Remembering Pearl Harbor

 That’S TRacy on the right on the motorcycle in 1941.

That’S TRacy on the right on the motorcycle in 1941.

This Blog originally appeared in a much shortened version in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. I like to post it every year around this time so that people will “Remember Pearl Harbor”.

Every Pearl Harbor Day (December 7th for those who don’t remember), I make a tradition of watching a WWII movie about the Japanese attack in 1941. It used to be that I watched the 1970’s film “Tora, Tora, Tora”. Now, it’s the 2001 Michael Bey Movie, Pearl Harbor starring Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale.

Critics made a lot of complaints when the film came out that it was “...too romantic” and didn’t capture the infamy of the moment. But for me, it gets me reflecting on my parent’s time -- what journalist Tom Brokow called, the “Greatest Generation”.

That’s in part because, in my now 57 years, my Mother -- Margaret Mildred Tokunaga Berge was the only woman that I knew who had survived a bombing raid, the surprise attack Pearl Harbor at 7:48 a.m., December 7th, 1941.

It isn’t as uncommon as it used to be. This current generation, seemingly not content to send our children off to war, thinks nothing of sending our young mothers off to distant lands to fight -- and die.

My father, Tracy Read Warner, was there as well. Having been born in the town of Ilion, New York -- a blip of a town on the Erie Canal in the Mohawk Valley -- that was, as it’s essential claim in history, the home of Eliphalet Remington, original maker in of the famed Remington rifle in 1816.

Dad left this small backwater town at the age of 18 in 1938 for a three-year stint in the United States Army Air Corps. It turned into 30 or so.

He told me once that he wanted a fancy uniform and he wanted to meet girls. An Army recruiter told him and his best friend Ray Sampson they would do just that and more as they went through boot camp as buddies and served their country together.

They signed up and after training, they didn’t see each other again for the next 27 years. Mr. Sampson was shipped off to Europe. My father was shipped through the Panama Canal to Hickam Field on the Pacific Island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.

He was scheduled to be discharged on December 24th, 1941. He didn’t make it that year. His whole life changed because of where he was at about ten minutes before 8:00 a.m. on December 7th.

When I asked him about what he did over the next half hour or so that day, he downplayed his effort, though supposedly he won a decoration of some sort for his bravery. He told me that in midst of the bombing, he rode an Indian brand Motorcycle to the main air-field amongst burning planes and falling bombs to pick up a General or some such officer who had just landed. At one point, he drew his sidearm and fired at a Japanese zero swooping down at them. He said it was so close he could see the pilot’s face. In his excitement, he accidentally dropped the officer off the back of the bike. He missed the pilot with his .45. He almost messed his pants.

Mostly, he said, he was just plain scared.

Meanwhile my Mother, 13 years old, was down the harbor a little in an area called Aiea Heights at a neighbor’s house. She, her older sister and brother along with their Mother, lived in a small apartment over a garage belonging to a dentist. As the bombing began, they really weren’t all that concerned. Everyone thought, “Probably just the Navy over in the main harbor doing maneuvers”.

Their apartment was apparently down the street from something important because after the bombing at the air-field and the harbor, retreating Japanese planes bombed the street.

Ironic -- my grandmother’s last name was Tokunaga and was full-blooded Japanese. Japanese bombing Japanese.

My mother was “missing” for a while during and after the attack, my Grandmother told me -- having been hurried down the cellar stairs by a neighbor to safety in the basement. And, for what seemed an eternity, she raced around in the confusion screaming Margaret’s name until my mother popped her head through a downstairs window.

Everyone waited for the next attack wave of ground troops that was sure to follow the bombing raid -- but it never came.

My mother told me that she too, was scared -- mostly because all of the adults around her who were so terrified at the surprise devastation of the raid.

But they both survived, and, because my father was in charged of the NCO club at the air base (the crossroads of the Pacific where everyone went sooner or later) he and my Mother’s father became acquainted. Which led, apparently to some clandestine meeting between the 21 year-old Air Corps Military Policeman and sometimes bartender and the then 15 year-old Margaret.


The folks back home in Ilion were not impressed, but they got married in 1944 when my Mother was just 16. In those days, she told me, it was every girl’s dream to marry a serviceman and get off that God forsaken island in the middle of nowhere -- in the middle of the Pacific Ocean -- in the middle of a major war.

Consequently, I have a soft spot for the “romance” of the movie. Without it, I guess I wouldn’t be here today.

