Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Humans Living Far Beyond Planet's Means

by Ben Blanchard, Tuesday, October 24, 2006 by Reuters

BEIJING - Humans are stripping nature at an unprecedented rate and will need two planets' worth of natural resources every year by 2050 on current trends, the World Wildlife Fund said on Tuesday. Populations of many species, from fish to mammals, had fallen by about a third from 1970 to 2003 largely because of human threats such as pollution, clearing of forests and overfishing, the group also said in a two-yearly report.

"For more than 20 years we have exceeded the earth's ability to support a consumptive lifestyle that is unsustainable and we cannot afford to continue down this path," WWF Director-General James Leape said, launching the WWF's 2006 Living Planet Report. "If everyone around the world lived as those in America, we would need five planets to support us," Leape, an American, said in Beijing.

The report said humans' "ecological footprint" -- the demand people place on the natural world -- was 25 percent greater than the planet's annual ability to provide everything from food to energy and recycle all human waste in 2003. In the previous report, the 2001 overshoot was 21 percent.

"On current projections humanity, will be using two planets' worth of natural resources by 2050 -- if those resources have not run out by then," the latest report said. "People are turning resources into waste faster than nature can turn waste back into resources."

"Humanity's footprint has more than tripled between 1961 and 2003," the report said. Consumption has outpaced a surge in the world's population, to 6.5 billion from 3 billion in 1960. U.N. projections show a surge to 9 billion people around 2050. It said that the footprint from use of fossil fuels, whose heat-trapping emissions are widely blamed for pushing up world temperatures, was the fastest-growing cause of strain.

Leape said China, home to a fifth of the world's population and whose economy is booming, was making the right move in pledging to reduce its energy consumption by 20 percent over the next five years. "Much will depend on the decisions made by China, India and other rapidly developing countries," he added.

The WWF report also said that an index tracking 1,300 vetebrate species -- birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals -- showed that populations had fallen for most by about 30 percent because of factors including a loss of habitats to farms.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Metroland Article about AG Candidates and My Exclusion from Debates

Chet Hardin's October 19 article about the AG race in the Albany-area weekly, Metroland, discusses my exclusion from the AG debates.

Commercial During Debate Exposes Left Out Candidates

University of Connecticut Daily Campus
By Steven Durel Posted: 10/19/06

Viewers that watched last night's gubernatorial debate between Republican Governor Jodi Rell and Democratic challenger John DeStefano on television, might have been a little surprised to see the event accompanied by an unlikely television ad from Clifford Thornton, the Green Party nominee for governor. Many voters had not previously heard of Thornton, nor the Concerned Citizens Party nominee Joe Zdonczyk, probably in part because these men were both shut out from debating Rell and DeStefano in this year's live televised procedures.

The purpose of last night's advertisement was to send a message to viewers at home - money and power have corrupted the electoral process.

The Green Party's commercial opened with a graphic reading, "Only 2 podiums?? Cliff Thornton excluded from debates."

The ad then showed a crowd of Green party supporters protesting outside New London's Garde Arts Center during the first debate on Oct. 9. The camera moves around the group as two voiceovers can be heard.

"We want to have freedom of speech," the first voice said.

"I'm here to protest the fact that Cliff Thornton is being left out of the debates," another said.

The viewer then sees Thornton's campaign manager, Tim McKee, who said, "We want to talk about issues that these candidates are not going to talk about."

Thornton himself finally appeared on the screen.

"In many respects, being Green is like being black because you're being excluded left and right on many issues," Thornton said. "I'm Cliff Thornton and I approve this message."

At the end of the commercial there is another graphic reading, "CT 4 CT Let all voices be heard. Let Cliff in the debates," while the crowd can be heard chanting, "This is not democracy!"

According to Thornton's field manager, Ken Krayeske, the commercial cost $400 to produce and $3,300 to air.

Krayeske noted that, running by that same average of $110 per second, the major party candidates each got almost $396,000 of free airtime during the two debates. He questioned why the small parties with no money are forced to pay for short spots on television while the rich ones are given sustained periods at no cost.

"They have their boots firmly entrenched on our windpipes," Krayeske said.

Neither Rell nor DeStefano seemed to walk away from the first debate as a clear winner.

According to polls done by UConn's Center for Survey Research and Analysis for the Hartford Courant, before the debate 56 percent of voters said that they would vote for Rell and 28 percent for DeStefano.

Afterwards, however, Rell's support fell to 50 percent while DeStefano's showing stayed the same. At the same time, the portion of those polled who chose "no choice" rose from 15 percent to 21 percent.

Both major party nominees blame each other for the exclusion of minor party candidates. While the DeStefano campaign demanded that third parties be absent from two of the debates, suggesting that they would only be a distraction, Gov. Rell had simultaneously refused to meet more than twice for what Rell spokesman Richard Harris called "an extended series of debates."

Still, Thornton himself blames both parties equally for his banishment.

"They're both complicit in this," Thornton said, adding, "Why are they so afraid of us?"

Ultimately, the third-party candidate hypothesizes that it is probably because of his overall progressive message that he is being shut out. He suggests that Canadian-style healthcare, free college tuition and an end to the War on Drugs are concepts that have all been deemed far too radical by local ruling elites.

Despite the risk that the Connecticut Green Party is taking by devoting all of its funds and effort into making an impact in this one election, Thornton nevertheless remains confident that they are doing the right thing.

"The most important thing is getting the ideas out to the people," Thornton said.
© Copyright 2006 The Daily Campus

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Let more candidates join the debates

October 17, 2006

To the Editors of the New York Times:

In your Oct. 16 editorial "Great Candidates? That’s Debatable," you say that you would like to see more debates. We also need more candidates in the debates. I was approved by the League of Women Voters for inclusion in three attorney general debates planned by the League, but two of those debates took place without me. WABC refused to include me in its attorney general debate this past Sunday, Oct. 15, and WXXI in Rochester refused to include me in its attorney general debate today, Tuesday, Oct. 17. Because of these refusals, the League withdrew its sponsorship of the two debates in a press release issued last Friday, October 13. WCNY in Syracuse has canceled a debate it previously agreed to host tomorrow, Oct. 18, between Jeanine Pirro and myself.

Excluding third party candidates from candidate debates is counter to the wishes of many voters. History shows that debate participation by third-party candidates raises debate viewership and voter turnout. The 1992 presidential debates, which included third party candidate Ross Perot, were watched by record-breaking TV audiences, averaging 90 million viewers, with a larger audience for each successive debate. Presidential voter turnout went up in 1992, reversing a 20-year downward trend. In 1996, with Perot excluded, the presidential debates averaged only 41 million viewers -- and voter turnout nosedived. In 1998, participation by third-party candidate Jesse Ventura in the gubernatorial debates in Minnesota generated massive voter turnout.

Many voters are frustrated by the closed nature of our current electoral system. A poll last spring by Princeton Survey Research Associates found that 73% of Americans agree it would be a good idea for this country to have more choices than just Republican and Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential elections. Polls also show that many Americans do not identify as Republicans or Democrats. In a survey conducted of 15,000 voters during April 2006, Rasmussen Reports found that just 32.7% of Americans identified themselves as Republicans, 36.3% identified as Democrats and 30.9% identified themselves as unaffiliated with either major party. Policies that exclude all candidates from candidate debates except Republicans and Democrats are not reflective of voter opinions and desires.

A voter survey by Rasmussen Reports reported in August 2006, found that voters in New York are more likely than voters in any other state to express a concern about voter suppression. Thirty-four percent (34%) of the New York voters surveyed hold this view. This result is not surprising to those of us working to build viable third parties in New York and encountering the many barriers raised against us.

Let more candidates join the debates, the voters want to hear us.

Rachel Treichler
Green Party candidate for Attorney General

Monday, October 16, 2006

LWV Withdraws Sponsorship from Candidate Debates

http://lwvny.org/press_news/ Withdrawl_Sponsorship_Debates101306.pdf
October 13, 2006

"The voters of New York State deserve better," stated Marcia Merrins, President of the League of Women Voters of New York State (League), in announcing the League's withdrawal of sponsorship from a debate between candidates for the office of Attorney General to be hosted and broadcast by WXXI in Rochester on October 17, 2006. Similarly, the League withdrew sponsorship from two debates to be hosted by WABC in New York City. The first is an Attorney General debate scheduled for October 15. The second is a debate between candidates for the United States Senate scheduled for October 22. All withdrawals were necessitated by League policy, which requires an invitation be extended to each candidate whom the League has determined to be a bona fide contestant. In the case of the US Senate race, the League Board of Directors determined incumbent Senator Hillary Clinton, Republican nominee John Spencer, and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins to be bona fide contestants. Similarly, the League determined Democratic nominee Andrew Cuomo, Republican nominee Jeanine Pirro, and Green Party nominee Rachael Treichler to be bona fide contestants in the Attorney General's race.

