Posts Tagged ‘Nan Hayworth’

A Bad Week in Chelm and Other Stories

Friday, June 20th, 2014

 By Michael Kaufman

To the surprise of no one other than the Elders of Chelm (aka County Executive Steve Neuhaus and his cronies) in Goshen, state Supreme Court Justice Elaine Slobod has invalidated the Orange County Legislature’s 12-9 vote to sell the Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation to a private, for-profit company. Apparently they thought Judge Slobod would go along with their decree that in Orange County if you need 14 votes to authorize a transaction and you get only 12, it’s haukay! And they may not be done embarrassing themselves yet:  “We respectfully but strongly disagree with today’s ruling,” said county spokesman Dain (Shmendrik Numskull) Pascocello, who said the county plans to appeal.

It wasn’t a good week all around for the Elders, who learned that another of their foolhardy schemes—the multimillion dollar plan to renovate the Government Center in Goshen—was also in the toilet. The plan had been a compromise of sorts that pleased neither those who wish to preserve the 44-year-old  complex designed by visionary architect Paul Rudolph and those who hate it because they think it looks funny and want to tear it down altogether and put an entirely new building in its place. (The latter would cost a great deal more money so it is ironic that it has been the preferred choice of the same people who have been pushing so hard to sell Valley View supposedly to save taxpayers money.)

So a committee headed by legislator Leigh (Treitel Fool) Benton adopted a plan that involved demolishing part of the structure and replacing the outside walls while leaving the rest of things intact. The Elders went ahead with the plan even after it was revealed that Benton had agreed to take a job with Clark Patterson Lee, the firm that was awarded the contract designs. The investigation that followed determined that Benton had committed no crime and that there was nothing in the legislature’s code of ethics to prohibit this sort of sleazy behavior—but that there should be. Benton took this to mean that he should stay in office and merely recuse himself from voting on future matters pertaining to the project.  This leads to two questions: Why didn’t the other legislators ask him to resign? And why wasn’t the renovation plan he pushed through as committee chair revisited and subjected to closer scrutiny?

Had they done so they might have been spared the embarrassing spectacle that took place last week: Phil Clark, CEO of Clark Patterson Lee, reported that the federal Historic Preservation Office and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have both objected to the renovation plan, especially FEMA. Millions of dollars of federal money that would have been forthcoming to restore the storm-damaged building to its original state may not be coming at all. This leads to two questions for Phil Clark: How could you not know that the structure had landmark preservation status? And did you think Michael (“Heck of a job, Brownie”) was still running the show at FEMA?

Meanwhile, an architect named Gene Kaufman (the “other” Gene Kaufman, not my brother Gene) has offered to buy the government building, restore it to Rudolph’s specifications, and rent out space for artists’ studios. (You can’t make these things up.)

And if you thought things couldn’t get any zanier in our neck of the woods, think again. On Tuesday voters in Kiryas Joel may determine who will be representing the 18th Congressional District after Election Day in November. The district, which encompasses all of Orange and Putnam counties and parts of Westchester and Dutchess, is currently represented by Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney. Maloney and his predecessor, Republican Nan Hayworth, have both filed petitions to run on the Independence Party line in November. This has forced a primary (the sole Independence Party primary in the state) that will take place Tuesday. That leaves little time for such things as publicity, campaigning, voter registration, and such. But those are of little consequence to these two short-on-principle opportunists. (Question for Hayworth: Will you support the Independence Party candidates for statewide office:  Governor Andrew Cuomo and his running mate, Kathy Hochul, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman?)

Chris McKenna, who covers the Kiryas Joel beat for the Times Herald-Record reported in a blog posted Thursday, June 19, that the Independence Party now has some 1,000 registrants in KJ. “High turnout in bloc-voting Kiryas Joel could almost certainly swing a close primary,” notes McKenna. “The question is which candidate the village’s two blocs will support, which may not be known until voting instructions are distributed next week. The larger bloc representing Kiryas Joel’s majority faction backed Hayworth in 2012, while the smaller one supported Maloney.” (As I said, you can’t make these things up.)

