Sunday, April 30, 2006

Labor for Peace

Labor was out in force on Saturday at the anti-war march. Sarah Ferguson writes on the Village Voice's Power Plays blog:
Some of the most vociferous chanting came from the labor unions--including UNITE-HERE, CWA, 1199 SEIU, and the transit workers and teachers unions--who mobilized 7,500 to 10,000 of their own in what organizers said was probably the biggest anti-war labor contingent ever.

Citing Saturday's turnout and the strong support from unions expected at Monday's immigrant rights demonstrations across the country, John Wilhelm, president of the restaurant and hotel workers division of UNITE-HERE, declared: "There is something profound and powerful taking shape in this country, and not a minute too late."
"What they promised, that the gas prices would go down and that there would be oil revenues from Iraq, has never happened," charged Steve Kramer, vice president of the healthcare workers union 1199 SEIU. "Now we see gas prices at $3, and you don't see them talking about taking the windfall profits they've given Halliburton and Exxon Mobile.
"Union members are connecting how Iraq is part of a larger foreign policy that destabilizes people's countries and economies and forces people to immigrate to survive," says Michael Eisenscher, national coordinator of U.S. Labor Against the War

Friday, April 28, 2006

Hastert Caught in the Act

The Speaker must be speechless. After holding a press conference on rising gas prices, promoting hydrogen-power vehicles, Hose Speaker Denny Hastert was photographed a couple of blocks away switching from the hydrogen car to a big old gasoline-powered SUV.

Technical Note: New Feed

Some readers have complained that the Feedburner RSS feed this blog has promoted has been unreliable.

If you follow us with an RSS reader, you can update the feed to:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Union College's Alcohol Crackdown

Turns out Union College is in the midst of a crackdown on under-aged drinking.

The Schenectady Daily Gazette ran a story on Monday (three days after the Congressman's visit to Alpha Delt) that in the context of this is too delicious not to cut-and-paste the highlights:

"Alcohol is a big piece of it," said Stephen Leavitt, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Union College. "There are pockets of problems that persist. We are sending a message that we’re concerned about it."
Leavitt said more is needed. "There are improvements," he said. "It is much better, but it’s nowhere near where it might be. . . . There are aspects of the drinking situation on campus that trouble me. There’s too much drinking going on. The drinking has probably gotten worse in the past few years. There’s more extreme drinking."
"I don’t have anything fundamental against alcohol as such," Leavitt said. "What I’m against is binge drinking, and the boorish behavior that accompanies being drunk, the lack of civility that goes along with being drunk."
"At Union, you’ve got underage drinking all the time," he said. "You’ve got policies you can’t enforce." It would be even harder, he suggested, to enforce a policy completely barring alcohol, and, as a result, students wouldn’t pay much attention.

Sweeney was definitely engaging with under-aged drinkers. But by press accounts,it is ot clear whether he was boorish:
Congressman John Sweeney, a Republican from the 20th district of New York State, appeared at a registered party at Alpha Delta Phi on Friday, April 22. The Congressman came from Geppetto's Bar and was described by witnesses as being inquisitive and engaging, while also acting openly intoxicated.
It was reported that one student approached the Congressman with drug paraphernalia and asked to take a picture. The Congressman refused.

Sweeney Should Have Listened to the Mayo Clinic

Congressman Sweeney has been reported to be taking medication for high blood pressure, and, more recently, prednisone, an anti-inflammatory drug. Prednisone was prescribed to treat a diagnosis of vasculitis, an inflamation of blood vessels in the brain.

Maybe not so surprisingly (except to the Congressman), doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend that individuals suffering from vasculitis limit their intake of alcohol.

Animal House of House Representatives (Sweeney)

Congressman Sweeney must be counting the days. You know the list -- skiing with lobbyists, sledding at taxpayer expense, giving his wife a cut of the fundraising take.

