Northern New York Newspapers
Watertown
Ogdensburg
Massena-Potsdam
Lowville
Carthage
Malone
NNY Business
NNY Living
NNY Ads
Fri., Jan. 30
SUBSCRIBE
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
23°F
Voices in the Crowd
By Daniel Flatley & Perry White
Times Staff Writer & City Editor
Email Daniel | Email Perry | About Daniel
ARCHIVE
Voices in the Crowd

Stefanik to visit north country Thursday, co-sponsors bill combating human trafficking

First published: January 28, 2015 at 5:14 pm
Last modified: January 28, 2015 at 9:56 pm

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, will be attending two events in the 21st Congressional District Thursday.

Ms. Stefanik will visit Clarkson University and SUNY Potsdam.

— DPF

■       ■       ■

Ms. Stefanik posed a question at the first meeting of the Armed Services Committee, according to Capitol Confidential.

The question was about acquisition chain of command, the story said.

Ms. Stefanik reportedly asked, “What steps are you currently taking to clarify both authorities and improving accountability of the decision-makers within and throughout the chain of command?”

Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall said there are accountability measures in place, including removal of ineffective people.

To read the story, visit: http://wdt.me/Yzcrov.

— DPF

■       ■       ■

Ms. Stefanik co-sponsored a bill aimed at combating human trafficking that was passed out of the House Tuesday along with a host of measures.

The bill is H.R. 350, “The Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention and Recovery Act of 2015.”

“Sadly, the horrific crime of human trafficking is far too prevalent in our society,” Ms. Stefanik said. “That’s why I was happy to support these common-sense proposals to help victims of trafficking as well as to help law enforcement go after the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Specifically, I was proud to see legislation I co-sponsored to help ensure that our nation’s law enforcement agencies and communities have the best information on how to prevent and deter these crimes pass unopposed by voice vote.”

— DPF

■       ■       ■

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, released the results of her 2015 legislative survey Wednesday.

According to the results, strong support for reforming Common Core, concerns regarding raising the minimum wage and support for making the state’s two percent property tax cap permanent are among the results, Sen. Ritchie’s office said.

To view the full results of the survey, visit: http://wdt.me/ritchiesurvey.

— DPF

VIEW ARTICLE PAGE GO TO COMMENTS

Intrigue in Albany: Speaker Silver reportedly losing support

First published: January 26, 2015 at 4:18 pm
Last modified: January 26, 2015 at 4:18 pm

The state Assembly is reportedly scheduled for a 5 p.m. session as word of a movement to oust Democratic majority Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, filters out of Albany.

“It’s really up in the air right now,” said Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River.

According to Capitol Confidential, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, told reporters that the power-sharing deal put forward by Mr. Silver was unworkable.

“We didn’t think it would function, we didn’t think it was workable at all,” Ms. Paulin said. “We weren’t sure how anybody would make decisions. We were concerned we would be thrown into a chaotic state and would not be able to get the Assembly agenda done.”

The New York Times reported Monday that Mr. Silver had arranged to step aside and delegate his duties and authority to five senior Assembly Democrats. Mr. Silver was charged with five county of corruption last week.

By midday, however, that arrangement seems have crumbled, as other prominent Assembly Democrats began voicing their dissent.

Assemblyman Keith Wright, a longtime Democratic legislator from Harlem, called for Mr. Silver’s resignation.

Mr. Blankenbush said he heard other rumors about a growing movement in the Democratic Conference to wrest power away from the embattled speaker.

State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, issued a statement earlier in the day calling for Mr. Silver to resign his position.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, who defended Mr. Silver last week, has not yet returned a request for comment.

Assembly Democrats were scheduled to enter conference at 4 p.m., according to Mr. Blankenbush.

— DPF

VIEW ARTICLE PAGE GO TO COMMENTS

Griffo: Silver needs to step down

First published: January 26, 2015 at 2:05 pm
Last modified: January 26, 2015 at 2:05 pm

State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, issued a statement Monday calling on embattled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to step down from his post while he defends himself against federal corruption charges.

The New York Times reported that Mr. Silver would temporarily delegate his duties as speaker to five senior Assembly Democrats. He was charged Thursday was five counts of corruption and using his political power to amass personal wealth.

