Saturday, April 25, 2015

join "Prevent Autism: End Environmental Pollution" on Facebook-- new Harvard study-- pass it on!..

[join 30+ already signed on to my "Prevent Autism: End Environmental Pollution" Facebook group here: www.facebook.com/groups/128646577325666/ ; recall my 2013 post: dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2013/04/re-autism-help-pass-new-co-leg.html?spref=fb ] [don't miss 14th annual www.autismwalkhv.org event tomorrow at Fairgrounds, Rhinebeck!] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [first few links here below are new folks] From www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/autism-air-pollution-new-study-bolsters-suspected-link-n270331 … Autism and Air Pollution: New Study Bolsters Suspected Link BY BILL BRIGGS December 18, 2014 Pregnant women may nearly double their risk of giving birth to a child with autism by inhaling smog spewed by vehicles or smoke stacks, according to a new Harvard study that could help unlock the deepest autism mysteries. The research, released Thursday, fortifies previous scientific findings that linked air pollution to autism. And it offers fresh insights by showing women in their third trimesters seem most vulnerable if they breathe in elevated levels of tiny airborne particles emitted by power plants, fires and automobiles. "We found an association that was specific to pregnancy and especially to the third trimester, identifying a window, which might shed a light on processes that are happening that can lead to autism," said Marc Weisskopf, the report's senior author and associate professor of environmental and occupational epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. The higher the exposure rate, the greater the risk, he found. Tying those mini toxins to the final trimester may offer a compelling clue, Weisskopf added, because so much neuronal growth occurs during those three months — "a time when brain development could be affected." The findings appear online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The Harvard team focused on pregnant women who took part in the Nurses' Health Study II, a group of more than 116,000 female U.S. nurses who agreed to be tracked starting in 1989. Researchers amassed data on where participants lived while pregnant and crosschecked air-pollution readings for those areas as recorded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Among those mothers, Weisskopf and his colleagues identified 245 children who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during the time period examined. For Bronx mom Carmen Sanchez, 33, the study only reinforced her suspicion that air pollution played a role in the "mild" autism diagnosis of her son, Jacob, when he was 5. Now 10, Jacob attends a New York City public school and, according to his mother, struggles to transition from one activity to another and finds it difficult to understand facial cues. He cares about how people view him and wants to be liked. Image: Carmen Sanchez, 33, with (left to right) her son, Jacob, 10, her husband, Adonis, 39, and son, Sean, 7 COURTESY OF CARMEN SANCHEZ Carmen Sanchez, 33, with (left to right) her son, Jacob, 10, her husband, Adonis, 39, and son, Sean, 7. During her pregnancy with Jacob, Sanchez lived in the South Bronx. A building next door to her home emitted large amounts of soot and smoke before it was ultimately demolished. "We also lived a block away from the Cross Bronx (Expressway), which is one of the largest freeways in the Bronx. We could look right out our window and see the cars. And one of the biggest things that happened in my third trimester was a fire in the apartment adjacent to ours. A lot of that soot was coming into our apartment while they fixed that apartment. "I always felt like there was something environmental (tied to the diagnosis), whether it be the food or the actual air quality. I've always felt like that," Sanchez. "In some ways, this study gives me peace of mind that we're closer to solving the problem that is autism. "But in other ways, it gets even more scary. You can avoid eating certain things. But air pollution is such a large problem. How do you avoid living in a certain area?" Image: Jacob Sanchez COURTESY OF CARMEN SANCHEZ Jacob Sanchez, left, stands with his brother, Sean, 7. Jacob, 10, was diagnosed with mild autism at age 5. His mother suspects her exposure, while pregnant, to air pollution in the South Bronx was a cause. While the Harvard findings are not the first to couple air pollution with autism, the paper is "among the strongest studies to date," said Michael Rosanoff, director for public health research for the advocacy group Autism Speaks. "Not all mothers exposed to air pollution will have kids with autism," Rosanoff said. "We know autism is complex. We know there is underlying biology in combination with environmental exposure that may have caused their kids' autism. (But) air pollution appears to increase the risk two-fold." Indeed, another clue uncovered by the Harvard team seems to rest with the infinitesimal size of some of the most hazardous specks of pollution — drifting particles that are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller. For context, one micron is about the width of one red blood cell. When inhaled, that "fine particulate matter" from cars, trucks and industrial emissions can penetrate deep into the lungs. "We're really building a solid base of evidence now that is getting strong for air pollution," Weisskopf said. "We are getting to the point where the evidence is pointing to a role for the environment in increasing the risk for autism." Judy Silverman of NBC News contributed to this report. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From www.time.com/25424/growing-evidence-that-autism-is-linked-to-pollution/ ... Growing Evidence That Autism Is Linked to Pollution Alexandra Sifferlin @acsifferlin March 14, 2014 A new study offers strong evidence that environmental toxins play a role in the disorder. The report looked at birth defects associated with parental exposure to pollution and found a 1% increase in the defects corresponded to a 283% increase in autism Several studies have shown a link between air pollution and autism, but a new study published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology is one of the largest to put the two together. Researchers studied insurance claims from around 100 million people in the U.S., and used congenital malformations in boys as an indictor for parental exposure to environmental toxins. “Autism appears to be strongly correlated with rate of congenital malformations of the genitals in males across the country. This gives an indicator of environmental load and the effect is surprisingly strong,” study author Andrey Rzhetsky from the University of Chicago said in a statement. Every 1% increase in malformations corresponded to a 283% increase in autism in the same county. Although the findings are still new, the researchers say they offer support for the theory that environmental pollutants, in addition to genetics, play a role in autism development. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/largest-ever-study-autism-pollution-shows-strong-link-during-pregnancy Largest-ever Study on Autism & Pollution Shows Strong Link During Pregnancy Nurses’ Study shows autism rates double with exposure to high levels of fine-particulate air pollution during pregnancy; strongest link in third trimester December 18, 2014 A new nationwide study found a doubled autism risk among children of women exposed to high levels of particulate air pollution during pregnancy. The association was strongest when the exposure occurred during the third trimester. The greater the exposure, the greater the risk. The researchers saw no increased autism risk if the pollution exposure occurred after birth or before conception. The study, led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, was funded in part by Autism Speaks. It appears online today in Environmental Health Perspectives. “It’s important to remember that not all mothers exposed to air pollution during pregnancy will have a child with autism and not all children with autism were necessarily exposed to air pollution in utero,” comments epidemiologist Michael Rosanoff, Autism Speaks associate director for public health. (Rosanoff was not directly involved in the study.) “We know autism is a complex disorder and underlying genetic and biological factors interact to influence susceptibility,” he says. “The next step is to identify the biological mechanisms that connect air pollution to autism and identify ways to treat if not prevent the harm to brain development.” Meanwhile, Rosanoff says, the findings suggest a need to revisit public health policies on pollution limits with an eye to reducing exposures, especially among pregnant women. Bolstering earlier studies Smaller studies have suggested that exposure to air pollution during pregnancy increases autism risk. However, these earlier studies were limited in scope – tracking pregnant women and their children in just a few communities. The new investigation spanned all 50 states by tapping into the national Nurses’ Health Study II, which has 116,000 participants. The analysis looked at pollution exposures before, during and after the women’s pregnancies. Why look at fine particulate matter? Particulate matter is a mixture of airborne particles and liquid droplets. (See image above.) It comes in a range of sizes and can be composed of many materials and chemicals. The most worrisome are particles small enough to be inhaled. Fine particulate matter (smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter) is of special concern because it can penetrate deep into the lungs. Vehicle exhaust and other combustion byproducts are high in fine particulate matter. So the greatest exposures tend to occur near busy roadways. The researchers explored the association between autism and exposure to particulate matter before, during and after pregnancy. They also calculated exposure during each pregnancy trimester. In all, the researchers were able to collect this type of complete exposure information for 160 women whose children developed autism. For comparison, they also looked at 1,000 participants whose children who did not develop autism. The two groups were similar in age, socioeconomic status and other factors - aside from pollution exposure - known to influence health risks. The analysis found that children born to mothers exposed to the highest levels of fine particulate pollution during pregnancy (above 16.7 µg/m3) were twice as likely to develop autism than were children born to mothers exposed to the lowest levels (below 12.3 µg/m3). However, autism rates increased with exposure levels across the range. The researchers found the most significant association with autism when the exposure occurred during the third trimester. By contrast, they saw no association when exposure occurred after birth (early infancy) or before the woman conceived. They also found little association with exposures to large particulate pollution (dust, mold, etc.). “This not only gives us important insight as we continue to pursue the origins of autism spectrum disorders, but as a modifiable exposure, opens the door to thinking about possible preventative measures,” says senior author Marc Weisskopf. Developmental pediatrician Paul Wang, Autism Speaks’ head of medical research, concludes: “These results powerfully add to the accumulating evidence that air pollution is a significant risk factor for autism. In particular, they suggest that exposure during pregnancy, as opposed to early life, is most critical.” Science hasn’t identified how pollution exerts its effects on the developing brain, Dr. Wang notes. "It may affect brain cells directly, or through pathways associated with inflammation." Also see: * More Research Links Autism to Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollution * Air Pollution and Autism Risk * Gene Change Plus Prenatal Exposure to Pollution Ups Autism Risk - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From www.ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1408133/ … CEHN April 2015 Article of the Month “Autism Spectrum Disorder and Particulate Matter Air Pollution before, during, and after Pregnancy: A Nested Case- Control Analysis within the Nurses’ Health Study II Cohort” (doi:10.1289/ehp.1408133) has been selected by the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) as its April 2015 Article of the Month. These CEHN summaries discuss the potential policy implications of current children’s environmental health research. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1408133 Autism Spectrum Disorder and Particulate Matter Air Pollution before, during, and after Pregnancy: A Nested Case–Control Analysis within the Nurses’ Health Study II Cohort Raanan Raz,1 Andrea L. Roberts,2 Kristen Lyall,3,4 Jaime E. Hart,1,5 Allan C. Just,1 Francine Laden,1,5,6 and Marc G. Weisskopf1,6 Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder with increasing prevalence worldwide, yet has unclear etiology. Objective: We explored the association between maternal exposure to particulate matter (PM) air pollution and odds of ASD in her child. Methods: We conducted a nested case–control study of participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II), a prospective cohort of 116,430 U.S. female nurses recruited in 1989, followed by biennial mailed questionnaires. Subjects were NHS II participants’ children born 1990–2002 with ASD (n = 245), and children without ASD (n = 1,522) randomly selected using frequency matching for birth years. Diagnosis of ASD was based on maternal report, which was validated against the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised in a subset. Monthly averages of PM with diameters ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5) and 2.5–10 μm (PM10–2.5) were predicted from a spatiotemporal model for the continental United States and linked to residential addresses. Results: PM2.5 exposure during pregnancy was associated with increased odds of ASD, with an adjusted odds ratio (OR) for ASD per interquartile range (IQR) higher PM2.5 (4.42 μg/m3) of 1.57 (95% CI: 1.22, 2.03) among women with the same address before and after pregnancy (160 cases, 986 controls). Associations with PM2.5 exposure 9 months before or after the pregnancy were weaker in independent models and null when all three time periods were included, whereas the association with the 9 months of pregnancy remained (OR = 1.63; 95% CI: 1.08, 2.47). The association between ASD and PM2.5 was stronger for exposure during the third trimester (OR = 1.42 per IQR increase in PM2.5; 95% CI: 1.09, 1.86) than during the first two trimesters (ORs = 1.06 and 1.00) when mutually adjusted. There was little association between PM10–2.5 and ASD. Conclusions: Higher maternal exposure to PM2.5 during pregnancy, particularly the third trimester, was associated with greater odds of a child having ASD. ################################################ [below is from my April 2013 blog post on this] www.dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2013/04/re-autism-help-pass-new-co-leg.html?spref=fb friday, april 26, 2013 re: autism-- help pass new Co. Leg. resolution to fully fund services for those on spectrum, DCDOH public forum on environmental pollution factors!... Hi all... I'm sure many of you by now are aware of Karen Kosack's 12th annual Autism Walk and Expo this Sunday Apr. 28th from 9 am to 2 pm at the Dutchess Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck (for years I've spoken/participated in these events; I'll be there again this weekend for this; see www.AutismWalkHV.org ) [this issue is near and dear to me-- I worked with kids on the autistic spectrum from 1987 to 1993 at Devereux in Rhinebeck and Red Hook-- and again for 18 months several years ago at the Ridge School when it was in Hyde Park (join 100's signed on to my www.petitiononline.com/goridge )-- I'm now in my 26th year working with students-- special youth population currently] [see www.JonathanCareyFoundation.org for Jonathan's story; Michael is Jonathan's father; story will rip your heart out; amazing; if you haven't yet, join 21 on board at www.petitiononline.com/Jonalive ; 63 also on board here: www.petitiononline.com/forJon ] And-- I have a feeling that many of you by now may be aware that, unfortunately, the current state budget for 2013-2014 contains a $90 million (4.5 percent) cut to nonprofit providers of services to those with developmental disabilities (including those on the autistic spectrum)... This is just plain unconscionable, period-- especially as (see below) there is a massive coalition of organizations across the state (the Better Choice Budget Coalition) calling for costly, unfair loopholes for corporations to be closed in our state's tax code (see www.ABetterChoiceforNY.org ; call Cuomo and state legislators on this at 877-255-9417; kudos to Assemblyman Frank Skartados for coming out publicly and embracing this issue at the Family Partnership Center forum in Feb. hosted by Community Voices Heard and the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation; also see www.FiscalPolicy.org -- NYS budget briefing book that came out on all this earlier this year)... Also-- join our new "Prevent Autism-- End Environmental Pollution" Facebook group online here-- www.facebook.com/groups/128646577325666/ [launched by yours truly just this past week] Check out: www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/autism-pollution-study-_n_2853542.html ; healthland.time.com/2012/11/27/autism-and-air-pollution-the-link-grows-stronger/ ; www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/top-ten-lists/2012/deeper-understanding-link-chemical-pollutants-and-autism . [even Rhinebeck's Dr. Kenneth Bock has linked autism to pollution in environment: www.amazon.com/Healing-New-Childhood-Epidemics-Groundbreaking/dp/0345494512 ; the incidence of autism has gone from 4 in 10,000 in 1980 to one in 50 today(!)...according to CDC itself: www.parents.com/blogs/red-hot-parenting/2013/04/01/health/why-is-autism-so-common-now/ ; www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2013/03/20/autism-prevalence-is-now-at-1-in-50-children/ ] But-- perhaps most importantly-- pls send an email to all 25 of us in our County Legislature at countylegislators@dutchessny.gov (and MJM at countyexec@dutchessny.gov)-- to help build support for the brand new resolution here below I just submitted to Co. Leg. offices-- calling for, at the very least, a public forum hosted by DCDOH/NYSDOH officials on autism/environmental pollution issues-- and for full restoration of $90 million cut to folks with developmental disabilities (incl. those on autistic spectrum)-- paid for by closing the current, unfair loopholes for corporations in NYS tax code... [just simple common sense, right?....but there won't be any action on this locally unless y'all step up!] Pass it on!... Joel 845-453-2105/876-2488 joeltyner@earthlink.net - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - WHEREAS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of autism is now 1 in 50— a tremendous increase from 1980, when it was 4 in 10,000; Time magazine, Environmental Health Perspectives, Entropy, UCLA, Huffington Post, and Rhinebeck Health Center’s Dr. Kenneth Bock have all exposed the link between the increasing incidence of autism and pollution in our environment, and WHEREAS, the 2013 New York State budget cuts $90 million from services for the developmentally disabled, including those on the autistic spectrum; according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, New York State corporate tax revenues have fallen substantially relative to the size of New York's economy-- from 0.9% in 1981 to 0.5% in 2012; state corporate tax revenues have also declined significantly as a share of total state tax revenues-- from 16% in 1980 to 9.5% in 2012, and WHEREAS, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a report in December 2011 showing that IBM paid only a 2.3% NYS income tax rate in 2008, 2009, and 2010 on $27 billion in profits, Verizon paid only a 2.6% NYS income tax rate over the same three years on $33 billion in profits, Goldman Sachs paid only a 3.5% NYS income tax rate over the same three years on $23 billion in profits-- and Corning, Loews, American Express, ITT, Consolidated Edison, Omnicom Group, Arrow Electronics, Time Warner, PepsiCo, Phillips-Van Heusen, News Corp, CA, Viacom, L-3 Communications, Interpublic Group, Henry Schein, Polo Ralph Lauren, NYSE Euronext, and McGraw-Hill all received similar tax breaks amounting to corporate welfare, and WHEREAS, even Governor Chris Christie’s New Jersey has an effective minimum tax on corporations (unlike New York State), and currently there is an unfair million-dollar cap on the capital base tax that makes small businesses pay a much higher effective tax rate than large corporations here in New York, and WHEREAS, Assemblyman Frank Skartados and the following members of the massive statewide Better Choice Budget coalition have all called for closing such unfair corporate loopholes in our state’s tax code to bring in needed revenue to avoid situations like the $90 million cut to services for the developmentally disabled-- Center for Independence of the Disabled of New York Community Voices Heard, NYS AFL-CIO, CSEA, PEF, NYSUT, AFSCME, VOCAL-NY, Alliance for Quality Education, New York State Library Association, Statewide Senior Action Council of NYS, New York State Alliance for Retired Americans, NYS Coalition for the Aging, Interfaith Impact of NYS, Interfaith Alliance of NYS, Children's Defense Fund, Class Size Matters, Environmental Advocates of NY, Coalition for the Homeless, NYS Episcopal Public Policy Network, Empire Justice Center, Citizen Action of NY, NYS Community Action Association, Hunger Action Network of NYS, Assemblymembers Barbara Lifton, James Brennan, Richard Gottfried, and Peter Rivera, and therefore be it RESOLVED, that the Dutchess County Legislature requests that our county’s and state’s Departments of Health hold a public form soon on the Environmental Factors of Autism, and that our state legislature pass and governor sign into law legislation closing unfair corporate tax loopholes— in order to restore the $90 million cut this year to services for the developmentally disabled. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From healthland.time.com/2012/11/27/autism-and-air-pollution-the-link-grows-stronger/ ... [Time magazine website] Environmental Health Autism and Air Pollution: The Link Grows Stronger By Laura Blue Nov. 27, 2012 Children with autism are two to three times more likely than other children to have been exposed to car exhaust, smog, and other air pollutants during their earliest days, according to a new study. That new research adds to a mounting body of evidence that shows a link between early-life exposure to pollution and autism spectrum disorders. For the new study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers in California analyzed some 500 children living in that state: roughly half had autism and half did not. The kids' mothers gave an address for each and every home in which they had lived during pregnancy and the child's first year of life. Researchers took that information - along with data on traffic volume, vehicle emissions, wind patterns, and regional estimates of pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and ozone - to estimate each child's likely pollution exposure. According to the study, children in the top 25% of pollution exposure (using one of two different pollution scales) were far more likely to be diagnosed with autism than kids in the bottom 25% of the pollution scale. