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.