Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Speaker of the House John Boehner
Boehner Raising Cash For Brooks in Attempt to Recruit Another Foot Soldier For Out-Of Touch, Anti-Middle Class GOP Agenda

ROCHESTER, NY – Today, the Slaughter campaign blasted County Executive Maggie Brooks for holding a fundraiser in Rochester this Saturday with House Speaker John Boehner, and for her alignment with groups that put the desires of large corporate interests before the priorities of Monroe County residents.

As Speaker of the House, Congressman John Boehner has spent the last two years protecting tax cuts for the rich, tax breaks for outsourcers, and tax loopholes for large corporations while trying to pass out-of-touch, anti-middle class cuts to Medicare and other social services to pay for it. At the same time, his recruit Maggie Brooks has rewarded deep-pocketed campaign contributors with lucrative taxpayer-funded contracts, and then raised the property tax levy, raised taxes on county services, and threw the county into $389 million in debt to pay for it.

“Republican Speaker John Boehner has spent his career protecting tax cuts for millionaires at the expense of the middle class, and now he’s in town raising campaign cash for Maggie Brooks, who would be an obedient foot soldier for the Republicans’ out-of-touch, anti-middle class agenda," said Eric Walker, a spokesman for the Slaughter campaign. "Monroe County families should ask themselves: do they want a member of Congress who will be a rubber stamp for the GOP's Ryan budget, which cuts taxes for the rich while gutting Medicare, Medicaid, and education?"

Slaughter compared Boehner’s slash-and-burn approach with the work of a former colleague, moderate Republican Sherry Boehlert (R-NY), who last week published an op-ed lamenting the Republicans’ plan to disable the government’s regulatory structure.

Slaughter’s campaign also slammed Brooks’ recent endorsements from two organizations shilling for large corporate interests at the expense of the middle class. Earlier this year, Brooks was endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a group that supports outsourcing American jobs, and supports the destructive “Ryan Budget” that further cuts taxes for the rich while exploding the deficit. The group has already spent tens of thousands of dollars on negative television ads attacking Louise Slaughter. 

In addition, Brooks accepted the endorsement from Karl Rove-backed National Federation of Independent Businesses, a front for anti-middle class initiatives like turning Medicare into a voucher system, scrapping equal pay for women who do equal work, and doing away with the minimum wage. Brooks has also been named a GOP “Young Gun,” which means her campaign will receive money from billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, famous for bankrolling Newt Gingrich’s failed presidential campaign and for a Department of Justice investigation into allegations that Adelson used prostitution to further his business interests in the Chinese city of Macau.

“Maggie Brooks is exactly the type of politician that the big business lobby likes: someone who says one thing to the public and then does another behind their back,” Walker said. “She’s been selling her office to campaign contributors for the past 8 years, so it’s no surprise she’s supported by groups that expect her to sell out to the corporate interests in Washington.”

Campaign In 100 Seconds: "What Has Obama Ever Done For Us?"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012



