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Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Three elected officials with single message for SCOPE members: We support the 2nd Amendment

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution got a ringing endorsement Tuesday from three of the top-ranking elected officials who represent Genesee County.

Rep. Kathy Hochul, State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steven Hawley all appeared at SCOPE's monthly meeting to talk about what they're doing to help prevent extremists on the left from stripping gun owners of their right to own firearms.

Ranzenhofer started off the evening by discussing how important a Republican majority is in the State Senate to protecting gun rights.

"There are people out there who don’t like you and want to take away your rights," Ranzenhofer said.

When Ranzenhofer was first in office, and the GOP didn't have a majority in the Senate, he said anti-gun Democrats regularly tried to push new laws to restrict gun and ammo sales.  Since the GOP regained control of the upper chamber, "we’ve not had to be constantly on guard for new legislation coming up," Ranzenhofer said.

Now, Ranzenhofer said, the biggest worry at the state level for gun-rights advocates is a popular governor who wants to push through legislation to restrict the rights of gun owners.

Hochul said she comes from a family of gun-rights advocates. She has two brothers in Maryland, she said, who are expert marksmen. While Hochul said she isn't big into hunting or target shooting herself, she has taken safety courses and knows how to handle a firearm.

"When a bill comes up that affects your 2nd Amendment rights, I’m on your side," Hochul said.

While clerk in Erie County, Hochul said she streamlined the process for a gun permits from a year or longer to four months, and three of those months involve the State of New York doing background checks.

"Some of you may say I have a 'D' after my name and I can't vote for you," Hochul said. "Well, fine, but I still represent you. I am independent and I look at each and every issue as what's best for the people of Western New York. Sometimes the Democrats are right and sometimes they're really wrong. Some times the Republicans are right and some times they are really wrong."

According to Hochul, when the gun rights groups come out with their congressional rankings soon, she will receive a very high grade for her voting record for her first year in office.

"I'm very proud of my ranking," Hochul said.

Hochul also noted that she opposed the "Fast and Furious" operation, which provided guns to drug gangs in Mexico, and believes Attorney General Eric Holder should respect the powers of Congress under the Constitution and turn over all "Fast and Furious" documents to the House of Representatives, a demand from Congress the Obama Administration is fighting.

Hochul faces the most serious reelection challenge in November of the three officials who spoke Tuesday and SCOPE Chairman Jack Taylor said he contacted the campaign for her challenger, Chris Collins, to invite Collins to the meeting, but didn't get a response.

Hawley talked a good deal about his work on veterans' issues, particularly his annual Patriot Tour of Washington, D.C., and noted that while his colleague in the Senate, Ranzenhofer, may need to deal with only two anti-gun zealots in that chamber, the state Assembly is filled with 40 or 50 people eager to water down the 2nd Amendment.

Hawley said those representatives deal with a very different constituency than Assembly members in Upstate and Western New York, where people often live on a bit of land, own their own homes, like to hunt and fish and target shoot.

In noting the differences, Hawley segued into a discussion of a bill he has repeatedly sponsored -- allowing a referendum vote on whether New York should be split into two states.

Taylor spoke between each guest and hammered home the same point: Gun rights advocates need to educate the public on the difference between law-abiding citizens who own guns and criminals who not only use guns but other implements to commit their crimes.

"In all my years in retail, I've never seen a gun jump off the shelf and shoot somebody," Taylor said.

Some of the blame for the misrepresentation of guns falls on the media, Taylor noted, reminding SCOPE members that you never see a headline that says "Chevy and Budweiser kills family of four," but you do see headlines like "Glock used in murder spree."

The former county coroner said the most common way that young people die a violent death in Genesee County is from drunken driving, while there is only about one homicide every seven years locally (worth noting: the last homicide locally was Scott Doll beating to death his victim, no gun involved).

"We are all against crime, whatever the implement," Taylor said. "We need to separate the crime from the implement. There’s not a gun law out there that ever saved a life or prevented a criminal from committing a crime."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Hochul asks governor to increase cow limit for small dairy farms

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) recently sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo urging him to provide New York dairy farms with regulatory relief to help milk producers expand their businesses.

Hochul asked that the state raise the threshold for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) regulations from 200 cows to 300 cows, a threshold consistent with national standards.