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/autism-pollution-study-_n_2853542.html Kathleen Miles Kathleen.Miles@huffingtonpost.com Autism And Pollution Study Links Autism With Prenatal Exposure To Traffic Pollution Posted: 03/12/2013 3:15 am EDT | Updated: 03/12/2013 3:47 pm EDT Autism Pollution Study In the largest study of its kind, UCLA researchers compared levels of air pollutants, mostly related to vehicle traffic, during pregnancy gestation periods of 7,603 children with autism and 75,635 children without autism, born from 1995 to 2006 in Los Angeles. The study was published March 1 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Babies at the 75th percentile of exposure to toxins had 8 percent to 10 percent higher risk of autism than babies at the bottom 25th percentile, the study said. Ozone and fine particulates had the strongest association with autism. "These findings are of concern, since traffic-related air pollution is ubiquitous," said Dr. Beate Ritz, chair of UCLA's Department of Epidemiology and the study's senior author. She said she was reluctant to advise expectant mothers to leave LA or polluted cities, because that's not an option for many. "We can't tell them to not breathe or not go outside or not go to work," she said. She did recommend avoiding sitting in traffic, when pollutant exposure is worst. Using government air monitoring stations, researchers estimated average exposures during pregnancy to carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone and particulate matter. The study adjusted for factors that include maternal age, birthplace, race and education. Using birth certificates, researchers compared control children with non-control children who had matching birth year, sex and gestational age at birth. This is important because the highest rates of autism tend to be among children of older, more educated and white parents. Also, there is a higher likelihood of autism in a mother's first child, probably because parents of autistic children often do not continue to have more children, Ritz said. Autism is a spectrum of disorders ranging from a profound inability to communicate and mental disability to milder symptoms seen in Asperger's syndrome. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that autism affects one in every 88 children born in the U.S., a 25 percent increase from 2006. Research on autism and exposure to chemicals has been limited. Studies from 2006 and 2010 found an association between autism and air pollutants from industries and other sources. A study in 2010 was the first to look at autism and toxins specifically from auto exhaust. The study, based in California, reported that children born to mothers living within 9/10 mile of a freeway during pregnancy were more likely to be diagnosed with autism than children whose mothers lived more than 1/4 mile from a freeway. However, the sample size -- 304 autism cases and 259 controls -- was much smaller than the just-published UCLA study. The UCLA study is first to suggest a link between autism and ozone. The ozone level in LA is the highest in the nation and violates federal health standards an average of 137 days a year. Research has found various environmental factors that appear to affect brain development, including pesticides, nutrition, flame retardants and parent's occupational exposures. Other factors that have been tied to autism specifically include drugs used decades ago to treat morning sickness, bipolar disorder and ulcers. With about 80,000 chemicals available for industry use, most untested for toxicity, children's health experts and advocates urge Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act, which currently awaits a Senate vote. A study by the advocacy organization Environmental Working Group found an average of 200 industrial chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of 10 babies born in U.S. hospitals in 2004. "This is a wake-up call to a national problem and evidence of how much more research we need," said Matt Asner, executive director for Southern California Autism Speaks, said of the UCLA study's findings. "We have worked ourselves into a pickle. We covet technology and progress but we haven't thought about what it's doing to us." Ondine von Ehrenstein, assistant professor at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health, who did not work on this study but is working with Ritz on other research, said she hoped the work will lead to preventative measures. "If we identify environmental causes of autism, this opens a prime venue for prevention of new cases of autism in childhood," she said. "One approach could be implementing policies to regulate environmental pollutants that … may cause developmental impairments before birth." Marc Weisskopf, associate professor at Harvard's School of Public Health, agreed that it could work to regulate pollutants found to cause autism, pointing to prior examples of regulation. "We have set standards for air pollution in order to reduce cardiovascular and respiratory disease and have had some success with both public and personal efforts to reduce exposures and prevent cases of those diseases," Weisskopf said. "The exciting possibility is that autism might be amenable to the same types of interventions." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57554703/autism-risk-increases-with-air-pollution-exposure-study-finds/ By Ryan Jaslow / CBS News/ November 27, 2012, 10:27 AM Autism risk increases with air pollution exposure, study finds AP Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy may increase the likelihood a child will develop autism, according to a new study. "Although additional research to replicate these findings is needed, the public health implications of these findings are large because air pollution exposure is common and may have lasting neurological effects," wrote the study's authors led by Dr. Heather E. Volk, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The study was published Nov. 26 in Archives of General Psychiatry. About one in 88 U.S. children develops an autism spectrum disorder, which is characterized by significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. While there is no known cause or cure for the disorder, scientists say genetic, biological or environmental influences may raise risk for the disorder. To examine whether environment played a role in autism risk, USC researchers compared 279 children with autism to a control group of 245 typically-developing children. They analyzed air quality data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and compared that to the mothers' addresses to estimate exposure to air pollution during each trimester and the first year of birth. The researchers found that kids who were exposed to highest levels of traffic-related air pollution were three times more likely to have autism compared with children living in homes with the lowest exposure. Autism risk was also increased for children who were exposed to higher levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide comes from gas stoves, heaters and tobacco smoke, according to the EPA. Particulate matter is a term used to describe solid and liquid droplets found in the air that may include dust from roads, soot from combustion sources and particles formed from gas emissions. "There is evidence that the immune system might be associated with autism, and pollution affects these same pathways," Volk told HealthDay... A previous December 2010 study by Volk and colleagues found children whose mothers were living within 1,000 feet of a freeway when they gave birth were more likely to develop autism.

Independence Party right on re: marijuana, Common Core, Raise the Age, Dream Act, election registration integrity...

[re: below-- I've been for legalization of marijuana for many years now (for adults natch), long challenged Common Core, and been a strong advocate of election registration integrity, and the Raise the Age and Dream Act movements for years now as well; click here to see the petition I launched last year against Common Core-- and for student-centered educational reform of our schools here along the lines of Finland(!): www.//api.change.org/p/andrew-cuomo-follow-finland-s-successful-educational-model-stop-common-core (112 folks signed on from all over)…joeltyner@earthlink.net; 845-464-2245] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From www.nyindependenceparty.com/agenda/ … (see below-- my education reform petition!) INDEPENDENCE PARTY OF NEW YORK 2014 Legislative Agenda 1. Medical Marijuana – For the second year in a row, we are in support of the bill (S4406) establishing Medical Marijuana in the State of New York. There are many suffering New Yorkers with diseases such as, but not limited to,various forms of Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis and Glaucoma that can be significantly helped by this program. We further believe that the proposal for a for-profit model is the best way to bring forward this program for our state. The for-profit model, also known as Seed to Sale, would have all production from growth of each plant, processing of same and sale of the medical marijuana handled by private companies experienced in the Seed to Sale process. This model will bring thousands of jobs to New York State, as well as much needed revenue to the New York State tax base. As seen in other states, Seed to Sale companies are appropriately regulated and secure growing and sales facilities which operate within the framework of an efficient business model. We believe this is the best way to deploy a safe and efficient medical marijuana program for New York. 2. Common Core – It is clear that the state’s K-12 school system, our educators, parents and children have been negatively impacted by the roll-out of the Common Core Curriculum. It is the strong belief of many in our leadership that a ‘THREE YEAR MORATORIAM’ of the Common Core Curriculum should be adopted. We praise Governor Cuomo and our legislative leaders for the reforms they have already implemented, such as reversing the impact of testing on teacher assessments and on students’ academic records. However, the stark reality is that Common Core is still negatively affecting our most precious assets, our children. Parents throughout the state have reported that the initiative has greatly impacted their children’s confidence. Teachers have expressed similar issues with the way the program was implemented; there was minimal training, resources or support to aid them in implementing the Common Core Standards into their curriculum. The Common Core Curriculum is being repealed in cities and states across this nation because parents and educators know that there are fundamental issues with the testing and how it is tied to the new standards. We strongly ask our Legislative leaders and the Governor to impose a THREE YEAR MORATORIUM to review the Common Core Curriculum, solicit parent and educator feedback, thoroughly review the associated standardized tests, and make recommended changes to the program’s implementation. 3. NYS Voter Registration Reform – We support a critical revision in the New York State Voter Registration Form. The Party’s leadership recognizes that individuals do sometimes unwittingly register as members of the Independence Party when their intent was to register to vote as a “blank”. A “blank” is an individual who has chosen not to register in one of the State- recognized political parties. Presently, in section 14 on the form (see accompanying voter registration form), it lists the six constituted political parties followed by a line the states, ‘other: __, which is followed by a line that states, ‘I do not wish to enroll in a party.’ To alleviate possible confusion, we are advocating for the State Board of Elections, by legislation be authorized to make a simple change to the voter registration card. The specific language at the bottom on section 14 should be moved to the top of the registration form which is the line, “I do not wish to enroll in a political party,” with the associated checkbox. 4. Raise the Age – For the first year, we are supporting a proposal to raise the age of adult prosecution to 18. The legislation (A7553/S 4489) entitled, “An act to amend the criminal procedure law, the executive law, the judiciary law and the penal law, in relation to the age of criminal responsibility,” was introduced at the request of the Chief Judge of the State. Currently, New York is one of only two states in the nation to try 16 and 17 year olds as adults. Each year, over 45,000 16- and 17-year-olds are arrested as adults in New York State. Because they are defined by the law as adults, these youth can be questioned by police without parental notification and confined alongside adults in prisons and jails. This policy of sending youth to adult jails and prisons has been proven to increase their rate of future incarceration and criminal behavior. According to the bill’s sponsors, “Under this measure, judicial proceedings against 16- and 17-year-old offenders would be in a special part of court to be known as the Youth Division of superior court. The Youth Division would sit in Supreme Court in New York City and in County Court (and, occasionally, in Supreme Court) in counties outside the City. It would be presided over by judges and justices specially trained in the issues of adolescent development, child psychology and therapeutic approaches to child pathology and juvenile crime.” We believe this is good public policy and urge our leaders to strongly consider passage of this legislation. 5. The Dream Act – For the second year in a row we support legislation (S2378B/A2597A) that would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to participate in the College Tuition Assistance Program. Presently, these children are denied access to financial aid and this bill would remedy that problem. This legislation would enable quality education for the children of undocumented immigrants, which would strengthen our State’s workforce and give these young people a greater chance to achieve the American Dream. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [here below is the petition I launched last year against Common Core and for the Finnish educational model to be made real here in NYS/U.S.-- join 112 signed on(!): www.api.change.org/p/andrew-cuomo-follow-finland-s-successful-educational-model-stop-common-core ] Schools right here in Rhinebeck, Clinton, Dutchess County, New York State, and, in fact, all over the United States need to delay no longer in stopping the implementation of so-called, test-obsessed "Common Core"-- and start following the incredibly successful Finnish educational model. Fact: School achievement test scores in Finland put American school test scores to shame-- because Finland's truly student-centered model of education truly respects children/kids/youth there (and teachers as well) as individuals and human beings-- not mere cogs-to-be for a corporate machine to eat up and integrate; see: "26 Amazing Facts About Finland's Unorthodox Education System" by Adam Taylor [Business Insider 12/14/11] www.businessinsider.com/finland-education-school-2011-12 "From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model" by Jenny Anderson [New York Times 12/12/11] www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/education/from-finland-an-intriguing-school-reform-model.html?_r=0 "Finland Has An Educational System the U.S. Should Envy-- and Learn From" by Linda Moore [The Guardian 2/15/13] www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/15/us-education-reform-lessons-from-finland "Why Are Finland's School's Successful?" by LynNell Hancock [Smithsonian magazine Sept. 2011] www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html "What We Can Learn from Finland's Successful School Reform" by Linda Darling-Hammond [National Education Association] www.nea.org/home/40991.htm "Finland's Education System: 10 Surprising Facts That Americans Shouldn't Ignore" by Andrew Freeman [Take Part 8/14/12] www.takepart.com/photos/ten-surprising-facts-finlands-education-system-americans-should-not-ignore/finland-knows-whats-best "Teacher Education in Finland" by Diane Ravitch [9/15/03] www.dianeravitch.net/2013/09/15/teacher-education-in-finland/ "The Trouble with the Common Core" [Rethinking Schools editorial Summer 2013] www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/27_04/edit274.shtml "The Biggest Fallacy of the Common Core Standards: No Evidence" by Diane Ravitch [8/24/13] www.dianeravitch.net/2013/08/24/the-biggest-fallacy-of-the-common-core-standards-no-evidence/ "Leading Educational Scholar Diane Ravitch: No Child Left Behind Has Left U.S. Schools with Legacy of 'Institutionalized Fraud'" [Democracy Now 3/5/10] www.democracynow.org/2010/3/5/protests "Bill Gates Money and Common Core: Part VI" by Mercedes Schneider [Huffington Post 10/7/13] www.huffingtonpost.com/mercedes-schneider/gates-money-and-common-co_4_b_4050075.html Call Governor Cuomo and state legislators at 877-255-9417! [26 years of successful/effective experience working with students in public and private schools from the Bronx to Hudson to Kingston to Poughkeepsie to Millbrook to Woodstock to New Paltz to Rhinebeck to Hyde Park-- all over!] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - www.coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/parenting-magazines-mom-congress-2012-and-finnish-education/ you're reading... Learning at its Best Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress 2012 and Finnish Education Posted by Gwyn Ridenhour ⋅ May 5, 2012 ⋅ Last week I had the privilege of attending Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress 2012 conference in Washington, DC as the delegate from North Dakota. Parenting selected one delegate from each state, flew us in, hosted and fed us, and introduced us to some of the most dedicated and intelligent folks in the country who are working to make a positive difference in their communities’ education practices. I am honored to have been a part. Lots of amazing people were there, including education correspondent for NBC Rehema Ellis, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, White House chef Sam Kass (he spoke on nutrition), and CEOs and founders of several fabulous national and international programs that support the education and well-being of children. Salman Khan produced and shared a video introduction to his work specifically for this conference. It was full and amazing, and I was refreshed to see how many positive efforts were going around me every day. The speaker who I found most fascinating, was Anu Partanen (in photo at right), a journalist and author of “What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success.” If you haven’t read this article, it’s worth taking the time. Finland is outpacing the US in education success, and their model is quite different from our own. Many of their practices are easy to digest for me; they are what I regularly advocate. But some are frankly more uncomfortable. Although no model will fit every culture, there are points to consider and examine, and I will share some of the more intriguing ones here: Finland does not give their kids standardized tests. Individual schools have curriculum autonomy; individual teachers have classroom autonomy. It is not mandatory to give students grades until they are in the 8th grade. All teachers are required to have a master’s degree. Finland does not have a culture of negative accountability for their teachers. According to Partanen, “bad” teachers receive more professional development; they are not threatened with being fired. Finland has a culture of collaboration between schools, not competition. Most schools, according to Partanen, perform at the same level, so there is no status in attending a particular facility. Finland has no private schools. Education emphasis is “equal opportunity to all.” They value equality over excellence. A much higher percentage of Finland’s educational budget goes directly into the classroom than it does in the US, as administrators make approximately the same salary as teachers. This also makes Finland’s education more affordable than it is in the US. Finnish culture values childhood independence; one example: children mostly get themselves to school on their own, by walking or bicycling, etc. Helicopter parenting isn’t really in their vocabulary. Finnish schools don’t assign homework, because it is assumed that mastery is attained in the classroom. Finnish schools have sports, but no sports teams. Competition is not valued. The focus is on the individual child. If a child is falling behind, the highly trained teaching staff recognizes this need and immediately creates a plan to address the child’s individual needs. Likewise, if a child is soaring ahead and bored, the staff is trained and prepared to appropriately address this as well. Partanen correlated the methods and success of their public schools to US private schools. We already have a model right here at home. Compulsory school in Finland doesn’t begin until children are 7 years old. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From www.businessinsider.com/finland-education-school-2011-12 ... 26 Amazing Facts About Finland's Unorthodox Education System ADAM TAYLOR DEC. 14, 2011, 9:00 PM Since it implemented huge education reforms 40 years ago, Finland's school system has consistently come at the top for the international rankings for education systems. So how do they do it? It's simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralized model that much of the Western world uses. Finnish children don't start school until they are 7. (Source: NYtimes) Compared with other systems, they rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens. (Source: NYTimes) The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education. (Source: NYTimes) There is only one mandatory standardized test in Finland, taken when children are 16. (Source: Smithsonian) All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms. (Source: Smithsonian) Finland spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States. (Source: Smithsonian) 30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school. (Source: Smithsonian) 66 percent of students go to college. The highest rate in Europe. (Source: Smithsonian) The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the World. (Source: Smithsonian) Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments every class. (Source: TNR) 93 percent of Finns graduate from high school. 17.5 percent higher than the US. (Source: Smithsonian) 43 percent of Finnish high-school students go to vocational schools. (Source: Smithsonian) Elementary school students get 75 minutes of recess a day in Finnish versus an average of 27 minutes in the US. (Source: TNR) Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for "professional development". (Source: NYTimes) Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students. 