Friday, September 30, 2011


PEF Members Reject Contract, Governor Cuomo Issues Pink Slips

Governor Cuomo on Wednesday moved forward with plans to lay off 3,500 PEF-represented state workers after members rejected a contract proposal.

The layoffs won't affect CSEA-represented state Executive Branch employees who ratified a contract agreement in August that kept people working and protected their rights and benefits.

Stop the Increase for Retiree Health Insurance Costs

Beginning October 1, 2011 Governor Cuomo will begin charging state retirees an additional 2% of their health insurance premium. CSEA did not negotiate or approve this increase. Tell Governor Cuomo that you can’t afford to pay any more.

Please click here to tell the Governor that, instead of making retirees living on a fixed income pay more, he should ask MILLIONAIRES to pay their fair share.

Legislative Update

While the legislature is not currently in session, Governor Cuomo is still reviewing and acting on legislation that passed both legislative chambers during this past session.

The Governor vetoed CSEA supported legislation that would have required an annual report by the state regarding the number of temporary employees “hired” on a regular basis. He also vetoed legislation that would have allowed the spouses and dependents of public employees injured on the job to continue to receive health insurance at the same cost as when the employee was active.


New York, N.Y.--  This year's theme, People First! Working Together for Strong Communities, Quality Services and Good Jobs summarizes our efforts to lift all working people. It also emphasizes that off the job, we are part of our community.  Thousands of CSEA dedicated activists will be convening at the NYC Sheraton (7th Ave.) on Monday, October 3 through Friday, October 7.

We care about quality services and good jobs because we are family, friends and neighbors. This is certainly no easy task in these difficult economic times.

The key is hard work and the lesson we have learned for more than a century is that nothing comes easy. To reshape the future we must learn from the past and also be willing to grasp change.

Our 101st Annual Delegates Meeting takes place during a time of unprecedented challenges. As President Donohue has said many times before, and will continue to say into the future, CSEA is often at its best when times are toughest. With that in mind, we have crafted an agenda designed to toughen us to turn bad times into good times.

For more information about the ADM, you can go here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Protesters have been occupying a portion of a NYC street corner near Wall Street since Sept. 17. Most observers agree the movement is only going to grow as average folk take to the streets.
photo provided
New York City--  The group of young people who have set up camp in lower Manhattan in order to protest what they say is the corruption of Wall Street have been dismissed by some as being a disorganized mess with no real focus.

However, New York Magazine reports that next week, some organized labor groups have vowed to help "Occupy Wall Street" and add to the growing numbers of activists. The CSEA Voice Reporter announces today that we will be in NYC next week getting the story first person.

In a few days, the protest site will also welcome members of New York's organized labor coalitions including the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United, and Transport Workers Union Local 100 (TWU), which voted unanimously last night to support the occupation. Other groups standing in solidarity include the Working Families Party, the Coalition for the Homeless and

If you don't remember, the protesters in New York have taken inspiration from the protests in North Africa and the Middle East that make up the Arab Spring. They're camping out at Zucotti Park and, again in the spirit of the Arab Spring, "renamed it" Liberty Plaza.

Despite the common cause, New York City's well established progressive activists did not initially embrace the protest, which began Sept. 17 and has been made up mostly of young people who are angry about the widening income chasm in the country, the growing influence of money on politics and police brutality, among other issues.

As the action nears the start of its third week, labor unions and political protestors are motivated perhaps by a sense of solidarity and a desire to tap into this growing movement.

The protestors have transformed the park into a village of sorts, complete with a community kitchen, a library, a concert stage, an arts and crafts center and a media hub. All of that has enabled them not just to sustain the action but to build momentum. And as celebrities like Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Russell Simmons and Cornel West have joined in, the city's traditional activists have been forced to jump into the fray. "It's become too big to ignore," said one political consultant.

That's also what the Village Voice heard from a TWU spokesman, who said the board voted unanimously to support the movement.

"Well, actually, the protesters, it's pretty courageous what they're doing," Jim Gannon told the alternatively weekly. "And it's brought a new public focus in a different way to what we've been saying along. While Wall Street and the banks and the corporations are the ones that caused the mess that's flowed down into the states and cities, it seems there's no shared sacrifice. It's the workers having to sacrifice while the wealthy get away scot-free. It's kind of a natural alliance with the young people and the students — they're voicing our message, why not join them?"

An "Occupy Wall Street" protestor highlights the absurd income inequality quotient in the United States.
photo: Keystone/Rex Features

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Albany, N.Y.--  Here's Gov. Cuomo's full statement on the Public Employee Federation vote to reject a proposed contract with the state:

"The members of the Public Employee Federation have made their decision on a contract that would have protected them against the state needing to lay off their workers in order to achieve the required workforce savings passed as part of this year's budget.

In this economic reality, rising state workforce costs are unsustainable, as the members of the Civil Service Employees Association, the state's largest union, recognized when they overwhelmingly passed an identical contract. The Legislature passed a budget that made clear that reducing these costs would be achieved either through the collective bargaining process or through layoffs.

