Monday, November 28, 2005

This Blog to be Shutdown - Please Go To New Blog at http://wnyprogressreport.wnymedia.net/

This blog is being replaced by the WNY Progress Report Blog at http://wnyprogressreport.wnymedia.net/

Please go to the new blog for the latest in WNY Coalition for Progress' news and opinions from members, including Cliff Parks, the progressive voice of WNY.

http://wnyprogressreport.wnymedia.net/

Monday, November 07, 2005

WNY Coalition for Progress statement on NYS Proposition One

On Tuesday November 8th New York voters will be provided the opportunity to amend New York State’s Constitution in order to change the way our State government passes annual budgets. This ballot measure is known as “Proposition 1.”

Proposition 1 provides, in part, that if the budget as proposed by the governor is not passed by the legislature by a certain date then a contingency budget takes effect and the legislature is given power to draft a budget as it sees fit. Proposition 1 does not require that the budget be balanced. Instead, it provides the legislature with additional budget-writing powers than it has presently.

The Board of Directors of the Western New York Coalition for Progress has reviewed Proposition 1, as well as articles and documents advocating both for and against this proposed Constitutional amendment. We respect the opinions of all organizations advocating both for and against Proposition 1.

As a result of our review, we believe New York voters should reject the proposal and vote “NO” on Proposition 1.

Although New York State’s budget process is certainly dysfunctional and combative, and needs to be reformed, Proposition 1, by diminishing the role of the governor in the budget process, threatens to make matters worse. Before our current system was created, the legislature had control over the budget. As a result, constant appropriations led to crushing debt and perpetual fiscal crisis.

It was thought that the governor, who is elected by all New Yorkers, would ensure that the process protects everyone’s interests. Ideally, the intention was that the governor should act as a check on runaway spending by a pork-hungry legislature. While that system has not worked as intended, a check and balance does presently exist between the two branches of New York State’s government: the executive and legislature. We believe that such a check and balance could ("may" or "might" work her too?) be severely weakened, or even eliminated, if Proposition 1 is passed.

While we certainly think that deep, structural changes are needed to reform Albany and the way it does business, Proposition 1 doesn’t seem to fit the bill. If and when imposing a contingency budget, instead of having “three men in a room”, Proposition 1 would drop that number to two; the Senate President and Speaker of the Assembly. We think this "contingency" is highly likely to be a chronic problem due to the fact that the legislature has no real incentive to pass the governors budget on time.

Contrary to what the Proposition's proponents claim, there is no real guarantee that this proposed procedure would lead to on-time budgets. Instead, it merely imposes a “contingency budget” on the day it becomes late. At that time, the governor’s authority is co-opted, and the legislature earns full and exclusive budget-writing authority. Furthermore, New York’s budgets can be prepared secretly by the legislature, with no transparency, and without any balance constraints. If anything, Proposition 1 would likely act as a disincentive for not only on-time budgets but also real structural reform from taking place. The Western New York Coalition for Progress thinks that the content of state budgets and an open method for which they are created are more important than their timeliness.

We recommend a no vote on Proposition 1, and ask instead that you demand that your state legislators instead work to enact real, meaningful reform in Albany.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

From the NY Election Reform Working Group - AP - State Board Pushes Ahead With Selecting Vote Machines

Associated Press
October 20, 2005

State Board Pushes Ahead With Selecting Vote Machines
By MARC HUMBERT
AP Political Writer
October 20, 2005, 4:34 PM EDT

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The state Board of Elections formally began the process Thursday of settling on new voting machine standards for New York, but a spokesman said it may take a miracle to get them in place for next year's election.

The state board's advisory committee on voting machine standards held its first meeting Thursday. Board spokesman Lee Daghlian said the goal is for the state board to approve machine standards by January.

Once that is done, voting machine companies will have to submit machines for certification by the board before counties can start buying the machines that are supposed to be in operation for the 2006 elections.

The first test of the new machines in New York was supposed to come in the September 2006 primary elections.

