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
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
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.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
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.
Maybe not so surprisingly (except to the Congressman), doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend that individuals suffering from vasculitis limit their intake of alcohol.
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.” (
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.
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.And in November 2005, a New Jersey agency concluded that Kerik was guilty of misconduct. From the Times:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Things must be bad if it looks like Bush is ready to take on big oil.
AP: "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.
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:
- his wife's questionable fundraising commission
- his fundraising ski trips with lobbyists
- his publicly-funded sledding trips with lobbyists
Sweeney and Reynolds, making the Empire State proud.
Monday, April 24, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 24, 2006
NEW HARLEM-EAST HARLEM CLUB
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 www.WorkingFamiliesParty.org
Friday, April 21, 2006
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.'"
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.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.
"The power is in their hands," he said. "Not in the legislature."
"It's just part of what you deal with," Scott said.
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.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
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?
When: May 8, 8:15am-10:00am
Where: The Harvard Club, 35 West 44th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
Maryland State Senator Gloria Gary Lawlah will keynote. Here's more from the DMI web site:
Update: Now you can RSVP online.
First elected to the State Senate in 1991, Senator Lawlah authored a landmark 2005 bill requiring
’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 Maryland . New York
anel 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
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.And you can discuss the article right here by clicking on "comments" below.
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.
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
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.”The WFP's Westchester-Putnam chapter chair, Pat Welsh, testified at the hearing, as did the WFP staff policy director, J.W. Mason.
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.”
We're following this closely and expect a vote on the reso soon.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
"New Yorkers for a Cleaner Congress" are holding an 11:00 am ET conference call with reporters to announce the launch of "TravelingTom.com," 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.
Bonus data point: See which Rpeublican congressional district voted for John Kerry in 2004.
Friday, April 14, 2006
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
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
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
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Moving 200,000 workers from Medicaid and Family Health Plus to employer-provided health coverage.
- 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.
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
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
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.
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: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."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.I haven't seen the video, but this doesn't sound good.
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....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.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.
"I'm not happy about it but there's nothing I can do about it," he said.
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 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 Freeport & Dexter Park . 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
Which Congressional incumbent do you think is most likely to lose?
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
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
"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.
Monday, April 03, 2006
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.
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.
Listen live starting at about 10:15 am by going to www.wrow.com and clicking on "Listen Live."