Were they the “Greatest Generation”? Sometimes I think so. The 16 year old girl with the 8th grade education and the kid from Ilion, New York who wanted to see the world, lived through a war, got married, raised a family, bought a house, voted in elections, got old, and -- in my mind -- died too young, both of cancer.

And every December 7th, the memory of their young romance fills my heart with a certain flutter, while I remember Pearl Harbor.

An Invite to Fair Haven for Governor Cuomo


Here’s a surprise for you. I’m casting my WFP Proxy for Andrew Cuomo at the State Committee meeting on Wednesday this week.

I worked on the Cynthia Nixon Campaign. But he won. We can’t have the slightest chance of a Republican Governor. And Cuomo has taken a hard tack to port.

However, there’s one thing that’s bothering me.

In a speech last week at the Business Council of New York State's annual conference at Lake George he told reporters that “the weather” was the reason people were leaving Upstate in droves but that his work on economic development was vaulting the State beyond new horizons.

So I’m inviting him to join me on my morning walk with my Retrievers, Ace the Golden and Lila the Lab as we walk along the North Coast of America in the incredible Fair Haven Beach State Park.

I’ve done a little work on Upstate Economic Development when I served on the Board of Greater Rochester Enterprises.

It was led then by Mark Peterson an incredibly able Director, who brought speakers in monthly to talk about their projects and why they were in the Upstate Region. One morning, he brought in a Brit who, while wanting to locate his data storage business in Toronto, as it was part of the British Commonwealth, had landed in Rochester for one very important reason.

The Weather.

So when the peels of laughter from the audience subsided, he went on to explain his reasons. “First, you need to understand that in my business – backing up data for huge banks and financial institutions – I can’t be out of business even for a day,” he said. “So, I picked Rochester because of the weather. You don’t have earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados, Tsunamis, mudslides or volcanic eruptions. In fact you have some of the most stable weather in the world.”

He then went on to explain that we also had an infrastructure, educational institutions, educated workforce and more than reasonable real estate prices that made Upstate and in particular Rochester, NY an ideal place for anyone building a business.”

So this is why I want Governor Cuomo to walk with us.

If he did, he would gain a whole new perspective on the weather up here.

To start with, he would be awed by the incredible painted sunrise, popping up over the eastern bluff. And, his hard heart would soften by the panoramic view of the horizon on the North Coast, dotted in the early morning with fishing boats, sails, and the occasional lake freighter.

If that isn’t enough, there’s the morning show brought to you by the critters on the ground and in the skies.

First, there are the families of deer standing on their hind legs to get the delectable apples off the trees just past the entrance to the park. And, on the Park entrance road there are wild turkeys pecking the ground with their poults. Up in the sky as we pass the pond with the morning mist rising gently, there will be the dozen or so swans gliding just above the glassy surface, long necks stretched out and honking with every flap of their enormous wings. Straight up in the sky, there are the hunters, a brilliant blue Kingfisher chirping and dotting from tree to tree, and always, a mystical Osprey soaring above, looking for breakfast.

Back on the ground along the shore will be a hundred or so Canada Geese mixed in with gulls and terns, gathering to get their formation orders for the flight south. At least once a week, there’s a red fox who pops out in front of us just 50 or so feet ahead, and struts confidently away just out of reach of the hounds.

There are the vultures and hawks playing dramatically on the air currents off the lake. And last … but certainly not least … the majestic Bald Eagles who do their own brand of hunting.

It’s beautiful here. Simple and beautiful.

After the walk, we’ll stop at the Hardware café on Main Street for a little conversation with the locals. And maybe, just maybe he’ll take with him a different perspective on the weather and people along the North Coast of America.

Lastly, I hope he will understand how putting one of his massive, obnoxious brilliant fluorescent blue “New York Experience” signs at a park’s entrance may not be exactly in keeping with the beauty of Upstate.

Hopefully he will take away good thoughts ... and take the sign with him.


One Down, 14 to Go!

 That’s Rachel, Zach and I at the filing of her petitions with the New York State Board of Elections in July, making her run “official”. Eric is there too … behind the camera.

That’s Rachel, Zach and I at the filing of her petitions with the New York State Board of Elections in July, making her run “official”. Eric is there too … behind the camera.

It’s official. We Won. One down, 14* to go.

For those of you who don't know it, after 47 years of working on elections in one way or another, I came out of retirement to help beat the bad guys, and yesterday we kicked the crap out of one of them -- Assistant IDC Leader, Senator David Valesky of the 53rd Senate District in Syracuse.

