Monday, August 25, 2014

new (updated version) song for Zephyr Teachout from MC Whitebread-- learn it, live it, love it lol...

[see www.TeachoutWu.com !] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - “Talkin’ ‘Bout A Woman Named Zeph” [MC Whitebread] Talkin' 'bout a woman named Zeph— Sierra Club, NOW, and PEF... Just common sense people— ain’t left-- turn up the bass and the treble clef... Even the Times endorsin’ ol’ Tim Wu— look out now Andy what u gonna do... All your money can’t save you it’s true— ‘cos we’re fired up and comin’ for you... We’re cleanin’ up Albany once and for all-- government for us’d be a ball... Straight as an arrow— Zeph ’n Tim stand tall-- time for a little justice yeah this fall... They'll put real money into education— make our schools the best in the nation... Honest as the day is long since Creation— Zephyr ’n Tim-- our sole salvation... VOTE FOR ZEPH-- STAND WITH NOW & PEF-- VOTE FOR ZEPH— C’MON RIGHT AND LEFT... TEACHOUT AND WU— I TELL YOU TRUE—TEACHOUT AND WU— FOR ME AND YOU... VOTE FOR ZEPH-- STAND WITH NOW & PEF-- VOTE FOR ZEPH— C’MON RIGHT AND LEFT... TEACHOUT AND WU— I TELL YOU TRUE—TEACHOUT AND WU— FOR ME AND YOU... First thing they gonna do— they'll ban frackin'-- gonna send those crazy frackers packin'... Green jobs from solar Zeph be stackin'— MC Whitebread in effect I be mackin’... They'll turn Albany upside down-- say g'bye Andy sell-out clown... See what go aroun’ come aroun'-- look out New York Zeph cleanin' up the town... She'll create jobs-- rebuild economy-- outside the box innovation you see... Ban every corporate-to-the-core crony— playin’ for keeps ain’t no phony... Zeph and Tim about a livin' wage-- is that so radical in this day & age... Zephyr a prophet— yeah and Wu a sage— c’mon party people-- rage in a cage... VOTE FOR ZEPH-- STAND WITH NOW & PEF-- VOTE FOR ZEPH— C’MON RIGHT AND LEFT... TEACHOUT AND WU— I TELL YOU TRUE—TEACHOUT AND WU— FOR ME AND YOU... VOTE FOR ZEPH-- STAND WITH NOW & PEF-- VOTE FOR ZEPH— C’MON RIGHT AND LEFT... TEACHOUT AND WU— I TELL YOU TRUE—TEACHOUT AND WU— FOR ME AND YOU... Muse told us to rise up and take power back— time for fat cats to have heart attack... We cuttin’ no slack; that’s right jack-- together all colors from white to black... Got bold solid progressive vision-- tired o' corruption & indecision... Solar wind-- not nuclear fission-- dat right— like Jake and Elwood we on a mission... Banks got bailed out-- we got sold out-- one more reason— for Wu and Teachout... All day all week-- ain't no doubt-- power to da people y'all-- we got da clout... So September ninth-- don't forget-- Zephyr and Tim-- our best bet... Nicest two folks you ever met-- Get on the Zephyr train if you haven't yet... VOTE FOR ZEPH-- STAND WITH NOW & PEF-- VOTE FOR ZEPH— C’MON RIGHT AND LEFT... TEACHOUT AND WU— I TELL YOU TRUE—TEACHOUT AND WU— FOR ME AND YOU... VOTE FOR ZEPH-- STAND WITH NOW & PEF-- VOTE FOR ZEPH— C’MON RIGHT AND LEFT... TEACHOUT AND WU— I TELL YOU TRUE—TEACHOUT AND WU— FOR ME AND YOU [ -sigh- memories...lol www.allmusic.com/song/go-go-dennis-mt0005573286 ]

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

20th annual Labor Day rally for Dutchess County Mon. Sept. 1st noon-- to phase in $15/hour minimum wage as in Seattle!...

Hi all...hear ye hear ye-- start spreadin' the news!... Join the Real Majority Project, Community Voices Heard Dutchess Chapter, Co. Leg. Alison MacAvery, Poughkeepsie Fifth Ward Councilwoman Ann Perry, 1199 organizers Joseph Stratford, Robin Ringwood, and Andre Greenberg, AllianceIBM.org President Tom Midgley, former Co. Leg. Jim Doxsey, Dutchess County Democratic Vice-Chair Alyssa Kogon, long-time community activist Mae Parker-Harris, Blair Goodman/CVH, and yours truly (Joel Tyner) Monday, Sept. 1st at noon sharp in front of the main Poughkeepsie Post Office on Mansion Street there-- for our 20th annual Real Majority Project Labor Day Rally for Dutchess County-- to phase in Seattle-style $15/hour minimum wage as soon as possible!... Rsvp/share Facebook event link here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1533120363578067 . Five new seeds of hope for us in 2014 on Labor Day from across U.S.: [Dutchess folks: email countylegislators@dutchessny.gov to make these happen here!] 1. Here in NYS: http://www.Zephyrteachout.com/economy . [Zephyr knows that we here in the Hudson Valley and NYS simply can NOT afford another four years of GOP-lite/Cuomo austerity-- no more cuts/layoffs/privatization-- we need a return to progressive tax alternative revenue sources in Albany-- taxing the big banks on Wall Street with Robin Hood tax on financial transactions-- and full millionaires tax!...Property taxpayers, our schools, counties, cities, towns, villages, libraries, parks, and nonprofits deserve no less-- see http://www.FiscalPolicy.org/ ; http://www.petitiononline.com/stocktax ; http://www.ABetterChoiceforNY.org/ ; http://www.RobinHoodTax.org/ ] 2. Seattle shows way: http://www.15Now.org/ (more below)! 3. Green jobs NOW: http://www.TheSolutionsProject.org/ ! [Josh Fox, Mark Ruffalo, Cornell, Stanford all agree-- NYS could and should be fossil-fuel-free and nuke-free by 2030-- getting all of its energy from wind, water, and sunlight, creating 4.5 million green construction jobs, 58,000 permanent green jobs, saving $36.4 billion a year, saving 4000 lives annually, eliminating carbon emissions(!): http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/03/new-yorks-fossil-fuel-gone-wind-water-and-sun ; http://www.350.org/ http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/NewYorkWWSEnPolicy.pdf ] 4. Just in-- San Francisco City Council leads the way-- on July 29th introducing Retail Workers Bill of Rights-- to stop retail bosses from giving out too few hours-- with too little notice(!): http://www.RetailWorkerRights.com/ ! 5. Support growing for paid family leave-- in NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, D.C., Portland/OR, Jersey City, and the entire state of Connecticut, paid family leave is already law: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/10/21/2809831/jersey-city-signs-paid-sick-days/ http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/01/21/3184521/nebraska-paid-family-leave/ http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/albany-pols-shuold-pass-paid-family-insurance-act-article-1.1829528 ! The San Jose Mercury News reported Mar. 12, 2014: "This week marks the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the $10 minimum wage in San Jose. The success of this minimum wage increase has major implications for other cities, states, and the nation...A year later, it is clear that raising San Jose's minimum wage has been an incredible success. The data shows that under San Jose's minimum wage, unemployment was reduced, the number of businesses grew, the number of minimum wage jobs expanded, average employee hours remained constant and the economy was stimulated. The unemployment rate dropped in the San Jose metro area from 7.6 percent in February, 2013 to 5.8 percent in December, the last month available. Part of the reason for this almost two-point drop in unemployment is that the 40,000 minimum wage workers in San Jose have pumped more than $100 million into the local economy this past year, stimulating the economic growth of Silicon Valley. [from "San Jose minimum wage: A year-old success story" by Scott Myers-Lipton and Patrick Quyo http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_25315215/san-jose-minimum-wage-year-old-success-story ] [Robert Reich: "Why the Minimum Wage Should Really Be Raised to $15 an Hour" http://robertreich.org/post/82134788482 ] From Robert Reich: "Research by Michael Reich (no relation) and Arindrajit Dube confirms-- they examined employment in several hundred pairs of adjacent counties lying on opposite sides of state borders, each with different minimum wages, and found no statistically significant increase in unemployment in the higher-minimum counties, even after four years. (Other researchers who found contrary results failed to control for counties where unemployment was already growing before the minimum wage was increased.) They also found that employee turnover was lower where the minimum was higher." http://www.irle.berkeley.edu/workingpapers/157-07.pdf "Why Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Is A Step in the Right Direction" http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Robert-Reich/2014/0605/Why-Seattle-s-15-minimum-wage-is-a-step-in-the-right-direction We'll be continuing on Sept. 1st the work we've been doing on economic justice issues over the past two decades of our Labor Day rallies-- speaking out for living-wage jobs for all, progressive taxation to avoid more budget cuts, layoffs, and privatization, Industrial Development Agency accountability to taxpayers, making sure Wal-Mart pays their employees properly, cost-saving Project Labor Agreements, collective bargaining, the Triborough Amendment, stopping chained-CPI cut to Social Security, a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street speculation to fully fund human needs and rein in destructive greed-- and perhaps most importantly, standing up strong for the rights of all workers-- women, immigrants-- all of us! We'll be standing with 1199 to make sure St. Francis and Vassar Brothers hospitals and local nursinghomes do right by their workers, standing with CWA to make sure Verizon and IBM do right by their workers, and standing with CSEA to make sure Dutchess County stops any more privatization, budget cuts, or layoffs. We'll be standing with SEIU and UFCW to make sure Marist College, Wal-Mart, McDonald's, and other fast-food chains pay their workers (including adjuncts) a living wage-- so the rest of us taxpayers don't unfairly subsidize poverty wages with government benefits for those workers-- and make sure our county's supermarkets maintain item-pricing as well. We'll be standing with Teamsters to make sure Durham School Services does right by its workers,standing with APWU to save the U.S. Postal Service, standing with NYSUT for full, fair funding for our schools through progressive taxation, standing with Dutchess United Educators to make sure DCC does right by its workers, and standing with Nobody Leaves MidHudson to divest Dutchess County bank accounts from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo (as Albany County did). We'll be standing with the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation for the Women's Equality Act, comprehensive immigration reform, green building jobs through solar and energy-efficiency retrofits and cost-saving Project Labor Agreements (as under GOP county executives in Rockland, Orange, and Putnam counties)-- and standing with AFL-CIO against the proposed, so-called "chained CPI" cut to Social Security and for fair trade (not the Trans Pacific Partnership: NAFTA is bad enough). Information: 845-453-2105 joeltyner@earthlink.net - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that seek to take away their power. These economic royalists are unanimous in their hatred for me-- and I welcome their hatred...The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism-- ownership of government by an individ...ual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power." -- Dutchess County's own FDR - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [here below-- more specifics on ten reasons why we'll be gathering once again Sept. 1st; recall as well-- all of the below are part of our first annual Dutchess County Progressive Coalition Transparency Initiative/County Legislature Questionnaire Project(!)...(endorsed by 60+ from across Dutchess already-- see Facebook link: www.facebook.com/events/565459050159708 -- join us!] FIVE WAYS TO CREATE GOOD-PAYING JOBS & ECONOMIC JUSTICE IN DUTCHESS COUNTY 1. Do you think that our county's Industrial Development Agency should only be working with companies willing to create good-paying jobs (as opposed to wasting county tax dollars on corporate welfare)? www.ALIGNNY.org ; www.ABetterChoiceforNY.org www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/new_york_comptroller_calls_for.html www.lohud.com/article/20120327/NEWS03/303270047/Oversight-urged-private-development-agencies 2. Do you think Dutchess County should follow the example of Rockland County and enact cost-saving, pro-local-worker, Project Labor Agreements for all large county construction projects? www.nybuildingtrades.com/Project_Labor_Agreements.html www.PLAsWork.org www.plaswork.org/Index/Testimonials/C-Scott-Vanderhoef.aspx www.HVALF.org 3. Do you think that Dutchess County should follow the good examples of Seattle (moving towards $15/hr. minimum wage: http://www.15now.org/ !), San Francisco and San Jose and pass law for countywide minimum wage of $10/hour-- or-- just about as good-- follow the example set last year by the City Council of Washington, D.C.