"Excuse me, Did Your Dog Just Say Something?"

Ace at Door.jpg

Yesterday was National Dog Day and though my pups, Ace and Lila, actually believe that EVERY day is Dog Day, I thought I would make a few comments about communication with our canine companions.

A Piece by Alexandra Horowitz in the Sunday NY Times a few Weeks ago was all about things people say to their dogs.

In preparation for writing her article, Ms. Horowitz actually carried a notebook around New York sidewalks and wrote down things people said to their dogs. Things like, “You can sit all you want when we get home,” to a recalcitrant walker. Or “We’ve talked about this. No eating stuff you’ve found on the street”.

But personally, I couldn’t help but wonder what all the fuss is about. She must own a cat. I talk to my dogs every day. In fact, at the Alamo, it’s usually the first creature I say ANYTHING to.

I do have to admit though that I’m sort of fascinated by this discussion because, it’s not that my pooches and I have many actual conversations. But dogs communicate in a completely different way, some disturbingly human. They are masters of facial expressions and with body language … not unlike people. Most of the talk I have with Ace and Lila revolves around food, treats, walks or intruders. But I swear that both of them have the capacity to laugh and smile with their tongues falling out of their mouths, while the corners are tuned up in what is (literally) an ear to floppy ear grin.

My first words in the morning are often in response to something the dogs “say” … they shake their heads and flap their ears rapidly, which in dog language means, “Get your lazy butt out of bed and feed us!”

I usually respond with, “I’m coming! I’m coming! Hold your horses!” as if they had any horses to hold or even the concept of what a horse is. To canines, everything else … including me … is just an odd looking dog.

Then there’s the routine of standing or laying down in front of the door to turn around longingly like they are the most neglected creatures on God’s Green Earth, meaning “Get your lazy butt over here and take us for a walk!”

But my dogs also have a job. Protecting the tiny lot that “The Alamo” sits on. Oh, as you approach and see two giant fur-balls lounging on the porch you may think that they’re cute, cuddly and asleep. But just walk within 100 feet or so of the property line and they bounce up, bark furiously, and run straight toward me with the satisfied look of accomplishment. “See, you lazy bum?” they say. “While you weren’t paying attention a person walked down the street!!! So give us a treat!”

There’s a whole vocabulary of body language. There’s the full bodied lean, the head on the lap with the sorry eyes, the falling asleep on my feet, the sniff on the walk, the turn in multiple circles, the wag. And, of course, the running around like a crazy lunatic. All of which have some meaning.

All of these get a response from me. “Don’t act like a couple of animals,” is one of my favorites. As is, “What has Donald Trump said that is stupid today to make you so jumpy?” Both of which get essentially the same look of complete boredom and a “Is there a treat involved if I answer, you lazy bum?”

So while there’s a universal belief that dogs communicate, the problem seems to be that no-one understands why dogs don’t engage in conversation. After all, they’re social, live in packs, have mutual interests. Why wouldn’t they talk about it with each other?

I’ve lived in close proximity with dogs for a long time so believe I can speak with a certain authority.

I’ve realized that dogs adhere to my Mother’s philosophy that “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.

So generally, dogs look at me and realize; they have nothing really to say.

Some people think that I’m crazy when I talk to animals. And, I don’t agree. However, I have noticed one thing in the long, cold, lonely winters along the bay. It’s ok to talk to your dogs. But when you start to hear them answer, it might be time for me to seek help.

Happy Dog Day at YOUR house!


Woody Woodpecker Has a Girlfriend


One of the joys in my exile is that I maintain three bird feeders and a great little ceramic artisan birdbath. Two of the feeders are crammed with sunflower seeds and one is a Chinese plastic hummingbird contraption with a fading red top.

Even though I live in what I term, “Posh Poverty”, I’ve concluded you’re never too poor to feed the birds. The cost of constant replenishment is paid back in the joy they bring each day.

What amazes me most is the regularity of their feeding. Sparrows and wrens and red-winged blackbirds are always around, to be sure. But throughout the day, a variety of different kinds of birds come in turns. Chick-a-dees in the morning. Sammy Jay invades just before lunch and pushes everyone else away. Grackles visit and kick the seeds onto the ground for others (including the fat cheeked chipmunk who has a family under the front steps).

They’re always glad to see me. Particularly when I fill the feeders, and their happiness at my existence is only outmatched by the greetings from my Retriever canine companions, Ace and Lila

Among the variety of winged friends who sponge off my generosity have included:

Mourning Doves, a Killdeer, Baltimore Orioles, magnificent goldfinches, a pair of cardinals, American Redstarts, Canada Warblers, red-throated hummingbirds, grackles, English Sparrows, Chick-a-dees, House Wrens, Blue Jays, Red-winged Blackbirds, an occasional mocking bird and my favorite … Woody the Redheaded Woodpecker.

Woody was a bit of problem to begin with. He would be pecking so hard at the eaves in search of bees that he would wake me up and his noise was downright annoying … to say nothing of the carnage he left behind.

Now though, he comes regularly to the feeders, his distinctive crackling song greeting me in the morning and again in the afternoon. He’s quite strikingly colorful. Animated, with a good sense of humor. He takes a mouthful up to the top of the electrical poles where he stores seed I think. And pecks away with a vengeance!

This morning, though, I noticed a slight difference in his behavior. Instead of frantically munching away like a wild banshee, he hesitated as he lighted onto the peak of the pole, glancing furtively around as if looking for an unexpected guest.

“Why the change in attitude,” I wondered. The answer came quickly.

“Elementary, my dear Watson. He’s in love”.

woody has a girlfriend.JPG




Telling Lies and the Fear of God


I’m not getting any younger and an unintended consequence of aging is an ever-increasing trepidation about God, religion, and the after-life. I mean, is it true that after I die I will rejoin my mother and father on Elysian Fields? Will I once again be united with my dog(s) and relatives and everyone else who passed before me

Fact is, I’m not sure this is such a good idea. Not because I don’t want to spend some times with my loved ones (I would cut off my right arm with a butter knife to have one more hour with my Mom) but I have to say I’m not too thrilled about seeing my father again because of a slight … well, misunderstanding we had starting when I was about 15 and lasting right to his death bed … and I assume beyond.

It all has to do with a little fib – well outright lie really – I told him when we lived together after my mother and father parted ways after 25 years. I wondered then how you could live with someone for two and a half decades and then wake up and leave one day … but then it happened to me, but that’s another story.

Telling lies when I was growing up was not a very popular thing to do around our house. My father, who definitely did not graduate from sensitivity training or any parenting classes, classified lying as an unforgivable sin ranking somewhere above murder and below coveting thy neighbor’s ass.

It made him crazy. And, quite frankly, I’m not all sure he was that stable to begin with.

