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Censure the system

Censuring Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner over remarks about curtailment of Poughkeepsie bus service is as cynical, hypocritical, and disingenuous as local politics gets.

Joel has fought the good fight for the environment, the poor, dispossessed, and middle class for decades. He could well be considered the 'Bernie Sanders of the Hudson Valley', and has earned the ire of Republicans and corporate Democrats alike.

Tyner's Real Majority Project has organized rallies, forums, vigils, and radio shows opposing costly jail expansion, utility rate hikes, high voltage power lines, pipelines, polluting trash incinerators, fracking, nuclear power, GMO's, oil wars, and privatization of vital public services. Tyner supports single payer healthcare, recycling, zero waste, Solarize programs, homeless shelters, youth programs, and more.

These issues have two things in common:  They are generally supported by a majority, and they threaten the power and profits of the uber-rich, 20 of whom own as much as the bottom 50% nationally. Billionaires buy politicians of both parties who maintain that inequality.

Mussolini defined "fascism" as "corporatism", the melding of political and corporate power.  By that definition, we are well on the way, and Tyner's use of the term was highly appropriate.

And just how does a reference to "following orders like the Germans ..." make Joel, who has been subjected to Republican name calling, and whose family is partly Jewish, anti-Semitic?   Intellectual dishonesty approaching Trumpian levels!  Censure the system, not one of our few non-corrupt politicians.

Edmund Haffmans
(June 18)


Faso favors billionaires

On June 8, something truly ironic happened in Washington, courtesy of my congressman, John Faso. As Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California used her allotted time to comment on the floor of the House of Representatives—discussing pending legislation designed to ease rules on banks and weaken consumer financial protections—Faso tried to shout her down.  

The irony is that Faso clearly likes to think of himself as a person who places a high value on decorum. After all, that’s the reason he has offered for his failure over the last six months to hold a single open town hall meeting with constituents anywhere in his district. Because those meetings might involve interruptions from the public, Faso says they’re not productive and he won’t engage in them. How does he square this position with his own incongruent behavior toward his much senior colleague?

Pelosi kept her cool as Faso interrupted her not once, not twice, but four times, even as the House Speaker pro tempore Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-OK) repeatedly reminded Faso that Pelosi controlled the time and was under no obligation to yield.

Was Faso's nasty treatment of his colleague just about the legislation under discussion? I suspect a different reason. Perhaps Faso went after Pelosi because of her announcement earlier in the week, alongside Governor Cuomo, that she and Cuomo plan to work together to unseat upstate Republicans, like Faso, whose votes have betrayed New Yorkers. There’s no irony or surprise there: Faso’s favoring of billionaires over constituents is well established by his voting record.

Paige Smith Orloff
(June 18)

Support Joel Tyner

Dear Friends and Dutchess County Legislators,
I ask you to support Joel Tyner  .... we all say things in the wrong way from time to time, but that does not mean that our true beliefs or intentions are wrong.  Many have been out to get Joel Tyner because of his unorthodox ways and now they want to crucify the guy  (maybe I should not use the word crucify, but I'm not running for office).  In the local papers which includes the Poughkeepsie Journal and the Kingson Freeman, articles have been written such as "Dutchess Legislator Joel Tyner calls county a fascist state",  "Joel Tyner’s sanctimonious comments belie reality", " Poor choice of words by Tyner", "Legislature may censure Tyner for fascist comparison".
 So what if Joel used some "so called improper words" in trying to make an important point?  Joel has every right to be upset. Overall, many of our representatives care very little about the poor and the handicap people of Poughkeepsie; whereas, Joel who lives in Northern Dutchess does care about them.   He could very easily turn a blind eye and overlook them, but he doesn't.  That is why we here in Northern Dutchess County elected Joel.   He is our "watchdog".  For a long time, the City of Poughkeesie did not even have a supermarket in it's city limits, but it always concerned Joel. 

Who is going to help watch over the less fortunate?  Representatives like Joel Tyner, that's who.  That being said, let Joel Tyner know that you support him as I do.
Keith Greeney
(June 13)


CPV protestor verdict

While progressives understand that Trump is clearly pushing lethal policies of environmental devastation, strangely- and dangerously- many progressives fail to grasp the equally obvious reality that Cuomo- Democrat, Working Families Gov. Cuomo- is currently devastating our region's environment and public health, is forcing toxicity and economic ruin on Hudson Valley residents, and, via just one fracked fuel power plant in our area, is increasing NYS greenhouse gas emissions by 10% early next year. And oh yeah, his top aide coincidently accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from this toxic fuel company's CEO. And that matter is under federal investigation. But it's no matter, as the project goes on anyway.

