Hon. Aileen Gunther honored at
THE HEART OF HEALTH CARE gala by Orange Co. Democratic Women
The Hon. Aileen Gunther, nurse and NY State Assemblywoman [100th District], was awarded the 2015 Geraldine Ferraro Public Service Award by the OCDW on Sept. 18 in New Windsor. Over 80 guests celebrated her unflagging dedication to quality care in Orange and Sullivan Counties.
Additional honorees included Michele R. Worden, Dr. Sherma Winchester-Penny, Terri Blancato-Horton and Jeanne Daley.
Photo courtesy of timesunion.com
Kathy Hochul, NY State Lieutenant Governor will be keynote speaker
at OCNYDems Annual Dinner on May 31
Honorees will include Sabina Shapiro, CSEA Local 7900 [Labor Award]
Polly Roberts [Distinguished Service Award]
Paul van Niewerburgh [Distinguished Service Award], and Neil Meyer [Spotlight Award]
SAVE THE DATE - and see the details in the Events section
The Town of Wallkill Democratic Committee is seeking candidates for the following positions:
Town Supervisor, Town Clerk and Town Councilman, particularly in Ward 1 and Ward 4.
Interested Democrats in the Town of Wallkill can contact Kevin Mulqueen, Town Democratic Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org or come to our Committee meeting at 99 Tower Drive, Middletown, NY 10941 on April 27 at 7:30 PM, or on May 17 at 7:30 PM.
For further information contact Kevin Mulqueen at 845-649-7167
Democratic Committee of Chester MEET & GREET
Tuesday, April 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 at The Rustic Wheelhouse,
39 Main Street, Chester. A great group, hoping you'll join them!
OCNYDems to sponsor CANDIDATE'S SCHOOL
Saturday, May 9 at Otterkill Country Club, Campbell Hall
Whether you're a committed candidate, or curious about throwing your hat in the ring, this is the time and place to hear from seasoned OCNYDems about building your strategic campaign plan: issues, finance and fund-raising, petitions, campaign literature, building your team and door-to-door campaigning. Join us for brunch.
More info: Brett Broge [email@example.com] or Mickey Morgano [firstname.lastname@example.org].
April 4, 2015
Letter From Assemblyman JAMES SKOUFIS on the NY State Budget
Dear Friends & Neighbors:
As you may know by now, the 2015-2016 state budget was passed earlier this week. During the months-long negotiation, right up to the time of the votes on various budget bills, I did my best to fight for the serious priorities we have here in the Hudson Valley all the while advocating for our share of resources and attention. Here are some of the highlights – and, unfortunately, lowlights:
In January, the Governor proposed reforms that strike at the heart of education and the teaching profession. While some of my colleagues and I worked tirelessly to make a terrible situation better, the end result is not something I could support. That is why I voted "no" on these education proposals.
Teaching is one of society's most noble professions and I am truly saddened that some are compelled to attack those in our classrooms. Likewise, the vast majority of our schools are places of excellence - not "failing," as some have suggested.
I am further extremely concerned that the potential for a greater reliance on testing exists for both our students and teachers as part of these proposals. There is already over-testing in our classrooms - a greater emphasis on testing, in my opinion, will not yield an accurate or fair assessment of our educators' or children's abilities. You can be sure I will be lobbying the Board of Regents over the coming months as they begin their new task of assembling a revamped teacher evaluation plan.
Unlike the above proposals, I was proud to support and vote for a significant increase in state aid to our local schools - I helped bring back an over $27 million increase in funding to the districts I represent. This is something that will lead to smaller classroom sizes and truly help our students.
And I stand with the teachers in our district that work day in and day out for our children. Thank you, teachers, and you deserve better.
There was some good news on taxes in this year’s budget but there is yet much to be desired. In January, the Governor proposed to eliminate the 2% cost of living increase associated with the STAR property tax rebate program, a measure that would have cost thousands of families I represent. I am pleased to say that like-minded colleagues and I were successful in pushing back on the Governor’s attempt to flat-line the STAR program and a 2% increase remains.
Other good news includes the further chipping away of the unjust MTA payroll tax. While I continue to support legislation that completely repeals this tax, this year’s budget includes an exemption for our libraries.
The bad news is what was not in the budget. I am very disappointment that a much-discussed property tax relief measure called a circuit breaker was not included in the budget framework nor was a cut in the small business income tax rate. These items will be taken up post-budget and remain a top priority of mine.
Lastly, a salary commission was included in one of the budget bills, tasked with looking at pay raises for legislators and agency officials. As I have always pledged, I voted against this measure and do not believe it is appropriate.