Merrins explained that the League adopted its policy for candidate inclusion in League-sponsored debates prior to commencement of the electoral season to keep debates free from the vagaries of the political process. Merrins noted that the League is committed to maximization of public debate by all candidates for public office. Once a candidate has complied with the League's criteria for inclusion in a debate, the League cannot sponsor a debate from which that candidate is excluded. To act otherwise would violate the League's fundamental belief in the public's right to know.

Green Candidates Cleared for LWV Debates

I was called by the League of Women Voters last week and told that Howie and I had been cleared by the League to participate in the candidate debates they are sponsoring, and that Jeanine Pirro had agreed to debate me in a debate sponsored by WCNY to be taped in Syracuse this Wed., Oct. 18. I was also told that the League was withdrawing its sponsorship of two AG debates because their media partners refused to include me: WABC on Oct. 15 in New York City, and WXXI on Oct. 17 in Rochester. I was asked to wait to release this information until I received a copy of the League's press release. I received the League's press release, issued last Friday, today. I have filed a complaint with the Monroe County Fair Elections Practices Committee to protest WXXI's actions in excluding me from the Rochester debate scheduled for tomorrow.

This morning I called Kris Hansen, the executive director of the state league and she told me that she had just received word that WCNY had withdrawn its sponsorship of the debate on Oct. 18, and that there would be no debate sponsored by WCNY.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Green Party Candidates Do Well in New Zogby Poll

The Green Party's candidates for governor, attorney general and US senate did very well in the new poll released yesterday by Zogby, http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1180 . The poll of likely New York voters, conducted Oct. 5-9, included 761 respondents and is part of a joint project between Zogby International and the League of Women Voters of New York State.The poll shows the Green Party gubernatorial candidate Malachy McCourt at 5% among all voters and at 14% among independent voters. The numbers for attorney general candidate Rachel Treichler and US senate candidate Howie Hawkins among all voters were not released. Among independent voters Treichler received 17% and Hawkins received 21%.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Be A Pollwatcher for Democracy

My campaign is working with Pollworkers for Democracy to provide pollwatching opportunities in New York State to voters who are registered Green, independent or in another third party. In NYS, only registered Democrats or Republicans approved by their local party chairs can be hired as poll workers.

I encourage all registered voters to sign up with Pollworkers for Democracy as either pollworkers or pollwatchers. After you have signed up on the website, you will be contacted with pollwatching opportunities in your county, including opportunities to be a pollwatcher for my campaign.

Having a flood of informed citizens take part in running and watching elections locally will help us recover a more transparent and accountable democracy.

Pollworkers for Democracy will provide guidelines for observing the polling process, questionnaires to assist watchers in collecting key information, and a web page watchers can use to enter the data that they collect. The data gathered by watchers will be pooled so that voters can learn more about how elections are administered in various parts of New York State and in the other states of the US.

We New Yorkers are lucky that electronic voting machines are not yet widely installed in the state. But each county will have electronic voting machines in at least one polling site for disabled and other voters to use. It is particularly important to watch how these machines function. The data we collect will help counties decide what type of voting machines to purchase, and may encourage them to follow my recommendation and adopt handcounted paper ballots.

As a candidate for statewide office, I am entitled to appoint up to three pollwatchers in each polling place. Because of my concern about how the votes for the Green Party's candidates will be counted this election, I am eager to appoint enough pollwatchers to monitor as many polling places for as much of election day as possible.

It is important that the Green Party's votes are counted accurately on November 7. If Malachy McCourt, our GPNY gubernatorial candidate receives 50,000 or more votes, the Green Party will gain ballot status for the next four years. In 1998, the last time the Green Party gained ballot status, the preliminary vote count for the Green Party was only about 48,000 votes, but after Greens recounted voting machines in New York City and elsewhere around the state, that total rose to about 52,000 votes—more than enough to qualify the Green Party for ballot status.

AG Debate in Hempstead on Oct. 16

At least two attorney general candidates, Libertarian candidate Chris Garvey and I, have accepted an invitation from the Five Towns Forum to participate in an attorney general debate at Bestsellers Bookstore in Hempstead, Long Island at 7:00 pm. The bookstore is located at 43A Main Street in Hempstead. It is 35 min. on the LIRR from Penn Station to Hempstead. For more information, call Booksellers Bookstore at 516-564-1180.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

True Environmental Justice Requires Nontoxic Methods of Production

I spoke to the press yesterday at the Environmental Justice for All Tour at Union High School in Endicott, New York. In Endicott, we learned about the work of local activists to get toxic spills of TCE and other chemicals at the IBM facility in Endicott cleaned up. 440 buildings in the village of Endicott have vapor intrusion remediation technologies installed to reduce exposure to volatile chemicals in the soil underneath the village.

I talked about the need for better and more just enforcement of our environmental laws to ensure better and faster clean ups of groundwater and soil contamination from chemical spills across the state, but said that won't be enough to stop the damaging health effects of using toxic chemicals to produce everyday products. What we have to do, is use nontoxic methods of industrial production so that no one is exposed to the damaging effects of toxic chemicals.

The environmental justice movement highlights a fundamental contradiction in our society. The products we use everyday--cars, home appliances, computers, almost every item we use, even clothes--are produced by processes that release toxic chemicals into our soil, our air and our water. When these products are disposed of, their waste is toxic, and the toxic chemicals in the waste leach into our soil, our air and our water. We want a clean environment, but we can't have a clean environment as long as these products continue to be produced and we continue to use them.

We absolutely need stop locating industrial production facilities and waste disposal facilities almost exclusively in minority and low-income neighborhoods, but a more just distribution of the toxic chemicals isn't the solution. How is it fair, how is it justice for anyone to be exposed to these toxic chemicals?

We have learned enough about the damaging health effects of these chemicals that we have to stop using them. We have to develop new means of production that are completely nontoxic. People are working on this and companies are showing that it can be done. The Interface Carpet Company, this country's largest carpet manufacturer, produces no toxic emissions and its products degrade in a completely nontoxic manner. People call this ecological design. It can be done and we need to do it now.

For more information about ecological design and the next industrial revolution, visit http://www.mbdc.com/c2c_home.htm. For more information about the Environmental Justice for All tour, visit http://www.ej4all.org/.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

NY Green Party Candidates included in Zogby Poll

Malachy McCourt, Howie Hawkins and Rachel Treichler are included in the online Zogby poll on the upcoming statewide elections in New York. You can sign up here to participate in Zogby's online polls.

We Need Real Debates with Dissenting Voices Included

I have just invited the other New York Attorney General candidates: Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic Party candidate, Christopher Garvey, the Libertarian Party candidate, Martin Koppel, the Socialist Workers Party candidate and Jeanine Pirro, the Republican Party candidate, to join me in a series of debates this fall.

Including all the candidates on the ballot in the attorney general debates will increase voter interest in the election, and will raise voter turnout in November. It is well documented that wider debates generate wider enthusiasm among voters. In 1992, when Ross Perot was included in the presidential debates, they were viewed by 90 million people, with the audience growing in each successive debate. In 1996, with Mr. Perot excluded, viewership collapsed, averaging only 41 million people. Voter turnout that November nosedived, too. In 1998 in Minnesota, participation by Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura in the gubernatorial debates stirred interest in the campaign and generated massive voter turnout.

It is particularly important that voters learn about all the candidates in New York's attorney general race this fall. This election is the last election New York will conduct on its lever voting machines. The next Attorney General needs to take legal action to block the use of unconstitutional voting equipment and make sure that the right of each New York voter to vote and to have his or her vote counted is protected. A poll reported in late August 2006 by Rasmussen Reports found that voters in New York are more likely than voters in any other state to express a concern about voter suppression. Thirty-four percent (34%) of the New York voters surveyed hold this view. We need an attorney general who will make protecting our right to free and fair elections his or her top priority. Neither Cuomo or Pirro has addressed this issue. New Yorkers need to hear the candidates' views on this issue.

We need dissenting voices to create real debate. When third party candidates are excluded from debates, the major party candidates are shielded from addressing issues the public wants debated. Many of the issues New Yorkers care most about -- the war in Iraq, the expanding prison/industrial complex, the poisoning of our environment, and corporate domination of our elections -- have been ignored by both Cuomo and Pirro. To a growing number of New Yorkers, it is not coincidental that the larger campaign contributors to both candidates benefit from ignoring such issues. With third party candidates excluded, the debates become glorified bipartisan news conferences, in which the candidates exchange memorized soundbites. Genuine debates provide a rare opportunity to hear candidates' ideas unedited and in context.

