Monday, July 25, 2016
stop fracking oil barges from docking in Rhinecliff or on Dutchess shores-- Elizabeth Spinzia, Carolyn Marks Blackwood, and Steve Hutkins are right-- see Rhinecliff.org-- make public comment now to Coast Guard this summer on this!
[just sent this letter to my 24 Co. Leg. colleagues; pls follow up!] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From: Joel Tyner (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Colleagues-- my constituents here in Rhinebeck/Clinton want me to ramp up efforts to stop huge/nasty/noisy/polluting/fracking oil barges from docking in Rhinecliff and/or along Dutchess shores... Date: Jul 25, 2016 4:43 PM Hi all... Please let me know if you think you may be working with me to draft a letter to the Coast Guard echoing Rhinebeck Town Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia's concerns re: oil barges along our shores: www.rhinecliff.org/content/coast-guard-plans-resume-barge-anchoring-near-rhinecliff ; www.lohud.com/story/news/local/2016/06/20/anchorage-sites-proposed-hudson-river/86133774/ . Joel 464-2245 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - www.dailyfreeman.com/general-news/20160630/rhinebeck-leader-decries-coast-guard-plan-for-to-use-local-sites-along-hudson-river-as-rest-stop-for-tankers-tugs Rhinebeck leader decries Coast Guard plan for to use local sites along Hudson River as rest stop for tankers, tugs By William J. Kemble, email@example.com POSTED: 06/30/16, 9:31 PM EDT RHINEBECK >> The town is urging the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct public hearings on plans to establish 10 anchorage locations along the Hudson River that commercial tankers and tugboats would use as rest stops. Rhinebeck Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia said during a Town Board meeting Thursday that three of the locations would affect local views of the river that have been cultivated as tourist attractions. “These are for large commercial ships taking oil back and forth to Albany, and they are long-term mooring points,” said Spinzia, whose town borders the river. “The issue with these ships is the Coast Guard’s saying it’s a matter of public safety, but they’re commercial oil ships,” she said. “They’d be moored within our viewshed, and there are issues with light pollution and potential oil contamination.” According to the Coast Guard’s website, locations under consideration include: • The Kingston Flats South Anchorage Ground, covering about 279 acres and accommodating up to three vessels with a draft, or hull below the waterline, of less than 22 feet, for long-term use. • The Port Ewen Anchorage Ground, covering about 47 acres for one vessel with a draft of less than 30 feet for short-term use. • The Big Rock Point Anchorage Ground, immediately south of Port Ewen, covering about 208 acres and accommodating up to four vessels with a draft of less than 35 feet for long-term use. • The Roseton Anchorage Ground, covering about 305 acres and accommodating up to three vessels with a draft of less than 40 feet for long-term use. • The Milton Anchorage Ground, covering about 74 acres and accommodating up to two vessels with a draft of less than 40 feet for long-term use. • The Marlboro Anchorage Ground, covering about 154 acres and accommodating up to three vessels with a draft of less than 35 feet for long-term use. • The Newburgh Anchorage Ground, covering about 445 acres and accommodating up to five vessels with a draft of less than 32 feet toward the northern end and less than 22 feet toward the southern end for long-term use. • The Tomkins Cove Anchorage Ground, covering about 98 acres and accommodating up to three vessels with a draft of less than 40 feet for long-term use. • The Montrose Point Anchorage Ground, covering about 127 acres and accommodating up to three vessels with a draft of less than 26 feet for long-term use. • The Yonkers Extension Anchorage Ground, covering about 715 acres and accommodating up to 16 vessels with a draft of less than 35 feet for long-term use. The Coast Guard, in a notice seeking public comments, said the anchoring locations were requested by the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilots Association and the American Waterways Operators. “We are considering this action after receiving requests suggesting that anchorage grounds may improve navigation safety along an extended portion of the Hudson River, which currently has no anchorage grounds, allowing for a safer and more efficient flow of vessel traffic,” the Coast Guard said. The environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper, on its website, posted a letter from the Pace University Environmental Litigation Clinic challenging the Coast Guard’s statements that no anchorage sites are available. “Although the Federal Register announcement suggests that there are currently no anchorage grounds in the stretch of the Hudson from Yonkers to Kingston, in fact there is an anchorage at Hyde Park that was designated in 1999,” wrote Karl Coplan, the clinic’s co-director. “From early 2015 through present, researchers have been imaging the bottom sediments at both the existing approved Hyde Park anchorage and the area between Port Ewen and Sturgeon Point that was used as an unauthorized anchorage until November 2015. Ongoing population surveys and historical fisheries data prove without doubt that both anchorage areas are used by significant concentrations of federally endangered Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon.” Coplan said the proposal would create problems for communities that have been trying to promote a healthy river as economic development tool. “Kingston and Newburgh are both investing significantly in restoring their waterfronts to make them desirable places to live, work and recreate,” he wrote. “Waterfront areas throughout the Mid-Hudson region are increasingly used for tourist accommodations, event venues and year-round residences. Encouraging ships to anchor adjacent to waterfront communities is likely to create noise and light pollution that affects residents’ quality of life and detracts from municipalities’ revitalization efforts.” - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - www.rhinecliff.org/content/coast-guard-plans-resume-barge-anchoring-near-rhinecliff The Coast Guard is planning to add ten locations where commercial vessels can drop anchor on the Hudson River, and three of them are right here in the Rhinecliff area. As reported in lohud.com, the additional anchorages are meant to make river traffic safer and more efficient, but they may also be a source of controversy for the cities, towns, and hamlets along the Hudson. The Coast Guard will accept written comments on the proposal until September 7, but the deadline for requesting a public meeting is June 30. The instructions for contacting the Coast Guard are here: www.regulations.gov/document?D=USCG-2016-0132-0001 . A more detailed description is in the Federal Register, here: www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-06-09/pdf/2016-13701.pdf It's very easy to submit comments online here: www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USCG-2016-0132 The vessels that anchor in this area are often returning to Albany to pick up crude oil. A leak would have devastating effects on the environment and local economy. Even as it is, the barges at anchorage are a serious annoyance. For safety, the barges are required to maintain bright lights all night long, so they cause visual pollution, and they run generators 24-7, causing noise pollution as well. They are a constant disturbance to those who live along the river. The three locations near Rhinecliff are Kingston Flats South, Port Ewen, and Big Rock Point. That means anyone living along the River from East Kingston down to below Port Ewen, along both shores of the Hudson, are subject to the disturbance and pollution. The Kingston Flats South anchorage, which would allow for up to three vessels, is also where developers are planning to build a large housing project along the western shore. How fracking brought barges to Rhinecliff Under current regulations, commercial vessels such as barges and their attending tug are actually prohibited from anchoring in the area of the proposed anchorages. The regulations say vessels may “occasionally anchor overnight in the vicinity of Kingston . . . to await daylight hours for passing through the constricted part of the river.” But vessels are not supposed to anchor for days at a time. The barges were never a problem before, partly because of this regulation and partly because there wasn’t much need to anchor here in the first place. Vessels would anchor near Yonkers or one of the other approved anchorages on the Hudson. But space became scarce between New York and Albany as more and more oil came to be transported on the Hudson and vessels