Tuesday, February 10, 2015

re: CCA 2.0 (Community Choice Aggregation)-- thx to Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, Micki Strawinski, and Nick Ignaffo for signing my letter to PSC for CCA 2.0!...

[thx tons to five of my Co. Leg. colleagues-- Dems Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, and Micki Strawinski-- and Green Nick Ignaffo-- for agreeing just a bit earlier tonight to sign on to this letter below circulated by yours truly at our Co. Leg. meeting-- in support of the work of Citizens for Local Power and Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) 2.0 here locally for us in Dutchess and across NYS as in California with Sonoma Clean Power/Local Power!...see www.LocalPower.com ; www.CitizensforLocalPower.com; email NYSPSC on this at secretary@dps.ny.gov-- with case number 14-M-0224 in the subject line-- and copy to localpowerny@gmail.com, joeltyner@earthlink.net; join "Dutchess Demands Community Choice Aggregation" on Facebook too!...Joel] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - February 10, 2015 Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess Secretary to the Commission New York State Public Service Commission Empire State Plaza Agency Building 3 Albany, NY 12223-1350 Dear Secretary Burgess: We, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, urge the New York State Public Service Commission to follow the recommendations of Citizens for Local Power and allow the truly innovative, cost-saving, green-jobs, clean-air, carbon-cutting, “Community Choice Aggregation 2.0” model to become reality here in Dutchess County and New York State as is already the case in California with Sonoma Clean Power/Local Power— not merely Community Choice Aggregation. As Sonoma Clean Power/Local Power noted in its “Community Choice Aggregation 2.0” report—“Energy localizations are being deployed around the country and the world tovarying scales. Tellingly, the Electric Power Research Institute has predicted the end of centralized power control in favor of the distributed intelligence of the smart grid aggregating and controlling distributed energy resources. Community choice aggregation allows a rapid scaling up of this innovative approach, an embrace of virtual power plants and local energy supplies beyond the marginal, incremental scale. Cities around the USA are pursuing energy localizations to varying degrees: Sonoma, California: is implementing CCA 2.0 after Local Power conducted a detailed, bottom-up renewable and efficiency deployment analysis using five years of meter data for every customer meter in the county. Boulder, Colorado: is forming an energy authority expressly organized around ‘energy localization’ and has retained Local Power to create a Localization Portfolio Standard (LPS). Fort Collins, Colorado: is using "virtual power plants," local renewable generation and demand dispatch to mitigate 20-30% of the city’s peak load. Austin, Texas: the Pecan Street Project pilot is deploying an open-source smart grid platform in a mixed use urban development (that includes 25% new affordable housing) as part of its integrated community development plan and in partnership with their municipal utility. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Local Power’s approach builds new infrastructure, vastly outperforming the status quo alternatives in wealth creation, job creation, new local business, and economic development, in addition to creating substantial, low-cost greenhouse gas reductions and enhanced resilience. Incumbent utilities are at a disadvantage in a world dominated by virtual power plants because of existing central power plant assets; CCA provides the best framework for these areas to localize their energy supply. For cities and counties that implement CCA 2.0 and builds out a significant portion of energy resources locally, the potential economic benefits are considerable. By investing in local renewable energy supplies and efficiency, and thereby reducing the volume of money exported continuously out of a local economy to purchase fossil fuel supplies—the problem of capital flight—a city or county retains this wealth within its own borders, enriching customers and the local economy. When compared to investing in centralized renewable installations, distributed in-county generation will create approximately three times the local wealth. Even more impressive, when compared to investing in traditional energy infrastructure, such an approach creates up to twenty times as much local wealth.”

reform Albany(!) letter signed by Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, Micki Strawinski-- call Cuomo and state legislators at (877) 255-9417 to follow up!...