Polls show that many Americans do not identify as Republicans or Democrats. In a survey conducted of 15,000 voters during April 2006, Rasmussen Reports found that just 32.7% of Americans identified themselves as Republicans, 36.3% identified as Democrats and 30.9% identified themselves as unaffiliated with either major party. Policies that exclude all candidates from candidate debates except Republicans and Democrats are not reflective of voter opinions and desires.

I have spoken with people around the state eager to have more voices in the Attorney General debates this fall. Various civic and media groups have told me of their interest in sponsoring debates in which all the candidates are included. The League of Women Voters has not invited third party candidates to join their debates for the general election this fall. The League claims to be nonpartisan and acting in the interests of voter education, but those claims don't seem to mean anything when it comes to organizing debates.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Owego Coverage

My press conference in Owego, Sept. 15, 2006, with the Tioga County Green Party was covered by Fox 40 News at 10, Green Party Candidate Campaigns in Owego.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tioga Greens Meeting in Owego

I look forward to meeting the public and members of the Tioga County Green Party this evening at the Methodist Church in Owego to discuss my campaign and the use of participatory democracy to address the energy challenges ahead. In conjunction with our discussion, we will show the film the End of Suburbia. TCGP is a newly forming Green local being organized by John Doscher.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Full, Independent Investigation of 9/11 Needed

One of my first acts if elected attorney general will be to conduct a full investigation of 9/11. It is surprising that Eliot Spitzer has not already done so. A lot of evidence has been presented to him over the last five years showing that our understanding of what happened on September 11, 2001 is incorrect. Evidence has been presented showing that the twin towers were brought down by a controlled demolition, not by burning jet fuel. If this is true, it radically alters our conception of what happened that day and in the days that followed. The Attorney General of New York needs to investigate what really happened on 9/11. There is no more important task the Attorney General can perform in protecting the people of this state.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Request for Inclusion in LWV Debates

My letter to the League of Women Voters asking to be included in their attorney general debates this fall is posted on my website at http://www.voterachel.org/debates.html. Let the League's Board of Directors know you would like the Green Party candidates included in the debates. Contact information for the Board members is posted on their website at http://lwvny.org/League_BOD.htm. Here is what I said in my letter about the criteria LWVNY uses on being included in polls:

"Your guidelines state that one of the criteria you look at is receipt of support in non-partisan polls. As you are no doubt aware, there are major barriers to the inclusion of the name of a particular third party candidate in polls in New York. Because the Green Party currently does not have ballot status in New York, our statewide Green Party candidates this year had to file independent nominating petitions to get on the ballot. We were not allowed to begin collecting signatures until July 11, 2006. Our last day for filing was August 22, 2006. In contrast, the period for collecting signatures on designating petitions for candidates of ballot status parties began on May 6, 2006, and ended on July 13, 2006. When LWVNY announced your 2006 candidate debates on July 25, 2006, the names of the Democratic and Republican candidates were on the ballot, but we still had almost a month of petitioning to do. Even after we filed on August 22, 2006, it was not certain that our names would be on the ballot. Objections to our petition had to be postmarked by August 25, 2006. It was not until this past Friday, September 1, 2006, that we could breathe more easily and figure that our petitions were not going to be challenged. This delayed timetable for independent candidates in New York militates against the inclusion of our names in any polls up to this date. The fact that our names have not been included in the polls being conducted and reported all summer is a major barrier to our getting publicity for our campaigns, and makes it less likely that our names will be included in future polls.

"Our success in obtaining 30,000 signatures of registered voters on our independent nominating petition reflects widespread voter interest in seeing third party candidates on the ballot. I personally collected about 600 signatures and most of the voters I talked with were pleased by the idea of having additional candidates to choose from on the ballot. Many people expressed frustration with the closed nature of our current electoral system.

" The responses we received from voters during petitioning are consistent with results obtained by polling firms when they ask questions about having third parties candidates on the ballot. A poll last spring by Princeton Survey Research Associates found that 73% of Americans agree it would be a good idea for this country to have more choices than just Republican and Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential elections. Polls also show that many Americans do not identify as Republicans or Democrats. In a survey conducted of 15,000 voters during April 2006, Rasmussen Reports found that just 32.7% of Americans identified themselves as Republicans, 36.3% identified as Democrats and 30.9% identified themselves as unaffiliated with either major party. Policies that exclude all candidates from candidate debates except Republicans and Democrats are not reflective of voter opinions and desires.

"In a poll reported last week by Rasmussen Reports, a plurality of voters in 32 states including New York agree that the political system in the U.S. is "badly broken." The survey found that voters in New York are more likely than voters in any other state to express a concern about voter suppression. Thirty-four percent (34%) of the New York voters surveyed hold this view. This result is not surprising to those of us working to build viable third parties in New York and encountering the many barriers arrayed against us.

"If your criterion regarding support in polls is to be applied in a truly non-partisan fashion, and if you have not included this criteria in your guidelines simply to exclude all third party candidates, you will consider the results of these polls and not confine yourself to the narrow question of whether my name has been included in a particular poll when you decide whether or not to invite me to participate in your debates."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sustainability Requires Political Action

Despite the rain, the cob was stamped and the earth oven was built at the Tickletown Sustainability Festival in Great Valley, Sat., Sept 2 and Sun., Sept 3. About 40 people attended the event, including a number of Green Party members from Cattaraugus County. On Saturday, we had an excellent discussion about sustainability. There was general consensus that the assaults on our health and civil liberties require political action if we are to be able to live sustainably.

The sourdough bread was baked indoors instead of in the new oven, because the new oven was still wet. Lois Hilton will be hosting community baking days at the new oven. Email tickletown@gmail.com if you want to try the oven or join the Tickletown Sustainability Network.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bring Home NY's National Guard

My thanks to John David Baldwin for his research and help in drafting this position statement.

The Governor of New York is Commander-in-Chief of New York's Army and Air National Guard and has the power to bring New York's National Guard troops home fom Iraq. As Attorney General, I will support use of the Gubernatorial Veto Power to bring New York's National Guard troops home fom Iraq.

The Governor of New York State, not the President, is the commander-in-chief of the New York's Army and Air National Guard. The governor is also commander of the New York Guard, which serves only in the state, not overseas. With this status as commander comes the right to veto the use of State National Guard units by the federal government if the causes for which the guard is called up do not meet constitutional requirements.

Under the Supreme Court's decision in Perpich v. Department of Defense, there are four grounds upon which the governor of New York can veto the president’s continued deployment of New York's National Guard units:

!. The war was not legally declared. Congress has not issued a formal declaration of war as it is required to do by the Constitution. Furthermore, the invasion was not approved by the United Nations, which is a violation of the U.N. Charter. The Constitution says that all treaties the U.S. signs (which includes the Charter) automatically become part of the Constitution.

2. The President declared the war over. On May 1, 2003, President Bush, standing on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, announced that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” If “major” combat operations had ended, that logically left only “minor” combat operations to be taken care of. So if the New York State National Guard troops deployed in Iraq were not to be sent home right away, surely they should have been within the next few weeks or months after Bush’s speech. More than three years have passed since that battleship declaration of peace.

3. An “endless war” violates states’ rights.The failure of the Bush administration to set a timetable for withdrawal of the National Guard units, and references administration officials have made to "endless wars" and wars that will not end "in our lifetimes," are illegal attempts to turn the National Guard units into federal forces. As the wording of Judge Stevens’ decision in Perpich makes clear, this is a violation of f the Constitution.

4. Too many of New York's National Guard units have been deployed to Iraq. In Perpich, Justice Stevens writes, “The Minnesota unit, which includes about 13,000 members, is affected only slightly when a few dozen, or at most a few hundred, soldiers are ordered into active service for brief periods of time. Neither the State's basic training responsibility, nor its ability to rely on its own Guard in state emergency situations, is significantly affected.” In contrast, the number of National Guard units sent abroad in the Iraq invasion is significant. This has caused hardship for New York which does not have the Guard units to depend on in “state emergency situations.” The present possibility of natural and manmade disasters requires the presence of our National Guard units in New York.

New York has a clear and present need for our National Guard units to return.

The governor should immediately veto their deployment to Iraq.