needed to find other places to wait for a place in the ports. In 2011, oil terminals in the Port of Albany (operated by Global Partners and Buckeye Partners) were approved for expansion to keep up with the increased demand. Then in 2012, big changes took place. As John Lipscomb reported in November 2013 on Riverkeeper, "In the last 12 months, a new industry has started on the Hudson River, as shipments of crude oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota have arrived by rail in Albany, for shipment by rail and barge to refineries in New Jersey and the east coast, and by tanker as far away as New Brunswick, Canada. These shipments are something new to the river—we’ve never had this type of oil transported on the Hudson before." The New York Times also took note of how fracking was changing the Hudson in an excellent article about the fracking crude passing through Albany. "With little fanfare," wrote the Times, "this sleepy port has been quietly transformed into a major hub for oil shipments by trains from North Dakota and a key supplier to refiners on the East Coast." In 2014, trains were arriving twice a day from North Dakota. The oil is then transferred into giant storage tanks before being loaded onto barges that make daily trips to refineries down the Hudson. With the increased river traffic, the approved anchorages became insufficient, and barges began anchoring off Rhinecliff, not just overnight, but for several days at a time, waiting for a spot to dock in the Port of Albany. From late 2012 through the spring of 2015, the barges were a constant presence on the river in the Rhinecliff vicinity. A barge would anchor for three or four days, often longer, waiting for a position at the Port of Albany. As soon as one barge departed, another would take its place. Sometimes there were two or three barges anchored around Rhinecliff all at the same time. Then last year, the drop in oil prices slowed down the rail shipments to Albany and the river traffic down to New York. The anchorage problem finally came to an end last summer after complaints from Rhinecliff got the Coast Guard to enforce the prohibition against barges anchoring here for more than an overnight stay. If the Coast Guard goes through with its plans to create anchorage locations off Rhinecliff, we will once again see large commercial vessels sitting in the middle of the river, day after day. Anchoring day after day Just to give an example illustrating how constant the barge traffic can be, consider this example. Using the website Marine Traffic, one can track the location of all the vessels on the Hudson (and anywhere else for that matter). On December 18, 2014, the tugboat Reinauer Twins arrived from the south and set anchor off of Rhinecliff. It remained there until December 27. On December 22, the Bruce McAlister also set anchor nearby, and remained there until December 29. On Christmas Day, a third tug, the Dean Reinhauer, joined the others, and remained there until December 28. Over Christmas, three vessels were anchored off of Rhinecliff. The risks of a spill “The Hudson River has long been part of shipping routes for other petroleum products, like heating fuel and gasoline,” writes the Riverkeeper in an excellent report about crude oil transport and all its dangers. But it wasn’t until late 2011 that crude oil began being transported on the Hudson. The crude “poses a new risk due to its characteristics as a pollutant and the massive volume being transported,” writes Riverkeeper. “A spill of crude oil in the Hudson River could devastate the ecosystem, put people’s health at risk and harm the regional economy, setting back decades of effort and billions of dollars invested to restore the river’s ecosystem." It's not an unfounded fear. Back in December 2012, an oil tanker named the Stena Primorsk ran aground about 6 miles from the Port of Albany. The ship was carrying 12 million gallons of crude oil—about the same amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez. The ship’s outer hull was breached, but a second hull prevented a spill that would have devastated the area around Schodack Island, a prime shad and herring spawning habitat, and an irreplaceable state-designated habit noted for the abundance of waterfowl. The possibility of a spill is also disturbing for our area because Rhinecliff and Rhinebeck, as well as many other communities along the river, get their drinking water from the Hudson, right where the vessels anchor. Request for comments In order to change the federal regulations governing anchorages, the Coast Guard must go through what’s called a rulemaking process. As part of the process, it must also seek public comment. The announcement for the rulemaking says that the Coast Guard received requests for establishing new anchorages from the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilot's Association, and the American Waterways Operators. (It’s possible that these associations have been lobbied by the companies that own the vessels.) "The public is encouraged to participate in this rule-making process," Commander Ellis Moose, chief of prevention in the New York sector, said in a statement. "We are in the preliminary, exploratory phase of this process. We understand this proposed rule-making expands beyond the maritime community and welcome feedback from local stakeholders working and living around the Hudson River." Requests for public meetings must be received by the Coast Guard by June 30. Written comments are due on September 7, 2016. When contacting the Coast Guard, cite docket number USCG-2016-0132. You can submit comments online using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov or go directly to this page.. For further information, call or email Mr. Craig Lapiejko, Waterways Management Branch at Coast Guard First District, telephone 617-223-8351, email firstname.lastname@example.org. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - www.lohud.com/story/news/local/2016/06/20/anchorage-sites-proposed-hudson-river/86133774/ Coast Guard plan: More barges anchored on Hudson Matt Spillane, email@example.com 6:21 p.m. EDT June 20, 2016 Ten sites are being considered by the Coast Guard between Yonkers and Kingston. The Coast Guard is floating the idea of adding more places for commercial vessels to drop anchor on the Hudson River. 10 locations between Yonkers and Kingston have been chosen as potential anchorages, including sites at Tomkins Cove and Montrose. The Coast Guard is asking for public feedback on the plan, which officials said is meant to make river traffic safer and more efficient. ON THE WATER: 'Ghost ship' floats in Mamaroneck Harbor MORE HUDSON: Fishermen in kayak club say craft offers stealth Commercial vessels such as barges and their attending tug, tow or push boats would be expected to use the anchor sites. Coast Guard officials say that would accommodate a variety of vessels and configurations and would not interfere with areas of the river where boats have historically plied the waters. The Yonkers site would be the largest new anchorage, accommodating up to 16 vessels in an area spanning about 715 acres. The site would stretch from the Glenwood train station in Yonkers to the Dobbs Ferry train station. The Montrose anchorage would cover about 127 acres and accommodate up to three vessels just south of Montrose Point. North of there, an anchorage would cover about 98 acres for up to three vessels between Tompkins Cove and Verplanck. The approximate water depths of the proposed sites range from 21 feet to 65 feet. Requests for public meetings must be submitted to the Coast Guard by June 30. Comments must be sent to the agency by Sept. 7. "The public is encouraged to participate in this rule-making process," Commander Ellis Moose, chief of prevention in the New York sector, said in a statement. "We are in the preliminary, exploratory phase of this process. We understand this proposed rule-making expands beyond the maritime community and welcome feedback from local stakeholders working and living around the Hudson River." The Coast Guard said the idea was posed by the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilot's Association, and the American Waterways Operators. In the last two decades, Yonkers has become an increasingly popular spot for vessels to drop anchor at a federal anchorage that runs from the city to the George Washington Bridge. Yonkers became busier in the past decade as higher petroleum prices and scarcer space in New York Harbor pushed vessels up the river and led them to stay longer. Visit federalregister.gov for more information on the proposal and how to submit comments on the plan. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Twitter: @MattSpillane
Monday, July 11, 2016
re: Dutchess Truth/Reconciliation Commission-- Francena Amparo & Kari Rieser agree-- our county needs one!
