Archives for the month of: June, 2012

Here’s another excellent and timely post from our Columbia County correspondent, Lee Jamison. She’s writing about the lack of genuine broadband options in our region, and what can be done about it. This is an issue that BlueInGreene will return to repeatedly as November approaches, since NY-19′s Democratic candidate for Congress Julian Schreibman is open to real solutions, rather than simply paying lip service to the crying need we have.

Lee’s post:

More faux-Broadband, this time from Fairpoint!

How many Stuyvesant residents got a huge postcard mailer in their box today touting:

Lightning fast 7Mbps Broadband Internet
Now with a price-lock guarantee for 18 months $29.95/month

Wait a second! I’m already a Fairpoint customer—so how come I don’t have 7Mbps?

I double checked my internet speed at http://www.SpeedMatters.org.
—4.7 Mbps for download
—.09 Mbps for upload

My speeds are worse than the averages for NYS, worse than averages for the entire USA (5.2Mbps). Japan (15.9 Mbps) and South Korea (20.4Mbps) leave everybody in the dust! Gasp! And here I thought the USA was #1 in all things techie?

So why don’t I have 7Mbps? My physics teacher friend, Christian, had the answer, “Read the fine print!”

Sure enough, there was fine print on that card:

“…taxes and additional charges may apply. Not all services available in all areas. Available speeds may vary depending on customer location. Speed and uninterrupted service are not guaranteed…”

Fairpoint reported losses of $46.7 million in the 1st quarter of 2012. Sound bad? It was better than 2011 4th quarter, when they lost $84 million.

Nevertheless, Stuyvesant does have fiber optic cable running along the CSX(Amtrak) Right-of-Way and Rt9—with no public access. Who uses it? Who paid for it to be put in? How do we get access? Wouldn’t it be good for business?

Ontario County, NY built their own “middle-mile” fiber optic cable system for an investment of around $5 million for a 200 mile ring.
Axcess Ontario Officially Complete | Community Broadband Networks

Anybody think the Board of Supervisors might ask some questions?

Rural Electrification went through Congress in 1936 during the Great Depression. Surely our Congress could manage real Rural Broadband for the economic development of Hudson Valley. Even our current Tea Party Congressman says he’s for Rural Broadband. But we need more than just lip service to make it happen, and we probably need healthier, better managed companies than Fairpoint.

—Lee

Few people expected today’s surprise 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding President Obama’s health care overhaul law. Fewer still expected that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. would cast the deciding vote in upholding the law. It is a solid victory for the Blue team, and a boost for the president in this election year.

There are, however, complications. The major one is that the court rejected Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce as the basis for the health care law’s individual mandate to purchase insurance. This time, Roberts sided with the court’s conservatives in the 5-4 decision.

But the individual mandate was upheld, on the basis of the government’s ability to impose taxation. By viewing the mandate as a tax, Chief Justice Roberts was able to support it.

The commerce clause rejection was not good news. It had been used for a wide range of prior federal actions, including some civil rights laws, and the court’s decision will doubtless result in many new challenges to those actions.

For those who view U.S. history as a halting process of two steps forward, one step back, this is an historic day. Assuming the far right and the Tea Party can be held back at the polls this November, it means the U.S. will join all other wealthy Western nations in offering its citizens something reasonably close to universal health care. Could it be better? Sure. But this is a major, major accomplishment.

Julian Schreibman has defeated Joel Tyner to win New York’s 19th Congressional District primary by a 3-2 margin. With 93% of the election precincts reporting, the results were:

Schreibman 5,977   (58.8%)
Tyner 4,185   (41.2%)
Source: NY Times

Schreibman campaign manager Jonathan Levy was quoted in the Register Star as saying, “We are feeling pretty good about the turnout and level of grassroots volunteer activity that’s gone into tonight.” Locally, Mr. Schreibman prevailed in both Columbia and Greene Counties. In Columbia, according to the Register Star, the count was Schreibman 857, Tyner 381; in Greene, the tally was Schreibman 272, Tyner 146.

Greene County Democratic Chairwoman Doreen Davis said the party was pleased to get behind Schreibman for the general election.

