Thursday, July 29, 2010

Owens Legislation Passes House Floor

Bill to Enhance Trade and Strengthen

Security Along Northern Border

WASHINGTON – Last night, legislation authored by Congressman Bill Owens was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 4748, the Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act, was passed unanimously by a vote of 413-0.

“It is vital to both the economic development of our region and the safety of our community that we take steps to stop the drug trade across our northern border,” Owens said. “Northern New York has benefitted for decades from a robust business relationship across international lines, but any illegal activity that takes place over our border threatens that relationship.”

H.R. 4748, the Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act, will enhance American response to illegal trafficking of drugs by requiring the Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to submit to Congress a Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy that includes a clear plan to stop the drug trade and coordinate a better working relationship between Indian tribal law enforcement agencies and the United States government.

When introduced, area District Attorneys praised Rep. Owens’ quick action in introducing legislation to assist Northern Border communities:

“This bill is exactly what our communities need right now,” said Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie. “This legislation will send a clear message to those who think they can break international laws and endanger our region -- that we will not stand for it.”

“I cannot thank Congressman Owens enough for his efforts to address the problems in areas that criminals continue to exploit through drug, people, and weapons smuggling. This bill shows a continued concern for our community and border safety,” said Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne.

“Illegal drug trafficking is a threat to the safety of our border communities, and this will work to enhance our tradition of cooperation between law enforcement agencies to address that that threat,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Cindy Intschert.

“The Northern Border has long been exploited by those engaged in cross border drug trafficking. Its devastating impact is felt not only here in Northern New York, but in communities throughout the northeastern United States, as many of our young people are lured into a life of crime. I applaud Congressman Owens’ efforts to introduce federal legislation that will help direct attention and much needed resources to this problem,” said St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole M. DuvĂ©.

The bill was also applauded by Homeland Security Chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), “I commend Mr. Owens, a leader on my Committee on northern border security issues, for bringing into focus the need for a strategic approach to stem the movement of illicit drugs across the U.S.-Canadian border, a longstanding northern border security challenge.”

Senator Charles Schumer has introduced a companion bill to Rep. Owens’ Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act. S. 3467 is currently referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Andrew's State Wide Tour Comes to a Close

News from the Road: Cuomo
'Urges Action For Reforms'

The "Drive for a New NY" campaign tour made three stops on Thursday, visiting the Lewis County Fair and held two organizing events in Watertown and Speculator, New York.

Read highlights from Day 8 on the road:

The "Drive for a New NY" campaign tour began Thursday with a stop at the Lewis County Fair, where he was met by a "throng of supporters" and local officials.

Cuomo also partook in the fair activities and checked out displays, picked up some maple syrup and bought ice cream for his daughters - Mariah, Cara and Michaela - and Cuomo's niece, Marianna, who has joined the family on the RV tour. Cuomo posed with the girls for a picture on the fair grounds.

At Cuomo's second stop in Watertown, he told the crowd of nearly 100 at the Italian-American Civic Association that a "fork in the road" has left the state with an uncertain future, unless it gets its ethics back on track.

"One person is not going to change Albany alone," Cuomo said. "Change is going to come to Albany when the people of the state stand up and demand change. Democracy works when the people are engaged. And I think the people of this state have to get organized, they have to get mobilized and they have to say: 'Enough is enough,' that they want a change and they want it now."

Republican Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava endorsed Cuomo at the organizing event and said, “The most important election we have this year is to elect Andrew Cuomo Governor of the State of New York."

It was then on to Speculator, where Cuomo spoke to a crowd of supporters and officials gathered on the lawn of the Public Pavilion on the July late afternoon.

See more by clicking HERE

Aubertine Legislation to Expand Energy Storage Technology

Law Signed by the Governor
Reduces Regulations
to Create Jobs, Meet Peak Energy Demands

WATERTOWN (July 26, 2010)—State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine said today the sienergy storage technology (S.7145) will help to create new jobs, especially Upstate, while addressing the state’s power needs. gning of legislation last week which he sponsored to cut regulations on new
“As we continue working toward energy independence to ensure our power needs are met here in New York State long term, new technologies for energy storage must have the opportunity to grow,” said Sen. Aubertine, vice chair and ranking majority member of the New York State Energy & Telecommunications Committee. “By reducing regulations on these growing industries such as flywheel and compressed air, we are giving our State the opportunity to create new jobs in a new economy and meet our needs.”
The energy storage legislation adds kinetic energy storage devices, such as flywheels and compressed air storage, to the alternative energy production facility definition, thereby exempting those projects of less than 80 megawatts capacity from Public Service Commission jurisdiction. This will help to reduce the regulatory burden on these technologies which can allow for the utilization of renewable energy produced during off-peak times and can improve the efficiency of the State's electric system.
Energy storage systems have a role to play in taking off-peak production and supplying peak demand for electricity as a means to reduce stress on the grid and enable existing generation to meet increased demand. One of the leading companies working with this technology is Beacon Power, a company looking to use its flywheel technology in New York.
“We're extremely pleased with the efforts of Sen. Aubertine to move this legislation, which will now better facilitate the use of alternative energy resources like Beacon Power flywheels on New York's power grid," said Bill Capp, Beacon Power president and CEO. “New York has demonstrated a strong commitment to renewable energy sources. Our emissions-free flywheel energy storage systems can support the state's ambitious renewable energy goals, while also helping to reduce electricity costs.”
The Senator has also sponsored legislation (S.8310) which passed the Senate to provide similar benefits to lithium ion battery technology, which also has the potential to spur significant job growth in our Upstate communities.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Owens Announces $2,000,000 for Drum to Combat Homelessness Among Vets