He was the strongest “average” man I have ever met. Broad shouldered with a tattoo on his left arm that was the United States Army Air Corps insignia. A little over six feet tall. Bicep muscles like iron from a lifetime of work -- from being a blacksmith’s helper as a kid, to a boxer, a pro tap dancer till 17 or 18, and welder for all of his life. Everything kept him in shape so that he could do one-armed push-ups on demand and, I’m told, was killer as an amateur arm wrestler.

In point of fact, one Memorial Day holiday when I was probably about eight or ten, we had an all-American start of summer picnic with friends, relatives, salads, cooking outside, and a great deal of beer drinking. Utica Club or Standard Ale. Ballantyne Beer for my Uncle Ed.

At the time, we lived in a 1910 Sears and Roebuck Catalogue home built on ten ½ acres in Upstate New York. The place looked like a gingerbread house and had rooms about the same size. But it had French doors, dark beamed ceilings and a massive field stone fireplace that dominated the living room and was right out of a Norman Rockwell illustration. The idea – my Mother’s – was that owning land was a big deal and we would be become “mini-farmers”. Vegetable gardens. A little orchard. A dog. A strawberry patch and geese to weed it.

To care for this they bought a (what else?) Sears mini-tractor with attachments that ranged from a red 45-inch platform lawn mower bed, a sickle bar, a plow and a rear-tined tiller. Add to this a sulky my father built (like I said, he was a welder and a good one) and a snowblade, a snow blower, and a wooden wagon that not only served as a utility truck for our mini-Ponderosa, but a neat little toy to ride around in at things like the Memorial Day picnic we were all enjoying.

This little red trailer had a black wood seat for the driver and someone next to him, and could fit four adults or about 6 kids of various shapes and sizes in back. And, we had a big winding trail around the gardens to the West of the house that circled around and through the wood lot.

Well, it happened that my Brother was driving and wouldn’t let me (not news) and so I decided to leave this merry band of cousins and neighbors and head back to the house. As I trudged across the field I had the misfortune to run into my Father and Mr. DeForest (his best friend from work) just at the moment when behind me the tractor became disconnected from the trailer and was itself trudging across the field, ass back on its handle bars but with no trailer … and consequently no driver – attached.

Without a moment’s warning, my father picked me up by my hair and screamed at me “What the hell is going on? Did you do that?” turning me around to see the affair, my feet dangling 6 inches off the ground. “No!” I screamed, holding back the tears and the forestalling the inevitable, “Quit your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”

Something to cry about? Geeze! He was holing m up by the roots of my hair!

My father was full of such sensitive parenting witticisms. It was if he had taken sensitivity classes from Attila the Hun. Things like shouting, “Don’t you put your pants on one leg at a time like everyone else?” or my personal favorite, “You think your shit doesn’t stink!” as a way to make me understand where he was coming from. (Mars?) This latter in fact is not something you want to tell someone who is five years old who is endowed with an over-active curiosity. It lead me to many an adventure of sneaking into the bathroom after other family members had visited to smell what they had left and compare it with my own.

Aberrant behavior brought on by my father’s strange parenting philosophy. And oh, by the way … “WHAT ABOUT FIREMEN, DAD?” I would think (never say), referring to the book I had just read that had them jumping out of bed into BOTH pants legs and boots to slid down the pole and go off to save the neighbor’s cat stuck in a tree, or rescue ducklings from the storm sewer or other death defying feats.

Anyway, on we went, still holding onto my hair, walking about six strides and cursing “Liar!” before letting me down and turning his wrath on my brother.

It hurt.

It hurt like hell.

And, even though I was telling the truth, it put the fear of God into me about the concept of lying.

If he could get that irate when I told the truth, what would he do if I actually told him a lie?

It set the stage for my life for the foreseeable future. Not only did I avoid lying, I avoided him in general for the next half dozen years or so.

When you’re ten and you live on ten and a half acres, there are lots of places to hide, and my general rule was simple. STAY OUT OF HIS WAY.

I built a hidden campsite in the woods along the stream where I pitched my green army surplus pup tent. Later when I decided I needed a permanent camp, I built a lean-to using instructions I found in some boy’s adventure book. That’s where my dog, King and I spent most of our spring, summers and autumns to keep away from my father. There, along the creek, in the woods, and seemingly a million miles from him, I shot and cooked squirrels and rabbits. I fought imaginary wars, explored the Northwest Territories, forded raging waters and dug for gold.

My brother wasn’t as smart and spent most of his young life trying to please the son-of-a-bitch which, I imagine, was unpleasant for him, though I’ve never talked to him about it.

Which brings me to when I was 15.

I had learned to drive a standard shift in our lot car … on old 1948 Dodge that we raced around a dirt farm track in the side field of our 10 ½ acres.

After the divorce, I was living with my father who, for as long as I could remember, alternated driving to work each day with Mr. DeForest, who lived on the next road over. As we lived in the country, it was really several miles of fields, woodlands orchards, a canal and a railroad crossing.

My father had a 3-speed javelin; green with a white vinyl interior. All looks but no bang. I had yet to get a license, or even a Learner’s permit. But it seemed to me in my teenage logic that since no-one was using the car, if I “borrowed” it for a day, “Who would know?”

A girl who lived around the corner, that’s who. And I intended to impress her with a ride. So I managed to find the extra key to the car, had a copy made and waited for just the right day.

When it finally arrived, I called her up and went for a bit of tour. We walked through an orchard. Stopped for a soda. And, she kissed me when we parted. It wasn’t the first kiss I ever got from a girl. Mary Ann Caves had planted one on me in the school Library behind the books back in the third grade. But I can tell you it was the first time anyone stuck their tongue into my mouth and you could have knocked me over with a feather.

At the end of my romantic interlude, I carefully parked the car in the exact same spot as my Father had left it the night before, and called my friend, Kyle Sodoma to tell him the story (who in fact had a real drivers license and his own car).  We went off for a meandering ride so I cold brag about my adventure.  

When we arrived back at my house, we were shocked --- no, MORTIFIED, to discover that -- though I had taken pains to put the car back in the exact spot on the gently sloping driveway, I had – in my inexperience, failed to either leave it in gear, or put on the parking brake. Gravity being what it is, the car rolled down the hill and stopped going all the way down to the woods and creek by hitting a conveniently placed telephone pole, stopping its forward progress, but putting a rather inconvenient and large dent in the front grill.

Scared beyond belief, we did what any self-respecting young men would do in the same situation. We ran. We hid. We made up a story.

And when I called my father to tell him I was staying over at Sodoma’s for dinner that night, and he asked me what happened to car … I lied.

I told him I knew nothing about it. How would I know? I hadn’t been home all day. How terrible.