The Hudson Valley scored a win when it comes to preserving open space. Included in this year’s budget is $20 million specifically for farmland protection in the Hudson Valley. Also included were significant increases in the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and the establishment of a $200 million program to assist municipalities in funding water quality infrastructure projects.
$1.5 billion was included in the budget for economic development north of New York City. While I strongly objected to the “hunger games” or competitive nature of this proposal – pitting regions of the state against one another – I plan to work with local stakeholders as we pursue our fair share of this funding. The opportunity exists to inject significant resources into local projects that will lead to job creation, infrastructure, and a stronger Hudson Valley.
I am here to serve you 24/7 and welcome any and all input. Always feel free to call my office at 845-469-6929, email me email@example.com or set up a time to meet in-person. Likewise, be sure to follow me on social media at these links: Facebook: facebook.com/james.skoufis and Twitter: twitter.com/jamesskoufis
Thank you for affording me the privilege to serve you.
Town of Goshen Dems Spring Fundraiser Thursday, April 23
Enjoy wine and hors d'oeuvres with the Goshen Dems at the Goshen Gourmet Cafe. See you there at 7 PM!
For full details see our Events page.
City of Newburgh Democratic Committee Spring Dinner coming up Sunday, April 26
Join Assemblyman Frank Skartados and Newburgh Dems in honoring Councilwoman Regina Angelo, Elections Custodian Elsworth Banks, former City Democratic Chair Roxie Royal and long-serving Committee Member Lilliam Harris at Youngest Brother Restaurant. See full details in Events.
Democratic Caucus Leader's response to the State of the County 2015:
WHAT OUR COUNTY NEEDS
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus delivered the annual ‘State of the County’ address on Wednesday, March 18th. Though the speech was ‘sunny’, projecting many highlights that the County accomplished over the past year, it was very short on specifics for the future. County economic difficulties from last year, and deficit budgeting for this current year, have not simply disappeared.
‘Good, positive stuff’ will only continue occurring in Orange County if there is proper leadership and if the County finances are dealt with in a clear, concise and logical manner. This action must take place immediately as the County is already through one-quarter of its current fiscal year and has not successfully to date addressed its deficits. Leaving the economic and financial future of this County to imaginary solutions and to unachievable hopes and wishes is not the means of ‘righting the ship’.
The County needs a bona fide business plan to guide us through the present and into the future. The recent past has shown that all stakeholders in the County, especially the County Legislature, must be part of the decision-making process. Many positive actions have been undertaken by the County legislature in cooperation with the County Executive’s office in order to fill fiscal deficits and start producing a viable financial future. No ‘crisis budgeting’ nor inflammatory rhetoric is necessary. Hundreds of County workers do not need to be laid off, nor essential County programs and services cut, to achieve our goal of financial fitness.
Valley View Nursing Home is the County’s most successful department over this past year. By drastically cutting costs, maintaining staffing and sustaining its excellent reputation for patient care, it is a model that the County must review and duplicate in other areas. There is complete agreement that the change in administration has been the focal point of these improvements at Valley View and that giving jobs based on nepotism or favoritism does not give the County the resources it needs to be successful.
Compromise throughout County government is also necessary for success and has gotten movement on the Government Center issue. It is essential for any more progress to be made relative to this issue. Neither private companies, nor individuals, should be deciding the fate of the Government Center - or randomly wasting taxpayer’s dollars.
The health and safety of our County residents are of premier importance and has to be kept in the forefront of any planning and decision-making. Services and programs cannot be randomly cut throughout the County. Any County staff reductions must have a thorough analysis done to determine their effects on services and programs.
As the Democratic Caucus leader I am calling on Steve Neuhaus, along with all my compatriots in the County Legislature, to come together to produce a viable and acceptable business plan for the County to address current and future years. This must be done within the next two months in order to properly address the immediate issues in our County. As quoted by our County Executive, “We are not out of the storm”, and we won’t be out unless there is a plan and proper leadership to guide the way.
See video of Neuhaus address at http://bit.ly/1D6rTeF
CHRISTINE STAGE ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR FAMILY COURT JUDGE
With the retirement of Democrat Judge Debra Keidaisch this year, and Republican Lori Currier Woods up for reelection, Stage [a Senior Assistant County Attorney in the Child Protective Unit] will renew her bid for the seat.
Can we get an “Amen!”?
