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

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.