Bucking party, Gibson says he’ll introduce bill that says humans help cause climate change

GOP Congressman Chris Gibson wants to introduce two bills that will acknowledge climate change, human’s role in it, and help phase in government subsidies away from fossil fuel and into renewable energy, he said Saturday.

I caught Gibson at the Old Dutch Church’s indoor farmer’s market in Kingston on Saturday and asked him about the resolutions, which were first reported by National Journal reporter Ben Geman.

Gibson said he plans to introduce a two-part resolution that will first acknowledge changing weather patterns throughout the country, laying out the science and facts that back it up.

Gibson pointed to severe weather events that have hit our region in the last few years, including Hurricanes Sandy and Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, as examples.

That second part of the resolution will acknowledge man’s role in climate change and say human’s should be involved in changing it, he said.

That position is one that goes against the grain of many in the GOP in Congress, who have expressed doubt that humans burning fossil fuels is a driver of climate change. Some have even been suspicious that it’s happening at all, despite a scientific consensus on the subject.

The GOP is in the majority in the House and will take over the Senate next year.

Gibson says he’ll also introduce a second bill that hopes to shift some of the $4 billion in fossil fuel subsidies to the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy account for renewable energies. Gibson said how much he wants the appropriation to change is still being worked out, but because it would be budget-neutral and he thinks it would gain traction with more-skeptical GOP members.

Gibson also says he has a strategy to help build support and co-sponsors.

He and his staff have studied the biographies of incoming congressional members in beltway publications like CQ Roll Call, looking for common interests that may intersect or be benefited by his bills.

Whether they’ve expressed interest with environmental or conservation issues or even tangential issues like open space, Gibson says he’s found openings for discussion. He says there’s hope for co-sponsorship with existing GOP members as well.

“Among existing members there’s more support that what’s visible,” Gibson said. “It’s really just yeoman’s work.”

Once he can build support and co-sponsors for his bills, the strategy is to move the language and co-sponsors onto a larger, omnibus energy and water appropriations bill as an amendment, Gibson said.

Gibson spoke more generally on this subject earlier this week at an event hosted by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions and several other organizations, according to the National Journal, who wrote about Gibson’s climate change bills earlier this week. (They’re article tipped me off to write this blog post and it’s well done, so check it out.)

In video of Gibson’s remarks provided by event organizers, while he says he supports expanded exploration for drilling and the Keystone XL Pipeline in order to drive down the costs of energy, he also voiced support for driving down the costs of manufacturing and installing solar panels.

Gibson represents all of Sullivan and Ulster counties as part of the 19th Congressional District. He won his third term in Congress in November.

Posted in Down in D.C., Sullivan, Ulster | Leave a comment

UPDATED: Larkin’s post-election filing AWOL from BOE website

UPDATE TWO:  Tkaczyk’s campaign spokesman, Jim Plastiras, confirmed to me that the filing hasn’t been submitted but will be up today. Here’s his statement:

Yes, the person preparing it was taken ill while out of town over the holidays. She thought she’d be able to put it together and submit it remotely, but didn;t have all the info she needed. She is finalizing and expects to have it in today.

UPDATE: Sen. Bill Larkin’s campaign filing arrived today, sometime after I called the office this morning asking about the issue. I also confirmed with the state Board of Elections that Tkaczyk’s campaign filing has not been filed. The potential fine is up to $1,000. Larkin called me personally today and said his campaign had some issues with banks that delayed getting the complete report finished and up.

Here’s my original post:

Another post-election filing that’s nowhere to be seen on the state Board of Election’s website is GOP Sen. Bill Larkin.

Larkin, who lives in Cornwall-on-Hudson and represents much of Orange County as well as Marlborough and Plattekill in Ulster County, coasted to an easy win on Nov. 4.

But there’s no sign of his required 27-post-general campaign filing, according to the BOE website.

I’ll be reaching out to Larkin to see what the deal is. But his post-election filing isn’t the only one that’s AWOL from the BOE’s website. Democratic Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk’s filing also is missing from the website.