Washington, Jul 22 - Congressman Bill Owens today announced that Fort Drum has been chosen as one of five sites in the nation to demonstrate a new initiative that will address the prevention of homelessness among our nation’s veterans. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will award Fort Drum $2,000,000 to carry out the demonstration.

“The tremendous work done in the Fort Drum community to support our returning troops makes our facility an ideal location to address the needs of veterans who may be at risk of homelessness or experiencing short-term homelessness,” said Owens. “I am glad to see that Fort Drum will continue to play a leading role in the direction and support of our armed forces.”

In FY 2009, Congress authorized $10 million for HUD, in coordination with VA and DOL, to select a limited number of sites in urban and rural areas for the demonstration. The sites have a combination of the following: (1) high rates of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) military members with families and limited supports, (2) high rates of veterans that are homeless, (3) grantees with experience coordinating with the VA and DOL to help veterans access mainstream services (e.g. VA benefits, employment assistance, (4) are close to military installations where service members are transitioning from military service into civilian life, (5) are in rural communities that have veterans with limited access to VA medical centers. Also, the sites for the VHPD were identified based on the following additional criteria:

(1) The number of homeless veterans reported for that geographic area through HUD’s Continuum of Care;
(2) The number of unique returning OEF/OIF veterans who accessed healthcare through the VA between FY2002 and the second quarter of FY2009;
(3) The number of homeless veterans reported through VA’s Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Group (CHALENG) and the Northeast Program Evaluation Center (NEPEC);
(4) Access and availability to VA health care;
(5) Capacity of the community organizations to carry out the demonstration project;
(6) The sites will serve members from all branches of the US military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

“It is critical to the integrity of our armed services that we increase the push to deliver benefits more efficiently to our veterans and expand the scope by which we support the brave men and women who have fought for our country,” added Owens.

In his first few months in office, Congressman Owens has cosponsored several pieces of legislation that aims to improve the quality of life for our veterans, including:

• H.R.667, Heroes at Home Act of 2009, a bill to establish a program on training and certification of family caregivers of veterans and members with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and conduct outreach to enhance awareness of veterans and the public about the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and TBI, as well as the services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans with such symptoms.

• H.R. 953, the Veterans Travel Tax Relief Act of 2009 , a bill to allow veterans a deduction from gross income for their travel expenses, including those of a family member, to a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center for treatment related to a service-connected disability or for an examination related to a claim for disability compensation or a pension.

• HR 2254, the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009, a bill to improve access to benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

• H.R.3441, a bill directing the Secretary of the VA to automatically returning members of the Armed Forces in the VA medical system upon discharge or separation from duty, for the purpose of reducing delays in service.

In addition to these bills, Owens has supported the National Defense Authorization, which included a Veterans to Work pilot program that seeks to employ veterans through military construction projects. He has also worked closely with community leaders throughout Upstate New York to ensure continued service from VA clinics.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Frank Discussion on New York's Future

Andrew Cuomo came to the Italian-American Club in Watertown this afternoon and spoke in front of a packed room of supporters. It was a great way for everyone to discuss critical changes that are needed in order to bring this State back to its' former glory.

Andrew's vision is clear....Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Conservatives need to band together and realize that business as usual can no longer be sustained. Our collective efforts and support are critical to make our struggling state, the Empire State once again.

Attorney General Cuomo pledged further cooperation and offered high praise and thanks for our North Country's current State Legislators. His words of praise for Senator Aubertine, Assemblywomen Russell and Scozaffava were high.

His words were not as laudatory when he spoke of some of the other state representatives,that are responsible for gridlock and corruption in our capitol. Much of his speech focused on the need to reform the States antiquated Financial Disclosure laws as well as strengthening States Ethics Oversight.