In case you've had your head under a rock for the last 8 years, the IDC are those people who (like Trump) get huge donations from unscrupulous corporations and NYC Developers, are stopping Health Care for you and your neighbors, blocking protections for women's reproductive rights, and refuse to pass campaign finance reform to end corruption in our political system.

Why would they do these terrible things? Personal gain.

They get promises not to have election opposition, and get extra stipends and taxpayer money as "leaders" in the Senate. They get bigger offices, more staff, and perks beyond belief from the Republican cronies.

It's despicable, and makes Joe Percoco look like an amateur.

But David Valesky -- assistant to the infamous Jeff Klein, leader of the IDC, won't be heading back to Albany in January.

Yesterday, I and the incredible Dynamic Campaign Duo of Zach Zeliff and Eric Van der Vort, spent the day in the Onondaga Board of Elections reviewing absentee ballots.

Rachel May, -- who a year ago was a "student" for the weekend at WFP’s “Running to Win” Training held in the tiny snack room of a West Side Syracuse Bowling Alley – challenged Valesky and beat him soundly, 8,514 to 7,925 with all votes counted. Later in the day, Valesky conceded the election.

I’m incredibly proud to stand with Rachel and Zach and Eric to celebrate this victory on this windy Friday morning and the eve of the Fall equinox. I can’t help but feel that the weather is bringing the winds of change with it.

I’m not getting any younger – and if it all ended today, I would feel like all the years of hard work meant something. Thanks, Rachel. And Zach, And Eric. Carpe Diem.

*The number of top elections I have a hand in this year across the Upstate Region for the WFP.

Reflections on the Primary Election Just Past

 Grassroots. From the Bottom to the Top

Grassroots. From the Bottom to the Top

September 13th has come and gone, and I get about 48 hours of reflection before I have to get going on the November General Election. Here are a few thoughts that have gone through my mind.

One of the things I spend a lot of time doing is training people who are candidates, want to be candidates, or who are just plain interested in what it takes to be a candidate. It takes a lot of time and while it is hard work, it is incredibly satisfying.

If you’ve ever wondered about the importance of the campaign trainings that WFP does for new and prospective candidates, look no further.

They’re the reason David Valesky, Assistant Leader of the IDC – those traitorous Democrats who supported Republican control of the NYS Senate since 2011 – is heading to the unemployment line.

Rachel May, the WFP endorsed Democrat who beat him in last Thursday’s Primary, is a graduate of that program. And maybe is its valedictorian student – proof that a seemingly small event can lead to a great outcome.

The Primary of 2018 is over. And, in the Working Families Party’s Upstate Region, we showed the power that Progressive Ideas and lots of hard work have in the fight to save America.

We scored victory after victory, each striking a small blow to the tyranny and corruption that has become pervasive in our government. It is why I joined the Working Families Party. They are the reason I get up every morning and manage the Upstate Region as Political Director.

Here’s our scorecard.

First, Rachel May of Syracuse defeated Incumbent David Senator David Valesky in Senate District 53. Valesky had to go, and Rachel … who may be the best candidate I have ever worked with … worked tirelessly with her team; Zach Zellif as campaign Manager and Eric Van  der Vort, Press Director, to give Upstate its greatest victory against immeasurable odds.

Then, there’s Tistrya Houghteling in Assembly District 107. This seat represents all most of Columbia County, most of Rensselaer County and a tiny corner of Washington County. Once again – against all odds – the WFP endorsed Democrat soundly defeated her opponent, Don Boyajian, 4077 to 3005. Boyajian bragged that his $250,000 war chest left over from his failed Congressional race was reason enough to be nominated as challenger to the Republicans. Voters thought differently.

But that’s not all that went on in Rensselaer County. Because of the importance the WFP line holds in the General Election in November, Republicans tried once again to steal the WFP line with primary campaigns (otherwise known as OTBs). The tried to take the WFP line from Carole Weaver in Troy who is running for RensCo Legislator in LD 1. And they tried it against Mary Pat Donnelly who is running to unseat corrupt DA Joel Abelove.

We won both the primaries. In large part due to the incredible work State Committee member Phil Markham did. Again, proof that one person can make a huge difference in outcome!

The Capital District is not the only place where people were trying to steal the WFP label over the wishes of the local WFP membership. In Syracuse, endorsed City Court Judge candidate Shadia Tadros beat back a WFP primary from her opponent, soundly defeating challenger Ann Magnerelli. Shadia also is just 20 votes or so behind in the race for the Democratic line in November’s election with hundreds of Absentee ballots to open.

