Thursday, December 20, 2007

Greens Support Nader and Romanelli Lawsuits Challenging Abuse of Election Processes by Democratic Party

GP-US has issued a press release in support of recent lawsuits undertaken by Ralph Nader and US Senate candidate Carl Romanelli. These lawsuits present evidence of Democratic Party abuse of the legal system, intimidation, and rigging of elections.

Greens Urge Public Support for Nader and Romanelli Lawsuits Alleging Legal Abuse of Elections by Democrats

For Immediate Release: Friday, December 14, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders urged national attention and support for legal efforts by Ralph Nader and Carl Romanelli to ensure fair elections in the face of patently unfair election rules and underhanded tactics by Democratic Party operatives to block Green, other third party, and independent candidates.

"The vicious tactics used by Democrats against Greens and independents in Pennsylvania and other states are comparable to the Republican manipulation of national elections that we witnessed in 2000 and 2004," said Liz Arnone, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. "In all these cases, Democrats and Republicans alike have betrayed an exclusive sense of entitlement that led them to rig the vote."

"If the courts don't side with Ralph Nader and Carl Romanelli, it'll be taken as a license for both Democrats and Republicans to engage in similar underhanded and outrageous actions to obstruct candidates they don't want to face publicly in a fair election. The American people deserve to know that the future of our elections is at stake," Ms. Arnone added.

Ralph Nader has filed a lawsuit accusing the Democratic Party of "groundless and abusive litigation" to bankrupt the Nader campaign and force him off the ballot in 18 states.

The lawsuit, filed in October on behalf of Mr. Nader, running mate Peter Miguel Camejo, and voters from several states, names as co-defendants the Kerry-Edwards campaign, the Service Employees International Union, private law firms, and several organizations, and claims the latter used underhanded and malicious legal tactics against the Nader campaign. A cadre of Democratic Party lawyers led by Toby Moffett and Elizabeth Holtzman filed 24 lawsuits and five FEC complaints to block the Nader-Camejo independent ticket from state ballots, using legal maneuvers to disrupt bankrupt the campaign.

"The fact that Ralph Nader won the vast majority of these lawsuits and that the FEC dismissed the complaints proved that the lawsuits were an abuse of the legal and election system by Democratic Party lawyers for political purposes," said Mark Dunlea, an attorney active with the Green Party of New York State.

The Nader lawsuit also presents extensive evidence of a conspiracy to harass and intimidate Nader-Camejo petitioners in Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania. In Ohio, Democratic lawyers called petitioners and warned them that if they didn't verify signatures they collected they would be guilty of a felony. In Oregon, Democratic operatives urged volunteers to use illegal tactics that would result in having Mr. Nader's ballot petitions voided.

Carl Romanelli has filed an appeal against a court order levying enormous fees and costs against him -- to be paid to Democratic lawyers -- because of disqualified signatures on his 2004 petition to have his name on the Pennsylvania ballot in the 2006 race for the US Senate. Ralph Nader is battling a similar court decision in the wake of a Democratic challenge in Pennsylvania to his petitions to run as an independent candidate for President in 2004.

"The Romanelli and Nader cases don't just expose Pennsylvania's grossly antidemocratic ballot access rules. They show that if you even try to run on a third-party or independent ticket, you're not only in danger of getting tossed off the Pennsylvania ballot, you also risk personal financial ruin," said Phil Huckelberry, co-chair of the national Green Party and Illinois Green, who helped lead his state party's successful ballot access effort in 2006 after Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) used $800,000 in taxpayers' money attempting to keep Greens off the ballot.

Pennsylvania requires that third party and independent candidates for major office submit over 67,000 signatures, while only requiring 2,000 signatures for Democratic and Republican candidates. After Mr. Romanelli submitted nearly 95,000 petition signatures (more than any candidate in the state's history), lawyers acting on behalf of the Democratic Party undertook a line-by-line challenge of the petitions.