"That would be a miracle," Daghlian said Thursday, noting the delays that have dogged the process so far.

New York needs the new machines to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act adopted after the disputed 2000 presidential election. States were told in 2002 they had to come up with better voting technology by 2006.

Despite repeated warnings from many interest groups that the federally-set deadline for new voting machines was in jeopardy, partisan bickering between the Republican-led state Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly stalled an agreement on legislation allowing the process to move forward until June of this year.

The high-tech machinery is meant to replace lever-action equipment that has been in use in most of New York for much of the last century. The mechanical technology was first demonstrated in Lockport, near Buffalo, in 1892 and the machines quickly became the national standard.

HAVA is designed to bring states into the modern age of voting technology with its ATM-like, touch-screen machines or optical-scan technology. That means replacing about 20,000 machines in New York.

New York is receiving more than $220 million in federal aid to help finance the changeover. Some state officials have warned that a portion of the money might have to be given back if the deadline is missed.

Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press

http://www.wnyprogress.org/Election_Reform.html

From the NY Election Reform Working Group - AP - State Board Pushes Ahead With Selecting Vote Machines

AP - State board pushes ahead with selecting vote machines

October 20, 2005

By MARC HUMBERT

AP Political Writer
October 20, 2005, 4:34 PM EDT

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The state Board of Elections formally began the process Thursday of settling on new voting machine standards for New York, but a spokesman said it may take a miracle to get them in place for next year's election.

The state board's advisory committee on voting machine standards held its first meeting Thursday. Board spokesman Lee Daghlian said the goal is for the state board to approve machine standards by January.

Once that is done, voting machine companies will have to submit machines for certification by the board before counties can start buying the machines that are supposed to be in operation for the 2006 elections.

The first test of the new machines in New York was supposed to come in the September 2006 primary elections. "That would be a miracle," Daghlian said Thursday, noting the delays that have dogged the process so far.

New York needs the new machines to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act adopted after the disputed 2000 presidential election. States were told in 2002 they had to come up with better voting technology by 2006.

Despite repeated warnings from many interest groups that the federally-set deadline for new voting machines was in jeopardy, partisan bickering between the Republican-led state Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly stalled an agreement on legislation allowing the process to move forward until June of this year.

The high-tech machinery is meant to replace lever-action equipment that has been in use in most of New York for much of the last century. The mechanical technology was first demonstrated in Lockport, near Buffalo, in 1892 and the machines quickly became the national standard.

HAVA is designed to bring states into the modern age of voting technology with its ATM-like, touch-screen machines or optical-scan technology. That means replacing about 20,000 machines in New York.

New York is receiving more than $220 million in federal aid to help finance the changeover. Some state officials have warned that a portion of the money might have to be given back if the deadline is missed.

Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

From Buffalopundit.com - Are You Aware You Can Vote to Change NY's Constitution This Year

There is a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November. Have you heard of Proposition 1? Probably not, because the local media have completely ignored it.

Here is the text of the proposition question:

The proposed amendment to Articles IV and VII of the Constitution would change the process for enactment of the state budget by:

(a) providing for a contingency budget if the Legislature does not act on the Governor’s appropriation bills before the start of the fiscal year;

(b) placing limits on the amount of spending during such contingency period;

(c) once such contingency period begins, eliminating the requirement that the Legislature act on the Governor’s proposed appropriation bills, and instead authorizing the Legislature to end the contingency period by adopting a multiple appropriation bill making changes to the contingency budget, subject to line item veto by the Governor; and

(d) authorizing the Legislature, subject to veto by the Governor, to modify the spending limits for future contingency budgets, except that such changes cannot take effect until three years after enactment.

-------------------------------------------------

The proposed amendment also sets forth certain requirements for the operation of a fiscal stabilization reserve fund, from which money could be disbursed in a subsequent year. It would require estimates and information provided by state departments to the Governor for use in preparing the budget to be available to the public.