Last but not least, the ongoing casino juggernaut continued this week with more bad news for Sullivan County: Foxwoods has withdrawn its bid to build on the old Grossinger’s property (citing the likelihood that a casino will be awarded to one of the Orange County contenders). That leaves only two bids in Sullivan, located on different parts of the old Concord property. Local officials all over Orange County are acting as if a casino in their midst will be the goose that lays golden eggs. They would do well to do a couple of Google searches that include the words “layoffs,” “Foxwoods,” “Mohegan Sun,” and “Connecticut.”

Concerned Citizens Against the Tuxedo Casino report that of the 262 letters received by Rost after he requested public opinion, 174 were opposed and 88 were in favor, a 2:1 ratio. The group has been active in Tuxedo and invites residents of Warwick, Greenwood Lake, and other neighboring communities to join with them. A website is in the works but in the meantime you can reach them at stop.sterling.forest.casino@gmail.com.

Next week: Excerpts from a letter sent by James Hall, director of the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission, to Town of Tuxedo Supervisor Mike Rost, detailing his concerns over Malaysian-based casino behemoth Genting’s plans for a casino in Sterling Forest.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.      

  

Mail from AARP Misses the Mark

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

By Michael Kaufman

My mailboxes, traditional and electronic,  have been filled to the brim lately with communications from the AARP. I keep hoping they will contain information about how the organization is fighting tooth and nail to preserve Social Security and Medicare as we know it, for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. I look for information that exposes the lies suggesting these great social programs are on the brink of insolvency and must be “privatized” and/or replaced by “voucher” plans that will provide reduced, inadequate coverage. Of course, folks will have the “option” of purchasing additional coverage in the “free marketplace” (as Mitt likes to call it) but those who can’t afford it will be left to fend for themselves.

People will die if this happens but when Alan Grayson tried to point this out when he was in Congress the people who made up the story that “death panels” were included in the Affordable Care Act attacked him for being an extremist.  Now they are talking about moving up the “retirement age” to 70 when there is little or no opportunity for seniors to obtain good jobs as it is now. So what does the AARP have to say about all this?

Well, there was the recent issue of the magazine with pictures of Mitt and Anne Romney on the cover and a folksy interview inside. There was the email from AARP Member Offers suggesting that I “race home with $100 cash back bonus from the AARP Visa card from Chase.” Another email announced, “Michael, You Could Win a $5,000 Dream Spa Vacation for Two!” Another blared, “Michael, Last Chance! Win $50,000 for Your Retirement.”

The main headline in the August 17 edition of the AARP Webletter said, “Slideshow: Marilyn Monroe’s Life in Photos.” I saw enough photos of poor Marilyn when she was alive, thanks. She would be about 86 now. I didn’t look at the slideshow but the headline made me want to see “The Misfits” again. 

A Jo Ann Jenkins from the AARP Foundation sent an email urging, “Michael, Get our 2013 calendar before it’s gone!” She said I could “reserve” my copy by making a tax-deductible donation to the AARP Foundation. And every other day (or so it seems) an envelope arrives bearing the AARP logo and containing offers for all kinds of insurance policies. All are from big-name insurance companies that pay the AARP royalties for its endorsement and use of the AARP logo.

Lately I’ve also been getting envelopes and emails reminding me to renew my membership in the AARP, something I have routinely done for the past 10 years, but which I am now reconsidering. I wouldn’t mind all the fluff they send if it was accompanied by at least some sense of urgency regarding the current state of affairs.

We are weeks away from a national presidential election that will be decided between candidates from two major political parties. Neither is any bargain when it comes to representing the interests of ordinary people versus corporate donors and lobbyists. But one has declared war on all social programs affecting seniors (along with the war on women’s health rights, public employees, Head Start, immigrants, trade unions, the environment and the voting rights of African Americans….to name a few). Yet the AARP refuses to make an endorsement.

