Archive for October, 2016

Hmmm….

Ok, I am not much for conspiracy theories but how is this for one: Congressional Republicans passed a resolution requiring the FBI to publicly inform them if any more Clinton emails were uncovered. Then, magically, eleven days before the election, the team looking into sexting allegations against Anthony Weiner discover emails to or from Clinton on the phone of her aide who is Weiner’s estranged wife. Lifelong Republican and Romney campaign contributor FBI Director Comey is required by the aforementioned resolution to notify Congress. Shit storm ensues over, basically, nothing. Trumpsters break into their happy dance and grope every woman in reach. A shudder circles the globe at the prospect of a Trump victory. Maybe this is all a coincidence. Then again, maybe not.

Broome County jail privatization?

Almost exactly a year ago, I commented in a post on this blog that the selection of Aramark to run the Broome County Central Kitchen did not smell right. Aramark’s bid, the only one received by the County, seemed unrealistically low. And the fact that Aramark’s biggest competitor, Sodexo, did not bid despite having a very strong presence in the area as the provider of food services to Binghamton University suggests that they judged the competition to be unwinnable. It should be noted that Aramark has a long history of being implicated in bid rigging.

In that post I suggested that Aramark’s real target was the Broome County jail. A couple year ago the company obtained a lucrative contract to run the Orange County jail after making generous contributions to that county’s sheriff’s campaigns. Evidently their largess has been extended to the Broome County Executive’s campaign as well. An observant reader sent me the page below listing contributions to Debbie Preston’s war chest. I pass it on without further comment.

debbie aramark

A correction and apology

A couple of days ago I chided District Attorney Stephen Cornwell for recusing himself from the Debbie Preston credit case abuse case. I have been informed that he did so after being ordered to by a judge in response to a filing by Ms. Preston’s attorney. I apologize to Mr. Cornwell for mistakenly mischaracterizing his actions.

The times they are a-changin’

The Nobel committee broke with tradition this year by selecting of Bob Dylan for this year’s literature prize. The uproar from the right is a silly as it is predictable.  Dylan is the poet of my generation, the Baby Boomers. He captured our dreams, our fears, our youthful idealism, and our ultimate disillusionment. The fact that he sang his poems, often interspersed with harmonica and guitar, does not make them less serious or less affecting. With this award, committee not only acknowledged the influence of electronic media on art but also paid homage to the centuries of oral tradition that birthed literature in the first place. It was a good choice.

Copyright: it’s the law

Thank you for reading my blog. I really appreciate your patronage. However, I must remind my readers that what I post here is subject to copyright. The rules are simple: you may, and I encourage you to, share the URL of any of my posts but you may not copy and paste any content from this blog and present it as your own in any forum whatsoever including Facebook. Please contact me for copyright clearance if you wish to use anything I have written here.

Leadership, Preston style

In her piece in the Press & Sun-Bulletin, Debbie Preston tells us that talk is cheap but leaders get results. That is perhaps the strongest argument to date for why the citizens of Broome County should vote for Jason Garner. Look at the record:

When Penguin-Putnam announced they were leaving Broome County putting hundreds out of work did she go to their headquarters as ask what it would take to keep them here? No, she did not. Indiana offered them $800k and off they went. That is less than one quarter of one percent of the Broome County budget. Does she expect us to believe they could not have been induced to keep those jobs here?

When FedEx said they were closing their facility in Kirkwood did Preston ask them what it would take to keep them here? No she did not. And more jobs were lost.

When Crown Cork was looking for a place to relocate upstate, did she pitch Broome County to them? No she didn’t and those jobs went to Tioga County.

Recently, the Gap’s warehouse near Albany burned down and they said they were having trouble finding a large enough facility in the Hudson Valley. Has Preston talked to them about the facilities and transportation infrastructure in Broome County? No.

When United Airlines announced that they were cancelling service to Washington where two of the area’s largest employers are headquartered and where their largest customer is, did she try to convince them to reconsider? No. And when United said they were ending all service to Broome Regional Airport she did nothing.

Just this week American Airlines dealt another blow to Broome County by ending service to Philadelphia. Did Preston protest? No, she was too busy dealing with a scandal of her own making.

Oh, but she did accept the only bid received to for the County Central Kitchen, costing dozens of jobs. The company she chose, Aramark, has ties to organized crime and a record of bid rigging.

And, of course, she helped herself to a Town credit card. This is leadership? If this is what Preston thinks leadership is, we do not need it.

What’s in her wallet?