Which seemed like a good idea at the time. But when you’re 15, you really lack the omniscience to realize that a lie told once … a big one … must be carried on into eternity.

After that, about once every three or four years, out of the blue, my father would ask me about the accident again.

He asked me when we were in a bar having my “first” legal drink. And he asked me from out of no-where, “Something I always have wondered, did you take my car that day?”

“No Dad, of curse not,” I replied emphatically.

This same question popped up again at my Wedding at the bar after the ceremony. It surfaced once more at the Elks club when I was about 30 or so. It raised its ugly head when I bought my own first new car, and then countless other times over the remainder of my father’s life.

Each time, I emphatically and forcefully answered, “No! It must have slipped out of gear”.

All of this brings me to my current problem: that of the truth or falsity of the after-life.

I live in exile on Little Sodus Bay off Lake Ontario in Fair Haven. And, my daughter and close friends know that my last wishes are to be cremated and have my ashes scattered in the waters, along with my mother’s who I have, incidentally been carting around in her funeral urn for almost 30 years.

What’s scary is that I have learned that my father had HIS ashes scattered off the point in Oak Orchard on Lake Ontario about 75 miles away where he spent his last years, so I will inevitably spend eternity inter-twined with my Mother’s ashes and his too.

Since he has been looking down on me all these years (am I presuming incorrectly and he is looking up?) will he have found out that I lied to him not just once, but countless times through all those years.

It is, to say the least, a rather uncomfortable thought.

I’m at a loss what to do knowing that despite my best efforts, I can’t live forever. I have a pretty full head of hair and also assume that my body will be intact while I walk around like a ghost in one of those odd movies where the long deceased grand-pa walks around among the living.

In this state, I am sure to meet my father.

I really am not sure what I should do.

Alas, as one friend suggested to me when I presented this dilemma to her:

“Perhaps you should shave your head”.

She might be right.


Secret use of census info helped send Japanese Americans to internment camps in WWII

Children at the Manzanar internment camp in California in 1943; photo taken by photographer Toyo Miyatake. (National Park Service/AP)

Children at the Manzanar internment camp in California in 1943; photo taken by photographer Toyo Miyatake. (National Park Service/AP)

A Reality Check from the Washington Post

By Lori Aratani

April 6, 2018

The Census Bureau plans to ask people if they are U.S. citizens in the 2020 count of the nation’s population, igniting fears that the information could be used to target those in the country illegally.

The decision has become a lightning rod for controversy. More than a dozen states and at least six cities have sued to block the Trump administration from adding the question to the 2020 Census, alleging that it would depress turnout in states with large populations of immigrants. The decennial survey is key to determining how federal funding is spent nationwide.

Census officials said the question is being reinstated for the first time since 1950 to help enforce the Voting Rights Act and that there are safeguards in place to prevent any abuse of the information. It is illegal to release information that would identify individuals or families.

But that does not mean that census data has not been used to target specific populations in the past.

In fact, information from the 1940 Census was secretly used in one of the worst violations of constitutional rights in U.S. history: the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Read the Whole Story in the Washington Post Here

Why is Climate Change "Fake News", but a Nuclear Threat by Iran Not?


How Composting in Exile Makes the World a Better Place.


I saw a scary picture from the BBC the other day that I just can’t believe.

Fake news is funny.

We all shiver and shake and stare as we believe the latest statement of prevarication that yet another country in the Middle East is putting our lives in danger with Weapons of Mass Destruction. (Can history repeat itself so soon?) But when there are pictures of literal islands of plastic floating along shores across the globe, we become skeptics of the first magnitude.

It occurs to me that of the two “dangers” I’m guessing the plastic is a greater threat to our way of life than the Iranian’s nuclear capability.

And, one is easier to believe than the other: A President who by the count of the New York Times has told us thousands of lies since taking office? Or, that millions of tons a plastic are inundating the earth.

Take a moment though and think about it, Where did we imagine all that plastic was going, anyway?

Exile at the Alamo means I cook a lot. In fact, except for Wing night at the Cove, and an occasional offering by Chef at the Wood Fired Kitchen at the Colloca Estate Winery, most days I find myself preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for the dogs and me.

But there’s an unintended consequence of all of this. I generate kitchen waste and trash -- lots of it.

So after my first year, where I spent the majority of my time trying to figure out how to keep warm in the long, dark months of winter, I turned my attention to what millennials call “sustainability”, and what I call common sense.

I started dealing with trash.

First, I re-cycle anything I can from newspapers, to fan mail, to tuna cans and shirt cardboards. Truthfully, I fill up the re-cycle bin three times faster than the one going to landfill.

Second, I try not to buy stuff that is wrapped in plastic. When I go to an actual butcher, they wrap my purchase in “freezer paper”, and my chances of getting meat that won’t kill me is an unintended positive consequence. I use bio-degradable dog waste bags. And, I will do pretty much anything not to have to use those plastic bags they have for our vegetables at grocery stores.  It takes a little effort. But it helps.

Last but not least, I have my two Dalek looking composters in the back yard. They may look like they’re right off the set of a Dr. Who show, but they are incredible at turning my kitchen waste into great soil for my gardens.

It takes a year to turn a full one into dirt, but it really is a thing of beauty.

One thing’s for sure. My gardens will flourish this year. And, between the great soil I’m making by composting, and all the B#&&%@*! that is generated by our government about Climate Change being Fake News, I should have tomatoes the size of basketballs.

These small things in my exile, seem to be making the world a little better place. My world at least. A tiny contribution with big consequences.

Now, when my dogs and I walk to the water’s edge here on the North Coast of America, I can hear the sounds of the fish thanking me.

Rising Waters in Fair Haven – Here’s How You Can Help

Fair Havens 4th of July Parade.jpg

Note: I helped put this together for the Fair Haven Chamber of Commerce and my friends and neighbors who keep our economy going. It received notice and publication in some of the mainstream media outlets throughout the area. Residents of Fair Haven are a hardy bunch. And the fortitude, determination and resilience is illustrated by he business owners who depend upon the hundred days of summer for continued success. They provide us with employment. They get us through the long winters. And, they are the backbone of the community we call Fair Haven.

From the Fair Haven Chamber of Commerce

Little Sodus Bay in Fair Haven, NY is one the best kept secrets on the North Coast of America – Lake Ontario’s southern shore. Because of its unique location almost in the geographic center of the state, the community has become the focus of many a family’s summer fun for decades.

And it still is – despite the rumors of flooding our pristine shores. Like Mark Twain once said to a reporter when a New York Newspaper ran his obituary, “The reports of our death are greatly exaggerated”.

If you look at an official topographic map of Upstate New York, you’ll see that Little Sodus bay is 246’ above sea level. Or at any rate, that’s what it used to be.