Affordable Housing Candidate Survey

I have just completed the candidate survey of the Tick Tock Campaign. The survey asks how to better promote affordable housing for low and middle income people in New York, particularly in New York City. Read my responses here. It is my position that New York's affordable housing crisis will not be solved until New York State and New York City empower local governmental units to make housing decisions. The vast powers wielded by huge, centralized agencies will always be magnets for corruption, and such agencies will continue to serve primarily the interests of large developers and ignore the interests of local communities as long as they exist. Not until housing laws and decisions are made locally, will the interests of local communities be adequately taken into consideration. To allow local decision making within New York City, community boards need to be made elected bodies and given the powers of municipal home rule.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Voters Everywhere Agree Political System "Badly Broken"

According to a recent survey conducted by the Rasmussen Reports , a plurality of voters in each of 32 states agree that the political system in the U.S. is "badly broken." Percentages range from a high of 63% in Vermont to 47% in Nebraska. An earlier Rasmussen national survey found that just 48% of American adults believe that elections are generally fair to voters. Voters in New York are more likely than in any other state to express a concern about voter suppression. Thirty-four percent (34%) of Empire State voters hold this view.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Learn How to Build an Earth Oven

I am going to learn how to build an earth oven this weekend at the Tickletown Sustainable Living Festival in Great Valley. I will also be exhibiting natural building and environmental books. The festival, this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2 and 3, has been organized by Lois Hilton, a member of the Cattaraugus Greens. "I want this to be a community creation where everyone has input in the design. We'll have fun," Lois said in an interview in the Olean Times Herald. "Everyone is going to be encouraged to take part. We'll mix the cob with our feet on a tarp." Cob is the old English word for "lump." The dome part of the outdoor radiant-heat earth oven is constructed by forming lumps of clay dirt, sand, straw and water over a base of wet sand that is later removed.

The weekend begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with a potluck meal and discussion on sustainable local living. Participants will spend all afternoon building the oven and receive a sourdough bread-making lesson before an evening potluck, camping and acoustic jam. On Sunday morning, the oven builders will pull out the inner sand formation and fire up some wood on its brick floor. Then the coals will be pulled out and the 27-inch-wide, 22-inch-high oven will remain hot enough on the inside for another three to four hours to bake breads, roasts, pizzas, cookies and the like. The downdraft system will take cool air through the bottom part of the door, circle it up through the dome and send the hot air through the top part of the door. To protect the oven from the elements, Mark of Excellence landscaping and carpentry company is designing a living roof, growing a canopy of vine leaves attached to nearby locust trees.

Location: Tickletown Trust and Trade, 4484 Humphyrey Road, Great Valley, NY 14741 (near Olean). All ages welcome! For information, call 716-945-5460 or email tickletown@gmail.com

Monday, August 28, 2006

Organic Consumers Fund Candidate Survey

I have completed the Organic Consumers Fund's candidate survey. Read my responses here. I enthusiastically endorse the health benefits of eating locally-grown, organic food and of growing food organically.

I grew up on a small organic family farm eating homegrown vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy, and I returned several years ago to live on my parents' small organically-run farm in Hammondsport. I am a member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. In 2005, I helped organize Southern Tier Farm to You, and helped the group produce a directory of locally-grown food producers in Allegany, Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties.

I wish the survey had addressed what we can do about the fact that large industrial agricultural corporations with interlocking ownership have acquired control of the production of food labelled 'organic'. Many of the small farmers I know can't afford to pay the annual fees for organic certification.

I favor empowering local communities to make laws regarding food production within their communities. As attorney general, I will not support an interpretation of New York's right to farm law that permits it to override the right to municipal home rule granted by the New York constitution. The right to farm law as currently interpreted by the NY Agriculture and Markets Department prevents communities from regulating large industrial agricultural operations in their midst, such as confined animal feedlots that violate animal welfare laws and release toxics into the air and water, or farms using genetically modified organisms. This interpretation is incorrect and invalidly nullifies the right to municipal home rule.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Petition Filed Today

I am just returned from Albany where the state candidates filed our independent nominating petition with the state board of elections at 11:00 am today. The exact number of signatures was not counted, but it is about 30,000, double the 15,000 required. 7,195 pages of signatures were filed.

A team of Greens from around the state worked in Albany all weekend to get the petitions ready for filing. Judy Einach (the state petition coordinator from Buffalo), Ian Wilder (state co-chair from Babylon), Eric Jones (a state executive committee member from Buffalo) and Jerry Kann (a state committee member from Queens and a member of Howie Hawkins campaign staff) worked all night, finishing the two sets of copies at Kinko's at 7:00 am this morning.

Many thanks to everyone who collected and cleaned signatures! The top petitioners statewide were Jerry Kann and Howie Hawkins with about 3,000 signatures each.

Several reporters, including Associated Press, came to our press conference at the BOE, and then we went to the press room in the capitol building to visit with other reporters. All the reporters are interested to know if we will be in the debates. Now that we have submitted our petitions and presumably will be on the ballot, we are pressing to be included in the debates. General objections to our petitions have to be filed by Friday.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Compassionate Consumers Picnic, July 30

Today I attended a picnic and fundraiser in Rochester for Adam Durand of Compassionate Consumers. The event was co-sponsored by Green Party of Monroe County. The fundraiser was to help with Adam's appeal of his conviction for trespassing. In 2004 Adam and two others entered New York State's largest egg farm to document animal cruelty. Since that time his organization, Compassionate Consumers, has worked to educate the public about this cruelty and convince the Wegmans corporation, the farm's owner, to improve the conditions there. I circulated my position paper on the illegality of battery cages under the New York Agriculture and Markets Law.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Process for Brooklyn Development an Insult to Democracy

Speech at the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn rally at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, July 16, 2006

The number of people here on this hot Sunday afternoon, demonstrates the frustration people feel at the lack of opportunity for democratic participation in the project planning process for the development at the Atlantic Yards by the Forest City Ratner Corporation.

It is more than a LACK of democracy. The subversion of state and city law by the two authorities overseeing this development is an INSULT to democracy.

The city's land use laws, the state's eminent domain laws, the state's budgeting process, the city's budgeting process, and the state's new reform laws for public benefit corporations are all are being subverted to serve the interests of the largest publicly traded real estate development corporation in the United States. Forest City Enterprises, Inc., an $8 billion company and the parent corporation of the Forest City Ratner Corporation.

But the biggest insult to democracy is that all this is proceeding with the most minimal participation by the city's elected representatives.

The very first sentence of the New York Constitution says 'no member of this state shall be disenfranchised.' The people of Brooklyn have been disenfranchised by the process we witness here.

Furthermore, Article 9 of the New York constitution relating to municipal home rule states that, 'effective local self-government [is a purpose] of the people of the state.' There is no way that the process by which this development is proceeding constitutes effective local self-government.

Two unelected bodies, the Empire State Development Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, whose members have been appointed by the governor of New York are rubber-stamping whatever the Forest City Ratner Corporation asks for. No one is representing the interests of the public.

As attorney general, I will enforce the laws that are being subverted here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Exxon's Oil Spill in Brooklyn

Press conference in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, June 24, 2006. Video of Press Conference Hi Res, Dial-Up, Third Planet Video, June 24, 2006, 10 min.

I have called this press conference to commend the DEC's announcement, reported on Thursday, that it has requested the attorney general to take legal action against Exxon for its failure to clean up millions of gallons of petroleum pollution in the Brooklyn aquifer and surrounding soils. I have been working as a Sierra Club activist since 1996 trying to get the spill cleaned up. I look forward to prosecuting the case when I am elected.

This oil spill is a huge and long-standing crime. It is the largest urban oil spill in the United States, two to four times as large as the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. It was obvious to the company in 1954 when a large gas explosion occurred in the Socony-Vacuum petroleum storage facilities that millions of gallons of its petroleum products had sunk onto the Brooklyn acquifer, but the company did not clean up or disclose the spill. Even after the spill was discovered leaking into Newtown Creek in 1978 by the US Coast Guard, the company denied liability for years.

It is important to make Exxon live up to its obligations under New York and federal law to clean up the spill and pay for damages. We need to show that large corporate criminals are not above the law.

Had the spill been cleaned up as soon as it occurred, much of the damage caused by the petroleum over the last 52 years would have been avoided. Two generations of people in Brooklyn would not have lived with the damaging effects of petroleum vapors seeping through their soil, into their houses and into their bodies.

The aquifer might have been restored and available to the city as a source of water. Until 1947 the Brooklyn municipal water system depended on ground water. Pumping had stopped at the time of the spill because the depression in the water table caused by extensive pumping was causing sea water to flow into the aquifer, but as the aquifer replenished itself, pumping could have resumed if the petroleum contamination from the spill had been cleaned up.