EDITORIAL: Cost and credibility down at Valley View
Times Herald-Record, posted Jan. 31, 2015 @ 3:27 pm
The Valley View story is not only about quality care and taxpayer costs. It’s about credibility. People in Orange County need to know they can trust the bottom line and those who make the calculations.
This week brought another spreadsheet, another set of numbers accompanied by another round of explanation and interpretation. The numbers themselves are important, but even more important is the talk surrounding them. [more ... ]
CHESTER DEMOCRATS ELECT LEADERS TO NEW COMMITTEE
By Hema Easley - posted online Jan. 23, 2015 @ 5:54 pm
After years of disarray, Democrats have organized to create the Town of Chester Democratic Committee, and have elected leaders to head it. At their organization meeting Dec. 15, Chester Democrats elected Barbara Murrow, a 21-year Chester resident, as chairperson, and Stephen Diffley, an electrician, as co-chair, the committee said in a press release earlier this week. The committee has 15 members.
“I really like my town. I really want to see it better,” said Murrow, a 21-year resident of Chester and an information technology systems project manager by profession. “We need to find some good Democrats who can be on the Town Board.”
Democrats have an edge in Chester, with 35 percent of voters registered as Democrats. Republicans are 32 percent of registered voters and 24 percent are independents. However, Republicans have long controlled the Town Board and other elected offices in the town.
Diffley said lack of a Democratic committee contributed to this. Efforts to start a committee picked up when Diffley ran for Town Board in November, along with Lenny Silver for supervisor. Both candidates lost, but the effort to start a committee continued.
“An active committee definitely helps,” said Diffley.
At their December meeting, registered Democrats also voted in Eileen Hand as secretary, Noel Spencer as treasurer and Vincent Finizia as Sergeant at Arms.
VALLEY VIEW COSTS PLUMMET
January 22, 2015:
The end-of-year report says the County nursing home is $7 million under budget; see the Chronicle report here: http://bit.ly/1BLLsJ4
Breaking News January 16, 2015:
US Attorney General Eric Holder bars local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proof a crime occurred, warrants or charges. See announcement here: http://wapo.st/1G9wBLn
See how easy?
The Orange County Democratic Committee's website can now be reached by using the simple address "ocnydems.com". It's no longer necessary to include our website host name [NationBuilder] in the address, or to use 'www.' before the address. If you've bookmarked our site with the old address, it will still come up if you don't change it - but please do.
January 2, 2015:
ON THE BREAKING NEWS: Orange County Civil Asset Forfeiture Law vetoed!
Both our elected Democratic leaders and our rank and file members strongly opposed the Asset Forfeiture bill being sought by District Attorney David Hoovler and Republican members of the Orange County Legislature. Every Democratic member of the Orange County Legislature voted against this bill and many of our members spoke out against it in the press and at public comment. As such, the Orange County Democratic Committee strongly supports the decision to veto Mr. Hoovler’s Asset Forfeiture bill.
In that County Executive Steven Neuhaus was for this bill before he was against it, we now call upon him to impress upon his Republican colleagues to change their minds on this bill as well, so it is not brought back to the Legislature to attempt an override of the veto. The Asset Forfeiture bill would have been an unconstitutional overreach by the Orange County government and the Republicans should end their attempts to force this law onto the residents of Orange County.
- Brett Broge, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Committee
The Orange County Democratic Committee mourns the passing of Governor Mario Cuomo
He was the quintessential New York Democrat. The son of immigrants, his experiences gave him empathy for those who were not born with stature. His governing reflected those ideals. Governor Cuomo's intellect and work ethic enabled him to become one of the most powerful men in the United States. We express our sympathy to his family. He will be missed.
- Brett Broge, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Committee
My View: Times Herald-Record Sunday, December 28, 2014, p. 11
Seizing addicts’ property won’t help
The war on drugs started under President Nixon. Think about that. For over 40 years, we’ve been trying to eliminate the use of narcotics from our society.
We’ve spent billions of dollars, locked up so many people we have a higher rate of incarceration than the Soviet Union did, done real harm to some of our most fundamental Constitutional protections, and for what? The heroin epidemic now under way in New York is pretty good evidence that we have not succeeded. Politicians wanting to look tough on crime keep telling us the solution is to go further. More money. Stiffer penalties. To coin a phrase: How’s that working out for you? [more]
Christopher Eachus to be Democratic Caucus leader in Orange County Legislature
Orange County Legislator Chris Eachus of New Windsor will become the new leader of the Legislature’s nine-member Democratic Caucus in January, replacing Middletown’s Jeffrey Berkman, who served for five years as Minority leader. Berkman will remain in the Legislature.