-- and force Wal-Mart to pay their workers a living wage? [studies prove: helps local economies, saves tax dollars] www.articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-07-10/local/40487421_1_wal-mart-spokesman-steven-restivo-minimum-wage-retail-giant www.sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/03/11/san-jose-10hour-minimum-wage-goes-into-effect/ www.alternet.org/story/153620/san_francisco_becomes_first_in_nation_with_$10_minimum_wage_(and_the_sky_isn't_going_to_fall)> www.petitiononline.com/livwage 4. Do you think Dutchess Community College professors and adjuncts could be paid more fairly, considering massive fund balance at the college and Dutchess United Educators concerns re: DCC? www.pastebin.com/uzX66D4w www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/section/OPINION02/Letters www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20130423/NEWS01/304230043/New-issues-arise-over-DCC-union-agreement 5. Do you think Dutchess County should follow example of Cleveland and revitalize our local economy by helping to create worker-cooperatives providing services large local institutions need anyway? www.NewEconomicsInstitute.org www.thenation.com/article/cleveland-model www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/opinion/worker-owners-of-america-unite.html www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-new-economy/clevelands-worker-owned-boom - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - FOUR MORE WAYS TO BE SMART WITH DUTCHESS COUNTY TAX DOLLARS TO CREATE JOBS AND SAVE OUR COMMUNITIES 1. Do you think Dutchess County should follow the example of Albany County and close large bank accounts with financial institutions found to be responsible for mortgage fraud like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo-- and that Dutchess should follow examples of Ithaca, Seattle, San Francisco, Boulder, Madison, Berkeley, Providence-- divest investments from fossil fuel companies? [note-- Dutchess County now has $100 million account with TD Bank-- recently reported as Transcanada's top shareholder] www.bizjournals.com/albany/print-edition/2011/06/10/albany-county-legislators-want-to.html www.dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2011/12/fact-dutchess-county-has-50-million.html www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/25/us-cities-climate-divestment-fossil-fuels www.NobodyLeavesMidHudson.org ; www.CVHAction.org 2. Would you sign a letter to Dutchess County Executive Molinaro insisting that he create green jobs by following the example of Schenectady County and save 30% on our electric bills with solar on county buildings through a no-money-down power purchase agreement? [April: Co. Leg. unanimous on this; inexplicably, County Executive stated in May: wouldn't sign resolution passed-- though unanimous] www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/2013/04/06/news/doc5160690916628154246984.txt www.midhudsonnews.com/News/2013/April/05/DC_Solar-05Apr13.htm 3. Do you think Dutchess County should follow the example of Schenectady County and save a million dollars a year for local taxpayers with Canadian prescription drug option for county employees/retirees? [Schenectady County Attorney Chris Gardner has repeatedly confirmed that FDA has approved this] www.PetitionOnline.com/SaveOnRx www.wamc.org/post/schenectady-county-expands-canadian-drug-program 4. Do you think that, in the midst of the worst recession in eighty years, that progressive taxation of the wealthy is the answer to our county, state, and federal budget problems-- instead of more budget cuts? www.ABetterChoiceforNY.org www.FiscalPolicy.org www.dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2013/02/jeter-jackson-macavery-doxsey-amparo.html www.change.org/petitions/dutchess-county-legislators-and-dutchess-county-executive-marc-molinaro-cut-dutchess-county-property-taxes-stop-more-cuts-tax-rich-instead www.petitiononline.com/stocktax www.PetitionOnline.com/ILikeIke - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From http://www.zephyrteachout.com/economy ... Economy A FAIR, OPEN AND DEMOCRATIC ECONOMY New York is an extraordinary state, and we should have an economy that matches our capacity. Yet Governor Cuomo’s economy works primarily for a few big businesses, one that enriches the rich and strangles opportunities for the rest of us. Extreme consolidation has enabled a few giants to hike prices, squeeze supply, and unfairly trample competitors. The game is rigged, and the evidence is all around us. We face staggering inequality of wealth and opportunity, at levels unseen since the Gilded Age. Unemployment continues to soar even as corporate profits are booming. Rather than work to reverse these inequities, Governor Cuomo has made them more severe. He has consistently supported short-term policies that enrich a few, and that leave behind workers, the middle class, and poor families. Within his first year he modified the millionaire’s tax to benefit some of the wealthiest earners in New York State: those with an annual income between $500,000 and $2 million received a tax break of almost 25 percent, costing the state over $1 billion a year. He has raised the estate tax exemption from $1 million to a whopping $5.25 million– a huge giveaway to the richest in our state. And even though corporate tax revenues make up a much smaller percentage of total state tax revenues today than they did 30 years ago, the Governor cut their contribution even further. In this year’s budget, he reduced the corporate tax rate from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent, the lowest rate since 1968. What’s more, he eliminated a separate bank tax entirely, which means our biggest commercial banks pay taxes on only 8 percent of their securities income, even though New York’s share of investment banking is 39 percent. Who pays for these giveaways to the wealthy? The rest of us. Scrapping the bank tax and reducing corporate taxes alone will cost New York over $700 million a year in lost revenue when those cuts are fully phased in. New York is paying for these cutbacks by slashing spending on social services and public education. Governor Cuomo has handed more money to the rich, in other words, by shortchanging our children. There are tens of thousands fewer teachers in our public school since the Governor took office. The share of state funding for our public schools is at a 65-year low. Even when Governor Cuomo has moved to serve the people of New York, his policies too often come with a catch. He agreed to raise the minimum wage some – but it won’t come into effect for three years. Governor Cuomo pushed to ensure tax cuts for the wealthy keep apace with inflation, but wouldn’t demand the same for minimum wage – exposing the buying power of low-wage workers to inflation. He claims his tax policies benefit the middle class – but the tax burden on middle-income New Yorkers is still one- and-a-half times higher than what the richest New Yorkers carry. He takes credit for reducing the unemployment rate – but when you take into account the thousands of workers who’ve given up on looking for a job because there’s nothing around, the unemployment rate is actually a full point higher than what the Governor proclaims. Playing around with numbers can’t mask the facts: Governor Cuomo’s economic policies have mostly enriched the few at the expense of the many. We can have a people’s economy, one that puts the working people and middle class back at its center. We can restore the people’s economy in New York. We can challenge the great concentration of wealth and power that rigs our economy and corrupts our democracy, so we can recover the foundations of our common prosperity. My economic policy would rest on four platforms: economic fairness, a 21st century Internet, stopping consolidation, and building infrastructure. a. Economic Fairness I would push to raise the minimum wage, so that nobody who works full-time lives in poverty. I am completely committed to local wage authorization. I strongly support paid sick days and paid family leave insurance, so that no parent has to choose between paying the bills and nursing a sick child. I support making it easier for workers to unionize. If a banker can join his ten friends to form a corporation, why should it be any harder for a factory worker to join his ten buddies to form a union? The centerpiece of my economic policy would be to level the playing field between independent business and big business. Franchises are being squeezed by the corporate McDonald’s or Yum Brands at the top, while family stores – an anchor of immigrant communities – face huge pressures in an economy geared towards benefiting the big and the rich. I would push to enforce our antitrust laws, so that we have markets with real competition and real opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business – the engines of our economy – to create jobs and thrive. I would roll-back the tax cuts Governor Cuomo handed the wealthy few. We should extend the millionaire’s tax beyond 2017, to ensure we can fund our schools and public programs for the long-term. We should bring back a form of the bank tax, and review the corporate tax system, to ensure companies pay their fair share. b. 21st Century Internet Like electricity, water, and telephones, Internet today is an essential service. In order for New York citizens to participate in our 21st century democracy and economy, we need a 21st century Internet: service that is open, universal, affordable, and world-class. At present, we are staggeringly far from that reality. Huge swaths of New York State lack reliable broadband infrastructure. Slow and spotty Internet access is a problem in New York City, Long Island, throughout the Southern Tier lakeside, along the St. Lawrence, and everywhere in between. In some commercial districts it's still difficult to get a broadband connection at all. Poor quality Internet service is due in large part to dramatic market consolidation, which leads to a lack of competition. In New York City, for example, many buildings have only one option for high-speed service. That permits companies to fleece consumerswith oppressive contract terms at high prices for speeds that are still not that fast. Large parts of Upstate and Long Island are similarly beholden to the local cable monopoly that has no reason to offer quality service. It is like AT&T in the 1970s and early 1980s all over again — with no alternatives, a lack of competition in the market for broadband means no innovation, poor quality, and high prices. In fact, when we compare broadband quality and prices internationally, our options in New York consistently lag behind counterparts in Europe and Asia, sometimes costing more than three times as much for a fraction of the speed. Already, the dismal quality of service is costing New York jobs we cannot afford to lose. Tech entrepreneurs regularly cite slow and unreliable bandwidth as one of the biggest challenges they face in New York. Worse, deficiencies in this essential service also compound inequality. Inadequate broadband infrastructure and unnecessarily high prices exclude members of underserved communities and low-income residents from accessing resources online in their homes. Yet we know that affordable, high-speed, broadband Internet is critical for finding work in today’s economy. What's more, dramatic consolidation often means that when service goes out, there's no back-up. Hurricane Sandy revealed how the lack of competition renders broadband infrastructure and service stunningly fragile. In the wake of Sandy, it was decentralized mesh networks that kept New Yorkers connected, showing that more and diverse networks means more resilience. c. Stop the Consolidation of Power The $45 billion proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable will make all this much worse. Both companies have a sizable presence in the state: Comcast has 23,000 digital cable, Internet, and telephone subscribers in New York, while Time Warner Cable has close to 2.6 million subscribers spanning New York City and upstate areas. Merging will make it easier for the new giant to hike prices without improving service. Any remaining incentive to build-out in underserved areas and invest in world-class broadband