WFP Backs 1st Generation Arab American in Syracuse Court Race

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One of my proudest moments in last year's campaigns was the election of the first Hispanic to be elected in the City of Albany. 

This year, the WFP in Central New York is poised to make history once more with it's endorsement of Shadia Tadros in her run for City Court Judge in Syracuse.

Of the City's ten City Court Judges, only two are minorities -- and never has an Arab American been elected to office.

To read all about it in the Syracuse Post, go here: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2018/05/syracuse_democrats_endorsement.html

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Sunday Exile with the New York Times

 Sunday morning coffee and breakfast in exile with the New York Times.

Sunday morning coffee and breakfast in exile with the New York Times.

One of the problems with winter in my state of exile is the isolation.

Though there are 5,000 people who call this little coastal village home during summer, in winter, it’s less than 700.

It’s 36 miles to my dry cleaner – one way. And Wegman’s the mainstay of grocery for anyone brought up in the ROC is 40.

Makes it hard to get a newspaper.

I don’t have a television. I don’t have cable. And though I listen to NPR on the internet, what I really miss is the Sunday New York Times.

To be fair – I can get a copy at a great store just on the west side of Oswego, Ontario Orchards – where you can get everything from fresh vegetables and donuts, to wine making supplies and houseplants.

But fact is – it is 12 miles each way – a long way to go for a newspaper.

I checked with Tim at Bayside grocery – our local go to “general store” where you can find everything from paper towels to brass screws. But he can’t actually even get the Times delivered to the store.

So he suggested I check out a strange and old-fashioned alternative.

I get it in the mail at the local “old fashioned” Fair Haven Post Office.

Granted, it doesn’t come till Wednesday, when I find it wrapped and carefully stuffed into my tiny brass P.O. Box.

And, even though I don’t get it for Sunday coffee I developed a little game to play. Since it takes me a week to read it anyway, I save the paper I get on Wednesday until the NEXT Sunday. And I look with great anticipation through its cellophane cover toward my Sunday morning coffee.

What’s interesting is that this new routine hasn’t really made me less up to date on what’s happening. Sadly, I’ve come to realize that the news is really quite the same each week.

Trump did something foolish. Another staffer got fired from the white house. There’s still war in the Middle East. A terrorist in France has killed someone else. There’s been another tragic school shooting.

That’s the part that really get’s me. The news is the same. Every week. Never better. Never ending.

I guess that’s another reason I get up every morning. I’m trying to use what I’ve learned over the last couple of decades about electing people to change the world, or at least my little part of it.

But there are many days – like Sunday with the Times, that it seems to steep a mountain to climb.

The Capitol Connection #1811 - Bill Lipton, NYS Director Of The Working Families Party

Click on the Picture to listen to Alan Chartock's interview with Bill Lipton -- leader of the Working Families Party in New York -- on WAMC's weekly radio program, The Capital Collection. He talks about Cuomo, Nixon, and progressive issues facing New Yorkers. I've been listening to this program for years ... even though it's on Saturday Mornings at 5:00 a.m. on WXXI. Anyone else up at that hour?

NY-21 speaks out about Stefanik

 Working Families Party Activist Joe Seeman spreading the word for NY-21 all over the North Country

Working Families Party Activist Joe Seeman spreading the word for NY-21 all over the North Country

Written by Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli a features writer at The Post-Star.

Following the 2016 presidential election, there was a historic increase in political activism as constituents from around the nation began voicing concerns about the president’s executive orders, staff appointments and proposals on health care, immigration, the environment, trade agreements, taxes and foreign policy.

“I became heavily involved in local politics for the first time in my life after the election of Donald Trump in 2016,” said Catherine Tedford, who has lived in Colton (St. Lawrence County) for 27 years.

And in perhaps one of the largest public displays of global activism, the 2017 Women’s March on Washington exhibited a new wave of political fervor. In Glens Falls alone, 1,500 women and men marched through downtown.