And now this. Caught at Union College's Alpha Delta Phi drinking with under-aged college students, and as reported in the student newspaper, “acting openly intoxicated.” (Ben Smith at the Daily News Hotline on Call seems to have been the first to blog about the incident.)

To get the full flavor, it's necessary to see all the pictures at the Times Union blog.

And this man has health problems! He's on medication! Do his doctors know about this??? The doctors said back in February that his "problems could be lifestyle-related." You could call it that I guess.

Maybe it's time to rename this facility?

According to the city's web site:
In a ceremony held December 12, 2001, the Manhattan Detention Complex in lower Manhattan was re-named the Bernard B. Kerik Complex in honor of the City’s former Correction Commissioner. Mr. Kerik, who was then serving as the City’s Police Commissioner, played a major role in advancing the professionalism of the City’s jail system during his six-year tenure with the Department.
From Wikipedia, a reminder as to why, with hindsight, the naming of the facility may be inappropriate:
Kerik stated that he had unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny and housekeeper who had used someone else's social security number. Similar violations of immigration law had previously caused the withdrawal of the nominations of Linda Chavez as Secretary of Labor by G.W. Bush and of Zoe Baird as Attorney General by Bill Clinton.

But this turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. Shortly after withdrawal of the nomination, the press reported on several other incidents which might also have posed difficulties in gaining confirmation by the Senate. These include: an outstanding arrest warrant from 1998 stemming from unpaid bills on the maintenance of a condominium (documents regarding this warrant were faxed to the White House less than three hours before Kerik submitted his withdrawal of acceptance to the President); questions regarding Kerik's sale of stock in Taser International shortly before the release of an Amnesty International report critical of the company's stun-gun product; two simultaneous extra-marital affairs, one with his publisher Judith Regan, alleged by many close to Kerik to have taken place partly in a donated apartment near the World Trade Center site intended for rescue workers; a sexual harassment lawsuit; allegations of misuse of police personnel and property for personal benefit; connections with a construction company suspected of having ties to organized crime; and failure to comply with ethics rules on gifts. Kerik has publically refuted many of these allegations. For example, he has stated that the sale of his Taser stock was done expressly to avoid any conflict of interest charges as head of the Department of Homeland Security.

And in November 2005, a New Jersey agency concluded that Kerik was guilty of misconduct. From the Times:

New Jersey officials said yesterday that Bernard B. Kerik abused his position as New York City correction commissioner in the late 1990's by accepting tens of thousands of dollars from a construction company that he was helping to pursue business with the city. They say the company has long had ties to organized crime.

Turns out Mayor Bloomberg was asked in 2004 when Kerik's nomination to be the Secretary of Homeland Security flamed out whether the faciity might be renamed. Bloomberg said no.

But there's still time for the Mayor to change his mind. As Ellis Hennican wrote in his Newsday column last month:
No one seems to know why the complex still bears the name of the disgraced Homeland Security nominee and ex-New York police commissioner, who remains the target of various uncomfortable probes. But it does.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

New Yorkers will decide Congress

It looks increasingly like New York's Congressional races could decide who controls Congress. Here's an update on 4 of the key races.

In CD20, rumors continue to swirl that Sleddy Sweeney will retire as a result of his numerous ethical lapses, including a state investigation into his fancy taxpayer-funded vacation and using his wife to skim money from his campaign contributions. To be fair, Sweeney's most recent filing says he hasn't used his wife to skim money from his campaign contributions for three whole months, but his weakness in the race is still getting national attention (via Capitol Confidential, which is doing a solid job covering this race).

The race for Boehlert's open seat in CD24 figures to be particularly close. Democrats in the race are getting a lot of donations, but Raymond Meier has figured out how to make his money last - he's not paying his bills and he's making his staff "volunteer" so he doesn't have to pay their salary.

In CD26, Travelling Tom Reynolds is being called out for abandoning the district.

In CD29, Randy Kuhl isn't popular in his district and was outfundraised in the last quarter.

And for the commenter who asked about CD3 the other day, the death spiral for national Republicans has brought out a promising challenger to Rep. Peter King in Long Island.