Despite Mr. Romanelli's attempt (with the help of volunteers) to defend the signatures he collected, the court sided with the Democratic Party lawyers and invalidated enough of Mr. Romanelli's signatures to have his name removed from the ballot.

"The judge never looked at our signatures. They just took the word of Democratic Party lawyers," said Mr. Romanelli. "When we were able to show the validity of a large portion of the signatures the Democratic lawyers claimed were invalid, we were not allowed to enter the evidence in court."

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court also honored a request from Democratic lawyers to impose punitive expenses on Carl Romanelli because of the disqualified signatures. The court ordered Mr. Romanelli to pay more than $80,000. In Mr. Nader's case, the fine neared $89,000.

"The fees imposed were an attempt to bankrupt me personally. The court also ordered my lawyer to pay expenses for the disqualified signatures, which is like sentencing a defendant's lawyer to prison along with the convicted defendant -- and which intimidates lawyers from representing third party candidates in future disputes," added Mr. Romanelli.

Carl Romanelli is now appealing to the state Supreme Court to reconsider its November 20 decision upholding the lower court ruling. Mr. Romanelli intends to file a federal lawsuit, claiming violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights because his political speech was limited and he was denied due process in his appeals.


Green Party of the United States
Green Party News Center
Green Party Speakers Bureau
Green candidate database for 2007 and other campaign information
Ain't Easy Being Green, 2007 documentary on Carl Romanelli's ballot access fight by Morse-Levin Productions
Romanelli keeps fighting, Citizen's Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania December 8, 2007
Ralph Nader Files Lawsuit Accusing Democratic Party of Conspiring to Block Presidential Run, Interview with Nader attorney Carl Mayer, Democracy Now!, October 31, 2007
The Wild Wild West of Ballot Access, Polidoc Productions, September 25, 2007
Video clips of July 15 press conference at the Green Party's 2007 national meeting in Reading, Pennsylvania with Ralph Nader, Nader 2004 ballot access attorney Bruce Safran , and Carl Romanelli

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kucinich Excluded from Iowa Debate

The Hill reported yesterday that Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) is being excluded from this week’s Iowa presidential debate because he has not rented office space in Iowa. The Des Moines Register informed the Kucinich campaign that Kucinich is not invited because the newspaper determined “that a person working out of his home did not meet our criteria for a campaign office and full-time paid staff in Iowa.”

The campaign said of the exclusion, “[I]f the Register has decided to use hair-splitting technicalities to exclude the leading voice of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, then the entire process is suspect.” The campaign claims that Kucinich has also been barred from public appearances by the Iowa Democratic Party and Iowa Public Television.

Excluding Kucinich from the Iowa debates expands the disturbing trend of excluding important voices from political debates. Third party candidates are frequently excluded, as Ralph Nader found in 2000 and 2004, and as I found in 2006. These exclusions are done against the wishes of most 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.

I hope the Kucinich campaign will commission a poll to find out how Iowa voters feel about his exclusion from the debates.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Exxon's Brooklyn Oil Spill Timeline

The September issue of Mother Jones magazine contains a a good article and great timeline of the spill.

EPA Releases Study of Exxon Spill in Brooklyn

On September 12, 2007, the EPA released a study of Exxon's Brooklyn oil spill. The report says the spill may be as large as 30 million gallons and also that the surrounding air contains high levels of methane vapors.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New York AG Sues ExxonMobil to Force Cleanup of Brooklyn oil spill

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that he has filed suit against the ExxonMobil Corporation and ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Company to force the cleanup of a huge oil spill in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and to restore Newtown Creek. Clean up of the spill was one of the featured issues of my 2006 Green Party campaign for AG. The video Craig Seeman took of my June 24, 2006, press conference on the spill is on Google Video.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bring the Troops Home Contingent at Wellsville Balloon Rally