infrastructure like fiber-optics networks will vanish. The two companies already wield massive economic and political power over the residents of our state; this merger will consolidate that power even further. The Governor of New York could work to stop this merger. Yet Governor Cuomo’s response has been astoundingly meek. His only act has been to ask the Public Service Commission to review how the deal with impact New York residents. He has signaled he will push the companies to show how the merger promotes the public interest and to improve access and service across the state. This kind of deal-cutting shortchanges New York. We cannot settle for paltry concessions that companies can renege on or modify later. What we really need is real market competition. We need to unwind the extreme consolidation that is fleecing New Yorkers for third-rate service, and leaving us behind other regions in the US and across the world. And we should ensure the cable giants can’t squeeze the life and profitability out of our TV and film industries, mainstays of New York’s economy and culture. We should strongly urge the Public Service Commission to challenge the Comcast-TWC merger outright. More broadly, we should push to expand PSC jurisdiction so that the Commission also oversees the provision of Internet service. We need public oversight over what is today a vital public good. We should act, not simply react, by pushing universal, open, affordable, and world-class Internet in New York. We should promote the use of municipal mesh networks, which empower communities to own and maintain their own wireless networks, while making essential communications infrastructure more resilient. And we should make sure Comcast can’t relegate New York’s small businesses and budding tech entrepreneurs to Internet slow lanes, while cutting deals with other corporate giants. We must unleash the innovative potential of truly high-speed and open Internet for businesses and citizens, to ensure everyone can participate fully in our democracy and economy. d. Infrastructure Two of the most immediate threats to New York are its aging infrastructure - like bridges, rails, and pipes - and the fragility of its critical systems, like food distribution. As both the gasoline explosion that ripped through two Manhattan buildings in March and Hurricane Sandy revealed, inaction has and will continue to cost us human lives. Governor Cuomo has failed to address these vital issues in a comprehensive and sustainable way, leaving New Yorkers alarmingly exposed to the next disaster. On the surface, the Governor has made infrastructure a priority. In January he unrolled an extensive proposal to equip New York for disaster preparedness by building a weather detection system, repairing old bridges, and launching a college dedicated to studying emergency preparedness. But it's hard to believe that the Governor is serious about this $17 billion plan, because he has steadily eroded the state's ability to pay for these vital updates. Two rounds of steep budget cuts for 2015 and 2016 have already handicapped the state's ability to pay for school aid, public education, and aid to distressed localities, and the Governor's multi-year tax cut package will further deplete state tax revenues. One of the most telling measures of the Governor’s neglect is how drastically he has reduced capital spending. Worse, to make his budget work, the Governor is raiding even those funds explicitly designated for improving roads, bridges, and transit. In 2013, the Governor first diverted $20 million from MTA transit funds to balance the general state budget; this year he swept away $30 million, and plans to take at least $20 million from the state's transit fund every year until 2031 – which would rob the MTA of $350 million in funds designated for improving our transit system over the next 17 years. These cuts hit at a time when MTA's margins are dropping, and would make the agency's budget more reliant on volatile tax returns. New Yorkers lose massively from the Governor's decision to use transit funds as an ATM: the MTA is delaying necessary maintenance and repairs because it lacks the $10.5 billion to fix its tracks and trains. Nor is it just MTA funds: 78 percent of the $3.8 billion that New Yorkers pay in highway taxes and fees each year is diverted to cover state budget costs, leaving crucial highway and bridge projects underfunded. It's difficult to believe the Governor is committed to making New York infrastructure safe when he is robbing it of crucial investment. What’s more, updating our infrastructure and building safer systems presents a huge opportunity to create jobs in New York and boost local business -- after all, the MTA is the country's largest transit system, and the state houses the largest base of transit-related manufacturing firms in the US. The importance of leveraging these resources to bolster our economy seems obvious. But when awarding the $235 million contract to renovate the Verrazano Bridge, the MTA chose a Chinese company over local steel millers, giving away jobs and money that the state sorely needs. Importantly, the Cuomo administration has also failed to address one of the main lessons of Superstorm Sandy: that the citizens of New York have only nine meals of food in the delivery pipeline leading to their homes, schools, and hospitals. One of the main reasons for this is that a handful of dominant companies that control the delivery infrastructure on which we depend have drastically consolidated supply, moving food stocks from within the city out into warehouses located as far as the distant reaches of Pennsylvania. Another reason why we remain so susceptible is that these companies have also shifted towards lean supply chains and practices like “just-in-time” delivery, which enables them to keep less storage, save some pennies – and, in times of disaster – leave us exposed to drastic shortages. The pending merger between two of the country’s biggest food distributors – Sysco and US Foods – would intensify each of these threats, by eliminating competition and handing enormous power over our food distribution to even fewer executives. We should make it a priority to fund crucial infrastructure projects by hiring workers and manufacturers in New York. We should reject any efforts to divert funds from the transit authority, and make sure that Albany doesn’t breach promises to taxpayers about how it will use their money. We should also closely scrutinize the merger between Sysco and US Foods, and ensure that any future consolidation of our food systems doesn’t compromise our safety. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From http://www.zephyrteachout.com/education ... Education THE BEST PUBLIC EDUCATION IN AMERICA Public education is the foundation of democracy. That’s why so many members of the founding generation in America promoted free public education. I was lucky to have the chance to attend great public elementary and high schools. My first real job out of college was as a special education aide in a rural public school. I know from personal experience that strong public schools are essential not just to learn the skills and gain the confidence needed to thrive in today’s economy, but to build the knowledge and experience every citizen requires to become a full participant in political society. Governor Cuomo has abandoned our public schools. His drastic budget cuts are short- sighted and entirely unnecessary. Under his tenure, class sizes have swollen to record levels, depriving students of the attention they need. New York school districts have had to eliminate tens of thousands of educator positions, amounting to more than 10 percent of the entire teaching workforce. This means schools have had to slash art, music, and sports, among other programs. What makes this even more outrageous is that Governor Cuomo did not make these cuts because state coffers were empty. He made these cuts so he could cut the taxes of New York’s wealthiest individuals, of New York’s wealthiest banks, and of New York’s wealthiest corporations. Worse yet, after intentionally starving New York’s public schools, Governor Cuomo charged New York’s public school teachers with failing New York’s students. He then used this charge to justify calling for the privatization of schools and for the imposition of draconian testing requirements. One of the prime duties of the governor of New York is to safeguard our public schools from any private interest that threatens their public purpose. Yet Governor Cuomo, in his four years in office, has rarely even visited a public school. As Governor, I would dedicate myself every day to restoring New York’s public schools to their rightful place as the best in the nation. Specifically, I would pursue the following five strategies: a. Full and Equal Funding for Public Education New York spends $8,700 less per pupil in poor districts than we do in rich ones. That makes New York the sixth most unequal state in all America when it comes to school funding. This also means that New York is in violation of its own Constitution, which requires the government to provide a “sound, basic education” to every student, no matter his zip-code. I believe this constitutional obligation should be our floor, not our ceiling. New Yorkers have a right to demand the best public schools in the nation, with small class sizes, arts, and physical education for every child. I would work to make funding more fair and equitable. Despite a promise to the contrary, Governor Cuomo has actually widened the funding gap between poor and wealthy districts. b. End High-Stakes Testing Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we’ve seen a culture of test-and-punish overthrow actual teaching and real learning. New York State entirely botched the implementation of Common Core, which has ushered in an unrelenting regimen of tests. Governor Cuomo’s system of basing teacher evaluations on student tests has corroded actual learning. We should slam the brakes on the barrage of high-stakes testing. This means halting both the new Common Core tests and tests that are part of the teacher evaluation system. We need to undertake a thorough reevaluation of all high stakes tests, with full input from educators and parents. c. Protect Against Privatization Governor Cuomo has promoted a private takeover of public education policy, by opening state coffers up to charter schools, which serve only three percent of New York’s students. In New York City, meanwhile, he has mandated that city taxpayers pay rent for privately run charter schools to the tune of $11,000 per pupil, thus fueling their massive expansion at the expense of public schools. We should protect our public schools from privatization schemes, including the diversion of state funds to private schools through vouchers or back-door tax credits. We should repeal provisions enacted in 2014 that hijack control of decision-making about charter school co-locations out of the hands of local governments and that mandate that New York City pay for charter school rent. d. Empower Local Communities I would eliminate the undemocratic provisions of the cap on local school budgets— falsely sold as a tax cap even though it caps nobody’s taxes. Specifically we should hand back to local voters the right to control their own school budgets, by eliminating the requirement of a 60 percent supermajority. We should return to the principle of one person, one vote in school budget elections. e. Suspend the Suspension Pipeline We must end the ‘school to prison pipeline’ where excessive use of school suspensions for minor infractions deprive students of education, leaving them behind. Suspensions actually increase behavior problems and decrease school safety. In many urban communities there is a school suspension crisis—with huge racial inequalities in suspension rates. Greater suspension rates lead to higher expulsion rates and to increases in school-based arrests. This cycle starts with high suspension rates for young students, even as young as pre-k and kindergarten. We need solutions, not suspensions. We need to transform the culture in school buildings to support teachers and students, foster collaboration, teach problem-solving, engender real responsibility and accountability and keep students in school. This approach, called “restorative justice,” has proven highly effective. Due to a local community organizing effort in Buffalo, the implementation of these reforms have already led to a 30 percent reduction in suspensions. Students cannot learn if they are not in school. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From http://www.zephyrteachout.com/an_open_democracy ... AN OPEN DEMOCRACY The foundation of 21st century democracy is an open and connected community. Governor Cuomo’s New York is closed and backward-looking. There are three areas I would focus on to open up New York’s society and unleash the great talents and powers of our beautiful state: a. Immigrant Dignity Immigrants are woven into New York’s social fabric and are a pillar of our economy. We invite them to come work in our cities, and our state is more rich and vibrant because they take us up on it. Yet many of our state policies regularly deny undocumented residents access to basic services like higher education and banking, as well as the right to drive a car or borrow a library book – even though they pay their share of taxes. This is not just unfair to immigrants – it makes us all worse off. One group affected most deeply by these policies is undocumented students, who must routinely forego higher education because they cannot access the state’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Without papers, there is no aid. As a result, immigrant students are more likely to drop out of high school and stop short of completing college, if they even make it that far. This lack of opportunity consigns undocumented students to low-paying jobs, fueling cycles of inequality. Students glimpsed the possibility of real change in the New York DREAM Act, which would expand state-funded tuition assistance to undocumented students – but the state senate failed to pass the bill by two votes. Governor Cuomo has said he supports the Act, but his actions signal that he is largely paying it lip-service and leading on his constituents. We should make it a priority to ensure this bill gets passed by the Senate and sign it immediately, so that all New Yorkers are free to access higher education and the opportunities it opens. Another basic problem confronting undocumented residents is that they cannot get a driver’s license. This forces them into situations where they are breaking the law every time they drop-off a child at school or make a trip to the hardware store, and fosters a culture of fear of law enforcement. We should push legislation allowing undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses, a policy adopted by several other states, and endorsed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. This will make our roads safer, by requiring undocumented residents who already drive to enroll in driver’s education classes, and ensuring that the cars already on our roads are registered and insured.  b. Voting Voting is a basic principle of our democracy. Yet New York State presently disenfranchises individuals with criminal convictions, taking away their right to vote while they are in jail. This is undemocratic. We should follow the lead of Vermont and Maine, and ensure felons never lose their right to vote. c. Criminal Justice Reform Residents of New York State deserve a criminal justice system that is fair to all and that makes policies with an eye to their long-term impact, ensuring that we don’t address problems by only making them worse. Governor Cuomo has made strides in reforming our criminal justice system – but there is still a long way to go. New York State must decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession, on the path to eventual legalization. This would drastically reduce the number of marijuana arrests, an overwhelming percent of which are just for possession. Worse, these arrests disproportionately target young African-Americans and Latinos. These arrests cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually and needlessly introduce young people to the criminal justice system while saddling them with permanent criminal records. Being stigmatized this way has huge long-term consequences, making it far harder to find a job or get into school. We should be expanding opportunities for young blacks and Latinos rather than foreclosing them. Ending arrests for 15 grams or less of marijuana would help ensure our criminal justice system doesn’t lock up thousands of our young men for petty crimes. We should support legislation that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana, and should propose a system to regulate and tax marijuana in ways similar to how state law treats alcohol. This new approach would end decades of costly and counterproductive policies that reinforce racially discriminatory outcomes and foreclose promising futures. New York State should also raise the age of criminal responsibility. Presently, New York is one of two states left in the country that automatically prosecutes children as adults: around 50,000 16- and 17-years olds are tried as adults each year. Exposing children to the hazards of incarceration in the adult prison system endangers their well-being and risks setting them down a path of recidivism, as 80 percent of adolescents forced into the adult prison system go on to reoffend. We should ensure we treat children like children, and keep their formative years free from state-imposed isolation and potential abuse. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From http://www.zephyrteachout.com/corruption ... Corruption CLEAN, FAIR, OPEN AND DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGNS Four years ago, Andrew Cuomo stood on the steps of a courthouse named after Boss Tweed and announced his campaign for Governor with a promise to clean up Albany. He has failed. Worse, he has become part of the problem. Big money interests today have even more power than they did when Andrew Cuomo took office. We have a campaign finance system that hands the wealthy few immense sway over our state government. The result is a government that responds to the one percent, not to the rest of us. That’s why our public schools get starved, while the rich get tax breaks. The way big money has directly shaped Governor Cuomo’s policies is well documented. Cuomo’s style of governing may not be technically illegal, but it epitomizes legal corruption. My life's work has been devoted to preserving democracy, and safeguarding it from the corrupting threat of concentrated wealth. When I promise to clean up New York’s corrupt campaign finance system, voters can trust that I deliver. As governor, I will begin immediately to build a system that ensures that politicians represent the people. This includes the following five specific actions: a. Public Financing of Elections The way to fix the broken system is to provide public financing for all statewide and legislative elections. I will model my approach on the New York City system that provides $6 matching funds for every $1 contributed in small donations. Under this system every $50 donation would then be worth $350, because of the state “match.” Think about the effect of that: right now, a politician’s job is to spend 30% of her time talking to the 1%, the people who can donate more than $500. By contrast, when matching funds enables 20 working people to collectively donate $7000, every community group becomes worth listening to. I would also use this policy to lower contribution limits, close loopholes, and provide effective administration and enforcement of these rules. Governor Cuomo has promised many times to enact public financing of elections. It is, sadly, the Governor’s favorite promise to break. He repeatedly claims to champion reform, then repeatedly fails to include any legislation in his budget or use his power and mandate to demand action from the legislature. There’s a simple reason Governor Cuomo opposes such reforms. As a recent investigative report found, the Governor raises a large share of his own campaign contributions precisely through the methods that favor big donors – the very loopholes the Governor had promised to close. In New York City and Connecticut, public funding has increased the influence of voters and small donors, diversified who contributes, and enabled a greater variety of candidates to run for office. Already, public funding has empowered middle class families to shape policy, achieving reforms like paid sick days, and empowered more women and minorities to stand as candidates. Public funding of elections will bring us closer to achieving real democracy. b. Strictly Limit Big Donor Money New York State today has one of the least democratic electoral systems in America. Big donors can give as much as $60,000 to a single candidate running for governor. That compares to a limit of $2,600 for what that same person can donate to a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and is more than most other states in the Union. I will therefore move immediately to reduce the maximum individual contribution to all candidates in New York to $2,600. Any candidate who participates in the public funding system would agree to even lower limits. When one person can give more to a political campaign than the average New Yorker earns in a year, it drowns out the voices of ordinary citizens. This radically unfair system helps explain why Governor Cuomo’s political decisions massively favor the rich: he has raised less than 1 percent of his campaign funds from donations of $250 or lower. His economic policies – which have cut the state’s corporate tax rate, raised the exemption for the estate tax, and eliminated the bank tax entirely – reflect that. c. Strictly Limit Corporate Money New York law today allows corporations to make entirely unlimited contributions to state political parties for supposedly “non campaign” purposes. Verizon, Walmart, Coca-Cola and Altria are just some of the companies that use so-called “housekeeping accounts” to funnel millions of dollars into the pockets of New York politicians every year. Since taking office, Governor Cuomo alone has raised millions through the State Democratic Committee’s “housekeeping account.” This total includes a $800,000 contribution from a single real estate developer. It also includes contributions of $100,000 or more from over 20 corporations and individuals. This is not bags of money being passed through a back door. These are tractor-trailer loads of money being forklifted across the loading dock. This is an outrageous abuse of our democracy in New York State, and I will move immediately to place strict and reasonable limits on all corporate contributions, much as the Moreland Commission called for in their Preliminary Report. d. Close Corporate “LLC” Loopholes Governor Cuomo also failed to close the "LLC loophole," which allows corporations to treat their LLC affiliates as "persons" under New York campaign finance laws. This means that rather than being limited to the $5,000 corporate contribution limit, companies can give as much as $60,800 for primary and general election campaigns combined to candidates for state-wide office. This loophole is exploited ruthlessly by the real estate industry, as well as by telecom giants like Cablevision and Comcast. Governor Cuomo has used LLCs to raise $6.2 million since he took office – more than double what our two previous governors collected during their combined four years in office. I would close the LLC loophole and end the fierce grip that powerful industries hold over New York's political system. e. Revive the Moreland Commission In July 2013 Governor Cuomo appointed the “Commission to Investigate Public Corruption” under the Moreland Act. Known as the “Moreland Commission,” the effort was heralded as a historic opportunity to clean up wrongdoing in Albany. Packed with some of the top legal minds and attorneys around the state, the Commission showed New York was serious about ferreting out corruption and restoring public trust in government. This April, Governor Cuomo abruptly and quietly announced he was dismantling the Moreland Commission. He said that he had convinced legislators to support new laws on bribery, corruption, and elections, eliminating the need for the Commission’s investigation. The Governor’s decision to close down a public investigation into corruption is deeply disturbing. His justification for it – that negotiations with lawmakers in closed discussions had rendered the Commission obsolete – reveals how little respect the Governor holds for the public and for public accountability. I would revive the Moreland Commission immediately, and ensure it has the funds to carry out the full term of its work.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Serino refuses to sign on to Women's Equality Act letter-- or letter for $6.2 billion to be spend on human needs (not special interests)!...

