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Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Hochul stopping in local stores Saturday to spotlight shop local effort

post by Howard B. Owens in business, kathy hochul

Congresswoman Kathy Hochul will be in Genesee County on Saturday as part of "Small Business Saturday," a national effort to encourage consumers to shop locally this holiday season.

Small businesses are the backbone of any community and Hochul made supporting locally owned businesses part of her campaign platform.

On Saturday, Hochul will be at Adam Miller Toy and Bicycles on Center Street at 1:15 p.m. Hochul will also stop at Vintage and Vogue in Le Roy at 2:15 p.m.

Monday, October 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Hochul calls on congress to pass jobs bill to help with area bridge repair

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

Press release:

After a report stating nearly 1,100 bridges in New York State were deemed "fracture-critical," a high percentage of which exist in New York’s 26th Congressional District, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul today called on Congress to immediately pass the American Jobs Act.

"Let's finally pass a comprehensive jobs bill that will not only get Americans back to work, but fix the bridges millions of commuters rely on each year," Congresswoman Hochul said. "These 'fracture-critical' bridges are a threat to the safety of New York residents, especially the residents of New York's 26th District, which had scores of bridges on the list. This report only underscores the need for quick passage of the Job Act.”

New York State currently has double the number of fracture-critical bridges on the list than reported nationwide, while Orleans County, in the center of the 26th District, was reported to have nearly seven times the national average. Over 20 percent of Orleans County's 138 bridges were found to be fracture-critical. Bridges from all other six counties in the 26th District – Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, and Wyoming counties – were also on the list.

Fracture-critical bridges lack redundant supporting elements, which means if one key support function of the bridge fails, the safety and use of the entire bridge could fail, potentially causing a collapse.

Hochul added, "While structurally sound under normal circumstances, there is no reason why these bridges cannot get the necessary repairs to ensure the safety of the driving public. As the former county clerk responsible for putting vehicles on the road, I feel compelled to fight for the money we need from Washington to bring our bridges and roads up to par. Once again, I call for the House leadership to bring forward the American Jobs Act and allow us to vote on infrastructure funding for our districts, while creating much needed job opportunities for our workers."

All seven of the counties Representative Hochul represents have vulnerable bridges that could benefit from passage of the American Jobs Act.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Hochul speaks against proposed free trade agreements

post by Howard B. Owens in free trade, kathy hochul

Press release:

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Kathy Hochul today spoke on the House Floor against the U.S.-Panama, U.S.-Colombia, and U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreements.

In her speech, Representative Hochul referenced a worker at the Buffalo Airport who had lost her job at a textile factory.

Below are Congresswoman Hochul’s prepared remarks:

“I’m here to stand up for the working men and women of the 26th District of New York. People like the woman at the Buffalo Airport who made my energy drink this morning. She told me she works there now after she lost her job of 23 years at a textile factory in downtown Buffalo. First, the jobs went South…and then overseas. As I left for my flight, she called after me, ‘keep fighting for our jobs…don’t forget us.’ Well, I won't forget her.

“If I thought any of these Free Trade Agreements would help people like the woman at the airport, I would be all in favor. But in Western New York, we know better. We were promised prosperity with earlier trade agreements; and while companies became more prosperous, the jobs were sucked away from our community, gone forever…to foreign shores.

“As they say in the immortal song made famous by The Who, we ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’

“I urge my colleagues to oppose these trade agreements.

“Thank you. I yield back the balance of my time.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Hochul to meet with Jack Davis for factory tour and discuss jobs and trade

post by Howard B. Owens in free trade, Jack Davis, kathy hochul, NY-26

Rep. Kathy Hochul will tour I Squared R Element in Akron at 11 a.m., tomorrow and meet with Jack Davis, the Tea Party candidate she defeated in May's special election to fill the NY-26 seat.