"I urge them to reconsider."

And another statement just in from Cuomo's director of operations, Howard Glaser:

"Today's vote represents a failure by PEF's leadership to effectively communicate the benefits of the contract to its members as CSEA's leadership did. Layoffs could still be avoided if PEF clearly articulates to its members the benefits of the contract as well as the consequences of rejection and schedules a revote. We spent months working with PEF's leadership and reached an agreement. We now find out that they do not truly represent their membership.

"Members of the Civil Service Employees Association who agreed to a layoff protection as part of their ratified collective bargaining agreement, will not be subject to the approximately 3,500 layoffs that will begin today."

(An administration official said notices will be going out today, and kick in 21 days afterward.)

And Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver weighs in: "While I am disappointed in the outcome of this vote, it is my hope that the Governor and the leaders of the Public Employees Federation will come to a resolution that will save jobs and preserve the state’s ability to provide vital services to its citizens. These are tough economic times, and I hope that everyone involved can come together to make the shared sacrifices that are necessary to put the state on sound fiscal footing and preserve jobs for hard working men and women."


Albany, N.Y.--When the 56,000-member Public Employees Federation tallies the results of its contract ratification vote later today, the layoffs of more than 3,000 members could hang in the balance.

Whatever way it goes, the vote will bring a degree of closure to a summer of on-again, off-again layoff scares among a large portion of New York's state workforce.

The PEF balloting follows August's ratification of a nearly identical five-year contract by the 66,000-member Civil Service Employees Association. That vote was approved by a 59-41 percent margin.

In exchange, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said CSEA members would be shielded from budget-driven layoffs. The labor agreement helps the administration hit its savings targets for 2010-11 budget year.

Initially, the administration threatened to fire up to 9,800 people statewide if it couldn't achieve $450 million in workforce savings during the current fiscal year, which runs through the end of March 2012.

Budget officials later said that some of the savings would be pushed into the following budget year, but Cuomo has been adamant that a no vote would spark layoffs.

In fact, the administration began the layoff process in July, sending out preliminary notices to PEF members who had relatively low seniority. Those layoff warnings were rescinded in July pending the ratification vote.

Ratification ballots were mailed out Sept. 2 and due back yesterday. They will be counted in New York City by members of the American Arbitration Association. PEF President Ken Brynien is expected to announce the results this Tuesday afternoon.

PEF members have complained that the offer -- which includes furloughs, three years without raises and higher health care costs -- would penalize them financially.

The deal, however, also included a $1,000 bonus in the third year and 2 percent raises in the last two years, as well as the layoff protections.

The layoff issue may have pitted more senior workers against those with the least seniority who would be the first to lose their jobs.

Senior workers have complained that the lack of raises could affect their pensions, which are based upon salary from their three top-earning years. Some have also maintained that there are no blanket layoff protections, since job losses emerging from the recommendations of a special commission to help streamline state government are excluded; these reductions, however, would have to be approved by the Legislature.

Newer workers, however, could find themselves in what has been described as one of the worst job markets since the Great Depression.

For much of the past month PEF leaders have been traveling the state, meeting with union members in hopes of getting a yes vote. Dissidents, however, want to see the contract voted down, with several starting up websites against the proposed deal.

As of last weekend, sources said the Cuomo administration was updating its layoff lists -- which change constantly due to retirements -- and the new notices could go out this week.

With the state's strict seniority-based rules and other guidelines governing job cuts, any mass cut would be complicated.

That would be doubly true if cuts were targeted just to PEF. The state has numerous jobs or career paths in which members of the more blue-collar CSEA have been promoted into managerial or technical positions represented by PEF.

Additionally, layoffs involve the complex process of "bumping," in which more senior employees can replace those with less time on the job, even if it means the senior person retreats to a lower-paying position.

In a radio interview Monday, the governor says he remains hopeful that layoffs can be prevented, but "either way it's going to be manageable for us."

Even if PEF members approve their contract, the layoff threat wouldn't disappear entirely from the public workforce. The administration recently suggested in an email to state agency heads that layoffs could hit other unions such as United University Professions, which represents faculty and professional employees in the state university system, and the state Corrections Officers & Police Benevolent Association, which represents prison guards.

Both have unresolved contracts: UUP is in talks to renew the agreement that expired earlier in the year, and NYSCOBA has been in arbitration over a contract dispute dating back several years.

NYSCOBA officials couldn't be reached on Monday. UUP spokesman Don Feldstein said his union has been in contract talks with the administration.

What's at stake

The ratification of a five-year contract with the Public Employees Federation, the state's second largest union at 56,000 members. Ballots will be counted Tuesday, with an announcement expected around 2 p.m.

If it's approved

The contract calls for three years without broad-based salary increases, followed by two years of 2 percent increases.