[thx tons to Co. Leg.'s Francena Amparo and Kari Rieser for just now agreeing to sign on to my new letter here below I circulated at this evening's full board meeting of our County Legislature-- calling for a real/actual/full Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Dutchess County along the lines of successful ones that have already been launched in Greensboro/NC, Maine, Canada, South Africa, and dozens of other places across the planet for decades now-- email all 25 of us at firstname.lastname@example.org to help build support(!)...almost the entire letter here below is taken from Fania Davis' piece published online at Yes magazine's website several days ago (and-- recall as well folks-- Westchester County's Human Rights Commission (under leadership of GOP County Exec Rob Astorino) actually has subpoena power (why not ours?): www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/this-country-needs-a-truth-and-reconciliation-process-on-violence-against-african-americans] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - July 11, 2016 Mr. Marcus Molinaro Dutchess County Executive Dutchess County Office Building 22 Market Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 Dear County Executive Molinaro (Marcus): We, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, ask you to work with our county's Human Rights Commission and us to organize a new Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Dutchess County and a series of monthly public hearings to encourage and empower local residents to speak their truth directly to law enforcement and powerful officials in our county's criminal justice system and to facilitate circles of listening for all involved. Enough is enough-- for far too many decades there has been far too much racial discrimination in our local law enforcement, jail, and prisons here in Dutchess County (it's not just Samuel Harrell's killers still working without being charged for his murder at Fishkill Correctional Facility last year; it's systemic). It's time for this to end-- it's time for an open and public process of truth, reconciliation, and healing to begin to heal our local communities and bring us together in justice. Noted and well-respected civil rights attorney Michael Sussman has indicated a willingness to work with us here in Dutchess County to make this process happen. As Fania Davis noted recently in Yes magazine— “There are precedents for this approach: Some 40 Truth and Reconciliation Commissions have been launched worldwide to transform historical and mass social harms such as those we are facing. Their experiences could help light a way forward. The best-known example is the 1994 South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was charged with exposing and remedying apartheid's human rights abuses. Under the guidance of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission elevated apartheid victims' voices, allowing the nation to hear their stories. Perpetrators had a means to engage in public truth-telling about and take responsibility for the atrocities they committed. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission facilitated encounters between harmed and responsible parties, decided amnesty petitions, and ordered reparations, and it recommended official apologies, memorials, and institutional reform to prevent recurrence. There are North American examples as well, including the 2004 Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission in North Carolina, the first in the United States. This effort focused on the "Greensboro massacre" of anti-racist activists by the Ku Klux Klan in 1979. In 2012, Maine's governor and indigenous tribal chiefs established a truth commission to address the harms resulting from the forced assimilation of Native children by Maine's child welfare system. It is still in operation. And Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, also still functioning, addresses legacies of Indian residential schools that forcibly removed Aboriginal children from their homes, punished them for honoring their language and traditions, and subjected them to physical and sexual abuse.” Channeling more from Fania Davis-- a Truth and Reconciliation process for us here in Dutchess County based on restorative justice principles could not only help address the epidemic of racial discrinination in our county's and country's criminal justice system but also allow us as a nation to take a first "step on the road to reconciliation," to borrow a phrase from the South African experience. A restorative justice model means that youth, families, and communities directly affected by the killings-along with allies-would partner with the federal government to establish a commission. Imagine a commission that serves as a facilitator, community organizer, or Council of Elders to catalyze, guide, and support participatory, inclusive, and community-based processes. We know from experience that a quasi-legal body of high-level experts who hold hearings, examine the evidence, and prepare findings and recommendations telling us as a nation what we need to do won't work. We've had plenty of those. To move toward a reconciled Dutchess County, New York State, and America, we must make sure that we ourselves do the work ourselves, working along side by side with grass-roots community activists and leaders. Reconciliation is an ongoing and collective process. We must roll up our sleeves and do the messy, challenging, but hopeful work of creating transformed relationships and structures leading us into new futures. Unfolding in hubs across Dutchess County, a Truth and Reconciliation process could create safe public spaces for youth, families, neighbors, witnesses, and other survivors to share their stories. Though this will happen in hubs, the truths learned and the knowledge gained would be broadly shared. Importantly, the process would also create skillfully facilitated dialogue where responsible parties engage in public truth-telling and take responsibility for wrongdoing. Black youth in the U.S. are fatally shot by police at 21 times the rate of white youth. Children of color are pushed through pipelines to prison instead of being put on pathways to opportunity. Some make it through this soul-crushing gauntlet against all odds. But too many do not. Defining how long- and far-reaching a process like this would be is difficult because, sadly, the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson is only one instance in a long and cyclical history of countless unhealed racial traumas that reaches all the way back to the birth of this nation. Changing form but not essence over four centuries, this history has morphed from slavery to the Black Codes, peonage and lynching, from Jim Crow to convict leasing, to mass incarceration and deadly police practices. This is urgent. Continued failure to deal with our country's race-based historical traumas dooms us to perpetually re-enact them. Bearing in mind its expansive historical context, the Truth and Reconciliation process would set us on a collective search for shared truths about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of racial discrimination locally for the last two decades. Through the process, those truths will be told, understood, and made known far and wide. Its task would also include facing and beginning to heal the massive historical harms that threaten us all as a nation but take the lives of black and brown children especially. We would utilize the latest insights and methodologies from the field of trauma healing. The process will create public spaces where we face together the epidemic of killings and its root causes, identify the needs and responsibilities of those affected, and also figure out what to do as a nation to heal harms and restore relationships and institutions to forge a new future. Like South Africa's and others, a Dutchess County Truth and Reconciliation process could draw on the principles of restorative justice. Rooted in indigenous teachings, for some 40 years the international restorative justice movement has been creating safe spaces for encounters