Right now, officials say it’s less than an inch below the record flood level of 249 set back in 2017. But most people along the shore say it’s well past that.

Business owners in Fair Haven are a hardy bunch. And they’re battling back the rising waters with a variety of strategies to make the summer of 2019 the best ever.

Visitors to the town often ask “What can we do to help?” and the answer is simple: Fair Haven is open and ready for Summer fun. Come and have some!

Here are a few suggestions:

The Fishing is better than ever! Salmon, Trout, Bass … you name it. And Charters like Popeye’s Charter and Yankee One Charter as well as the rest of the fleet are streaming out the bay every morning. And Screwy Louies Sport Shop is ready I town for everything from poles to takle to bait.

Shopping? Fair Haven’s got some of the most unique shops in the region. From the Fly by Night Cookie Company’s delicious selections, to the Front Porch Gift Shop and the Hardware Café’s gift section, there’s something for everyone. Need to stock up on supplies, there’s The West End Express Mart and of course, Bayside Grocery which has just about everything you need … and a few things you don’t!

Keep an Eye on the Arts. The local artist community is thriving as well. Spend a lazy afternoon browsing their works. DOC Gallery and South Shore artisans are showcasing their artwork and One Photo has some of the most breathtaking nature photos to be found anywhere.

#DestinationFairHaven is true to it’s word. There are about a dozen places to stay: Memory Haven, Anchor Resort, Black Creek B&B, The Cabin Vacation House, Fair Haven Motel, the Cottage Farm, the White House, Holiday Harbor Resort, Turner’s 1816 B&B, The Got A-Way, Pleasant Beach Hotel and Turtle Cove Resort all have accommodations for Families as well as cozy couples.

Want something to do? Fair Haven Beach State Park is open and there are several trails for hiking. Sterling Nature Center showcases the Heron Rookery and walks along the cliffs overlooking the shoreline. Springbrook Golf Course is green and ready for golfers. The Little Red School House Museum has some local history. And Colloca Estate Winery and the Sterling Cidery showcase beverages from right here in Fair Haven.

There’s music in the air … almost every night and day. Turtle Cove has an open Mike on Thursdays as well as music on the weekends. Colloca Estate Winery not only has music on Sunday afternoons, but Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights as well. Little Sodus Inn, Brandon’s Pub and the Pleasant Beach also have regular music schedules. And, don’t forget Porch Fest on August 11th where there are local musicians in front of almost business in town.

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner? Not a problem. Menus in Fair Haven are eclectic as the music. Adventures in great eating are available everywhere from Giuseppe’s of Fair Haven, the Hardware Café, Brandon’s Pub and Grill, the Wood Fired Grill at Colloca Estate Winery, Little Sodus Inn, Pleasant Beach Hotel, Sterling Cidery, Village Grill and Turtle Cove.

And, last but not the least is the Fourth of July celebration sponsored by SOFA and Colloca Estate Winery. It’s known throughout the area as one of the region’s best – is among the best ever, symbolizing the community’s resilience.

The long and short of it is that Fair Haven is as welcoming, fun, and beautiful as ever. Open, and ready for Summer!


Bring Your Own Popcorn ... and be afraid.

I didn’t realize till recently how historical the Month of February is until quite recently.

It kicks off with Ground Hog’s Day (my favorite “holiday” of the year as it signals spring is six weeks away no matter what Punxsutawney Phil does). My Mother always said that if you can survive winter till February 2nd, you’re going to survive the year.

Then the month quickly moves on to Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12th a former holiday which, along with Washington’s Birthday on February 22nd, is now celebrated with the innocuous and meaningless “Presidents Day” (designed to make us forget our history) on the third Monday. I much preferred the old way where we had holidays that meant something. Who the hell wants to celebrate Herbert Hoover?!

And, last week, I wrote a post about February 19th, 1942 and the infamous Executive Order 9066. If you missed it, you can read it later, but don’t go yet).

Last night, while listening to podcasts at 2:00 a.m. in the morning (I don’t sleep) I found out about this Academy Award Nominated Short “A Night at the Garden” which took place on February 20th, 1939. I’ve started a new feature call “Movies Without the Popcorn” — vids I’ve found while surfing the web. Check it out.


You could almost replace the speaker with another President whose number is 45.

Note: I have to give credit where credit is due. I found out about this from one of my fave podcasts “On The Media” from WNYC Public Radio. If you’re a progressive and you’re not listening to this … you should.

Those Who Don't Study History are Doomed to Repeat it.

I make it on two counts. Irish Japanese. Even my dogs aren’t welcome. LOL

I make it on two counts. Irish Japanese. Even my dogs aren’t welcome. LOL

In case you were thinking that it doesn’t get any worse for non-white U.S. Citizens under the Trump administration, think again.

He’s still one step away from what our neighbors did on February 19th, 1942. This past week was the anniversary of what was termed by some as one of the the darkest moments for Civil Liberties in our nation’s history.

Under Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, (yes, the country’s greatest President!) somewhere between 110,000 and 120,000 Japanese Americans – about 2/3rds of which were U.S. Citizens – were rounded up and sent to “Relocation Centers” in such romantic places as Gila River, Arizona; Manzanar, California; and Jerome, Arkansas. Ten places in all, surrounded by guard towers and machine guns -- through a roundup that made the Nazi definition of who should go their concentration camps look like child’s play.

Anyone in the targeted areas with at least 1/16th Japanese ancestry was subject to incarceration. And it didn’t matter if you were a citizen or not. You went.

Racists in the neighborhoods where this took place took it as an opportunity to steal and loot people’s homes, confiscate their farms and businesses, settle old grudges.

In fact, they didn’t do it in Honolulu where my Mother lived at the time. They did round up local leaders of political, church and social groups. But with a third to half the islanders of Japanese ancestry living there, it was the Chamber of Commerce that stepped in to implore the government not to do it. Where would they put them? And, they said, it would be “economically devastating”.

An interesting lesson. Maybe if we could prove that today’s racism is economically dangerous, it would help stem the tide.

My Grandmother on my Mother’s side was full-blooded Japanese. My Mother half. That makes me a quarter Japanese.

That would mean if it happened again today, they would round up me and I might be spending this day in sunny Arkansas along with my daughter and my grandchildren.

Because of all this, I kind of take the whole racism discussion a little more seriously than some, and use my own ancestry as a reminder that we are ALL immigrants in one way or another.

You see, I’m not a white guy, though I guess you wouldn’t know it to just glance at me. But when I tell people I’m part Japanese, they usually respond with, “I knew there was something different about you”.

A subtle, but pointed way of saying I’m not like them. That indeed there is a difference. Not normal. Not of them. And questionable at best.