600,000 students compared to 1.1 million in NYC. (Source: NYTimes) The school system is 100% state funded. (Source: Smithsonian) All teachers in Finland must have a masters degree, which is fully subsidized. Tom Plesnik / Shutterstock.com (Source: NYTimes) The national curriculum is only broad guidelines. (Source: Smithsonian) Teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates. Flickr (Source: Smithsonian) In 2010, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots. Nadia Virronen / Shutterstock.com (Source: Smithsonian) The average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 in 2008 Compared with $36,000 in the United States. (Source: NYTimes) However, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what other college graduates make. Natursports / Shutterstock.com In the US, this figure is 62%. (Source: TNR) There is no merit pay for teachers Anton Balazh / Shutterstock.com (Source: TNR) Teachers are effectively given the same status as doctors and lawyers (Source: Smithsonian) In an international standardized measurement in 2001, Finnish children came top or very close to the top for science, reading and mathematics. It's consistently come top or very near every time since. (Source: OECD/PISA) And despite the differences between Finland and the US, it easily beats countries with a similar demographic Neighbor Norway, of a similar size and featuring a similar homogeneous culture, follows the same same strategies as the USA and achieves similar rankings in international studies. (Source: Smithsonian) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/27_04/edit274.shtml ... The Trouble with the Common Core BY THE EDITORS OF RETHINKING SCHOOLs summer 2013 The Trouble with the Common Core Ethan Heitner It isn't easy to find common ground on the Common Core. Already hailed as the “next big thing” in education reform, the Common Core State Standards are being rushed into classrooms in nearly every district in the country. Although these “world-class” standards raise substantive questions about curriculum choices and instructional practices, such educational concerns are likely to prove less significant than the role the Common Core is playing in the larger landscape of our polarized education reform politics. We know there have been many positive claims made for the Common Core: That it represents a tighter set of smarter standards focused on developing critical learning skills instead of mastering fragmented bits of knowledge. That it requires more progressive, student-centered teaching with strong elements of collaborative and reflective learning. That it equalizes the playing field by raising expectations for all children, especially those suffering the worst effects of the “drill and kill” test prep norms of the recent past. We also know that many creative, heroic teachers are seeking ways to use this latest reform wave to serve their students well. Especially in the current interim between the rollout of the standards and the arrival of the tests, some teachers have embraced the Common Core as an alternative to the scripted commercial formulas of recent experience, and are trying to use the space opened up by the Common Core transition to do positive things in their classrooms. We'd like to believe these claims and efforts can trump the more political uses of the Common Core project. But we can't. For starters, the misnamed “Common Core State Standards” are not state standards. They're national standards, created by Gates-funded consultants for the National Governors Association (NGA). They were designed, in part, to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum, hence the insertion of the word “state” in the brand name. States were coerced into adopting the Common Core by requirements attached to the federal Race to the Top grants and, later, the No Child Left Behind waivers. (This is one reason many conservative groups opposed to any federal role in education policy oppose the Common Core.) Written mostly by academics and assessment experts—many with ties to testing companies—the Common Core standards have never been fully implemented and tested in real schools anywhere. Of the 135 members on the official Common Core review panels convened by Achieve Inc., the consulting firm that has directed the Common Core project for the NGA, few were classroom teachers or current administrators. Parents were entirely missing. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results. The standards are tied to assessments that are still in development and that must be given on computers many schools don't have. So far, there is no research or experience to justify the extravagant claims being made for the ability of these standards to ensure that every child will graduate from high school “college and career ready.” By all accounts, the new Common Core tests will be considerably harder than current state assessments, leading to sharp drops in scores and proficiency rates. We have seen this show before. The entire country just finished a decade-long experiment in standards-based, test-driven school reform called No Child Left Behind. NCLB required states to adopt “rigorous” curriculum standards and test students annually to gauge progress towards reaching them. Under threat of losing federal funds, all 50 states adopted or revised their standards and began testing every student, every year in every grade from 3–8 and again in high school. (Before NCLB, only 19 states tested all kids every year, after NCLB all 50 did.) By any measure, NCLB was a dismal failure in both raising academic performance and narrowing gaps in opportunity and outcomes. But by very publicly measuring the test results against benchmarks no real schools have ever met, NCLB did succeed in creating a narrative of failure that shaped a decade of attempts to “fix” schools while blaming those who work in them. By the time the first decade of NCLB was over, more than half the schools in the nation were on the lists of “failing schools” and the rest were poised to follow. In reality, NCLB's test scores reflected the inequality that exists all around our schools. The disaggregated scores put the spotlight on longstanding gaps in outcomes and opportunity among student subgroups. But NCLB used these gaps to label schools as failures without providing the resources or support needed to eliminate them. The tests showed that millions of students were not meeting existing standards. Yet the conclusion drawn by sponsors of the Common Core was that the solution was “more challenging” ones. This conclusion is simply wrong. NCLB proved that the test and punish approach to education reform doesn't work, not that we need a new, tougher version of it. Instead of targeting the inequalities of race, class, and educational opportunity reflected in the test scores, the Common Core project threatens to reproduce the narrative of public school failure that has led to a decade of bad policy in the name of reform. The engine for this potential disaster, as it was for NCLB, will be the tests, in this case the “next generation” Common Core tests being developed by two federally funded, multi-state consortia at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Although reasonable people, including many thoughtful educators we respect, have found things of value in the Common Core standards, there is no credible defense to be made of the high-stakes uses planned for these new tests. The same heavy-handed, top-down policies that forced adoption of the standards require use of the Common Core tests to evaluate educators. This inaccurate and unreliable practice will distort the assessments before they're even in place and make Common Core implementation part of the assault on the teaching profession instead of a renewal of it. The costs of the tests, which have multiple pieces throughout the year plus the computer platforms needed to administer and score them, will be enormous and will come at the expense of more important things. The plunging scores will be used as an excuse to close more public schools and open more privatized charters and voucher schools, especially in poor communities of color. If, as proposed, the Common Core's “college and career ready” performance level becomes the standard for high school graduation, it will push more kids out of high school than it will prepare for college. This is not just cynical speculation. It is a reasonable projection based on the history of the NCLB decade, the dismantling of public education in the nation's urban centers, and the appalling growth of the inequality and concentrated poverty that remains the central problem in public education. Nor are we exaggerating the potential for disaster. Consider this description from Charlotte Danielson, a highly regarded mainstream authority on teacher evaluation and a strong supporter of the Common Core: I do worry somewhat about the assessments—I'm concerned that we may be headed for a train wreck there. The test items I've seen that have been released so far are extremely challenging. If I had to take a test that was entirely comprised of items like that, I'm not sure that I would pass it—and I've got a bunch of degrees. So I do worry that in some schools we'll have 80 percent or some large number of students failing. That's what I mean by train wreck. Reports from the first wave of Common Core testing are already confirming these fears. This spring students, parents, and teachers in New York schools responded to administration of new Common Core tests developed by Pearson Inc. with a general outcry against their length, difficulty, and inappropriate content. Pearson included corporate logos and promotional material in reading passages. Students reported feeling overstressed and underprepared—meeting the tests with shock, anger, tears, and anxiety. Administrators requested guidelines for handling tests students had vomited on. Teachers and principals complained about the disruptive nature of the testing process and many parents encouraged their children to opt out. Common Core has become part of the corporate reform project now stalking our schools. Unless we dismantle and defeat this larger effort, Common Core implementation will become another stage in the demise of public education. As schools struggle with these new mandates, we should defend our students, our schools, our communities, and ourselves by telling the truth about the Common Core. This means pushing back against implementation timelines and plans that set schools up to fail, resisting the stakes and priority attached to the tests, and exposing the truth about the commercial and political interests shaping and benefiting from this false panacea for the problems our schools face. Rethinking Schools has always been skeptical of standards imposed from above. Too many standards projects have been efforts to move decisions about teaching and learning away from classrooms, educators, and school communities, only to put them in the hands of distant bureaucracies. Standards have often codified sanitized versions of history, politics, and culture that reinforce official myths while leaving out the voices, concerns, and realities of our students and communities. Whatever positive role standards might play in truly collaborative conversations about what our schools should teach and children should learn has been repeatedly undermined by bad process, suspect political agendas, and commercial interests. Unfortunately there's been too little honest conversation and too little democracy in the development of the Common Core. We see consultants and corporate entrepreneurs where there should be parents and teachers, and more high-stakes testing where there should be none. Until that changes, it will be hard to distinguish the “next big thing” from the last one.

check out Working Families Party agenda-- strong, progressive, common sense not just for NYS for us here in Dutchess!...