“It was a hard-fought contest,” she said. “Democrats in Greene County had an opportunity to hear from both candidates throughout the race and now it is time to get behind the winner and have a competitive race with Congressman Gibson.”

BlueInGreene will be proud to support Julian Schreibman in the general election and we congratulate the candidate on a very professional and compelling campaign.

Tomorrow, June 26, is the Democratic primary (there is a Republican primary as well). Polls are open from noon to 9 PM. Please make every effort to vote; turnout in American elections is far lower than it should be, and we’re paying the price for that.

In the Democratic primary, it’s Julian Schreibman vs. Joel Tyner for the right to run against incumbent Congressman Chris Gibson this November. This is not much of a contest—Schreibman has solid, well-thought-out progressive priorities, a well-run volunteer organization with plenty of popular support, and financial and logistical support from the national party in the coming contest against Gibson. He also has the endorsement of the well-respected Maurice Hinchey. Tyner has none of these, and appears to have ethical issues and only the lightest grasp on political reality. Frankly, he has no business running for national office. If you think that sounds harsh, then read this.

The new 19th Congressional District is not the district that elected Chris Gibson—there is a genuine chance a Democrat can win. But that Democrat will need a strong organization and a substantial fundraising operation to withstand the onslaught of money that will be pouring in to reelect Gibson. Mr. Schreibman meets these requirements, and would make an outstanding Representative for our district.

So please vote tomorrow, and make your vote count. Vote for Julian Schreibman.

By now you’ve no doubt read or heard something about the tragicomic misfortunes of the Joel Tyner campaign for Congress, NY-19. You may have heard that his former campaign treasurer, Misha Fredericks, quit in very public fashion, claiming that he was mishandling campaign funds. Tyner “fired” her the next day, after her resignation, and after having sent the following bizarre email to defend himself to his supporters against the treasurer’s charges (the email is reproduced here from the Times-Union‘s “Capitol Confidential” blog). It is, as Daily Kos observes, “some serious insanity”. I’ll offer Tyner’s email without comment, except for this one highlight:

Fact: I have not been able to pay my mother any rent since last August– because I have poured every single penny of my own financial resources into this campaign.

That, as someone succinctly commented on the Capitol Confidential blog, is priceless.

Here is the complete Tyner email. Read it and weep (or laugh, if that’s your inclination).

Hi all…

Join us if you can for a press conference I’ll be holding tomorrow (Weds.) at 10:30 am in front of Rhinebeck Town Hall at 80 East Market Street there– to hold my former campaign treasurer Misha Fredericks accountable for the lies she sent out earlier in letters to the editor to the Times Herald-Record, Ulster Publishing (Kingston/Woodstock/New Paltz Times), and my core supporters…
[I already received phone calls on this from two reporters earlier today-- disgusting]

Blatant attempt at political sabotage; funny little thing about the truth though– has a way of getting out…

[read facts below, fwd widely to all you know...and incorporate 'em in to your own letters to editor asap!]

Figure it out folks– if Fredericks had truly been a supporter to begin with– would this be happening?…

[sadly, Schreibman/GOP/Fredericks becoming increasingly desperate; they know we can win, folks;
note-- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation -- attention Ms. Fredericks-- if you and/or your ilk continue with your lies I will work with my legal team to address this-- be forewarned-- word to wise, k?]

Nice try tho, Fredericks– but GOP beat you to it in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 with last-minute garbage attacks…..note– it didn’t work for Republicans then and it’s not going to work for the likes of you now…

Thirteen facts here in response to Fredericks lies sent out across the Hudson Valley today– shameful:

Fact: Fredericks recently (un-asked for) sent me an almost-naked photo of herself– no lie (why?).

Fact: Fredericks’ sexual harassment continued at River Station fundraiser: requests: “sex on the beach.”

Fact: Fredericks was unsuccessful in her pitiful and pathetic attempt to lure me into sexual harassment.

Fact: Fredericks actually also recently asked me for my email password (why?…put 2 and 2 together).

Fact: Fredericks mixed in receipts from others (in front of me) with receipts I provided her with. Period.

Fact: Fredericks knowingly under-reported my campaign expenses on gasoline to make me look bad.