What project is this? CPV (Competive Power Ventures) power plant, located, with its humungous tank of ammonia, right in the densely populated Middletown area, by ever-congested I-84.

And who else supports this unnecessary lethal project? Sean Patrick Maloney, James Skoufis. Are they Republicans? No, they are not. Like Cuomo, solid Dems all.

The "Wawayanda 6," members of an activist group working to stop this monstrosity, were convicted on June 7 of disorderly conduct while peacefully protesting, despite testimony from multiple A-list experts describing the great harm this plant will do to health, environment, & climate in our tri-state area. In other words, to the general welfare of the people (and other species),  which governments are Constitutionally mandated to protect. But, to the unholy alliance of Red and Blue plutocrat officials, no matter.

So get in touch with reality, people. The inconvenient truth is, like the Republicans, the Dems and the WFs are not our friends either. (Bernie is NOT a Dem; he tried to run with the Dems, and the Dems ran him over). 

Actor James Cromwell, a local resident and one of the Wawayanda 6, stated that if the appeal is lost, he will go to jail rather than pay the $325 fine. Like myself, he is also a member of the Green Party. If you care about the planet, why aren't you?

Join us- Hudson Valley Green Party. We're online and on FB, and dedicated to politics that really do support planet, peace, & people.

Barbara Kidney
(June 13)


Thank you to the City of Poughkeepsie Police

On behalf of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Chamber Foundation, Inc., its Board of Directors, professional staff, and the hundreds of volunteers and attendees who came out in support of Hudson Valley KidVenture on May 20 & 21, I’d like to express our sincere gratitude to the men and women of the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department.

City officers were an integral part of the weekend event and we could not have done it without them. This includes planning leading up to the festival.  From the first meeting with Sargent Todd King and city administration, our experience was nothing short of stellar. The logistics of safety and security were seamless and the implementation was effective, professional, and courteous. The safety, security, and traffic control for more than 5,000 attendees is not to be taken lightly and our community needs to know how fortunate we are to have such incredible, caring individuals keeping us safe.

I am personally grateful for the service of our officers to this great city – for their willingness to go above and beyond in assisting to deliver an event our entire community can be proud of. The dedicated support from the City Police, Fire and DPW, in conjunction with the City and County Administrations, is greatly appreciated and doesn’t go unnoticed. I realize this is the work they do each and every day, but we should take a moment to stay thank you for all they do. Our community owes them a great deal of gratitude, so I proudly take this opportunity to say, thank you!

Frank Castella, Jr.,
President & CEO of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce
(June 13)


Serino and Foundation Aid Formula

I recently received a taxpayer-funded mailer from Senator Sue Serino with the deliberately misleading claim that she “fought to deliver a record” amount of aid. In fact, she is part of the Republican senate majority that votes—along with the IDC (Senate Democrats who largely support Republican initiatives)—to force New York school districts to spend the education budget’s Foundation Aid dollars on tuition payments to privately run charter schools.

The Foundation Aid formula was designed in 2007 to ensure that our public schools receive the funding necessary to provide all students—including those with special needs or who hail from economically disadvantaged backgrounds—with a sound, basic education. Soon after the formula was approved, the state began to shortchange Foundation Aid, now amounting to billions of dollars across the state. In February of this year, despite the pleas of her constituents, Senator Serino voted to approve a budget that ignores the $4.3 billion New York State continues to owe to our schools. If Senator Serino is really interested in “delivering for schools”—and not just siphoning taxpayer’s dollars to NYC private charter schools (and deceptive mailers)—she must truly commit herself to getting our schools the full amount of Foundation Aid they are owed.

Julie Shiroishi
(June 13)


Cuomo renewal energy initiative

Governor Cuomo’s announcement of a $1.5 billion initiative for renewable energy projects in New York State is a commendable move considering recent national actions on climate change, but it raises serious questions about his recent bailout of the nuclear industry.

If a $1.5 billion investment into the renewable industry will create 40,000 jobs in New York by 2020, as the Governor claims, why is he taxing ratepayers $7.6 billion to save 600 nuclear jobs? It doesn’t add up. On top of that, the nuclear plants will only supply energy to Upstate New Yorkers through 2029, falling a year short of his Clean Energy Standard (CES) goal.

A $7.6 billion state investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, if you use the Governor’s calculations, could create 200,000 jobs, and be able to produce the necessary energy to fully replace unsafe nuclear power while phasing out fossil fuels.  

New Yorkers need clean, safe, economically sensible 21st century energy solutions.  The State obviously has the capacity to do so.

Eric Wood
NYPIRG Environmental Campaign Organizer
(June 13)


Tobacco 21

I see it in my cardiology practice each day—the deadly effects of smoking: the obvious health implications, the attempted quits and the resignation that comes when those quit attempts fail. Tobacco addiction causes heart disease, damage to arteries throughout the body, chronic and debilitating breathing issues, stroke, aneurysms, cancer --the list goes on.