I joined Greens and other peace activists marching Saturday, July 14, 2007, in the Wellsville Balloon Rally parade. Thanks to Gudrun Scott for helping to organize our efforts and taking our photo.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

NY Green Fest

I am helping to organize NY Green Fest, which will take place Friday-Sunday, August 10-12, 2007, in Ithaca and Cayutaville. For more information, visit

Fri. , Aug. 10, 6:30-9:00 pm at the Community School, 330 E. State St., Ithaca
Sat., Aug. 11, all day at Cayuta Sun, 2962 Swamp Rd., Cayutaville
Sun., Aug. 12, 10:00 am-4:00 pm at Bernie Milton Pavilion, Ithaca Commons, Ithaca

The festival is a benefit for the Green Party of New York and is open to all who are interested in sustainable living and sustainable politics.

NY Green Fest kicks off Friday evening, August 10, with a program on the politics of sustainability at the Community School auditorium, 330 E. State St., Ithaca from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. The speakers are Art Weaver from Renovus Energy in Ithaca who will speak on social change and its connection to renewable energy, Virginia Rasmussen, a founder of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy from Alfred, who will speak on the politics of sustainability, and Dan Hill, the Cayuga Nation representative to the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force, who will speak on sustainability for the long term.

Saturday’s programs take place at Cayuta Sun, an off-the-grid permaculture homestead in Cayutaville, 15 miles southwest of Ithaca. Saturday starts with a bread baking workshop in the earth oven at Cayuta Sun lead by Lois Hilton from Tickletown Trust & Trade in Humphrey, New York. Lois will also participate in Saturday’s panel on building a local food network, along with Matthew Glenn from Muddy Fingers Farm in Hector, editor of Southern Tier Farm to You Local Food Directory and Gwen Quigley from Keuka Cookin’ in Bath.

Michael Burns and Steve Gabriel from the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute will lead an introduction to permaculture workshop. A discussion on grass roots organizing for sustainability will be lead by Gay Nicholson who has led Sustainable Tompkins since 2003, Mike Sellars, the Mayor of Cobleskill and a founder of Sustainable Cobleskill, and Tony and Mary Lipnicki, the founders of a monthly discussion group on sustainability issues in Andover, NY. Two off-grid pioneers, Steve Nicholson from Ithaca and Tony Moretti from Hammondsport will offer advice on living off-the-grid.

Saturday afternoon Barry Miller from Hinsdale, New York will show how to build a small wind turbine. Barry is a mechanical engineer and has spent 20 years in the wind energy business. For nine years he operated a wind farm in Altamont Pass west of San Franciso. Barry recently taught a class at Olean BOCES on how to build your own small wind turbine. Three experienced cable access TV producers will discuss getting media access for alternative viewpoints, Bill Huston from Binghamton, Carl Lawrence from Brooklyn and Deborah Magone from Greece, NY.

Rafter Sass will speak Saturday evening on Liberation Ecology: Refusing to Choose between Social Justice and Sustainability. Rafter lives and works at the Germantown Community Farm, a collectively-run community food security project in the Hudson River Valley.

A Cob for Kids workshop will run throughout the day on Saturday. Lunch and dinner prepared from local foods will be served on Saturday. Sunrise yoga begins the day. Exhibitors on Saturday include renewable energy suppliers, booksellers, farmers with local produce, local craftspeople, grassroots organizations and non-profit groups.

On Sunday, August 12, Green Fest moves to the Ithaca Commons with a series of speakers and musicians at the Bernie Milton Pavilion in the center of the Commons. Peacesmiths from New York City will perform political songs. Lexie Hain from Motherplants will show how to make a green roof. Ilonka Wloch, the editor of Positive News in Ithaca, Craig Seeman from Third Planet Video in Brooklyn, and Cyril Mychalejko from Upside Down World in Vermont will discuss building new media outlets that address sustainability issues.