Shadia – a political newcomer and incredible campaigner -- will become Upstate’s first Arab American office holder!

A huge victory in some part thanks to the efforts of the new activism by Syracuse’s local WFP Committee.

All eyes were on the Cynthia Nixon & Jumaane Williams campaigns, of course. And short of winning – we hoped to break 40%. Time and time again in County after County … Onondaga County, Cayuga County, Wayne County, St. Lawrence County, Schenectady County and more -- all got well over 40% for CN. Jumaane actually WON Columbia County!!!!

So now it’s on to the November election in 49 days. The rest is history … but pretty good history.

“We got half a million Democrats saying ‘no' to Cuomo,” said Nixon consultant Rebecca Katz. “That ain’t nothing.”






Rachel May beats incumbent Sen. Dave Valesky in Democratic primary

 Photo by Michale Greenlar from Rachel May reacts to taking the lead over Valesky.

Photo by Michale Greenlar from Rachel May reacts to taking the lead over Valesky.

This article is from By Michelle Breidenbach

Rachel may has won the democratic party primary against incumbent NYS Sen. Dave Valesky in the 53rd senate district. May had 50.47 percent of the vote over Valesky's 46.66 with 100 percent of election day ballots counted.

May won 8,013 votes. Valesky won 7,407 votes cast at the polls on election day, according to unofficial election night votes from the NYS Board of Elections.

May won Onondaga and Oneida Counties. Valesky won Madison County, where he lives.

May is Syracuse University's Director of Sustainability Education. This is May's first run for elected office.

Valesky has not had an opponent since 2010.

During the campaign, may criticized Valesky for his role in the Independent Democratic Conference. Valesky was deputy leader of the IDC, a breakaway group of eight Democrats who formed an alliance with Republicans to help the GOP maintain control of the senate since 2011.

The IDC agreed in April to reunite with mainstream democrats in the senate. But the move came too late for May and her progressive supporters, who say they no longer trusted Valesky to look out for their interests.

Bronx sen. Jeff Klein, the former leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, lost his primary against attorney Alessandra Biaggi in the 34th district. Biaggi is an attorney who worked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton.

The winner faces Republican Janet Burman Nov.6.

From the Front Lines of the War on Trump and Trump Supporters

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This is from the Post-Star Newspaper and is written by Michael Goot. Photo by Kayla Breen, Press-Republican

Michael Goot covers politics, the city of Glens Falls, the town and village of Lake George and other northern Warren County communities. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or and follow his blog at

The effort to get Katie Wilson off the Working Families Party ballot in the NY-21 Congressional District race is underway, but it involves a lot of moving pieces — including Ron Kim, who is on the Working Families line challenging Republican Assemblyman Dan Stec but apparently is not running.

Wilson finished third in a three-way primary on June 26 for the Democratic nomination, which was won by Tedra Cobb. However, Wilson had already secured the Working Families Party ballot line for the November congressional election.

People can be removed from the ballot by dying, moving out of the district or being appointed to a judgeship. Another option is to run for a different office.

Ken Warner, upstate region political director for the New York State Working Families Party, said Friday that there is a plan in motion to remove Wilson from the ballot.

“We’re trying to unify after the primary all of the Democrats and the progressives in the North Country in the important race, which is to beat Elise Stefanik,” he said.

“The process is involved and there are a lot of pieces,” he added.

Warner declined to say more about what office Wilson is seeking, or the overall plan, but said there is a press conference tentatively scheduled for Thursday in Plattsburgh.

Wilson lives in Keene. That is also in the 114th Assembly District represented by Queensbury’s Stec, which covers all of Warren and Essex counties.

However, Wilson said in text messages on Monday that she is not running for Assembly.

“I’m not running for anything this cycle. I’m holding out for something else,” she said.

Kim not running

Kim, a lawyer who lives in Queensbury, confirmed in an email Sunday morning that he is not a candidate for the 114th Assembly District seat.

“To assist the Working Family Party and give them a temporary ‘placeholder’ for their line, I agreed to allow my name to be circulated for nominating petition signatures,” he said. “My understanding is that another individual in the district is considering a run for this seat, and given the timing of petitions, the WFP needed a ‘placeholder.’ Since I share their view on a number of issues, I agreed to assist them in this manner.”

Kim dropped out of the NY-21 race in March. He said Monday he is not pursuing any other office.

Warner also confirmed that Mark Schneider, who is on the Working Families line to challenge Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, is also a placeholder.

“Ron and Mark Schneider have graciously agreed to help us accomplish this,” Warner said.