After the tour, according to a press release from Hochul's office, Hochul and Davis will "discuss America’s manufacturing strategy and the need to stop supporting companies that ship jobs overseas, as well as how to replicate Davis’s American success story throughout Western New York."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Hochul: I will work with anybody and everybody willing to create jobs for WNY

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

Press release: 

STATEMENT FROM CONGRESSWOMAN KATHY HOCHUL ON PRESIDENT OBAMA’S COMMENTS ON JOB CREATION 

“The message I have heard, loud and clear, during my seven ‘Congress On Your Corner’ meetings this month, is that our constituents expect us to work towards real job proposals that will help get our people back to work. I was sent to Washington to work with anybody and everybody willing to help create opportunities in Western New York. 

“Now is the time for us to come up with a critical infrastructure plan that will not only help our local governments build roads, bridges and airports, but also get our economy moving once again.

“When we return to Washington next week, our top priority must be cutting the exorbitantly high unemployment rate and revitalizing our economy. I intend to work quickly to renew the FAA Reauthorization and Surface Transportation Bill and ensure we don’t leave nearly one million workers on the sidelines, as was done to 4,000 FAA employees earlier this summer. As these pieces of legislation progress, I plan to work with my local municipalities to ensure they can apply for their proper funds.

“Congress cannot continue to act in the same hyper-partisan manner it did throughout the summer with the FAA Reauthorization and debt-ceiling negotiations, which is why I plan to continue to work with President Obama, as well as all Republicans, Democrats and anyone else willing to ensure we are creating opportunities for hard-working, middle-class families.”

Friday, July 29, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Hochul cites Corfu business in speech on floor against Boehner's debt ceiling plan

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

Press release:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul offered the Democrats’ final argument against Speaker John Boehner’s plan that only aims to postpone a U.S. default by six months, while drastically cutting discretionary spending.

“Never in our history has there been an intentional disaster, perpetrated by the very people who were elected to be the caretakers of this country,” said Congresswoman Hochul.  “That is exactly what will happen if we refuse to take action to prevent default and pay our nation’s bills now."

Congresswoman Hochul introduced her own amendment that would prioritize where spending cuts come from: cutting subsidies to Big Oil and corporate jets owners, before cutting education funding.

“Tell me why at a time when we all agree that the deficit must be reduced, we don’t ask Big Oil and companies with corporate jets to help out the country that helped them.

“Seaman’s Hardware Store in Genesee County pays more in federal taxes than many companies that are enjoying off the chart profits, while some of my constituents can barely afford to fill a gas tank so they can get to their minimum wage jobs at the dollar discount store.

[PART OF PREPARED REMARKS]

“There is one value we all share and that is fairness. Two things that are fundamentally unfair about this plan: It is unfair to put this country through this disgraceful, political gamesmanship again in another 6 months. 

“It is also unfair to cut money from education.  Education is the one chance for economic equality among our young people, and the one shot for them to reach their full potential.

“By making tax loopholes and tax breaks for Big Oil and corporate jets a priority over education, we are harming the economic engines across the country, and particularly in my district: our colleges and universities.  University at Buffalo, Geneseo, SUNY Brockport, Erie and Genesee Community Colleges – each is critical to our local economy and to the future of our students.”

Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Hochul appointed to House Armed Services Committee

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

Press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul was appointed to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) for the duration of the 112th Congress. 

“I am honored to join the House Armed Services Committee and work to help the brave men and women of our Armed Forces,” Congresswoman Hochul said. “The thousands of valiant Americans who serve our country every day deserve Representatives that will fight to give them the proper resources needed to do their jobs accurately, but more importantly, safely.  I also look forward to reaching out and helping all of our veterans, who have done so much to help our great nation.”

“As a Member of Congress from a region with thousands and thousands of Armed Service men and women, Congresswoman Hochul will bring a perspective that fits well with the House Armed Services Committee,” said Ranking Member Adam Smith. “I know Kathy will be a strong advocate for all of our men and women in uniform and will ensure that each of them have the tools and resources needed to ensure America’s safety and security. I look forward to working with her.”

Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region have seen over $1 billion of direct investments into our country from defense contracts; creating thousands of jobs and spurring the Upstate economy. 