Also, a reminder that our endorsement process has started and our Candidate Endorsement Questionnaire is online - candidate submissions are due May 1.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bush v. Big Oil? Things MUST be bad

Things must be bad if it looks like Bush is ready to take on big oil.

: "Bush said the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department and the Energy Department were investigating whether the price of gasoline has been unfairly manipulated. The administration also contacted all 50 state attorneys general to offer technical assistance to urge them to investigate possible illegal price manipulation within their jurisdictions.
Of course, looks can be deceiving. Bush isn't really taking on big oil. His first priority is actually suspending environmental rules.

If Bush were serious about doing something aout market manipulation, he would be listening to members of his own party who say we need to be looking at a windfall profits tax.

Sweeney and Reynolds: Knee-Deep

Democracy in Albany calls our attention to this:

Two distinguished members of New York's congressional delegation, John "Sleddy" Sweeney and Tom Reynolds, have been included in the Midterm Muck Project published by Talking Points Memo Muckraker project.

Sweeney is involved in lots of muck:
Reynolds has distinguished himself for taking "more lobbyist-funded luxury trips outside of western New York in the last three years than he has returned home to western New York." (Washington Post)

Sweeney and Reynolds, making the Empire State proud.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Party's in Harlem-East Harlem (press release)



NEW YORK, NY – The Working Families Party celebrated the founding of a new local club last week. The Harlem-East Harlem club held a founding celebration on Tuesday evening at the James Varick Community Center.

“The WFP Harlem-East Harlem Club was formed to focus on the issues most important to working families in our community – jobs, housing, education and health care,” said Ramona McFarlan, a leader who helped form the club.

“We’re going to use the strength of the Working Families Party and our membership to hold politicians accountable on our issues,” said Roxane Rosario, another club leader.

The club’s electoral priorities this year are likely to include the State Senate seat being vacated by David Paterson, and the WFP’s statewide priority of collecting 200,000 votes on its line for Eliot Spitzer.

Seventy-eight members gathered to celebrate the club’s formation. Local politicians including Councilmember Robert Jackson and former Councilmember Bill Perkins attended, as well as a representative of Borough president Scott Stringer.

“Harlem and East Harlem have always been important political bases for the Working Families Party,” said WFP state co-chair, Bertha Lewis. “The growth in the party has given our Harlem and East Harlem members critical mass to form a local organization that is committed to holding politicians accountable for advancing a progressive agenda for the community.”

The WFP is a grassroots, community and labor based political party with chapters throughout New York State. Its affiliated organizations, principally labor unions and community organizations like ACORN and Citizen Action, include more than 1.2 million members. The goal of the Working Families Party is to more forcefully inject the issues of working-class, middle-class, and poor people—like jobs, health care, education, and housing—into the public debate, and hold candidates and elected officials accountable on those issues.

For more information about the Working Families Party, please visit


Friday, April 21, 2006

Suozzi doesn't get it

Tom, don't blame your campaign manager - you're polling so poorly because people think Spitzer should be governor, us included (pdf).

If Suozzi wants to know why people aren't buying his argument that he'll reform government, there are two news items he should read. The first one is about how he got "$500,000 from a developer last year as part of a land deal to build his $1 million home" (via Follow the Leader) and the second is a report from Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman that "the public corporation that runs the county's only public hospital is 'effectively out of cash.'"

Wal-Mart CEO: Fair Share Won't Cost Jobs

The cat is out of the bag: Even Wal-Mart admits that state laws making them and other large companies pay for decent health benefits will not cost jobs.

In an article on Maryland's new Fair Share law in yesterday's Baltimore Sun, H . Lee Scott admitted the obvious: employment at big retailers will not be affected by Fair Share laws.
Scott said the legislation would not prevent plans for further expansion in the state. ... Consumer demand, not legislative policy, is the ultimate influence on where the company locates its stores, he said.

"The power is in their hands," he said. "Not in the legislature."