“Sheldon Silver needs to step down from his post as Assembly speaker,” Sen. Griffo said. “This cockamamie idea where five people are going to take turns negotiating on behalf of their conference is going to severely undermine the effectiveness of the budget process. It’s too important to the people of New York that we deliver an on-time budget.”

Sen. Griffo was critical of the power-sharing idea, which he said was unworkable.

“This proposed power sharing is never going to work,” Sen. Griffo said. “Here’s why: In negotiations, compromises are inevitably made. It’s a give-and-take, in which one area of the budget sustains a cut so another can receive funding. How in the world are we going to make progress if five people need to negotiate among themselves before they can negotiate with the governor and the Senate?”

— DPF

VIEW ARTICLE PAGE GO TO COMMENTS

Stefanik to attend medical summit, plays role in abortion debate; of complaints and indictments, three men in a room and Joe Bruno; fight in north country over Silver support

First published: January 23, 2015 at 2:03 pm
Last modified: January 23, 2015 at 6:17 pm

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik is planning to attend a Medical Society of the State of New York event Saturday in Lake Placid.

According to Ms. Stefanik’s office, the event will be attended by “dozens of physicians” from New York and will focus on medicine and health care.

The event will be held from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 77 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid.

— DPF

■       ■       ■

Ms. Stefanik played a role in the debate over abortion in Congress this week, according to a story published by Hearst Newspapers Thursday.

The story, which was carried by the Albany Times Union, outlines Ms. Stefanik’s involvement in negotiations that took place over a bill — the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act — that was eventually scuttled after Republican women met with House GOP leadership Wednesday to register objections to the proposed legislation’s restrictive language.

Ms. Stefanik did vote for H.R. 7 — the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act — which would halt tax credits under the Affordable Care Act for insurance that includes abortion coverage even if individuals and businesses use their own money for the plans, according to Dan Freedman, Hearst Newspapers national editor.

The bill passed the House 242-179 with only one Republican, Richard Hanna, R-Utica, voting against it. President Barack Obama has said he would veto the bill.

In an emailed statement, Ms. Stefanik’s spokesman Tom Flanigan said Ms. Stefanik attended the Wednesday meeting while considering her position on the Pain Capable legislation, which House GOP leadership then decided to withdraw from the floor and replace with H.R. 7.

As he did when contacted by Mr. Freedman, Mr. Flanigan did not say whether Ms. Stefanik opposed the Pain Capable legislation.

“Congresswoman Stefanik voted in favor of this bipartisan legislation (No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act) that will codify the Hyde Amendment and protect American taxpayers from footing the bill for abortions,” Mr. Flanigan wrote. “Consistent with Congresswoman Stefanik’s position, the funding limitations do not apply to an abortion related to rape, incest, or protecting the life of the mother.”

— DPF

■       ■       ■

People everywhere are having fun with the fallout from the arrest of New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was charged Thursday with corruption in a five-count federal criminal complaint.

We pause here to note that, as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said during his press conference Thursday, there’s a difference between a criminal complaint and a criminal indictment.

“One’s a complaint and one’s an indictment,” Mr. Bharara said, unhelpfully, before revising his comments to include the following: “I’m sorry. A complaint is approved by a judge upon the affidavit of a law enforcement officer based on probable cause. An indictment is a document approved by a grand jury, a federal grand jury. And so when you proceed by complaint, that doesn’t negate the necessity of ultimately having to obtain an indictment if you go forward, so you can expect an indictment in the future.”

Also, let’s not forget the delightful idiom “three men in a room,” which has been used in several publications, including the Times, to describe the backroom dealings between the governor, the Assembly Speaker and the Senate majority leader.

Mr. Bharara, again in full dry-humored dudgeon, remarked yet again on this phenomenon at New York Law School Friday.

“Why three men? Can there be a woman? Do they always have to be white? How small is the room that they can only fit three men? Is it three men in a closet? Are there cigars? Can they have Cuban cigars now? After a while, doesn’t it get a little gamey in that room?” Mr. Bharara asked rhetorically, according to the New York Observer.