Former NY-21 Democratic candidate Emily Martz is on the Democratic line to run against Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, in the 45th Senate District. Perhaps Martz is going to pick up the Working Families Party line as well?

Changing their tune

Warren County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Lynne Boecher said last week that Democrat leaders approached the large field of NY-21 Democratic candidates early in the year to gauge their future plans.

“We did attempt to get them talking back in January and February to consider running for state office. At the time, all said absolutely not. They were all running for the 21st (Congressional District),” she said.

Nobody else had stepped forward ahead of time, according to Boecher.

“I just think a lot of people don’t want to enter the political arena,” she said.

Secret video

The big news that came out of the NY-21 race last week was the release of a secretly recorded video in which Cobb is relaying a conversation she had with a prospective voter who asked her whether she supported an assault weapons ban.

Cobb said she did but she could not publicly take that position and get elected in the district.

National Republicans and the Stefanik campaign seized on the issue, saying that Cobb is lying and violating a Post-Star pledge on that matter. In a statement, Cobb defended that she was having a candid moment talking with students about the inability to pass any common-sense gun solutions — including implementing universal background checks and prohibiting the mentally ill from getting a firearm — without politics getting in the way.

A teenager who attended a Teens for Tedra private event recorded the video and posted it to YouTube. He identified himself as Grayson and said his cellphone was dead. The media has not been able to track him down.

It’s amazing how the ubiquity of cellphones have changed political campaigns. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, was caught on video at a private fundraising event saying 47 percent of the public would never vote for him because they “believe they are victims” and would vote for President Barack Obama because they depend on government support.

The video was secretly recorded at a private fundraiser in Florida and posted to a website. It was used successfully by the Obama campaign to portray Romney as elitist and out of touch.

The name’s the same

If Kim was mounting a campaign and been elected, he would have been the second Ron Kim in the Assembly. Assemblyman Ron Kim was elected in 2012 to the 40th Assembly District in Queens.

WFP Backs 1st Generation Arab American in Syracuse Court Race


One of my proudest moments in last year's campaigns was the election of the first Hispanic to be elected in the City of Albany. 

This year, the WFP in Central New York is poised to make history once more with it's endorsement of Shadia Tadros in her run for City Court Judge in Syracuse.

Of the City's ten City Court Judges, only two are minorities -- and never has an Arab American been elected to office.

To read all about it in the Syracuse Post, go here:

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Sunday Exile with the New York Times

 Sunday morning coffee and breakfast in exile with the New York Times.

Sunday morning coffee and breakfast in exile with the New York Times.

One of the problems with winter in my state of exile is the isolation.

Though there are 5,000 people who call this little coastal village home during summer, in winter, it’s less than 700.

It’s 36 miles to my dry cleaner – one way. And Wegman’s the mainstay of grocery for anyone brought up in the ROC is 40.

Makes it hard to get a newspaper.

I don’t have a television. I don’t have cable. And though I listen to NPR on the internet, what I really miss is the Sunday New York Times.

To be fair – I can get a copy at a great store just on the west side of Oswego, Ontario Orchards – where you can get everything from fresh vegetables and donuts, to wine making supplies and houseplants.

But fact is – it is 12 miles each way – a long way to go for a newspaper.

I checked with Tim at Bayside grocery – our local go to “general store” where you can find everything from paper towels to brass screws. But he can’t actually even get the Times delivered to the store.

So he suggested I check out a strange and old-fashioned alternative.

I get it in the mail at the local “old fashioned” Fair Haven Post Office.

Granted, it doesn’t come till Wednesday, when I find it wrapped and carefully stuffed into my tiny brass P.O. Box.

And, even though I don’t get it for Sunday coffee I developed a little game to play. Since it takes me a week to read it anyway, I save the paper I get on Wednesday until the NEXT Sunday. And I look with great anticipation through its cellophane cover toward my Sunday morning coffee.

What’s interesting is that this new routine hasn’t really made me less up to date on what’s happening. Sadly, I’ve come to realize that the news is really quite the same each week.

Trump did something foolish. Another staffer got fired from the white house. There’s still war in the Middle East. A terrorist in France has killed someone else. There’s been another tragic school shooting.

That’s the part that really get’s me. The news is the same. Every week. Never better. Never ending.

I guess that’s another reason I get up every morning. I’m trying to use what I’ve learned over the last couple of decades about electing people to change the world, or at least my little part of it.

But there are many days – like Sunday with the Times, that it seems to steep a mountain to climb.