"It's just part of what you deal with," Scott said.
Of course, he could hardly deny it, since Wal-Mart just bought 175 acres in Maryland for a new 900-employee distribution center, just four months after the Maryland legislature passed a law requiring the retail behemoth to significantly increase their health care spending. Still, it's nice to see Scott acknowledge the obvious: by boosting demand, high wages and benefits are good for the economy.

Now we just need to get Scott to come up to New York and explain to the State Senate why passing Fair Share won't kill jobs.

Congratulations to 32BJ

. . . on their new contract! The contract still needs to be ratified by the union membership and the Realty Advisory Board's Board of Directors. Here's 32BJ's press release (.doc) on the contract.

(via 51st State)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Will the doormen strike?

It's getting closer to decision time for building owners, with doormen scheduled to go on strike tonight. Albor Ruiz has a must-read column explaining the "freeze and squeeze" going on, where landlords and management companies insist on a pay freeze and steep increase in health care costs while real estate profits soar.

Buildings are "lining up conscripts to clean floors, sort mail, haul trash and work lobster shifts at the front door in the lonely hours before dawn" (from the New York Times), not to mention clean dog poop off the sidewalk. No word on whether rent and maintenance fees that go to pay doormen to do those things will be returned or quietly pocketed.

All this raises the question, what are the ways people living in a building with a doorman can show solidarity with striking workers?

Drum Major Focus on Fair Share (May 8)

One of our favorite think tanks, the Drum Major Institute, is holding an event on the Fair Share for Health Care movement on May 8.

When: May 8, 8:15am-10:00am
Where: The Harvard Club, 35 West 44th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
RSVP: or call 212-909-9663. online

Maryland State Senator Gloria Gary Lawlah will keynote. Here's more from the DMI web site:

First elected to the State Senate in 1991, Senator Lawlah authored a landmark 2005 bill requiring Maryland’s largest employers to contribute at least the nation’s average percentage of payroll costs to employee health care. The state legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto in early 2006, making Fair Share Health Care the law of the land in Maryland and inspiring a push for similar legislation in more than a dozen other states – including New York.

Panel discussion on implications of Senator Lawlah’s work to New York will include:

Dan Cantor, Executive Director, Working Families Party.

Diane J. Savino, New York State Senator (D-Brooklyn/Staten Island)

Adrianne Shropshire, DMI Fellow, Executive Director, New York Jobs with Justice

Introduction by John Catsimatidis, Chairman and CEO, Red Apple Group, Inc.

Moderated by Andrea Batista Schlesinger, Executive Director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy

Update: Now you can RSVP online.

Prospect for the WFP

There's a great story about the WFP by Greg Sargent in the new issue of The American Prospect.

If you have a subscription to the Prospect, you can read it at home or here.

If you don't have subscription to the Prospect, you should, and can get one here. While that's beng processed, you can read a .PDF version of the article here.

A few highlights:
[The] Working Families Party (WFP), based in New York, has become that rare thing in American politics: a progressive success story. It has built itself into a powerhouse on its home turf, and, though you’ve probably never heard of it if you live outside the state, you may be hearing more about it soon, because it’s now on the cusp of going national -- and in time may even prove to have an impact on national politics.


The WFP’s focus on Democrats has enabled it to accumulate surprising influence over Democratic officials, yanking them left on economic issues like the minimum wage, which the party was instrumental in helping to raise in New York State, in exchange for its support. Indeed, at a time when Democrats nationally have muted their economically populist rhetoric, the WFP has unfurled a banner of unabashed economic populism. It has managed to get working people of all ideological stripes in New York to listen to its bread-and-butter platform of higher wages, expanded public investment in health care and education, and opposition to shipping jobs overseas.