Speaking of three men in a room, former state Sen. Joseph L. Bruno, once the Republican Senate majority leader, took to the airwaves to talk about his experiences with the federal criminal justice system with New York Post columnist and radio host Frederick U. Dicker.

Mr. Bruno was accused of fraud and corruption before ultimately being cleared of all charges.

“Our system of federal justice is out of control,” Mr. Bruno said during the interview, asserting that most people indicted by a federal prosecutor either plead guilty or are convicted because they lack the resources to properly defend themselves.

Mr. Bruno argued for a full-time legislature during the interview.

“If people are corrupt at heart, if they don’t have integrity, they’re going to find a way,” Mr. Bruno said. “We should talk about the system itself... I want to talk about the system. What I’m saying to you and anyone who wants to hear it, part-time is open to conflict of interest.”

— DPF

■       ■       ■

Not to be outdone by the rhetorical flourishes employed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan and the forecasts of chaos in Albany following the Assembly speaker’s arrest, a mini-spat has broken out in the north country over support for Mr. Silver espoused by Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa.

Donald G. M. Coon III, the Jefferson County Republican Committee Chairman, and John L. Byrne III, Mrs. Russell’s one-time challenger, both issued strongly worded statements reacted to Mrs. Russell’s support of the embattled speaker.

Mrs. Russell fired back, calling the attacks “downright repulsive,” and leveling charges that the Republican Party sought to conceal Mr. Byrne’s arrest history and then dismiss it as a non-issue during the campaign.

Mr. Byrne has admitted to charges of aggravated harassment, which he said stemmed from a verbal dispute over boat storage in Manlius. He has also acknowleged several fines he incurred while he a bar owner in Oneonta.

Russell J. Finley, the Conservative Party candidate in the 116th Assembly District race, did not want to be left out of the action, and emailed the following statement, slamming both Mrs. Russell and Mr. Byrne:

“The parties never want to admit they are wrong and everyone is afraid of bucking the status quo. It is no different at the Federal level no one wanted Boehner, but he is back in. Also locally the Republican Party continued to support Byrne even though it was proven that his plastic business didn’t exist, his camp ground was belly up, and he had a criminal record. As disgusting as I and everyone else finds it that people like Silver continue to be in power, it should not be surprising that the parties continue to support them. It won’t change until people start looking at the person not the party. The object is supposed to be to get BETTER people, not DIFFERENT people that are the same as what we already have,” Mr. Finley wrote, in part.

— DPF

n n n

A miscellany of things that would otherwise not appear:

State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, was appointed Thursday as chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

Mrs. Russell has announced a strategy to win all $1.5 billion in economic development funds that would otherwise be distributed through a competitive process by partnering with neighboring regional economic development councils to support cross regional projects that focus on increasing exports, according to her office.

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, has been reappointed chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and has also been named to the Finance and Transportation Committees.

— DPF

VIEW ARTICLE PAGE GO TO COMMENTS

Rep. Stefanik to attend education-related meetings Friday in eastern part of NY21

First published: January 22, 2015 at 11:29 am
Last modified: January 22, 2015 at 11:29 am

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, will be attending several education-related meetings and events Friday in the eastern portion of the 21st Congressional District.

Ms. Stefanik is a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Here is a schedule of the events:

9-10 a.m.: Tour of Clean Technologies Early College High School Campus, 345 Hermes Road, Malta

10-11 a.m.: Superintendent Round Table — Ballston Spa CSD, HVCC’s TEC-SMART Building, 345 Hermes Road, Malta

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Lunch Discussion/Q&A with Student Council and IB U.S. History students, Ballston Spa High School, 220 Ballston Ave., Ballston Spa

12:45-1:30 p.m.: Read to Kindergarten Class at Gordon Creek Elementary School, 50 Wood Road, Ballston Spa

2:15-3:15 p.m.: Meeting with New York State United Teachers, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham

— DPF

VIEW ARTICLE PAGE GO TO COMMENTS

Sen. Gillibrand to push campus sexual assault reforms ahead of State of the Union

First published: January 20, 2015 at 12:30 am
Last modified: January 20, 2015 at 12:08 am

U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand is expected to push President Barack Obama and Congress to enact reforms aimed at restructuring how college campuses deal with rape and sexual assault ahead of the State of the Union address tonight.