Here’s a snippet from the state BOE Campaign Finance Handbook to help us understand things better:

Violations; Penalties

1. Any person who fails to file a statement required to be filed by this article shall be subject to a civil penalty, not in excess of one thousand dollars, to be recoverable in a special proceeding or civil action to be brought by NYSBOE or other board of elections

Posted in Orange, Ulster, Up in Albany | Leave a comment

Seward raised $10K before election

You may not see him too often in our neck of the woods, but GOP state Sen. James Seward represents a corner of our region.

Seward, who won the uncontested 51st Senate seat in November, represents in Ulster County Hardenburgh, Olive, Rochester and Shandaken.

But no opposition doesn’t mean no fundraising.

Post-election day filings show in the final stretch of campaign season Seward was given $1,000 from the National Continental Insurance Company, all the way out in Mayfield Village, Ohio. Exxon Mobil Corporation from Houston, Texas handed over $750.

Seward also received $3,500 from the New York Truck PAC, $1,500 from LawPAC of New York and $500 from Next Era Energy Transmissions allthe way out in Juno Beach Florida.

Seward chairs the Senate Insurance committee and is a member of nine other committees in the GOP-controlled Senate.

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UPDATED: Cahill spent more than $1,700 in campaign cash on victory party (and other post-election tidbits)

UPDATE: Speaking to Assemblyman Kevin Cahill on Friday afternoon, he made several points about some of the spending related to the post-elections report.

He said spending at the different Kingston restaurants was to promote them as opposed to going spending all the money at one catering hall. He also said it wasn’t a victory party but an event to recognize volunteers who helped with his campaign. Finally, he said the money spent is nothing different from those in other years.

Secondly, Cahill said the trip to Puerto Rico was part of the Somos El Futoro Conference, an annual event hosted by the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. He said lobbyists and state legislators cam together to discuss policy, including policy dealing with new immigrants. It was his first time attending.

Here’s my original article:

It looks like the victory party for Assemblyman Kevin Cahill was an international smorgasbord of culinary delight, using campaign cash to buy from a bevy of Kingston restaurants to celebrate winning his 10th term in the Assembly.

According to filings with the state Board of Elections, Cahill used his campaign war chest for a party at BSP Lounge to sample treats from the following eateries:  Diegos Taqueria, Rene’s Italian Bistro, Ecce Terra Restaurant, Joe Beez, Sissy’s Cafe, Deising’s Bakery and Vincenzo’s.

The campaign also spent $330 at JK’s Wine and Liquor, $83 at Hannaford’s, $114 at Party City and $19 a Catskill Art Supply. Nicole Parete, daughter-in-law of Ulster County Legislature Chair John Parete, was also paid $179 at the party. She worked on Cahill’s campaign.

Aside from the money spent on the party on the day before the Nov. 4 election, Cahill spent $264 on “election day candy.”

But, as they say, that’s not all.

Filings show that Cahill, a Democrat, went to a post-election conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. While there, he spent $603.97 for dinner at the luxurious Pikayo Restaurant, where he could have sampled seared cold rare Hawaiian Yellow Fin tuna or a certified Angus beef tenderloin, according to its menu. He also spent $585 at Ruth’s Steakhouse in Carolina while on the island.

So who’s filling Cahill’s campaign coffers?

Well, a sampling shows a lot of it comes from insurance-related companies, labor, healthcare and education sources. Cahill chairs the Committee on Insurance in the Assembly and is a member of the Committee on Health and Committee on Higher Education.

Take Cahill’s campaign filing 32 days before the primary. He received $2,000 from the Life Insurance Council of New York PAC, $4,100 from Voice of Teachers for Education Committee and $500 from the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Political Fund.