Cantor insists that his party has unlocked the code that will crack what he calls the Democrats’ "What’s the Matter with Kansas" problem -- the recent failure of Democrats to get blue-collar whites to focus on economic issues rather than cultural politics. This is possible, Cantor argues, because minor parties aren’t under the same pressure as major ones are to talk about their positions on all issues including hot-button cultural ones. The WFP avoids these issues by and large, and therefore doesn’t have the cultural baggage that the Democratic Party does. The WFP’s freedom to speak single-mindedly about “kitchen table” issues, Cantor claims, allows it to make a strong case to Republican-trending voters who can vote their economic interest -- that is, for the Democrat on the WFP line -- without endorsing the Democratic positions that repel them.
And you can discuss the article right here by clicking on "comments" below.

Survivor Meets West Wing

A mash-up of prime time television: The Wall Street Journal today published this online poll -- asking readers to vote the next member of the Bush administration off the island.

Because it's the Journal, the obvious correct answer -- vote the entire administration out -- wasn't offered as a possibility.

If you're interested, the results as of 8am this morning were: Rumsfeld 43%; Snow 14%; Cheney 24%; Someone else 7%; and keeping the gang intact 13%.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Westchester Gets in on the Act

The Westchester County Board of Legislators held a hearing on the Fair Share for Health Care bill on Tuesday. The testimony was vigorous and strongly in favor. The county legislature is considering a resolution calling on the state legislature to pass the bill (the Suffol County legislature recently passed a similar reso).

To give you a flavor of the support Fair Share has, here's an excerpt from Legislator Michael Kaplowitz's press release:
“It is time to shift the cost of healthcare from the taxpayer to the shareholder,” said Kaplowitz. “Corporate giants such as Wal-Mart should realize that providing healthcare for their employees is simply the cost of doing business.”

County Legislator Thomas J. Abinanti (D-I-WF, Greenburgh), former chair of the County Board’s Health Committee and currently a member of both the Committees on Budget & Appropriations and Family, Health & Human Services, stated that “it should be the responsibility of these big businesses, not the taxpaying public, to bare the cost of health benefits for these workers.”
The WFP's Westchester-Putnam chapter chair, Pat Welsh, testified at the hearing, as did the WFP staff policy director, J.W. Mason.

We're following this closely and expect a vote on the reso soon.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Time for a Clean-Up

The Note tells us today:

"New Yorkers for a Cleaner Congress" are holding an 11:00 am ET conference call with reporters to announce the launch of "," a Web site which alleges that since 2003 NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-NY) has taken "more lobbyist-funded luxury trips outside of western New York in the last three years than he has returned home to western New York." LINK

The group will also release a radio ad that "pokes fun" at Rep. Reynolds' "habitual travel" to Pebble Beach, which the group alleges has been "paid for by lobbyists and special interests." The group puts the cost of Rep. Reynolds' Pebble Beach travel at $205,185.

Let's give Jack Davis a broom.

Q1 Numbers Are In

The WFP's political staff has compiled a report on first quarter fundraising data for New York State congressional candidates in the nine most-seriously contested districts. Click here to view the 1-page PDF file.

Bonus data point: See which Rpeublican congressional district voted for John Kerry in 2004.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Health and Good Jobs Go Together

This week was notable for what didn't make the news: The Chicken Little complaints of a fast food industry front group that some businesses would be disadvantaged if they had to compete on a level playing field. (Think about that for a second - businesses that oppose the Fair Share for Health Care Act feel like they deserve an unfair advantage over responsible local businesses.)

The Buffalo Business Journal reported:
"The Working Families Party has weighed in on New York's proposed Fair Share for Health Care Act, producing a report that says the bill will create jobs while extending health coverage to the uninsured... The Working Families study predicts that the proposed legislation will create between 2,100 and 21,600 jobs for New Yorkers and offer health insurance to more than 450,000 of the state's uninsured who are working for large employers."
You can help: spread the truth.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

2006 Working Families endorsement

Candidates seeking the Working Families endorsement should fill out our Candidate Endorsement Questionnaire.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

WFP April House Party

Pictures from our most recent house party are up on our flickr site. If you're interested in finding out more about WFP house parties then leave a message in the comments section or shoot me an email.