Increasing the threshold will allow dairy farmers to increase milk production, enabling them to fulfill the needs of New York’s growing yogurt industry. Hochul also requested that New York expand programs to assist dairy farmers with environmental conservation and protection.

Hochul wrote, “I request your assistance in delivering much-needed regulatory relief to our state’s dairy farmers, many of whom are still recovering from disastrous market conditions in 2009. Without assistance, too many New York milk producers will remain unable or unwilling to expand their businesses despite the game-changing opportunity for economic development made possible by the booming Greek yogurt industry. … Our dairy farmers need a level playing field and supportive regulatory regime to fully capitalize on the Greek yogurt boom, and I look forward to working with you to ensure they have both.”

The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park will soon be home to Theo Muller Gmbh and PepsiCo’s $206 million yogurt manufacturing facility as well as a $20 million dollar Alpina Food yogurt plant.

Rep. Hochul has introduced bipartisan legislation that allows dairy farmers to apply for H-2A visas, which are available for seasonal agricultural producers but not the year-round dairy industry. She also is a member of the House Dairy Caucus.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Hochul releases past three tax returns, calls on Collins to release his returns

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, kathy hochul, NY-27

Press release:

Clarence, NY – “At a time when our nation is debating critical policy issues including whether to extend middle class tax relief or give more tax breaks to millionaires and companies that ship jobs overseas, voters deserve to know how their elected officials make their money and how much they pay in taxes. In a commitment to transparency, Congresswoman Hochul has made the last three years of her tax returns public,” said Campaign Manager Frank Thomas.

“Given Chris Collins' unwillingness to discuss his support for policies that gut Medicare to pay for additional tax cuts for the rich and lingering questions about the business he does with China so he can better line his pockets, we call on him to give voters the clarity they deserve and be candid with his tax returns,” continued Thomas.

Copies of her 2009, 2010, and 2011 returns are available here: http://www.kathyhochul.com/meetkathy/tax-returns/


Chris Collins supports tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  According to a Collins campaign press release, “Collins supports a full extension of the tax cuts.” [Collins Press Release, 7/9/2012]

Chris Collins refused to release his tax returns so he could hide sources of business income. According the Buffalo News,

For his part, though, Collins said he would not release his tax records because they would show how much he's earning from various business partnerships, meaning the release would also make public his partners' income.

More importantly, he said, his income would reveal how much money his companies are making -- and, therefore, provide important information to his competitors. [Buffalo News, 6/2/2012]

Collins told voters “I would never” release tax returns. At an event on May 21, 2012, Collins told an audience “so again, I'm not going to release personal tax returns, because it's got my partners' income. I would never do that.” [Chris Collins Video, 5/30/2012]

 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 10:31 am

Hochul marks Farmers Market Week with visit to market at Batavia Downs

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, farmers market, kathy hochul

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It's national Famers Market Week and to help commerate the event, Rep. Kathy Hochul stopped by the Genesee County Farmers Market in the Batavia Downs parking lot this morning.

Above, Hochul buys flowers from Kathryn Schneider, as mother Dana looks on. Dana Schneider is owner of Stonehouse Acres. Hochul told Kathryn that she worked in her mother's flower shop as a child as did her daughter. "See, you can learn a lot selling flowers," Hochul told Kathryn.

Below, Hochul is greeted by another constitutent and a couple of pictures of flowers and corn for sale today at the market.

Friday, August 3, 2012 at 6:47 am

FACT CHECK: Hochul camp disputes Collins tax policy

post by Mark Brudz in chris collins, kathy hochul, NY 27

A press release from Kathy Hochul's office, dated 1 Aug., had this headline:

"HOCHUL CAMPAIGN RESPONDS TO CHRIS COLLINS’ PUSH FOR MORE DEFICIT-RAISING TAX CUTS FOR MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES"

Hochul's Campaign Manager Francis Thomas cites a report issued by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities [CBPP] stating:

"Economists say that cutting taxes for the richest Americans would raise the deficit by “nearly $1 trillion” and give the most benefits to people making more than $1 million per year."

Thomas goes on to cite a [CBPP] article dated 7/19/2012 that poses the proposition that maintaining the Bush Tax Cuts for those in the upper 2 percent would, in fact, add deficits of more than $1 trillion to the 2013 budget.