And 11 days before the primary, Cahill received $1,000 from Israel, Israel & Purdy, LLP, a law firm concentrating in no-fault reimbursement for health care providers, according to its website, AllState Insurance Company in Illinois gave Cahill $4,000, Eisai Inc., a New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company, gave $500 and 1199-SEIU NYS PAC, healthcare union workers, handed over $4,100. The PAC for the Association of Financial Guaranty Insurors, who insure or reinsure municipal bonds and asset-backed securities, gave $1,500.

Cahill spent $39,663 in the home stretch and had $43,597 left in his campaign account, according to the last filing.

Cahill represents the 103rd Assembly District, that spans much of eastern and southern Ulster County, including the City of Kingston, Woodstock, New Paltz and out into the Catskills.

Posted in Ulster, Uncategorized, Up in Albany | Leave a comment

Amedore laid out $535K to become state senator. Tkaczyk: ???

UPDATE TWO:  Tkaczyk’s campaign spokesman, Jim Plastiras, confirmed to me that the filing hasn’t been submitted. Here’s his statement:

Yes, the person preparing it was taken ill while out of town over the holidays. She thought she’d be able to put it together and submit it remotely, but didn’t have all the info she needed. She is finalizing and expects to have it in today.

Senator-elect George Amedore spent a whopping $535,136.20 in his latest filing, according to his latest, 27-day post-general election filing period from the state Board of Elections.

Amedore, R-Rotterdam, defeated Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk last month to win the 46th Senate District seat. In our region it covers the city and town of Kingston and the towns Hurley, Esopus, Lloyd, Marbletown, Saugerties Ulster and Woodstock.

Both Democrats and Republicans poured oodles of money into the race, hoping to get the edge and gain control of the state Senate. Amedore’s win helped the GOP take over the Senate.

The biggest chunk of Amedore’s cash came from the state Senate Republican Committee, who handed over $361,000 to Amedore in just 10 days. Because of the washing of money through the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee and limited liability companies , it’s hard to determine exactly where the money came from though.

But Amedore’s campaign cash came from not only around the state but outside New York. “Nine Mile Point Station” from Baltimore, Maryland gave Amedore $1,000. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America in Chicago gave Amedore $6,500. USAA Life Company from San Antonio, Texas and Travelers Commercial Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut coughed up $500 each.

Amedore spent a huge chunk of his cash, $464,844, on television advertisements from BarbenderCox of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an outfit that touts on its website “Whatever it takes to influence voters.”

Barclay Street Realty in New Hyde Park gave $10,000. Related sales gave $10,300. “Nine Mile Point Station” from Baltimore, Maryland gave Amedore $1,000. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America in Chicago gave Amedore $6,500.

Even while spending all that money, Amedore’s campaign still had $36, 618 left in the bank.

But if it was hard to determine who was trying to exact influence on Amedore because of LLCs and the shuffling of money through committees, it was even harder to figure it out for Tkaczyk. Three days after it was required to be filed, there’s still no sign of Tkaczyk’s latest campaign filings on the state Board of Elections website.

I did find that the state Democratic Senate Campaign Committee threw $42,000 at Tkaczyk’s campaign in the last filing period, according to its own latest filing.

Jim Plastiras, who worked on Tkaczyk’s campaign, said he believes it had been filed but couldn’t say for certain. It was unclear Thursday night if the issue was from the Board of Elections. But it ain’t there.

Posted in Ulster, Uncategorized, Up in Albany | Leave a comment

Three Brooklyn men gave Tutini campaign $10K after election

A trio of benefactors with addresses in the Borough Park and Williamsburg sections of Brooklyn gave Assembly candidate Elisa Tutini a combined $10,000 on Nov. 7, three days after the election that left the Democrat and Republican Karl Brabenec in close contention for the Assembly District 98 seat.

The financial disclosure report Tutini’s campaign filed this week show that Lewis Weiner of 1501 60th St. gave her $4,000, Leonard Lederich of 4920 15th Ave. gave her $2,000 and Jeffrey Zwick of 266 Broadway gave her $4,000. All of the addresses appear to be business locations. Tutini had $17,911 on hand by the end of the reporting period, while Brabenec barely had more than $20. The two candidates are fighting in court over absentee ballots that will determine the outcome of their race, still unresolved more than a month after Election day.