For the Complete Story -- Click on the Photo to go to the Post-Star

City Councilman Jumaane Williams rejects plea deal after arrest for trying to block Ravi Ragbir's detainment

 City Council member Jumaane Williams is pictured being arrested after trying to block immigration activist Ravi Ragbir's detainment.   (ALEC TABAK/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

City Council member Jumaane Williams is pictured being arrested after trying to block immigration activist Ravi Ragbir's detainment.

 (ALEC TABAK/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

City Council member Jumaane Williams would rather fight than plead.

The Brooklyn politician rejected a deal Tuesday to dodge obstruction charges linked to the Jan. 11 incarceration of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir in lower Manhattan.

Williams instead faces his own May 8 court appearance stemming from his arrest for trying to keep Ragbir out of federal custody during what started as a routine check-in.

Click on the Photo for the full New York Daily News Story.

 

Katie Wilson Wins WFP Endorsement to Run Against Stefanik

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KEENE, NY -- This Game Changing Endorsement Puts Katie Wilson Ahead of Thinning Field in New York's 21st Congressional District Before June Primary. As a Small Business Owner & Working Single Mother, North Country Lifer Embodies Spirit of Working Families Party

The Working Families Party has officially announced its endorsement of Katie Wilson for New York’s 21st congressional district, recognizing Wilson as the embodiment of their mission to empower and defend working class families around the country. Katie Wilson is the rare candidate that can represent working class families because she is working class.

"WFP is proud to support Katie Wilson for Congress. As a single mother and small business owner, Katie knows well the struggles of working families in the North Country, and is exactly the kind of home-grown Working Families Democrat we need in Congress,” said Karen Scharff, Working Families Party Co-Chair. “Katie will fight for the needs of the North Country instead of tax cuts for billionaires and health care cuts for everyone else. She's got the right kind of experience combined with the persistence and enthusiasm it will take to be heard in the halls of Congress."

“I’m ecstatic, this endorsement is what my campaign is all about! It’s time to elevate the needs of working families above the needs of Wall Street and the elite. I’m a Working Families Democrat and I’m fighting for the little guy in this David & Goliath moment,” said Katie Wilson, Congressional Candidate for New York’s 21st Congressional District.  “The WFP understands that this is not the time to elect wealthy, out of touch candidates who do not understand the everyday struggles facing working people. Now is the time to bring diversity to Congress and that includes socio-economic diversity.”

“Katie Wilson stands out as a genuine North Country voice, advocating for the policies that will truly move the needle for her neighbors and reinvigorate our Upstate community,” said Tom Wood, long-time North Country Working Families Party Organizer. “Wilson knows that change only comes when every working family has a voice at the table, and has embraced a platform devoted to ensuring economic and educational equality for every North Country resident. We are proud to endorse her campaign, and recognize her commitment to supporting her community.”

Wilson’s endorsement comes on the heels of her recognition in national media, including a column written for Teen Vogue in which Wilson emphasized the need for Congressional representatives who actually live under the policies crafted hundreds or thousands of mile away in Washington. In a separate piece for Refinery29, Wilson highlighted the need for more single mothers in Congress – right now, the one single mother in Congress represents the 25 percent of American families with women as head of household.

The Working Families Party is a Progressive party that fights for the everyday American. With wide-spread support, the Working Families Party has influenced public policies that make a difference in the lives of working families, from paid sick days laws and minimum wage increases to patrolling practices that affect student debt and environmental protection. The party works in an expanding coalition of labor, community, environmental, youth and faith groups to help build an economy that works for us and a democracy in which every voice matters.

To learn more about Katie Wilson’s campaign and her platform, visit her website: https://www.katiewilsonforcongress.com/.

Fighting Back: Attacking Trump Republicans on Every Front

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BROOKLYN, NY: 02 March 2018 -- I'm a big fan of studying history. And, while I'm not necessarily in agreement with those who have compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler (I don't think Trump is a diabolical genius, or a genius of any sort) I do see interesting parallels in today's America with the rise of fascism in the 1930's.

It spread like wildfire, its insidious destruction eating away at civilization like some flesh eating virus, one square mile of of Europe at a time.

