Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Congressional news updates: Fracking, candidate silence, and more proof that local Democrats strategy is to kill jobs

By Sam Foster

I'm back from a small Fourth of July break and sure enough, there is a lot of news buzzing about in NY's congressional elections.  Here is a taste of what is going on…

While Massa couldn't get enough fracking, upstate Dems are working hard to end fracking for everyone

I have yet to take an official position on hydro-fracking.  Not to be confused with Massa's favorite use of the term.  Hydro-fracking is used by the natural gas industry to drill and recover natural gas and is probably one of the seven deadly sins in the church of global warming.  However, I'm going to need to get schooled soon, because upstate Dems seen hell bent on making it a big issue in November.  

Mike Arcuri of NY's 24th congressional district has all but guaranteed that the issue will be front and center in his bid for reelection as he successfully introduced an amendment that repeals an EPA waiver on certain environmental impacts involved with fracking.

NY-29 candidate Matt Zeller has also come out against Hydro-fracking.  Maurice Hinchey has been at it too.  All the while NY legislature is considering a fracking ban.

Democrat concerns may be warranted, but Republican challengers in NYS ought to be prepared to talk fracking this November.  Democrats have made no secret that their election strategy will be to talk local issues and it seems that fracking and the Marcellus Shale might be their holy grail for local issues in the months to come.

Media silence is not golden for candidates Matt Zeller and Janice Volk

An emailor sent me a note last Friday commenting that democrat candidate Matt Zeller's website is fairly boilerplate to the national Democratic platform.  While Zeller's youth and political inexperience has benefits in the polls, in the end, people gravitate toward leadership and a website devoid of any personal opinions is not going to sell.  Silence is also not going to sell.

Last weekend, the Elmira Gazette featured local politician's views on the Kegan nomination.  One line said it all for Zeller and Republican hopeful Janice Volk:

We also reached out to republican candidate Janice Volk for a comment but were unable to get a response.

Democratic candidate Matthew Zeller has also yet to get back to us with his opinion.

Zeller has also avoided comment on March's health care vote.  However, Zeller cannot afford to remain unquoted on important issues in local newspapers, especially when local voters have little name recognition.  I myself have experienced a bout of the "Zeller silent treatment."  

Similarly, the failure of Janice Volk to take advantage of free press coverage is surprising.  To date, her only major quote in the local press has been about how "good people don't become collection's lawyers."  Somehow I doubt this is the quote she wants primary voters to remember her by, but her campaign needs to realize that static does not google well.

The entire NY congressional agenda summed up in a single opinion piece

Douglas Turner had an amazing opinion piece this weekend in the Buffalo News.  It's a lesson in how Democrats Dan Maffei, Kurstin Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer hope to send all business overseas by getting cozy with big labor.  This ought to be required reading for anyone living in the 25th Congressional district or NYS for that matter.

WASHINGTON — Six years ago, Sen. Charles E. Schumer urged company site selectors to take a fresh look at upstate New York. He said Buffalo and Rochester were among the best places in the country to build a factory.

What would those private sector decision- makers think now of the campaign that Schumer and the rest of the state's Democratic notables are making to muscle a national company into making a deal with its labor union?

The dispute — a knot in the state's shredding business climate — centers on a Motts apple juice factory in the hamlet of Williamson. It sidles up to Lake Ontario east of Rochester in apple country.

It's owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, a new conglomerate spun off from a British firm. It makes 7-Up and dozens of other non-cola drinks. The new owners told 300 stunned workers at the juice plant they would have to accept

harsh take-backs if they wanted a new contract. Union bargainers heard these include pension freezes, a wage cut, reduced company payments to 401(k)s, higher contributions for health insurance and other big sacrifices.

There was a day when even Democratic officials kept their mitts off a private labor dispute where there was no finding of unfair labor practices, and no violence.

But the Retail Wholesale&Department Store Union called in its chits with state Democrats early in the game. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reacted with an astonishing letter to Dr Pepper offices on his official stationery.

DiNapoli said he controls $33 million in Dr Pepper stock as trustee of the state employees' retirement fund. He warned the company against being seen as "anti-labor" and then said an unhappy work force might cut profitability and the value of the stock. It looked like a threat he might dump 938,000 shares if Dr Pepper didn't knuckle under.

DiNapoli's menacing letter reached Dr Pepper offices in Plano, Texas, six weeks before the union struck Motts on May 23.

After Motts hired temporary workers to keep the plant running, Schumer, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sean Coffey, the party's candidate for attorney general, all joined in. They urged Dr Pepper to "return to the bargaining table," which is code for softening their demands for take-backs. The letter from Schumer, influential on the Senate panel dealing with anti-trust, said it was in Dr Pepper's "best interest."

The letters from Schumer and others raised a myth that the region's economy would be hurt by the strike. The plant is still running. Apples are being bought and processed.

It is dumb for an outsider like me to take sides in a labor dispute, but this hasn't stopped Schumer, DiNapoli, Cuomo and Gillibrand from interfering, although none has any experience in any industry whatsoever.

Rep. Dan Maffei, D-Syracuse, heroically insists the dispute "is about working people in Wayne County versus corporate greed in Texas."

It may also be about whether the plant winds up shuttered. It is about whether Maffei and the others are kidding the locals into thinking they can hold back the eternal night of wage competition from China, where half the apple juice consumed in the United States is made.

"We have to protect our people," a Cuomo partisan said. Which people: the union members or the temps?

Hardly anyone's eyebrows are raised these days when the state's top Democrats seek to set wages and benefits in private companies. Which tells you about the upstate mind-set and where it leads. Here is where upstate is now with that world view: the worst business climate in the country; the slowest income growth except Michigan and Ohio; the nation's lowest population growth; and an average 8 percent manufacturing job loss in the Buffalo and Rochester areas.


Post a Comment