Ove Overmyer
photo: Bess Watts
It was probably two minutes just before we stepped off marching in the Puerto Rican Parade in downtown Rochester, N.Y. last weekend, when my youngest boy (12 yrs) tugged on my sleeve and asked me point blank why I spend so much time at work and with union stuff-- and the question kind of caught me off guard. 
I began to wonder myself, thinking the reason why I wake up every day is to try and make this a better world for him, his brothers, and his generation. I know firsthand what it’s like to be the object of oppression, whether it’s the color of your skin, your sexual orientation or what gender you are. I personally know what it’s like to be fired because you are gay, and I also know what it's like to be discriminated against when it comes to housing, healthcare and job opportunities. I don't want my boys living with that kind of oppression-- I see the world as it is and say this just won't do. I have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.
Each of us, regardless of our age, background, or walk of life, each of us should have an opportunity to contribute to the greatness of our communities. I want my boys to have fair opportunities to become the best possible citizens they can be.
I also began to think about all the time I spend reading political science books, legislative bills, contract language, blogs and basically anything that gives me a better insight on world events.
Later that afternoon, while Tysen was on the couch catching some zzzz's after the long parade walk, I looked at him and began to wonder if my writing and labor advocacy is really making a difference in his life. Is my work changing hearts and minds? Then I thought, maybe I should just persevere-- and stop questioning myself and continue to document our communities’ history through a combination of story-telling, photography and writing "hard news." I have to believe with all my heart that all my efforts will indeed pay dividends for them down the road—I have to believe they will, I really do.
In 2004, when Gerry Szymanski, Todd Plank and I revived the GAGV Library and Archives Project in Rochester, N.Y., it solidified for me the notion that documenting the importance of the labor and LGBT communities, which incidentally often go unnoticed in a real and objective way, are not fully represented in the fabric of American life. We need to be telling and sharing with pride our own individual stories and not allow others to define us. I also realized then that we all need to be documenting, creating and celebrating our own living history while we are living it.
I thought about the thousands of articles, columns and blogs that I have written and read over the years. I thought about the daily Tweets, videos, photographs and Facebook posts that actively portray the reality of our complex lives, our work, our love and our struggles. I thought about how revolutionary it is that we are now creating our own personal and public memoirs as we speak-- an autobiographical record of our lives for future historians and genealogists.
It’s this agency of community building and this passion for documenting our history that enamors me about digital journalism and helping members find solutions when they are in crisis. It motivates me to keep on writing for The Voice Reporter, The Empty Closet and overtly sharing the way we live online and off.  
I don't think I will ever forget Tysen's face when he asked me that question last Saturday. And, I remember quite well sighing with some sort of paternal complacency as I watched him sleep away that afternoon on the couch, as I went on with my task at hand-- reading, Tweeting, Tumbling and posting.
-Ove Overmyer


The CBO says the SCOTUS’ ruling will make Obamacare cost less and cover fewer. 

Washington, D.C.-- It will cost us less, that's what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says about the Affordable Care Act. And, get this-- it will reduce the deficit by $109 billion. That's billion with a "B." In its June 28 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the bulk of the Affordable Care Act, but struck down a plan to require states to expand their Medicaid programs to cover residents who earn as much as 138 percent of the federal poverty level. 

As a result, analysts at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office expect that some states will refuse to expand their Medicaid programs or will delay expansion until after 2014, when most other provisions of the law are scheduled to take effect. In those states, people who earn between 100 percent and 138 percent of the poverty level will have the option to receive government subsidies to help them buy private insurance on newly created exchanges. But those who earn less than the full poverty level could be left out, the CBO said.

Conservative and right wing Governors who are more focused on political outcomes rather than the health and well being of their constituency should be relieved of duty. The ACA was well intended-- but if GOP lawmakers want to play Russian Roulette with their careers and deny expanding Medicaid, they will have to deal with those consequences. It means more people will go uninsured and reinforce the fact that the GOP thinks healthcare is only for the privileged few who can afford it. Unfortunately, elected officials don't give a shit for poor people's rights-- evidenced by new polling and a book that was recently published.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Attention to all CSEA Members!

We are pleased to announce that all CSEA members have been invited to attend the Louise Slaughter Volunteer Training Day at campaign headquarters, 1150 University Ave, Bldg. 5 on Saturday, July 28th. 

Training sessions will be held from:
11:00 AM to 12:30 PM AND 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM

These sessions will discuss the campaign's field strategy, including key voter targets and how our field efforts work towards hitting our goal of winning in November. We will learn more about Louise’s key accomplishments and her grow the middle class agenda. We will also go over volunteer best practices during this in-depth training session.

Space is limited! These sessions are capped at twenty-five people each to ensure constructive dialogue, so sign up today to reserve your spot.

To RSVP for this opportunity, send us an email at volunteer@votelouise.com or call (585) 697-0840. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you Saturday!



Washington, D.C.-- The Obama administration is giving a new health benefit to same-sex partners — and it's built on one of the most popular provisions of ‘Obamacare.’ On Friday, the administration published a proposed rule that would extend one of the health care law's best-known provisions — allowing children to stay on their parents' health plans until age 26 — to same-sex partners of federal workers. 

The rule would extend eligibility in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program to the children of an enrollee's same-sex partner. It also would extend coverage in the federal employees' dental and vision insurance programs.”