Eachus teaches physics at the Newburgh Free Academy and was elected to the Legislature in 2006. He represents District 15, which encompasses the eastern half of New Windsor.
New York: Building on Success
In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first State of the State address he announced a plan to set right a lagging economy, devastating job losses, the exodus of businesses, staggering State budget deficits, gridlock and dysfunction in Albany.
With the passage of four on-time, honestly balanced budgets he and the Legislature put the State on a course of fiscal stability.
Spending growth has been held to below two percent—the lowest rate of spending growth over a four-year period in more than 50 years. In fact, the State ended the 2013-14 fiscal year with a net operating surplus of $625 million.
New York State created over 500,000 new private sector jobs in the past four years, and the State now has over 7.6 million private sector jobs, the highest in its history.
New York has begun to reclaim its place as the progressive capital of the nation, leading the country with issues such as marriage equality, sensible gun control legislation, an increased minimum wage, and a strong commitment to affordable housing and healthcare.
The 2014 year-end report is here.
Schumer: More oversight of railroad bridges is needed
By James Walsh - Times Herald-Record - Dec. 23, 2014 and at recordonline.com
CITY OF NEWBURGH -- Sen. Charles Schumer on Tuesday called for more federal inspections of railroad bridges after deteriorating conditions were found at two Cornwall bridges and another in Kingston that routinely support trains hauling millions of gallons of crude oil.
Crumbling concrete foundations were found by Riverkeeper at the Kingston bridge over the Roundout [sic] Creek. Two in Cornwall just south of Storm King Mountain had similar concrete deterioration, as well as exposed rebar and missing or loose bolts. Schumer wanted all three immediately subject to federal inspection. [more ... ]
A True Blue Tribute on October 12, 2014
Jonathan Jacobson: Celebrating the Past - Looking to the Future
We celebrate and thank Jonathan Jacobson for his leadership as Chair of the Orange County Democratic Committee for almost 22 years. [more ...]
The Orange County Government Center: Where do we go from here?
By Matt Turnbull, Orange County Legislator representing Hamptonburgh, Washingtonville and New Windsor
I did not vote for the BB option design for the Orange County Government Center [OCGC]. I always thought it went too far in defacing the building. The two Democrats on the ad hoc building committee weren’t even aware that the rib face block was being removed in its entirety. Seems that the secret meeting had secrets being kept from some on the committee. And this at a cost of several million dollars to the taxpayers of Orange County. The reason given? There might be mold inside the walls.
Are you kidding me? [ ... more]
Residents of Valley View Center at the public hearing on the County Executive's plan to transfer ownership to an LDC [April, 2014]
NEUHAUS AND THE REPUBLICAN MAJORITY:
SHAMEFUL BROKEN PROMISES ON VALLEY VIEW
There is not too much more to be said about the shameful transfer of Valley View Nursing Home to the Local Development Corporation. It was unnecessary and unwise and was one of the biggest betrayals of the public trust ever seen, given the last campaign. [ ... more]
From the May, 2014 Orange County Democratic Committee Bulletin:
REPORT FROM HON. JEFFREY BERKMAN, LEGISLATIVE MINORITY LEADER
The Orange County Government Center Building has been closed by Executive Order since the fall of 2012. Rather than blindly submit to wasteful Republican demolition plans, our Democratic Caucus worked diligently to implement cost effective alternatives. Former County Executive Diana urged demolition of the entire historic building that Paul Rudolph designed, initially suggesting that the cost of his plan would be $125 million. After further analysis cost estimates increased to $136 million!
From the beginning of this process the Democratic Caucus had a different vision. [ ... more]
APPLES AND ORANGES:
CONCERNING THE RENOVATION OF THE GOVERNMENT CENTER
The Democratic Party saved the taxpayers of Orange County at least $75 million from the original Diana proposal to tear down the Orange County Government Center - and at least $30 million from the most recent proposal.
Republicans are trying to promote the myth that the final renovation plan is almost as much as the second plan to build new. But they are not comparing apples to apples.
There is an additional 20% of “overrun costs” built in to the renovation plan which had not been included in the new construction plans. Neither were the costs of the expanded parking and drainage repair. And the renovation project includes some new construction as well and has over 5,000 more square feet than the smaller two projects. Now it’s up to the Democrats in the County Legislature to make sure that the built-in overruns are not a sure thing and that we get the biggest bang for the buck.
- Jonathan Jacobson, OCNYDems Chair
May, 2014 Orange County Democratic Committee Bulletin