"According to the nonpartisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP),
just 2.5 percent of small business owners face top tax rates. In a July 2012 study, they wrote 'allowing the top two marginal tax rates to return to pre-2001 levels as scheduled next year would affect very few small businesses, a recent Treasury Department study found. The study shows that only 2.5 percent of small business owners face the top two rates.' ” [CBPP 7/19/2012]

Although the CBPP does, in fact, claim to be "nonpartisan" on its Web site, further reading clearly disputes this claim. On the page titled "Experts" on the CBPP Web site, my research shows that all but one of those listed on the page have held positions with the Democrat Party. Of the 46 names listed in various positions, not one has held a position in the GOP or any other conservative or moderate think tank of a similar nature. Below are four examples selected from the Federal Fiscal Policy Section.

Jared Bernstein (Senior Fellow) is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden in the Obama Administration. Bernstein is considered to represent a progressive, pro-labor perspective.

Indivar Dutta-Gupta (Policy Advisor) was involved with Amnesty International USA, as a member of its Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Advisory Group and in other volunteer positions. After graduating from the University of Chicago in June 2005, Dutta-Gupta came to D.C. to work with a nonprofit Democratic consulting firm on political campaigns, food and hunger, international development, energy and national security issues. While in college, he interned at the Chicago office of U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL).

James R. Horney (Vice President for Federal Fiscal Policy) was a deputy Democratic staff director at the Senate Budget Committee from 2001 through 2004.

Chuck Marr is the director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He served as economic policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Further, the report cited by Thomas has come under fire from nonpartisan and conservative tax policy organizations like the TaxFoundation and the Heritage Foundation.

"While we applaud the CBPP's obvious success at bringing attention to the budget, it paints an incomplete picture to place only certain budget items in a graph of the deficit, as if that demonstrates causality. Why not throw entitlement spending in the deficit category, or defense spending, or certain initiatives from the Clinton years? Better yet, why not simply show the entire budget, and in a larger historical context?

"Indeed, the CBO report on which the CBPP analysis is based does just that. A closer look at the CBO report will help illustrate the relative importance of tax cuts and spending (including spending through the tax code) in creating the projected deficits." The Budget Debate, taxfoundation.org

Clearly the issue is not so black and white.

Complete Hochul press release after the jump (click on the headline to read more).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Hochul votes to extend middle-class tax cuts, says wealth should pay 'fair share'

post by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-26

Press release:

Today, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) voted to preserve and extend middle-class tax cuts to all Americans on the first $250,000 of earned income. This bill would provide tax relief and prevent a tax increase of about $2,200 on working families and small businesses in Western New York.

“At a time when our national debt is approaching $16 trillion, the House leadership has insisted on passing an irresponsible plan to add $1 trillion to the debt to pay for additional tax cuts for millionaires. This extra trillion puts us in even greater debt to the Chinese. Instead, I supported an alternative that would provide tax relief to middle-class families and small businesses, while requiring the wealthiest top 2 percent to pay the same tax rates they paid during the economic boom of the 1990s,” Rep. Hochul said.

“If we are going to effectively address our nation's fiscal challenges, we need a balanced approach that requires meaningful cuts to government spending and the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. That is why I have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support a balanced budget amendment and to cut $2.4 trillion in deficit spending. It’s also why I supported cuts to wasteful spending, such as aid to Pakistan. There is still work to be done to protect middle-class families and reduce the deficit, and I will continue to work with both Democrats and Republicans to find ways to accomplish that goal.”

Friday, July 20, 2012 at 11:42 am

Fact Check: Hochul and Collins spar over health care in fact-challenged statements

post by Mark Brudz in chris collins, kathy hochul, NY 27

In an email released by Kathy Hochul's staff Wednesday, her Campaign Manager Francis Thomas took opponent Chris Collins to task over the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (RNCC) claims that Hochul's support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a talking point in this year’s race.

It is absolutely clear that Mr. Collins’ tact so far has been to attempt to paint Hochul as a champion for all Obama policies. Almost every press release, tweet and statement generated by the Collins’ Camp contains a reference to a Hochul-Obama connection.

What Chris fails to mention is that Kathy has sided with the Republicans in three key votes that, if also passed in the Senate, would repeal elements of the ACA. Mrs. Hochul was one of only seven Democrats who joined Republicans in repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

She also voted along with the GOP to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program.