State Senate races starting to shape up

It looks like there will be a number of close State Senate races this year. State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno is raking in campaign cash to pour into close races, State Senator John Marchi is retiring after 50 years, and State Senator David Valesky is running for reelection. Which race do you think will be the one to watch this year?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Junk Data (updated)

New data shows that the Fair Share for Health Care Act will have a positive effect on New York's economy, creating as many as 21,600 new jobs in our state. But McDonald's the fast food industry is on the attack anyway, releasing a report today through a fast food industry front group that intentionally misleads the public and the press about the effects of the bill.

They trot out the same Chicken Little complaints that were used to argue against our successful work to raise the minimum wage. Those complaints were proven wrong in a recent study from the Fiscal Policy Institute (via DMIBlog), which found that increasing the minimum wage helped New York's economy, creating more jobs because working families have more money to spend, powering the economy.

Here are a few of the specific instances where McDonald's the fast food industry gets it wrong:
  • Junk Data Point #1: "This policy would ignore over 83% of the uninsured in New York."
  • The Healthy Truth: The Fair Share for Health Care Act:

    • Extends health insurance to more than 450,000 uninsured New Yorkers currently working for large employers (approximately 17% of the total number of uninsured in New York).
    • Moves 200,000 New Yorkers from Medicaid and Family Health Plus to employer-provided health coverage.
    • Strengthens health care for 3.5 million additional New Yorkers working for large employers.

  • Junk Data Point #2: "The cost per newly insured employee will be as high as $19,617 a year."
  • The Healthy Truth: The cost per covered employee of the Fair Share for Health Care Act is less than $2,000 per year. The report's spin applies the total cost of the bill to covering approximately 450,000 uninsured workers. This ignores the effect of the Fair Share for Health Care bill in:

    • Moving 200,000 workers from Medicaid and Family Health Plus to employer-provided health coverage.
    • Strengthening health care for 3.5 million New Yorkers who have insurance but face exorbitant co-payments, rising co-premiums and unrealistic deductibles.

  • Junk Data Point #3: "The low-end job loss estimate exceeds 69,000 during the first year of the mandate; the high-end job loss estimate is nearly 100,000 jobs."
  • The Healthy Truth: After taking into account (1) new jobs created in the health care industry by providing cost-effective primary and preventive care and (2) the effect of multi-national corporations spending more money in New York rather than exporting it out of New York, as many as 21,600 net new jobs are likely to be CREATED by the Fair Share for Health Care Act.
It makes you wonder how much McDonald's the fast food industry benefits from an unlevel playing field where most businesses do the right thing and provide health care while big corporations dump their employees on public assistance to increase their profit margins. McDonald's The fast food industry should come clean and say if the real reason they oppose the Fair Share for Health Care Act is because they don't want to compete on a level playing field.

Take the time to tell McDonald's and its front group to get their facts right.

UPDATE: McDonald's rang to disclaim responsibility for the efforts of the industry front group, the Employment Policies Institute. They're off the hook, but we're going to keep on digging to find the junk pushers.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What's Suozzi up to?

Tom Suozzi keeps promising that he won't run for Governor as a Republican, but then it seems like every month he turns around and flirts with Senate Republican Joe Bruno (here's the March version of this story).

At least he's still got more credibility than Bill Weld, whose corruption-filled tenure as CEO of Decker College is a disturbing look at how he'd run our state.

Friday, April 07, 2006

An open letter to Rep. Towns

Dear Rep. Towns,

I remember when you sold out working families in your district by voting for CAFTA. You were one of just 15 Democrats to vote for the bill, which narrowly passed the House in a 217 to 215 vote.

Now, a new report shows that donations to your reelection campaign from pro-CAFTA corporations has skyrocketed from $65,500 to $91,164.

That seems good, but your New York colleague Rep. Meeks saw his corporate campaign cash go from $60,676 to $121,321 (almost double!). I don't understand why he able to get so much more campaign cash for his vote than you?