It would provide a date certain by which the Governor must submit a budget and appropriations bills to the Legislature. It would reduce the time the Governor has to make changes to the budget and appropriations bills submitted to the Legislature without the Legislature’s consent from thirty days to twenty-one days.

Shall the proposed amendment be approved? Before I weigh in, you can read the following:

Pro:
NYPIRG
League of Women Voters
Common Cause of New York

Con:
New York Public Policy Institute
Ray Keating in Newsday
New York Daily News
New York Post

Posted in NYS Politics 1 Comment »

Monday, October 17, 2005

WNY Coalition Fundraiser this Saturday Oct. 22nd

This SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22 is the Fundraiser for
THE WNY COALITION FOR PROGRESS!

Help support progressive values, ideas, and radio!

Saturday, October 22, 2005 7-10 pm
The American Serbian Club 1200 Tonawanda Street, Buffalo

Donation: $20
Includes food and open bar!

For more information contact Jeremy Zellner @
yankeeone21@msn.com
or 716-870-5489

As the Fonz used to say, Be There or Be Square!!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Recent Blog Posts from Alan at Buffalopundit.com

Flip flopping
October 13th, 2005
BuffaloPundit

A judicial nominee’s religion isn’t relevant, and Senators should be ashamed of themselves for bringing it up.

Except when it is relevant.

I’ve got Dobson and Robertson advocating strongly for this pick, and Rove is busy reassuring religious kooks that she’ll be kooky enough for them. But when Democratic senators wanted to bring up John Roberts’ Catholicism, they were roundly browbeaten by indignant Republicans.
Under the rules of evidence, what Bush, Rove, Dobson, and the rest of the Christian taliban have done is open the door to religion being a major issue with this nominee. They brought it up. Now they have to deal with it.

Religion is a wonderful thing. And it belongs in the home, in the church, temple, or mosque, and otherwise in one’s private life. Not in the political arena, where it can be imposed upon people who don’t want it, or cynically manipulated by catastrophically unpopular politicians.

UPDATE: Others, like Boston media pundit Dan Kennedy, reach the same conclusion.
Posted

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Recent Blog Posts from Cliff & Kevin of the WNY Progress Report

The WNY Progress Report's Radio Show team of Cliff Parks and Kevin Burd have been hard at work lately, not only on the show, but also on their blog: http://wnyprogressreport.wnymedia.net

Here are their latest posts:

Dragging Us Down

October 2nd, 2005

CLIFF:

Who, who I say will lead us to the promised land? Not the House of Representatives, which our friend Tom DeLay has turned into a sewer of outright partisan hackery, dirty dealing and criminality. For folks in the Gulf Coast area it sure ain’t gonna be FEMA, which is leaving these poor souls high and dry, Brownie or no Brownie. And the White House? They’re too busy buying news and spreading propaganda, and hoping that Karl Rove, their Darth Sidious, their mastermind doesn’t get arrested (along with Darth Cheney’s boy Scooter). Yes, something is happening, but I do know what it is Mister Jones: the powerful look out for the powerful while WE get dragged down by their perfect society, and OUR nation becomes something else, diminished and cheap, a house of illusions and delusions. It’s as simple as that.

It has to stop.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

October 1st, 2005

KEVIN:
ok, ok I’m up… Green Day sucks, though I do like the video

Bill Bennett always was a total jerk. Didn’t care for him under Reagan, thought he was plain dangerous under Bush Sr. Well, just when you thought he was gone, out he crawls from under his rock. Total scumbag. Let the fallout begin.

Last Wednesday I joined 500 of my closest environmental friends for a tremendous lecture at UB North campus by Dr. David Orr, Professor at Oberlin College. Many familiar faces from the environmental community, including Judy Einach, Buffalo mayoral candidate. Judy’s message about climate change was verified, as Dr. Orr spoke for an hour on the most pressing issue facing our society, climate destabilization.

A rebroadcast of his presentation will air Monday October 3rd at 9:00 am on wbfo, 88.7 fm. Tune in!!!