Archives for category: 2012 Election

Well, it seems we won’t need a runoff after all—after George Amedore’s latest court appeal was rejected, the most recent recount in the protracted race for the New York State Senate’s 46th District is over. Cecilia Tkaczyk won, by 19 votes. That makes Amedore, for whom the gerrymandered 46th District was created by his Republican cohorts, the shortest-tenured state senator in modern Senate history. I find that deeply satisfying.

It’s even more satisfying—and a major accomplishment—that Tkaczyk won against such formidable odds. Predictably, laggard Greene County gave more of its votes to the conservative Amedore. Yet Democrats worked hard for Tkaczyk in Greene, particularly Greene County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Doreen Parsley Davis. And without the significant number of votes the county did cast for the progressive candidate, Tkaczyk could not have won.

Cecilia Tkaczyk—worth the wait
Cecilia Tkaczyk—worth the wait. Photo: Daily Mail.

We now look to have a real progressive representing us in the State Senate. I wish we could say the same about our representative in the other chamber, who is incredibly short-sighted on gun control and many other issues. More on that in a future post.

Perhaps the newly elected Senator Tkaczyk can win over some of Greene’s deep-red die-hards during the course of her term, if she lives up to her full potential. She made a fresh and principled candidate, and she has the makings of an excellent Senator. She should serve Greene, and the rest of the 46th District, admirably.

Shades of Bush-Gore: on the one hand, we have a Republican candidate who displays an unseemly eagerness to assume the mandate of office, even though all the votes have not been counted. On the other hand, we have a more progressive Democratic candidate who seems willing to trust the creaking machinery of governmental review to determine the outcome. Only 37 votes currently separate Republican George Amedore from Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk in New York State’s 46th Senate District.

Now, as Kyle Adams reported in yesterday’s Daily Mail, an additional 99 ballots are going to be counted. However, that will still leave hundreds of ballots still in dispute.

The new count is a victory of sorts for Tkaczyk, even so. Previously, Acting Montgomery County Supreme Court Justice Guy Tomlinson had certified Amedore as the winner at the end of last month. And Amedore has already filed an oath of office.

Both candidates profess fealty to “the judicial process,” although I can see no reason why they should, at this juncture. However these additional 99 votes turn out—and no timetable has been announced for counting them—they will not provide a satisfactory conclusion to this race. Suppose they show that one candidate or the other “won” the election by 3 votes. Will the other candidate still have “tremendous respect” for the judicious process, with hundreds of other ballots uncounted?

The only remotely fair solution here is to hold a runoff election.

Whoops—Amedore has just displayed his respect for the judicial process once again by getting the state’s Court of Appeals to delay counting those 99 ballots. The Times Union also reports that the Court of Appeals will consider hearing a formal appeal by Amedore.

Again, the courts are NOT going to provide a fair resolution to this evenly divided election. Only a runoff can do that.

Now that we know U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson is going to be around for another couple of years, it’s time to take a look at what he’s been up to lately. In addition to voting “Yes” on legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff” (having earlier renounced his pledge to never raise taxes), Gibson sent a recent email to constituents outlining what he says are his top priorities.

These are (taken from the email):

1) “Address our country’s future fiscal solvency and enact policies that grow our economy and help hardworking Americans.” Sounds reasonable, if rather generic. Are further attacks on Social Security and Medicare subsumed in that “future fiscal solvency” phrase?

2) “Pass into law a full five-year farm bill that gives certainty to our family farms and allows them to remain a vibrant part of our local communities.” This speaks to the Representative’s constituency, but does little to address economic growth in the 19th Congressional District per se.

3) Lyme Disease.

4) Expanding access to broadband.

5) “Ensuring our veterans have the services and benefits they need….”

Which of these things is not like the others?

If you answered “Lyme Disease,” kudos to you. Lyme Disease has been rampant in upstate New York for a while now—that horse has left the barn. Combating its effects is a worthy thing to do, but perhaps not a top priority for a U.S. Congressman in an economically slumping district. As for expanding access to broadband, that too is a worthy goal, and something that would actually be of great economic benefit. It would be terrific if Gibson actually did something to address it this term, as opposed to holding meaningless symposia on the topic.

Except for the broadband item, which addresses economic growth indirectly, Gibson does not include improving the local economy as one of his top priorities. (Item no. 1 above is national in scope, and too generic to count.) That seems shortsighted, to say the least. But, it’s very early in the new year, and in Gibson’s new term. Let’s see what he does to address what he says are his priorities, paying particular attention to his efforts to expand access to broadband in the district.

Why does Greene remain such a backward county? In the 13 years I’ve lived here as a full-time resident, I have seen almost no progress on any front. Quite the contrary, in fact—Greene continues to rank in the lower reaches of New York’s 62 counties by almost any important measure. And Greene continues to vote for candidates who are unlikely to help change the situation, and did so once again in the 2012 election.