[thx tons to four of my Democratic Co. Leg. colleagues-- Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, and Francena Amparo-- for agreeing at tonight's Co. Leg. full board mtg. to sign on to this letter below circulated by yours truly, calling for real reform in Albany this year of our state government; note-- practically every word in the letter below is from the Feb. 3rd editorial from the Albany Times-Union (which was reprinted in today's Poughkeepsie Journal!)...call Cuomo and state legislators to follow up yourselves on this-- at (877) 255-9417-- and thx again big-time to folks like Zephyr Teachout and groups like Citizen Action for all their work on these issues!...J] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - February 10, 2015 Governor Andrew Cuomo: Senate Leader Dean Skelos: Assembly Leader Carl Heastie: State Senators Sue Serino and Terrence Murphy: Assembly Members Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Steve Katz, Kieran Lalor, and Frank Skartados: Albany, NY 12224 Dear State Leaders: Today’s Poughkeepsie Journal reprinted last Tuesday’s (February 3rd) spot-on editorial from the Albany Times-Union— we, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, urge you to heed its comprehensive recommendations for public financing of elections (as in Maine and Arizona), lowering campaign contribution limits, closing the LLC loophole, overhaul of the New York State Board of Elections, along with Governor Cuomo’s five-point reform proposal-- state legislator disclosure of where outside income comes from, ending public pension for those convicted of crimes, itemized expenses instead of flat per-diem payments for legislators, tightening up campaign finance rules so that donations aren’t a legal form of graft, and true transparency for political donations and spending—along with return of the Moreland Commission to continue its (obviously undone) work, as Zephyr Teachout has called for to uncover more corruption. As today’s Poughkeepsie Journal printed (echoing the Albany Times Union Feb. 3rd): “Just what is wrong with these amply paid part-time lawmakers disclosing where their outside income comes from, and what interest those writing the checks have in what state government does or does not do? Why shouldn't public officials contemplating corruption have the threat of losing their public pension to think twice about? Why should any sitting legislators be exempt from this? Why not have lawmakers itemize expenses rather than get a flat per diem payment just for showing up in Albany — or for claiming to? Why shouldn't the campaign finance rules be tightened so that donations aren't just a legal form of graft that politicians can spend as they please? And why shouldn't New York insist political donations and spending be as transparent as possible? More from the editorial-- “Here's a thought for lawmakers feeling stuck in Mr. Cuomo's ethics trap: Why not show him up? The governor has offered a serious list, though an incomplete one. It does not bring down the state's obscenely generous campaign contribution limits, nor does it close the notorious LLC loophole, which allows wealthy donors to skirt the caps by creating limited liability companies — each considered a separate individual. Mr. Cuomo himself has been a prime beneficiary of this loophole. ssing, too, are an overhaul of the ineffective, highly politicized state Board of Elections and a system of public financing of campaigns. So is any discussion of a ban on outside income in exchange for a modest raise. There is ample room here to take Mr. Cuomo's plan and make it better. Or lawmakers can cry foul and try to convince New Yorkers that they're not thinking of themselves, but of future legislatures. Of democracy. Of the constitution. Of good government. Good luck getting anyone to buy that.” Finally— “A Legislature so resistant to ethical reform may finally be forced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to swallow a dose it. Mr. Cuomo, who inexplicably shut down his Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in exchange for some minor reforms, now says he'll put five major ones in his executive budget. Nor will he sign off on the 2015-16 spending plan, he says, unless lawmakers accept the changes. That means come April 1, when the budget is due, they can either go along or risk going without paychecks. Let the howls of protest begin. An abuse of the budget process, they'll declare. A violation of the principle of coequal branches of government, they'll object. He's not playing fair, they're bound to huff. Yeah? Well, tough.” [see: www.timesunion.com/tuplus-opinion/article/Editorial-Mr-Cuomo-s-dose-of-ethics-6060389.php ]

re: chemical train safety-- thx to Co. Leg.'s Marge Horton, Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, Micki Strawinski, and Nick Ignaffo for signing on to Kocher/Tyner letter tonight!...