Makes me wonder what they were thinking was “different” all this time. Was it my eyes? Was it my smell? Was it the tint and hue of my skin? My attitude?

It’s as though I mentioned in casual conversation that I was part Martian.

I carefully hid my heritage under a blanket of shamrocks by highlighting the Irish side of my history; hanging around in Irish bars, drinking Guinness, and being a little two-fisted. But as time went by and the chasm between the present and my Mother’s death grows wider, I have begun to embrace my Japanese side as if to capture a lifeline to a past that is now long gone.

It’s why I get my hackles up when I’ve been accused of not knowing what it’s like to be a minority. I am one. I have distinct memories of our family being asked to leave restaurants in the South on a camping trip to Florida when I was a kid. And having waitresses not serve us in Brockport where I grew up. Of my mother having problems getting a job.

In fact, the bullying my brother got when he was a kid was so bad (he looks like m Mother, I look like my Father) that he moved away for college and never really returned. Even now I get chastised for calling myself an “Oriental” (the word is ASIAN don’t you know?!) even though that’s what my Mother taught us we were. One of the jobs I had refused to count me as a minority and laughed at me when I told them I was.

The prejudice didn’t fall far from the tree. It was in my own family as well. When my father brought my Mother back to the Mohawk valley after WWII, his sister – my Aunt and her husband, didn’t speak to him again for about 30 years because of his “war bride”.

That’s what makes me so scared about Trump and his version of disguised fascism. He’s all too quick to call something or someone “Un-American”.

So I thought that on the anniversary of 9066, I would remind you that some 3,600 Japanese-Americans from the camps joined the armed forces in WWII, as did over 22,000 others, many of whom were from Hawaii where my Mother was born. The all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team was highly decorated for bravery and actions against the Nazis in Europe.

Doesn’t sound “Un-American” to me.

Yeah, there is something different about me. Because the more I learn about the history of Executive Order 9066, the more I realize that it would be my neighbors – the ones who are real do-or-die, “he can’t do anything wrong” Trump supporters would be the ones condemning me to prison if the clock turned back.

Not likely, I’m told. But then, like I said, today we have Donald Trump and U.S. Senators and members of Congress who think nothing of separating families, incarcerating children, deporting people who came here as youngsters, and running our own modern version of concentration camps for people who are “Un-American”.

His target happens to be Latinos, these days. But it could be me … or you for that matter. So just as some food for thought, I want to re-publish these words from a German Lutheran Pastor who said it in speeches he gave throughout post-war Europe.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

-- German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller 

"If You Chop Your Own Wood, It Will Warm You Twice"

My constant companion Ace, peeking through the fence as I practice the Zen of chopping wood.

My constant companion Ace, peeking through the fence as I practice the Zen of chopping wood.

I was married once. When I was 19 years old. It was something people did back in the “Good Ol’ Days”. But, it turns out they weren’t really that good, nor was the marriage. Neither lasted.

Most of my memories of that time are gone, erased either by decades of time … or perhaps choice.

But I do remember that in the house my wife Ruth grew up in, they had a magnificent home crafted fireplace mantel in which was carved some good Zen-like advice:

“If you chop your own wood, it will warm you twice.”

Now, decades later living in my exile in my small cottage (The Alamo) on the North Coast of America in Fair Haven, I get this experience almost every cold winter’s day.

And, these days have been particularly cold -- in more ways than one.

I have just recently learned that my (and Ruth’s) daughter has cancer. The big “C”.  My heart froze at the word as it brought back the haunting of the seven years of operations and chemotherapy I went through by my Mother’s side until it killed her at 62.

This version of “C” is in the early stages and I’m told to “relax” as it won’t be as bad.


So now, chopping wood can become an almost religious experience. A chance for contemplation in the silence of the North Coast.


I order wood by the truckload, and have to chop a certain amount of it for kindling to start fires in my ancient black cast iron wood stove. By modern technology standards it’s not efficient by any means. Even the handle that turns on the “secondary burn” is rust-frozen shut. But burning wood is cheaper than heating with propane – especially if it’s above 20 degrees. But not only that, it smells better. It looks better. It tastes better. It sounds better and generally feels better.

There’s a certain skill it takes to chopping wood without cutting your leg off, or breaking your back. I’ve now honed my chopping skills so that I can do it without thinking about it. I’ve tried everything from a short handled sledge and a five pound splitting wedge, to flailing at the logs with a Hudson Bay axe. But, My weapon of choice is a 6 pound Vulcan maul I got from Wilson’s Hardware on Monroe Avenue In Rochester. I mention them because when I bought the first one of these, the handle broke the first week I had it. A year later (that’s right … a YEAR later) I finally got around to taking it back. I didn’t expect them to believe me, but I told them how it shattered. Without missing a beat, the guy behind the counter said, “Well, that’s no good.” Then, he walked over, took another one off the display, handed it to me and said, “Sorry, give this one a try”. No receipt. No charge. No hassle. Wow. Try getting that service from Amazon.

I think it’s part of the Karma that comes from chopping your own wood.

It turns out that doing my daily chopping not only warms me twice, but gives me a chance to clear my mind and take stock of the truly important as opposed to the apparently important.

For example, if I don’t have enough kindling, I can’t start a fire and it will get deadly cold inside. That’s REALLY important.

Besides that though, there are the nights.

Sitting in front of the fire, reading a book, sipping a little snifter of Irish whiskey before turning with my trusted dog companions by my side, makes the long winter here shorter, exile bearable, my heart warmer.

Winter on the North Coast is not for the feint of heart. Fair Haven is located around Little Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario. It’s flanked east and west by drumlins and to the south is a ridge that, in my meager meteorological skilled mind, can make weather forecasting virtually impossible. Four miles up the road on the other side of the ridge in the Village of Red Creek, the sun can be shining, while here on the North Coast we are battling a blizzard that makes the wildest blizzard of the “Good Ol’ Days” look like a day at the beach.

 But the reverse is true as well. NY Route 104 can be a white-out nightmare, while we’re basking in a the glare of winter sunshine. Like today, when I’m writing this and the ice fisherman are dotting the bay like so many colored ant-hills.


And the other thing that’s true is that no matter what, it’s beautiful.

If you know anything about me, (and I’m guessing if you’re reading this you are at the very least a “Facebook Friend”) you know that these last few years have not been exactly wonderful. Lots of personal battles. Relationship disintegration. Work challenges. Financial mountains. Questions about my legacy and life’s worth.

But now, contemplating my daughter’s cancer while chopping wood, I am coming to a better understanding of what it’s all about.

A lot of things I’ve worried about just don’t really matter.  And, here’s something that does. Seems like just yesterday, she was holding my hand as we toddled through the woods along the winding creek in back of the house that I grew up in. Now, a Mother in her own right, she’s got battles of her own to fight. And, they’re bigger than mine.