The legislation, called the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, would create incentives for colleges and universities to report rape and sexual assault incidents, establish better support systems for survivors and hold offenders responsible, according to Sen. Gillibrand’s office.

The legislation was introduced in the last Congress by Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Dean Heller, R-Nev.; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla. It will be reintroduced this Congress, Sen. Gillibrand’s office said.

By way of promoting the reforms, Sen. Gillibrand has invited Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University student and sexual assault survivor, to be her guest at the State of the Union address.

Ms. Sulkowicz has called attention to the plight of sexual assault survivors and what many view as the inadequate response from school administration by carrying her mattress around campus with her to classes and other activities.

Sen. Gillibrand will hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. today before the State of the Union address, during which President Obama is expected to talk more about plans to reduce the cost of higher education for Americans.

— DPF

■       ■       ■

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik has invited two Carthage Central High School seniors, Mary E. and Frances K. McCurry, to be her guests at the State of the Union address.

The two women are twin sisters and are planning to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point upon graduation.

For more, see the story on page A1.

— DPF

VIEW ARTICLE PAGE GO TO COMMENTS

Rep. Stefanik to participate in MLK Day March in Glens Falls; Sen. Ritchie solicits more survey respondents

First published: January 16, 2015 at 12:15 am
Last modified: January 16, 2015 at 12:23 am

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik will be in the north country this weekend to participate in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march.

The event will be held from 2:45 to 4 p.m. Sunday in Glens Falls. Martin Luther King Day is Monday.

— DPF

■       ■       ■

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said this week that more than 3,000 people took part in a legislative survey promoted by her office.

Respondents were from Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties, according to Sen. Ritchie’s office.

The survey is available online at www.ritchie.nysenate.gov and covers topics such as education, government spending, college tuition, economic development and agriculture, Sen. Ritchie’s office said.

“Now that the 2015 Legislative session is underway, it’s imperative that I hear from those I represent about the issues that matter to them,” Sen. Ritchie said.

“The results gathered through my legislative survey will help to guide me as I work to represent the interests of the people of Central and Northern New York. I’m hopeful that in the coming days, those who haven’t yet weighed in will take the time to do so.”

Those who cannot take the survey online are invited to call Sen. Ritchie’s Watertown office at 782-3418.

— DPF

VIEW ARTICLE PAGE GO TO COMMENTS

Stefanik votes with GOP on appropriations bill that takes aim at President Obama’s immigration policies

First published: January 14, 2015 at 5:19 pm
Last modified: January 15, 2015 at 10:29 am

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, voted Wednesday for a GOP-backed measure that would fund the Department of Homeland Security through September while taking aim at President Barack Obama’s controversial immigration policies.

The 2015 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act passed the Republican House with a vote of 236-191 but faces significant challenges in the Senate and from a presidential veto.

Republicans framed the bill as a referendum on Mr. Obama’s moves to use executive authority to enact those policies.

“This legislation provides critical funding for DHS while blocking funding for the President’s unilateral actions on immigration, which constitute significant executive overreach,” Ms. Stefanik said. “To be clear, we must fix our broken immigration system. I look forward to pursuing real, substantive immigration reforms legislatively and on a bipartisan basis that will help our local economy grow, promote commerce along our Northern border, and reform our agricultural workers’ program to provide certainty for our farmers.”

Several Republicans, including John Katko, R-Camillus, voted against an amendment to the act that would end the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals Program. Other New York Republicans also voted against the amendment, including Reps. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, and Richard Hanna, R-Utica.

Ms. Stefanik voted for the amendment along with four other New York Republicans, including Reps. Chris Collins, R-Clarence; Tom Reed, R-Corning; and Lee Zeldin, R-Shirley.

The legislation was written by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee. A full list of votes can be found at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll030.xml

— DPF

VIEW ARTICLE PAGE GO TO COMMENTS

Stefanik votes for Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act

First published: January 13, 2015 at 2:19 pm
Last modified: January 13, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, voted in support of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act, H.R. 203, legislation named for a former Marine and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Hunt committed suicide in 2011 after struggling with post-traumatic stress and difficulties securing help from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The bill would implement a host of programs at the VA, requiring the secretary of the VA to arrange for an annual third-party evaluation and institute a three-year pilot program to recruit more psychiatrists to the VA by offering student loan repayments, among other initiatives.