[thx tons to GOP Co. Leg. Marge Horton, Dem Co. Leg.'s Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, and Micki Strawinski, and Green Nick Ignaffo for agreeing just now at tonight's Co. Leg. full board mtg. to sign on to the letter here below circulated by yours truly inspired/informed by the work of Wayne Kocher (446-2316)-- call Congress at (866) 338-1015 to follow up!...J] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - February 10, 2015 [already received personally signed follow-up letter from Foxx to four letters I got signed last year from various co. leg. colleagues re: oil bomb trains!] Mr. Anthony Foxx Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation 1200 New Jersey Ave, SE Washington, DC 20590 Dear Secretary Foxx: Thank you for your recent response to our letter. We, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, further urge that you somehow motivate the incredibly profitable CSX (making $2 billion annually in profit) to make sure that local firefighter and emergency personnel here in the Hudson Valley are provided with enough air pac/plastic suit/haz mat training to respond to chemical train spills/fires/incidents, to make sure speeds are lowered (at least down to 35 mph) for dangerous chemical/oil trains up and down our river, to make sure the all-too-often too-skinny wheels on railcars are replaced and updated forthwith, and to make sure that our trains here are made much safer by ensuring all rail ties are securely where they're supposed to be in local railbeds. As you may be aware, award-winning 31-year Penn Central/Conrail/MetroNorth employee/retiree Wayne Kocher recently made a presentation on all this us in our County Legislature January 22nd. Mr. Kocher recently saw a Riverkeeper video of propane being transported up and down the Hudson on our (eastern) side of the river; many toxic chemicals like strychnine, sulfuric acid, ethylene oxide, ethyl alcohol, isopropyl acetate, methanol, naphtha, sodium chlorate, 2-chloroacetophenone, sodium hypochloride, sodium hydroxide, ethyl dichloroarsine, tetrachloroethylene, and phenol are regularly carried by train on the other (western) side. Mr. Kocher has also noted that passenger train wheels “go to scrap” at 1 1/16"— but that freight train wheels go to scrap at 11/16"— this discrepancy must be addressed immediately as well. Thank you for your attention to this matter— many local communities here in the Hudson Valley get their drinking water directly from the Hudson River— our public health and safety depends on your quick action on all this; please work immediately with the Federal Railroad Administration to address all these issues. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [for more on all this see here: www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/news-and-blogs/campaign-blog/chemical-disasters-are-not-unstoppable/blog/28226/ ; www.secure3.convio.net/gpeace/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=341B47F0EA5D64EAF9E058C6AD6B638B.app325a? cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=655&s_src=blog&s_subsrc=campaigns ; www.mprnews.org/story/2014/09/23/trains-haul-undocumented-hazardous-chemicals ; www.wsj.com/articles/railroad-operator-csx-reports-higher-profits-1413318545 ]

Thursday, January 22, 2015

stop TPP-- thx to Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, Micki Strawinski, and Dominic Ignaffo for signing my letter tonight-- call Congress at (866) 338-1015 to kill it before it grows!...

[thx to my Co. Leg. colleagues Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, Micki Strawinski, and Dominic Ignaffo for all agreeing earlier at tonight's County Legislature full board meeting to sign this letter below circulated by yours truly re: TPP-- see www.StopTPP.org !...J] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - January 22, 2015 President Barack Obama: Senate Leader Mitch McConnell: House Speaker John Boehner: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Senator Charles Schumer: Representative Chris Gibson: Representative Sean Patrick Maloney: Washington, D.C. 20500 Dear National Leaders: The Trans-Pacific Partnership would create a super-treaty which would jeopardize the sovereignty of the nations involved by giving that power to large corporations like Wal-Mart, Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, Halliburton, Philip Morris, GE, GM, Apple. * There are currently 11 nations involved: U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada. Japan has shown interest. * The economic power of this group is more than 40% larger than the 27- nation European Union. * TPP will offshore millions of good-paying jobs to low-wage nations, undercutting working conditions globally and increasing unemployment. * TPP will expand pharmaceutical monopoly protections and institute longer patents that will decrease access to affordable medications. * TPP will limit food GMO labeling and allow the import of goods that do not meet US safe standards. * TPP will institute SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA-like regulations and Internet measures which restrict our right to free speech. * TPP will roll back Wall Street regulations, and prohibit bans on risky financial services. * TPP will give multinational corporations and private investors the right to sue nations in private tribunals. These tribunals have the power to overturn environmental, labor, or any other laws that limit profit, awarding taxpayer funded damages. * TPP will encourage the privatization of lands and natural resources in areas where indigenous people live. We, the undersigned various members of the Dutchess County Legislature, strongly urge you to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership for the reasons noted above— and thank you for your attention to this matter.

re: free community college-- four Dem Co. Leg.'s sign on to my letter tonight in support of new Obama idea-- call Congress at (866) 338-1015 to build support!...