Friday, July 20, 2012


In a recent "Your Views" opinion piece, the writer states that "Brooks has flawed agenda for austerity'. Yet I noticed that the writer is a member of the CSEA Union/Rochester Library Workers.
The writer should look around us. Our cars, furniture, etc are made in other countries. Why, because the people of this country cannot afford articles made by high priced union workers anymore.
You are paid by taxpayer dollars.  How high can the county, city, state, or any other taxing authority tax us?
I am retired but pay several thousands of dollars in taxes. It is getting to be a real burden to the point of possibly giving up my home in Irondequoit.
The article mentions countries in Europe, that austerity budgets are crippling the life of residents. Not true, the unions have crippled their economy. Austerity came AFTER the unions got such high wages the country could not afford.  Simply put, people here are buying foreign articles where they do not have unions and are cheaper, i.e: Mexico, South America, China.
We need to get our collective heads around the fact that the unions may not be your friend any more. Actually, many people in this country who do not work for a Union make out just fine. We need jobs, not higher salaries.
Rochester, N.Y. -- A couple weeks ago, I wrote an op-ed for the Messenger Post Newspapers that included several primary source citations that explained how foolish it is to implement an austerity budget when the economy is soft.

My objective here was to promote discussion and debate around this issue, hoping we can elevate a higher understanding of the complex issues that face Monroe County residents—especially for the middle class.

Knowing full well we truly have an uninformed electorate, especially when media giants like FOX News consciously mislead their viewers, I try to be respectful of other people’s points of view. However, the stunning ignorance of the letter writer named Carol Rohr from Irondequoit, N.Y. was very disturbing—not only to me but to all the hard working people of Monroe County I represent.

I've experienced firsthand what it's like to come under fire on so many fronts-- personal attacks from lawmakers, library patrons, and an ignorant and completely uninformed public. My challenge has been to define the debate on our terms and remain stoic and professional as possible-- and to explain how and why public services are so vital to every man, woman and child who lives in our community. 

First of all, Ms. Rohr evidently doesn’t understand the difference between the public and private sector, because if she did, she would know that the government is not in the furniture business.

Secondly, I am the president of a public employee union for the City of Rochester. I represent 165 part time library workers at 11 branch libraries in the city—none of us make a living wage and most of us are women of color over 50 years of age, supporting multi-generational families on little income and probably have no health care for their children and grandchildren. We are the working poor—and for Ms. Rohr to use sweeping generalities about all unions is outrageous, na├»ve and foolhardy.

And to think working families have crippled the economy is laugh out loud funny—if it wasn't so sad to think that some people in our community actually believe that crap.

As for “getting our collective heads around the fact that unions may not be your friend anymore,” who in God’s name do you think we are?

I’ll tell you who we are. We are the people that drive your kids to school, we make sure your streets are safe; we take care of your aging parents; we make sure the roads are plowed so you can get to the store or work on time; we make sure the air you breathe is clean and the water you drink is healthy. We do not make a lot of money and we are not your enemy. We are your neighbors and public servants who take care of you.

As for me, a public librarian with no employer-provided healthcare living on less than $25,000 dollars a year and trying to take care of 6 people, I take real offense to your shooting the messenger and not directing your anger at the systems that really oppress you and me.

You clearly have trouble grasping simple facts and the economic realities that poor, working poor and the average tax payer face. If you spent more time getting your information from other than one news source, you might be in a better informed position to positively contribute to a public conversation about austerity budgets, current events and our global economy.

Yes, we vent about the tough new realities we see on the job, because we are living them. Maggie Brooks’ policies have made Monroe County’s working families lives unbearable-- but we do the job because we truly care about our communities. Let's face it, one does not choose a library career or public service for a high salary. We choose our professions out of a dedication to public service and a willingness to help our fellow man. 

Yet I wonder how much longer we can expect public workers to remain committed to a profession that, despite its obvious value, has become so marginalized and detested by folks like you, Ms. Rohr. Shame on you, Carol Rohr. I suggest next time you get your facts straight before you reflexively write a delusional rebuttal letter about how public workers and unions are the cause of your misery. Are you kidding me?

And, by the way, we all need to be telling a new and meaningful story about our tax responsibilities that celebrates the concrete opportunity it offers “we the people.” The problem is, without the public systems and structures that taxes pay for, the America we know and love would cease to exist.

-Ove Overmyer
President, CSEA City of Rochester Library Workers Local 828 Unit 7420
VP, CSEA Monroe County Local 828


Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Bufflalo, N.Y.-- 
Attention CSEA members! 
You can purchase discounted tickets to the Buffalo Bills "Kids Day" game.
 Bills will play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday, August 25th, 2012. 