Ms. Stefanik released the following statement following the passage of the legislation by the U.S. House:

“This important bipartisan legislation will help provide resources to combat the tragedy of our nation’s veterans committing suicide while waiting for the care they need. This legislation is named for an individual who heroically served his nation in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as so many of our brave soldiers at Fort Drum have done. Our veterans deserve the best care we can give them, and I was proud to support this important legislation.”

The bill now heads to the Senate.

— DPF

n n n

Rep. Stefanik announced Monday she will be releasing a weekly e-newsletter to her north country constituents.

“As part of my commitment to transparency, I want to share each week with my constituents what I have been working on in Congress,” Ms. Stefanik said in a news release. “I want my constituents to stay informed with the issues we are working on in Washington, and I want them to have an easy, accessible and digital way to share their opinions with me.”

Those interested can sign up to receive the newsletter at Ms. Stefanik’s official website: stefanik.house.gov.

— DPF

n n n

Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, has been reappointed the ranking Republican member of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture.

“It is an honor to serve as the ranking Republican of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, where I am able to fight on the behalf of family farmers,” Mr. Blankenbush said in a news release. “In the North Country and the Mohawk Valley, family farms are an integral part of our region’s economy, and agriculture plays an important role in making our state’s economy healthy and diverse. This is why it is so important to fight for better state policies and investment to support this important industry.”

Mr. Blankenbush will also serve on the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, Insurance and Tourism committees, the release said.

— DPF

n n n

State Sens. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, issued news releases Monday afternoon applauding the passage of eight women’s equality measures in the Senate.

The measures, which include bills on equal pay, combating sexual harassment, removing barriers to remedy discrimination, stopping discrimination based on family status, preventing housing discrimination against victims of domestic violence, allowing electronic filing for orders of protection, human trafficking and stopping pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, were passed unanimously.

The package was missing a controversial measure that would alter abortion laws and codify Roe v. Wade into state law. Democrats in the Assembly are unlikely to pass the package of measures without this provision.

— DPF

VIEW ARTICLE PAGE GO TO COMMENTS

Rep. Stefanik to publish weekly e-newsletter

First published: January 13, 2015 at 9:27 am
Last modified: January 13, 2015 at 9:27 am

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik announced Monday she will be releasing a weekly e-newsletter to her north country constituents.

“As part of my commitment to transparency, I want to share each week with my constituents what I have been working on in Congress,” Ms. Stefanik said in a news release. “I want my constituents to stay informed with the issues we are working on in Washington, and I want them to have an easy, accessible and digital way to share their opinions with me.”

Those interested can sign up to receive the newsletter at Ms. Stefanik’s official website: stefanik.house.gov.

— DPF

n n n

Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, has been re-appointed the ranking Republican member of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture.

“It is an honor to serve as the ranking Republican of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, where I am able to fight on the behalf of family farmers,” Mr. Blankenbush said in a news release. “In the North Country and the Mohawk Valley, family farms are an integral part of our region’s economy, and agriculture plays an important role in making our state’s economy healthy and diverse. This is why it is so important to fight for better state policies and investment to support this important industry.”

Mr. Blankenbush will also serve on the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, Insurance and Tourism committees, the release said.

— DPF

n n n

State Senators Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, issued news releases Monday afternoon applauding the passage of eight women’s equality measures in the Senate.

The measures, which include bills on equal pay, combating sexual harassment, removing barriers to remedy discrimination, stopping discrimination based on family status, preventing housing discrimination against victims of domestic violence, allowing electronic filing for orders of protection, human trafficking and stopping pregnancy discrimination in the workplace were passed unanimously.

The package was missing a controversial measure that would alter abortion laws and codify Roe v. Wade into state law. Democrats in the Assembly are unlikely to pass the package of measures without this provision.

— DPF

VIEW ARTICLE PAGE GO TO COMMENTS
Giveaway
Syracuse Football Tickets Giveaway
Connect with Us
OGD on FacebookOGD on Twitter
Thursday 's Covers