Howie Hawkins, SKCM Curry, Tony Gronowicz, and Jason Nabewaniec will discuss how third party electoral activism is essential in fostering social change and challenging the underpinnings of corporate power. Howie was the 2006 Green Party candidate for US Senate from New York and a current candidate for Syracuse Common Council. Tony Gronowicz, the 2005 Green Party candidate for Mayor of New York City, teaches at the City University of New York. His most recent book is Grand Illusion: American Democracy from its Roots to the Present. Jason Nabewaniec from Batavia is a Co-Chair of the Green Party US. Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza-Curry from Los Angeles is a Green Party candidate for Vice President of the US.

Sunday’s program concludes with a discussion on campus organizing for sustainability led by Peter LaVenia from the Albany University Campus Greens, and Krista Carlson from the Alfred University Campus Greens.

$35 admission for Friday and Saturday, includes Saturday lunch and dinner, Sunday free. Camping available for an additional charge. Green Fest is a benefit for the Green Party of New York. No fees for those who help during the festival or in advance. For a detailed schedule, directions, registration forms and more information, visit or call 607-569-2114

Monday, April 02, 2007

My Article in Spring Sierra Atlantic

Cuomo Sues Exxon to Clean Up Nation's Largest Oil Spill--After Brooklyn Endures 50 Years of Delay

Article by Rachel Treichler in Spring 2007 Sierra Atlantic

The waters contaminated by the largest oil spill in the US are not pristine beaches. The waters contaminated by this spill are mostly invisible because they are mostly underground, floating on the aquifer under the homes and businesses, schools and churches of Brooklyn. But the toxic effects of the spill on the health of the people who live and work above it, and the damage it has done to soils in large areas of Brooklyn and to the potability of the Brooklyn aquifer are far from invisible. The millions of gallons of oil floating on the Brooklyn aquifer also present a continuing threat to the New York harbor, should the geological barriers holding the oil on the aquifer be breached.

The people of Brooklyn have suffered more than 50 years of delay and obstruction in cleaning up the spill by Exxon Mobil. Its predecessor corporation, Standard Oil, owned the petroleum storage tanks near Newtown Creek in Greenpoint, Brooklyn that were breached by a gas explosion in 1950. The full size of the spill is not known. If proper studies are done, it may turn out the spill is even larger than the 17,000,000 to 40,000,000 gallons currently estimated and extends under a large area of Brooklyn.

Given the many years of delay, the announcement by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in February this year that he has filed intent to sue letters against Exxon Mobil and four other companies to force them to clean up the spill and repair environmental damage is extremely welcome news. The lawsuits will seek scientific testing and investigations to determine the full scope of the contamination, increased recovery of underground oil, cleanup of contaminated groundwater and soil, restoration of Newtown Creek, damages for the injuries to the affected natural resources, and unspecified financial penalties. Intent to sue letters are required as a precursor to suit under the Federal Clean Water Act and the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The attorney general’s office has announced that when suit is brought, the State will also likely assert legal claims under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund), the federal Oil Pollution Act, the State’s Navigation Law, and the State’s Environmental Conservation Law, and assert claims of public nuisance .

Conducting further studies may be valuable, but they should not be used as a tactic to delay implementing an all-out clean up of the spill. It was obvious to Exxon Mobil in 1950 when the explosion occurred that millions of gallons of its petroleum products had sunk onto the Brooklyn aquifer, but the company did not clean up or disclose the spill. If the spill had been cleaned up as soon as it occurred, the damage would have been far less extensive.

Even after the spill was discovered leaking into Newtown Creek in 1978 by the US Coast Guard, the company denied liability for years. So far, Exxon Mobil has cleaned up only what is easiest to do, siphoning oil from thick layers of free floating petroleum nearest the original site of the spill. The company’s profits from selling this oil on the market substantially exceed its clean-up expenditures.

