Wednesday, March 31, 2010
“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.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
from the Pall-Times Editorial
Oftentimes, when making critical decisions that will affect the infrastructure of a region, lawmakers examine all of the facts at hand, prior to making a snap judgment. Unfortunately, our legislators were in such a rush to halt the New York Power Authority’s Lake Ontario wind power plan, they did not even wait for all the facts and figures to come in to see exactly how this proposed project would impact Oswego County residents.
Rather than exploring the potential benefits, many local lawmakers decided to look at the glass as half-empty, parading around with claims of doom and gloom instead of stopping to think of the potential such a project could have. The county’s unemployment rate consistently hovers near double-digit figures, ranking in the top five statewide. Perhaps this project could have generated job growth, either through the installation or maintenance of the turbines, or, better yet, by actually opening up one of the many closed factories in this county to build the turbines. Depending on how the NYPA chose to use local unions, this project could have had a profound impact on the economy.
Regrettably, many lawmakers hopped on board with a few voices of dissent, and the group snowballed into a committee, under the guise of “saving our lakefront,” that actually worked to discredit the project before examining the facts.
In addition to the potential economic boost this project could have generated directly through jobs, there could have been an indirect impact on tourism, as well. Just as some people like to follow sirens because fires and accidents pique an individual’s interest, so too would people flock to the county to check out wind turbines, to satisfy their curiosity. People would have come to Oswego County to see these powerful, massive turbines generate power. They would have made the county their tourist destination, whether for a day trip or a weekend getaway. They would have spent money on hotels, food and entertainment.
Could have, would have, should have.
Of all the talk of the legislators who rejected the proposal, not once did our representatives mention the potential benefits of the project. Once they felt the proposal was going to, as legislator Shawn Doyle, R-Pulaski, put it, “destroy recreational fishing in our lake and rivers, reduce property values, absolutely restrict recreational boating and sailing and severely impact tourism through the despoliation of the numerous scenic vistas,” they did not take the time to actually examine the project’s potential.
There once was an ideal and pioneering spirit that characterized Oswego which was fostered and encouraged by our leadership. Look no further than Fort Ontario and Safe Haven for some examples of these attributes putting us on a world stage. It seems that today, however, our leadership manages to turn their backs to this ideal more and more. What kind of leadership does not relish being first and one-of-a-kind, like the first fresh water wind farm in the world represents? Further, what kind of leadership does not at the very least take the time necessary to get the details to explore the opportunity as something that could very well benefit the greater good? It is not leadership at all. In fact, it is flat out irresponsible. It seems our county Legislature is following the lead of our state leadership in this vein, and we see where that has brought us when it comes to Fort Ontario, one of the best examples of Oswego’s innovative enterprise.
These elected representatives took the comments of a few dissenters, and rather than polling a large portion of the community, lawmakers essentially halted a project without having all the data, or their constituents’ feelings in mind.
According to DEC Commissioner, Pete Grannis, the DEC would work diligently “to ensure that any Great Lakes wind projects are carried out in an environmentally-sound way.”
Furthermore, David Hurwitt, vice president of Optiwind, a company that uses turbines to generate wind power, in the span of 20 years, one 300-killowatt-wind turbine will save 9,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is the major greenhouse gas attributed to global warming. That is the equivalent of planting 100,000 trees.
All of these possible benefits have been overlooked as a few have sounded the alarm of dissent. An opinion that may not be the overall consensus of the general public. According to the results of a Palladium-Times poll, which asked “Why do you think there is so much opposition to the proposed wind power project in Lake Ontario?” the majority (62 percent) of the 331 people who responded to the poll said, “I don't know. I think it's a good idea.” Nine percent said there’s not enough information on the issue, 12 percent said it would negatively affect the tourism/sports fishing industry, 16 percent said it would affect the natural landscape of the area.
The people have spoken; too bad the leaders have not led.
Interestingly, 74 percent of Democrats say they feel Andrew Cuomo can turn Albany around, while nearly half of Republicans feel the same way.
In head-to-head matchups, Cuomo leads former G.O.P. congressman Rick Lazio 61 to 30 percent. Against Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy (who just switched from Democrat to Republican), Cuomo has a bigger lead: 65 to 26 percent.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
“Easing unnecessary regulations on our agricultural industries will enable these businesses to grow, improve our economy and help create jobs,” said Sen. Aubertine, who is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “Maple production is a staple in our rural communities and an industry that lends itself well to tourism activities. By easing these regulations we are giving maple producers the latitude they need to expand their business for tourism.”
"Agriculture plays a critical role in our economy, and this legislation is another step toward helping expand opportunities for agribusiness in New York State,” Sen. David J. Valesky said. “Maple production has great potential for business and tourism, and this bill will help encourage growth in the industry."
New York State is consistently one of the top maple producing states in the country, with room to grow, the state has more tappable trees than any other state. This bill would require the state fire prevention and building code council to expand the definition of agricultural buildings to include maple production facilities and sugarhouses, allowing these businesses to provide for public access and assembly as an agricultural tourism activity. This change in the code will put maple syrup producers on the same level as wineries in New York State, allowing the industry to enjoy the same product promotion opportunities.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The candidate leading the Florida GOP primary to determine who will take on Rep. Alan Grayson, the Democrat who represents the Orlando-based district, is none other than Grayson himself, according to a poll paid for by his campaign. Grayson is a freshman congressman who has drawn scorn from the GOP and has quickly built a nationwide following of progressives.
The poll has Grayson leading the 13 Republicans -- among Republicans -- with 27.8 percent of the vote. The congressman who mocked the GOP health care plan by saying that it amounts to telling people not to get sick and if they do, to die quickly, received more support than all of the Republican candidates combined.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
This chart comes from John Sides, who gathered information from the 2008 American National Election Study about spending priorites. Self identified conservatives, it turns out, aren't actually in favor of cutting spending on much of anything. Child care scored the worst for some reason, getting more hostility than even perennial bogeymen like foreign aid and welfare. Still, even at that, only 20% of conservatives wanted to cut child care spending, and scores dropped precipitously from there.
What to make of this? It's a pretty good guess that if conservatives don't want to cut Social Security then they don't want to cut Medicare either. War on terrorism is probably a pretty good proxy for the defense budget. Low scores for public schools + welfare + aid to the poor suggests they don't really want to cut social safety net programs. And interest on the national debt is off limits no matter what they think. That accounts for about 90% of the federal budget right there, and spending on highways, the environment, crime, science, and foreign aid probably takes care of another 5%. And that's pretty much the whole ball of wax.
The lesson from this? It turns out that conservative politicians really do represent their base pretty well. They like to yammer endlessly about cutting spending, but when push comes to shove, there's not much they really think we're spending too much on. It's all just venting.