Finally, Mrs. Hochul, along with 36 other Democrats voted for the Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the excise tax on medical devices.

Consider also, that Hochul did not even hold office when the ACA was enacted and on several occasions has stated that she would have had problems voting for the ACA if it were presented as passed.

Yet, Collins is not alone in attempting to keep this race in true talking point hyperbole form.

In his press release styled email, Hochul campaign manager Thomas pulled out the tried and true quote, and often used by Kathy referring to the Paul Ryan Medicare Plan:

“.....Mr. Collins and his allies should explain to voters why he supports plans to force seniors to pay $6,400 more for their Medicare and use that money to give tax breaks to millionaires."

This approach was used to defeat Jane Corwin and Jack Davis in 2011’s special election with great success, unfortunately, this line was also dubbed as “One of the Whoppers of the Year” by factcheck.org then and it is under even more scrutiny now.

First of all, if implemented, those 55 at the time and older would not at all be affected at all by the Ryan Medicare Plan; they would receive Medicare benefits as currently prescribed by law.

As for the $6,400 figure, yes it is accurate when you do the simple math however, it leaves out distinct caveats that offset that number.

Finally, the next iteration of the Ryan Plan is similar to the first, and the new version is due to be brought to the floor after the November election. Among its contributors is the very liberal, and lifelong champion of senior issues, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. This iteration by all definitions is bipartisan.

For each talking point by either candidate, a fact-based argument can be used as a counter. For each statement issued by the candidates or by their supporters and staff, there will no doubt be a combination of truth, spin and/or vetted talking point.

Issues on the other hand, are often complex. When you analyze the facts there is plenty of room for debate.

The complete statement from the Hochul campaign:

Chris Collins is clearly afraid to run against Kathy Hochul's Independent record of fighting for Western New York, and now he and his allies are launching a desperate attempt to make this race about Barack Obama. Kathy has repeatedly crossed party lines to repeal the most troubling portions of the health care bill, while protecting Those provisions that protect our seniors, our young people, and those with preexisting conditions.

Instead of misrepresenting Kathy's record, Mr. Collins and his allies should explain to voters why he supports plans to force seniors to pay
$6,400 more for their Medicare and use that money to give tax breaks to millionaires.

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

When it comes to keeping quotes in context, Collins should heed his own advice to Hochul

post by Mark Brudz in Barack Obama, chris collins, kathy hochul, NY-27

Publisher's Note: A few weeks ago, Mark Brudz discussed the idea of regularly fact checking the candidates for the NY-27 Congressional District, much like a site like factcheck.org does on a national level. We believe this is the first such post with more to come in this campaign. We hope to encourage both candidates to run more honest and truthful campaigns than is usually seen in this highly partisan era.

If Mr. Collins is going to cry foul for Mrs. Hochul cherry-picking his words and not keeping them in full context, he should also hold himself to the same standard.

A Collins For Congress email sent Saturday afternoon used a statement by President Obama to attack Hochul.

Obama: "If you got a business, you didn't build it. Somebody else made that happen."

The email then went on with the subtitle: "Kathy Hochul's Presidential Candidate Slams Small Businesses."

Yes, the president did in fact say that, however, it was taken out of context in a excerpt from a campaign rally speech in Roanoke, Va., on Friday July 13. The Collins team included in their email a quote from the Washington Times article written by Walter Cooler.

"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there."

The president's entire statement however, was not exactly a slam toward small business. In full context, the president more specifically expressed his belief in infrastructure and that successful business people rely on that infrastructure to grow their business. Additionally, President Obama stated that successful business people have achieved but also relied upon teachers and mentors to reach their goals.

All in all, there was much fodder for Mr. Collins with the statement in full context because it becomes more of philosophical discussion where Chris Collins actually can make some issue-based arguments.

It is no different than the flap earlier this month between Collins and Kathy Hochul. (See The Batavian; NY-27 race shaping up as a war over words.)  Hochul jumped on a Collins statement that he made in answer to a question during an interview for The Batavian. Clearly Mrs. Hochul took Mr. Collins out of context in order to obtain the upper hand when there was plenty in that interview that she could have taken issue with in full context.