Now, when I chop wood, I think of her and what I’ve learned about living.

Write and sail more. Worry less. Love more. Be nice to people. Spend time chopping your own wood.

Do good.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

That’s Tracy on the right on the motorcycle in 1941.

That’s Tracy on the right on the motorcycle in 1941.

This Blog originally appeared in a much shortened version in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. I like to post it every year around this time so that people will “Remember Pearl Harbor”.

Every Pearl Harbor Day (December 7th for those who don’t remember), I make a tradition of watching a WWII movie about the Japanese attack in 1941. It used to be that I watched the 1970’s film “Tora, Tora, Tora”. Now, it’s the 2001 Michael Bey Movie, Pearl Harbor starring Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale.

Critics made a lot of complaints when the film came out that it was “...too romantic” and didn’t capture the infamy of the moment. But for me, it gets me reflecting on my parent’s time -- what journalist Tom Brokow called, the “Greatest Generation”.

That’s in part because, in my now 57 years, my Mother -- Margaret Mildred Tokunaga Berge was the only woman that I knew who had survived a bombing raid, the surprise attack Pearl Harbor at 7:48 a.m., December 7th, 1941.

It isn’t as uncommon as it used to be. This current generation, seemingly not content to send our children off to war, thinks nothing of sending our young mothers off to distant lands to fight -- and die.

My father, Tracy Read Warner, was there as well. Having been born in the town of Ilion, New York -- a blip of a town on the Erie Canal in the Mohawk Valley -- that was, as it’s essential claim in history, the home of Eliphalet Remington, original maker in of the famed Remington rifle in 1816.

Dad left this small backwater town at the age of 18 in 1938 for a three-year stint in the United States Army Air Corps. It turned into 30 or so.

He told me once that he wanted a fancy uniform and he wanted to meet girls. An Army recruiter told him and his best friend Ray Sampson they would do just that and more as they went through boot camp as buddies and served their country together.

They signed up and after training, they didn’t see each other again for the next 27 years. Mr. Sampson was shipped off to Europe. My father was shipped through the Panama Canal to Hickam Field on the Pacific Island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.

He was scheduled to be discharged on December 24th, 1941. He didn’t make it that year. His whole life changed because of where he was at about ten minutes before 8:00 a.m. on December 7th.

When I asked him about what he did over the next half hour or so that day, he downplayed his effort, though supposedly he won a decoration of some sort for his bravery. He told me that in midst of the bombing, he rode an Indian brand Motorcycle to the main air-field amongst burning planes and falling bombs to pick up a General or some such officer who had just landed. At one point, he drew his sidearm and fired at a Japanese zero swooping down at them. He said it was so close he could see the pilot’s face. In his excitement, he accidentally dropped the officer off the back of the bike. He missed the pilot with his .45. He almost messed his pants.

Mostly, he said, he was just plain scared.

Meanwhile my Mother, 13 years old, was down the harbor a little in an area called Aiea Heights at a neighbor’s house. She, her older sister and brother along with their Mother, lived in a small apartment over a garage belonging to a dentist. As the bombing began, they really weren’t all that concerned. Everyone thought, “Probably just the Navy over in the main harbor doing maneuvers”.

Their apartment was apparently down the street from something important because after the bombing at the air-field and the harbor, retreating Japanese planes bombed the street.

Ironic -- my grandmother’s last name was Tokunaga and was full-blooded Japanese. Japanese bombing Japanese.

My mother was “missing” for a while during and after the attack, my Grandmother told me -- having been hurried down the cellar stairs by a neighbor to safety in the basement. And, for what seemed an eternity, she raced around in the confusion screaming Margaret’s name until my mother popped her head through a downstairs window.

Everyone waited for the next attack wave of ground troops that was sure to follow the bombing raid -- but it never came.

My mother told me that she too, was scared -- mostly because all of the adults around her who were so terrified at the surprise devastation of the raid.

But they both survived, and, because my father was in charged of the NCO club at the air base (the crossroads of the Pacific where everyone went sooner or later) he and my Mother’s father became acquainted. Which led, apparently to some clandestine meeting between the 21 year-old Air Corps Military Policeman and sometimes bartender and the then 15 year-old Margaret.


The folks back home in Ilion were not impressed, but they got married in 1944 when my Mother was just 16. In those days, she told me, it was every girl’s dream to marry a serviceman and get off that God forsaken island in the middle of nowhere -- in the middle of the Pacific Ocean -- in the middle of a major war.

Consequently, I have a soft spot for the “romance” of the movie. Without it, I guess I wouldn’t be here today.

Were they the “Greatest Generation”? Sometimes I think so. The 16 year old girl with the 8th grade education and the kid from Ilion, New York who wanted to see the world, lived through a war, got married, raised a family, bought a house, voted in elections, got old, and -- in my mind -- died too young, both of cancer.

And every December 7th, the memory of their young romance fills my heart with a certain flutter, while I remember Pearl Harbor.

An Invite to Fair Haven for Governor Cuomo


Here’s a surprise for you. I’m casting my WFP Proxy for Andrew Cuomo at the State Committee meeting on Wednesday this week.

I worked on the Cynthia Nixon Campaign. But he won. We can’t have the slightest chance of a Republican Governor. And Cuomo has taken a hard tack to port.

However, there’s one thing that’s bothering me.

In a speech last week at the Business Council of New York State's annual conference at Lake George he told reporters that “the weather” was the reason people were leaving Upstate in droves but that his work on economic development was vaulting the State beyond new horizons.

So I’m inviting him to join me on my morning walk with my Retrievers, Ace the Golden and Lila the Lab as we walk along the North Coast of America in the incredible Fair Haven Beach State Park.

I’ve done a little work on Upstate Economic Development when I served on the Board of Greater Rochester Enterprises.

It was led then by Mark Peterson an incredibly able Director, who brought speakers in monthly to talk about their projects and why they were in the Upstate Region. One morning, he brought in a Brit who, while wanting to locate his data storage business in Toronto, as it was part of the British Commonwealth, had landed in Rochester for one very important reason.

The Weather.

So when the peels of laughter from the audience subsided, he went on to explain his reasons. “First, you need to understand that in my business – backing up data for huge banks and financial institutions – I can’t be out of business even for a day,” he said. “So, I picked Rochester because of the weather. You don’t have earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados, Tsunamis, mudslides or volcanic eruptions. In fact you have some of the most stable weather in the world.”

He then went on to explain that we also had an infrastructure, educational institutions, educated workforce and more than reasonable real estate prices that made Upstate and in particular Rochester, NY an ideal place for anyone building a business.”

So this is why I want Governor Cuomo to walk with us.

If he did, he would gain a whole new perspective on the weather up here.