There will be two furlough periods, although pay for the second unpaid vacation will be paid back to workers by the end of the contract.

PEF employees are protected from layoffs arising from the currently forecast budget deficit for two years.

Health insurance costs will rise for current workers and PEF retirees.

If it's rejected:

The Cuomo administration has told state agencies to update layoff lists in order to move swiftly on more than 3,000 reductions within PEF's ranks. The state is required to give workers 20 days' notice.

The provisions of the current contract between the state and PEF would remain in place due to the Triborough Amendment, which locks in pre-existing terms and working conditions during arbitration.

Reporting by Rick Karlin at 454-5758 or

Monday, September 26, 2011


Rochester, N.Y.--  The GOP plan is to keep millions of Americans from working while trying to get one man out of a job.  Is this the kind of government you want representing you?  Video slide show production by Ove Overmyer.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Rochester, N.Y.--  Steve Eckel represents the 26th District, which includes parts of Gates, Greece, Irondequoit, and the City of Rochester. Steve was first appointed to the Monroe County Legislature in March of 2005 and then elected to a two-year term in November 2005 and re-elected for a four-year term in November 2007. He currently serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Agenda Charter Committee, as well as a member of the Public Safety Committee.

CSEA highly recommends Mr. Eckel for  his re-election bid.  Cris Zaffuto, CSEA Monroe County Local 828 PAC Co-Chair says, "Steve has always been there for us-- he is a good listener and is willing to challenge the status quo to improve the lives of working families here in Monroe County.  The legislature would be more functional if other legislators took cues from Steve's professionalism."

Steve is committed to building vibrant neighborhoods and working with the people of the four towns he represents. He works to strengthen citizens' pride in their communities and become more active in the governance of their towns.

Professionally, Steve is an Adjunct Professor of Photography at Genesee Community College. His photographic work has been shown internationally and published in several books and national journals.

Steve Eckel and his wife Bridget Monroe and three children, live on Seneca Parkway in the historic Maplewood Neighborhood.  For more information about Steve's candidacy, you can go here.


Vincent Esposito
Rochester, N.Y. – CSEA has endorsed Vinnie Esposito for Monroe County Legislature, (16th District, Irondequoit.) Esposito, a Democrat, has served on the Monroe County Legislature since 2007.

Vinnie currently serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Legislature’s Planning and Economic Development Committee, and is also a member of the Agenda/Charter Committee, where he has spearheaded several reform proposals such as reducing the size of the legislature, independent redistricting and rules reform. Vinnie served on the Transportation Committee and County Planning Board from 2008 through 2010. In November 2010, Vinnie was unanimously elected to the position of Deputy to the Leadership of the Democratic Caucus and also appointed to the Ways & Means Committee and the Monroe County Council of Local Governments.

”We are thrilled to support a candidate that respects and understands the value of public employees and worker rights,” said Ove Overmyer, CSEA Monroe County Local 828 PAC Co-Chairman. “As a County Legislator, Vinnie has been a true friend to working people of his district. We should know—we represent almost every public worker in the town of Irondequoit. When we need an answer or some direction, Mr. Esposito has always been there for us.”

There are nearly 10,000 CSEA represented Monroe County motivated voters who work for public and private employers, including New York State, Monroe County, City of Rochester, towns and villages and the private healthcare industry.

Please go to Vinnie's homepage to support his campaign.

CSEA is New York State’s leading union, representing employees of New York State and its counties, towns, villages, school districts, library systems, authorities and public corporations. Together with a growing population of private sector members and retirees, CSEA forms a union 290,000 strong. It is also the largest affiliate (and Local 1000) of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which, in turn, is one of the largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO.


Rochester, N.Y.--  The taxpayers and citizens of Rochester and Monroe County deserve a local government administration that is just as honest, fair-minded, hard-working and sincere as they are. No more, no less.

Sooner or later, the questionable actions of this administration would reach a tipping point-- and now it has. Are decisions made for the greater good, or are public tax dollars just supporting well-connected political donors and operatives plus GOP Party loyalists?

Everywhere we go, people are telling us they are fed up. People are tired of being manipulated and lied to. Most of us know better now-- the majority of taxpayers in Monroe County are finally waking up to this pay-to-play, nepotistic, self-serving political system we call county government.

This slide show revisits this administration's scandalous past and dubious choices, incident after incident, debacle after debacle-- and many events and issues were not even mentioned. That would include the nonprofit ESL Sports Centre making political contributions to local GOP elected officials, arresting a NYS Assemblymember in Feb. 2008 at a Public Safety Meeting and the defunding of the Center for Disability Rights.

This is in addition to a County workforce (CSEA and FSW) who have been working without a contract for 996 days (as of Sept. 24, 2011).

Area voters and our working families get another shot at who represents them this November. A positive outlook and future for Monroe County's middle-class depends upon a strong voter turnout on Tuesday, November 8.