I would appreciate a letter from you letting me know if you are a worse negotiator than Rep. Meeks or just cheaper. I look forward to your response.


A Single System of Justice (via DIA)

A report from Albany from (who else) Democracy in Albany below. A little context. Today's Times Union reports: "Assault charges will be filed next week against a city police officer who was suspended last month for allegedly roughing up a retired dentist in a station-house garage, according to law enforcement sources."
When David Soares campaigned for DA he said he would put an end to the old way of doing things where if you were connected, you were innocent. It begins:
"People are going to be prosecuted under one system regardless of title," Soares said. "That kind of influence will no longer have any kind of sway in this administration."
Seems like the kind of thing law abiding citizens should support.
The incident triggered an investigation after a surveillance video showed the man's head hitting the ground as the officer dragged the handcuffed man out of a police van by his ankles, officials said.
I haven't seen the video, but this doesn't sound good.
...the decision to file a misdemeanor assault charge against Geraci was made by the district attorney's office, according to sources close to the case. It underscores an apparent power struggle unfolding between prosecutors and the Police Department, which usually makes decisions about whether to charge its officers with a crime.
Can anyone else see the inherent problems with "self policing"? Well, anyone who isn't in the APD.
Officer Christian M. Mesley, president of the Albany Police Officers Union, said he's been on the force 14 years and cannot recall another instance, outside of McKenna and Bonanni, where an officer was charged with assault. He also said he's disconcerted that the decision to bring charges is being made by the district attorney.

"I'm not happy about it but there's nothing I can do about it," he said.
If you want to see the problems with "self policing" make sure to check out last year's article in the Metroland on the many incidents we've had at the APD and the almost complete lack of any repercussions for the behavior.
Helping elect David Soares was one of the more remarkable achievements in the WFP's history. It's always good to see his office following through on its commitment to equal justice for all.

Why We Fight (an occasional series)

It's hard to say it any better than Brother Jimmy Heyland from IBEW Local 1049 (via the Long Island Fed's Laborbeat blog):

Proud to be Union

I own a gun and hunt. I consider myself blue collar. I drive a pickup truck. I’ve drank more than my share of Budweiser in my time. I grew up on the stock car tracks of Riverhead, Islip, Freeport & Dexter Park thru the late 60’s & early 70’s. I fly an American flag at my house. My daughter & her husband are US Army and he just got back from Iraq.

Wait a minute. What am I doing here? A NY union activist voting the Working Family Party line. I must think that I can be a redneck union member.

My local union asked me, during the last presidential election, to go into the field and talk politics to my union brothers. I was amazed @union workers who were going to vote based solely on gun ownership. I was amazed @ union workers who felt that patriotism was the sole right of only one party. I was amazed @ union workers not seeing the way big business is involved in politics.

I have a "Support our Troops" ribbon, next to a Proud to be Union sticker on my pickup. I even had to wear a NRA hat to start a conversation on politics with some brothers. The point here is; I can do both. Anyone can. I can vote based on who cares about a national health plan or protection of my pension benefits

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Three Towns primary challengers

The Daily News reports that Assemblymember Roger Green is joining New York City Councilmember Charles Barron and journalist Kevin Powell in challenging CAFTA 15 Rep. Edolphus Towns' reelection.

Which Congressional incumbent do you think is most likely to lose?

Rally for Immigrant Rights on April 10th

We're part of the Rally for Immigrant Rights happening in New York and over 40 other cities on Monday, April 10th, as part of a National Day of Action to demonstrate support for real, comprehensive immigration reform.

The rally is from 3 to 7 at City Hall (4/5/6/J/M/Z to Chambers, R/W to City Hall, A/C/E to Park).