Let’s take a moment to look at Greene’s status within New York State. In population, it ranks 51st. In the percentage of its residents who have graduated high school, it ranks 50th. In terms of health care outcomes, it ranks 52nd. The practical consequences of these rankings mean that Greene is not a good place to earn a living, not a good place to start a business and not a good place to grow old. There are few jobs of any kind, and almost no good-paying jobs. There is a substandard communications infrastructure, and a serious lack of true broadband service. It’s necessary to drive long distances, both to earn a decent living and to avail oneself of decent shopping. Nor are medical services readily available, even though Greene has among the highest percentages in the state of citizens who are 65 or older (this, despite the fact the county is not a healthy place for them to live).

You’d think that Greene would want to move up in the state, and in the world. But every time an election rolls around, Greene votes against change. For example, the county re-elected Pete Lopez to the state legislature, based mainly on the fact that he is a nice guy, and drives all over creation to attend every inconsequential gathering and say hello. It doesn’t matter that Lopez hasn’t managed to achieve any significant improvements for the county—in fact, that’s probably a point in his favor. Similarly, Greene voted the newly “moderate” Chris Gibson back into office, even though Gibson is likely to undercut the safety net of Social Security and Medicare that so many Greene residents—very definitely part of Romney’s scorned 47%—depend on. On the other hand, Greene voted against Cecilia Tkaczyk for state senate, because she is progressive enough to actually want to do something about the quality of life in this area (there is a chance Tkaczyk may still pull out a victory, despite Greene’s opposition).

And of course, Greene voted for Romney/Ryan.

Greene County fits the mold so memorably described in Thomas Frank’s classic book, What’s the Matter with Kansas?, in which the machinations by which ordinary people are led to vote against their own self-interests are laid bare. Greene votes from a base of ignorance and gullibility, over and over again. The county’s voters are its own worst enemy.

Next time: Corruption and Apathy

Sources: ProximityOne; Population Health Institute, University of Wisconsin

The heading of this post is an entreaty for everyone, but it’s especially aimed at Greene County residents, who have seldom voted wisely in the past. Deep-red Greene County is one of New York’s most backward areas, and I would argue that this is due to in large part to long-term Republican control. There has been a prevailing county ethos against change or progress of any sort, which is why the county’s officials are often so laughably inept.

If you’re happy with this backward status—no hospitals, no jobs, inadequate services, crappy broadband—then go ahead and vote for a friendly, “nice-guy” Republican like Chris Gibson or Pete Lopez and help make sure things stay just as they are. The rest of you, read on.

At the national level, Republicans would continue to do to the U.S. what they have done at the local level for Greene County: set us back. It’s vitally important to move forward as a country … but it’s equally important for us to progress right here, where we live. The recommendations below reflect both priorities. Please don’t forget to vote all the way down the line—make sure you cast your vote for local candidates, as well as those running for national office.

Here are BlueInGreene’s recommendations:

President:   Barack Obama
U.S. Senate:   Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. House of Representatives, 19th District   Julian Schreibman
N.Y. State Supreme Court, 3rd Judicial District   Richard Mott
Stephan Schick
N.Y. State Senate, 46th District   Cecilia Tkaczyk
N.Y. State Assembly, 102nd District   Jimmy Miller
Greene County Legislature
Unopposed   Harry Lennon
Larry Gardner
District 5 – New Baltimore   Jim Van Slyke
District 1 – Catskill   Kevin Lennon
Joe Kozloski
Vinny Seeley
District 6 – Ashland, Jewett, Prattsville, Windham   Sondra Clark

Chris Gibson’s attempts to soft-pedal his voting record and present himself as a moderate took another hit yesterday, when some 40 protesters gathered on a cold November morning to “rally for the truth” and expose the Congressman’s true colors on women’s rights. The Hudson rally was sponsored by Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York.

Women Are Watching
Women Rally Against Gibson. (Photo: PPA)

M. Tracey Brooks, president of PPA, told the Register-Star that Gibson has voted in support of every bill “that has made it more difficult and life-threatening for a woman to access abortion, and he’s done it consistently.”

The newspaper’s coverage was somewhat undercut by giving extensive space to Gibson spokeswoman Stephanie Valle, who attempted to rationalize or explain the contradictions between Gibson’s voting record and some of his recent statements, for the most part unconvincingly.

Gibson’s distortions of his record on women’s rights and freedom to choose are only his latest attempt to present himself as something he’s not. He has also presented misleading accounts of his positions on the Federal budget and Medicare, among other issues, as he tries to fight off a strong challenger in a new Congressional District.

Denying your own record is not a valid basis for re-election. Follow the lead of the women who braved the cold yesterday morning (and who would be left out in the cold by Gibson’s real policy choices). Vote for challenger Julian Schreibman on Tuesday.

Congressman Chris Gibson has consistently tried to hide or distort his voting record during this campaign, and with good reason—it’s not a record he could reasonably run on anywhere.

One of the most outrageous examples of Gibson’s “repositioning” as a moderate concerns his supposed support of a woman’s right to choose. He now says he is in favor of reproductive rights, in favor of choice.

This is a lie. Even worse, it’s a lie that is being reproduced in various media outlets. The Albany Times Union, in its unfortunate endorsement of Gibson, repeats Gibson’s claim that he “supports a woman’s right to choose abortion”.