As long as the oil remains on the aquifer next to Newtown Creek, there is the possibility of tremendous damage from large flows of oil into the creek and New York harbor. At any time natural or human forces may cause the oil to breach the barriers that have so far confined it underground.

I took my first tour of this area ten years ago with Concerned Citizens of Greenpoint and the Greenpoint Watchperson's office. Our Sierra Club Eco Restoration Committee studied the spill extensively. One of the things we looked at was the Geraghty and Miller report on the spill prepared for the US Coast Guard in 1979.

I would like to show you one of the pages of that report. This map shows the contours on the water table in Brooklyn in 1936 and it shows something very interesting. See this cone of depression in the water table of 35 feet below sea level in the Fort Greene area?

Contours on water table in Brooklyn in 1936. Figure 4 of the Geraghty and Miller Report, Investigation of Underground Accumulation of Hydrocarbons along Newtown Creek, Brooklyn, New York, prepared for the U.S. Coast Guard, July 1979. Altitudes are in feet below mean sea level.

Compare this now to this graphic from the DEC's January 2005 community presentation on the spill showing how the hydrocarbon product floating on top of the water table flows into a cone of depression created by ground water pumping.

The Cone of Depression. Illustration by the DEC showing how the petroleum recovery system is using the cone of depression created by pumping the groundwater to recover the petroleum product. From http://www.dec.state.ny.us/ website/der/projects/reg2/greenpoint/s224087e.pdf

You can see there is a strong possibility that the petroleum products from the Socony-Vacuum spill traveled south into the cone of depression caused by the pumping, and that as ground water levels rose in the years following the spill because the groundwater pumping was never restarted, petroleum contamination may have spread broadly over large areas of the Brooklyn aquifer. There is good reason to think that the damage is more extensive than is generally assumed.

For more information about the spill, visit: http://www.greenpointvexxon.com/
and http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/der/ projects/reg2/greenpoint/. See State Plans to Sue Exxon Over Underground Oil Spill in Brooklyn, NY Times, June 22, 2006.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

That Was Quick!!

Just one day after Rachel issued a media advisory on June 21, 2006, stating that she would hold a press conference in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on June 24, 2006, to announce her plan, if elected, to sue ExxonMobil for natural resource damage to the aquifer under Brooklyn from a hydrocarbon spill occurring in 1950 and continuing to the present day, the New York Times reports on June 22, 2006, that State Plans to Sue Exxon Over Underground Oil Spill in Brooklyn. According to the article, "The Department of Environmental Conservation said yesterday that it has joined the fray, and asked New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to initiate legal action against Exxon 'to ensure that the company fulfills its obligation to clean up petroleum contamination' in Greenpoint."

Friday, June 16, 2006

CNN Survey 84% Against Electronic Voting


I just voted and the votes are now:

Do you believe the United States should abandon electronic voting?
Yes, 84%, 9876 votes
No,16%,1913 votes
Total: 11789 votes

Original Message:
Subject: Vote Now CNN Survey on EVoting
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 23:32:34 -0400
From: "Bo Lipari"
Organization: New Yorkers for Verified Voting

Go vote online now. Top item on the left.

Do you believe the United States should abandon electronic voting?
Yes, 84%, 952 votes
No, 16%,183 votes
Total: 1135 votes

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Comments on proposed Cohocton Local Wind Law

To the Cohocton Town Board and Cohocton Town Planning Board, Cohocton, New York
Comments filed June 14, 2006

As a resident of Steuben County and a candidate for Attorney General, I have studied the proposals for industrial wind farms being made to towns in our county. Like almost everyone, I am strongly in favor of clean energy. We need to reduce our energy consumption and generate the energy we do use from non-toxic sources, such as wind. But we cannot be blinded by our desire for clean energy into failing to properly evaluate the wind farm schemes being proposed for our county.

First of all we need to know how much effective electric capacity the proposed wind farms will actually produce. The haste with which large industrial wind farms are being pushed for construction in all the top wind resource areas of our county precludes adequate consideration of this issue. We need to slow down and begin with construction of just a few turbines so residents and officials can find out how much electric energy can actually be generated in this area and get actual experience in the amount of noise, flicker, ice throw, harm to wildlife and harm to property values that will be generated by turbines of the huge size being proposed.

The large federal and state subsidies and tax benefits being granted to wind energy production do not guarantee that it is economic to produce electricity from wind in this area, and if it is not, the projects will fail. Nor will these subsidies and tax benefits prevent property values in our area from declining due to the presence of industrial wind farms.

For these reasons, I recommend that the town of Cohocton take time to adequately study the effects of having industrial wind farms in Cohocton, and that the proposed Cohocton wind law be amended to:

1. Limit the number of industrial size turbines that can be constructed in 2006 and 2007 to one
2. Require the public recording of wind energy leases in order to be enforceable
3. Establish adequate setbacks to take into account the rights of adjacent landowners to the wind energy flowing across their properties.
4. Require the owners of large wind turbines to make quarterly public disclosures of the electric energy produced by each turbine
5. Require the owners of large wind turbines to post bonds for road repair
6. Set up procedures by which property value decline can be measured and require the owners of large wind turbines to post bonds for harm to property values.

Adding these requirements will give the residents of Cohocton the time and information necessary to more adequately evaluate the proposed project.

The proposed Cohocton local law is posted on the Cohocton Wind Watch website at http://batr.net/cohoctonwindwatch/WindmillLaw5-8-06.pdf

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Local Groups Oppose Corporate Water Mining

Articles about this event appeared in the Ithaca Times, the Corning Leader, the Elmira Star-Gazette, the Watkins Express and the Dundee Observer and on Laura Hand's show on WSTM in Syracuse. Participants decided to form a regional water protection network.

Community Water Rights Protection Workshop
Date: June 9-10, 2006
Location: Rural-Urban Center, 208 Broadway, Montour Falls

Alarmed that water resources in the Finger Lakes will be targeted by large corporate water companies for privatization of municipal water services and for mining bottled water, the Finger Lakes Progressive Coalition and the Finger Lakes Group of the Sierra Club sponsored a Water Rights Protection Workshop June 9 and 10, 2006, at the Rural-Urban Center in Montour Falls. The workshop was for members of the public to learn how to prevent corporate control of water resources and services in our Finger Lakes and Southern Tier communities.

"Here in the Finger Lakes we take for granted ample supplies of fresh water, but as fresh water becomes an increasingly valuable commodity, large corporations are setting their sights on the giant reservoirs of fresh water in our lakes and aquifers for distribution and profit," said Rachel Treichler of Hammondsport, a member of the Sierra Club, and one of the organizers of the program.

"Members of the Finger Lakes Progressives are watching water privatization efforts in surrounding states; including Pennsylvania and N. H., with alarm," Jack Ossont of Yates county, coordinator of the Progressive Coalition, remarked. "Folks in the Finger Lakes have always regarded water as a resource for the use of all and we organized this workshop to help us keep it that way."

The workshop was led by two nationally known experts on community water issues: Victoria Kaplan, national organizer of the Water for All Campaign with Food and Water Watch in Washington, DC, and Ruth Caplan, national coordinator of the Alliance for Democracy's Defending Water for Life campaign and chair of Sierra Club's national Water Privatization Task Force.

Their presentations showed what communities can do when municipal water and sewer services are targeted for corporate takeover and when local water resources are targeted by bottling companies. The workshop featured discussion of who has the rights to make decisions about water usage in a community.

"From Mt. Shasta, California to Bigelow Mountain in Maine, Nestle and other giant corporations are pursuing big profits pumping pristine water from America's gems of nature to put in little plastic bottles", warns Ruth Caplan. "Now is the time to act, if you don't want this to happen to the Finger Lakes."

"Communities around the country and around the world have experienced major problems when a corporation gets control of their water--from rate increases to declining customer service," said Victoria Kaplan. "Luckily, residents of the Finger Lakes region have a great opportunity right now to protect their water for future generations."

Friday evening's program featured a showing of the prize-winning 62-minute documentary Thirst and a discussion of the issues it raises: Is water part of a shared commons, a human right for all people? Or is it a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded in a global marketplace?

In Saturday's program, Victoria Kaplan addressed municipal privatization issues and Ruth Caplan talked about how water bottling companies are taking local water supplies and what communities are doing about it.

The workshop schedule is at: http://www.ecobooks.com/fingerlakeswaterworkshop.html.

