Saturday, December 14, 2013


Another Tax Commission Releases Report

Just weeks after the Tax Reform and Fairness Commission released its recommended reforms to the state tax code, another Governor-appointed tax commission released its findings. 

The commission’s recommendations included reducing corporate income taxes, eliminating the estate tax for most wealthy New Yorkers, and encouraging local government consolidation and shared services.

CSEA President Danny Donohue said, “It’s easy to promise more tax giveaways to the rich and powerful when they come at the expense of local government taxpayers and the community services they depend on. No one should be fooled by the election year rhetoric in Governor Cuomo’s Tax Commission recommendations – this is more of the same policy that will just increase the misery index for people and communities in the real “new” New York.”

Report Highlights Failures of Outsourcing Public Services

In the Public Interest, a group dedicated to studying privatization and responsible contracting, has released a report highlighting the failures of outsourcing public services to private, for-profit corporations. The report brings to light failures of transparency, accountability, competition, and shared prosperity by private contractors who take over public services.

Visit CSEA’s website to read the report.

Federal Budget Agreement Reached

House and Senate leaders have announced a federal budget agreement that will avert a government shutdown for the next two years. The House of Representatives passed the agreement by a vote of 332-94. All New York Representatives voted in favor of the proposal except for Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY 25), Yvette Clarke (D-NY 9), and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY 7) who all voted no. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for approval. 

The budget agreement repeals some of the pending sequester cuts scheduled for various domestic programs and replaces them with more targeted cuts. The specifics will not be available for several weeks. 

The agreement will not continue extended unemployment benefits for over 1 million Americans who will lose their benefits on December 31, 2013 and does not address benefits or eligibility for Medicare or Social Security. 

Year In Review 2013: Seasons of Love

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Rochester, NY-- CSEA Unit 7420 President and Monroe County Local 828 VP Ove Overmyer addresses the Monroe County Legislature at the public forum before the full session meeting, December 10, 2013. He did so on his own behalf. Here are his remarks:

After considerable review of Maggie Brooks’ Monroe County Budget proposal for 2014, it appears that this year’s misplaced priorities are just more of the same. Not honoring longstanding municipal agreements between Monroe County and the City of Rochester is no solution to creating a balanced budget that shares the pain. In fact, it’s reprehensible the County would even consider such a thing, knowing full well the City budget fiscal year is already in full swing. By not honoring chargebacks for pre-arraigned detainees at the downtown jail and for upkeep of traffic devices, in essence these longstanding binding written agreements are being ignored. Brooks is basically telling City residents you are disproportionately going to pay extra (2.5 million annually) for all these County services above and beyond other County residents.

Moving money away from public safety initiatives and social service programs like defunding child care is not only bad news for our poorest families, it does not make fiscal sense nor will it improve the local economy. In a rather ingenious and deceptive way, this budget shifts more financial burdens on City government and its residents while County government once again obfuscates its responsibility. Furthermore, city residents and businesses not only pay full county taxes-- they also pay the highest percentage of Monroe County imposed service charges over and above the county tax burden.

While we understand the stated goal of the County budget is to not raise County taxes, this plan would do just that. So please, stop believing the Brooks administration is holding the line on taxes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You don’t have to be a mathematician to know every budget for the past 10 years takes it out on our working families and the most vulnerable citizens in our community, while at the same time, enriches the lives of a small minority of folks who are basically insulated from any financial harm. She uses the County budget as a personal strategic weapon—defunding anything and anyone who she sees as a political adversary and propping up the local GOP Party at the same time.

Budgets are basically moral documents—and once again, this job killing deceptively unethical budget fails to address our most pressing social issues in the most fiscally responsible way. This budget also comes on the heels of a study conducted by The Rochester Area Community Foundation which lists Rochester as the 5th poorest city in the United States. This outcome is no accident folks. This is the direct result of willful choices by lawmakers like you. And, if you haven’t noticed, Rochester is the epicenter of Monroe County. Our fates are inextricably linked whether you personally approve of it or not.

But then again, you folks sitting on the GOP side of the aisle already know all of this.

I’m not foolish enough to think that this public forum will change your heart or your mind. I know that nothing I say, or for that matter, what any other citizen might say here tonight will change one single line item in this budget. That, above all else-- is the saddest commentary about our County government and local state of affairs.  But then again, you already know all of this—but thank you anyway for my 2 minutes.

Overmyer is a Monroe County taxpayer who happens to live in the City of Rochester.

Friday, December 6, 2013


CALL TO ACTION: We are asking all union families to attend MC Legislature Meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 5:30 pm MCOB, 39 W. Main St, Rochester, NY

Not honoring longstanding municipal agreements between Monroe County and the City of Rochester is Maggie Brooks' so-called solution to keeping a balanced budget. We are one community. Disproportionately taking it out on city folks (who happen to be County residents too) when all else fails-- move money away from public safety programs and social services that help the poor families while at the same time, enrich the lives of others who are basically insulated from any financial harm is a misguided solution. Is this the role of government? Is this the kind of County government you want for your community?

