The Independence Party Is Not Independent
When I first decided to run for Ulster County Legislature, I viewed the Independence Party with skepticism. It had a reputation for extreme bias when determining who to endorse which is important because a candidate with the "Independence" endorsement leads voters to think that given candidate is independent in their decision making. However, I set my skepticism aside and decided to give the Independence Party a chance because a new Chairman was elected in 2015 named Joe Difalco. Joe had a reputation for being a generally fair and decent person. He pleasantly surprised me in May of this year when he announced the Independence Party would be sending out questionnaires to candidates and then conducting interviews with them to determine who would get the endorsement. This was a major break from Independence Party tradition in recent years as the prior chairman, Len Bernardo, would unilaterally decide endorsements himself. I thought it was too good to be to true and it was. One day before my endorsement interview, the Ulster County Independence Party was entirely dissolved by the state Independence committee because they were afraid Independence endorsements would be given out to candidates they did not have under their thumb due to Mr. Difalco's new and fair way of deciding endorsements. The state Independence committee undemocratically removed Joe Difalco from the position of chair and installed guess who? Len Bernardo. The questionnaire became irrelevant. My interview was cancelled. Three days later they endorsed my opponent without ever giving me a chance to explain who I am, where I come from, and what I'm all about. Imagine how it would make you feel if you wanted to help your community by running for local office, but your ideas and passion were never even given a chance by a political party who could decide the outcome of an election due to their misleading name. How is the Independence Party independent if they do not even interview both candidates? It's simple. The Independence Party is not independent. Frankly, I don't need the Independence endorsement to fight for the people of my hometown community. I am prepared to fight for the people of Shawangunk and Wawarsing without trading political favors for endorsements. For those independents who truly wish to exercise their vote independently, I can be found on social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, I will see you all soon on the campaign trail.
Andrew Zink, Candidate for
Ulster County's 14th Legislative District
A Bravo For Bill Lucas
It's no secret that the current president was narrowly elected by a fluke in the electoral college by voters baited by anger, hatred, resentment and racism. They chose for the highest office in the land a person eminently unqualified and totally disinterested in the welfare of the people he would govern.
But we're not supposed to say that.
According to Bob Prener in last week's Journal, a person unknown to me, we should ignore the malicious mendacity, the undermining of the constitution, and the defiling of our democracy that this inept buffoon advocates.
I say Bravo! to Bill Lucas, a man I know to possess honor and integrity, in his relentless efforts to reveal the perils this narcissistic autocrat presents.
Now is not the time to roll over and play dead.
Prener opines with little accuracy "most TV and print journalists lean left." Reactionaries and fascist leaders tend to blame the messenger instead of the source. Working in the fourth estate is a privilege, not a vendetta, and Prener, if he would like to continue to do so, should acknowledge deliberate attempts to distract and offend, and get his facts and sources straight.
We Need To Protect Our Elections
New York is not doing very well to protect elections. The paper ballots are never 100 percent hand-counted, except in Columbia County which does it by agreement of two commissioners. The 3 percent audit of machines after every election is inadequate to detect fraud or most breakdowns. If a discrepancy is found, both commissioners have to agree to move to the next step, a 10 percent count. As a practical matter, the commissioner whose party is winning will not agree to escalate. "Losing" candidates can sue for a recount which is expensive and subjects them to attack ("poor loser"). There have been three court challenges by "losing candidates" and in all cases the judges would not allow a full recount.
New York City escalates automatically if there is less than a .5% difference. In the rest of the state, a candidate can lose by one vote and there is no hand count.
Chain of custody of those memory cards and ballots is also weak. Depending on the county, there is always either no alarm systems in warehouses, no security cameras, or memory cards get transported by one party. Would a bank store ATMs like that? A five minute gap in chain of custody is enough to substitute a card which could corrupt the whole election when that card is inserted in the central tabulator. And without meaningful hand counts, that is the official result no matter how fishy it might look.
Scanners used in NY can be ordered with chips which allow them to connect wirelessly to outside sources, like someone with a cellphone standing in the parking lot. It is not known if any NY scanners have that "feature." Local commissioners are unlikely to know or recognize the addition of such a chip.
So... New York elections are in bad shape.
The solution is a 100 percent hand-count of paper ballots, perhaps using the scanners for a quick result on election night. Too bad we can't go back to levers.
In Defense of Project Cat
I am writing as in response to the article about Project Cat's request for a zoning variance in the Town of Rochester. I have been a NYS and federally licensed wild bird rehabilitator and educator for over ten years.
I respect Project Cats approach to unwanted or unowned cats that are outside. Before Gail Mihocko sets out live traps, at landowners request, she knocks on surrounding homeowner's doors to remind them when and where the trapping is occurring, and asking them to keep their pet cats inside at least for those few days. Cats caught in the live traps are checked for any identification (collar or chip) for ownership. Their heath and temperament are thoroughly examined, not for a few seconds, but for hours or days. Cats that have the potential to make friendly house cats are available for adoption...some having to wait a couple years or more for the right match. Cats that are seriously injured or ill, or too feral or dangerous to make indoor house pets, are humanely, and legally, euthanized, with the oversight and cooperation of an area veterinary hospital.