between persons harmed and persons responsible for harm, including their families and communities. These encounters encourage participants to get to truth, address needs, responsibilities, and root causes, make amends, and forge different futures through restored relationships based upon mutual respect and recognition. Restorative justice is founded on a worldview that affirms our participation in a vast web of interrelatedness. It sees crimes as acts that rupture the web, damaging the relationship not only between the individuals directly involved but also vibrating out to injure relationships with families and communities. The purpose of restorative justice is to repair the harm caused to the whole of the web, restoring relationships to move into a brighter future. Applied to schools, communities, the justice system, and to redress mass social harm and create new futures, restorative justice is increasingly being recognized internationally. In Oakland, California, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth's school-based programs are eliminating violence, reducing racial disparity in discipline, slashing suspension rates, dramatically boosting academic outcomes, and creating pathways to opportunity instead of pipelines to incarceration. These outcomes are documented in a 2010 study by UC Berkeley Law School and a soon-to-be-released report by the school district. Oakland's Restorative Justice youth diversion pilot is interrupting racialized mass incarceration strategies and reducing recidivism rates to 15 percent. Police and probation officers are being trained in restorative justice principles and practices. Youth and police are sitting together in healing circles, and creating new relationships based on increased trust and a mutual recognition of one another's humanity. It's impossible to predict whether similar outcomes would emerge from a Truth and Reconciliation process in Ferguson-and the United States. But it's our best chance. And, if history is any guide, it could result in restitution to those harmed, memorials to the fallen, including films, statues, museums, street renamings, public art, or theatrical re-enactments. It might also engender calls to use restorative and other practices to stop violence and interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration strategies. New curricula could emerge that teach both about historic injustices and movements resisting those injustices. Teach-ins, police trainings, restorative policing practices, and police review commissions are also among the universe of possibilities. In the face of the immense terrain to be covered on the journey toward a more reconciled America, no single process will be enough. However, a Dutchess County Truth and Reconciliation process could be a first step towards reconciliation. It could put us on the path of a new future based on more equitable structures and with relationships founded on mutual recognition and respect. It could also serve as a prototype to guide future truth and reconciliation efforts addressing related epidemics such as domestic violence, poverty, the school-to-prison pipeline, and mass incarceration. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Dutchess County could light the way into a new more peaceful future for us all.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Gabriel Hammoud's right-- broadband for all-- and safety for all, free from gun madness (2016 Rhinebeck High School Co. Leg. District #11 Essay Contest winner!)
Hi all... Congrads to Gabriel Hammoud, 2016 Rhinebeck High School graduate extraordinaire, for his amazing essay just below-- Gabriel wrote the winning essay for my 13th annual Dutchess County Legislature Essay Contest (first entrant w/footnotes too no less)! www.facebook.com/events/125671881190564/ Gabriel reminds us all of the need now, more than ever to really and truly come together to end senseless gun violence/insanity once and for all-- and for high-quality broadband for all... [scroll down just a bit for Gabriel's essay; he got $100 for savings bond, certificate from the Dutchess County Legislature, & opportunity to share his essay on Sat. a.m. : WHVW] [recall-- Zephyr Teachout on point-- re: need for high-quality, cheap broadband for all: www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/zephyr-teachout-broadband_us_5710fe4ee4b0060ccda2ffaf midhudsonnews.com/News/2016/March/31/Teachout_broadband-31Mar16.html ] [yes ugh folks "concealed carry" of guns is legal here in Dutchess and across NYS: www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2015/12/14/dutchess-county-sheriff-supports-ulster-sheriffs-call-arms/77296630/ ; did SAFE Act go far enough?] [open question for Gabriel, all of us-- what of health/safety concerns re: Wifi?...quite a few schools all over the planet have literally banned wifi over health concerns: www.wifiinschools.com/uploads/3/0/4/2/3042232/schools_and_organizations_wifi.pdf www.Bioinitiative.org pubcit.typepad.com/clpblog/2014/09/legal-and-public-health-problems-of-the-wireless-age.html vimeo.com/49339132 ] [of course CWA right on all this-- need to get Verizon to take NY $-- for broadband for all: dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2015/07/help-cwa-tell-psc-high-speed-fiber.html dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2015/08/cwa-solidarity-broadband-for-all-tell.html ] [perhaps Institute for Local Self-Reliance can guide us locally on this-- see www.MuniNetworks.org ; ilsr.org/initiatives/broadband/ ; back in 2009 I brought ILSR Pres. Neil Seldman to speak many times here in Dutchess County before activists and leaders re: moving local region towards zero waste; time for broadband!] Pass it on... Joel 845-464-2245/876-2488 email@example.com - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "What I would do if I were a County Legislator for Rhinebeck and Clinton?" by Gabriel Hammoud That's an interesting question. It is much too broad to answer in a single essay; however, I can begin by discussing three topics that are important and dear to me. The most important issue that can be addressed by any legislative body, especially following a tragedy like the one that occurred in Orlando, Florida only a few weeks ago, is gun control. It is imperative that national, state, and local governments are able to work together to stop dangerous, unstable people from acquiring firearms and all people from acquiring military grade assault weapons. That is why I would propose an omnibus gun control bill that would a) classify an assault weapon, or any weapon that could be reasonably interpreted to be an assault weapon, more broadly, as any semi-automatic rifle b) ban the sale and ownership of assault weapons in Dutchess County (punishable by fines not to exceed $50,000 and a five year jail sentence) c) ban the concealed carry of weapons in the county by those who are not state/federal officials d) increase county funding for gun safety programs and mental health care. This type of legislation is needed throughout the whole country. However, as Peruta v. County of San Diego demonstrates, it is possible, constitutional, and important to enact gun control on a local level. This would hopefully lead to a decrease in violent crime in the county and would help to prevent mass shootings and acts of domestic terrorism in our region. Some secondary issues I would focus on would be the availability of cable and internet in Dutchess County. My goal would be to treat internet providers, or ISPs, as utilities and thereby begin the process of providing public municipal internet in a similar fashion to how we currently provide municipal water and sewage. Ideally, through incentives to cable companies and public projects, the county would have 99% household broadband coverage by 2020, and would work with fiber optic providers and municipalities to provide fiber optic coverage to 90% of citizens by 2025. These numbers are certainly difficult to achieve. Yet since the FCC's declaration that internet is not a privilege but a right, it is important for this county to take action that would allow that right to be enjoyed by all. This project would enable underserved areas and lower income households to have access to the internet at a faster speed and more affordable rate, which is especially important given how much all facets of modern society rely on web access to distribute information and provide services. In sequence with that initiative, I would work to provide public Wi-Fi that blanketed the town and city centers of the region. This would allow people to be less dependent on their wireless in locations where cell service might not be available. In summation, I would work as a county legislator to enact tougher gun control, improve internet access, and establish public Wi-Fi networks. All of these proposals would help the county and its residents. 