No other heartless politician is as spiteful and revengeful when it comes to making callous budget priorities and using these "choices" as weapons when things don't necessarily go her way. She needs to go. We've had enough.

Please stand up and speak your mind at the full session meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 10. Call 753.1550 to reserve a slot to speak at the public forum.

Say no to a job killing budget that eliminates middle-class jobs, attacks benefits of the elderly and County retirees, gives huge salary raises to her GOP friends, bashes poor people and leaves no one to care for them. Padding in-house GOP salaries is just one more way to keep our tax dollars supporting her "political" campaigns that attack working families. Support a budget agreement that tempers spending while at the same time leaves no one out in the cold and supports middle class values-- especially when it comes to the most vulnerable in our community. Rise Up Rochester and Monroe County!


New York-- Perhaps instead of a “‘New’ New York,” the tagline should be the “Two New Yorks,” one that holds promise for the very wealthy and well-connected, and the other that breaks promises to the rest of us – promises of more transparency in government, lower taxes and a government “rising” for everyone.

Unfortunately, New York does not seem to be alone it its willingness to widen the growing income inequality gap by giving our tax dollars away to corporations.

A New York Times editorial titled “Race to the Bottom” from last December points out that their investigation into corporate welfare found that state and local governments gave out $80 billion a year in tax breaks and other subsidies “in a foolhardy, shortsighted race to attract companies.”

“That money could go a long way to improving education, transportation and other public services that would have a far better shot at promoting real economic growth. Instead, with these giveaways, politicians and officials are trying to pick winners and losers, almost exclusively to the benefit of big corporations (aided by highly paid lobbyists) at the expense of small businesses. Though they promise that the subsidies are smart investments, far too often the jobs either don’t materialize or are short-lived, leaving the communities no better off.”



Rochester/Monroe County, NY-- Mayor Tom Richards recently issued a press release addressing what he calls "unannounced charges to city taxpayers" in the Monroe County Budget proposal. The charges, he says in the press release, include a doubling of the amount that Rochester pays to house city prisoners awaiting arraignment in the county jail, he says, and a charge for maintaining traffic control devices — which the county has done since 1971.

"Together, these charges would negatively impact the city’s 2014-15 budget and subsequent budgets by $2.5 million annually," Richards says in the press release. "When factoring in the mandated payment the city must give to its schools, the county plan would result in a 5.2 percent tax increase on city residents and businesses. While I understand the stated goal of the county budget is to not raise county taxes, this plan would do just that as city residents and businesses are also county residents and businesses.

"Furthermore, city residents and businesses not only pay full county taxes, they also pay the highest percentage of Monroe County-imposed service charges over and above of their county tax burden," he says.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Penfield Town Board Dumps Privatization Resolution; CSEA In The House

CSEA WNY Region 6 President Flo Tripi (at left) addresses the Penfield Town Board on Dec. 4, 2013. Photos by Ove Overmyer
Penfield, N.Y.  In an unexpected twist, the Penfield Town Board decided to strike a resolution (Public Works 13T-219) from the written record awarding a contract to outsource snow and ice removal on residential roads. More than 50 people shuffled in to the auditorium at Penfield Town Hall on Atlantic Avenue on the evening of December 4. Not having any preconceived notions about an outcome before the meeting, most of the attendees were visibly startled by the news that the resolution was being removed from the agenda. The motion was delivered emphatically by Councilwoman Paula Metzler.

In a 4-1 vote, board members refused to take up the issue of whether residents should be paying for privatizing work details that are already performed by CSEA unionized public employees in the Department of Public Works.

According to the Penfield Town Board Meeting Agenda, elected officials selected A.P. Property Services, 1653 Woodard Road, Webster, NY as the contractor to provide snow and ice removal. The Voice Reporter searched the NYS Board of Elections File Disclosure Reports and found the owner of the company, Sean Fico of Webster, NY, to have no reporting data filed or any political donations listed on the website. In a related search and even more curious to interested observers, there was no record of the Penfield Town Supervisor ever filing a financial disclosure report with the NYS Board of Elections.

Bess Watts, President of CSEA Monroe County Local 828, told the Voice Reporter the privatization fight is far from over. “While we are pleased the board took this action tonight, we still have a tough fight ahead to fend off elected officials who demonize public services and the workers who provide them,” said Watts.

“Some local government leaders like to take credit for cutting public payrolls. They think this a good thing,” said CSEA activist Ove Overmyer. He added, “They are the same elected officials who create unholy alliances with political cronies and donors and weaken middle class working families. Never mind that the extra cost to provide outsourced services simply shift dollars to a different, often hidden budget line-- and sometimes at greater expense. There is no savings for taxpayers by outsourcing public services. Privatization will always be a threat as long as unscrupulous politicians know there is money to be made in the public services sector.”

CSEA would like to thank our union brothers and sisters from Ontario and Wayne County for their show of support and solidarity at this meeting. CSEA would also like to publicly thank board members Kohl, Metzler, Moore and Quinn for their due diligence and vote of confidence in their existing workforce. Town Supervisor Tony LaFountain was the lone dissenter.