Archive for April, 2014

Not ready for prime time, part trois

Because my wife is a retired Broome County employee I have prescription drug insurance coverage through the county. Today I received a letter from the company administering the program informing me that on January 1, 2014 my prescription drug benefit would be transferred to Medicare Part D. That letter, dated April 16, assured me that I would receive a “welcome kit” before the change took effect. Need I say that I have seen no such kit? It only took the administration of Li’l Debbie Preston three and one half months after it took effect to inform county retirees of a change in their insurance coverage. I guess she was too busy posing for photo ops and her staff were tied up bullying country employees to see to this. As it happens, because of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, the county saves money and I get better prescription drug coverage. And we have seen yet again that the only problem with Obamacare is Republican incompetence or malfeasance—take your pick.

Not ready for prime time, part deux

In yesterday’s edition of the Press & Sun-Bulletin we learned that Bijoy Datta, chief henchman of our esteemed County Executive and Avon Lady, Li’l Debbie Preston, thought it appropriate to use his office to bully County employees into campaigning for his boss. Granted, those employees held appointed, i.e. patronage, positions. As such, they owed their jobs to the largess of Ms. Preston and stood to benefit from her being reelected so they ought probably to have volunteered to work on her campaign. But Mr. Datta’s intimating that doing so was a condition of employment was beyond the pale. Of course, we should not be surprised that Mr. Datta would do such a thing. After all, he is the local poster child for inappropriate behavior by a public official. He ran Ms. Preston’s campaign while on the County payroll and currently is Chair of the Broome Country Republican Party—while on the County payroll. It is time for the County Attorney, or perhaps the State Attorney General, to look into the stench wafting from the upper stories of the County office building.

Give him a break already

Yesterday evening Rich David, newly elected Republican mayor of the City of Binghamton, gave his state-of-the-city address laying out his priorities for the coming year. Among the challenges facing his administration is how to repair the widespread damage done to city streets by the unusually harsh winter within the city’s fiscal constraints. It is singularly unhelpful for City Council President, and losing mayoral candidate, Democrat Terri Rennia, to snipe at the mayor’s proposals, especially without offering any alternatives.  As a life-long Democrat, I am embarrassed by her reaction to his speech. The voters elected Mr. David and he deserves a chance to set a course for the City with the support of the council. There will be ample opportunity to call for course adjustments later if he is proven wrong.

Follow the Money

Not long ago the Joint Landowners Coalition of NY (JLCNY) filed suit against the State of New York to force the state to allow gas companies to drill into and hydraulically fracture the Marcellus Shale underlying much of the Southern Tier of the state. These landowners, of course, stand to make a lot of money on royalties paid them for “their” gas. A quick Internet search revealed that JLCNY has a total cash on hand of about $90,000 which, besides suggesting rather lukewarm  support of $1.28 from each of its claimed 70,000 members, is hardly enough to pay for such a law suit. So, who is bankrolling this attack on taxpayers of the state? The Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) is, pro bono according to JLCNY board member, spokesperson, and general nuisance, Victor Furman. And who, one might ask is MSLF? Not surprisingly it is a 501(c )( 3) non-profit organization created and supported by ultra-conservatives opposed to environmental protection. The founder was right wing extremist Joseph Coors of brewing fame who also co-founded the Heritage Foundation and other right wing “think” tanks.  The current Chairman of the Board is one John R. Gibson, whose chemical company, AMPAC has been cited for numerous infractions of environmental regulations.  A recent addition to the board of MSLF is Mark S. Sexton, CEO of Denver-based Inflection Energy LLC and of newly incorporated Inflection Energy (NY) LLC. If the name Inflection Energy sounds familiar, it is because the company, in 2010, offered to lease Broome County land for fracking at a price that just happened to equal that of the county’s budget shortfall. The County Council, having been informed of the somewhat shady backgrounds of Mr. Sexton and his associates turned down the deal. But it surely no coincidence that a deep-pocketed right-wing anti-environmental group of which Mr. Sexton is a director is bankrolling an attempt to force through the courts what the gas lobby has been unable to force on the people of NY through the democratic process.