[naughty naughty-- GOP/Conservative State Senate candidate (and current Co. Leg.) Sue Serino just refused to join the vast majority of our County Legislature's Democratic Caucus in signing on to these two letters below drafted and circulated by yours truly at the August monthly Co. Leg. full board meeting that just ended (and GOP/Conservative Assembly candidate Co. Leg. Mike Kelsey didn't even show up for tonight's mtg.)....two more reasons why y'all shouldn't vote for Serino or Kelsey this fall-- and instead should work and vote for Terry Gipson and Didi Barrett to be returned to office in our state legislature!...(along with Frank Skartados, Kevin Cahill-- and Joe Torres and Justin Wagner as well)....joel (845-453-2105: joeltyner@earthlink.net....call Cuomo/NYS leg.'s on these: 877-255-9417!] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [here's who signed on to this letter below just now in support of all ten points of the Women's Equality Act for NYS-- Co. Leg.'s Barbara Jeter-Jackson, April Marie Farley, Francena Amparo, Micki Strawinski, and Rich Perkins-- but again, no GOP-- and certainly not Serino or Kelsey; see: www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/opinion/valley-views/2014/08/09/column-abortion-state/13841059/ ] August 11, 2014 GovernorAndrew Cuomo State Senate Co-Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver State Senators Greg Ball and Terry Gipson Assemblymembers Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Stephen Katz, Kieran Michael Lalor, and Frank Skartados: Dear New York State Leaders: We, the undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, ask you to delay no longer in passing and signing all ten points of the original Women’s Equality Act as introduced last year, endorsed by the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, NYS AFL-CIO, League of Women Voters of NYS, NYS Anti-Trafficking Coalition, NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence, New York Civil Liberties Union, American Association of University Women of NYS, Family Planning Advocates of NYS, Planned Parenthood of NYS, and over eight hundred other organizations across the state. As Rabbi Dennis Ross, Director of Concerned Clergy for Choice, wrote in yesterday’s Poughkeepsie Journal, most religions and faiths treasure “safeguarding religious liberty so that we can live faithfully in the privacy of our homes and when seeking health care.” Rabbi Ross wrote that “clergy from across the spectrum support the Women's Equality Act because it would advance religious liberty and the well-being of women and families. As a pastor, I am invited into deliberations over complicated, real-life situations including family planning. These are sensitive, personal conversations, and politicians – who ought to know better – must resist imposing their personal views and religious convictions on others.” Rabbi Ross reminded us that, “Elected officials are interjecting themselves and their religious restrictions into the private lives of women and families. These policymakers fail to acknowledge that faiths differ over complicated spiritual and emotional matters. Each of us must address these situations privately and individually, in accordance with faith and conscience, without interference from politicians.” According to Rabbi Ross, “While anti-Women's Equality Act scare tactics and inflammatory language capture attention, the truth is very simple: The Women's Equality Act does not change how abortion is performed or regulated in New York. The Women's Equality Act allows the state's women to receive the health promised under Roe v. Wade.” Finally, Rabbi Ross succinctly summarized in his op-ed piece that, “The Women's Equality Act, an omnibus civil rights bill, addresses pay equity, safeguards against sexual harassment in the workplace, protects pregnant workers on the job, curbs housing discrimination and safeguards reproductive health care. Each one is vital to the life and health of a woman over her lifetime. It is important that we have the ability to determine what is right for ourselves and our families. The Women's Equality Act does not change that; women are best able to make private decisions about their health care unrestricted by the personal views of politicians.” We, the undersigned, urge you strongly to delay no longer in making the Women’s Equality Act reality—now! - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [here's who signed on to this letter below just now in support of using the new/current $6.2 billion state budget surplus for human needs (not special interests)-- for counties like Dutchess, and schools in Dutchess-- for our nonprofits and local services (and towards cutting our property taxes!)-- circulated just now by yours truly at August full board meeting that just ended-- Co. Leg.'s Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Alison MacAvery, April Marie Farley, Francena Amparo, Micki Strawinski, and Rich Perkins; see: www.balconynewyork.com/2014/08/06/sizable-settlements-leave-nys-with-6-2b-windfall/ ; www.FiscalPolicy.org ; www.ABetterChoiceforNY.org ] August 11, 2014 Governor Andrew Cuomo State Senate Co-Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver State Senators Greg Ball and Terry Gipson Assemblymembers Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Stephen Katz, Kieran Michael Lalor, and Frank Skartados: Dear New York State Leaders: It has recently been reported in the media that New York State is projected to finish the year with a $6.2 billion budget surplus, the result of several large cash settlements with major financial firms in the first four months of the year, thanks to the hard work of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Most of the settlement is cash— $3 billion— from the $9 billion French bank BNP Paribas, the amount it was ordered to pay for violating sanctions on transferring money to Iran and the Sudan. Other sources include $715 million from Credit Suisse AG and $50 million from the Metropolitan Life Insurance. We, the undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, strongly urge you to use a sizable portion of those monies to help financially struggling counties like ours— so we can fully fund crucial services and vital nonprofits and lower our county property and sales taxes— and we further echo the recommendations of the Alliance for Quality Education as noted below in local media when it comes to fully funding our schools here. Fact: As the Poughkeepsie Journal reported August 7th, “New York has skipped out on $5.9 billion in school funding in recent years, leading to inequities in aid between rich and poor districts and causing cuts in programs, education groups contended in a report Thursday…the Alliance for Quality Education and other advocates said the state is still falling short. The groups charged that New York hasn't upheld a 2006 court order to increase aid to schools by $5.5 billion by 2011 and has also not repaid schools for cuts made during the recession. For public schools in Dutchess County, $84.3 million is owed, according to the report. The amounts range from $481,109 for Webutuck Central School District to $26,296,067 for Wappingers Central School District.” Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Monday, April 7, 2014

oil train/barge update-- Dutchess Co. Leg. Dems sign new letter for moratorium-- again, no GOP sign on(!)

[thx again to six of my Dem Co. Leg. colleagues present at tonight's full board mtg. for signing on to new letter I circulated for moratorium on crude oil shipments on barge/train on/near our river(!)...(again, incredibly, just as last month, no GOP county legislator would sign on)...but these folks did-- Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Alison MacAvery, Micki Strawinski, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, and Rich Perkins...J] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [text here below of letter I circulated signed by Co. Leg. Dem caucus] April 7, 2014 Governor Andrew Cuomo; State Senate Co-Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeffrey Klein; Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; State Senators Greg Ball and Terry Gipson; Assemblymembers Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Stephen Katz, Kieran Lalor, and Frank Skartados Dear State Leaders: As Scenic Hudson stated Apr. 4th: “Our beloved Hudson Valley is facing the biggest threat in a generation. The unprecedented and dangerous increase in the shipment of highly volatile Bakken crude oil through our communities risks contaminating our clean water and decimating our tourism economy. That's why we’re asking you to call for a moratorium on volatile crude oil shipments TODAY. An explosion or spill of this toxic material on or along the Hudson would forever change the way we live, work and play. Wetlands critical to filtering drinking water supplies and buffering against flooding would be damaged beyond repair. River-based recreation and tourism would come to an abrupt end. Our neighborhoods are at risk. We must learn the lesson of the tragic explosion of Bakken crude-filled rail cars at Lac-Megantic, Canada, which claimed 47 lives last summer. And we must remember the July 2010 tar sands oil spill that fouled 35 miles of Michigan's Kalamazoo River, making portions of it inaccessible to the public to this day. Scenic Hudson is partnering with Riverkeeper and other allies in pressing for a moratorium on the transport of crude down the Hudson until safe conditions are established. You can help by contacting U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and calling on him to place a moratorium on the shipment of Bakken crude and tar sands crude oil through the Hudson Valley. The risks are just too great. Our federal designations (American Heritage River, Estuary of National Significance and National Heritage Area) are meaningless if laws protecting the Hudson from the shipping of crude oil under dangerous conditions are not enforced. Most Bakken crude and tar sands oil is transported in unsafe and outdated DOT-111 railcars. Most oil tanker trains exploit a federal loophole that exempts 700-gallon tanker cars from having a safety plan. Outdated emergency response plans don't have provisions for Bakken-type crude shipments or its explosive nature. Many rail operators lack the resources to finance high-cost cleanup and mitigation of Bakken crude and tar sands oil spills.” As the Daily Freeman reported yesterday on its front page, “Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Conservation Director Roger Downs said, ‘Every day that these trains are allowed to traverse New York State with millions of gallons of volatile Bakken crude oil is another opportunity for catastrophe.’ There are proposals afoot to transport an even thicker crude, known as tar sands crude, on the Hudson River. This oil does something the Bakken oil does not when spilled into waterways: It sinks. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Global Partners has applied for a permit to install seven oil heating units in Albany to facilitate transfer of the tar sands crude from tanker cars to ships or barges. Transport of tar sands on or along the Hudson would be particularly risky for the river's aquatic life, as tar sands spilled in water sink to the bottom and is expensive and difficult to remove. Atlantic and shortnose sturgeons spawn in the riverbed of the Hudson, and young sturgeon find shelter in gravel-bottomed areas as they migrate downriver. Sea turtles that ply the mouth of the river in the warmer months forage on the river bottom, and could be killed by dredging, or their food sources could be damaged." Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter— on behalf of the Hudson Valley! [undersigned Dutchess County Legislators] [email countylegislators@dutchessny.gov re: below-- I'm circulating new letter at tomorrow night's mtg.!] [again: join our new Fossil-Fuel-Free Dutchess coalition on Facebook; sign my new petition on this too: (see http://www.TheSolutionsProject.org : Earth Day soon all)] [wake up folks-- none of this fossil fuel insanity is necessary-- not the oil trains, not the oil barges, not lack of green jobs, not new 130-foot power line/towers in Dutchess/Columbia, not "new capacity zone" electric rate hike, not recent Central Hudson rate hike, not dangerous "smart" meters, not climate madness, not fracking, not Danskammer booting up again, not Indian Point, not county incinerator(!): ; ] [recall front page of yesterday's Freeman as well-- "Asthma Costly for NY Medicaid System, New Report Says"-- NYS Comptroller DiNapoli-- asthma costs NYS taxpayers $532 million annually in Medicaid costs-- half of which is borne by counties like Dutchess(!): ] [there are 35,000 Dutchess residents with asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema, and our air quality here in our county has been ranked a "D", according to the American Lung Association of NYS ; see StateoftheAir.org] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [Scenic Hudson Fri.: "TAKE ACTION: Time for Moratorium on Crude Oil Shipments through our Valley": ] From the front page of today's Daily Freeman... Shipments of crude oil on Hudson River alarm environmentalists, but oil industry envisions job growth By Paul Kirby, Daily Freeman Posted: 04/05/14, 5:53 PM EDT | Updated: 1 hr ago [excerpt here below; click on link above for full article] KINGSTON >> Explosions of railroad cars carrying crude oil in parts of the U.S. and Canada have drawn significant attention, from politicians and environmental groups alike, to the questionable safety of those trains. Particularly outspoken is U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who has taken to the bully pulpit time and again to demand tougher new federal rules. He wants the tanker cars known as model DOT-111 cars, off the tracks, either replaced by safer ones or seriously retrofitted. While Schumer and others make their case to government transportation watchdogs, others are simultaneously focused on another form of crude oil delivery. Oil transport on ships and barges along the Hudson River is drawing objections from environmental groups like Riverkeeper, which is based in Westchester County. Just two years ago, environmentalists say, shipments of unrefined, thick, black, and sticky crude began on the Hudson River. John Lipscomb, a Riverkeeper patrol boat captain and manager of its Water Quality Sampling Program, says the Hudson River should be fiercely protected against a potentially disastrous crude oil spill. "We have spent decades cleaning up the river and we are getting there," said Lipscomb, who has done extensive research on crude oil transport. "We are starting to turn things around. We are trying to help the river and we should not put the river at risk for a catastrophic crude oil spill. "The river can't take any more," he said. "No crude oil should be moving on the Hudson River, period"... Lipscomb and others say the startup of crude oil shipments on the Hudson River is creating new worries. The crude oil began moving on the Hudson River to refineries in New Jersey and New Brunswick, Canada, Lipscomb said. The majority of the oil moving through New York state is coming from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, Montana and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Two terminals in the Port of Albany, operated by Global Partners and Buckeye Partners, are allowed to transport 2.8 billion gallons a year from trains that bring it there to barges and ships that move it along the Hudson River. Nowadays, one barge a day carries 4 million gallons of crude oil on the Hudson River, Lipscomb said. A tanker called Afrodite, Lipscomb says, carries an additional 8 million gallons once every eight to 10 days. That amount of crude oil, transported by barge past the coastlines of Ulster and Dutchess counties, is added to the 6 million gallons that is hauled by trains through the west side of the Hudson Valley, Lipscomb said Shipping of energy-producing products on the Hudson River is not something new. For decades, heating oil, diesel fuel, and gasoline has been shipped on the river, only recently with required double-hulled vessels, to locations where it is pumped into tanks, Lipscomb said. "Although there have been spills, these refined products are not as damaging as crude oil would be," Lipscomb said. The double-hulled barges and ships are used still when transporting crude oil, but the protection from spillage is only good in a grounding. "Collisions are another story," Lipscomb said. And the result of crude oil leakage would be significantly more environmentally damaging than a refined petroleum product spill, he added. "When you have spilling of heating fuel or gasoline, you don't get those images of black-coated shorelines or black-covered wildlife," Lipscomb said. "It doesn't cover them." Crude oil spills are much more dramatic and more difficult to clean up, particularly in fast-moving currents like that of the narrow Hudson River, according to Lipscomb. Lipscomb said cleanup specialists have told him that if there were a significant crude oil spill in the Hudson River, only about 20 to 25 percent of the oil would likely be recovered before it "found its way onto the shoreline. "That is the best we could hope for," he said. And that's not all, he added. There are proposals afoot to transport an even thicker crude, known as tar sands crude, on the Hudson River. This oil, Lipscomb said, does something the Bakken oil does not when spilled into waterways: It sinks. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Global Partners has applied for a permit to install seven oil heating units in Albany to facilitate transfer of the tar sands crude from tanker cars to ships or barges. "Transport of tar sands on or along the Hudson would be particularly risky for the river's aquatic life, as tar sands spilled in water sink to the bottom and is expensive and difficult to remove," the center said. "Atlantic and shortnose sturgeons spawn in the riverbed of the Hudson, and young sturgeon find shelter in gravel-bottomed areas as they migrate downriver. Sea turtles that ply the mouth of the river in the warmer months forage on the river bottom, and could be killed by dredging, or their food sources could be damaged." The center said a 2010 spill of tar sands in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan has cost nearly $1 billion to remove and the cleanup is still not complete. Dredging - which has been done in the Kalamazoo River - could be particularly harmful to fish and other wildlife in the Hudson, the center said. "To recover sinking oil, you have to find it," Lipscomb said. "In the Hudson, that would be almost impossible, because you can't see anything." In the case of a tar sands spill, only 5 percent of the oil would likely be recovered from the river's bed, Lipscomb said. Said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, "The Hudson River is the lifeblood of New York - its past, its future, its identity. It's also a natural treasure. A major oil spill here would be a disaster for wildlife and people alike." Lipscomb said it may be impossible to prevent oil transport along the Hudson River. Still, it is the position of Riverkeeper and other groups that no crude oil should be transported on the Hudson River until: * Federal and state agencies complete a full review of spill response plan for the Hudson River to account for worst-case scenario of crude oil spill and "test response to ensure its adequacy." * The state Department of Environmental Conservation completes a full environmental impact study for proposal by Global Partners oil terminal expansions in Albany and New Windsor. * The same state agency reopens and completes the same type of review "for existing permits that allowed Port of Albany crude oil throughout to increase from zero to 2.8 billion (gallons) in two years." Meanwhile, the Center for Biological Diversity has filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency for failing to update oil spill plans. "The existing antiquated protocols - developed before the oil transport boom that now funnels billions of gallons through the region annually - fail to adequately protect endangered species and people dependent on the river," according to the center's statement. The notice identifies 17 federally protected endangered species, including the Atlantic sturgeon, sea turtles and piping plovers, that are threatened by the increased risk of spills. Lipscomb said a crude oil spill would also have a devastating effect on other river life, including blue crab and eel. A spill may also seriously damage Hudson Valley tourism, as well as place a substantial burden on communities that draw drinking water from the Hudson River. On Friday, three environmental groups stepped up calls on the federal Department of Transportation to protect the Hudson River, both from possible spills from barges and oil-transporting railroad cars. In Friday's press release, they pointed out that March 24 was the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. They also pointed to more recent spills. "As the nation marked the recent 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill that devastated Alaska's coastline, crews were cleaning up 170,000 gallons of oil that flowed from a barge into Galveston Bay in Texas," the release said. "In February, 30,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Mississippi River near New Orleans. There have been two recent oil-tanker train derailments in the Hudson River Valley, fortunately with no spills." Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, said the federal government needs to take action on something officials know is dangerous. "All of the federal agencies involved acknowledge how dangerous DOT-111 tank cars are and are aware of the imminent threat these moving time bombs pose to our communities," Gallay said. Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan, whose group in based in Poughkeepsie, also issued a warning. "A spill in the Hudson River could be catastrophic to the public health and natural resources of the region," Sullivan said. "It could foul wetlands, halt recreational fishing and gridlock commercial traffic." And Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Conservation Director Roger Downs said, "Every day that these trains are allowed to traverse New York State with millions of gallons of volatile Bakken crude oil is another opportunity for catastrophe." As far as crude oil transport on the Hudson goes, Lipscomb is convinced the risk is really too great. "We just can't roll the dice," he said. About the Author Paul Kirby is a reporter for the Freeman, covering Kingston politics. He has been at the Freeman since August 1996. Reach the author at pkirby@freemanonline.com or follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulatFreeman. ############################################# [here below-- posted on to Scenic Hudson's website Friday] TAKE ACTION: It's Time for a Moratorium on Crude Oil Shipments through our Valley April 4, 2014 - 4:23pm -- Scenic Hudson Our beloved Hudson Valley is facing the biggest threat in a generation. The unprecedented and dangerous increase in the shipment of highly volatile Bakken crude oil through our communities risks contaminating our clean water and decimating our tourism economy. That's why I'm asking you to call for a moratorium on volatile crude oil shipments TODAY. An explosion or spill of this toxic material on or along the Hudson would forever change the way we live, work and play. Wetlands critical to filtering drinking water supplies and buffering against flooding would be damaged beyond repair. River-based recreation and tourism would come to an abrupt end. Our neighborhoods are at risk. We must learn the lesson of the tragic explosion of Bakken crude-filled rail cars at Lac-Megantic, Canada, which claimed 47 lives last summer. And we must remember the July 2010 tar sands oil spill that fouled 35 miles of Michigan's Kalamazoo River, making portions of it inaccessible to the public to this day. Scenic Hudson is partnering with Riverkeeper and other allies in pressing for a moratorium on the transport of crude down the Hudson until safe conditions are established. You can help by contacting U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and calling on him to place a moratorium on the shipment of Bakken crude and tar sands crude oil through the Hudson Valley. The risks are just too great. CONTACT SECRETARY FOXX TODAY - TELL HIM NO CRUDE IN THE HUDSON VALLEY! Call: 202-366-1111 Tweet: @SecretaryFoxx #NoCrudeonHudson E-mail: anthony.foxx@dot.gov Here are some points to make when calling for a moratorium on the shipment of Bakken Crude and tar sands oil along the Hudson: * Our federal designations (American Heritage River, Estuary of National Significance and National Heritage Area) are meaningless if laws protecting the Hudson from the shipping of crude oil under dangerous conditions are not enforced. * Most Bakken crude and tar sands oil is transported in unsafe and outdated DOT-111 railcars. * Most oil tanker trains exploit a federal loophole that exempts 700-gallon tanker cars from having a safety plan. * Outdated emergency response plans don't have provisions for Bakken-type crude shipments or its explosive nature. * Many rail operators lack the resources to finance high-cost cleanup and mitigation of Bakken crude and tar sands oil spills. ############################################# [recall below sent out on this Weds. a.m.] Today's Times: "Albany's Perilous Oil Boom"-- oil trains still threat here in Hudson Valley! - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From ...