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Congress Vacations While Sandy Victims Freeze

7:49 am in Uncategorized by Cynthia Kouril

People in New York and New Jersey are huddled in the cold and dark and apparently the US Congress cannot manage to vote for Superstorm Sandy relief before they go on their vacations.

Nothing I am about to say should in anyway suggest that I take what happened in New Orleans less seriously, but there is one major difference between the (unacceptably) slow-moving reconstruction aid in Louisiana vs. the Northeast in autumn and winter:  the weather.

Today in New Orleans, it’s mid 50’s sweater weather.  Nobody’s going to freeze to death there in homes that are without power. In the NYC metro area, it’s 24 derees at the hour I am writing this. People can die from exposure in that kind of cold.

John Boehner is so captive to the likes of Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan that he is refusing to allow the Sandy aid vote to come to the floor. Even GOP lawmakers from the Northeast are taken aback by this willingness to let fellow Americans freeze to death for the sake of politics. The New York Post quoted Rep. Michael Grimm protesting House Speaker John Boehner’s decision not to allow the vote for Sandy relief:

For the first time, I’m not proud of the decision my team has made. I’m going to be respectful and ask that the speaker reconsider his decision. It’s not about politics, it’s about human lives and human dignity and I pray that he understands that.

We just celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, an Executive Order that had no precedent. The most recent President Bush started two wars and spent gazillions of dollars on them without getting prior Congressional approval.

If Congress REFUSES TO DO THEIR JOB AND EVEN VOTE ON TIME CRITICAL LEGISLATION, then the President has ample reason to step in with emergency Executive Orders giving Sandy relief in a timely fashion. Congress has forced this on him by their own inaction. Further, he can force them to stay in session until they do their jobs and vote on a Sandy package.

How dare they vacation while their fellow Americans are freezing.

Because of redistricting, today is the last day that Pete King is my Congressman. It is also the first day that I am proud to have him speak for me.  This is what he had to say on FOX:

No one even told us, the Speaker walked off the floor, told an aide to the Majority Leader that the Congress was finished. There were no votes and they come back and told us. Listen, I’m not taking this as personal offense. I’m talking about the thousands of people in my district, hundreds of thousands of people throughout the New York-New Jersey area. Within 10 days after Katrina, $60 billion was appropriated. Nine weeks after Sandy, not one penny has been appropriated. And let me just make this one point. These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they’re out raising millions of dollars. They’re in New York all the time filling pockets with money from New Yorkers. I’m saying anyone from New York and New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans is out of their mind. Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans, it was an absolute disgrace.

Why does the Republican party have this bias against New York, this bias against New Jersey, this bias against the Northeast. They wonder why they’re becoming minority party. Why the they will be a party in permanent minority. What they did last night was so immoral, so disgraceful, so irresponsible. They’re supposed to be the party of family values. And you have families that are starving, families that are suffering, families that are spread all over living in substandard housing.

This was a disgrace. They are inexcusable.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but — what Pete said!

Obama, Sandy and the Oval Office Address

2:55 am in Uncategorized by Cynthia Kouril

Now is the time

This is a moment for the president to show that he is not W.  No reading My Pet Goat, no flyovers while New Orleans drowns, no phoney aircraft carrier landings. Now is the time for President Obama to show proactive leadership.

There is an unprecedented storm coming. Obama needs to do an Oval Office broadcast and tell the American people just what the federal government is doing to prepare for it. The he needs to give a synopsis of what the governors of the relevant states are doing to prepare for it. Then he needs to tell us what he wants us to do to prepare for it, and during it because communications may be down for a while.

If he can pull it together in time he should announce some website or other information clearinghouse that folks can use to access information. A cellphone app or text service would not be a bad idea either, since most modern landline phone systems are now dependent on electricity.

On 9/11, it was Primary Day in NY. I was at the campaign HQ of Tom Suozzi who was in a primary with now New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, working on the first election monitoring program I had ever designed. Tom, who was running to be Nassau County Executive, was, I believe, at Penn Station meeting the trains full of commuters as they arrived for work to remind them to vote for him.

Then the planes hit. Tom called  HQ and told us to gather up the resources we procured for GOTV, hundreds of box lunches for the volunteers, rented cellphones, vans for driving voters to the polls and volunteers to canvass and move it all to Glen Cove City Hall (Tom was then Mayor of Glen Cove)  and set up City Hall as a crisis center. Workers installed a phone bank in the City Council conference room for evacuees to use to call their loved ones and let them know they were safe. Glen Cove at that time had a ferry system that connected us to lower Manhattan. He called up the ferry company and had them divert as many boats as possible to evacuation. He had the police and fire department set up a command center at the fire house. He got on our local news and asked for doctors and nurses and EMTs to come to Glen Cove to be ferried into lower Manhattan. Within a couple hours Glen Cove had the most efficient evacuation operation going that you could imagine.

Hundreds and hundreds of people were safely evacuated, were fed, called home and were started on their journeys home that day. That’s when I knew I was backing the right candidate. Last year, during Hurricane Irene, we had a different County Executive. The best he could manage was to hold a hearing long after the fact to explore why Long Island Power Authority was useless during the blackout and why the LIPA person who was embedded in his emergency bunker could not get any information out of LIPA.

President Obama needs to have a Tom Suozzi moment here. He has to act fast, act decisively and do what Ronald Reagan would do at a time like this, get in front of a camera and address the nation from the Oval Office.

Sandy Is the October Surprise

2:17 pm in 2012 election by Cynthia Kouril

possible storm tracks for Sandy

It seems that there is a hurricane coming up from the tropics. It seems that there is also a cold front zooming down from Canada; depending on the path of the hurricane, the two could meet right over Long Island.

During a full moon.

Should those three events come together in a “perfect storm”, New York City, The Hudson Mohawk Valley, The Raritan Valley, pretty much all of Southern Connecticut, and all of Rhode Island will likely see damage, maybe some in Massachusetts too.

Hurricane Irene is still fresh in my mind, probably because here on LI, we are still fighting with LIPA (Long Island Power Authority) about it and because of the abysmal storm response we suffer through,  the Governor is appointing new LIPA management next month.

I’m planning for power outages. Another storm track projection has the storm making a sharp inland turn and plowing through Pennsylvania.

If we have the kind of damage that happened during Irene, we might not have power in many Democratic strongholds like Philadelphia on Election Day. Even if they can get the power back on by that day, we will have lost the last critical week of GOTV on the bluest part of the very blue Northeast coast.

NPR reported earlier today that Massachusetts’s Gov. Duval Patrick had already ordered emergency response plans to be delivered to him by Friday from utility companies there. I think Governor Cuomo should be on the phone to our utilities as well.  So should a few other governors.

Remember, Irene was just a hurricane. Sandy will be a hurricane, plus a cold front, plus a full moon.

If I were President Obama, I might consider the possibility that some of those swing states may become disaster areas (one storm track puts Virginia and Maryland in harm’s way) and have a contingency campaign schedule in case POTUS needs to drop everything and do crisis management. You would not want Sandy to turn into Obama’s Katrina.

On a somewhat related note, those of you who live in any of the storm threatened areas, please make preparations, heed any evacuation orders, keep up-to-date with the storm’s progress and try to stay safe. After the storm, a myFDL diary to check in and let us know you made through OK would be a relief from worry.

 

And NO, NY does not have early voting.