Allen on the ACA
Last week I met with a representative from Congressman John Faso’s office in Kingston where we discussed the current state of our health care system and how hundreds of thousands of residents in Congressional District 19 and Ulster County Legislative District 2 will be impacted by impending potential changes and amendments to our current health care system. Recently, there has been much talk about a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and this has many consumers of healthcare concerned that beneficial components of the current law will be rescinded. Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, health insurance companies discriminated against their customers who had pre-existing conditions and illnesses by providing insurance policies that did not allow for them to receive coverage or treatment for a pre-existing condition or illnesses until a full six months or more had transpired from the time that they initially signed onto a new insurance policy. Under the Affordable Care Act, those with pre-existing conditions are now able to receive health insurance policies without being discriminated against through higher premium prices or in their ability to receive prompt treatment and immediate insurance coverage. In addition, the Affordable Care Act also allows for the dependants of insurance customers to receive coverage up to the age of 26. These two important components of the Affordable Care Act are viewed my most as being off the table for discussions in how the Affordable Care Act will be amended!
Additional areas of concern that consumers of health insurance have include the protection of women’s health issues and the reduction of the “donut hole” within Medicaid’s coverage of prescription drugs that causes prescription drug consumers to pay a higher co-pay percentage after their overall prescription costs reach a specific threshold level. In my discussion with Congressman Faso’s aide, I emphasized the importance of these issues, and I also pointed out how some corporations have responded to the 30 hour-per-workweek employer mandates under the Affordable Care Act by reducing employee workweeks to less than 30 hours per week. This creates a whole new class of working poor who make little money, receive no health insurance and are unable to qualify for health insurance through their state of residency. In order to alleviate this problem, I suggested that the federal government should provide funding to individual states so that sliding-scale clinics can provide health care coverage to the uninsured on a large scale which will close the gaps in coverage that any healthcare law will cause within the United States. In closing, I left it open for a personal meeting with Congressman Faso to discuss these important issues with him.
Ulster County Legislature
Reference is made to several news articles/stories in several media news sources, in the past two weeks, concerning allegations of unethical behavior on my part. I afforded the courtesy to three different reporters who interviewed me. Unfortunately, in one of the news articles, some key words got left out and/or “misaligned.”
I have been asked for documents, along with some information, which I have refused to share the details of through a lengthy dissertation via a media platform. Instead, as I have maintained since first becoming aware, they properly belong with the Ethics Committee.
Most recently, through social media, there have now been slanderous accusations of breaking the law, along with malicious statements and comments.
Claims coming from outside the media circle, I have “covered-up” and been uncooperative — you’re entitled to your opinion, but on the advice of legal counsel, I will not divulge, especially with the recent and slanderous social media posts.
From the very start with the first news article, which was prompted by a letter from a local political party officer who had received a letter with claims of unethical behavior, it is very obvious, the only objective of said letter was to smear and discredit me.
I would have thought that gentleman, being such a professional investigator, would have done his “homework” and investigated to ascertain contents’ validity of said letter. That should have started with me, not with the media. The individual has never hesitated in the past to reach out to me and I continue to be at a complete loss why he did not in this case. Thank You!
Greg Chorvas, superintendent
Town of Saugerties Department of Parks,
Recreation and Buildings
Hein’s character flaw
Everyone loves the Muppets. The two old grandpas in the balcony were revered for telling the truth.
Mike Hein said Dave Donaldson and I both: Opposed the monument to fallen soldiers. A lie. We both voted yes. Opposed environmental projects. A lie. We both voted yes. Opposed the Patriot’s Project for homeless vets. A lie. We both voted yes. Opposed the strive project. A lie. We both voted yes.
The fact is both Dave and I voted to approve every project he declared we did not. To call him a liar would be accurate, and appropriate. Some might say that’s harsh.
The real question should be “what is the reasoning for the lies?” The fact is Mr. Hein has a serious character flaw. Our voting records are in the legislative office and are available to any and all. What would possess him to lie? Maybe the man cannot distinguish between right and wrong?
I can only tell you that if any of my children exhibited this fantasy of perpetual embellishments when they were growing up, I would have quickly taken them for professional counseling.
What should be done when one acts in a dishonest matter? I guess right now the man should be held in public ridicule as a liar.
John R. Parete
Saug Dems for Ellison
The Saugerties Democratic Committee has informed the National Democratic Committee, the State Committee and our two senators by Resolution adopted January 24, 2017 that we support the election of Congressman Keith Ellison as Chair of the National Committee. Keith Ellison is a well respected 5-term Congressman from the State of Minnesota and is endorsed as Committee Chair by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and roughly 100 other Congressmen and women.
Keith Ellison is committed to avoiding Party dependency upon the wealthy 1%; instead, he will focus his Party’s efforts toward working people and the middle class. The AFL-CIO, America’s largest federation of labor unions, has endorsed Keith Ellison. He will carry the mantle of the Bernie campaign, and help bridge the gap between the Party young voters and the minority community which the Party requires to take back the Congress in 2018, and win the White House in 2020.