To start with, he would be awed by the incredible painted sunrise, popping up over the eastern bluff. And, his hard heart would soften by the panoramic view of the horizon on the North Coast, dotted in the early morning with fishing boats, sails, and the occasional lake freighter.

If that isn’t enough, there’s the morning show brought to you by the critters on the ground and in the skies.

First, there are the families of deer standing on their hind legs to get the delectable apples off the trees just past the entrance to the park. And, on the Park entrance road there are wild turkeys pecking the ground with their poults. Up in the sky as we pass the pond with the morning mist rising gently, there will be the dozen or so swans gliding just above the glassy surface, long necks stretched out and honking with every flap of their enormous wings. Straight up in the sky, there are the hunters, a brilliant blue Kingfisher chirping and dotting from tree to tree, and always, a mystical Osprey soaring above, looking for breakfast.

Back on the ground along the shore will be a hundred or so Canada Geese mixed in with gulls and terns, gathering to get their formation orders for the flight south. At least once a week, there’s a red fox who pops out in front of us just 50 or so feet ahead, and struts confidently away just out of reach of the hounds.

There are the vultures and hawks playing dramatically on the air currents off the lake. And last … but certainly not least … the majestic Bald Eagles who do their own brand of hunting.

It’s beautiful here. Simple and beautiful.

After the walk, we’ll stop at the Hardware café on Main Street for a little conversation with the locals. And maybe, just maybe he’ll take with him a different perspective on the weather and people along the North Coast of America.

Lastly, I hope he will understand how putting one of his massive, obnoxious brilliant fluorescent blue “New York Experience” signs at a park’s entrance may not be exactly in keeping with the beauty of Upstate.

Hopefully he will take away good thoughts ... and take the sign with him.


One Down, 14 to Go!

That’s Rachel, Zach and I at the filing of her petitions with the New York State Board of Elections in July, making her run “official”. Eric is there too … behind the camera.

That’s Rachel, Zach and I at the filing of her petitions with the New York State Board of Elections in July, making her run “official”. Eric is there too … behind the camera.

It’s official. We Won. One down, 14* to go.

For those of you who don't know it, after 47 years of working on elections in one way or another, I came out of retirement to help beat the bad guys, and yesterday we kicked the crap out of one of them -- Assistant IDC Leader, Senator David Valesky of the 53rd Senate District in Syracuse.

In case you've had your head under a rock for the last 8 years, the IDC are those people who (like Trump) get huge donations from unscrupulous corporations and NYC Developers, are stopping Health Care for you and your neighbors, blocking protections for women's reproductive rights, and refuse to pass campaign finance reform to end corruption in our political system.

Why would they do these terrible things? Personal gain.

They get promises not to have election opposition, and get extra stipends and taxpayer money as "leaders" in the Senate. They get bigger offices, more staff, and perks beyond belief from the Republican cronies.

It's despicable, and makes Joe Percoco look like an amateur.

But David Valesky -- assistant to the infamous Jeff Klein, leader of the IDC, won't be heading back to Albany in January.

Yesterday, I and the incredible Dynamic Campaign Duo of Zach Zeliff and Eric Van der Vort, spent the day in the Onondaga Board of Elections reviewing absentee ballots.

Rachel May, -- who a year ago was a "student" for the weekend at WFP’s “Running to Win” Training held in the tiny snack room of a West Side Syracuse Bowling Alley – challenged Valesky and beat him soundly, 8,514 to 7,925 with all votes counted. Later in the day, Valesky conceded the election.

I’m incredibly proud to stand with Rachel and Zach and Eric to celebrate this victory on this windy Friday morning and the eve of the Fall equinox. I can’t help but feel that the weather is bringing the winds of change with it.

I’m not getting any younger – and if it all ended today, I would feel like all the years of hard work meant something. Thanks, Rachel. And Zach, And Eric. Carpe Diem.

*The number of top elections I have a hand in this year across the Upstate Region for the WFP.

Reflections on the Primary Election Just Past

Grassroots. From the Bottom to the Top

Grassroots. From the Bottom to the Top

September 13th has come and gone, and I get about 48 hours of reflection before I have to get going on the November General Election. Here are a few thoughts that have gone through my mind.

One of the things I spend a lot of time doing is training people who are candidates, want to be candidates, or who are just plain interested in what it takes to be a candidate. It takes a lot of time and while it is hard work, it is incredibly satisfying.

If you’ve ever wondered about the importance of the campaign trainings that WFP does for new and prospective candidates, look no further.

They’re the reason David Valesky, Assistant Leader of the IDC – those traitorous Democrats who supported Republican control of the NYS Senate since 2011 – is heading to the unemployment line.

Rachel May, the WFP endorsed Democrat who beat him in last Thursday’s Primary, is a graduate of that program. And maybe is its valedictorian student – proof that a seemingly small event can lead to a great outcome.

The Primary of 2018 is over. And, in the Working Families Party’s Upstate Region, we showed the power that Progressive Ideas and lots of hard work have in the fight to save America.

We scored victory after victory, each striking a small blow to the tyranny and corruption that has become pervasive in our government. It is why I joined the Working Families Party. They are the reason I get up every morning and manage the Upstate Region as Political Director.

Here’s our scorecard.

First, Rachel May of Syracuse defeated Incumbent David Senator David Valesky in Senate District 53. Valesky had to go, and Rachel … who may be the best candidate I have ever worked with … worked tirelessly with her team; Zach Zellif as campaign Manager and Eric Van  der Vort, Press Director, to give Upstate its greatest victory against immeasurable odds.

Then, there’s Tistrya Houghteling in Assembly District 107. This seat represents all most of Columbia County, most of Rensselaer County and a tiny corner of Washington County. Once again – against all odds – the WFP endorsed Democrat soundly defeated her opponent, Don Boyajian, 4077 to 3005. Boyajian bragged that his $250,000 war chest left over from his failed Congressional race was reason enough to be nominated as challenger to the Republicans. Voters thought differently.

But that’s not all that went on in Rensselaer County. Because of the importance the WFP line holds in the General Election in November, Republicans tried once again to steal the WFP line with primary campaigns (otherwise known as OTBs). The tried to take the WFP line from Carole Weaver in Troy who is running for RensCo Legislator in LD 1. And they tried it against Mary Pat Donnelly who is running to unseat corrupt DA Joel Abelove.

We won both the primaries. In large part due to the incredible work State Committee member Phil Markham did. Again, proof that one person can make a huge difference in outcome!

The Capital District is not the only place where people were trying to steal the WFP label over the wishes of the local WFP membership. In Syracuse, endorsed City Court Judge candidate Shadia Tadros beat back a WFP primary from her opponent, soundly defeating challenger Ann Magnerelli. Shadia also is just 20 votes or so behind in the race for the Democratic line in November’s election with hundreds of Absentee ballots to open.