Let us know you're coming or if you have questions in the comments.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Suffolk supports Fair Share for Health Care Act

Yesterday, the Suffolk County legislature passed a resolution in support of the Fair Share for Health Care Act. Here are some quotes on the resolution:

WFP member and County Legislator Kate Browning (WFP/D) said,
"The Fair Share for Health Care Act will level the playing field for responsible businesses that struggle to compete against large, hugely-profitable employers - like Wal-Mart and Home Depot -– that shirk their responsibility to provide decent health benefits to their employees."
County Legislator Jon Cooper (D/WFP), who also owns Spectronics, a manufacturing business in Westbury, said,
"This is a fight between Responsible Local Businesses that provide decent health benefits and Hugely Profitable Corporate Free-Loaders that try and avoid their responsibility."
Working Families Party Suffolk County chapter co-chair Brian Schneck said,
"No employee of multi-billion dollar companies like Wal-Mart or Home Depot should be forced to go without medical care nor should they be forced to resort to Medicaid. The Suffolk County Legislature should be commended for its leadership for working families."
Thanks go out to Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D/WFP) for leading the charge and pushing this resolution through.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Crain's covers business support for Fair Share bill

From today's Crain's Insider/Crain's Health Pulse (no link):
"The Working Families Party says that more than 150 businesses signed on to support the Fair Share for Health Care Act after the group sent out an e-mail petition to businesses on Thursday afternoon. Given its pro-labor tilt, the party was unsure of how many businesses were on its e-mail list but estimated that no more than 20 would respond. The message’s reference to Wal-Mart may have hooked some. The bill is opposed by the Business Council and others. Affected firms would be assessed $3 per worker per hour for employee health care; they would have to file paperwork with the state claiming their expenditures to offset the assessment."
If you're a business owner or manager there's still time to sign on to support the Fair Share for Health Care Act.

Jay Leno Says

(Courtesy Manhattan WFP Chapter Leader Kenneth Schaeffer)
Long-Awaited Medical Study
Questions the Power of Prayer
Benedict Carey, NY Times 3/31/06 A1

Gee, there goes the Republican health plan.
-Jay Leno

Dan Cantor talks health care on WROW-AM

The Working Families Party's Executive Director Dan Cantor was on WROW-AM talking to NY Post Albany bureau chief Fred Dicker (play mp3) about the Fair Share for Health Care Act and the fall elections.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Business support for the Fair Share for Health Care Act

Responsible local businesses are starting to speak out in support of the Fair Share for Health Care Act. The Albany Times Union ran a great piece about business support for the bill and business leaders upstate held a rally that got coverage in the Buffalo News.

Bill Hiliker, who owns American Images in South Buffalo, talked about the threat to the business community from hugely profitable corporations like Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Victoria's Secret that gain an unfair advantage by forcing their employees to resort to Medicaid.
"As an entrepreneur with a small business in South Buffalo, I can tell you that I've seen responsible local businesses close because they can't compete against these big box stores that don't provide decent benefits for their workers."
If you're a business owner or manager who wants a level playing field for responsible businesses, sign on to a letter from businesses that support the Fair Share for Health Care Act. Everyone else should email their State Senator.

Good Jobs, Good Food

City Limits Weekly takes a sneak peek at a study that will be released on Wednesday by the Restaurant Opportunity Center of New York:
Restaurant workers who are mistreated on the job are less likely to prepare food safely, according to a new report to be released Wednesday by the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY). "Dining Out, Dining Healthy" details the link between public health and good labor practices in the city’s restaurant industry. For example, approximately 21 percent of workers without paid sick days reported having sneezed, coughed or spit in food, compared to the 12 percent of those who did receive these benefits. The report also found that of the workers from restaurants with many labor violations, 66 percent did not receive any health and safety training compared to the 34 percent of those with few labor violations.
Read the rest here.

Cantor Dickers Around - Live Tuesday 10:15 a.m.

WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor will be a guest on NY Post Albany bureau chief Fred Dicker's radio show tomorrow on WROW-AM in Albany. He'll be talking about the Fair Share for Health Care bill and some of the WFP political priorities for 2006.

Listen live starting at about 10:15 am by going to and clicking on "Listen Live."