It is outrageous for Exxon Mobil, the largest corporation in the world, with profits of $36 billion, to continue delaying an all-out clean up of the spill. Had the spill been cleaned up in a timely fashion, much of the damage caused by the petroleum over the last 57 years would have been avoided. Three generations of people in Brooklyn would not have had to live with toxic petroleum vapors seeping into their homes and businesses and damaging their health. 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 stopped in 1947 because the depression in the water table caused by extensive pumping was causing sea water to flow into the aquifer. Once the aquifer replenished itself, as it did by 1978, pumping could have resumed if the petroleum contamination from the spill had not contaminated the water.

The dangerous health effects of benzene and other chemicals identified in the spill are well known. The all-out effort to clean-up the spill needs to begin now. If it does not, criminal charges should be brought. New York needs to show that large corporations are not above the law.

Friday, February 09, 2007

New York Moves Toward Suit Over a 50-Year-Old Oil Spill

The announcement in today's New York Times that newly elected New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has moved to sue Exxon Mobil and four other companies on February 8, 2007, to force them clean up millions of gallons of oil lying under the Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn and to repair environmental damage inflicted on nearby Newtown Creek is very gratifying because I made clean up of the spill one of the featured issues of my campaign for AG. This development shows that our third party campaigns can have significant results, even if we don't win. Click here for the video of my June 24, 2006, press conference on the spill.

Friday, January 26, 2007

More pols join suit against ExxonMobil

Two articles today about New York City politicians getting involved at long last in the Exxon oil spill. Green Party campaigns do have effects!

New York Daily News, January 26, 2007, More pols join suit against ExxonMobil: Rep. Weiner also urges congressional hearings

New York Sun, January 26, 2007, Solons Attack Exxon Mobil Over 1950 Spill

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Black Mayonnaise in Greenpoint

Today's Scienceline has a good article about the Exxon oil spill in Brooklyn.

Black Mayonnaise

For nearly 30 years, New York State agencies have known about a 17 million gallon oil spill under the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Now they’re finally starting to do something about it.

By Julie Leibach, posted January 24th, 2007.

The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center slumbers on the southwest bank of Newtown Creek, a brick behemoth in a dusty concrete bed. The sun casts long shadows behind the building, where weeds clump around the weathered skeleton of a wooden boat.
Along the creek’s edge, two quiet figures navigate the cracked cement ledge, surveying the murky water below where several yards of fishing line cut through the surface. Any minute now…. and then it happens: an almost imperceptible tug on the line triggers a choreographed dance as the two figures painstakingly draw their prize—a blue crab—from the depths below.
Manuel Bodón has been crabbing along the banks of Newtown Creek for ten years; his friend, Edwin Rosa, for five. On this brisk October afternoon, they’ve already caught nearly a dozen. In a few hours, most will meet a boiled demise, when Bodón makes a seafood stew.

“I put all kinds of seasoning in there,” he says. “It’s nice and tasty.”

Never mind that his dinner was just taken from a waterway that once coursed with petroleum. While the surface appears cleaner than it’s been in the past, a mile up from Bodón and Rosa, oil continues to seep into the creek, though far less than just a few years ago. But it’s still a glaring sign of a much bigger problem.

For over 50 years, the Greenpoint section of northern Brooklyn has been sitting atop a staggering 17 million gallons of spilled oil—almost 50 percent more oil than was spilled in the 1989 wreck of the Exxon Valdez supertanker in Alaska—and almost nothing has been done to clean it up.

But now, the oily tide seems to be turning. Over the last few years, the spill—which likely originated from several tanks that leaked over the course of nearly a century—has been drawing closer scrutiny, particularly from environmental watch dog groups, law firms, and concerned citizens who all want the cleanup to begin in earnest. And just this past summer, the state Attorney General’s office agreed to investigate the spill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a thorough study of the site as well.

While uncertainties and mistrust remain, state agencies that once seemed only passively concerned—and sometimes, even protective of the oil companies responsible—are now striving for a more comprehensive clean-up of the oil that has been plaguing not just the creek, but also a middle class neighborhood whose best interests haven’t always seemed to be a priority.