In reality, Gibson’s voting record has earned him a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Political Action Committee, which endorsed him two years ago and is endorsing him again now. In contrast, Gibson has a zero rating from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America. His opponent, Julian Schreibman, has a 100 percent rating from both groups. And Julian Schreibman offers the kind of forward-looking leadership and support for working- and middle-class families that our district needs.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York, a volunteer-based, grass-roots organization, is holding an anti-Gibson rally tomorrow morning to get the truth out. After the rally, which is planned for 11 AM in Hudson, volunteers plan to conduct a door-to-door canvas to continue to bring the truth to voters.

They could use your help. Please call 518-434-5678, x133 for complete details, and plan on attending the rally tomorrow morning.

Last year, Greene County and surrounding areas were hard-hit by Tropical Storm Irene. There was loss of life, and much of the damage caused by that storm more than a year ago has still not been repaired.

This week, when Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast, our area was luckier, although there was flooding and some homes and businesses did incur damage. But New York City and New Jersey, which had escaped the worst of last year’s storm, took a tremendous blow this time, with many deaths (41 in the city alone, as of today) and horrendous, historic damage, currently estimated at $50 billion.

A parking garage near Wall Street
A parking garage near Wall Street.     Damon Winter/The New York Times

Would you be surprised if another major storm hit the Northeast next year? No? Then why aren’t we talking about it? Why isn’t climate change on the political agenda?

Speaking of politics, there was a refreshing break in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Both presidential campaigns were suspended, Obama’s for a day longer than Romney’s. There was even some bipartisan cooperation between President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who hailed Obama as “outstanding”.

What’s really refreshing, though, is yesterday’s surprise announcement by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that he is endorsing President Obama—because Obama is more likely to take on the challenge of climate change than Romney, who now denies the issue, in line with Tea Party orthodoxy.

Way to go, Mayor Bloomberg. If Hurricane Sandy turns out to be an “October surprise” that helps get Obama re-elected, then maybe the country will finally start taking climate change seriously.

One of the most telling moments in the third and final debate between Congressman Chris Gibson and challenger Julian Schreibman came near the end, when Schreibman noted that it was mid-term season at SUNY-Oneonta, where the debate was held.

“If you’re taking a test and you’re asked for your opinion, you’re free to give it,” Schreibman said. “Congressman Gibson and I have been exchanging a lot of opinions in these debates. But if you’re asked when Columbus came to America and you say ‘1776’, you’d be wrong. Facts are facts. Congressman Gibson seems to have his own version of the facts, and you can’t do that.”

Schreibman then proceeded to rip Gibson for his Romney-like effort to evade, deny or cover up his record. On point after point, Gibson has tried to present himself in a way that contradicts his actual votes in Congress.

Another revealing moment, also near the end, came when Gibson complained to Schreibman about “how you’ve treated me.” This would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. As Schreibman noted, it’s not personal. But Gibson seems to take every challenge, and every exposed lie, as a personal affront.

Perhaps it’s his military background. Perhaps he thinks that entitles him to be taken at his word, even when his word is obviously false and contradicts his actions.

“Who do you trust?” he asked, in closing, as he did in the second debate.

Not you, you prevaricating hypocrite. And not your deluded Tea Party followers, with their mantra of small government, small business and “individual initiative”. If this small-minded Randian “philosophy” represents a genuine way forward, then why do so many upstate Republicans live in poverty? Why has upstate New York been so backward for so long? Why do towns continue to stagnate, people continue to leave and opportunities continue to vanish?

Why can’t Gibson’s supporters understand they are being asked to keep things just as they are? Why can’t they see they are being exploited?

The 2012 Congressional election is a rare opportunity for upstate New York to renounce its benighted history, change its status quo and actually move forward. People who believe in facts, in science, in climate change, in common sense, and in the hope of their children—these people should vote for Julian Schreibman. Mr. Schreibman represents a genuine way out of the morass of ignorance and stubborn, self-defeating resistance to change that Republicans have imposed on this region for so long. If Gibson wins, we’ll continue down the same ignorant pathways, continue to watch our towns shrivel and die, continue to watch our kids move away and watch life become even grimmer for those left behind.

Please: stick to the facts. Have the courage to move forward. Vote for Julian Schreibman on November 6.

Most of the instant polls following last night’s concluding presidential debate showed President Obama as the clear winner. The CBS poll of uncommitted voters called it for Obama by 53% to 23%. So the president managed to ring up two victories in a row after his disastrous performance in the first debate, when he appeared not to be fully engaged, or even fully present.

Will it be enough? For any thinking Amercan who follows politics, it should be. But that is not the majority of voters, sad to say. For people who tend to be swayed by sound bites, it’s still an open contest. And I think the Republican base, even though it may be repulsed by Romney’s move to the middle—how many times did Romney utter the word “peace” last night?—is still likely to get out and vote, if only to support Ryan (and get rid of our first black president).

There are now two weeks to go until the election. If any of you reading this should happen to remain undecided, all you need to know is this: electing Romney-Ryan would send America to hell in a handbasket, P.D.Q. The rest of you have made up your minds already. Let’s hope that the half of you who’ve made them up correctly prevail.

President Obama deserves re-election.