From www.workingfamilies.org/endorsement/new-york/apply-wfp-endorsement/ … [take the questionnaire asap if you're going to be running for local office folks!] 2015 New York Local Candidate Questionnaire For over 16 years, the Working Families Party (WFP) – New York’s progressive party – has combined political activism and policy advocacy to improve the lives of working families in New York State. Formed by a coalition of grassroots community organizations, neighborhood activists, and labor unions, the WFP is driven by a core belief that government works best when it works for everyone. Our values are manifested in the candidates we support and the issues we tackle, because taken together, the confluence of strong political action and smart public policy will lift up working families to achieve the equality of opportunity, shared prosperity, and social and economic justice we deserve but too many are often denied. Based on responses to the following questionnaire, the WFP seeks to hold candidates for office accountable on the issues important to working families. It is our intention to clearly define not only what kind of candidates we stand behind, but what our party stands for. "A community is democratic only when the humblest and weakest person can enjoy the highest civil, economic, and social rights that the biggest and most powerful possess." – A. Phillip Randolph Minimum Wage The nation has seen a groundswell of activity around the fight for a $15 minimum wage. In New York, 37 percent of the state’s workforce is low-wage workers: new job growth is disproportionately concentrated in low-wage service and retail sectors, with women and people of color comprising the lion’s share. Not only does New York State historically have the highest level of income inequality in the nation, but in recent years the disparity has become even greater. Between 2009-2012,the top 1% captured all income growth in the state. The best economic research done over the past 20 years consistently shows raising the minimum wage boosts pay without causing job losses – even in regions where the economy is weak or unemployment is high. The current State Assembly proposal provides an opportunity to raise the state minimum wage to $12.60 by late 2016 and to $15.00 in New York City and its surrounding suburbs by 2018. With the implementation of a cost of living adjustment in 2017 statewide and 2019 in high cost regions (Long Island/Westchester/NYC), this could be among the highest-impact policies that the state legislature could adopt to reduce inequality and strengthen our local economies from the bottom up. Resources EARN - The Increasingly Unequal States of America CEPR - Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment? NYTimes - You Try Living on the Minimum Wage Will you sign on to the following letter calling on the NYS legislature to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour with indexing? Education New York's public school students urgently need a serious plan that addresses the real problems in our schools, rather than attacks on them to settle political scores and reward campaign donors. We need solutions that meet the needs of low-income schools while allowing rich and average-need schools to keep succeeding and improving. Elevating high stakes testing while dedicating massive resources to yet another new teacher evaluation system actually harms successful schools while doing nothing to help the struggling ones. There have been various proposals advanced to create a tax credit to fund private schools. This is essentially a reworking of a school voucher program. Tax credit proposals allow donors to be almost fully reimbursed by the state for contributions as large as $1 million to private schools or related entities. This diverts public funds that our public schools need to private schools while subsidizing wealthy contributors. Meanwhile, our public schools are substantially underfunded. Any growth in charter schools also diverts funds out of public schools. These funds could enable schools to expand high quality full day pre-K, implement the community school model and provide extended learning time. Additionally, every child should have music, art and advanced placement classes offered at their school. The Board of Regents has recommended a $2 billion increase in school aid. These funds are necessary to begin to close the public school funding gap and move toward equity. Resources AQE - Cutting through the Baloney of Gov. Cuomo’s Education Budget AQE - History of CFE UFT - UFT to lawmakers: Public schools must serve all Will you sign on to the letter below calling for the Governor to restore school funding by fulfilling the Campaign for Fiscal Equity commitment? New York Working Families Party Campaign for Fiscal Equity Letter Dream Act Immigrants are a pillar of New York State’s economy and social fabric – but undocumented students are regularly denied access to higher education because they cannot access the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). For thousands of New Yorkers, who are primarily of color, the door to higher education continues to be permanently closed because the State Senate failed to pass the DREAM Act last session--a bill that sought to expand state funded tuition assistance to students that are undocumented. As a result, immigrant students have less incentive to graduate from high school and are more likely to drop out and not complete college if they make it that far. This forces undocumented students into low paying jobs to support themselves and their families. Passing the New York DREAM Act would end this cycle and finally free these New Yorkers to realize their full potential – to the benefit of us all. Resources USA Today - N.Y. Assembly passes DREAM Act; Senate OK unlikely Do you support the NYS Dream Act? Affordable Housing The lack of affordable housing is not just a matter of social justice; it is also an impediment to economic growth. In areas across the state, local employers are hampered in their ability to attract and retain employees by the absence of safe, decent and affordable housing in or near the community where their businesses are located. At the same time, assistance efforts have been hindered in some communities by the refusal of landlords to accept tenants who receive section 8 vouchers. Municipal governments can take steps to improve access to affordable low and moderate-income housing--see for instance the Westchester County model ordinance. Resources Westchester County - Model Ordinance Provisions NYSHCR - Capital District Housing Needs Study NYSHCR - Mid-Hudson Housing Needs Study USDoHUD - The Impact of Source of Income Laws on Voucher Utilization and Locational Outcomes Will you work to ensure that your local government passes legislation requiring that developers of residential housing set aside a reasonable amount of newly built units for low and moderate income families? If elected, will you work to pass local legislation prohibiting landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their source of income, including income from public assistance? Criminal Justice Reform This past year will likely be remembered as the year that digital video on people’s personal phones helped to bring the reality of seemingly unwarranted police violence against civilians into homes all around the world. The most serious of these cases resulted in the deaths of people of color in Missouri, New York, Ohio and Illinois in just a period of a few months and triggered widespread protests throughout the nation. These cases are part of the larger systemic problem that people of color face in the criminal justice system, everything from initial street stops by police to suffering markedly higher rates of prosecution, a clear disparity in sentencing up to and including the death penalty. A groundbreaking study by the Vera Institute, that was also reported in the New York Times revealed that Black and Brown people and the poor suffer a much higher rate of incarceration in jurisdictions all over the U.S. Additionally, the study exposed the fact that the vast majority of those incarcerated in jails across the country have only been accused of minor violations, like shoplifting, subway fare evasion or minor traffic violations and yet many languish in jail because they can not afford court imposed costs. The result of over incarceration is a significant cost to all taxpayers, but it has exacted an even greater cost on the Black and Brown community. This type of pre-conviction incarceration disrupts individuals’ ability to earn an income or maintain employment. Often it saddles them with bills for legal fees and other costs associated with pre-conviction incarceration, such as bail bond fees, etc. The study by the Vera Institute also showed that the vast majority of those in local and county jails around the country were never convicted of any crime, only accused of minor offenses like traffic violations, shoplifting or subway fare evasion. Yet far too many languish in jail for months because they cannot pay court imposed costs. The result of over incarceration is a significant financial cost to all taxpayers, but has exacted an even greater cost on the poor and on the Black and Latino communities. Resources USDoJ - Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department NY Attorney General - Stop-And-Frisk Arrest Report VERA - Incarceration's Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America Would you propose, or support local legislation that would release individuals on their own recognizance who are accused of minor non-violent offenses if they had no prior criminal record? Comments Non-Violent Release What steps would you take to attempt to ensure that the police and the local judicial system deal with all people in your community in a fair and equitable manner? Would you propose, or support the formation of an independent civilian complaint review board that would be empowered to determine and impose discipline on local police officers that are involved in interactions of excessive force against civilians? Paid Leave The United States lags far behind other developed countries in regards to the social welfare of it’s citizens, there is no federal or state law that requires employers to provide paid sick days when their workers become ill.. This forces workers, particularly workers who work at jobs at the lower end of the economic strata who are likely to have fewer benefits anyway to make a difficult decision if they come down with a cold -- stay home when sick and not get paid, or go to work sick and possibly infect colleagues. Fortunately there are also a growing number of municipalities and states that are enacting laws that require businesses to provide their employees with paid sick days. Paid sick leave laws have been passed in several municipalities around the country, including in New York City, Philadelphia, and eight municipalities in New Jersey, as well as Connecticut and Washington State. Despite the concerns raised by lobby groups for some businesses that paid sick legislation would hurt business profits and would subject businesses to employee abuse, studies of localities that have enacted these laws consistently show that there is no discernible negative impact on the business community in these jurisdictions. Resources Time to Care Paid Leave Facts Would you support a local law to enact paid sick days? Would you propose and, or support a local law to enact paid family leave? Safe Staffing New York State Hospitals and Nursing Homes are dangerously understaffed. Chronic understaffing increases risk of patient death, failure-to-rescue events, hospital acquired infections, falls, and unsafe discharge planning. A 2013 study estimated that preventable adverse events in hospitals lead to the death of 210,000-400,000 patients each year, which makes medical errors the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Research demonstrates a direct relationship between nurse to patient ratios and outcomes. Furthermore, unsafe workloads lead to nurse burnout and high turnover rate which cost facilities far more money than maintaining safe staffing levels, thus squandering healthcare dollars. Patients and nursing home residents must have their interests represented in a systematic and rigorous way. They must not be left in the position of having to guess whether or not a facility is properly staffed before they go in. They should be able to know, without a doubt, that it is in fact properly staffed. And the level of staffing is something that must be verified on a regular basis so that they know their safety has not been compromised for short-term institutional convenience or financial considerations. In other words, they need standards they can count on, with transparency and effective oversight and accountability. Facilities that provide safe-staffing levels should not be placed at a competitive disadvantage against other facilities that irresponsibly “cut corners” on the front line. There should be a “level playing field” for hospital and nursing home staffing, established through statewide policy. Facilities that are staffed at a responsible level should have no reason to fear that they would be placed at any disadvantage. Resources NYS Nurses Association - Safe Staffing Do you support nurse staffing ratio legislation at the state level? Single Payer Healthcare Health care is of paramount concern for working families. It should be a right enjoyed by all, not a privileged few. The passage of the Affordable Care Act nationally and the establishment of a state exchange in New York were big steps forward, enrolling over 7 million nationally and over a million in New York state. However, establishing a single-payer universal model like the New York Health Act would optimize federal funds received by the State to allow all New Yorkers to receive comprehensive and affordable health insurance, and hold-the-line on rapidly rising costs for individuals, employers, and taxpayers. A recent report by the University of Massachusetts estimates savings to the tune of $45 billion to whom in New York AFTER expanding coverage to everyone and eliminating co-pays and deductibles and out-of-network charges – and found that 98% of New Yorkers (everyone who makes less than $436,000 a year) would spend less on healthcare if the bill passed. Resources PNHP - What is Single Payer? University of Massachusetts - Economic Analysis of the New York Health Act Single Payer New York - Gottfried, Perkins say time is right for single-payer health care Public Citizen - A Road Map to ‘Single-Payer' Do you support the New York Health Act, a comprehensive and universal single-payer system of access to health insurance for all New York State residents? Progressive Taxation New York State has the highest level of income inequality in the nation, and our tax system is largely to blame. Hundreds of thousands of low, moderate and middle-income families in New York State pay an inordinate share of their incomes in property taxes. More than 700,000 low and moderate-income households pay 10 percent or more of their income in property taxes and 250,000 households pay 20 percent or more. If New York had a more progressive personal income tax structure, it would have a positive impact on the economy and make it possible to relieve some of the burden placed on property taxes in the state. In the early 1970s, New York had a personal income tax system comprised of 14 brackets with rates ranging from 2 percent to just over 15 percent. By 1997, the “permanent law” tax system was reduced to only five brackets, with the top rate being reduced by more than half to 6.85 percent and the bottom rate increasing to 4 percent. New York State should do two things. First, our personal income tax system should more closely resemble the rate structure from forty years ago. This would result in a lower tax rate for low-income workers and a higher rate for the top earners in New York. A more graduated