(today's Times): [yes, pertinent here in Hudson Valley still, folks-- wake up-- re: New Windsor-- and local oil trains] The Opinion Pages|EDITORIAL Albany's Perilous Oil Boom By THE EDITORIAL BOARD APRIL 1, 2014 Daniel McCoy, who manages Albany County and its port on the Hudson River, decided last month, that he had to do something about the dangers presented by the rumbling oil tank cars carrying crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken fields to Albany, from which it is then shipped to refineries in the Northeast. Concerned about the safety of the county's 300,000-plus residents, Mr. McCoy imposed a moratorium on the expansion of oil processing facilities at the Port of Albany by Global Partners, an energy company that processes the oil so that it can be transferred to river barges. It was the strongest weapon in Mr. McCoy's limited arsenal, but he was on the right track: Tank cars are accidents waiting to happen, and regulators at all levels should take all possible steps to reduce the risks. In July, a string of tank cars derailed and exploded in the small Quebec town of Lac-M├ęgantic, killing 47 people. There have been other explosions and derailments. With these in mind, last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration completed a second round of inspections of tank cars and facilities at rail yards in the Albany area and in western New York, and called on the federal government to update its old spill response plans. Mr. Cuomo could go further by ordering an environmental impact statement of any proposals for crude oil facilities, including the one that Mr. McCoy has on hold. He might also consider bigger fees on tank cars entering New York and use the proceeds to train and equip emergency workers. Two Canadian railroads have said they are phasing out or repairing some of the older tank cars, known as DOT-111s, that do not provide necessary protections against derailments and explosions. Washington should do the same. And it should follow through on rules jointly proposed with Canada under which trains from the Bakken fields would avoid populated areas, while the oil itself would be regulated like other toxic materials. That would require more security, better spill-response plans and assurances that the cargo is properly identified. ################################################### [recall below sent out to this list Mar. 11th on all this] Re: oil trains/barges-- Co. Leg. Dems sign moratorium letter; Fossil-Fuel-Free Dutchess!... [finally-- thx tons to the other seven members of our Co. Leg. Dem caucus for signing on to this letter below circulated by yours truly at last night's Co. Leg. full board mtg.-- endorsing Scenic Hudson/Riverkeeper/NRDC call (inspired by PoJo editorial Sat. as well)-- calling for immediate moratorium on oil trains/barges through our local communities-- until it can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are truly safe! (feel free to follow up: call Cuomo, state leg.'s-- at (877) 255-9417!...J] [specifically, Mar. 10th signers to this letter (besides myself) included my Co. Leg. colleagues Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Alison MacAvery, Micki Strawinski, Francena Amparo, April Marie Farley, Gwen Johnson, and Rich Perkins-- sadly, only Dem co. leg.'s signed on to this; hopefully GOP will wake up] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - March 10, 2014 Governor Andrew Cuomo; State Senate Co-Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein; Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; State Senators Greg Ball and Terry Gipson; Assemblymembers Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Kieran Michael Lalor, and Frank Skartados: Dear State Leaders: We the undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, strongly echo the March 6th statement last Thursday from Riverkeeper that Governor Cuomo's actions taken so far towards making crude oil transport safer through the Hudson Valley "have done nothing to prevent this virtual pipeline from continuing to flow through our communities and waters. Knowing that the federal government isn't doing enough, the governor should take the next step and call for a moratorium on crude oil shipping by rail and vessel until heightened risks are reduced or eliminated." The Poughkeepsie Journal editorial this past Saturday (March 8th) additionally noted the following-"The transportation of volatile crude oil by train and barges has grown dramatically in the last 10 years and, with it, the threat of a massive environmental disaster along or in the Hudson River. The state, in fact, has seen several derailments, including one on CSX's River Line near KingstonŠOil trains typically run 80 to 100 tank cars, so just consider what would happen if one derails full of capacity and the tanks are compromisedŠGovernor Andrew Cuomo is ratcheting up inspections and taking other actions, including directing state agencies to do a thorough review of safety regulations and emergency response preparedness for these shipments coming into the state. But more needs to done not only by the state but by federal regulators and private industry to ensure the crude is contained and carried safely - and that the tracks and other equipment needed for safe passage are in sound working order." Finally, we also strongly echo the February 7th statement from Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper, and the Natural Resources Defense Council "calling on Governor Cuomo to work with our Congressional delegation to achieve the following additional steps, beyond those required by the Governor's executive order: -- Direct New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct a full environmental review of Global Companies' pending application to expand its oil terminal operations in Albany and its application to expand its operations at its facility in New Windsor, New York. -- Invoke the power of his office as Governor of the State of New York, in collaboration with our U.S. representatives, to persuade federal authorities with relevant jurisdiction to impose a moratorium on the transport of crude oil by rail through New York cities and towns and by ship on New York waterways until essential safety improvements are in place and spill response and firefighting capabilities are demonstrated to be adequate to cope with "worst case scenario" spills and fires, including derailment and explosion of rail tanker cars carrying flammable Bakken crude, and spills of heavy crude into New York waters. -- Call on federal agencies to prohibit the use of outdated, dangerous DOT-111 rail cars for the transportation of crude oil in New York, expand the scope of the state agency review directed by the executive order to include an assessment not only of the state's but also of local government's spill prevention and response capabilities, and take action to immediately determine the financial capability of companies currently operating in New York storing, handling and transporting petroleum products, including crude oil by rail and vessel, to respond to a worst case scenario spill as defined by the U.S. Coast Guard" Thank you for your attention to this matter. ################################################### [recall below sent out to this list Sat. a.m.-- after I first shared it with my 24 Co. Leg. colleagues] From: Joel Tyner To: countylegislators@dutchessny.gov Subject: Colleagues-- re: today's Poughkeepsie Journal editorial on crude oil, Hudson River... [please let me know if you'd be interested in signing on to letter Monday night echoing this below!...Joel] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Editorial: Crude oil spill could devastate Hudson Mar. 7, 2014 11:05 PM | Coming Sunday In an exclusive report, the Poughkeepsie Journal examines the efficacy of oil spill drills like the one conducted by the state in New Windsor in November. The transportation of volatile crude oil by train and barges has grown dramatically in the last 10 years and, with it, the threat of a massive environmental disaster along or in the Hudson River. The state, in fact, has seen several derailments, including one on CSX's River Line near Kingston. The state has been lucky. So far in these derailments, there haven't been injuries or significant spills but, quite frankly, the odds are lousy that the state's fortune will hold out unless changes are made. Oil trains typically run 80 to 100 tank cars, so just consider what would happen if one derails full of capacity and the tanks are compromised. Unquestionably, the state and federal government have been incredibly slow to react and should have been far more prepared for this. Now they must scramble to get better, much stronger safety standards in place. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ratcheting up inspections and taking other actions, including directing state agencies to do a thorough review of safety regulations and emergency response preparedness for these shipments coming into the state. But more needs to done not only by the state but by federal regulators and private industry to ensure the crude is contained and carried safely - and that the tracks and other equipment needed for safe passage are in sound working order. Much of this crude oil is coming from Bakken oil fields in North Dakota. The Port of Albany handles much of the disbursement; the crude is placed on ships and barges that head down the Hudson to refineries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and north to Canada. Cuomo is calling on the U.S. Coast Guard to review certain safety precautions for facilities and vessels - and to strengthen the protocols where appropriate. The state also has fined CSX railroad $10,000 for failing to meet reporting requirements in two of the oil train derailments. But this is a pittance to pay for one of the nation's leading transportation suppliers, and it shows, in stark terms, why penalties for these violations and others must be dramatically increased. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and others, including many environmental groups, also are calling for old oil tank cars to be phased out in a matter of months. They have every reason to push for such a fast time frame. These so-called "DOT-111s" cars have ruptured in accidents across the country, and state inspections have found various defects on these tank cars. Federal authorities have been working with the state on inspections, and this is critical because the state's authority is limited in some cases. So far, the federal government and the Association of American Railroads have worked through a voluntary deal aimed at improving safety. That strategy includes having trains slow down when traveling through major cities and improving emergency response planning along the routes. No one should be satisfied by any "voluntary" agreement. If a barge or trainload of crude spills, the environmental damage could be catastrophic, the cleanup expensive, the finger-pointing unending, and the lawsuits considerable. Such scenarios also must be put into a much larger discussion about the nation's energy sources, but the reality is these shipments are coming now and will be for the foreseeable future. Far more thought - and resources - must be spent on their safe transport. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3.06.14 :: PRESS RELEASES :: PRESERVE RIVER ECOLOGY Governor Cuomo's Concerns about Crude Oil Transport Should be followed by Immediate Actions to Protect New York Communities and the Environment FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2014 Contact: Tina Posterli, 914-478-4501 x 239, tposterli@riverkeeper.org Statement from Riverkeeper "Governor Andrew Cuomo's statement during an interview on 'The Capitol Pressroom' that New York State and federal government need to do more to prepare for the influx of trains transporting crude oil, is welcome news. However, the governor's strong statements and initial call to federal agencies to strengthen regulations and controls over rail and vessel shipments of these hazardous materials needs to lead to swift, tangible state actions. The governor conceded that he needed more details on Global Partners' proposed Port of Albany facility before he could weigh in on its plan to heat and transport thick, heavy crude through Albany and down the Hudson River. Given that Governor Cuomo clearly recognizes the danger of transporting volatile crude, he should direct the DEC to immediately require a full environmental impact statement that evaluates the potential impacts connected with all of Global's current and proposed operations in the Port of Albany and in New Windsor, New York, and provide all potentially impacted communities with the opportunity to fully participate in that environmental review. Anything less does not honor the governor's repeated calls to take action to protect communities from the risks of crude oil transport. The actions taken so far have done nothing to prevent this virtual pipeline from continuing to flow through our communities and waters. Knowing that the federal government isn't doing enough, the governor should take the next step and call for a moratorium on crude oil shipping by rail and vessel until heightened risks are reduced or eliminated." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Print 02.07.14 :: PRESS RELEASES :: PRESERVE RIVER ECOLOGY Groups Support Governor Cuomo's Executive Order Directing State and Federal Agencies to Comprehensively Review Safety of Crude Oil Shipments, but Urge Additional Actions to Protect New York Communities and the Environment Immediately FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contacts: Kate Slusark Kiely, Natural Resources Defense Council, 212 727 4592; kkiely@nrdc.org Tina Posterli, Riverkeeper, 516 526 9371; tposterli@riverkeeper.org Jay Burgess, Scenic Hudson, 845 473 4440, Ext. 222; jburgess@scenichudson.org Call for a moratorium on crude oil shipping by rail and vessel until heightened risks identified by governor's order are reduced or eliminated HUDSON VALLEY, NY - February 7, 2014 - Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper, and Scenic Hudson commend Governor Cuomo for issuing a January 28, 2014 Executive Order that identifies the immediate major risks to New York communities and waterways, including the Hudson River, from the significant increase in transport of unrefined petroleum products by rail, ship and barge and that directs five state agencies to report by April 30 on the state's preparedness to handle a potential crude oil spill or fire resulting from that transport. The environmental groups also strongly support the Cuomo Administration's call for federal agencies to strengthen regulations and controls over rail and vessel shipments of these hazardous materials. The groups call on Governor Cuomo to take additional steps to safeguard New York's environment and public safety from the ongoing risk of the devastating impacts of a spill, explosion or fire that communities and the environment in the U.S. and Canada have suffered repeatedly over the past several months. "We agree with the governor that there are unacceptable risks to New Yorkers presented by the current and expanding transport of crude oil by rail and vessel through hundreds of New York communities and on and along New York's unique waterways. However, the governor's executive order will not bring about any actual, immediate changes or protections on the ground to reduce or eliminate those risks because the transport of crude oil will continue at breakneck pace," said Kate Hudson, Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper. "While the three month study called for by the governor's executive order is an important evaluation of the state's and local communities' ability to respond to spills of crude oil petroleum products shipped by rail or vessel, the study does not begin to address the underlying source of the threats to public safety that would make emergency response necessary. It isn't sufficient to ensure the state's 'readiness for potential disasters,' we must prevent the disasters from occurring in the first place." Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper, and Scenic Hudson are calling on Governor Cuomo to work with our Congressional delegation to achieve the following additional steps, beyond those required by the Governor's executive order, in order to begin to address the ongoing threat to public safety and the environment that he has identified: * Invoke the power of his office as Governor of the State of New York, in collaboration with our U.S. representatives, to persuade federal authorities with relevant jurisdiction to impose a moratorium on the transport of crude oil by rail through New York cities and towns and by ship on New York waterways until essential safety improvements are in place and spill response and firefighting capabilities are demonstrated to be adequate to cope with "worst case scenario" spills and fires, including derailment and explosion of rail tanker cars carrying flammable Bakken crude, and spills of heavy crude into New York waters. * Call on federal agencies to prohibit the use of outdated, dangerous DOT-111 rail cars for the transportation of crude oil in New York. The NTSB and its Canadian counterpart have both issued unprecedented joint warnings about DOT-111 tank cars, citing them for insufficient lining, external shields and venting to protect against punctures or gas build-ups that have been factors in recent fiery derailments involving crude. The chair of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said her agency "was concerned that major loss of life, property damage and environmental consequences can occur" as a result of the 400-per-cent increase in oil shipments by rail since 2005. "Our safety regulations need to catch up with this new reality." * Direct New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct a full environmental review of Global Companies' pending application to expand its oil terminal operations in Albany and its application to expand its operations at its facility in New Windsor, New York. * Call on DEC to immediately reassess all previous permit modifications granted to Global Companies LLC and Buckeye Partners, L.P. that have allowed these companies to transport millions of gallons of crude oil per day into the Port of Albany without any comprehensive environmental review or public participation. * Expand the scope of the state agency review directed by the executive order to include an assessment not only of the state's but also of local government's spill prevention and response capabilities and invite county and local elected representatives and emergency response officials from communities at risk from crude oil shipping to join the state agency review at the outset, so that local communities can provide input from the beginning on local risks and preparedness needs. * Clarify that the assessment of the state's and local communities' capacity to prevent and respond to accidents resulting from the transport of crude oil by rail and vessel include evaluation of spills involving both Bakken-type light crude oil and heavy crude oil and tar sands diluted bitumen, the type of petroleum products that are nearly impossible to remove from water bodies and the type Global Companies LLC would be capable of transporting if its current oil terminal expansion application were granted. * Take action to immediately determine the financial capability of companies currently operating in New York storing, handling and transporting petroleum products, including crude oil by rail and vessel, to respond to a worst case scenario spill as defined by the U.S. Coast Guard and to require such operators to provide proof of financial ability to respond to clean up efforts and claims resulting from such a spill in order to continue to lawfully operate in New York (currently required in the states of California and Alaska). Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, "Governor Cuomo has demonstrated his commitment to preserving and enhancing the natural resources of the Hudson Valley through his support of the regional economic development councils' green jobs projects, and he has shown strong leadership in responding to Hurricane Sandy. His executive order lays the groundwork for future strengthening of crude oil spill prevention and response. In view of the grounding of a crude oil tanker on the Hudson and growing numbers of rail accidents and disasters in the U.S and Canada, we urge the governor, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and our Congressional delegation to call on federal authorities with jurisdiction over rail and navigable waterways to impose a moratorium on the transport of crude oil in the Hudson River Valley and beyond while appropriate spill prevention and response measures are put in place. In addition, the existing and proposed Global Companies permits should be subject to a comprehensive environmental review by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation before any further authorizations are issued and transport allowed. The health and safety of our citizens and the integrity of our treasured natural resources will be at grave risk from the transport of crude oil until these actions are taken." Sullivan added: "We are not asking for the moratorium on the transportation of home heating oil, industrial materials or any other substances that are properly regulated and transported, only these crude oils that evidence shows are dangerous and not currently subject to appropriate controls while being transported. We look forward to implementation of Governor Cuomo's executive order as the responsible and appropriate process for determining when safe conditions have been established and when the proposed moratorium on transportation of crude oil through the Hudson Valley can be lifted." "A spate of horrific spills and accidents involving the transport of crude oil across North America have demonstrated not only the serious threats it presents to human life, health and the environment, but also the gross inadequacy of current federal and state safeguards against those threats," said Kate Sinding, Senior Attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We commend Governor Cuomo for taking these important first steps towards addressing the potentially catastrophic risks presented by crude oil storage and shipment in New York State, and we urge him to undertake additional measures to ensure that this activity not be permitted to continue unless the full measure of risks is understood and essential safeguards are in place." As much as 1.2 billion gallons of crude oil enter the Port of Albany annually, and that capacity will jump to 2.8 billion gallons annually under oil terminal permits for Global Companies and Buckeye Partners that were approved by DEC in 2012 and 2013 before many of the concerns about these shipments came to light. In addition to the executive order issued by the governor on January 28, 2014, the governor released a letter from the Commissioners of NYS DOT, DEC, DOH and the Division of Homeland Security and Community Services to four federal officials calling on the federal government to tighten controls over rail freight transport of dangerous crude, including rail car safety, which "federal law preempts New York from regulating." Stating that voluntary efforts on the part of the rail and petroleum industries are insufficient to protect the public, the state commissioners urged the federal agencies to work together to ensure that new safety regulations are adopted expeditiously. By immediately taking the additional steps recommended above, even while the state and federal agencies named in the executive order begin to address the concerns he has raised, Governor Cuomo and our elected federal representatives will more quickly advance efforts to effectively prevent crude oil spills and fires in New York State and will ensure that if and when crude oil transport resumes, New Yorkers will be fully aware of all environmental risks and that response equipment and financial resources will be more than adequate to cope with any spills which do occur. ### About Natural Resources Defense Council NRDC is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC. About Riverkeeper Riverkeeper is a member-supported, watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. www.riverkeeper.org About Scenic Hudson Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. A crusader for the valley since 1963, we are credited with saving fabled Storm King Mountain from a destructive industrial project and launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, we are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. Our team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley's inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 50 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved more than 30,000 acres. www.scenichudson.org - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 02.26.14 :: CATEGORIES: BARGE, CRUDE OIL, CSX, FISH, AND HUDSON RIVER. On notice: Crude oil transport on Hudson threatens endangered species By Neale Gulley on February 26, 2014 Photo credit: Cacophny The recent massive increase in crude oil shipments on and along the Hudson River by rail, ship and barge poses an unacceptable triple threat to the many significant or protected marine species that rely on miles of unique and irreplaceable habitat. Because the river is a tidal estuary, meaning it ebbs and flows with the ocean tide, it supports a biologically rich environment, making it a vital ecosystem for various species of aquatic life. For many key species, it provides critical habitats and essential spawning and breeding grounds. Atlantic Sturgeon in the Hudson feed on the river bottom, grow to 8 feet in length and live 50-plus years. The River used to be home to many thousands of these beautiful fish, though now there are less than 300 spawning age adults in the river during spawning season. This species and 16 others are either threatened or listed on the endangered species list. Now, with millions of gallons of oil being shipped down the river on ships and barges, and millions more carried each day on trains along the river's edge, the threat is even greater - the danger more imminent. The Center for Biological Diversity http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/ this week took a heroic first step in holding industry and regulators accountable for the likely devastation of a crude oil spill in the Hudson River, when the group boasting some 625,000 members filed a notice of intent to sue sent to the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Coast Guard based on alleged "Violations of the Endangered Species Act" related to the New York and New Jersey Area Contingency Plan, a federally-mandated document intended to guide response to a catastrophic oil spill on the Hudson River and in New York Harbor. See CBD's press release accompanying the notice.