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Grassroots Bulletin

October 2012 Grassroots Newsletter

New York Elections Outlook: November 6th, 2012

On Tuesday, November 6th, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to vote in the presidential, congressional, and one senate race. Two of the house seats in our territory will see a new office holder for the first time in recent memory (NY-6 and NY-8). Additionally, due to redistricting, the Con Edison and Orange & Rockland service territories will include three additional districts: Congressmen Israel (D/NY-3), Gibson (R/NY-19) and Pascrell (D/NJ-9).

Incumbent President Obama (D) will face former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney (R). The outcome of the presidential race will largely depend on the current battleground states: Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.  New York, on the other hand, falls squarely in President Obama's camp, with the latest poll giving him support from 62 percent of likely New York voters.

U.S. Congress:
Only three seats in our New York service territory are ranked as “toss-ups”. The districts are NY-11 (currently held by Rep. Grimm/R), NY-18 (currently held by Rep. Nan Hayworth/R), and NY-19 (currently held by Rep. Chris Gibson/R).

NY-11 Staten Island, Brooklyn: Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst
Michael Grimm (R) –
Mark Murphy (D) – www.electmarkmurphy.com

In 2010, Grimm defeated Michael McMahon, a Democrat, with just 51.3 percent of voters. Although Grimm has the inside track to reelection, he has faced a number of setbacks, including an ongoing FBI investigation into his fundraising practices. 

Congressman Grimm is currently facing former congressional aide, Mark Murphy. Murphy most recently served as Borough Representative for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens.  He has also worked in both the U.S. House and the Senate.

NY-18 Hudson Valley: Poughkeepsie, Newburgh
Nan Hayworth (R) – www.nanhayworth.com
Sean Maloney (D) - www.seanmaloney.com

Although incumbent Congresswoman Hayworth has a 13 point lead over her opponent, attorney and former White House aide, Sean Maloney, this race promises to be close.

Maloney recently moved into the district to run and is a well-funded candidate.  Maloney is a former Clinton White House staffer and one of very few openly gay candidates in the country, which will draw national attention to the race.

NY-19 Northern Hudson Valley: Kingston, The Catskills
Chris Gibson (R) - www.chrisgibsonforcongress.com
Julian Schriebman (D) – www.julianforny.com

Incumbent Congressman Chris Gibson faces a reelection in a dramatically different district than 2010. Over 50 percent of the redrawn 19th district is new to Gibson, and President Obama won here with 54 percent of the vote in 2008.  The district loses Saratoga and picks up more liberal leaning areas like Kingston and New Paltz.

Gibson will face Julian Schriebman, a Yale law school graduate who as CIA counsel helped prosecute Al Qaeda terrorists responsible for the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Schriebman is originally from Ulster County and previously served as the County Democratic Chair.

U.S. Senate:
Kirsten Gillibrand (D) –
Wendy Long (R) – www.wendylongfornewyork.com

Sen. Gillibrand is up for yet another election.  She currently holds a strong lead, with the support of 64 percent of likely voters.  Gillibrand’s opponent is Wendy Long, who currently runs the Judicial Crisis Network. Earlier in her career, Long worked for U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey (R-N.H.) and then U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong (R-Colo).

State Legislative Races to Watch

A great deal of political focus in New York State this election is on what party will control the State Senate. Two years ago, the Republicans recaptured control of the State Senate following a two-year hiatus.  The Republicans currently hold a narrow 33 – 29 majority in the State Senate.

Two Republican incumbents recently faced stiff primary challenges.  Sen. Steve Saland narrowly won his primary race, while Senator Roy McDonald was defeated by Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione. Marchione will face Democrat Robin Andrews, supervisor of the town of Claverack in Columbia County.

To maintain control of the majority, Republicans are looking to defend an extremely vulnerable incumbent – Sen. Mark Grisanti – who represents the heavily Democratic district in and around Buffalo.  He faces Democratic newcomer Michael Amodeo.

The Republicans are also looking to win an open seat in Westchester, where long-time incumbent Democrat Suzi Oppenheimer is retiring.  Republican businessman Bob Cohen, who lost a close race to Oppenheimer in 2010, will face Democratic Assemblyman George Latimer in the general election. 