Please get out and vote on Election Day. Be your own best advocate.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Monroe County Legislator Dick Beebe (6th District, Greece)
says we need greater oversight on local development corporations.
photo:  Ove Overmyer
Rochester, N.Y.--  According to local news sources, Democratic lawmakers in the Monroe County Legislature on Thursday introduced legislation that would greatly expand the legislature’s role in overseeing local development corporations that serve county functions.

The measure would require greater financial disclosure by local development corporations, which, despite their prominent role in managing and financing a variety of operations operate without the scrutiny that other county agencies receive.

The legislation coincided with the release of a state audit of the county’s contract with Upstate Telecommunications Corp., a local development corporation that manages the county’s information technology systems.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli charged in the audit that the contract has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and smacked of insider dealing. He referred his findings to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for review.

Under the measure, legislators from the majority and minority parties would hold seats on the boards of local development corporations, and county contracts with them would be limited to five years in duration.

Legislator Richard Beebe, of Greece, said enough questions about the county’s use of local development corporations to warrant cooperation from the Republican majority on the matter.

“Time and again we’ve been told not to worry, everything is fine, but that’s just not good enough,” Beebe said. “Such approvals are the most basic oversight that needs to be required of these shadowy entities.”

Local development corporations are nonprofit organizations that have proliferated here and across the state in recent years, as municipal governments have turned to them to manage public functions off their budget books and, often, outside of the usual regulatory oversight.

In Monroe County, local development corporations oversee parking garages, computer networks and public safety communications systems.


Rochester, N.Y.--  According to the D&C, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has forwarded his audit of a local development corporation contracted to manage Monroe County’s information technology systems to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to review for any potential criminal wrongdoing.  To read a copy of the audit, you can go here.

The audit, a draft of which was reported in the Democrat and Chronicle on Sunday, charged that the county wasted millions of taxpayer dollars creating and contracting with the local development corporation, Upstate Telecommunications Corp., and appeared to misled legislators into approving the deal.

Auditors also charged that the agreement violated county law, and suggested the deal was orchestrated by a small circle of county government insiders who either stood to gain or inappropriately influence the contract.

“It is hard to see how the use of a (local development corporation) in this instance was in any way good for Monroe County taxpayers,” DiNapoli said today in releasing the final version of the audit.

Responding to inquiries last week about the draft of the audit, the county denied any wrongdoing and said its timing appeared to be politically motivated.

Editor's Note:  The taxpayers of Monroe County know better than to accept the county's media response to the NYS Comptroller's report.  When asked point blank to respond to these developments, the Brooks administration reverts back to their small-minded spin language to divert your attention away from the facts, data, testimony and truth of the matter.  When they can't twist the facts as they see fit, they rely on the ol' trusty "politically motivated" angle.  It will not work this time.

A reasonable response would of bordered something like this:  "We want to reassure the taxpayers of Monroe County that we are cooperating in every way possible to find remedies and solutions to any issues surrounding the creation and implementation of local development corporations."  Instead, and in predictable fashion, they had to get defensive and attack the messenger and plead "not guilty."

The taxpayers of Monroe County see right through this thinly-disguised charade perpetrated on the citizens of our community.  Their dismissive attitude toward the same people they were sworn to represent and their arrogant soundbites to suggest they are beyond reproach makes this all the more unpalatable.  Frankly speaking, the petulance and smugness is an embarrassment to every citizen who cares about democracy and good government.

Sooner or later, the questionable actions of this administration would reach a tipping point-- and now it has.  People are fed up.  People are tired of being manipulated and lied to.  Most of us know better now-- the majority of taxpayers in Monroe County are finally waking up to this pay-to-play, nepotistic, self-serving corrupt system we call county government.  This particular LDC debacle is just the tip of the iceberg.  Just you wait.

To read an earlier Voice Reporter post about the LDC debacle, you can go here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Rochester, N.Y.-- Despite a widespread belief that contracting out services to the private sector saves the government money, a new study suggests just the opposite-- that the government actually pays more when it farms out work.

The study found that in 33 of 35 occupations, the federal government actually paid billions of dollars more to hire contractors than it would have cost government employees to perform comparable services. On average, the study found that contractors charged the federal government more than twice the amount it pays federal workers.

According to the New York Times, the study was conducted by the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit Washington group. The federal government spends about $320 billion a year on contracts for services. The POGO study looked at a subset of those contracts.

The study comes after months of criticism, mostly by Republicans, about what they see as the high cost of salaries and benefits for federal workers.  The House earlier this year passed a Republican budget plan that would freeze pay grade levels and eliminate raises for five years, and cut the government’s work force by 10 percent. Last year, President Obama announced a two-year salary freeze for federal workers, which Republicans said did not go far enough.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank based in Washington, released a flawed report last year that found that federal employees earn 22 percent more in hourly wages than the private sector. The Heritage study also found that if federal employee compensation were adjusted to match that of their private sector counterparts, federal spending would be reduced by $47 billion in 2011 alone.