Children's activities will take place from 3:30-6:30 p.m. and kickoff is at 7 p.m. 
Tickets are just $15 and they must be ordered online. 
Use the special code GPCSE and CLICK HERE to order. 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012



When the Supreme Court ruled on The Affordable Care Act, it said two things: First, that the individual mandate is constitutional under the federal government’s taxing power. Second, that the government couldn’t withhold all Medicaid funding from states that refused to participate in the law’s proposed expansion of the program.

The first thing the Supreme Court said has gotten most of the attention, perhaps because it has exciting political implications in a presidential year. After the Court called the mandate a tax, Republicans everywhere began calling the law “the biggest tax increase in history,” which, while not true, is the sort of thing that gets political hearts beating very fast.

Rather, it’s the second thing the Court said that actually matters for the law, and for average Americans, going forward. If states choose to sit the Medicaid expansion out, millions of people who would have been covered under the Medicaid expansion will remain uninsured. The law does not have provisions for extending subsidies to Americans making less than the poverty line, so someone making $9,000 a year in a state that refuses to participate in the Medicaid expansion might not get any help at all.

To get a sense of the numbers involved here, in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has said he won’t participate in the Medicaid expansion. If he follows through on that threat, 950,000 Floridians who would have been covered by the law won’t be.

What more do you need to know about these extreme right wing politicians? They are basically saying they would rather see their constituents go without healthcare and risk death rather than give Democrats a “political win.” We watched in horror the response of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell when asked by FOX News’ Chris Wallace about what is the GOP plan to help 30 million uninsured Americans. He said, after being asked three separate times, “That’s not the issue.” It’s painfully disgusting to watch. How do these hateful ideologues stay in political office? They have no souls.

There needs to be a ground swell of grassroots activity in our local communities around the Medicaid expansion plan to support the disabled, poor and elderly. These are the populations that will be disproportionally affected if the federal aid for Medicaid is not accepted by these “red states” — much to the uncaring disregard of conservative and Republican governors across the nation. It’s just one more reason why sane people living in a just society need to support Democrats this election cycle.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity. Even if you have a long-run deficit problem, slashing spending while the economy is deeply depressed is a self-defeating strategy, because it just deepens the depression,” says legendary Economist John Maynard Keynes.

In her announcement speech to run for Congress (NY25), Brooks made it clear that she wants to reduce the size of government. What she really means is she wants to dismantle organized labor in the public sector and reduce their political strength.

The Maggie Brooks austerity drive for shrinking the size of the government isn’t really about good government at all-- it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to eradicate social programs that take care of our poor, disabled and elderly. It's also part of her long-term strategy to eliminate the public sector jobs-- don't be fooled by her rhetoric.

At first glance, you might say that this back and forth is just partisan bickering-- but, this is really not the case. This is data driven economic theory 101 folks, and Maggie Brooks has not done her homework.

When you take on austerity measures for local, state and federal governments, the result is that everyone’s income falls — my income falls because you’re spending less, and your income falls because I’m spending less. And, as our incomes plunge, our debt problem gets worse, not better. It is called the race to the bottom.

No one wins here except the rich people Maggie is trying to protect—the very people who are insulated from any financial harm regardless of a so-so economy. They have theirs—and they don’t want you to have yours.

Leading economists like Paul Krugman says shrinking the size of government in a recession is a horrible idea and politicians like Maggie Brooks have no clue what they are talking about. All you have to do is look across the pond to see how austerity budgets have crippled the quality of life for its residents, especially in Spain and Britain.  All you need to do is see what countries have weathered the storm best. Right at the top of the list you’ll find big-government nations like Sweden and Austria economically thriving.  

Krugman warns that politicians like Brooks who promote an austerity agenda will do irreparable harm to the economy. And there’s a clear moral to this story: When the private sector is frantically trying to pay down debt, the public sector should do the opposite, spending when the private sector can’t or won’t. By all means, let’s balance our budget once the economy has recovered — but not now. The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity. 

This should be proof positive that cutting vital services, eliminating public service jobs and shrinking the size of government in a recession is the worst possible thing to consider if you are running for Congress in a moderate district like Monroe County, N.Y. The folks here know better—we value our public services thank you very much.