The Senate GOP must also defend an open Rochester-area seat, where the Republicans have endorsed sitting Assemblyman Sean Hanna.  He faces Democrat Ted O’Brien, who is the minority leader of the Monroe County legislature.

Other races to watch are Republican Assemblyman George Amedore who will face Democrat Cece Tkacszyk in the newly-created 46th Senate District in Albany County.  Incumbent Joseph Addabbo, a Queens Democrat is also facing a tough challenge from New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich. 

The New York State Assembly has been controlled by Democrats since 1975, and it is unlikely that the minority Republicans will present a serious challenge  for control of the chamber this election.  The Democrats currently hold a 99 – 49 advantage with one vacancy. There are 19 “open seats” throughout the state, where incumbents are either retiring or running for higher office. 

In the Con Edison service territory, incumbent Democrat Michael Cusick (Staten Island) faces a serious challenge from Sam Pirozzolo, president of Staten Island’s Community Education Council. Republican incumbent Bob Castelli (Westchester) also faces a serious challenge from David Buchwald who has received the endorsement of Sen. Kristin Gillibrand.

NYC Budget Cuts 

New York Mayor Bloomberg has called on city agency heads to come up with $2 billion in savings over the next 18 months to help close a projected $3 billion deficit for fiscal year 2013.

In June, the Mayor’s administration outlined a $68.7 billion budget, including an anticipated $1 billion in revenues from the sale of approximately 2,000 taxi medallions. The intent was to create a fleet of “borough taxis”, which would pick up “street-hails” and service the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan where yellow cabs are scarce.

That initiative, however, was blocked when a court ruled that authorizing the sale of the medallions was unconstitutional without the proposal being approved by the City Council through the usual legislative committee process. The mayor has appealed the court’s decision.

Under the mayor’s directive, city agencies must trim budgets by at least 5.4 percent this fiscal year and 8 percent next. Police, fire and corrections departments will cut 2.7 percent this fiscal year and 4 percent in fiscal 2014, and schools will target cuts of 1.6 percent this fiscal year and 4 percent in fiscal 2014.

All proposed cuts by the agencies cuts are due October 4, a month before the mayor presents his annual budget-modification plan to the City Council.

Temporary Spending Bill Funds Government Through March - Provides 0.06% increase in Federal Spending

This year, New York State passed its budget on time for the second year in a row.  In fact, every state passed their budget on time this year.  In Washington, DC, the news is not so good.  Once again, Congress and the president did not agree on a budget for the new federal fiscal year that began on October 1.

To avoid a shutdown of the federal government, a six-month temporary spending bill referred to as a Continuing Resolution or CR was enacted.  Faced with the upcoming election and pending “Fiscal Cliff” of looming expiring tax cuts and forced spending reductions, this was the best Congress could do.  And while it keeps the government operating at an annualized rate of $1.047 trillion as set under last year’s Budget Control Act, it has a number of shortcomings that limit the ability of the government to execute its mission effectively and operate efficiently.

The CR requires government agencies to generally spend their funds the way they did last year and it only provides funds for half the year, so programs that require most of their funds in the first half of the year are penalized.  The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is one of these programs as the greatest need for this assistance is in the winter months.  While the full year funding for LIHEAP is $3.478 billion, only half of that will be available between October 1 and March 27, 2013.  As in past years, Con Edison and other advocates for the program will need to petition the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services to make more funds available during the winter months to protect those in our community that need this assistance.

Dividend Tax
On December 31, 2012, the current tax rate on dividends and capital gains – which is currently capped at 15 percent – will expire.  Unless Congress acts before the end of the year, the maximum tax rate on dividend income will almost triple.

Today’s lower tax rates on dividends are good for the economy, American businesses, retirees and other investors. Such a surge in the dividend tax rate would have a devastating effect on job creation and investment in the recovering U.S. economy.

Get the facts on dividend tax.

Con Edison employees and retirees have sent over 1,400 emails to legislators.  Take Action and have your voice heard.    

Election 2012
Are you ready to vote?  Find registration deadlines, your candidates and your polling place.  Get out and Vote 


What president's real campaign footage appeared in Clint Eastwood's movie In The Line of Fire?

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 grassroots@coned.com with "Civics Quiz" in the subject line for a chance to win two tickets to see Cyrano de Bergerac at the Roundabout Theatre.

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