But POGO said its study did not just compare the salaries of the two sectors; instead it focused on what the government actually pays contractors to perform services versus how much it would cost to have that work done by in-house staff members.   Hmmmmm-- nothing like fudging the numbers so you can get the expected outcome you desire.

“That’s a big difference,” said Scott Amey, POGO’s general counsel. “We compared the full compensation paid to federal government and private sector employees to the billable rates in federal service contracts. Across the board you see that it cost government more to pay for contractors.”

For example, the study found that, on average, the federal government paid contractors $268,653 per year for computer engineering services, while government workers in the same occupation made $136,456.
For human resources management, the federal government paid contractors an annual rate of $228,488, more than twice the $111,711 to have the same services done in-house.

The Office of Personnel Management, which administers the federal work force, did not respond to questions about the study, but in the past it has criticized reports that say federal workers are overpaid.

Mr. Amey said the study was limited because it looked only at General Services Administration schedule, or previously negotiated, contracts, which are unfinanced five-year contracts listing the fees the federal government has agreed to pay for outside commercial products and services. Financing occurs when an order is placed and signed by a federal agency.  Mr. Amey said schedule contracts were also the only ones that had salaries and benefits information included.

“Part of the problem with doing studies like this is the lack of data about what the government pays contractors,” he said. “While this study is limited to a subset of government contracts, it’s the only area where you have information.”

Mr. Amey says the government usually pays contractors for multiple-year jobs, not just short term.  Paul C. Light, a professor at New York University who has studied the contractor work force, said he found the POGO study interesting. “Contracting out to the private sector is often oversold as the answer to better services, better performance and better cost,” Mr. Light said. “But doing this type of analysis shows that it’s not the case.”

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Rochester, N.Y.--  Three cheers to Rochester’s hometown newspaper for shining a light on an issue that has been burning in the hearts of good government groups for almost a decade.

In today's Sunday edition, they have asked the right question: (Crux of issue: Are LDCs good policy?) but the truth is-- this is not a rhetorical question.

Could it be our county government uses LDC’s to funnel money to political associates and keep taxpayer dollars in the hands of just a few?  They do this all without the purview of tax-paying citizens and the County Legislature and at the same time, ignore local labor laws that govern municipalities. To say that creating LDC’s is ripe for mismanagement is an understatement.

It’s all very confusing to most objective observers and we say that is part of this diabolical deliberate master plan. All you have to do is follow the money and the intricate web of personalities that come and go on the boards of all these LDC’s.

For those who are interested, the well-connected list of GOP operatives who have benefited from public employment dollars and the creation of these LDCs reads like a Who’s Who of law firms, political appointees and local construction company giants. 

Are these LDC’s created for the greater good or are they just a mechanism to award contracts and our tax dollars to benefit the privileged few who toss donations to the current administration?  Has the prolific use of LDC's created a path for personal gain at the expense of the greater Rochester community?  The obvious lack of transparency should yield reasonable questions about how we do business in Monroe County.  Now more than ever, taxpayers should be asking themselves these important questions.

According to a news item from the ABC affiliate out of Rochester, N.Y., in 2009, the GOP majority led county legislature voted through a controversial deal to privatize its public safety and security systems. The county would create a development corporation (called M3SLDC) which would then sign a $224 million dollar deal with a new enterprise with no publicly known clients called “Navitech” to lease the equipment.

$224 million dollars is a lot of taxpayer money. Critics say it's being spent on an upgrade that will save only about $10 million dollars over the life of the 20 year contract. Interesting math, huh?

When this hubbub came about, it received little media attention. In 2009, the conversation whether or not such development corporations (LDC's) were acting responsibly came to light because they were not subject to open meeting laws required by all government entities. Even though LDC's distribute tax payer funds, the public had no direct knowledge of the actual business records of these newly created LDC’s.

In August of 2009, Navitech took over maintenance of the county's phone and computer equipment.

Navitech was selected from a field of 11 competing firms. Turns out it was the only one left standing-- the remaining 10 were rejected for various reasons.

Among the people involved in writing the bid that got Navitech the job was big time GOP political contributor John Perrone-- even though he was listed as a contractor that Navitech would hire. Illegal? Maybe not. Conflict of interest?  Probably.

Perrone at the time also had a business called American Security Consultants. According to press reports from WHAM-TV, his partner in that business is Bob Wiesner. Wiesner's name should sound familiar. He is the husband of Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks.  Perrone currently serves as the Director of the Homeland Security Management Institute, an initiative of Monroe Community College.

One other note about Wiesner. The Navitech deal is set up by a three member board that will run the LDC. One of those people will be appointed by the Monroe County Water Authority. Bob Weisner is now the director of security for the Monroe County Water Authority.  Before this appointment, Wiesner was Director of Public Safety at Monroe Community College.

In addressing the potential for a troubling conflict of interest the county said that Perrone would receive no contracts from Navitech, presuming that would extend to the company he also shares with Bob Weisner. But how can taxpayers be certain? Remember that LDC's are not required to open their operations to public scrutiny, though many of them do.