Last week I got a letter from Michael Olender, associate director of the AARP in New York State, announcing an AARP-sponsored forum on Medicare fraud to be held Thursday, September 27, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, 142 Stage Road. Experts from AARP and various agencies “on the frontlines of fighting Medicare fraud” will explain “the basics about Medicare fraud including how it is committed, how to spot it, and what to do if you think you recognize it.” Refreshments will be served. Admission is free but reservations are required by calling 877-926-8300.

I am thinking about attending if only to remind them that if Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Nan Hayworth have their way, there will be no Medicare fraud to fight against….because there will be no Medicare.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.
 

 

The Joys of Retroactivity

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

Ed Gillespie is one of those Republican “strategists” – the Democrats have them, too – who seem to materialize in presidential election years and who are interviewed by TV and print reporters so they can spin issues in favor of their candidates.

They’re also called upon to clean up the mess their candidates occasionally create. Such was Gillespie’s appearance recently in The Further Adventures of Mitt Romney and l’Affaire Bain.

At its core, the issue is this: Romney says he left Bain Capital early in 1999, but government documents filed by Bain in 2002 have him listed as president, CEO, and chairman. How could this be?

Actually, Gillespie said with a straight face, Romney retired “retroactively” from Bain. Neat trick, and you’re left wondering how someone could utter those words without snickering. Gillespie is good; he doesn’t snicker when he says things like that. But you could not be blamed if your first thought after hearing Gillespie’s line is of the famous politician who, when asked a certain question before the grand jury, said: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Would that I could do things retroactively. I could enter high school retroactively and pay attention in class retroactively, read my assignments retroactively, make a decent average for myself retroactively and head off to Princeton retroactively. It, uh, didn’t happen that way.

Retroactively I could be a kinder person. But I and 300 million Americans understand this. Mitt Romney does not.

Here are some people who would benefit from retroactivity:

–The governor of Maine, Paul LePage, could go back several weeks and choose not to compare the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo. (This is the same Governor LePage – no relation – who once described the NAACP as a “special interest group” that could “kiss [his] butt” if it objected to his refusal to attend the organization’s state convention.)

“Do you have a sense of what the Gestapo did during World War II?” a reporter from Politico asked LePage.

“Yeah, they killed a lot of people.”

“And the IRS is headed in that direction?”

“Yeah,” LePage said.

“Are you serious?”

“I’m very serious,” LePage said. Later he said, “I’m saying the federal government is taking away the freedom of Americans to make choices.”

Later the governor issued one of those completely meaningless conditional apologies. You know what I mean. “I apologize to Jewish Americans if they feel offended,” LePage said.

“If” they feel offended. For LePage, it’s an unanswered question.

LePage should have met my Uncle Harry, who spent several years in a Nazi forced labor camp in the Pyrenees. With Harry, there was no “if.”

–Nan Hayworth could retroactively rethink her idiotic postcard on which she thanks me for having participated in her telephone town hall. The fact is I wasn’t there.

She could take a minute to understand the silliness of her salutation – “Dear Neighbor” – since we are not neighbors. Not only do we live in separate towns, but in separate counties that are divided by the Hudson.

Note to Mitt: You can’t retroactively retire just as you can’t retroactively kill your Massachusetts health care system on which the Obama plan is based. You supported it as governor. Do you think anyone is going to buy the line that you retroactively think it’s a bad plan?

Or will people recognize your retroactive this-and-that for what it is: Another example of your saying anything – anything – to get elected.

jeffrey@zestoforange.com

A Question for Hayworth & Maloney

Friday, July 6th, 2012

By Michael Kaufman

Over the next few months voters in the 19th Congressional District will be bombarded by campaign materials and robot phone calls boosting two well-funded candidates, Republican incumbent Nan Hayworth and her Democratic challenger Sean Patrick Maloney. Maloney recently moved into the district from New York City to make the run and was endorsed by Bill Clinton, for whom he used to work as an aide.

In slickly produced campaign mailings Maloney trumpeted words of praise from The New York Times, implying to voters in last month’s Democratic primary election that he had been endorsed by that newspaper. In reality there was more criticism than praise within the quoted editorial, which ended with an endorsement of one of his opponents, Richard Becker, who had the backing of many local progressives—but was hopelessly outspent in this era of elections a la Citizens United.