“This is really a ‘tale of two cities.’ One is the community of Greenpoint…[the other is] the story of Newtown Creek, which is a story marked by the largest environmental disaster in the history of New York City, followed by a generation of cover up by the companies that did it, followed by nearly a generation of delay in taking responsibility for what needs to be done,” said Congressman Anthony Weiner, during an October press conference announcing the EPA study. “We’re finally at a point where we can take some action.”

A walk through Greenpoint reveals a town with a split personality. Blocks of row houses interlace commercial streets dotted with Dunkin’ Donuts, T-Mobiles, and ubiquitous Polish bakeries and pharmacies. And glaring at it all is the sooty face of industry: warehouses, factories, and the Newtown Creek Sewage Treatment Plant rising like an alien spaceship, its giant silver “digester eggs”—which break down sludge—shining in the sun.

Greenpoint has been an industrial center for over 140 years. Petroleum refining began in about 1866, and by 1892 most of those refineries—there were more than 50 on the banks of Newtown Creek—had been consolidated into John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust. After the break-up of the trust in 1911, some of the refineries fell under the ownership of the Standard Oil Company of New York (later Mobil Oil Corporation) and became known as the Brooklyn Refinery.

In 1966, the Brooklyn Refinery shut down and was demolished. Mobil Oil sold some of its lots to companies like Amoco (now British Petroleum, which currently owns a bulk fuel storage unit on a ten-acre plot) and used the remaining lots for petroleum bulk storage until 1993, when they closed. Most of the tanks and buildings of the former Brooklyn Terminal have since been torn down.

The Paragon Oil Company—a subsidiary of Texaco (now Chevron Corporation)—also owned property along the creek and operated a storage facility for a decade until 1968, when Peerless Importers, a liquor distributor, purchased the land to build a warehouse.

Those early refineries were careless in their operations, and it’s likely that they started spilling almost as soon as they began operating. Unhampered by environmental laws, few refineries had containment systems to catch spills, so what was released could seep into whatever was around to soak it up.

“It was a very messy industry,” says Basil Seggos, chief investigator of Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog organization.

The biggest spill of all wasn’t revealed until 12 years after the Brooklyn Refinery shut down. During a helicopter patrol over Newtown Creek in early September of 1978, the Coast Guard noticed an oil slick on the surface of the water near Meeker Avenue, by the Peerless Importers site.

An investigation by Coast Guard-hired contractors Geraghty & Miller, Inc. found that the seep was part of a much larger spill—17 million gallons of oil that had saturated the soil underneath nearly 55 acres in Greenpoint.

The Coast Guard stopped the seep by installing recovery sumps—or basins—to collect the oil, but until 1989, little was done to address what lay beneath the surface. That was the year Exxon Mobil accepted responsibility for the oil under the ground.

In 1990, the company agreed to begin cleaning up the spill, which existed not only under its own former property, but also under Peerless Importers’ land and an adjacent residential area as well. But those agreements, which were supervised by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, were fairly simple and “just really [required] them to take free product out of the ground,” says Bob Hernan, an environmental lawyer with the state Attorney General’s office who is studying the spill.

Nor were the agreements strictly enforced—at least, so it seemed to Greenport residents. In fact, there were times during community meetings when oil representatives wouldn’t even let the state agency representatives talk, according to Christine Holowacz, a member of the Greenpoint Waterpark Association for Parks and Planning. “It was a terrible blow for the community to come into a meeting where you thought you had the agencies that were supposed to protect [you],” says Holowacz.

But over the past few years, high-profile lawsuits and public outcry have spotlighted the spill, and the agencies seem to be doing a turnaround. They’re considering new technologies such as vacuum enhanced recovery—which sucks up oil that’s hard to reach—and they’re also beginning to address an issue that community members charge the state has long ignored: the relationship between the plume and residents’ health.