Tutini, a Monroe resident who runs the town’s Dial-a-Bus program, previously had reporting giving or lending her campaign a total of $43,000, which made up the bulk of her finances. She had spent virtually that same amount on her successful Democratic primary race and the general election. Brabenec, the Deerpark town supervisor, spent more — a total of about $59,000 — although he had started campaigning in 2013, shortly after then-Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt was elected Orange County clerk.

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Ho hum. Hollywood star pops by Sheriff’s Office

We’re going to refrain from jokes about bacon and law enforcement here as we mention a local celebrity sighting with virtually no political content to justify its presence on The Fray.

Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois — an elected official, and therefore, the political hook for this post — has posted on his Facebook page a picture of himself with actor Kevin Bacon, apparently taken in his office on Tuesday, with an almost comically nonchalant explanation that the 56-year-old movie actor had “stopped by today to say hello.”

“Very personable guy, very friendly, great actor,” the sheriff reported, with no further information about why Bacon had pulled off Route 17M in Goshen to check out the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. (Hoping to hear back from DuBois today to answer that question.)

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Lawyers and ballots in Slobod’s court

Nine lawyers huddled around Supreme Court Justice Elaine Slobod’s bench this morning to discuss how to proceed with 382 challenged absentee and affidavit ballots in the unresolved race for the Assembly District 98 seat, in limbo since Election Day one month ago.

Attorneys for Republican Karl Brabenec and Democrat Elisa Tutini, the top two vote getters in a three-way contest for the open Assembly seat, were joined by attorneys representing election boards in Orange and Rockland counties. After murmuring mostly inaudibly with the judge, the legal brigade and Orange County election inspectors Sue Bahren and David Green filed out of the courtroom with boxes of ballots in tow to trudge through the votes once again, in hopes of agreeing on the validity of at least some that could be opened before fighting over the others. There is no telling how long the entire process might take.

Brabenec led by 164 votes, with 382 challenged ballots uncounted before the winnowing started today. Attorneys say the around 180 of the challenged ballots were cast in Kiryas Joel. Bryon McKim, who’s representing Brabenec, said Tuesday that the counting will likely begin in Port Jervis, to resolve a close race for city judge there, and end with Kiryas Joel and the rest of Monroe — if the margin remains close enough to slog through challenges there. Kiryas Joel’s main voting bloc supported Tutini, and its smaller, opposition bloc backed Brabenec.

Former Orange County Democratic Chairman Jonathan Jacobson, who’s leading the squad of Tutini lawyers, said before the back-room negotiations began that Brabenec’s side had challenged almost all of the Kiryas Joel absentee and affidavit ballots. There has been talk about bringing handwriting experts to court to scrutinize challenged ballots, if it comes to that.

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CSEA president rips Neuhaus for “continuing to target Valley View”

The president of the union representing Orange County’s Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabiliation has fired back at County Executive Steve Neuhaus for continuing his campaign to privatize the 360-bed home and what she described as his “race to the bottom” in wages for nursing-home employees.

Sabina Shapiro, president of the county’s Civil Service Employees Association units, was responding to remarks Neuhaus made Monday in his message to county lawmakers about their changes to his 2015 budget plan, some of which he vetoed. Folded into that letter were sharp jabs at legislators who blocked his second attempt to sell Valley View last month and at the CSEA, which he accused of fighting to preserve higher wages at the county home in comparison to private-sector peers.

Here’s the full letter from Shapiro:

 “I’m very disappointed that the County Executive is continuing to target Valley View as a problem rather than look at it as a department that has trimmed its budget and is expected to break even. This has had a lingering negative impact on the residents and the family and friends that love them. He has not gone much beyond targeting the workers and Valley View to find other solutions to our budgetary issues.