In conceding defeat in the primary Becker said he was disappointed but he endorsed Maloney and stressed the importance of defeating Hayworth, whom he cast as supporting the “Tea Party agenda.” For her part, Hayworth has been trying to distance herself from the Tea Party extremists in Congress, with whom she was swept into office in 2010. To hear her and her supporters, such as Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton tell it, she is a true friend of local farmers who suffered severe damage from recent storms—despite her initial reaction that government assistance should be withheld until the money could be found by cutting the budget from another federal program.

She recently proposed relief for area commuters (but only if the funds come from the Affordable Care Act budget, also known as “Obamacare,” which she has pledged to repeal if re-elected).  But perhaps even more egregious is her stance on Social Security, in which she depicts herself as a fighter for seniors, even as she is committed to denying benefits to the next generation of seniors. Hayworth has been an unapologetic supporter of the budget proposed by Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, which would slash funding for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other government “safety net” programs—at  a time when they are needed most by millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.  Or, as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders told his colleagues in a recent speech, “when the wealthy people in this country are becoming wealthier, the middle class is disappearing and poverty is increasing.” Now, he said, “when we talk about an oligarchic form of government, what we’re talking about is not just a handful of families owning entire nations. We’re also talking about the politics of the nation.”

Sanders could not have made it any clearer: “When you hear folks talking about Social Security reform, hold on to your wallets because they are talking about cuts in Social Security,” said the Vermont independent.  “Nothing more, nothing less.” The latest gambit, he said is a concept called chained consumer price index (CPI).

“The so-called chained CPI is the belief…that cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security are too high,” he explained. Seniors in his home state are incredulous when they hear this, he observed, which also may be said of seniors across the country, with the possible exception of Alan Simpson, millionaire Republican ex-Senator from Wyoming, who recently used terms like “greediest generation” and “geezers” to refer to Social Security recipients.

“Seniors back home start scratching their heads” when they hear about the chained CPI, said Sanders. “They say, ‘Wait, we just went through two years when my prescription drug costs went up, my health care costs went up and I got no COLA—and there are people in Washington, Republicans, some Democrats—they say my COLA was too high?’ What world are these people living in?”

In plain language Sanders told his colleagues that imposition of chained CPI “would mean that between the ages of 65 and 75, a senior would lose about $560 a year, and then when they turn 85 and they’re trying to get by off of $13,000 or $14,000 a year, they would lose about a thousand bucks a year. That’s what some of our colleagues want to do. Virtually all the Republicans want to do it. Some Democrats want to do it as well. As chairman of the defending Social Security caucus, I’m going to do everything that I can to prevent that.”

Seniors in the 19th district should know where the two candidates for Congress stand on this issue. Will Maloney if elected be aligned with Bernie Sanders and other progressives in the Senate and House who oppose all attempts to end Social Security as we know it, or will he be among the “some Democrats” who support drastic “reforms” such as chained CPI? And how will Hayworth answer when asked if she supports the imposition of chained CPI on the current generation of seniors? Their responses could influence the outcome of the election. The likely winner, however, will be the one who spends the most.

As  Sanders put it, “What the Supreme Court has said to the wealthiest people in this country is, okay, you own almost all the wealth of this nation — that’s great — now we’re going to give you an opportunity to own the political life of this nation. And if you’re getting bored by just owning coal companies and casinos and manufacturing plants, you now have the opportunity to own the United States government. So we have people like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson. The Koch Brothers are worth $50 billion…and  they have said they’re prepared to put $400 million into this campaign to defeat Obama, to defeat candidates who are representing working families.

“You have the six largest financial institutions in this country that have assets equivalent to two-thirds of the GDP of America–over $9 trillion. These six financial institutions write half the mortgages, two-thirds of the credit cards in America. They have a huge impact on the economy. That’s not enough for these guys. The top one percent owns half of the wealth:  Not enough for these guys. Now they have the opportunity to buy the United States government. So that’s where we are.”