What we need from both Collins and Hochul at this point is more statement of what they intend to do in Congress and less of the carefully choreographed talking points that are typical in today's politicians.

This is President Obama's statement in full context:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires; we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.”

It would be very appropriate for Chris Collins to take the president to task on the entire statement in context, likewise it would also be appropriate for him to question Mrs. Hochul's position on this statement, should she actually have made one. In Chris Collins email, there were several bullet points where he did in fact state his strengths and there was a legitamate question posed as to Mrs. Hochul's private sector business knowledge and experience.

I say let them both go at it from that point and may the best candidate win. But spare us the talking points and the he said/she said game this time around. If you want my vote, spell out your agenda and let me decide.

After the jump, the complete press release from the campaign of Chris Collins (click on the headline to read more):

Friday, July 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Farm labor keys discussion at ag roundtable in Batavia sponsored by Kathy Hochul

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, agricluture, business, kathy hochul

Rep. Kathy Hochul heard a good suggestion from constituents today during an agriculture roundtable she hosted in council chambers at Batavia City Hall: Young people need to be taught more about farming.

Lorna Klotzbach first raised the issue.

In the Oakfield-Alabama Central School District, Klotzbach noted that "there is no FAA and there wasn't when I was in school that I can remember. There are very few teachers with an agricultural background. There is no training for farm careers. There is very little of that in Genesee County altogether."

Klotzbach noted that she's heard students suggest that farm work is really only for illegal immigrants.

"The smartest, most skilled people I've known are farmers and we hold them in such low esteem," Klotzbach said.

Hochul said she could envision supporting some sort of pilot project to help fund agriculture training in local schools and getting support for an informational campaign to elevate farming as a career choice.

Domestically produced food is a key component of national security, said Hochul, who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee.

"Congress has a roll to play in directing funds (to ag training)," Hochul said. "We need to help people embrace the patriotic sense you get from the American family farm. That's what we're all about, the entrepreneurial spirt that this country is built on."

Farm labor was a big part of the morning discussion, with much of it centered on the difficulty farmers have these days in finding qualified, legal labor.

Hochul noted that with the opening soon of the Alpina and Pepsi yogurt plants, the demand on local milk supplies will increase 15 percent, and that doesn't mean more cows and milking parlors. It means more farm workers will be needed.

"If we don’t get more people in this workforce, we’re not going to be able to capitalize on the opportunities that we have right here in Genesee County," Hochul said.

The congresswoman said she is looking at how to move some of the recent refugees -- who are mostly from agrarian countries -- in Rochester and Buffalo to work on Genesee County farms.

There is apparently a growing Burmese immigrant community in Buffalo, with many people from rural communities.

The problem Hochul said she wanted to tackle is transportation, but Matt Lamb said transportation isn't an issue.

"We can house these people," he said.

If the workers are qualified and willing to work, there's work and shelter available for them now.

Klotzbach said that if Burmese workers were going to be brought to Genesee County to work on farms, it needs to be approached in a comprehensive way, with assistance to school districts for appropriate classes and ensuring Burmese families have a chance to retain their culture while assimulating to a new one.

"It doesn’t do any good to bring one Burmese family to Pavilion," she said. That doesn’t work. They need a community."

Hochul said she will look into available options to help find qualified refugee labor and ensure any move of the labor force to the area is done the right way.

Some farmers complained about overzealous U.S. Border Patrol agents, even conducting raids when there was no apparent probable cause for illegal workers being on a property.

Hochul said she's spoken with the director the border patrol and suggested that the Western New York border with Canada has too many agents for the threat level and perhaps some agents should be transferred to Texas or Arizona.

"Our homeland is not in any danger or threat from our farmers," Hochul said. "We need a different attitude."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Rep. Hochul's staff to hold office hours in Batavia

post by Daniel Crofts in announcements, batavia, kathy hochul

The staff of Rep. Kathy Hochul will hold office hours on Tuesday, July 17, from 10 am until 1 pm. They will answer constituents' questions and listen to their concerns.

In Genesee County, office hours will be held in the Conference Room at 1 Batavia City Centre.

Office hours will also be held from 2 until 4:30 pm in Wyoming County. Anyone who cannot make the office hours in Batavia can go to the Wyoming County Building, at 143 N Main St. in Warsaw.

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