1. "A February 2013 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report to Congress said that the "Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 was unsuccessfully challenged as violating several constitutional provisions." 2. The report said that challenges to three constitutional provisions were easily dismissed." (Wikipedia). See Peruta v. County of San Diego (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit)] 3. FCC's "Net Neutrality" as held constitutional by United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit 4. As defined by the FCC (25Mbps down by 3Mbps up with plans to move to 100Mbps down by 10Mbps up in the future). - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [recall my Co. Leg. resolution here below originally submitted by yours truly to our Co. Leg. offices May 16th, co-sponsored by just about everyone in our Co. Leg. Dem caucus-- but not even allowed to appear on agenda for even a committee meeting-- again-- letters to editor needed to local newspapers on this, folks-- weeks ago I shared all this with local media-- they've more than made up their minds to not cover this-- pls also feel free to email all 25 of us on this-- at firstname.lastname@example.org!] FOR PUBLIC HEARING ON LACK OF HIGH-QUALITY, HIGH-SPEED, AFFORDABLE BROADBAND THROUGHOUT DUTCHESS COUNTY WHEREAS, as the Communications Workers of America, Assemblymember Didi Barrett, Clinton Town Boardmember Mike Appolonia, Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout, and many others have noted, there are far too many areas of Dutchess County lacking in affordable, high-speed, quality broadband, and WHEREAS, without 21st century telecommunications throughout Dutchess County we simply won't attract new businesses, entrepreneurs or young families to put down roots here; there are thousands of unserved residents and many more underserved locally in Dutchess County, and WHEREAS, for Dutchess County to grow smartly, attract young people and vibrant businesses and develop a true 21st century economy, access to fast and reliable Internet and cell phone service is essential; we are already lagging behind the rest of the state and cannot afford to fall further into the technology gap, and WHEREAS, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors last year commissioned ECC Technologies to do a study of the county's broadband in spring 2015; in a public meeting ECC representatives said the county is falling behind globally, with broadband coverage fragmented, competition and diversity of providers limited, the western side of the county best-served, the central and eastern sides falling below the FCC's definition of broadband and the rural areas lacking broadband overall; Dutchess County is similar in many ways to this assessment, and WHEREAS, last year Governor Cuomo committed $500 million to the New NY Broadband Program with the goal of "providing access to high speed Internet to every New Yorker in every corner of this state," and therefore be it RESOLVED, that the Dutchess County Legislature will hold a Public Hearing on the Lack of Quality, High-Speed, Affordable Broadband in Dutchess County Monday, July 11th at 7 pm in the Chambers of the Dutchess County Legislature on the sixth floor of the Dutchess County Office Building at 22 Market Street in Poughkeepsie. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Recall Casey Heady's awesome winning essay from last year here: "If I had the chance to be a county legislator and was able to influence and make a difference in my own community I would start with the things that are close to my heart. I would want to make it easier for high school graduates to get an affordable education with free community college. I would also want to make sure that there is always funding for programs that can help children through difficult situations in their early lives. These things are especially important to me because of the stage of life that I am now in. These things are personal and would affect me directly. This past year has been a particularly difficult one for me and my whole family. Starting with my Dad's Alzheimer's diagnoses leading to the loss of his job. The year seemed to slip through my fingers so quickly without a real plan for my continuing education. With money getting tighter and tighter it was an easy decision to go to Dutchess community college for a cheap start to my college years. Yet it is still hard to find the money to attend a community college when you can't even seem to find the money for a new shirt. There are many Rhinebeck high school seniors who would never even consider going to Dutchess but for the ones like me who are not in a crazy rush to leave Rhinebeck or may not be able to afford another school, free community college would be a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. There are many graduating kids in the county who will not be attending any college next fall, and I think if there was a way to offer free education to them this would change. Education is so important and I strongly believe that money should never be an obstacle if you are hardworking and willing to learn. We do have a great opportunity that allows the top ten percent of each Rhinebeck high graduating class to attend Dutchess Community College for free but in such a competitive school for grades like Rhinebeck it is extremely hard to secure a top ten percent ranking. Also most kids in the top ten percent don't have much of an interest in attending DCC. Free community college would allow everyone to have a good start out of high school and encourage them to do bigger and better things with their lives. In 2006 when I was diagnosed with leukemia I spent a lot of time in hospitals. I was in and out and sometimes for prolonged periods of time. This brings me to another topic that I am passionate about. I wouldn't have been able to have such a positive attitude if it weren't for, of course, my friends and family but also programs like mill street loft. I remember them coming to Vassar hospital every Tuesday, it would be something I could look forward to. Something to keep me going, and when the day arrived it kept me occupied and distracted from the side effects of the chemo I was receiving. But it was much more to me than just a chance to do arts and crafts for the day. It was an opportunity to leave my room and talk to the other kids who were in similar situations. It was very therapeutic, and the volunteers running the program were always so friendly and interactive. I felt that I could really open up to them and they would listen no matter what even if they had no idea what to say, just having someone listen sometimes was good enough. Funding for small programs like this may not seem so important with all the other craziness going on in the world but looking through the eyes of an eight year old it meant everything to me. I would make sure that programs similar to this one would keep going. I'm sure that most people wouldn't realize how important something so small can be. But I know that both the kids and the mentors benefited from this program. There are so many issues that hit home for me that it would be difficult to decide where to start. But I believe that it is important to fix or continue things that you have a personal connection to." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [here below-- more winning essays from 2010 and before] From Kayla Arsenault... "Growing up in Rhinebeck I've come to notice the Fairgrounds rarely used. Using the Fairgrounds for events such as concerts that our local Hudson Valley bands could play at, a local drive-in movie theatre, family potluck days, and various competitions would be an effective use of the Fairgrounds space. The local bands would gather the surrounding towns creating a stronger community. Many people from around this area would come spread or get inspiration from this event. Local businesses will benefit greatly from this because many people will stop and eat or shop at Rhinebeck's local businesses. Also another plus would be that teens would get into less trouble because they would be attending these events instead of having free time to do whatever they please. To make families closer it would be great to have family field days. May through August would be acceptable months to have this because it would be after the car shows but before the fair. Things such as cook-offs, go-cart racing, and bull-riding would be fun and exciting for people to attend. For these events we could invite local business vendors to serve, display, or market their business' food. By gathering the residents of the community it would truly strengthen our neighborhood. Another way to use that space would be to have a drive-in movie theatre. This would give a place for kids to go at night and is also closer than the Hyde Park drive-ins. Some ideas for this would be classic movie night for the seniors and late-night movies for teens and adults. I'm hoping that you will take these ideas into consideration considering the fast growth in crime in Rhinebeck. Involving kids, teens, and adults back into the community is the main purpose of these ideas-- so if you make any of my ideas reality, I'm positive that a lot of things will change around Rhinebeck." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From Alex Landa... "Rhinebeck, New York- a rather beautiful town, with an old-fashioned comfort that's rare these days. It's become a famous place to raise the young, and for the elderly to enjoy their wisdom years. Where does the middle stand, the teens, the young adults, and the working family? To be honest, many teens and even adults find it difficult to have a good time in town. This is a fairly stale area in all honesty, which has many people, teens and even adults resort to doing hard drugs and drinking their time away. I've lost friends due to this circumstance, and the idea of an internet café could spark some creativity through artistic means, as opposed to resorting to artificial means. This town lacks the creative side, as it's focused on entertaining the elderly and wasting too much time making artificial beauty to bring in naïve spenders from large cities, primarily New York City. Although the town has its fair share of narrow-minded people, who take natural beauty for granted, there are still the ones who need a spot to be with other artistic people, sharing their works, and having a mentally safe environment. I propose to make an internet café, of which is fairly self explanatory; a café with Wi-Fi connection, but with more. I also propose to include two separate venues to the side, one being an art gallery of which could be updated periodically. The second venue would be used for different occasions each week, one week it could be an open mike night, a battle of the bands, poetry slam, karaoke, plays be performed, and even setting up a projector and have a film festival. Not only could this generally bring a lot of amusement to Rhinebeck, it could greatly improve the economy. It would create new jobs; have builders create the new building, people running the café, setting up internet, creating the events, and so on. It would bring more people to Rhinebeck, as this idea doesn't seem too common in Dutchess County, so it could potentially have people bring their disposable income, which could go to the school, and fixing up some less that adequate roads and sidewalks throughout Rhinebeck. It could easily relieve parental worries; I'm sure they'd rather have their child come home fatigued from creative stimuli rather than narcotic stimuli. Rhinebeck, New York- beauty, relaxation, calmness, and low crime rate. Rhinebeck, New York- stale, drug filled, and not the best place for the middle range. This town needs spice, the cinnamon on top of a well-made cappuccino. Helping the economy, destroying boredom, potentially lowering the drug problem, and bring some more creative elements, I see, might not be a bad thing. My purpose for said proposal is to improve a town of which seems to dearly need improving. Lest we not forget, in today's day and age, living in a whirlwind of social demons, even this small addition to Rhinebeck could serve as a sanctuary to young, elderly, and middle range alike." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From Forrest Hackenbrock... "If I were county Legislator I would focus on a few things. First I would attempt to survey the youth in the area, maybe by going to elementary high schools and asking various groups to fill out questionnaires. In the survey there should be questions about what kids would like to see more of in our area. I feel that in the town of Rhinebeck and Clinton, there is a lack of recreational resources for kids. The mini park is mainly for toddlers and younger kids. The rec park and Crystal Lake are the only other area in town that kids can play sports or hang out. These facilities are in good condition and provide recreation but there could be more. There is a quite large skateboarding community that is oppressed by a lack of skate spots. If there was even a small skate park, at the rec park or somewhere near by town, I think a lot more kids would be active and interested in such activities. I believe kids in our community would also benefit from a community center where they could just hang out, play pool, etc. If there were to be a stage where bands could perform I know it would flourish. I know this is easier said than done but with the right sponsors and support it is a possibility. Another thing I would concern myself with is environmental issues. I feel that many people in Rhinebeck and Clinton are involved with the green movement while others may not be. There should be public service announcements telling quick tips or facts on how to reduce our destruction of the environment. These could be billboards, or small signs around town, or commercials on the radio or TV. Our community must be aware of our carbon emissions levels and take a stricter approach on littering. The town of Rhinebeck obviously caters to tourists, especially from New York City. I enjoy our town and find it very unique and interesting. I like how the only corporation is CVS. Corporate involvement should be kept to a minimum in our town. As I walk through town I notice all the new establishments are upscale, and do not represent locals' needs. There should be more stores with practical items and prices, along with restaurants. I moved here in 2000, and did not like it very much. However, as I grew up, Rhinebeck grew on me, and I am now very happy and privileged to be living here. I think we are living on a high standard and should maintain that. The suggestions I made are the only improvements I can think of, because Rhinebeck is a very well established town. As long as the town can communicate with the community, the harmony that exists will continue to live on." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From Scott McDonald... "In a town like Rhinebeck where poverty and crime are almost nonexistent, other subjects come to mind when I consider what could be changed to better our community. Our community as well as our country as a whole misuses resources, create ridiculous amounts of waste, and operate in an inefficient manner. I feel it is appropriate and necessary for me to use Rhinebeck High School, the institution with which I am most familiar under our local government, to demonstrate these observations as well as provide alternative modes of action. Everyday Rhinebeck High School deposits hundreds of sets of styrofoam trays and plastic silverware in the trash. To me, this waste is inexcusable. It would not only be cost efficient, but it would relieve a huge environmental burden if our school would just decide to buy real plates with real silverware and wash and reuse them each day. Also, Rhinebeck High School continues to feed the kids processed, canned garbage from some large food processing company located in the middle of nowhere when they could be providing healthy produce and supporting local agriculture at the same time. The school could also set aside a piece of land for growing fresh fruits and vegetables and use it as an opportunity to teach kids agriculture and nutrition as well as provide community service opportunities. The school district also tends to use artificial light instead of natural sunlight by keeping the window shades closed and turning the lights on, frequently to keep kids from being distracted by the outside world. This is wasteful in terms of electricity and energy, not to mention artificial light has been shown to be less stimulating to students in a learning environment. For the times when artificial light is necessary, the school should have full spectrum light bulbs installed as it is proven to be more likely to keep students alert, healthier for the body chemically, and cost effective in the long run. If I were county legislator for Rhinebeck and Clinton, I would try to impact the school system for several reasons. Not only is the system run poorly, but if done correctly, instilling values of conservation and local agriculture in the youth now would go on to prove very beneficial to both our town and the world in the future."
Monday, June 13, 2016
new CCA letter signed by 6 Dutchess Co. Leg. Dems-- time for our county to save $$$ on electric bills, create new green jobs, clean local air quality, cut carbon emissions!
[thx to the following Dems in our County Legislature for signing on to this new CCA letter just circulated by yours truly at tonight's Co. Leg. meeting-- Micki Strawinski, Francena Amparo, Kari Rieser, Hannah Black, and Craig Brendli-- email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com; see CitizensforLocalPower.com, LocalPower.com, SonomaCleanPower.org for more!...J] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Mr. Marcus Molinaro Dutchess County Executive Dutchess County Office Building 22 Market Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 Dear County Executive Molinaro (Marcus): Over a year ago, in April 2015, Citizens for Local Power submitted a formal application to NYSPSC for a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program for Ulster County, with the the support of the County Executive there and many local officials of both major political parties across Ulster County. Given that at the end of May, Dutchess County was issued four Air Quality Action Alerts by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and NYS Department of Health, there are over 30,000 Dutchess County residents with asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema, and Community Choice Aggregation is now saving 25 percent on electric bills for municipalities, businesses, and homeowners in Sonoma County compared to PG & E electric rates, we, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature request that our county’s Department of Planning and Development work with Citizens for Local Power and the NYS Public Service Commission to develop an application to the NYSPSC for Community Choice Aggregation for Dutchess County— to save money on electric bills here. Through CCA, communities can purchase and develop renewable, low-emission energy, and offer locally tailored programs and attractive financial tools that support increased local ownership of rooftop solar, energy efficiency, demand reponse, and other renewable technologies. CCA programs enable the transition to a cleaner, more reliable, and resilient energy system, without gas, oil, or nuclear energy. With CCA, profits stay local and encourage economic development, investing in new and existing local independent businesses and creating jobs. Clean energy careers are fulfilling, financially rewarding, and can sustain families, building stronger and more prosperous communities. CCA enables communities to secure competitive rates by leveraging their customers in contracts with retail or wholesale energy providers, energy efficiency installers, and renewable energy developers. Purchasing local renewables leaves customers less vulnerable to wildly fluctuating fossil fuel markets, and reducing overall system-wide costs keeps customers’ bills down. CCA programs focus on community benefits and are directed by municipal governments. This ensures accountability, transparency, and opportunities for public participation. Investor-owned utilities, though regulated, are primarily accountable to shareholders and operate to maximize a profit. Within a CCA area, customers always have the choice to opt out and buy their power directly from the local utility or other provider. In summary, CCA offers a group of towns and cities, counties, an individual city, or any combination — a viable path to a locally-based, clean energy model, encouraging local investment in energy resource development that creates local jobs, reducing greenhouse gases, securing more stable electricity rates, and providing the impetus to modernize the electricity grid to support a sustainable and resilient decentralized energy system—a win-win-win-win that Dutchess County would do well to follow Ulster on.
Demand Democracy-- Citizen Action's right-- epic fail on part of Sue Serino, George Amedore-- thx to Micki Strawinski, George Amedore, Hannah Black, Kari Rieser, and Craig Brendli for signing on to this letter at tonight's Co. Leg. meeting...
[for more on this see CitizenActionNY.org-- call Albany at 877-255-9417 for action on these!] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Governor Andrew Cuomo State Senators Terrence Murphy and Sue Serino Assemblymembers Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Stephen Katz, Kieran Lalor, and Frank Skartados: Dear State Leaders: New York’s democracy is broken. We, the various undersigned members of the Dutchess County Legislature, in solidarity with Citizen Action of NY, call on you to pass the following five reforms to get big money out of politics, break down the barriers to voting, and clean up Albany and fight corruption: 1. Institute publicly funded elections: A small donor matching system where small contributions are matched with public dollars to elevate the voices of everyday New Yorkers like you and me. 2. Pass comprehensive campaign finance reform: In addition to publicly funded elections, we need to close the LLC loophole; lower contribution limits for candidates and committees; and put reasonable limits on transfers to check big money interests and how they influence elections. New York's legislature should support the call to overturn Citizens United. 3. Modernize New York's antiquated voting processes: Reform New York's voting laws by providing automatic registration at a broad range of government agencies, allow all New Yorkers to register and update their registration online, and provide for more flexible voting opportunities. 4. Protect and expand voting rights: Over 40,000 New Yorkers who are on parole must be allowed to vote. We need a full investigation of the purging of voter rolls and new training, support and oversight for boards of elections to make sure that voters are never unfairly removed from the rolls again. 5. Restore faith in government: We need meaningful ethics reform, which includes eliminating pension benefits for convicted officials, banning the personal use of campaign funds, creating a full-time legislature with sharp limits on conflicts of interest, and requiring full-disclosure of outside income to make sure politicians work for all the people. WE DEMAND DEMOCRACY!
re: toxic toys-- GOP Co. Leg. Marge Horton only Republican to sign my letter to ban 'em here in Dutchess and across NYS-- call Albany at 877-255-9417!