Hochul added, “At just the Niagara Falls Airforce Reserve and National Guard, we have 2,800 men and women stationed, not only looking out for our security and well being, but investing in local businesses. Those jobs help spur our economy and help our businesses create even more spill-over jobs.”

Congresswoman Hochul already serves as a Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, where in the last two months she has met with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, offered an amendment in Committee, which passed with near unanimous consent, and sponsored legislation that would ensure the safety of Americans at our borders and airports.

Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Hochul announces opening of satellite offices

post by Billie Owens in kathy hochul

Press release:

Today, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul announced she will be opening the first phase of 26th District satellite offices early next month to provide residents with convenient and direct access to Congressional staff for assistance resolving problems.

“I promised direct access for constituents and I am very pleased to begin these operations in the first week in August,” Congresswoman Hochul said. “We will be expanding our outreach in the weeks and months ahead, as well as adding a permanent office in Monroe County, where we hope to serve even more constituents.”

The first four satellite operations will be located in Batavia (Genesee County), Lancaster (Erie County), Lockport (Niagara County), and Warsaw (Wyoming County). Thereafter, the Monroe County office will staff upcoming outreach in Livingston and Orleans Counties as well.

Batavia (Genesee County)
One Batavia City Centre
Conference Room
Batavia, New York 14020
1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., starting Aug. 2.

Lancaster (Erie County)
Lancaster Municipal Building
5423 Broadway
Library/Conference Room
Lancaster, NY 14086
1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., starting Aug. 3.

Lockport (Niagara County)
Lockport Municipal Building
6560 Dysinger Road
Snyder Room
Lockport, NY 14094
1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month from 2 to 4:30 p.m., starting Aug. 3.
 
Warsaw (Wyoming County)
Wyoming County Building
143 N. Main St.
Room 202, 2nd Floor
Warsaw, NY  14569
1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month from 2 to 4:30 p.m., starting Aug. 2.
 
Residents are encouraged to visit the offices during open hours to speak with a representative from Congresswoman Hochul’s office. All residents can still continue to receive assistance from the Williamsville office any day by calling (716) 634-2324 or by visiting the office at 325 Essjay Road, Suite #405, Williamsville, NY 14221.

Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 10:26 am

Meeting in DC on farm labor issues may lead to promising results, says participants

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul, Torrey Farms

Genesee County's farms are facing some of the same difficulties hitting farmers across the nation -- a combination of increased use of E-verify, bureaucratic difficulties with H-2A visas, a dwindling supply of immigrant labor and few U.S. citizens willing to do the work, making it difficult to bring crops in on time.

The confluence of events led to an unusual meeting in Washington, D.C., this past week, organized for Rep. Lois Slaughter (D-Fairport), with participation from Rep. Kathy Hochul and one of Genesee County's farmers, Maureen Torrey.

Torrey, owner of Torrey Farms, said the meeting was the first time high-level representatives of the U.S. Department of Labor, congressional representatives and famers have been able to sit down and discuss immigration issues.

The meeting lasted longer than planned, going two hours.

"Some of the old-timers there were surprised at some of the responses that we got," Torrey said. "We do think maybe there might be some improvement."

Hochul also said the meeting was productive and a unique opportunity to bring together two sides -- the DOL and farmers -- who are historically adversarial. 

"There is so much bureaucratic red tape it that it becomes a challenge for the farmers to get the workers they need," Hochul said. "These are people who are playing by the rules and they deserve all the help they can get from the government."

Torrey said the way the H-2A visa program is handled can really jeopardize the ability of farmers to harvest crops at the right time.

For example, she said, apples need to be picked on just the right day and pickers need to be experienced at recognizing the right color and firmness to pick apples at the right time, as well as be able to handle them properly to avoid damaging the fruit.

U.S. citizens, Torrey said, typically don't want the jobs and they lack the experience and training necessary to do the job properly.

Farmers want to be able bring back the same workers year after year to ensure they have the best labor force.