Much has to be done and much will be done with the help of Andrews Citizen Army. Please join the fight today and make tomorrow a bright future for all New Yorkers. Email us today at

Monday, July 19, 2010

Andrew Cuomo would like you to join him for a cup of coffee…

Many of our neighbors are struggling and the time has come to make historic changes in New York State. Andrew Cuomo, candidate for Governor, has decided to travel the state to hear what every day citizens are talking about. From Montauk to Rochester, Staten Island to Watertown… Andrew is listening.

He’s listening, and he’s hearing from people that are tired. People are tired of Albany’s political infighting. Hard working families are tired of jobs leaving our area and our children leaving with them. People are tired of Wall Street corruption and skyrocketing health care costs.

One leader knows he cannot do it alone… it is going to take a citizen army to do it. This citizen army will consist of everyday people like you that want to move New York forward.
We need people from every walk of life and party affiliation to get on board and turn this Ship of State around, before it is too late. This means bringing Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Conservatives and people of every party affiliation together for a real discussion on where the people of New York go from here.

Andrew needs you… and would like you to join him on: Thursday July 22nd 2010 1:30PM at the Italian American Club in Watertown NY.

Andrew will be discussing his 5 point plan that will make sweeping changes to the way NYS does business. His plan is dramatic and it will take people of all parties and persuasions to get it done.

This will take true grit and determination but together WE can make it happen.

Please join us on July 22nd for coffee and straight talk. Everyone’s voice is wanted and truly needed so please take the time to attend this historic event.

This is a free event and seating is limited so please RSVP us or leave a message at (315) 788-4590

Thank you
Sean M Hennessey
Jefferson County Coordinator

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Weather was in our Favor

The First Annual Dynamic Donkey Golf Outing
was an Incredible Success
what a day on the greens!

We don't know if you looked out the window this morning but suffice it to say that it was not a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The rain came hard and looked like it would bring a halt to the first annual "Dynamic Donkey's" Golf outing. That wasn't the case.

Our tee off time was postponed for a short while while the greens dried out but once we got under way it turned out to be a spectacular day. Golfers came from across the region as players vied for the coveted title of Jefferson Counties best "Dynamic Donkey".

One thing that charged the batteries of our volunteers was the turnout of staff from all the various elected officials on the greens today. The Congressman, Senator and Assemblywoman were truly taken by the turn out. The showing from our friends in Labor was also obvious. From Operating Engineers to Plumbers from Teachers to Laborers we had a full house and it was a blast.

We want to thank all the local businesses that made donations to the outing. If it weren't for our sponsors we wouldn't have had anywhere near the fun we had today.

We also want to make a special thank you to all the organizers of the event. Most importantly we want to thank Patti Shaughnessy, Megan Hinman, Ron Monnat and Erica Leonard for all they did to make this event a success. We are very lucky to have such talented and dedicated people working with us. The next time you see these super dem's please thank them for their efforts and time that they spent making this day such a enjoyable time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A great day for Democratic "Fans"

Today marked the start of the 2010 Jefferson County Fair. The Fair began with a incredibly well attended Parade. Our Democratic Team was well represented and warmly received.

Assemblywoman Addie Russel had a great time meeting with her constituents. She was seen on the podium, in the stands and then walking in the parade route. Not a moment was missed by the Assemblywoman to thank the crowd for all the support she's been given over the last few years.

The North Country Democrat also chatted with Brian McGrath who is running in the 122nd Assembly District. Brian's and his team of volunteers could be seen working the crowd. The North Country Democrat was very pleased to see such a warm reception for Brian. Brian's strong show of support from the crowd was real indicator that Brian is well on his way to becoming the next Representative of the 122nd Assembly district.

Sheriff Burns team truly seemed to outpace and outwork many of the other teams on the parade route. It appeared during the parade that the Grand Stand was filled with John Burns Fans. We mean that literally....Fans where everywhere, as you can see in the picture. Sheriff Burns re-election team of volunteers also handed out stickers & balloons for all the kids. The crowd loved him and boy did they show it.

We also wanted to note the honorable mention for the North Countries own Senator Darrel Aubertine. Darrel appeared to be the overwhelming crowd favorite. In fact he received a massive round of applauds when Fair Organizers announced the work that Senator Aubertine did in restoring funding for this historic Fair. The Senator deserves our thanks for all his hard work and stead fast support of our local community.

It was a extraordinary parade and it brought great pride to have such dedicated individuals representing us in Albany.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summertime Brings Plenty to Do on Community Calendars

The past week brought our first bona fide heat wave of consecutive 90 degree days in a few years. The weather brought many families out to our lakeshore beaches, riverfronts and pools to cool off. Others sought and found comfort in air conditioned stores, restaurants and homes.

Our weather is often what draws attention to Central and Northern New York, though usually it’s the cold and the snow. However, every local resident, along with thousands of families that visit Lake Ontario or the Thousand Islands each year, know that our summers have a great deal to offer and there’s always more each year.