Keith Ellison is Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was instrumental in shaping the most progressive Platform in Party history. Please look it up on-line. We strongly encourage the National Committee to elect him to this office at this critical time in history.
Lanny Walter, Chair
Saugerties Democratic Committee
A few points
There are a few incorrect or misleading statements in the otherwise fine article [last week] by Lynn Woods, “Standing Rock, New York” about the Kingston forum on Jan. 28 concerning the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project. The opening paragraph mentions “[s]ome fast facts on the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline: it would stretch 178 miles from Albany to Linden N.J. and convey up to 400,000 gallons a day of crude oil from the Bakken Shield of North Dakota.” In fact, the plans call for two parallel pipelines: one carrying crude oil from Albany south to Linden, and the other carrying refined oil products from Linden back to Albany. There would thus be about 350 miles of pipelines, including lateral lines, not 178 miles as stated, and up to 8 million gallons a day of crude oil, not 400,000 gallons a day, would be conveyed. Later in the article the author sets out these facts with statements by Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper; however, her quoting his reference to the volume capacity of the “pipeline as being 400,000 barrels a day” should be changed by referring to ‘”the volume capacity of the twin parallel pipelines — 4000 barrels (or 16 million gallons) a day. Placing these facts at the beginning of the article would have been less ambiguous and misleading. The first sentence of the second paragraph states that “[t]he $1 billion pipeline also would not replace oil trains coming down from Albany via Lake Champlain and Chicago over the CSX tracks”; however, since there are no oil trains coming from the City of Albany, this sentence should be changed to read “[t]he $1 billion pipelines also would not replace oil trains coming from Chicago via Albany County over the CSX tracks.” The author also incorrectly refers to Bakken’s “fracked gas” and “fracked gas products” rather than ‘fracked crude oil.” Since the Hudson River would not “contain 13 miles of pipeline” this phrase should be omitted so as to read “[f]ellow panelist Andy Bicking … talked about the resources that are at risk — including the Hudson River, which is a source of drinking water for numerous communities … “ Her quotation of Bicking’s reference to “pumping stations” should be changed to “emergency shut-off valves” and these sentences amended to read “if the emergency shut-off valves were functioning,168,000 gallons of oil could be released in a spill, which would balloon to 357,000 gallons of oil if the valves weren’t working. The devastation is hard to imagine, given that one pint of crude spreads out over an acre of water.”
Apart from these inaccurate or misleading statements, however, this is an informative and comprehensive article.
Lynn Woods’ response: In response to Elizabeth Shafer’s letter, let me state that in my article “Standing Rock, New York” I do explain, in the seventh paragraph, that the Pilgrim Pipeline actually consists of two pipelines; I believe it would have been confusing to describe the pipeline(s) as 350 miles long in the first paragraph, as Ms. Shafer suggests I should have, since I wanted to state the actual point-to-point distance. Her contentions that I misstated the facts concerning 1) the “bomb” trains’ route via Albany — she states saying Albany County would have been more accurate, assuming I was (erroneously) referring to the city 2) and my allusion to crude oil as the product of the “Bakken’s fracked gas” I would argue are overstated and rest on technicalities; given that space was limited and I was reporting on the statements of panelists, rather than a topic carefully researched by me, I stand by my general points that the route of the bomb trains passes down Lake Champlain through Albany (generally speaking) and that “fracked gas” correctly alludes to the source of the crude as hydro-fracked wells for natural gas in the Bakken shale. The panelists referred to “pumping stations,” so that is why I reported them as such.
However, I do regret the errors in reporting the volume of gas, which, in referring to my notes, notes 400,000 barrels of crude a day, not gallons, as I reported. I appreciate Ms. Shafer’s correction of the error and agree that the immense volume of crude and crude products passing through the pipeline should have been emphasized — and correctly reported — in the article.
The consequences of ‘no’
In another move to press the divisions in our nation deeper, Trump has, in the face of anticipated resistance from the Democrats, advocated that Senator McConnell “go nuclear” and manipulate parliamentary procedure to hold a simple majority vote in the Senate to confirm his strongly conservative Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
Aside from the terrifying ease with which Trump utters the words, “go nuclear” in any context, it is beyond disingenuous for the President and the Republican majority to insist that any push back from the Democrats is uncalled for or obstructionist. Having won the majority of seats as a consequence of years of gerrymandering voting districts and disenfranchising tens of thousands of minority voters with oppressive voter i.d. laws, it is about time they accept a taste of their own medicine and realize that being the party of “no” has its consequences and the bill has now come due.
I applaud, encourage and whole heartedly support those Democrats, Independents and any courageous Republicans, to continue to push back, to refuse to confirm Trump’s cabinet nominees who do not comply with long standing, traditional disclosure requirements, to withhold their votes for this Supreme Court nominee and to make it plain that eight years devoted to a policy of “just say no” to President Obama has consequences.
Deidre J. Byrne