[thx to four of my Democratic Caucus colleagues-- Barbara Jeter-Jackson, April Marie Farley, Micki Strawinski, and Gwen Johnson-- for signing on to this letter here below circulated by yours truly at our County Legislature's full board meeting a bit earlier tonight; for more see: www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/09/fact-sheet-white-house-unveils-america-s-college-promise-proposal-tuitio ] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - January 22, 2015 President Barack Obama: Senate Leader Mitch McConnell: House Speaker John Boehner: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Senator Charles Schumer: Representative Chris Gibson: Representative Sean Patrick Maloney: Washington, D.C. 20500 Dear National Leaders: We, the undersigned various members of the Dutchess County Legislature, ask you to make President Obama’s America’s College Promise proposal reality in 2015 for Dutchess County residents and all Americans-- to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost. In the past year, Tennessee and the City of Chicago initiated free community college programs. In the first year of the Tennessee program, 57,000 students representing almost 90 percent of the state’s high school graduating class applied for the program. The scholarship is coupled with college counseling, mentorship, and community service that early evidence suggests supports greater enrollment, persistence and college completion. This is coupled with efforts to spur innovation and improvement by funding colleges using performance outcomes based on student success and an innovative approach to career and technical education through the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. These Tennessee Tech Centers have a graduation rate of 80 percent and a job placement rate of 85 percent. President Obama’s proposal will require everyone to do their part-- community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate. The program would be undertaken in partnership with states and is inspired by new programs in Tennessee and Chicago. If all states participate, an estimated 9 million students could benefit. By 2020, an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree and 30 percent will require some college or an associate’s degree. Forty percent of college students are enrolled at one of America’s more than 1,100 community colleges, which offer students affordable tuition, open admission policies, and convenient locations. They are particularly important for students who are older, working, need remedial classes, or can only take classes part-time. For many students, they offer academic programs and an affordable route to a four-year college degree. They are also uniquely positioned to partner with employers to create tailored training programs to meet economic needs within their communities such as nursing, health information technology, and advanced manufacturing. Students who attend at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA while in college, and make steady progress toward completing this program will have their tuition eliminated for a two-year degree or half of a four-year degree.

for veterans-- guaranteed income!...strong Dem Co. Leg. caucus support tonight for my letter on this-- call Congress at (866) 338-1015 to follow up!...

[thx to my fellow Dem caucus county legislators Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, Micki Strawinski, Rich Perkins, Dominic Ignaffo-- even Gwen Johnson-- for signing on to this letter here below drafted by yours truly and circulated at tonight's full board meeting of our County Legislature; see here for more: www.garalperovitz.com/2015/01/guaranteed-income-veterans/ ] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - January 22, 2015 President Barack Obama: Senate Leader Mitch McConnell: House Speaker John Boehner: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Senator Charles Schumer: Representative Chris Gibson: Representative Sean Patrick Maloney: Washington, D.C. 20500 Dear National Leaders: As Gar Alperovitz of the Democracy Collaborative wrote recently, “Whether or not one agrees with the decisions taken by our political leaders who sent them off to war, it’s undeniable that the veterans of the various post-9/11 wars are suffering. The nearly 3 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who have returned to civilian life are afflicted with an official unemployment rate of about 9 percent — substantially higher than the overall rate of 5.6 percent. Another half million have the left the labor force entirely. Many struggle with poverty, foreclosure and homelessness brought on by an anemic and uneven recovery and compounded by the mental and physical scars of war.” Alperovitz: “Only the most callous among us would find it easy to disown the obligation we owe to those who have demonstrated willingness to put their bodies in the line of fire on our behalf. Veterans offer a chance to think clearly about how best we can help those in need — and if the primary problem we must solve is that far too many veterans lack an income to support themselves, why don’t we just provide it for them?” Alperovitz: “Veterans are an obvious place to begin for other reasons as well: The veterans’ pension already guarantees a modest minimum income to returning servicemen and servicewomen unable to work because of disability or age. To qualify, a veteran must have served on active duty (including at least one day during wartime), be older than 65 or disabled and have an income of less than approximately $13,000 (for a single veteran without dependents). The road to a guaranteed income would begin by revamping this system. Simply removing the age and disability requirements from the existing pension system could guarantee a minimum income that would bring all the veterans of recent wars above the poverty line, at a maximum cost of roughly $5.5 billion a year.” Alperovitz: “This is a mere one-thirtieth of the roughly $170 billion spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan each year from 2007 to 2011 (the height of those conflicts) and one-twelfth of what was spent to bail out the insurance company AIG during the 2008 financial crisis. Even topping off the salary of the veterans of all the various “wars on terrorism” to a comfortable $50,000 a year would cost at most $70 billion (with actual costs considerably less). Moreover, as the income floor rises, the need for other social services decreases, reducing costs — a key point emphasized by conservative advocates for basic income legislation.” We, the undersigned various members of the Dutchess County Legislature, ask that you guarantee an income for veterans here in Dutchess County and across the U.S.; they put themselves on the line for us; it’s our turn.