Of course, with Agriculture as our number one industry, our county fairs are important each year. Oswego County’s fair in Sandy Creek on the first week of July was a great success and I’m looking forward to Jefferson County’s fair in Watertown this week. In August, St. Lawrence County will have its fair in Gouverneur. These events showcase the best in Agriculture each year and provide entertainment for the whole family.

The village of Adams in southern Jefferson County put agriculture on display also last week, by linking the celebration of new investment to the first Cheddar Cheese Festival. I had the opportunity to join the owners of the Great Lakes Cheese Company for the ribbon cutting at an $80 million expansion that will have close to a billion dollar impact for the region by pasteurizing close to 130,000 pounds of milk every hour. That scope of operation provides a consistent local market for our dairy farmers and jobs for another 65 to 85 people at the plant itself.

There is much to celebrate with an announcement like that, and my hope is that like the success of each fall’s Cream Cheese Festival in Lowville, we see the Cheddar Cheese Festival grow each year to continue celebrating our rich agricultural heritage and fine products. It was heritage at the center of the party in Cape Vincent, my hometown, where I went after Adams to join in the French Festival. Always a great time, the event again drew thousands into my small hometown for a parade led by Napoleon, good food, entertainment and fireworks.

Summertime brings many opportunities to bring the family out for an affordable good time. Be it this past weekend’s Carthage Community Fireworks Festival or the Granby Family Fun Days next weekend, each community seems to always bring people together each summer. It’s one of the great things we have each summer in Central and Northern New York. We can all look forward to community events, new events such as the Henderson Harbor Waterfront Festival, and the mainstays, including Harborfest in Oswego, the Can-Am Festival in Sackets Harbor and the Ogdensburg International Seaway Festival.

So as the weather returns to normal, I hope everyone has the opportunity to spend time with their family and friends at one of these events, supporting the local community and having a great time in the process.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

We Salute You!

The North Country Democrat would like to commend our dear friends Bev and Dennis Affinati for their dedication to supporting and maintaining historic grave sites in Sackets Harbor, NY. Many of our local cemeteries have been vandalized and sometimes left to the elements.

These historic sites tell the tale of the first settlers to our region. Many of these families came to this region with very little and were pivotal in making this community what it is today. We applaud Dennis and Bev for their hard work. We hope that their efforts spur many more to come forth and help maintain this important part of our past.

Click HERE for more on this story from
Photo from

Saturday, July 10, 2010

GOP elected official endorses Democratic Rep. Owens

Our friends at WNBZ radio have this report up on their web site:

A local Republican is publicly endorsing Democratic Congressman Bill Owens’s reelection bid, even with two fellow Republicans vying for the seat.

Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava told WNBZ Wednesday he is impressed with Owens’s performance since he was elected to the seat in a special election last year.

“He does the job. And not only does he do the job, but it’s direct personal contact and I appreciate that,” he said. “It’s not a reflection on the other two candidates, but I’m supporting Bill Owens.”

The often vocal Republican lauded Owens’s handling of several local issues including the Lake Champlain Bridge project and the potential closure of the Moriah Shock incarceration facility.

Click HERE for more from WNBZ

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Aubertine to Seniors: Beware of Medicare Rebate Scam

Senator joins state Insurance
Department in calling
attention to fraud reports
in other states

State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine today joined the New York State Insurance Department in warning senior citizens not to give out personal information to anyone claiming they can deliver or speed up $250 rebates for Medicare Part D now available through federal health care reforms.

The one-time, tax-free rebate is being sent to eligible senior citizens to help them pay for the “doughnut hole”—the gap above the initial prescription drug coverage limit but below the point where catastrophic coverage begins. These checks will be coming directly through the federal government and not a third party.

“Too often we see con artists trying to take advantage of our senior citizens by stealing personal information,” Sen. Aubertine said. “Our seniors need to be aware that in other states there have been reports of people asking for personal information or an upfront fee to expedite these rebate checks. It’s important to remember never to give out bank account information, social security numbers or any other personal information. I want to thank the state Insurance Department for its efforts and local media for helping get the word out.”

Some states have reported that seniors are being contacted and asked for personal information such as their Social Security and bank account numbers. Some seniors have been told, falsely, that they can get their rebates faster by paying an upfront fee. Individuals enrolled in some private benefits plans or those enrolled in the Medicare Extra Help plan are not eligible.

Currently, Medicare beneficiaries whose drug costs reach $2,830 must pay all additional drug costs until their total out-of-pocket expenses reach $4,550 when coverage kicks in again.

Any seniors who suspect fraud should contact the Insurance Department's Consumer Services Bureau between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday toll-free at 800-342-3736. Information is also available on the Department's website,

Detailed information about the $250 rebate may be obtained directly from Medicare by contacting 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for assistance.