Monroe County taxpayers do not know the focus of the state investigations now apparently underway. Both the Attorney General's office and the Comptroller's office have declined comment about the nature of their inquiries and probably won’t reveal their findings until after the November election.  That just might be too late for the voters of Monroe County to get the answers they deserve.

The entrance to the International HQ of Navitech
is a detached garage on the property of 198 Park Ave.
near Goodman Street.

This D&C article is a must read:
At its core, the state comptroller's audit of Monroe County's contract with Upstate Telecommunications Corp. questions the appropriateness of using local development corporations to perform public functions.

Local development corporations, or LDCs, are nonprofit organizations, in some cases legal charities, created ostensibly for economic development purposes.

But as they have proliferated in recent years, they have come under greater scrutiny by state officials and watchdog groups as vehicles for local governments to skirt procurement and transparency laws and take debt off their books.

More prevalent

The number of LDCs

But questions abound about whether they have saved any money at all.

Auditors found that the county could not provide documentation of savings from the UTC.

A top economist with the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester, which has studied LDCs using a grant from the League of Women Voters, said savings can be difficult to quantify.

"I don't know how you prove that something saves money like this," said CGR President Kent Gardner. (Editor's note:  This quote is revealing because CGR is widely known as a right-leaning political think tank.)

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is pushing legislation to strengthen his office's oversight of LDCs, though it has so far only been introduced in the Assembly. Although LDCs spend local tax dollars, the comptroller has no authority to audit them, only local governments' relationships to them.

In addition, DiNapoli has proposed prohibiting local governments from leaning too heavily on a provision of the law governing LDCs that describes them as "lessening the burdens of government and acting in the public interest." The clause, which is used routinely in Monroe County and elsewhere, is "overly broad," DiNapoli argues.

The Authorities Budget Office, the state watchdog agency that oversees public authorities, has expanded its role to include oversight of LDCs.

The comptroller would also like contracts between local governments and LDCs be limited to five years.

"Are there problems going on with LDCs?" asked Michael Farrar, deputy director of the state Authorities Budget Office. "I think it's too early to tell the extent, although there have been a number of audits by the Comptroller's Office and good government groups and we've seen indications ourselves that, because there hasn't been a lot of oversight, there is at least the potential for things to go wrong."

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Washington, D.C.--  A new Center for American Progress white paper — written by an author who should be very familiar to the readers of this blog — outlines exactly what would happen if the right succeeds in imposing its constitutional agenda upon the nation. The core of the paper is an explanation of everything that will cease to exist if the Tea Party gets it’s way:
  • Social Security and Medicare
  • Medicaid, SCHIP, and other health care programs
  • All federal education programs
  • All federal antipoverty programs
  • Federal disaster relief
  • Federal food safety inspections and other food safety programs
  • Child labor laws, the minimum wage, overtime, and other labor protections
  • Federal civil rights laws
Indeed, as the paper explains, the Tea Party’s embrace of the unconstitutional doctrine of nullification threatens the very union itself. You can read the paper at this link.


Where are the jobs, Speaker Boehner?

After 255 days in the House Majority, Republicans have failed to introduce any jobs legislation.

You can tell Boehner to put aside the golf clubs, put down the tissues and get to work helping the President create jobs.

Help us reach 100,000 people standing strong demanding Speaker Boehner stop standing in the way of President Obama’s plan to create jobs.

Co-sign the American Jobs Act Petition and tell Speaker Boehner to support President Obama’s plan to put Americans back to work.

The President’s American Jobs Act is a bold plan to create millions of good paying American jobs and Boehner and Tea Party Republicans need to stop their cheap delaying tactics and support it right now.

See Speaker Boehner’s response to President Obama’s jobs speech? It was the same warmed over trickle down drivel Tea Party Republicans have been selling for years. Tax cuts for Big Oil, Billionaires and corporations that send jobs overseas; table scraps and crumbs for the middle class and unemployed.

Co-sign the American Jobs Act Petition and tell Speaker Boehner to support President Obama’s plan to put Americans back to work.

Together, Working Families, Democrats and the Labor Movement will get America back to work. Sign this petition and join our campaign today.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Rochester, N.Y.--  Just recently, the five CSEA Locals in Monroe County have made their political endorsement recommendations to the WNY Region 6 Political Action Committee for consideration.  CSEA represents nearly 10,000 workers in the Monroe County area in a variety of public sector and private sector health care related disciplines. 

CSEA did not interview or endorse any races for Rochester City School District Commissioner of Schools, City Council or any other local office in any town or village in Monroe County.

