Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Republican leadership has lost it's way

Republicans are not bad people. Many Republican principles are good and respectable principles.

It's too bad that the modern day Republican leadership doesn't follow any of them.

This article from the Post Star is a prime example of how skewed Congressman John Sweeney's priorities are and it is fairly typical of the modern day national Republican party as a whole.

Last Friday a vicious storm ripped through upstate New York causing widespread tree damage and power outages. I arrived home that evening to find a tree down across my road and another down across my driveway. But we were lucky and had power. I had driven through a couple of communities on the way home that were completely in the dark. My sister and the whole city of Saratoga Springs were without power for a couple of days. National Grid had it's hands full in this large rural district getting to all the downed trees and downed lines, in order to restore power. Local unions site cut backs, "downsizing", as part of the reason for the delays in restoring service.

And what does John Sweeney do? He interferes with this already stressed utility on behalf of ski resorts rather than on behalf of the people of the 20th Congressional District.

Now I am all for helping business and don't want to see any business losing money due to power outages. But when seniors and families are trying to survive in sub-freezing temperatures without heat or electricity, many of them in rural areas where no electricity means no working water pump, then your priorities are completely screwed up.

Kudos to Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava for recognizing where our elected officials priorities ought to be... with the people, especially the most vulnerable like our seniors, that elected them to represent them in government. He rightly criticed Sweeney, a member of his own party, for getting in the way and prolonging the problem as a result.

"I had 5,000 people without power, and they're worried about a ski center? I can't believe that," said Scozzafava, who contacted The Post-Star to complain.

But John Sweeney has never understood that his job is to serve the people of this district. His record shows clearly that it is his belief that a Congressmans job is to serve himself.

This is typical of Republican leadership at the national and state level today. Being business friendly is all well and good. Cutting taxes for the sake of cutting taxes is all well and good. But elected officials jobs are to serve the needs of their constituents. Governments job is to provide services to the communities and people they represent.

The national Republican party is all about a dog eat dog, every man for himself, world.

We are better than that. Americans are better than that. We believe in community. We believe in helping our neighbors. This isn't solely a Democratic trait. All the good, decent Republicans I know believe in this too. Neighbors help neighbors. Communities pitch in together to solve problems they share and to help the needy amongst them even if they don't share their problems. This is what Americans believe and do.

Todays national Republican party, so typically represented by John Sweeney, is hardly recognizable anymore. They have lost their way. They don't represent America. They don't even represent Republicans anymore.

Saturday, February 11, 2006



She stumbles down the stairs,
Lip bleeding, left eye swelling-
A not uncommon situation,
But she knows in her heart
This time it's different-
If he catches her, he'll kill her.
As he reaches the stairs
She reaches the door
And vanishes into the darkness.

-A poem by Jane A. White,
reprinted by permission of the author

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Fundraising trouble for Sweeney

4th quarter fund raising numbers are in and it is a bleak report for incumbent Rep. John Sweeney.

While his opponent Kirsten Gillibrand was setting records for Democratic candidates in New York's 20th Congressional District Mr. Sweeney experienced his worst fund raising quarter in 2 years.

Sweeney showed total receipts of $103,409.77 for the quarter while Gillibrand raised $249,035.44. An almost 150% advantage for Gillibrand.

Similarly distressing for Sweeney are his total disbursements of $115,283.70 which translates to a net deficit for the quarter of $11,873.93. Kirsten Gillibrand on the other hand showed disbursements of only $64,394.24 and an outstanding debt of $11,713. Even including the debt, a net gain for the quarter of $172,928.20.

For the two quarters that Kirsten Gillibrand has been raising money she has outpaced the incumbent raising $370,680.44 to Sweeney's $333,584.73. Taking into account their disbursements Gillibrand shows a net gain of $274,445.96 to Sweeney's $40,701.64. In other words, in the second half of 2005 Kirsten Gillibrand has outpaced the incumbent John Sweeney at breathtaking rate of 674%.

For the 2005 fund raising year Sweeney has raised $780,456.22 and spent $575,170.84 leaving a net gain $205,285.38. Gillibrand's half year net of $274,445.96 still out paces Sweeney's entire year by $69,160.58 or a 13% advantage.

Sweeney entered the year with $495,774.54 cash on hand giving him an incumbents advantage that shows in the net cash on hand at the end of 2005 for the two opponents. Sweeney has $701,059.92 cash on hand entering 2006 while Kirsten Gillibrand enters with $286,158.96. Sweeney's cash on hand advantage of $414,900.96 narrowly exceeds the amount Gillibrand raised in her first two quarters of fund raising.

Even more threatening to Sweeney is the fact that Gillibrand did not begin raising funds until September '05 so her numbers represent only 4 months worth of fund raising. Gillibrand's pace projects to $1,112,041.32 for a full year easily surpassing Sweeney's best year.

In keeping with her promise of accountability to the people of the district rather than special interests, Kirsten Gillibrand raised virtually all of her funds (97%) from individuals. Only $12,025 or 3% has come from PAC's.

John Sweeney has traditionally raised about 40% of his campaign contributions from PAC's and other committee's and this cycle is no exception. $324,406 of Sweeney's campaign money or a whopping 42% has come from PAC's. This does not include money coming from individual lobbyists working on behalf of or in conjunction with PAC's and various special interests trying to influence Sweeney's actions on the Appropriations committee or his other duties in the House.

Sweeney's entire cash on hand advantage is from his fund raising among PAC's and lobbyists.

Kirsten Gillibrand formally announced her campaign Tuesday at the historic Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs, NY to packed a room of between 200-300.

A worried Sweeney issued a hurried call for supporters to protest outside the event but was only able to attract about 2 dozen rain bedraggled sign wavers. Sweeney has been heavily criticized in recent days by the media, various leaders around the district, and lampooned by the Gillibrand campaign in an ad for his "Skiing with Sweeney" weekend with lobbyists in Park City, Utah.

Gillibrand was introduced by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. In her announcement speech Ms. Gillibrand laid out a broad agenda and made clear the stark differences between her and the incumbent. A report of the event and a PDF of the speech can be found here.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) new Republican House Majority leader

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) was elected as the new Republican House Majority Leader replacing the indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tx). Boehner won in an upset on the third second ballot, 122 - 109.

The second first ballot had Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo) 110, Boehner 79, Rep. John Shadegg (R-Az.) 40, and Rep. Jim Ryun (R-Ka) 2 votes.

House Republicans took a mulligan on the very first ballot as there were more votes cast then there were Republican voters.

Following his victory House Majority Leader Boehner was said to be seen handing out checks from voting machine lobbyists representing Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, and Liberty on the House floor.

Rep. Roy Blunt will remain as next in command to Boehner as Majority Whip following the failure of Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY20)(R-Park City, Utah) and Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Ca) to force elections for all House leadership positions. That call went down Wednesday, 107-85.