Now, just like in the 30's, not a day goes by when we don't lose one more bit of freedom, give away one more human right, look in horror at one more tragedy engulfing our fellow humans on this planet. Trump's particular band of Fascism seems to be erasing the America I grew up loving as well as every bit of hope for 99% of us.

Sadly for me, (I'm supposed to enjoying retirement) Mrs. Warner didn't raise a son to sit on the sidelines, and so I zig-zag across 28,000 square miles of New York State fighting back in the only way I know how: at the voting booth.

Today, I'm in Brooklyn where Working Families Party Activists from across the state will make headline news this Sunday as we choose our candidate for U.S. Senate. Pretty heady stuff.

But for me, that's the easy part. The rest of the time I'm helping fight back Trump's fascism all fronts.

The first is in the Working Families Party initiative to get rid of the IDC in the New York State Senate. If you don't know what that is, don't feel bad ... neither do your neighbors. But the simple explanation is that it is a nickname for 8 State Senators across the state who got elected as Democrats, but who support the Republicans. They're what they brand themselves as the "Independent Democratic Caucus".

Horse hockey!

To get elected, they hide behind the Trump Republican tactic of the "Big Lie" -- pointing fingers at everyone else and telling voters "It's not my fault" -- while supporting Republican's efforts to stem voting rights, eliminate protection for women's reproductive rights, stop efforts to protect our environment and turn a blind eye toward the rampant corruption that has destroyed our upstate economy.

In Central New York, we have the only Upstate Member of this gang of eight who Political Pundit Alan Chartock of Albany calls, the "Traitors" -- Senator David Valesky of the 53rd Senate District.

We're going to give him the opportunity to start a new career by beating him in the Democratic Primary in September. How are we doing it? Well we're starting with the 500 prime Democrats who supported Mr. Valesky who have pledged to vote against ANY candidate who tries to unseat him because of his duplicitous actions.

Leading the charge is a courageous candidate out of the City of Syracuse, Rachel May. She's going to be here on Sunday when we announce the other seven IDC challengers as well as the WFP Senate candidate.

Then there's the Senate race next door to Rachel May's 53rd. It's Senate District 50, John DeFrancisco's seat. He's leaving it to get slaughtered in the race for Governor. It's in my region and we are looking at candidates who will turn that seat back to the Democrats where it belongs.

Last but not least are three of my four Congressional seats. All flippable from Red to Blue and all with great candidates. In CD 21 (the North Country) we've got the feisty single mom, Katie Wilson (WFP) vying for the Democratic nomination in June's primary. Then, she'll go on to go toe to toe with Elise Stefanik -- Trump's Congressional lackey -- and win this district back for the people.

On to CD 22, where Central NY Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi is about to kick Republican Claudia Tenney to the curb. Last poll of 2017 had him edging ahead. He's actually slightly out-raising her in the cash department and in my travels across the district -- he's #1 where it counts -- among the voters.

Last -- but by no means least -- there's newly designated candidate Dana Balter from Syracuse giving John Katko a run for his money in Congressional District 24. She's nothing but amazing. The WFP made a resounding endorsement by local WFP leaders and Regional Council on last Thursday, and she got the Democratic Designation from Onondaga County Dems two days later on Saturday.

How lucky I am to be working with all of these incredible people to fight against Trump's version of America, one front at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a Darkness Over America

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December21st, 2017, Fair Haven, NY: Today at 11:28 a.m., the sun reaches its furthest southern point on the earth's revolution round the most celestial of bodies. It's called the Winter Solstice and is alternatively known as the shortest day of the year or the longest night, depending on your perspective.

Throughout history, these 24 hours are known as the worst of the year. And, in 2017 it should be no different.

According to astrologers, the planet Saturn and the Sun both pass through the constellation Capricorn which means that they actually "line up" in the heavens -- for the first time since 1664.

Apparently this is bad. 

Meaning that if you are planning any big projects for today you might want to reconsider. It will take longer, be more frustrating and come out worse than if you wait till Friday. Unless of course you're a sailor, who then has to wait till Saturday to cast off because superstition dictates that you shouldn't start a long voyage on a Friday.