Fact: All this past summer, fall, and winter I repeatedly drove out to Lake Placid, Glens Falls, and Saratoga Springs (and Albany/Rensselaer area)– and out to Cooperstown/Delhi area– campaigning for Congress all over what then was the 20th Congressional district– burning up gas, killing my car.

Fact: On multiple occasions over past year of campaign I beg for gas money to get back home.

Fact: My car was almost repossessed in late June because my monthly payment came weeks late.

Fact: I have not been able to pay my mother any rent since last August– because I have poured every single penny of my own financial resources into this campaign.

Fact: Despite my telling Fredericks I did not want this, Fredericks gave two campaign volunteers $500 in cash last week for outreach in Sullivan County– far more than what I as the candidate wanted allotted.

[recall Fredericks misinformation on this-- "I have been informed by others working as volunteers on the campaign that they had given Mr. Tyner over $600 in receipts to be given to me. I never received them and therefore was unable to report those expenditures to the FEC though cash was given to volunteers by Mr. Tyner to reimburse them".......fact is that those two volunteers still need to ante up with receipts(!)]

Fact: The campaign cannot afford $700/week for food/lodging etc. for two volunteers in Sullivan County.

Fredericks further attacks me, writing– “To help me account for his expenditures, I had the bank issue him a debit/credit card.”

Fact: I’ve used the debit/credit card extensively– and kept and provided Fredericks with receipts.

Fredericks writes that she “set up an EZ Pass account for him [me]. He verbally told me he was using the EZPass. However, each time I checked his EZ Pass account online, no transactions were on his account other than the original $25 fee for setting up the EZ Pass account.”

This is beyond ridiculous– I have successfully been using the EZ Pass I received for weeks now.

One of the claims Joel Tyner made in yesterday’s debate with Julian Schreibman was that he, Tyner, was the logical successor to Congressman Maurice Hinchey.

Today, Maurice Hinchey endorsed Julian Schreibman. He said: “The Hudson Valley and Catskill regions deserve and need a strong, progressive voice in Washington who will fight for them, and Julian Schreibman is the best candidate to do that.”

Hinchey added, “While I feel that Julian is the strongest candidate in this race, I also appreciate the community work that Joel has done over the years…. I would be happy to support him in future races on the county and state level.”

As Congressman Hinchey discreetly indicated, Joel Tyner has done admirable work at the local level but simply lacks the resources and the qualifications to compete on the national stage. Please cast your vote accordingly in next Tuesday’s primary.

You’ve got to give Joel Tyner credit for gall. His campaign has managed to crank out a misleading, pre-primary robocall blast to Democrats throughout NY-19, in which Tyner says:

“Hi, this is Joel Tyner, a populist, progressive Democratic candidate for Congress in the 19th District, currently in my 5th term in the Dutchess County Legislature. I believe in core Democratic values. Unfortunately, my opponent says the jury is still out on fracking; I know it should be banned. I also stand with Maurice Hinchey, unlike my opponent, for Medicare for all and bringing back FDR’s Glass-Steagall Act to break up the big banks. Vote for me June 26th to be a strong voice for you and not an echo.”

This is blatant overreach (much like Tyner’s entire campaign). In the first place, he is misquoting Julian Schreibman on the fracking issue, by taking a radio interview comment out of context. He has been doing this for quite some time now. Julian Schreibman is against fracking. He knows it threatens our water supplies, and he doesn’t believe it offers economic benefits for New Yorkers. At an event in Catskill this past Sunday, Julian spelled it out: “fracking is bad for New York.”

Tyner is also overreaching by calling for universal Medicare when the health care reform we already have, along with Medicare itself, is under serious attack. And that points out a major distinction between these two candidates.

On the majority of issues, both Tyner and Schreibman are in close agreement. But Tyner is standing on his progressive soapbox as a longtime local legislator, while Schreibman has the organization, the resources, the experience and the political expertise to actually win against Chris Gibson this November.

Julian Schreibman held another “meet & greet” this past Sunday, at the Brik Gallery on Main Street in Catskill. It was an apt setting—Main Street had rebounded and was doing fairly well prior to the financial crisis; now it is a collection of largely empty storefronts where businesses, restaurants and galleries used to be (including Brik). This made Main Street an ideal setting for the recent, innovative “Wall Street to Main Street” exhibition put on by the Greene County Council on the Arts in collaboration with the artistic wing of Occupy Wall Street. Many of the window displays from that recently concluded exhibition remain, as the photo below demonstrates.