difference in tax rates with the highest rates levied on those who earn the most would be more progressive, lighten the load on low and middle-income families and shift the burden to those who can most afford it. This shift would also provide additional revenue that would provide funds that could be used to provide property tax relief in the form of a circuit breaker that would cap kick in on the property tax of households’ whose property tax exceeded a percentage of their income. Resources New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness - The Property Tax Circuit Breaker Do you support efforts to make the Personal Income Tax more progressive by adding additional high-end earner brackets at increased rates while reducing the tax rate for low and middle-income taxpayers? Assuming that the state generates additional revenue from a progressive income tax would you support creation of circuit breaker legislation that would cap the property tax of all who live in a household at a percentage of the income generated by all who live there? Industrial Development Agency Reform New York spends approximately $7 million dollars each year on public subsidies to private developers, yet too often these subsidies fail to create good local jobs, or offer significant community benefits. The Industrial Development Agency (IDA) - was established to promote economic development and job growth by offering businesses tax-exempt debt financing and exemptions from property sales and other local taxes. However, as has been documented by a recent report by the State Comptroller IDA’s operate with little accountability as to whether or not good local jobs are in fact being created in exchange for the local subsidies they receive. Furthermore, IDA’s rarely hold businesses accountable in the form of clawbacks or subsidy reductions when job creation requirements are not met and often times, the IDA’s lure in-state businesses from other counties by offering taxpayer funded subsidies, leaving New York without a net gain of jobs. New York’s economic development subsidy system needs reforms that require greater productivity and accountability any time public money is invested to ensure those public funds will be used to create good jobs, revitalize the economy and strengthen communities and in instances where appropriate, address existing social inequities-such as the disproportionate environmental burdens placed on communities of color, the elderly, or the poor. The Just and Open Business Subsidies (JOBS) Act would do this by: 1) Requiring that proposed development projects set job creation and local hiring goals before receiving public subsidies. 2) Requiring that the recapture or clawback provisions be triggered for all or part of a provision when job creation goal guarantees are not met. 3) Create a uniform application that would allow for comparison between regions and set standards for which kinds of businesses would be eligible for subsidies and the quality of the jobs that must be created to receive financial assistance. 4) The creation of a public website where the performance go to work subsidized projects, can be easily tracked and include subsidy spending in a state unified economic development budget. 5) Require IDA’s to submit to reasonable open meeting, transparency and ethics laws. Resources NYS Comptroller Industrial Development Agencies Background, Issues, and Recommendations Would you support changing the state law so that it would require businesses to guarantee to provide a certain number of jobs to receive state subsidies, subject to clawback provisions? Would you propose, or support policies, or ordinances in your municipality that would require businesses to guarantee to provide jobs, or be subject to clawback provisions that would require them to pay back tax incentives, or to lose tax incentives not yet received? Climate Change Climate pollution is a having a major impact on our health, our environment and our economy. Poor air quality is making our children sick and shortening the lives of some seniors. Rising temperatures, prolonged heat waves and severe storms are costing our economy billions in lost production and infrastructure and property damage. Communities across the state are experiencing the consequences first hand. Standing idly by is not an option as we can expect the rate of devastation to accelerate. For too long, we have allowed polluters to profit without requiring them to pay for the true cost of the damage they inflict on our climate. We must put climate change on the top of the agenda in New York State to protect our future. Will you support the resolution linked below calling on New York State legislators to enact a law to address the root causes of our changing climate by forcing the polluters that have caused so much damage to our waterways, air, health and economy to finally pay for the true cost of their actions and reduce climate pollution? Big Box Stores The Working Families Party is concerned by the spread of big-box retail stores and non-union grocery stores in the region, especially when they benefit from public economic development money. Big-box stores undermine small businesses and entrepreneurs and they are notorious for low wages, lack of benefits, and suppressing workers’ attempts to organize a union. Furthermore, they produce fewer positive ripple effects in the local economy than do locally owned small businesses; they procure less, bank less, contribute less, and participate less. Resources Good Jobs First - Wal-Mart Subsidy Report for New York Good Jobs First - Harms of Big Box Retail Right to Organize Anti-union campaigns and excessive legal barriers often undermine the rights of workers to join unions and to collectively bargain for a fair contract. Unions are necessary to counterbalance the power of employers and defend the interests of workers -- they are fundamental to any democratic society and healthy workforce. Local elected officials can help workers protect their rights by taking personal stands when labor violations occur and by ensuring that local governments and businesses treat workers fairly. Describe below your past actions and activities that demonstrates a record of commitment to workers’ struggles: Will you pledge to use the visibility of your position to publicly support union organizing drives, contract campaigns and private sector strikes? Municipal Financial Health Municipalities across New York State are in dire economic straits; some even face the specter of bankruptcy. On a scale from 1-5, 1 being the best & 5 being the worst it could be, how would you rate the financial health of your municipality? What in your opinion is the primary reason that your municipality is in the financial state it is in? Campaign Finance Reform Big money corporate special interests and their lobbyists hold too much sway over our state government. Fair Elections, based on a strong system to publicly finance elections, would empower small donors and reduce the influence of wealthy interests in Albany. A public campaign finance program would cap big-money donations and match low-dollar contributions with public money at a rate of 6-1. That means candidates and incumbent legislators would not need a Rolodex full of wealthy corporate and private donors to be competitive in an election. It would also help restore the public's trust in their government by getting rid of the pay-to-play system that is responsible for billions in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare and government waste. Resources Fair Elections NY - Resources Do you support public financing of elections? Buying American New York continues to use foreign steel, iron and other manufactured goods paid for through direct taxes or through other mechanisms such as tolling and fees. Yet at the same time, foreign trade agreements led to continuing job losses in traditional manufacturing. Western New York alone stands to lose 25,000 industrial positions, 17,000 of which are in skilled craft positions within the next 5 years. It therefore becomes imperative that New York establishes policies that encourage the use of products manufactured in state or the U.S. The ability of State agencies to prioritize the purchase of products in state or the U.S. does not violate any of the multiple trade agreements to which NY is a signatory party. This type of procurement is specifically allowed in all agreements. A Buy American law in NYS would allow our in-state industries to operate on a more competitive basis with international companies. These NY based companies and their workers could become positive contributors to state and local revenues. The addition of billions of dollars being spent in NY would have a huge stimulating effect across the entire economy. Moreover, maximizing the use of domestic content can increase manufacturing employment by 33 percent. NYS direct manufacturing is currently at 5% of the workforce, supporting less than 500,000 jobs. All current polling demonstrates Buy American has bipartisan support across all political and demographic lines. Furthermore, NYS could adopt laws that require all companies that do work on any state infrastructure, such as roads, or bridges give a hiring preference to veterans. Will you support or propose local legislation that would adopt Buy American language for all infrastructure development or repair? Would you propose, or support legislation that would give veterans a hiring preference on jobs to build, or repair NYS infrastructure? Broadband Access High-quality telecommunications networks that are affordable and accessible are vital to equality of opportunity. Yet lax regulatory policy and corporate greed are leaving entire regions behind. For example, Verizon refuses to expand FiOS, the state-of-the-art fiber-optic network, to any Upstate cities or rural areas. Meanwhile, telephone companies including Verizon are abandoning the regulated “legacy” telephone network, and shifting entire areas to wireless-only service. If elected, will you request the Public Service Commission (PSC) to conduct a thorough study of the impact of deregulation on the quality and reliability of service and jobs? In addition, will you support a permanent moratorium that will stop telephone companies from forcing consumers on to wireless-only service, which does not operate reliably in an emergency or blackout? Progressive Electeds Network In partnership with other groups, the Working Families Party is working to help launch a network for progressive elected officials across the state. Such a network would provide a space for progressive local elected officials to collaborate with each other to build power and momentum across cities and counties, win local legislative victories, and join together for statewide power from Albany. Resources WFP - Principles for a Progressive Local Elected Officials Network in New York Please review the statement of principles as articulated in the link above. If elected would you be interested in joining a network that espouses these progressive principles? What services do you think the network should provide to members? Please also provide comments if you answered Unsure on the previous question.

Monday, April 13, 2015

solar RFP still needed for county buildings/properties-- why don't Dutchess GOP get it?...(thx to Dem Co. Leg.'s Alison MacAvery, Micki Strawinski, and April Marie Farley for signing my letter on this tonight-- no solar RFP completed yet for county airport; wake up folks!)...

[thx to three of my Dem Co. Leg. colleagues (Alison MacAvery, Micki Strawinski, and April Marie Farley-- no GOP, sadly), for signing on to this letter below just now circulated by yours truly at tonight's Co. Leg. full board mtg.-- formally and publicly requesting that our county's Department of Public Works issue a real, live, official Request for Proposals for solar panel installations on all county buildings/property (even the County Office Building itself has a massive south-facing wall perfect for this; wake up, folks)...the fact is, sadly, that no RFP was issued for solar at our county airport-- and as a result, the infamous, under-investigation Solar City there; ugh-- RFP's are a crucial part of good government-- open, independent bidding is vital to democracy!...feel free to email all 25 of us on this at countylegislators@dutchessny.gov-- ask why in God's name all 25 county legislators didn't sign on to this letter below at tonight's mtg.!...Joel...and for more info also see: www.nrel.gov/tech_deployment/state_local_governments/basics_solar_rfps.html ; www.apps3.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/financial/ ; www.solarindustrymag.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?cat.2363 ] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Mr. Marcus Molinaro Dutchess County Executive 22 Market Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 Dear County Executive Molinaro (Marc): As the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has stated, “A request for proposal (RFP) is a solicitation device used by agencies looking to obtain products or services from potential providers. This process is most often accomplished through bidding. A solar request for proposal outlines the photovoltaic (PV) product or service requirements, the contract terms, and bidding process. Once the proposals are received, they are evaluated according to the goals of the issuing agency and a vendor is selected. Prior to launching the procurement process and issuing a solar RFP, local government agencies need to work through various project development steps to identify potential projects, collect the data to make an informed choice on which projects to pursue, and then select one or more projects to implement. Once those project development steps are complete, information needed to issue a solar request for proposal is assembled.” As the NREL further goes on to state, the procurement process for solar photovoltaic systems involves five steps: developing an RFP, issuing the RFP;administering the RFP (e.g. responding to bidder questions and concerns, receiving the bids, etc.), evaluating bids based on predetermined criteria, and selecting the winning bidder. There are certain elements that should be included in most, if not all, solar RFPs; these elements are delineated here [unfortunately, it appears there was no RFP process re: solar panels for our County Airport): -- Make obtaining the required permits, interconnection agreements and any other regulatory approval the responsibility of the contractor -- Provide copies of applicable county or city ordinances or unique regulatory requirements, detailed information on local permitting practices and any permit application forms -- Require experience and qualifications of the respondent (e.g. past projects completed, letters of reference, training, licenses, etc.) -- Require that equipment used in the system meet applicable product codes or standards -- Require a timeline of major project development for a construction event against which progress can be checked -- Require systems to meet both the national electric code and international building code as they apply -- Require technology warranty information -- Include any applicable labor and resourcing requirements (e.g. locally sourced products, union labor etc.) -- If a local government is planning on assuming operation responsibilities, it should include a requirement for the successful respondent to either hold a training session for maintenance staff or provide O&M manuals -- If a local government is using a third party owned system through a lease or a PPA, operation responsibilities the RFP should include a provision that the respondent provide some sort of performance monitoring program.” Republicans and Democrats have worked together to save tax dollars with solar on municipal buildings in Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Poughkeepsie, and Schenectady; Dutchess needs RFP for solar on all county property!