County Executive Debbie Preston’s use of a Town of Conklin credit card for personal purposes raises an interesting question beyond that of her ethics and morals. And that is the question of her creditworthiness. If she needed a credit card to shop for clothing, why did she not open one in her own name? In 2011, the year she opened the credit card in her and the Town’s name, her salary as Town Supervisor was $51,606, well above the median family income in the Town of $43,000. That would seem adequate for her to qualify for a credit card. When she became County Executive, her salary increased to more than $90,000. And, of course, this is over and above her earnings from selling Avon products out of her office. All in all, not too bad for a high school dropout.  So, why did she need to rely on the credit of the Town to get a credit card?

Anyone who has ever had a security clearance knows that bad credit is grounds for being denied access to sensitive information. The reason is obvious: someone with financial problems is subject to compromise. In fact, the primary reason people have given state secrets to other countries is for financial gain. In private industry, those with fiduciary responsibility routinely have their credit checked to assess their likelihood of engaging in embezzlement or other financial crimes.

There is much being made recently about the refusal by one of the presidential candidates to release his tax returns. Should not such requirements extend to local officials as well? Credit card companies will give a card to pretty much anyone with a pulse. If Ms. Preston, with an above average income, cannot qualify for a credit card, should we really be entrusting her with our hard-earned tax dollars? If she is not creditworthy enough to get a line of credit on her own, do we want her managing more than $300M of our money?

I call on Ms. Preston, and on her opponent Jason Garner, to immediately make public their tax returns and their credit scores. We have a right to know whether they can be entrusted with our finances.

Do your job, Steve

Update: I have been informed that Mr. Cornwell was ordered by a judge to step aside in response to a filing by Ms. Preston’s attorney. I offer my apologies to the District Attorney for misinterpreting his actions.

In New York, as in many states, county district attorneys are elected, not appointed. The reason they are is because they represent the people of their counties, not the county governments. Here in Broome County we are faced with a DA who refuses to do his job when his fellow Republicans or their families are accused of wrongdoing.

Last Mothers’ Day, little four-year old Samrya Oakley was killed by the recklessly driving brother-in-law of a county legislator. County officials tried to bury the case until public outcry forced District Attorney Cornwell to agree to put the matter before a grand jury.  More than five months later, he has yet to do so. He claims that he is just too busy with other cases. Meanwhile the state DMV has revoked the license of the driver who continues to operate his SUV with impunity.

Yesterday, County Executive Debbie Preston admitted that for more than a year she used a credit card issued to the Town of Conklin, where she had been supervisor, for personal purchases even after she was elected County Executive. Besides being improper and illegal, this raises the issue of possible tax evasion if she used the Town’s sales tax exemption (she claims she paid the sales tax but provided no proof). Mr. Cornwell had already announced last week, without explanation, that he was recusing himself from any cases involving the County Executive. Instead he plans to saddle the already pressed taxpayers of our county with the cost of a special prosecutor. Why? What in his relationship with Ms. Preston so compromises him that he cannot do his job?

Nothing erodes public faith in government like cronyism and political favoritism. Mr. Cornwell’s behavior so far does not inspire confidence. If he cannot, or will not, do the job to which we have elected him, he should step down and let up chose someone who will.  

Vote! It matters

By far the most important reason to go to the polls and vote for Hillary Clinton is that the next president will appoint three or four Supreme Court justices. Currently the Court is split 4-4 between center-left justices and extreme right ones. Upcoming appointments will affect our lives for decades to come.

Just today we have another reason to be very concerned about the future direction of the Court. The DC District Court of Appeals has ruled that the Consumer Financial Protection Board’s structure is unconstitutional. The case was brought by PHH and a cabal of big banks who are opposed to regulations that benefit common people. If this decision is ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court, the financial sector will return to lying to and stealing from ordinary Americans.

All three judges on the Court of Appeals are extremist conservatives appointed by George W. Bush. The lead judge in the case, Brett Kavanaugh, helped write part the impeachment articles against Bill Clinton and helped block the Florida recount in the 2000 election, effectively giving the presidency to Mr. Bush who promptly rewarded him with a court appointment. A concurring opinion was written by A. Raymond Randolph, another Bush appointee, who is notorious for ruling that Guantanamo detainees have no rights. The third judge who also concurred in part, Karen Henderson, is also a Bush appointee who ruled that Guantanamo detainees did not have a right to religious freedom.

These are the kinds of judges from whom a President Trump would select his Supreme Court nominees. This should certainly convince any sane person to get out and vote for Clinton.  

Wiki-lies

There is a basic fact that is often overlooked in this election: the charges against Hillary Clinton are manufactured by the right wing propaganda machine and none have ever been proven. Just today, Newsweek revealed that some of the purported Clinton emails released by Wikileaks are fakes intended to smear her. This is not an election in which one has to choose the lesser of two evils but one pitting an experienced, poised former Senator and Secretary of State against a vile con artist with a decades-long record of business failure, misogyny, and racism. Voters need to take the time to learn the truth and stop being misled by talk radio charlatans.