Sanders concluded with a plea that fell on many deaf ears in the Senate chambers but which surely resonate among many Americans: “What we have got to do is start listening to the needs of working families, the vast majority of our people, and not just the people who make campaign contributions. And I know that’s a very radical idea. But, you know, it might be a good idea to try a little bit to reaffirm the faith of the American people in their democratic form of government. Let them know just a little bit that maybe we are hearing their pain, their unemployment, their debt….the fact that they don’t have any health care; the fact they can’t afford to send their kids to college. Maybe, just maybe, we might want to listen to them before we go running out to another fund-raising event with millionaires and billionaires.”

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.

 

 

 

 

Heckuva a Good Job, Nan

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

 By Michael Kaufman

Rep. Nan Hayworth has been making the rounds lately, touring local areas ravaged by the recent storms and proclaiming her commitment to fight for the funding needed to repair the damage. This is a shameless exhibition of damage control on her part. Hayworth is still feeling the heat from remarks she made in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irene, wherein she cast her lot with Eric Cantor and other leading Republicans in Congress, who said aid would only be forthcoming if funds were cut elsewhere in the federal budget to make up for it. 

When her comments caused the uproar they merited among her constituents, Hayworth quickly backtracked. Rather than apologize or admit she was wrong, however, she claimed her remarks had been “misinterpreted.” Since then her few remaining local admirers, including Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, have rallied to her defense, blaming the media for distorting her position. 

The reality is that Hayworth, like most of her fellow members of Congress, are out of touch with the problems faced by growing numbers of their constituents. Rising health care costs do not affect them. They have good-paying jobs and benefits that any trade union in the private or public sector would give their eye teeth to get for its members.  They have enough money to pay the rent (often for multiple cushy dwellings), buy food, pay for medicine, dine in expensive restaurants, take nice vacations, etc. 

Alas, Hayworth and other Congress members are not the only ones who are out of touch. The October issue of the AARP Bulletin shows just how far that organization has lost touch with the seniors it supposedly represents, many of whom are now living in dire straits. A full-page editorial titled, “Small Steps, Big Dividends,” urges seniors to do their part to help “trim the deficit” by taking these five steps:

  1. Cut 150 calories a day from your diet. “Start by eating less,” writes editor Jim Toedtman. “The national eating binge has consequences, starting with diabetes.” Evidently, Toedtman is unaware that many seniors are already eating less because they don’t have enough money to buy food.
  2. Pay your debts. Can’t argue with him there. But it sort of goes without saying that if you don’t have enough money to buy food you might not be in such a great position to pay your debts right now, either.
  3. Walk a mile a day. “Or walk, or swim, or try any aerobic exercise that burns calories and strengthens the heart.” This will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and save a lot of money in health care costs. Of course, this is a wonderful idea for anyone healthy enough to do it. Toedtman forgot to add that before you start on any exercise program you should consult with your doctor. This is especially true for seniors, who are at higher risk of dropping dead from the exercise if they aren’t in tip-top shape. And someone has to pay for that doctor visit.
  4. Plan to work an extra year or two. Words almost fail me on this one.  It is hard enough for young people to find jobs nowadays. Ask any of the recent college graduates you know. Where are the jobs for seniors? And by the way, this is something that needs to be taken into account when people start talking about increasing the age of eligibility to collect Social Security benefits. Yes, people are living longer—but employers aren’t hiring older workers. Unless that changes, raising the age limit will simply create more poor old folks.
  5. Give Uncle Sam a gift. “Others do,” says Toedtman.  “Here’s the point. Everyone has a stake in this fiscal challenge, and the longer we ignore it, the greater the cataclysm awaiting us.  This is not just a Washington problem. It requires a combination of common sense and forceful action. Citizens can lead the way.” 

But for many seniors and other Americans the cataclysm has already arrived. And citizens are, in fact, leading the way at Occupy Wall Street and similar activities across the country. I wouldn’t expect Nan Hayworth to be there. But AARP should be.  

Michael can be reached at Michael@zestoforange.com.