I prescribe medications (such as nicotine replacement therapies) and offer information for group or individual counseling.  Most patients who smoke want to quit—but the addiction is just too strong. 

As a healthcare provider, it is my job to speak out to break the cycle of tobacco addiction, and that’s exactly what legislation that’s been proposed to raise the age of sale for tobacco products in New York would do—and our lawmakers have just a few weeks to move on it.

Sponsored in the Senate by Senator Diane Savino (S03978) and in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (A0273), the legislation will raise the legal sale age for tobacco products from 18 to 21 statewide.

The “Tobacco 21” bill, as it is known, will not totally prevent smoking. It will not help those who already have started smoking---their addiction is likely already too strong. But it can help prevent others from starting. It is another tool for helping keep tobacco out of the hands of high school kids. 

Kids tell us that it’s easy to get tobacco from older kids. Preventing the flow of products from older kids to younger kids is critical. Not many 21-year old’s are still in high school social circles, but plenty of 18 and 19-year old’s are—and they supply the cigarettes, chew, and other products to those younger than them.

And the tobacco industry knows it. They’ve been on the record for years saying that laws such as this would ‘gut’ their next generation of smokers.

I urge the General Assembly to work to pass Tobacco 21 legislation this session.

Patrick W. Thomas, MD, MBA, FACC, FAHA
Chief of Cardiology, NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital 
President of the Board of Directors, Putnam County Division of the American Heart Association
(May 30)


Where is Faso on Russia?

Time flies, trite but, based on my experience, true. Only last June the Democratic National Committee reported that unknown hackers had stolen their emails.  On August 19, the Republican Campaign Chair, Paul Manafort, resigned due to disclosure he had worked for the pro-Kremlin Ukrainian ex-president. Carter Page, Trump’s foreign policy advisor, left that campaign on Sept. 26 because of disclosure of his meetings with Russians restricted from contact.

On Oct. 7, the US government accused Russia of attempted interference in elections, but in December Rex Tillerson became Trump’s Secretary of State despite his ties to Vladimir Putin.  January 2017 rolled in with US intelligence publishing a report that Russia tried to help Trump win the election. In February, Trump’s National Security Advisor resigned after reported conversations with the Russian Ambassador.  On Valentine’s Day, U.S. intelligence intercepted repeated contacts between the Trump campaign and senior Russian officials. At his confirmation hearing, now Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador.

We may be excused for forgetting this because in the last two weeks, Trump’s chief advisor has been charged with trying to use a Russian channel for secret communications, and Mr. Trump has obstructed justice.

Well may we ask why our Congressman John Faso, known for not holding Town Halls, has NOT SIGNED HR356 establishing an independent commission to investigate Russian interference? At very least, why has Faso not demanded that Trump reveal his last five years of US tax returns? Call Mr. Faso; demand an answer.

Anne Coen McCabe
(May 30)


Transgender legislation opponents on "wrong side of history"

On February 22, 2017 the Trump administration made a stand—against transgender children. Trump invalidated landmark guidance from the Obama administration letting school children use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

On April 17, three members of the Ulster County Legislature Laws, Rules, and Governmental Services Committee—Carl Belfiglio, Kevin Roberts, and Craig Lopez—along with the decisive vote of Chairman Kenneth Ronk—voted against simply allowing a public hearing about Proposed Local Law No. 18. This law would prohibit discrimination against transgender Ulster County citizens in the arenas of housing and access to public services and facilities. The law would also have allowed folks to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. But Belfiglio, Roberts, Lopez, and Ronk could not even abide a public hearing about this.

On April 25, New York State Senators Terrence Murphy, Ruben Díaz, Martin Golden, Andrew Lanza, Thomas O’Mara, and Elaine Phillips killed GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, in the Investigations and Government Operations Committee. GENDA, which would protect transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) folks from discrimination in the realms of employment, housing, and public services and facilities, has passed the New York State Assembly ten times, with bipartisan support. In killing this legislation, Senators Murphy, Díaz, Golden, Lanza, O’Mara, and Phillips planted themselves firmly on the wrong side of history. Prior to the committee vote, I called my state senator, George Amedore, three times to ask for his position on GENDA; no response was forthcoming.

Those who know the least about the TGNC population and the legislation affecting their basic human rights are the most likely to voice their opposition to that legislation. Legislators, get to know TGNC people in your community. Educate yourself. Your fear is not rational and it is creating suffering for citizens who are already vulnerable to attack on many levels.

Michelle Sutton 
(May 23)



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