Shadia – a political newcomer and incredible campaigner -- will become Upstate’s first Arab American office holder!

A huge victory in some part thanks to the efforts of the new activism by Syracuse’s local WFP Committee.

All eyes were on the Cynthia Nixon & Jumaane Williams campaigns, of course. And short of winning – we hoped to break 40%. Time and time again in County after County … Onondaga County, Cayuga County, Wayne County, St. Lawrence County, Schenectady County and more -- all got well over 40% for CN. Jumaane actually WON Columbia County!!!!

So now it’s on to the November election in 49 days. The rest is history … but pretty good history.

“We got half a million Democrats saying ‘no' to Cuomo,” said Nixon consultant Rebecca Katz. “That ain’t nothing.”






Rachel May beats incumbent Sen. Dave Valesky in Democratic primary

Photo by Michale Greenlar from Syrcuse.com. Rachel May reacts to taking the lead over Valesky.

Photo by Michale Greenlar from Syrcuse.com. Rachel May reacts to taking the lead over Valesky.

This article is from Syracuse.com. By Michelle Breidenbach mbreidenbach@syracuse.com

Rachel may has won the democratic party primary against incumbent NYS Sen. Dave Valesky in the 53rd senate district. May had 50.47 percent of the vote over Valesky's 46.66 with 100 percent of election day ballots counted.

May won 8,013 votes. Valesky won 7,407 votes cast at the polls on election day, according to unofficial election night votes from the NYS Board of Elections.

May won Onondaga and Oneida Counties. Valesky won Madison County, where he lives.

May is Syracuse University's Director of Sustainability Education. This is May's first run for elected office.

Valesky has not had an opponent since 2010.

During the campaign, may criticized Valesky for his role in the Independent Democratic Conference. Valesky was deputy leader of the IDC, a breakaway group of eight Democrats who formed an alliance with Republicans to help the GOP maintain control of the senate since 2011.

The IDC agreed in April to reunite with mainstream democrats in the senate. But the move came too late for May and her progressive supporters, who say they no longer trusted Valesky to look out for their interests.

Bronx sen. Jeff Klein, the former leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, lost his primary against attorney Alessandra Biaggi in the 34th district. Biaggi is an attorney who worked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton.

The winner faces Republican Janet Burman Nov.6.

From the Front Lines of the War on Trump and Trump Supporters

Katie WIlson.jpg

This is from the Post-Star Newspaper and is written by Michael Goot. Photo by Kayla Breen, Press-Republican

Michael Goot covers politics, the city of Glens Falls, the town and village of Lake George and other northern Warren County communities. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog at http://poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

The effort to get Katie Wilson off the Working Families Party ballot in the NY-21 Congressional District race is underway, but it involves a lot of moving pieces — including Ron Kim, who is on the Working Families line challenging Republican Assemblyman Dan Stec but apparently is not running.

Wilson finished third in a three-way primary on June 26 for the Democratic nomination, which was won by Tedra Cobb. However, Wilson had already secured the Working Families Party ballot line for the November congressional election.

People can be removed from the ballot by dying, moving out of the district or being appointed to a judgeship. Another option is to run for a different office.

Ken Warner, upstate region political director for the New York State Working Families Party, said Friday that there is a plan in motion to remove Wilson from the ballot.

“We’re trying to unify after the primary all of the Democrats and the progressives in the North Country in the important race, which is to beat Elise Stefanik,” he said.

“The process is involved and there are a lot of pieces,” he added.

Warner declined to say more about what office Wilson is seeking, or the overall plan, but said there is a press conference tentatively scheduled for Thursday in Plattsburgh.

Wilson lives in Keene. That is also in the 114th Assembly District represented by Queensbury’s Stec, which covers all of Warren and Essex counties.

However, Wilson said in text messages on Monday that she is not running for Assembly.

“I’m not running for anything this cycle. I’m holding out for something else,” she said.

Kim not running

Kim, a lawyer who lives in Queensbury, confirmed in an email Sunday morning that he is not a candidate for the 114th Assembly District seat.

“To assist the Working Family Party and give them a temporary ‘placeholder’ for their line, I agreed to allow my name to be circulated for nominating petition signatures,” he said. “My understanding is that another individual in the district is considering a run for this seat, and given the timing of petitions, the WFP needed a ‘placeholder.’ Since I share their view on a number of issues, I agreed to assist them in this manner.”

Kim dropped out of the NY-21 race in March. He said Monday he is not pursuing any other office.

Warner also confirmed that Mark Schneider, who is on the Working Families line to challenge Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, is also a placeholder.

“Ron and Mark Schneider have graciously agreed to help us accomplish this,” Warner said.

Former NY-21 Democratic candidate Emily Martz is on the Democratic line to run against Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, in the 45th Senate District. Perhaps Martz is going to pick up the Working Families Party line as well?

Changing their tune

Warren County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Lynne Boecher said last week that Democrat leaders approached the large field of NY-21 Democratic candidates early in the year to gauge their future plans.

“We did attempt to get them talking back in January and February to consider running for state office. At the time, all said absolutely not. They were all running for the 21st (Congressional District),” she said.

Nobody else had stepped forward ahead of time, according to Boecher.

“I just think a lot of people don’t want to enter the political arena,” she said.

Secret video

The big news that came out of the NY-21 race last week was the release of a secretly recorded video in which Cobb is relaying a conversation she had with a prospective voter who asked her whether she supported an assault weapons ban.

Cobb said she did but she could not publicly take that position and get elected in the district.

National Republicans and the Stefanik campaign seized on the issue, saying that Cobb is lying and violating a Post-Star pledge on that matter. In a statement, Cobb defended that she was having a candid moment talking with students about the inability to pass any common-sense gun solutions — including implementing universal background checks and prohibiting the mentally ill from getting a firearm — without politics getting in the way.

A teenager who attended a Teens for Tedra private event recorded the video and posted it to YouTube. He identified himself as Grayson and said his cellphone was dead. The media has not been able to track him down.

It’s amazing how the ubiquity of cellphones have changed political campaigns. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, was caught on video at a private fundraising event saying 47 percent of the public would never vote for him because they “believe they are victims” and would vote for President Barack Obama because they depend on government support.

The video was secretly recorded at a private fundraiser in Florida and posted to a website. It was used successfully by the Obama campaign to portray Romney as elitist and out of touch.

The name’s the same

If Kim was mounting a campaign and been elected, he would have been the second Ron Kim in the Assembly. Assemblyman Ron Kim was elected in 2012 to the 40th Assembly District in Queens.

WFP Backs 1st Generation Arab American in Syracuse Court Race


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.


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.