Learn more about Food and Water Watch at http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/waterprivatization
Learn more about the Alliance for Democracy Defending Water for Life Campaign at http://www.thealliancefordemocracy.org/water
Learn more about the Sierra Club Water Privatization Task Force at http://www.sierraclub.org/cac/water/
Learn more about the Finger Lakes Group of the Sierra Club at http://newyork.sierraclub.org/fingerlakes/
Learn more about New York Democracy Schools at http://www.ecobooks.com/FLdemocracyschool.htm

Friday, May 26, 2006

Cohocton Wind Hearing

Last evening I attended the hearing on the draft environmental impact statement for the Cohocton Wind project at the Cohocton Elementary School. Many speakers called for the town to have a referendum on the project.

The Cohocton DEIS, like the Prattsburgh EIS, (both projects are under the control of the same company and several speakers asked why segmentation of the EIS was allowed) fails to address the economic benefits of the project except in the most cursory way.

The New York State Environmental Quality Review Act requires weighing the economic benefit of a project against its environmental impact. The Cohocton DEIS describes the economic benefit as follows:

" The purpose of the proposed action is to create a wind-powered electrical-generating facility that will provide a significant source of renewable energy to the New York State power grid. . . . These objectives include stimulating economic growth, increasing energy diversity, and promoting a cleaner and healthier environment. The benefits of the proposed action include positive impacts on socioeconomics (e.g., increased payment-in-lieu of tax [PILOT] revenues to local municipalities and lease revenues to participating landowners), air quality (through reduction of emissions from fossil-fuel-burning power plants), and climate (reduction of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming)."

That is it. Three conclusory sentences out of hundreds of pages in the DEIS and appendices.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Iraq War Against Voter Wishes

We are at war in Iraq against the wishes of most voters. This is possible because illegal barriers to voting and ballot access have allowed money to trump democracy in our electoral system.

As Attorney General, I will protect our rights to vote and our rights to free and fair elections. We can't continue to let the short-term economic interests of a few override the long-term life, liberty and happiness of all.

The democratic principles upon which this country was founded require that each person have an equal voice in decision making.

Nominated by Green Party of New York

I have been selected as the nominee for Attorney General by the Green Party of New York at its convention in Albany on May 20, 2006.

I am honored to be a member of the Green Party's Peace Slate consisting of author Malachy McCourt for governor, Green Party co-founder Howie Hawkins for US Senate, labor activist Alison Duncan for Lt. Governor, and former NYC mayoral candidate Julia Willebrand for Comptroller.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Western New York Green Party Convention

This Saturday afternoon I will be in Rochester with other state Green Party candidates attending the Western New York Green Party Convention. We are expecting a good turnout of Greens from across the region. We hope you will join us!

Seven candidates are confirmed to attend the convention, and others are sending video statements. The candidates who will be attending are Lt. Governor candidate Kimberly Wilder, US Senate candidates Steve Greenfield, Howie Hawkins and Sander Hicks, and Attorney General candidates Carl Person and Rachel Treichler. Malachy McCourt, a candidate for governor, Steve Krulick, a candidate for US Senate and Alison Duncan, a candidate for Lt. Governor are sending video statements and other candidates may also.

The statewide nominees of the Green Party of New York will be chosen at the state convention May 20 in Albany. It is great that so many statewide candidates are coming to western New York to meet with Greens in our area before the convention. Many thanks to the Monroe County Green Party for hosting the convention and to our Region 6 national representative, Jason Nabewaniec, for organizing it.

Western New York Green Party Convention
Saturday May 6th, 2006
2:00 to 4:00 pm
Rochester Institute of Technology
Building 1 Room 2000, Rochester
Free and open to the public
Light refreshments will be served

All are invited to go out to dinner with the candidates after the convention.

For information about the candidates, visit the websites listed below:
Malachy McCourt, www.malachyforgovernor.com
Jeff Peress, no website
Alison Duncan, no website
Kimberly Wilder, www.votewilder.org
Steve Greenfield, www.greenfieldforsenate.org
Howie Hawkins, www.syracusegreens.org/hawkins.html
Sander Hicks, www.hicksforsenate.com
Steve Krulick, http://kryo.com/Krulick/index.htm
Carl Person, www.carlperson4NYAG.com
Rachel Treichler, www.voterachel.org
Anne Eagan, no website
Gloria Mattera, www.electgloria.org
Julia Willebrand, no website
Betty Wood, no website
Green Party of New York, www.gpnys.org

Monday, May 01, 2006

Remarks about Immigrant Voting Rights

I spoke briefly about the need for immigrant voting rights in local, state and national elections at the immigrants rights rally in Ithaca today. If we are truly to protect immigrant rights, immigrants must be given the right to vote. Almost 400 people gathered in the Ithaca Commons for the rally. Excellent information about immigrant voting rights is at http://www.immigrantvoting.org, the website of the Immigrant Voting Project.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Justice Requires Immigrant Voting Rights

Ron Hayduk, the author of "Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights in the United States" (2006), and co-director of the Immigrant Voting Project explains the reasons for allowing immigrant voting on Alternet. Here are a few excerpts:

"Although it's not widely known, noncitizen voting is as old as the Republic itself and as American as apple pie and baseball. Noncitizens voted from 1776 until 1926 in forty states and federal territories in local, state and even federal elections. Noncitizens also held public office. In a country where "no taxation without representation" was a rallying cry for revolution, such a proposition was not far-fetched. It was common sense that government should rest on the consent of the governed. The idea that noncitizens should have the vote is older, was practiced longer, and is more consistent with democratic ideals than the idea that they should not."

"Discriminatory public policy and private practices -- in employment, housing, education, healthcare, welfare and criminal justice -- are the inevitable by-products of immigrant political exclusion, not to mention racial profiling, xenophobic hate crimes and arbitrary detention and deportation. Non-citizens suffer social and economic inequities, in part because policy-makers can ignore their interests. Denying immigrants local voting rights makes government officials less accountable and undermines the legitimacy of public policies. Immigrant voting rights would help reverse inequities and make the American political system more democratic. Most immigrants want to become U.S. citizens, but the naturalization process can take eight to ten years. That's more than the cycle for two-term mayors, governors and state and local representatives. Moreover, not all immigrants are eligible to become U.S. citizens, unlike earlier times when nearly every immigrant could naturalize.

"Advocates of noncitizen voting support opening up the naturalization process and creating new pathways to citizenship. Noncitizen voting would facilitate civic education and participation and better prepare incipient Americans for eventual citizenship. This burgeoning movement to create a truly universal suffrage calls forth America's past and future as an immigrant nation.

"The right to vote ensures that American democracy is inclusive and fair. Extending the right to vote to noncitizens would help keep government representative, responsive and accountable to all. It would not only restore a tried and true American practice but would also update our democracy for these global times. The immigrant rights movement is today's civil rights movement and noncitizen voting is the suffrage movement of our time."

Immigrant Rights Rally in Ithaca, May 1

I will be attending the Immigrant Rights Rally in Ithaca tomorrow and hope to speak. From the press release:

On May 1st, 2006, a broad coalition of 42 immigrant, community, labor, and student groups will join together, in coordination with millions around the nation, for a rally on The Commons (Bernie Milton Pavilion) in Ithaca to declare that “no human is illegal”. Students from Cornell University and Ithaca College will be marching from their respective campuses to join with the rally at approximately 12:15.

Some current immigration proposals in Congress threaten to criminalize millions of immigrants. We recognize that all immigrants are an integral part of the U.S. society and economy, and continue to be an important force. Latino Civic Association President, Carlos Gutierrez says, "The Tompkins County immigrant population, both documented and undocumented, fill key roles in our local economy, enrich the local cultural landscape, and they are productive members of our community who pay taxes, raise families, and contribute to our schools, churches, neighborhoods, and communities."

The United States has always been, and will always be, a nation of immigrants who have traveled from around the world to seek a better life. “As the debate around immigrants goes forward in our Federal government, we believe that any reform of the system must involve a path to citizenship for hardworking immigrants, as well as reunification of families and a safe and orderly process for enabling willing immigrant workers to fill essential jobs in our economy and ensure full labor rights”, says Larry Shinagawa of the Ithaca Asian American Association.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Remarks on Eminent Domain Abuse

My remarks at the eminent domain rally in Albany today:

I welcome this opportunity to speak to you on an issue of common concern to Libertarians and Greens--the use of eminent domain for the benefit of private developers.

This is a fitting location for our topic. Not only are we here on the steps of New York's capitol, behind us is Empire State Plaza, which is often described as one of the most ambitious urban renewal projects in America. In the late sixties and early seventies, thousands of low income homes and small businesses were destroyed, 98 acres of historic downtown Albany destroyed to make room for these empty stretches of concrete.