With unanimous approval, these candidates will receive support for elected office for the 2011 election cycle:

Candidate and office
Sandra Frankel for Monroe County Executive                                      

Sandra Doorley for District Attorney                                         

Paula Randall, County Legislator- 12                                     

Sandra Oliver, County Legislator- 4                                       

Darren Miller, County Legislator- 18                                      

Moe Bickweat, County Legislator- 5                                        

Paul Haney, County Legislator- 23                                   

Josh Barouth, County Legislator- 24                                      

Vinnie Esposito, County Legislator- 16                                     
Dick Beebe, County Legislator- 6                                      

Saul Maneiro, County Legislator- 29                                      

Butch Fitzsimmons, County Legislator- 15                                      

Steve Eckel, County Legislator- 26 
Cindy KalehCounty Legislator- 28                                      

Ted O’Brien, County Legislator- 17                                    

Carrie Andrews, County Legislator- 21                                      

Willie Jo Lightfoot, County Legislator- 27     

PEOPLE is CSEA and AFSCME's political action program. The PEOPLE program protects and improves our jobs, benefits and pensions in Washington, Albany and in your community. Your support and participation in PEOPLE strengthens CSEA's clout in the workplace, in the legislature, in your community and in the labor movement.  Here are some of the details of exactly what this program does:                          

  • Protects the quality and access of health insurance for active and retired members (passed legislation that created a task force to recommend cost-effective strategies for protecting affordable health insurance coverage for retired public employees).

  • Stands up against hostile editorials, anti-labor organizations and holds politicians accountable for their decisions.

  • Fights against demands to give back contractual raises and reopen contracts.

  • Preserves essential services, protects jobs and fights layoffs.

  • Maintains a safe and healthy workplace and protects employees from unnecessary harm with the passage of the Workplace Violence Prevention Act.  

  • Passed cancer screening legislation.

  • Protects Social Security from privatization.

  • Go here for a printable version of the endorsed candidates list from the CSEA Political Action homepage.  For any questions and comments about CSEA's political action endorsement process, you can contact CSEA Monroe County Local 828's Political Action Committee Co-Chairs Cris Zaffuto and Ove Overmyer.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011


    Photo:  Bess Watts
    Rochester, N.Y.-- The portion of Americans living in poverty last year rose to the highest level since 1993, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, fresh evidence that the sluggish economic recovery has done nothing for the country’s poorest citizens.
    And in new evidence of economic distress among the middle class, real median household incomes declined by 2.3 percent in 2010 from the previous year, to $49,400.

    An additional 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line in 2010, census officials said, making 46.2 million people in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch at the Census Bureau. That represented 15.1 percent of the country.   The poverty line in 2010 was at $22,113 for a family of four.

    The reason why we have such large income and wealth disparities is because the top 2 percent want it that way. A decade of GOP policies, deregulation, shipping our jobs overseas to emerging middle-class markets in Brazil, India and China, funding two unnecessary wars, plus tax breaks for the rich have put our middle class in dire straits. No economy can function with a middle class that has no spending power, and that’s just fine for the opulent minority.

    The national Republican master plan-- which is being implemented in every state with a Republican Governor, is to lower wages for all working people-- union and non-union, get rid of pension plans, health care plans and all other benefits that all Americans currently receive thanks to union bargaining over the last 100 years.

    Then, their vision includes to privatize everything under the sun. This will allow various companies and corporations, the very ones that put these governors into office in the first place thanks to the Citizens United v. FEC court decision, to profit off of cheap labor and your hard earned tax dollars. You will no longer have to worry about companies and corporations hiring illegal immigrants because Republicans and the corporations they work for are creating their very own 3rd world workforce made up of what use to be America’s middle-class.

    Under GOP rule, your government will no longer be accountable to you the resident taxpayer-- you will have to suffer with the products and services delivered by a private company-- a private company only motivated by profit off of your tax dollars and you will have no say about any of it. Think about that the next time you want a pothole filled on your street.

    What is so perverse about this trend is just how vastly it misunderstands what went wrong with the American economy in the first place. And, what makes this go-around extraordinary is that national political leaders from both major parties have been pushing that same agenda.  Spending is not our problem-- it's our priorities that need fixing.

    “The figures we are releasing today are important,” said Robert Groves, the director of the Census Bureau. “They tell us how changing economic conditions have impacted Americans and their families.”

    According to the Census figures, the median annual income for a male full-time, year-round worker in 2010 — $47,715 — was virtually unchanged from its level in 1973, when the level was $49,065, in 2010 dollars.

    “That’s not about the poor and unemployed, that’s full time, year round,” said Sheldon Danziger, professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. Particularly hard hit, Professor Danziger said, have been those who do not have college degrees. “The median, full-time male worker has made no progress on average.”

    The youngest members of households — those ages 15 to 24 — lost out the most, with their median income dropping by 9 percent. The recession continued to push Americans to double up in households with friends and relatives, especially those aged 25 to 34, a group that experienced a 25 percent rise in the period between 2007, when the recession began and 2011. Of that group, 45.3 percent were living below the poverty line, when their parents incomes were not taken into account.