At this rate, we might as well just wait to do any work till after the New Year and start drinking right now. I mean ... what's the point if the astrologers all think it's bad?

Of course there are some people who don't believe in all this astrology stuff. Too corny. Too weird. Too crazy.

But with Donald Trump in the White House, I've come to take a different view of superstition, astrology, fortune telling and ouigi boards. The dark pall he has cast over our nation has been the most depressing I've seen since the Nixon Presidency. So now, all of this "kooky" stuff certainly make more sense than he does. and he's the leader of the free world.

You need to know though, that despite all, I'm a "glass half full" kind of guy.

So here's my advice. If you woke up today feeling that the darkness over America is even darker than usual, take heart. While today we get to enjoy just 9 hours of daylight, starting tomorrow, we creep back towards a minute more and then even two minutes more come January 7th. It keeps getting better all the way to the other side of the sun next June when we hit the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year when we will have somewhere around 15 hours and 22 minutes of daylight.

In my job, I travel all across Upstate and talk to people who are itching to change America to be a better place, where our rights are protected, all people have equal opportunity and peace reigns. And, the optimism surrounding the mid-term elections next year that will spell then end of the madness is tremendous -- an overwhelming wave that is unstoppable.

Like I said, brighter days are just around the corner.

 

 

Winning one for the good guys

 Alfredo and me after the polls closed.

Alfredo and me after the polls closed.

Sometimes, the good guys actually do win. Last November, In Albany's 11th Ward, Alfredo Balarin was elected to the Common Council in a vicious battle to beat back the bad guys.

He becomes the first Latino to serve in office in the City!

His opponent, incumbent Judd Krasher, collected so many illegal absentee ballots that it it became clear that parking would NOT be a problem on election day. Virtually every one of the absentee applications gave "Out of Town on Election Day" as the reason for needed an absentee ballot. That would mean that essentially a third of the voters had left town. It was an absurd abuse of the law and a sordid attempt at stealing the election.

Fortunately -- thanks in large part to former City Court Judge Tom Keefe who led a team that gathered dozens of affidavits from voters who said they were duped -- the plan to rob people of their voting rights was foiled.

Rumor has it that an investigation is continuing to see if criminal charges can be filed.

In the meantime, it's nice to know that in this age of Trump where rules and justice don't matter, the good guys actually DO win once in a while!

A Baker's Dozen on Why You Should Thank Unions

President John F. Kennedy once said, "The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America."

On this Labor Day, 2016, it's good to remember what Labor Unions have brought us -- particularly today when workers' rights are under attack on the federal, state and even the local level with such insidious enthusiasm.

Here's a baker's dozen reasons why we should take a moment this Labor Day to thank people who care enough about their neighbors to be in a union and to appreciate what Organized Labor has brought us.

  1. The weekend
  2. The 8-hour Work Day
  3. Overtime Pay
  4. Minimum Wage
  5. The 40-hour Work Week
  6. Unemployment Insurance
  7. Child Labor Laws
  8. The Age Discrimination and Employment Ac of 1967
  9. The American With Disabilities Act
  10. Workers Comp
  11. Social Security
  12. The Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 requiring equal pay for women.

I'm a proud card carrying member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO. And, for the couple of decades I spent working for labor unions in the local building trades, I received the Rochester Labor Council's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

They were the best years of my life and, there's probably nothing I enjoy more than sitting around telling war stories about those "good old days" which really were just yesterday.

A lot of people say that Organized Labor's day has passed. People think that the days of business and government beating down striking workers and using their power to devastate working families is a thing from another time. Ancient history. Something out of the nineteenth century.

I'm here to tell you that it isn't so. The need for the protection of the rights of working families is even greater today than ever before.

And since I promised you a "baker's dozen" reasons, here's a story from early in my career that provides yet another.