After many years of authorizing eminent domain for so-called urban renewal projects undertaken by governmental agencies, on June 23rd of last year the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Kelo vs. the City of New London, Connecticut allowing a city to use eminent domain for the benefit of private developers based upon the promise of increased tax revenue to the city.

Exactly two months after the Kelo decision was issued, on August 23, 2005, a huge hurricane formed in the Atlantic. The hurricane came ashore in southeastern Louisiana on August 29 and created devastation all along the coast. The city of New Orleans is now facing urban renewal on a far vaster scale than Empire State Plaza.

Who is going to make the decisions about how New Orleans is rebuilt——the hundreds of thousands of small homeowners, who were evacuated from the city, many of whom do not have enough money to return, most of whom were black——or private developers?

What we are facing here is legalized theft. It is theft from the poor for the rich. Working class and low income homeowners are the primary targets of almost all development schemes. Justice Thomas noted in his dissent to the Kelo decision that the decision encourages victimization of the weak. Justice Thomas further noted that urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks; and that in cities across the country, urban renewal was known as ‘Negro removal'.

Greens in New York have been fighting predatory development plans in which residents and small businesses in minority neighborhoods face mass removal under these new strengthened powers of eminent domain. In Brooklyn, the Park Slope Greens are working with other local activists in the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Coalition to head off an attempt by billionaire developer Bruce Ratner to seize homes and businesses in Fort Greene and Prospect Heights.

We need legislation that would require local referendums before eminent domain can be used. We need democratic decision making by the communities that will be affected by the development. Senate Bill 5938 currently pending in the New York Senate would require eminent domain decisions to be subject to approval by a vote of an elected legislative body, but we need to go further than that. We need to allow the residents of the community to make the decision. We need to require a referendum of the voters in the legislative district.

The Kelo decision shows that liberals are as likely as conservatives to side with wealthy and corporate interests. Republican and Democratic officials — including many liberal and progressive Democrats — accept huge gifts from real estate interests that want to clear out neighborhoods for new development. Greens refuse all corporate contributions.

We in the Green Party look forward to working with Libertarian Party members and candidates to protect the rights of ordinary people. We need to form a new spectrum of parties dedicated to protecting the rights of ordinary people and the health of the environment against the parties dedicated to protecting corporate power.

I would like to leave the last word to Jane Jacobs, who died earlier this week. Jacobs worked in New York City to stop the urban renewal projects that threatened Greenwich Village. She strenuously objected to bulldozing low-rise housing in poor neighborhoods and building tall apartment buildings surrounded by open space to replace them.

"There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder," Jacobs wrote in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, "and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Two Rallies in Albany

I will speak at two rallies tomorrow in Albany: an Eminent Domain Abuse Rally starting at 12 noon on the steps of the New York State Capitol and a Peace Rally starting at 4 PM at Townsend Park.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Coverage in Elmira Star-Gazette

Thanks to the Elmira Star-Gazette for quoting the heart of my statement about voting rights and why I am running.

Hammondsport woman announces bid for attorney general
April 20, 2006

ROCHESTER — Rachel Treichler, 54, a Hammondsport lawyer, formally announced her candidacy for the Green Party nomination for attorney general Wednesday in Susan B. Anthony Park in Rochester.

“I am running for attorney general to address the ways our laws allow the short-term economic interests of a few to override the long-term life, liberty and happiness of all,” Treichler said.

Treichler, who practiced law with two large New York City law firms for eight years, and then ran an environmental book store in Brooklyn, now has a part-time law practice in Hammondsport. She sells environmental books online at www.ecobooks.com.

She ran as the Green Party candidate for Congress in the 29th Congressional District in 2002.

Treichler could face Elmira native and former Westchester County district attorney Jeanine Pirro, who is running as a Republican, and face one of six Democrats — who are seeking their party's nomination.

“I am announcing my candidacy at this historic location,” Treichler said in a prepared statement, “to draw attention to the voting rights issues still faced by the people of this state.”

She said some Americans face major impediments in exercising their right to vote.

“What does it mean when many people can't vote, when we don't have candidates representing our views on the ballot, when candidates with money are allowed to dominate the forums of debate, when election districts are gerrymandered to favor incumbents, and when we have a winner take all voting system?” Treichler said.

“It means that important issues are never debated — that crucial decisions are made without input from and contrary to the interests of the majority of the people in this country,” she said. “We need elected officials who are not beholden to the two major parties and the interests they represent. We need to make sure that our rights to vote and our rights to free and fair elections are protected.”

For more information about her campaign, visit her Web site, www.voterachel.org.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Candidate for NY Attorney General Addresses Voting Rights

Rachel Treichler, 54, an attorney from Hammondsport, formally announced her candidacy for the Green Party nomination for Attorney General of New York this morning in front of the Susan B. Anthony House on Madison St. in Rochester. The statewide nominees of the Green Party will be chosen at a nominating convention in Albany on May 20, 2006.

"This is the house where Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting in 1872, where she served as founder and president of the National Women's Suffrage Association, and where she died 100 years ago last month without having seen women obtain the right to vote. That right was not granted to women in New York until 1917, and was not granted throughout the United States until the passage of the nineteenth amendment in 1920.

"I am announcing my candidacy at this historic location," Treichler said, "to draw attention to the voting rights issues still faced by the people of this state. Although our country made great strides during the past century enfranchising classes of citizens who formerly were denied the right to vote, such as women, blacks, native Americans, poor people and young people, numerous barriers to voting limit our franchise.

"There are six major barriers we face today in exercising our rights to vote.

"First are barriers to actually voting through voter ID requirements, not allowing same day voter registration, having election day be a work day, citizenship requirements, and prohibitions on felons voting. All these impediments should be removed and all residents of our state should have a say in electing the lawmakers of our state.

"Second are techniques and devices used to keep our votes from being counted after they have been cast. We need to use hand counted paper ballots like they do in Canada. This is the safest method of counting votes, and the cheapest!

"Third, restrictive ballot access laws reduce the number of candidates allowed on the ballot. Voters have fewer candidates to choose among for almost all public offices today than voters did a hundred years ago. We need to remove these restrictions and give voters more choices.

"Fourth, money is allowed to dominate the forums of debate, so that the vast majority of the voices people hear speaking on issues are the voices of money. We don't have free and fair elections if voters don't get to hear the voices of candidates without money. We need public forums where all candidates have equal opportunities to speak.

"Fifth, we have the gerrymandering of election districts to favor individual candidates of the two major parties. Multi-candidate districts with proportional voting would reduce the significance of individual districts and allow more segments our society to be represented in our governmental bodies.

"Finally, we need to switch to methods of voting like instant run-off voting that allow everyone's choices to be counted.

"What does it mean when many people can't vote, when we don't have candidates representing our views on the ballot, when candidates with money are allowed to dominate the forums of debate, when election districts are gerrymandered to favor incumbents, and when we have a winner take all voting system?

"It means that important issues are never debated—that crucial decisions are made without input from and contrary to the interests of the majority of the people in this state. We need elected officials who are not beholden to the two major parties and the interests they represent. We need to make sure that our rights to vote and our rights to free and fair elections are protected."

Treichler, who practiced law with two large New York City law firms for eight years, and then ran an environmental book store in Brooklyn, now has a part-time law practice in Hammondsport and sells environmental books online at www.ecobooks.com. She ran as the Green Party candidate for Congress in the 29th Congressional District in 2002.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Candidacy Announced Tomorrow

I will be announcing my candidacy for the Green Party nomination for attorney general of New York tomorrow, Wednesday, April 19, 2006, at 10:30 am in Susan B. Anthony Park on Madison St. in Rochester. The statewide nominees of the Green Party will be chosen at a nominating convention in Albany on May 20, 2006. I will speak briefly about the voting rights issues we face today, and call for giving immigrants (resident aliens) the right to vote. For more information about my campaign, visit my website, www.voterachel.org.

