John Faso....Bought And Paid For
The Town Hall Meeting with Congressman John Faso was extremely enlightening on Thursday, August 31st.
When Mr. Faso was asked if he would continue accepting major campaign contributions from the billionaire Mercer Family Foundation (the major funders of Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon and the dominant alt-right publication in the U.S., Breitbart News), especially after the shameful display of violence and hatred by white supremacists in Charlottesville last month, he told the audience of 200 he would STILL ACCEPT FUNDING FROM THE MERCERS in future campaigns.
Any thinking citizen understands the implications of this statement: John Faso is bought and paid for by the Mercers. And in light of his extensive lobbyist past, being bought and paid for comes naturally to Mr. Faso.
It is imperative John Faso is removed from office in 2018. I urge all voters in the 19th Congressional District to remember this fact.
Defend, Don't Defund, The Forests In Which We Live
City, town, and suburban neighborhoods that are pleasant to walk or drive through — what is one thing they tend to have in common? The presence of mature trees. We can thank the science and practice of urban forestry for that. Urban environments are those that have been significantly altered by human activity. Eighty percent of Americans live in the urban forest; by 2050, ninety percent of us are projected to be.
Trees make our urban environments livable. They provide beauty, psychological comfort, and energy-saving shade; they calm traffic; they take massive amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air and sequester it as carbon in their wood; their canopies slow down storm-water runoff, which takes the strain off of expensive municipal drainage systems; they are proven to increase property values; and they provide food and shelter for wildlife.
These benefits are monetarily quantifiable. In the Northeast, a large tree provides $5,870 in environmental and other benefits over its lifetime, a nearly 440-percent return on investment. Nationwide, the collective value of community trees for all the services they provide exceeds $10 billion.
An analysis in our region in 2013 yielded interesting results in Red Hook, Beacon, and Cold Spring. A team trained in i-Tree, a peer-reviewed inventory and value assessment software, found that there are 450 trees on public land in Red Hook that provide $70,661 in annual benefits, or $157.02 per tree per year. They found that Beacon has 855 street trees providing $109,304 in annual benefits, and in Cold Spring, they found there are 437 trees yielding $56,719 in annual benefits.
The President's proposed federal budget would defund the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program. This would end the program that provides technical, financial, research, and educational services to local government, nonprofit organizations, community groups, educational institutions, and tribal governments. This would cost America much more than it would save. Please call your representative in the House to let him or her know how important urban and community forestry funding is to you.
Affirming Our Democracy
The League of Women Voters of the MidHudson Region, which includes both Ulster and Duchess Counties, is strongly committed to a fair election process. An important part of the democratic election process is how our elections are conducted. There are four important parts of this process as defined by the Brennan Center for Justice:
- Campaign contribution limits;
- Public Financing;
- Commission of Public Finance;
- Contribution Disclosure requirements.
The proposed local law, introduced in May by Ulster County Executive Mike Hein to bring campaign finance reform to Ulster County contains each of these elements. It is modeled after and adapted from the successful New York City law, and similar approaches have been successful in Connecticut and Maine.
The proposed local law is supported by both the New York State and Mid-Hudson Chapters of the League of Women Voters, joined by Common Cause, The New York Public Interest Research Group, the Working Families Party and Citizen Action of New York.
So far, the proposed local law has remained in the Laws and Rules Committee for several months. There are some political disagreements to be ironed out. The limited discussion in the Laws and Rules Committee has revolved around several misunderstandings regarding its provisions. For example, some individuals seemed to believe that public financing would be contingent on the tax cap or a lack of County fiscal problems. However, the proposed local law guarantees $50,000 each year for matching funds independent of the tax cap or any County fiscal problems. Others seemed confused over when the contribution limits would apply, suggesting they would only be applicable during the year of the election. In actuality, the limits apply to the entire election cycle. Thus, the $1000 contribution limit for contractors doing business with the county, for example, is a limit that extends over four years of the election cycle for county-wide candidates.
The Legislature should take up this resolution as soon as possible and open it up to public discussion. The discussion should include the executive, both legislative parties and the public. The LWVMHR would gladly participate in the discussion. Speedy adoption would again put Ulster County in a leadership position for action in this area. It would be a real step towards voters reclaiming our democracy and assuring fair elections.
President, and the Board of LWVMHR
And you'll be missed as well. Of all the papers I've seen, large and small, the Journal, under your editorship, has been the most open to diverse ideas and points of view.
The principle of freedom of speech, upon which freedom of the press is based, often exemplified by disagreeing with what is being said but defending the right to say it, has been strongly supported by Paul Smart.
If we ever manage to bridge the divide it will be because of persons of his credo.
Best of luck in your new endeavors.
Toxic Wawayanda Power Plant
Like so many in our area, I was ecstatic to learn that NYS DEC Deputy Commissioner Thomas Berkman wrote a decision to deny permits to Millennium Pipeline Co for its proposed Valley Lateral Pipeline, which would have provided toxic fracked fuel to our region's prime public health menace, the CPV toxic power plant in Wawayanda (TH-R, 9/1/17).
It was interesting to read a little later that Assemblyperson James Skoufis has also seen the light by coming out against the CPV public health menace (TH-R, 9/2/17). Better late than never, Mr. Skoufis!
Will Congressperson Sean Patrick Maloney ever wake up, or is he too enamored of CPV contributions to his campaign fund? Better to keep CPV money coming in to his coffers and CPV contributing to our increased need for coffins, then to prevent the poisoning of his constituents?
For those who missed it, CPV, off I-84 by Middletown, would be poisonous because it would emit neurotoxic and carcinogenic particulates that irrevocably poison our water supply and crops, including those of the Black Dirt region.
Additionally, these poisonous particles enter and remain in our bodies when we breathe them in.
Furthermore, as DEC noted, pipelines that carry poisonous fracked material leak at rate of about 10%. Those poisons (which include synthetics, heavy metals, and naturally-occurring radioactive particles) leach into our water supply and they cannot be removed.
Safe green renewable energy is feasible, economically lucrative, and the only sane choice.
Co-Chair – Hudson Valley Green Party