[thx to the following Dutchess County Legislators who signed on to this letter below at tonight's Co. Leg. full board meeting-- GOP Co. Leg. Marge Horton-- and Dem county legislators Micki Strawinski, Francena Amparo, Hannah Black, Kari Rieser, and Craig Brendli!...(don't forget folks-- last year Westchester, Rockland, and Suffolk county legislatures all voted unanimously to ban toxic toys there; bipartisan support as well for this in Albany County-- no excuses, local GOP!] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Governor Andrew Cuomo State Senators Terrence Murphy and Sue Serino Assemblymembers Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Stephen Katz, Kieran Lalor, and Frank Skartados: Dear State Leaders: Recently the following toxic toys were purchased from here in Dutchess and all across New York State: -- Hot Wheels Gift Packs containing mercury and cadmium from Target and K-Mart in Poughkeepsie; -- Charms and Angels DIY Bracelet sets containing charms with more than 200,000 parts per million cadmium and 5,000 parts per million antimony; -- Pink Crush Sandals containing more than 100,000 parts per million lead and over 3,000 parts per million antimony in rhinestone decorations; -- Hello Kitty Bowtie Necklaces containing more than 70,000 parts per million lead and 1,000 parts per million antimony in rhinestones on the pendant; -- “I ❤ NY” bags containing over 15,000 parts per million lead in the zipper pull. These and over sixty other toys containing toxic products were just exposed last week in a new report, Toxic Hide and Seek: Chemical Crisis in Children’s Products, featuring items purchased around the state including antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Children are more sensitive to and are at an increased risk from chemical exposure. The Assembly has passed Democratic Assemblymember Steve Englebright’s legislation to protect children’s health from unnecessary toxic chemicals found in products designed for kids— it’s time for the State Senate to get behind and pass Republican State Senator Phil Boyle’s companion legislation to ban toxic toys here in Dutchess and across NY. Senator Phil Boyle recently made this statement— "Parents have a right to know whether dangerous chemicals lurk in the products they buy for their children. This report shows that the marketplace does not fully provide for that right. We can no longer tolerate a system in which safe products exist side by side on store shelves with those that contain hidden hazards. It's time we passed the Child Safe Products Act to give parents the information they need to make smart, healthy choices." “It’s time for product makers and the chemical industry to stop playing games with our children’s health. We know products with toxic chemicals are hiding in plain sight on store shelves, and in community after community, we’ve demonstrated this. New York’s families deserve better. They deserve action by their elected officials,” as Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York, recently noted. If California, Washington, Maine, and other states can find the way to pass legislation to protect kids of all incomes then why do parents in New York State have to wait for more than eight years to get their kids protected from toxic chemicals in children’s products? "Parents incorrectly assume that laws require children’s products to be safe, and are routinely shocked to find out how many dangerous substances are still perfectly legal. It is impossible and inappropriate to expect parents to research every item their child handles. As the mother of two young girls and a cancer survivor myself, legislation that would protect children from toxic toys is long overdue," said Dorian Solot of Albany, NY.
re: Orlando-- time to ban assault weapons-- used in San Bernardino, Aurora, Newtown-- even Reagan, George W. Bush, Ford agreed...
[thx to the following Dem Dutchess County Legislators for signing on to my letter on this just now at tonight's full board meeting-- Micki Strawinski, Hannah Black, Kari Rieser, and Craig Brendli-- call Congress at 866-338-1015!...J] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - President Barack Obama; Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer; Representatives Chris Gibson and Sean Patrick Maloney: Dear National Leaders: As the Washington Post just reported— “The gun used in the Orlando shooting is becoming mass shooters’ weapon of choice. Orlando shooter Omar Mateen used an AR-15 style rifle to kill at least 49 people and wound another 53 others. Six months ago, in San Bernardino, Calif., a man and woman armed with assault-style rifles killed 14 people and wounded 20 others at a holiday party. In 2012, in Aurora, Colo., a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in a crowded movie theater. Also in 2012, in Newtown Conn., a man armed with an assault-style rifle killed 28 people and wounded 2 others at an elementary school.” More from the Washington Post— “One common denominator behind these and other high-casualty mass shootings in recent years is the use of assault style rifles, capable of firing many rounds of ammunition in a relatively short period of time, with high accuracy. And their use in these types of shooting is becoming more common: There have been eight high-profile public mass shootings since July of last year-- assault-style rifles were used in seven of those.” Washington Post: “In the past 10 years, assault-style rifles have been used in 14 public mass shootings. Half of those shootings have occurred since last June. Assault-style weapons were outlawed in 1994. But that ban expired in 2004 and Congress opted to not renew it. Of the 10 mass shooting incidents with the highest number of casualties — killed AND wounded — in the U.S., seven involved the use of an assault-style rifle.” Washington Post: “Terrorist groups have taken note of the widespread availability of assault rifles and other guns in the U.S. In 2011, al-Qaeda encouraged its followers to take advantage of lax guns laws, purchase assault-style weapons and use them to shoot people. ‘America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms,’ American-born al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn said in a video. ‘You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?’ Most states don't require background checks for firearms purchased via private sales at gun shows. Most states don't require showing ID to purchase a firearm from a private seller. Federal law allows people on terror watch lists to purchase guns, and thousands of them have done so.” Washington Post: “The ease of purchasing guns in the U.S., even powerful ones designed to kill many people in a short period of time, is underscored by a crucial fact in Mother Jones's database: Of the 79 mass shootings since 1982 that Mother Jones was able to determine purchasing information for, 63 were committed with guns purchased legally.” According to Quinnipiac polling, the vast majority of Americans want assault weapons banned: it’s time!