County Executive Neuhaus made the correct choice by letting full funding for Valley View stand. What is unfortunate is that while he pledges support for our seniors in his veto message as it pertains to senior discounts, he shows a clear lack of empathy for the residents and family members at Valley View who still cannot relax and know that their home is secure.

We were pleased to work collaboratively with the County Executive’s office to finally get a retirement incentive in place. That incentive has generated tremendous savings and will continue to do so in the future. We have been in communication with the state-appointed fact finder who is handling the current phase of mediation for our contract negotiations. We look forward to reaching a fair agreement in the near future.

As a union, we are proud to advocate for each and every person in every county department who is delivering services as a CSEA-represented worker. We’ll never apologize for that. We’d also like to go beyond that and say that every worker in Orange County is deserving of a living wage, and that includes workers in private sector nursing homes who are struggling to secure just that. This race to the bottom that the County Executive is pushing for at Valley View makes no sense, especially for someone advocating economic development. CSEA worked hard, through many rounds of negotiations, to secure a living wage for some of our lowest-paid county workers, including the workers at Valley View.

Workers in many private nursing homes are struggling to stay afloat and are many times forced to apply for some form of government assistance. For some that might be housing assistance, HEAP monies to keep their homes heated, or SNAP benefits to keep their children fed. Our goal should be to have a fair wage for all nursing home workers in this county, not having our County Executive openly advocate a push for privatization that would lead to more workers needing government assistance. Earning a living wage has a positive impact on a worker and his or her ability to deliver quality services, which in the case of nursing homes does indeed mean better care.”


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Gibson stands alone among GOP in House to vote down EPA “reform” bill

UPDATE: Over the weekend I received a quote from Gibson’s office on his reasoning behind his vote. I’ve attached it to the end of this post.

Rep. Chris Gibson was the only Republican in the House GOP last week to vote against changes to a board of scientists that provide critical analysis and advice to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013, that passed in the Republican-controlled House, would have changed how members of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board could be selected  and their the length of office.

According to supporters, the changes will “restore balance and independence to the scientific advisory process at EPA.” More of the reasoning behind the bill can be found here.

But those against the legislation say it  cloaks itself in reform but would actually weaken the EPA’s scientific integrity, independence and increase corporate influence on science. The White House also came out against the legislation, with President Barack Obama promising to veto it.

You can find the opinion by the Union of Concerned Scientists here.

The bill was lobbied on by industry groups like Exxon Mobil and the American Chemistry Council , according to Open Secrets, a government transparency website that’s written about the bill in the past.

Gibson, from Kinderhook, was the only Republican in the House to vote against the bill. He represents Ulster and Sullivan counties as part of the 19th Congressional District and just won his third term in the House.  Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, also voted against it, aligning with all but four House Democrats.

I’ve put out a request for comment from Gibson on the reasoning behind his vote. Will update if I receive it.

Here’s Gibson’s

“As I travel all over the 11 counties that comprise the 19th Congressional District, I constantly hear concerns over accountability and transparency of the federal government. However, these bills are not the answer. After reading these proposals and researching and reflecting on their merits, in my judgment, these bills would reult in more corporate influence in the regulatory process, increasing bias and undermining the purpose of our regulatory agencies. Moreover, one of these bills encroaches on privacy, a cornerstone of the Bill of Rights. Finally, the Congressional Research Service has assessed that these bills would increase regulatory costs, which could lead to higher taxes or higher deficits. For all of these reasons, I opposed these two bills.


“To achieve more transparency and accountability in the regulatory state, something people in our region desire, I support the REINS Act, which requires a vote in Congress to approve any new regulatory rule assessed by the Congressional Budget Office to impact the US economy by more than $100 million a year. Although that would make my job as a legislator more difficult, from both policy and political perspectives, it would ensure the American people have someone to hold the regulatory state accountable, their elected Representative in Congress. That process would also significantly enhance transparency without undermining the virtue and purpose of our regulatory agencies, to protect our citizens and to promote justice, public health, and safety.”





Posted in Down in D.C., Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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