fully fund our schools, municipalities-- thx to five Dem Co. Leg.'s for signing my AQE/FPI solidarity letter tonight to Cuomo and state legislators-- follow up by calling them yourselves at (877) 255-9417!...

[drafted by yours truly and signed by my fellow Democratic County Legislators Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, Micki Strawinski, and Rich Perkins at our County Legislature's full board meeting earlier tonight; see www.AQENY.org ; www.FiscalPolicy.org for more...J] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- January 22, 2015 Governor Andrew Cuomo: Senate Leader Dean Skelos: Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver: State Senators Sue Serino and Terrence Murphy: Assembly Members Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Kieran Michael Lalor, and Frank Skartados: Albany, NY 12224 Dear State Leaders: We, the undersigned various members of the Dutchess County Legislature, ask that you follow the recommendations of the letter from the Alliance for Quality Education, Assembly Member Catherine Nolan, Chair of the New York State Assembly Education Committee, Senator Kevin Parker, and 81 other legislators (including Kevin Cahill and Frank Skartados) in the Assembly and Senate calling on the Governor to increase education funding by $2.2 billion to reverse the cuts of prior years and prepare our students for the global economy. The letter also backs the Board of Regents recommendation for $250 million for full-day pre-K throughout the state (currently, outside New York City only 4 percent of children have access to state-supported full-day pre-K). We call on the Governor and the New York State Legislature to fully fund public schools by fulfilling the commitment made in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement. It’s time to close the shameful $8,700 per student funding gap between our richest and our poorest school districts-- the largest this gap has ever been-- resulting in cuts to kindergarten, Pre-K, art, music, sports, after school programs, career and technical education and more; since 2011, state aid has been at historically low levels as a share of total school spending. As the Fiscal Policy Institute note, “The executive budget also holds funding flat for Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) at $715 million— this is unacceptable. Reduced state aid has put pressure on local property taxes-- this unrestricted state support to cities, towns, and villages has dropped by 75% in inflation-adjusted dollars since the 1980s. The rate of decline has slowed in recent years but funding for this program has continued to erode, after accounting for inflation. The Governor proposed a property tax relief plan that links homeowners and renters income to their property tax burden, but only homeowners who live in tax cap-compliant areas will receive relief, and the funding mechanism is based on cutting future budgets— this is unacceptable. The executive budget projects a decrease in funding to critical human service programs. This is on top of over $1 billion in cuts to human services since 2009. Child poverty rates in NYS have reached epic levels in many of our upstate cities. Currently more than 1 in 5 children throughout the state live in poverty.” More from the Fiscal Policy Institute— “The Governor should put his austerity budgeting behind him by scrapping his self-imposed 2% state spending cap. Otherwise, his proposed new measures to address poverty will necessarily be paid for by cutting important human services spending elsewhere in the budget. These important new initiatives must go hand-in-hand with meaningful funding restorations in human services and higher education along with targeted school aid to high-needs districts (not dependent on reforms) and new resources for fiscally-stressed local governments. State tax revenues, total wages and personal income are projected to grow by 4-5% annually over the next four years. There is no reason to hold annual spending growth below 2% if it means that we are under-investing in education and poverty reduction. The sheer magnitude of continued spending cuts forced by the 2% spending cap-- $ 1.7 billion in FY2017, $3.3 in FY2018 and $4.8 in FY2019-- will starve our schools and public universities and prevent our state from making the investments needed to expand opportunities for those struggling to lift themselves out of poverty.” Dutchess County cannot afford for the above issues to be ignored— we call on you in Albany to make these changes.