re: school property taxes-- time to eliminate them; fund education instead with progressive income tax surcharge (just convinced Incoronato, Amparo, Strawinski to sign my letter tonight for this option to happen here in Dutchess-- help us build political will to actually make this reality in our county!)...

[for literally twenty years I've been pushing hard for real reform when it comes to the punishing and unfair way we fund public education through regressive property taxes-- well, just now at tonight's Dutchess County Legislature full board mtg. at least I was able to convince Conservative/GOP Co. Leg. Joseph Incoronato and Dem Co. Leg.'s Francena Amparo and Micki Strawinski to sign on to this letter just below I circulated-- pushing for Albany/NYS to to at least allow us the option here in Dutchess County to completely eliminate school property taxes by funding our public schools instead through income taxes (recall-- even GOP state Sen. John Bonacic advocated for this option to be offered to counties across NYS a decade ago-- and both former state Sen. Terry Gipson and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill have proposed the Equity in Education Act-- which would, in effect, do same thing statewide-- so...ball in your court now folks-- call Cuomo and state legislators on this at 877-255-9417-- and email all 25 of us at countylegislators@dutchessny.gov-- to help Joe, Francena, Micki, and I build the political will to actually make this reality here in Dutchess before 2525 (to actually eliminate school property taxes at least on county level here in Dutchess by funding public schools instead with a county-level progressive income tax surcharge!)...Joel (see: www.activistresource.org/calendar/cal_event.php?id=3098 ; www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Kevin-A-Cahill/story/40353/ ; www.FiscalPolicy.org )] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Governor Andrew Cuomo: State Senate Leader Dean Skelos: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie: State Senator John Bonacic: State Senators Terrance Murphy and Sue Serino: Assemblymembers Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Stephen Katz, Kieran Michael Lalor, & Frank Skartados: Dear State Leaders: We, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, strongly urge you pass and sign into law as soon as possible an updated version of State Senator John Bonacic’s S.164 school finance reform legislation from a decade ago-- a voluntary county-by-county plan that would allow Dutchess County voters (and those in other counties) to eliminate the property tax on all primary residences (the property tax would remain for second residences and commercial properties), set up a county administering agency here in Dutchess, and replace local costs of public education with a countywide income tax in Dutchess County, to greatly lower the burden of property taxes on the vast majority of middle and lower-income local residents. Out of all taxes income taxes are the fairest because, of course, they are based on one’s ability to pay them, one’s income— the money that comes into a household annually— as opposed to the value of the property on which one lives, which often can have little correlation with one’s income. It is worth noting here that, in a way, State Senator John Bonacic’s legislation is somewhat like bipartisan Cahill/Molinaro Equity in Education Act legislation that would similarly, completely eliminate school property taxes across the state, funding public schools instead through a progressive education income tax surcharge. Yes, several years ago the Equity in Education Act was actually co-sponsored by current Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, with chief sponsor Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Assembly co-sponsors Boyland, Brennan, Destito, Katz, Latimer, Lavine, Peoples-Stokes, Reilly, Rivera, Robinson, Schroeder, and Weisenberg (it is worth noting that the Fiscal Policy Institute has indicated willingness to help us on this). As Assemblyman Kevin Cahill has stated in the past about this legislation, “The Equity in Education Act would shift away from, and ultimately eliminate, the use of locally raised revenue, including real property taxes for the purposes of funding education. This bill is based on the commitment that it is the state's responsibility to ensure that every child, everywhere in New York, has an equal right to a quality education regardless of where they live Dear State Leaders: or the level of their family's income. The bill would phase out school property taxes and replace them with a progressive education income tax surcharge. By doing away with the school real property tax and changing to a more progressive statewide income tax, we will be able to fund our schools equitably, fairly and more affordably for all New Yorkers.” Of course it would be great for the Equity in Education Act to pass tomorrow— but before one can fly one must run, before one can run one must walk, before one walks that one must crawl. If progressive school property tax reform may not happen tomorrow, please allow us the option here in Dutchess County to enact the Bonacic option— to at least allow voters the opportunity to completely eliminate school property taxes in Dutchess County and fund our local public schools through a county-level progressive income tax surcharge!

re: puppy mills, animal abuser registry-- just got 7 GOP, 7 Dems, and 1 Green county legislator to sign my letter-- your turn now to follow up, folks!...

[just got 7 GOP, 7 Dems, and 1 Green Dutchess County Legislator to sign on this letter below I circulated at tonight's Co. Leg. full board mtg. based on the great work of the Poughkeepsie Journal's Mary Beth Pfeiffer-- following Republicans signed-- Rob Rolison, Angela Flesland, Donna Bolner, Marge Horton, Don Sagliano, Ken Roman, and Alan Surman-- thx as well to entire Dem caucus for signing on: Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Alison MacAvery, Micki Strawinski, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, Rich Perkins, and Gwen Johnson (also thx to Green Party Co. Leg. Nick Ignaffo for signin' on too!)...so-- ball in your court now folks-- call Cuomo and state legislators for action on this at 877-255-9417-- and keep on emailin' us all on this at countylegislators@dutchessny.gov-- until actual county/state legislation passed (and not just a letter!)...Joel (845-464-2245/joeltyner@earthlink.net) www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2015/04/10/petstores-puppies-kennelcough-pneumonia/25589459/ ] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - April 13, 2015 Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro: Governor Andrew Cuomo: State Senate Leader Dean Skelos: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie: State Senators Terrance Murphy and Sue Serino: Assemblymembers Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Stephen Katz, Kieran Michael Lalor, & Frank Skartados: Dear State and County Leaders: We, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, strongly urge you to work with us to change current animal welfare state/county law, as the Poughkeepsie Journal pointed out yesterday in a cover article that “under the state law, animal welfare officers cannot take action if puppies get sick after purchase even though pets may be incubating kennel cough, pneumonia and even deadly parvovirus before.” Specifically, we ask that you work with us to make these protective measures from yesterday’s Poughkeepsie Journal article by Mary Beth Pfeiffer reality, as “animal welfare advocates suggest the following measures to protect pet-store puppies and the people who buy them: * Make humane-law enforcement part of state penal law rather than animal-welfare law to raise its profile and provide police training; increase mandated refunds for care of puppies that become sick after purchase. (Some thought this would encourage purchases, however, preferring ways to curb sales instead.) * Allow municipalities to ban the sale of puppies from large breeding operations they consider "puppy mills," now prohibited by state law; alternately, have localities pass ordinances to prohibit sale of puppies from breeders with high-level violations of federal regulations or supplied by intermediary brokers; step up enforcement of existing state and federal regulations governing puppy-farm operations and pet-store care.” As SPCA Senior Humane Law Officer Kim McNamee stated in yesterday’s newspaper, "Despite the search warrants, resulting animal seizures, criminal charges and complaints from consumers, these stores still remain in business. She called state law ‘antiquated’ and inadequate to address pet-store issues.” Moreover, consider the following as well from yesterday’s Poughkeepsie Journal—“ While the SPCA enforces animal-protection laws, only the state can revoke licenses. Figures show it has pulled store licenses five times in the last five years; three of the revocations were for a chain with one shop in Yonkers. Currently, there are 274 licensed pet dealers, including stores and breeders…The state’s enforcement efforts do little to curb what the SPCA and others see as the underlying problem: a profitable and harmful trade in puppies that begin life in factory-like breeding facilities in states like Iowa, Kansas or Missouri, as reported in the Poughkeepsie Journal March 29th. There, adult dogs - considered livestock under federal law - are confined to cages, while their vulnerable offspring are birthed, weaned and transported in ways that can make them sick…New York City recently enacted an ordinance that would ban puppy stores from buying from breeders with high-level violations or through intermediary brokers that sometimes shield where puppies are from; the protection society president who helped pass the city law said sale of ‘puppy mill’ pups should be banned completely - a provision state law forbids, or preempts, localities from enacting. ‘Preemption must be completely overturned so that municipalities can mandate that pet shops not sell puppies, kittens unless they are from rescue organizations or shelters.’" Finally, please pass and sign into law bipartisan Lavalle/Glick legislation (A.3478/S.3147) to create an animal abuser statewide registry with community notification requirements, as proposed already in 10 other states!