Hand Counted Paper Ballots in 2008

I have long-supported hand counted paper ballots and will be speaking in support of them in my press conference tomorrow, so am delighted to see the excellent article Hand Counted Paper Ballots in 2008 by Sheila Parks now on Tikkun's Magazine's website. As Parks says, "HCPB are an alternative to the current widespread and increasing use of electronic voting machines. An HCPB system of voting has the following major advantages over electronic voting machines: (1) Counting of ballots is publicly done, observed and filmed by everyday citizens who are registered voters in the precinct where the counting takes place. (2) Security safeguards are much more easily built in to protect against tampering. (3) The cost is far less. " She reports that, "There have been two recent efforts to promote an HCPB system in the United States, and a third will take place later in 2006. In 2004, voting rights activists Sharona Merel, Kaen Renick, Ellen Theisen, and Kathleen Wynne proposed federal legislation for federal offices. In 2005, four voting rights activists (this writer and three members of CASE Ohio – John Burik, Phil Fry, and Dorri Steinhoff) began work on a protocol for HCPB. Some of this writing has been modified and is included in this paper in the specifics for HCPB. In November 2006, voting rights activist Joanne Karasak plans to promote a state constitutional amendment for HCPB in Ohio. " The full article is well worth your time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The New Politics of Voter Suppression

Came across publicity for an excellent new book this morning while I was researching voter rights. The book is Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression
by Spencer Overton. The book is being published by W.W. Norton and will be available in June. Prof. Overton's website describes the book as follows:

"While politicians spew shallow sound bites that describe a 'free' American people who govern themselves by selecting their representatives, in reality politicians from both parties maintain control by selecting particular voters. Incumbent politicians maintain thousands of election practices and bureaucratic hurdles that determine who votes and how votes are counted--such as the location of election district boundaries, long lines at urban polling places, and English-only ballots. Spencer Overton uses real-life stories to show how these seemingly insignificant practices channel political power and determine policies on war, schools, clean air, and other issues that shape our lives. He also exposes the pressure points in this Orwellian system and provides strategies toward restoring self-government, such as making voting easier for all Americans, removing redistricting power from self-interested partisans, and renewing parts of the Voting Rights Act that expire in 2007. Overton's insights are vital to the future of our democracy."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Democracy School April 28-30, Binghamton

When Corporations Wield Constitutional Rights to Deny People's Rights... Democratic Self-Governance is Impossible

Some of you have heard me speak about Democracy School. We have a wonderful opportunity in Binghamton at the end of this month to learn from the two founders of Democracy School--Thomas Linzey and Richard Grossman. This is the only school this year at which both are presenting!

Democracy School April 28-30, Binghamton
Dates: Friday to Sunday,April 28-30, 2006
Place: The Spiritual Center, Windsor, NY
Cost: Commuting: $225, Live In: $300

Many say Democracy School is a life changing experience. If you can't make Binghampton, there are five other schools in New York this year. Click here for the schedule.

Green Party Campaign School April 22-23, New Paltz

I will be attending what looks like a great weekend organized by the New Paltz Green Party for volunteers and candidates. Anyone interested in traveling together from our area, let me know.

Village Hall, 25 Plattekill Ave, New Paltz, NY 12561
April 22-23, 2006

They will have national and state campaign and election
specialists teaching us how to plan and manage campaigns,
how to fundraise and keep proper account of the campaign
contributions and budget for successful campaigns. There
will be workshops for those potential candidates who would
like to or are interested in running for elected office.
We will be introduced to new campaign internet and database technologies which will help us be more efficient and effective.

The school will train campaign volunteers and leaders to increase their effectiveness in voter registration, get out the vote efforts and overall campaign management and help develop an infrastructure for Green candidates to win more elections.

The school will offer workshops on campaign management, treasury and finance, public speaking and speech writing, internet and campaign technologies, and canvassing.

Costs: The two day campaign training is free to attend,
however we will be asking for donations for the food which
will be available throughout the weekend. One day of
training is possible but we highly encourage planning to
attend for the two days if at all possible.

Space is limited so send your registration request as soon as possible to: Margaret Human at mlcufbtswihe at yahoo dot com or call it in to Edgar Rodriguez at (845) 255-9652.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Two-Party Oligarchy

Excellent article today on Antiwar.com by Ivan Eland, Wanted: A Freer Market in U.S. Politics. He says:

"Although globalization has opened markets around the world, the U.S. political system remains closed to true competition. Curiously, Americans are equally proud that they have one of the freest and most vibrant economies in the world and a two-party oligarchy that restricts competition among political parties. If greater competition is better in economics, why not in politics?

"Although no specific constitutional or legal requirement limits the number of major political parties, the United States has had only two dominant parties throughout most of its history because of the way the Constitution is written. The “winner take all” nature of the political system provides powerful disincentives for two stodgy, fairly broad political parties to break up into smaller, more competitive parties that would actually stand for something. Direct election of the president by the people, the presidential electoral college, and representation in Congress based on geographical areas all mean that only one person can win each election—giving political groups incentives to maximize their strength by hanging together in two disparate coalitions.

"In contrast, a parliamentary system—in which parties earn the number of seats they have in parliament based on their percentage of the vote (proportional representation) and choose a prime minister based upon a party leader’s ability to form a coalition of parties that commands a majority in the legislature—is more competitive. Governing coalitions formed after a rough and tumble election campaign that give voters a wider choice among multiple parties are much different from the electoral coalitions of the two-party system, which cause political groupings to mute their differences in an attempt to allow their coalition to win. Some decry the instability of multiple party systems, but it isn’t easy living free. “Freedom” is just a politician’s fancy word for choice, and multiple party systems offer greater choice and less behind-the-scenes collusion between the parties. In a multi-party system, the collusion among the parties occurs only after the voters have spoken—not before—and is out in the open."

A Response to Scott Ritter

Much as I admire Scott Ritter's work to end the war in Iraq, I could not disagree more with his recent post, The Art of War for the anti-war movement . It sure goes to show that you can take the man out of the army, but you can't take the army out of the man.

As an active Green Party member and student of nonviolence, I question many of his assertions and premises. It does not dilute the anti-war message to tie it to other messages--it IS tied to other messages. The centralized, hierarchical approach to planning is what the global war machine is all about. It will not work to oppose it with a centralized, hierarchical approach.

It will not work because a centralized, hierarchical structure is the core of the system we are opposing. It is the structure that put us into war. It is the philosophical antithesis of what we are working for. As a practical strategy, it would be the easiest type of structure to co-opt. All that needs to be done is to corrupt the people at the top of the hierarchy. This has happened to alternative movements in the past that were organized hierarchically.

In his book The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Gene Sharp says, "Nonviolent action tends to turn the opponent's violence and repression against his own power position, weakening it and at the same time strengthening the nonviolent group. Because violent action and nonviolent action possess quite different mechanisms, and induce differing forces of change in the society, the opponent's repression. . . can never really come to grips with the kind of power wielded by the nonviolent actionists." ( Part II. Pp. 111-113). Sharp compares this approach to the martial art of jiu-jitsu--in which the violent party loses its balance when confronted with nonviolent opposition.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

First Meeting of Alfred Campus Greens

We had a beaufiful warm, sunny day for the organizational meeting of the Alfred Chapter of the Campus Greens this afternoon at Pollywood Holler in Belmont. The meeting was organized by Krista Carlson, a graduate student at Alfred University. Six students attended, one from Alfred State, along with faculty advisor Bill Carlson, Dave Fagan from the Allegany Greens and myself. The students planned a public meeting at the Terra Cotta coffee house in Alfred on Thursday, April 6 at 7:00 pm.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ralph Nader at Alfred

Several of us from the Steuben Greens presented a table of Green Party literature at the Ralph Nader speaking event at Alfred last night. We had a poster about the Campus Greens, a large "Ralph We Love You" sign, a poster for Sander Hicks Green campaign for US Senate and a lot of Green Party materials and got a very good response. Among the people who stopped by our table was the owner of the Crawford Peace House in Crawford, Texas. Ralph's speech was inspiring. He called on young people to work for justice and spend their twenties, which he said were the most creative time in their lives, working for what they believed in and not just to earn money. The last part of his speech was about politics. Ralph referred to the difficulties he faced as a Green Party candidate for president. After the speech, more people came and signed up on our list. Altogether, fifteen students and people from the area signed up to form an Alfred Chapter of the Campus Greens. We also invited people to the next meeting of the Steuben Greens on Monday, April 17 at 7:00 pm at 198 Main St. in Hornell.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

First Meeting of the Genesee County Green Party

Last night was the first meeting of the Genesee County Green Party. Craig Taylor, the new state committee member for Genesee County, organized an excellent program. Jason Nabewaniec as the GPNY Region 6 national representative and I as the GPNY Region 6 executive commitee representative attended.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Monroe County Green Party Meeting

On Monday I attended the February meeting of the Monroe County Green Party. They had an excellent guest speaker, Elizabeth Henderson of NOFA-NY speaking about her CSA and about genetic engineering issues. I spoke about our statewide races this year. The Monroe Greens have an impressive number of activities going on.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Erie County Green Party Meeting

This past Thursday, February 9, I attended a meeting of the executive committee of the Erie County Green Party in my capacity as Region 6 EC rep, and on Friday I met with Green mayoral candidate Judy Einach and several of her supporters. Greens in Erie County are eager to work to help the state party regain ballot status this year.