    Until the voting public creates a governing body that puts people before profit, perhaps then we might see some relief for the middle-class working family and an economy where most people can participate. Simply put, the American people are hungry for our leaders to restore a vision for a national future founded on the premise that social justice and material prosperity are not competing values-- that they can co-exist and are necessary to each other for a healthy, sustainable and growing economy. The sooner we recognize that, the better.

    Commentary by Ove Overmyer

    The data from this article, "U.S. Poverty Rate, 1 in 6, at Highest Level in Years," was the primary source information for this commentary and originally appeared at The New York Times Service.

    Sunday, September 11, 2011


    Rochester, N.Y. -- CSEA has officially endorsed Democratic incumbent Saul A. Maneiro for Monroe County Legislator, 29th Legislative District.  The 29th Legislative District covers northeast portions of the City of Rochester. Saul A. Maneiro has served as a Monroe County Legislator since January 2010.  Saul is a lifelong resident of northeast Rochester where his family roots run deep. He currently serves as a Program Officer at the Rochester Area Community Foundation where he oversees funding to help improve neighborhood programs, promote arts and cultural initiatives, preserve our rich local history and boost efforts to better engage citizens in all aspects of our community.

    Before assuming his current job in 2007, he was Program Manager for The Housing Council in Rochester, and a Legislative Aide in the New York State Senate. In the legislature he serves as the Ranking Minority Member on the Intergovernmental Relations Committee and also serves on the Planning and Economic Development and Transportation Committees.
    Maneiro marches in the "WE ARE ONE"
    rally in SW Rochester, April 4, 2011.
    photo:  Bess Watts
    Saul attended Rochester City Schools and is a graduate of Wilson Magnet High School and the University of Rochester where he received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Since graduating from the University of Rochester, he has been an active volunteer with many organizations that serve the community. He is a founder and serves on the Executive Committee of NextGen Rochester, a group of young professionals who provide funding to nonprofits serving the community.

    Ove Overmyer, CSEA Monroe County Local 828 Political Action Committee Co-Chair said, “Mr. Maneiro is a true friend to working people and the middle class.  Saul has a keen understanding of the issues that our working families face—and he is willing to implement policy decisions to improve the quality of life for the people he represents.  We wholeheartedly support his candidacy.  Plus, when you talk about good government and representation, please note this fact:  Saul is the only Latino on the legislature.”

    CSEA represents hundreds of workers who live in the 29th District.  Maneiro faces Mike Patterson in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, September 13.  Regardless of the primary outcome, both candidates’ names will appear on other ballot lines in the general election on November 8.

    Friday, September 9, 2011


    President Obama speaks to the beltway press at the White House
    earlier this week.  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at right.
    photo provided
    September 9, 2011--  Did you watch President Obama’s speech last night? He showed working people he is willing to go to the mat to create new jobs on a substantial scale. His speech should energize the nation to come together and get serious about jobs.

    We call on Congress to act and look forward to working with the president and Congress on all elements of this proposal. As the president explained, we no longer can delay putting Americans back to work rebuilding our nation’s schools, roads, bridges, transit, ports, rail, communications and energy systems. And we need to help state and local governments avoid layoffs that are dragging down the economy—rejecting the myth that the only way to end a crisis Wall Street started is to punish firefighters, teachers and others who perform critical public services.

    Tell Congress: It’s time to get moving on jobs. Start with President Obama’s proposals and then keep going.

    The plan announced by President Obama to create jobs is only the opening bid in a national conversation we’ve needed to have for a long time. In the coming weeks and months, we expect to see more proposals from the president and Congress to put America back to work.

    President Obama understands this economic crisis was not created overnight, and it will not be solved overnight. The middle class has been under attack for decades. He understands we need to rebuild our economy for the 21st century and rebuild our middle class.

    But doing this will require a revolution in the way Washington takes on these questions. Republicans are going to have to stop blocking bills that sustain or create millions of jobs and start offering and accepting credible solutions. As the president explained last night, we can delay no longer.

    Tell Congress America wants to work. Add your name, then spread the word to your friends and family.

    America isn’t broke—we’re the richest country in the world. We will only go broke if our leaders fail year after year to create jobs and turn our economy around. We can’t let that happen.

    Politicians need to recognize that America’s best days are still before us. We cannot accept the disappearance of the American middle class or several more years of crisis-level joblessness. We can and must solve the jobs crisis—and we must start now. Please take action to help us make this happen.

    In Solidarity,

    Richard L. Trumka
    President, AFL-CIO

    P.S. Some politicians claim cuts to our social safety net, deregulation and lower taxes for the rich will fix our problems. But they’re flat wrong. If we continue down this road, it only will destroy more jobs and send us into a vicious downward spiral. Our country is too good and too rich to weaken our commitment to safety net protections such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance.

    We don’t have time to waste on the same old failed policies that drove our economy off a cliff in the first place. Tell Congress: Working families will judge our elected leaders by whether they act with integrity and energy to create good jobs now.