The Writing's on the Wall (or Window)
The Writing’s on the Wall (or Window)
Photo: John P. O’Grady

Mr. Schreibman spoke movingly, as though inspired by the reduced state of the street outside. He railed against America’s growing economic inequality, and vowed to do everything he could to address it. He also:

  • Spoke in favor of the DREAM Act
  • Firmly renounced fracking as bad for New York
  • Emphatically renounced policies of torture and rendition in America’s endless wars (this, in reply to an inquiry about his CIA background, which had nothing to do with field activities)
  • Explained how grateful he was for the help he received in getting a good (Yale) education, and described his belief that every American should be entitled to a chance at the same opportunities he had
  • Denounced our current Republican Congressman for voting against the interests of the 19th District
  • Announced strong support for new policies to stimulate economic growth in our region, including support for family farms and a strategic rural broadband initiative

It was another strong performance by a candidate whose appeal only continues to grow.

The Democrats have a primary coming up in 3 weeks, and supporters of underdog Joel Tyner have been making some wild, “Hail Mary” allegations lately in hopes of tightening the race for New York’s 19th Congressional District nomination. The most scurrilous of these is the attempt to taint Julian Schreibman’s work for the CIA. Schreibman was employed as a federal prosecutor and his work helped put four of Osama Bin Laden’s henchmen behind bars; he received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for this effort. To imply that he had any association with black sites, rendition and so forth is just shameful and smacks of desperation. But then you’d expect desperate measures from supporters of a five-time county legislator who’s trying to take a giant step up into the U.S. Congress.

Similarly, Tyner supporters sneer at Schreibman’s Democratic Party endorsements (including an endorsement from Tyner’s own Dutchess County). REAL candidates don’t need no stinkin’ party endorsements, they imply. This is of course the most errant nonsense—GOP PAC money is already flowing heavily in support of Chris Gibson’s campaign, and anyone challenging him will need all the support he can get.

Julian Schreibman is the clear choice to take on Chris Gibson this November for any number of reasons, not least that he has a professional organization in place and the support of his party at both the local and national levels. His candidacy couldn’t come at a better time—when coupled with the redistricting that created the new, more favorable NY-19, it gives us a solid chance to unseat Gibson and help take back the House.

Decide for yourself—you have a chance to meet Julian in person this Sunday in Catskill. Details are listed below; please R.S.V.P. by Friday.

Meet Julian Schreibman This Sunday

Newspapers have been on the skids for some time now. The Times-Picayune in New Orleans recently announced it was cutting back to a 3-day-a-week print schedule, and focusing most of its efforts on the web. The powerful New York Times is increasingly dependent on its successful digital subscription model, with more and more people reading the paper online. Here in the Catskills/Hudson Valley Region, the Catskill Daily Mail and Hudson Register-Star are generating new reader interest online, especially with their Opinion sections (which overlap, since the two papers are under the same ownership).

Both papers, along with their smaller brethren like the Windham Journal, have long published right-wing rants in their opinion pages. Perhaps it was seen as part of the local color (red). But an interesting new phenomenon is now taking hold: when a self-righteous curmudgeon like William Durr (who regularly sneers at diversity and “free-loading” social programs, and suggests we’ll need to revert to living in caves if Obama wins reelection) or a religious zealot like James Varelas (who claims that a decrease in “Biblical Christianity” is destroying Western civilization) spouts off, people now answer them. They answer curtly, sarcastically or with thoughtfully reasoned rebuttals—but they answer, something that was not always the case.

Since the “opinion pages,” especially the online version, represent what passes for Town Hall-style debate these days, this is encouraging news. BlueInGreene—Tom Pletcher in particular— has tried to respond with a progressive point of view to the more egregious right-wing lies in the local media, and has been predictably vilified for it. “Go back to the city” is among the gentler comments we’ve received.

But many citizens in Greene and Columbia Counties are coming to our defense, and calling out the local demagogues on their specious assertions and divisive, us-against-the-world diatribes. This represents real progress. We’re delighted by it, and we thank those who’ve had the courage to stand up for reason and progress in our local press.

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