I do not support TNR (trap, neuter, release) as the "release" part still puts cats in a dangerous outside world where illnesses, shortened lives and often nasty accidental deaths, are often the outcome. AND where cats are free to continue to decimate wildlife and make adjoining properties their personal bathrooms and wildlife-killing playgrounds. Project Cat is the only alternative in this region for those who want to help outside cats, but not put them back into the wild.
Those who support TNR, or who think cats are part of the natural environment (they're NOT, they are a very destructive invasive species) should try this: Every place you use the word "cat," replace with "dog." Would you and your community be OK with dogs, owned or not, running free outside, anytime and anywhere? Showing up in your yard where your kids are playing? Peeing and defecating on your property? Reproducing and expanding the number of feral dogs? Bringing some of their wildlife kills back to your doorstep? Seeing the bodies of dogs killed on roads? Would you be in a panic if a free-roaming dog was diagnosed with rabies in your area? Would it be OK with you if "community dogs" were routinely TNR-ed? Caught, vaccinated, and returned to where they were caught? If this seems absurd to you, then why is it OK for pet cats to be outside, with no ID, and for feral cat communities to be supported, even when neighbors are begging for an end to it?
Since cats are experts at getting collars with ID tags off, those who love their "inside-outside" cats should do the responsible thing and have them chipped so they can be returned to their owners if caught in a live trap. Or... here's a crazy idea: keep your pet cats inside 24/7.
I believe that in the future letting cats roam outside will be as unacceptable as smoking in public places now is. Roll your eyes now, but this is a movement happening across the world right now. Go ahead, Google it.
I respectfully request that you grant Project Cat the zoning variance needed for the shelter to continue as is, where it is. I am so glad she's nearby, ready to help.
Dems Bad For The Environment, Too
While progressives understand that Trump is clearly pushing lethal policies of environmental devastation, strangely — and dangerously — many progressives fail to grasp the equally obvious reality that Cuomo — Democrat, Working Families Governor Cuomo — is currently devastating our region's environment and public health, is forcing toxicity and economic ruin on Hudson Valley residents, and, via just one fracked fuel power plant in our area, is increasing NYS greenhouse gas emissions by ten percent early next year. And oh yeah, his top aide coincidentally accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from this toxic fuel company's CEO. And that matter is under federal investigation. But it's no matter, as the project goes on anyway.
What project is this? CPV (Competitive Power Ventures) power plant, located, with its humongous tank of ammonia, right in the densely populated Middletown area, by ever-congested I-84.
And who else supports this unnecessary lethal project? Sean Patrick Maloney, James Skoufis. Are they Republicans? No, they are not. Like Cuomo, solid Dems all.
The "Wawayanda 6," members of an activist group working to stop this monstrosity, were convicted on June 7 of disorderly conduct while peacefully protesting, despite testimony from multiple A-list experts describing the great harm this plant will do to health, environment and climate in our tri-state area. In other words, to the general welfare of the people (and other species), which governments are Constitutionally mandated to protect. But, to the unholy alliance of Red and Blue plutocrat officials, no matter.
So get in touch with reality, people. The inconvenient truth is, like the Republicans, the Dems and the WFs are not our friends either. (Bernie is not a Dem; he tried to run with the Dems, and the Dems ran him over).
Actor James Cromwell, a local resident and one of the Wawayanda 6, stated that if the appeal is lost, he will go to jail rather than pay the $325 fine. Like myself, he is also a member of the Green Party. If you care about the planet, why aren't you?
Join us — Hudson Valley Green Party. We're online and on Facebook and dedicated to politics that really do support planet, peace and people.
Dylan Was Good, The Rest Not So...
I went to pay tribute to a legend that was a big part of my life, Bob Dylan. He was perfect and his band were truly remarkable musicians.
That being said, the experience getting to the brickyards, back and forth, was horrendous and poorly managed. We waited on lines for 40 minutes to be stuffed into buses for another 40-minute ride. Going back, we stood in the pouring rain, waiting for the buses. Where were the buses? To add insult to injury, we all thought we bought actual seats (our seat numbers were on our tickets), only to find out that our seat numbers (that we paid second buyer prices for) were thrown to the wind and every seat became first-come, first-served. This was plain wrong, and robbery. Many of us got cheated out of good seats that we paid higher prices for, and ended up sitting a mile away. Need I say more?
I note that someone named Bob Prener got space in last Thursday's Journal with his opinion of what represents "Hate" in the era of Trump. He cites my various Trump-related cartoons as representative of "vile, potentially inflammatory" spewing of "dissatisfaction and hate for President Trump."
Well he got me on one of his four accusations. I couldn't be more dissatisfied with Trump as a birther, candidate and now president and thankfully our free press (for as long as it lasts) allows me to satirically express my concerns about how unqualified Trump, who only cares about himself, is to be our president and how his blatant HATE of anyone who disagrees with him has dangerously shaped the political discourse in our country.
From the moment he announced his run for office to his hateful tweet of a female journalist just last week our thin-skinned, Ill-informed president has become a national and world-wide embarrassment for his actions and mind-boggling volume of obvious untruths.
I stand by the valid points of view and concerns expressed in my cartoons and if Mr. Prener truly has concerns about the increased hateful rhetoric in our country he needs to look no further than our proud hater-in-chief.