H-2A visas can be held up for a variety of reasons -- mistakes in the multiple pages of paperwork, a barely missed deadline, or a bureaucrat snafu can delay approval past harvest time.

Torrey said that a farmer might submit a batch of applications, have one disapproved and then face getting the entire batch rejected if she appeals just the one disapproval.

Hochul said the situation is just unacceptable.

"Some of the fields can’t be brought to market in time because they don't have enough popele to harvest the crops," Hochul said.

While the H-2A program requires that farmers first seek qualified labor among U.S. citizens, Torrey said few American ever respond to the required job listings.

In states such as Georgia, Florida and Alabama, where state legislatures have mandated use of a program called E-verify to check the legal status of workers, crops have been left to rot in the fields because there's been no workers available.

Torrey said even the DOL admits there are only about 50,000 qualified legal agricultural workers in the United States, but the annual demand is for 900,000 to one million workers.

Torrey said even Darien Lake Theme Park has trouble filling all of its season worker positions with citizen workers. The park hires about 300 foreign students  on J-1 visas.

"If Darien Lake needs 300 people on J-1 visas, it just shows you there are not enough people to take these jobs," Torrey said. "And that's fun work compared to working in a field."

Until there is a sustainable guest worker program, Torrey said, farmers are going to struggle to fill positions at harvest time.

A guest worker program has been under negotiation for 16 years, Torrey said, and while it wasn't the topic of the meeting organized by Slaughter, Torrey did attend a meeting on the subject while in D.C.

Meanwhile, according to a recent story in  The New York Times, the immigrant labor pool from Mexico is drying up. As economic and educational opportunities improve in Mexico, and the Baby Boom population that fueled the big illegal immigration moves in previous decades is getting older, there are fewer workers willing to take the risk of coming to America for work.

It's all of these forces pushing down the labor pool that made the meetings in Washington so important, Torrey said, and why she's glad they seemed so productive.

"It was really positive," Torrey said. "It is not only going to help Genesee County, but it's going to help farmers all across the country who are having the same issues, so our peers were really happy these meetings took place."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Hochul resisting pressure from Obama Administration to back new free trade deals

post by Howard B. Owens in free trade, kathy hochul

The Obama Administration is stepping up pressure on Congress to pass new free trade agreements, but Rep. Kathy Hochul (NY-26), elected to represent WNY in a special election a month ago, says she will stand by her campaign promise to vote against the proposed treaties.

In response to a question from The Batavian, her congressional spokesman, Fabien Levy, sent the follow message:

She still remains very opposed to all of the free trade agreements. I remember that during the campaign she went beyond your question on one free trade deal and answered it on all the free trade deals.  

Here's the question and answer Levy mentions:

Q: The next representative of the NY-26 is likely going to be asked on vote on the South Korea – United States Free Trade Agreement. If elected, will you vote “Yes” or “No.” After offering a straight up or down answer, please explain your yes or no vote.

A: No, I do not support the U.S./South Korea Free Trade Agreement. I also do not support the U.S./Panama or the U.S./Colombia Free Trade Agreements.

Millions of hard-working Americans have lost their jobs due to unfair trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA and entering into additional free trade agreements will only further harm our economy. Instead of expanding trade policies that have resulted in thousands of good paying Western New York jobs being sent overseas, we need to focus on creating an environment that gives smalls businesses the opportunity to innovate and grow, right here in the 26th District.

Hochul's opponent, Jane Corwin, took a far less solid stand on trade issues, but did say during a campaign appearance in Batavia that she supported "fair trade" and wasn't a "protectionist."

Trade arguably played an important role in Hochul winning the election. Polls seem to indicate that voters switched support for the outspoken anti-free trade candidate Jack Davis to Hochul, rather than Corwin, in the final week of the election.

Related to Hochul's position on free trade last week, the newly minted representative supported measures to crack down on currency manipulation by China.

(Photo: file photo)

A full press release from Hochul's office on that issue after the jump.

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