

Mrs. Ingerson was an aide for the Thousand Islands Central School district and was Town of Cape Vincent clerk for 10 years before retiring in 2009. She enjoyed following her children's sporting events, spending time with her grandchildren, reading, and camping at the state parks along the St. Lawrence River. She will always be remembered as a loving wife, mother, aunt, grandmother and friend who always put the needs of others before herself.

She is survived by three sons and their wives, John W. Ingerson and Denise Howard, Bronx, NY, Gregory E. and Nancy Ingerson, Rosiere, NY, and Thomas M. and Dana Ingerson, Binghamton, NY; a daughter, Melissa Ingerson, Cape Vincent, NY; 6 grandchildren Mrs. Daniel / Cassie Barnes, Jamie Ingerson, Christian Ingerson, Austin Ingerson, Kylie Ingerson and Greg Ingerson; a brother, Thomas Mason, New Smyrna Beach, FL; three sisters, Mrs. Stephen / Agnes Flyzik, St. Louis, MO, Mrs. Robert / Patricia Emerson, New Smyrna Beach, FL, Mrs. Donald / Corine Sizemore, Orchard Park, NY and Mrs. Richard / Mary Erickson.

A brother, Michael Mason and a sister, Margaret Emerson died before her.

Funeral Service will be Saturday April 3, at 11:00 AM at St. Vincent of Paul Church, Cape Vincent, with Rev. Pierre Aubin, Rector officiating followed immediately by a reception at the church hall. Burial will be Private.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be given in her memory to the Cape Vincent Ambulance Fund or Hospice of Jefferson County.