Back in June of 1996, over 1,500 labor activists gather in Cleveland, Ohio to do something historic -- found a political party that would truly speak for working families. It was called the Labor Party, and its founder, Tony Mazzocchi -- head of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union -- was fond of the slogan, "The bosses have two parties. We need to have one of our own."

His idea inspired a couple of dozen of Rochester's Union leaders in the Building Trades to make the trek to Ohio and, I was among them -- slated to speak before the convention representing what was then Bricklayers Local 11. I wasn't a Bricklayer, I was a speechwriter and Steve Remington, who was then the Business Manager of the Local asked that I do it as my speaking skills would better express the sentiment of the members.

I labored over my words carefully, inspired by the task and the responsibility of speaking for the men and women of the craft. But when my time came to speak, I threw away those preciously prepared words in favor of speaking extemporaneously -- inspired by a guy I met in the hotel bar the night before.

Prior to that moment, I had been one of those people who believed that much of the violence that characterized the early days of the movement was over. Contracts, I believed, were agreed to in a civil manner, and strikes were just so much theatre.

But it just so happened that at the same time we were holding the convention, members of the Newspaper Guild and the Teamsters from the delivery facilities of the Detroit Newspapers were striking in the Motor City. While I was in the hotel bar, I literally fell over a guy in a wheel chair wearing his motorcycle colors, who was behind me in the crowded room and who I didn't see. I offered my apologies, bought him a beer, and we found a space at a table in the corner. Sadly, I don't remember his name, but the meeting was to be pivotal in my life.

"What are you here for?" he asked. I told him of my mission and returned the question.

"I'm a Teamster on strike from the delivery facility of the Detroit Free Press," he replied. And I couldn't help but notice that his wheelchair seemed to me to be somewhat of a obstacle to his throwing around bundles of newsprint.

At this point we were joined by a guy who was obviously a fellow Teamster, and my new friend pointed to him after noticing the look on my face.

"It's his fault," he said, and he pointed upward.

The story he told sends a shiver down own my spine to this day. (Note that I have cleaned up the language a bit for sensitive readers.)

"See, we work together over at the plant. And, last year on the day it was our turn to walk the picket line at the strike I stopped answering my telephone. I was looking at it as just another day off to work on my bike when this jerk knocked on my door to tell me it was time to go. I told him where to stuff it, but he's my partner so I had to go. We jumped on the motorcycles and off we went.

When we got there, there was a whole lot of guys there on the line and the bosses had beefed up security. In fact, they were doing a lot of intimidation at that point -- sending cars to neighborhoods where our Union leaders live. Following their kids to school. Harassing their wives in the supermarket. Crap like that.

We took our place on the line and kept on moving, marching in a long circle along the sidewalk, when suddenly, from out'a nowhere two big-butted guys randomly grabbed me -- Pinkertons, they were. And, while about a dozen of their buddies held back everyone else, they beat me so badly that I've been in this wheelchair ever since."

I was speechless.

The other Teamster then said, "Yeah -- this guy's one of the keynote speakers tomorrow." And then added, "You guys want another beer?"

Needless to say that when I gave my "warm-up" speech early the next morning I was inspired in a different way. This guy, who hadn't even been a strong Union guy -- was sitting in a wheelchair because he exercised his rights. And now, rather than sit by feeling sorry for himself, was one of the strongest advocates for action I had ever met before -- or since.

The tactics of vilolence had failed. Rather than intimidate him, they made him stronger.

When my new-found friend wheeled down the center aisle in the convention hall the next day, the crowd did something he couldn't ... they gave him a standing ovation. And believe you me, there wasn't a dry eye in the place by the time it was over and he told his story.

He gave one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever heard from a Union guy. He changed my life and I remembered him often over the next twenty plus years I worked for Unions.

So, while you're having a hot dog today, or cracking another cold one and running around with the kids, maybe you can take a moment to remember that the rights for working families you enjoy are delicate. They didn't come from some far off march a couple of centuries ago. They were won just yesterday by guys and gals in the mail room, and on the factory floor, and on picket lines who were just like you and me, but who paid a bigger price than we will (hopefully) ever have to.