The Capitol Connection #1811 - Bill Lipton, NYS Director Of The Working Families Party

Click on the Picture to listen to Alan Chartock's interview with Bill Lipton -- leader of the Working Families Party in New York -- on WAMC's weekly radio program, The Capital Collection. He talks about Cuomo, Nixon, and progressive issues facing New Yorkers. I've been listening to this program for years ... even though it's on Saturday Mornings at 5:00 a.m. on WXXI. Anyone else up at that hour?

NY-21 speaks out about Stefanik

 Working Families Party Activist Joe Seeman spreading the word for NY-21 all over the North Country

Working Families Party Activist Joe Seeman spreading the word for NY-21 all over the North Country

Written by Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli a features writer at The Post-Star.

Following the 2016 presidential election, there was a historic increase in political activism as constituents from around the nation began voicing concerns about the president’s executive orders, staff appointments and proposals on health care, immigration, the environment, trade agreements, taxes and foreign policy.

“I became heavily involved in local politics for the first time in my life after the election of Donald Trump in 2016,” said Catherine Tedford, who has lived in Colton (St. Lawrence County) for 27 years.

And in perhaps one of the largest public displays of global activism, the 2017 Women’s March on Washington exhibited a new wave of political fervor. In Glens Falls alone, 1,500 women and men marched through downtown.

For the Complete Story -- Click on the Photo to go to the Post-Star

City Councilman Jumaane Williams rejects plea deal after arrest for trying to block Ravi Ragbir's detainment

 City Council member Jumaane Williams is pictured being arrested after trying to block immigration activist Ravi Ragbir's detainment.   (ALEC TABAK/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

City Council member Jumaane Williams is pictured being arrested after trying to block immigration activist Ravi Ragbir's detainment.


City Council member Jumaane Williams would rather fight than plead.

The Brooklyn politician rejected a deal Tuesday to dodge obstruction charges linked to the Jan. 11 incarceration of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir in lower Manhattan.

Williams instead faces his own May 8 court appearance stemming from his arrest for trying to keep Ragbir out of federal custody during what started as a routine check-in.

Click on the Photo for the full New York Daily News Story.


Katie Wilson Wins WFP Endorsement to Run Against Stefanik

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KEENE, NY -- This Game Changing Endorsement Puts Katie Wilson Ahead of Thinning Field in New York's 21st Congressional District Before June Primary. As a Small Business Owner & Working Single Mother, North Country Lifer Embodies Spirit of Working Families Party

The Working Families Party has officially announced its endorsement of Katie Wilson for New York’s 21st congressional district, recognizing Wilson as the embodiment of their mission to empower and defend working class families around the country. Katie Wilson is the rare candidate that can represent working class families because she is working class.

"WFP is proud to support Katie Wilson for Congress. As a single mother and small business owner, Katie knows well the struggles of working families in the North Country, and is exactly the kind of home-grown Working Families Democrat we need in Congress,” said Karen Scharff, Working Families Party Co-Chair. “Katie will fight for the needs of the North Country instead of tax cuts for billionaires and health care cuts for everyone else. She's got the right kind of experience combined with the persistence and enthusiasm it will take to be heard in the halls of Congress."

“I’m ecstatic, this endorsement is what my campaign is all about! It’s time to elevate the needs of working families above the needs of Wall Street and the elite. I’m a Working Families Democrat and I’m fighting for the little guy in this David & Goliath moment,” said Katie Wilson, Congressional Candidate for New York’s 21st Congressional District.  “The WFP understands that this is not the time to elect wealthy, out of touch candidates who do not understand the everyday struggles facing working people. Now is the time to bring diversity to Congress and that includes socio-economic diversity.”

“Katie Wilson stands out as a genuine North Country voice, advocating for the policies that will truly move the needle for her neighbors and reinvigorate our Upstate community,” said Tom Wood, long-time North Country Working Families Party Organizer. “Wilson knows that change only comes when every working family has a voice at the table, and has embraced a platform devoted to ensuring economic and educational equality for every North Country resident. We are proud to endorse her campaign, and recognize her commitment to supporting her community.”

Wilson’s endorsement comes on the heels of her recognition in national media, including a column written for Teen Vogue in which Wilson emphasized the need for Congressional representatives who actually live under the policies crafted hundreds or thousands of mile away in Washington. In a separate piece for Refinery29, Wilson highlighted the need for more single mothers in Congress – right now, the one single mother in Congress represents the 25 percent of American families with women as head of household.

The Working Families Party is a Progressive party that fights for the everyday American. With wide-spread support, the Working Families Party has influenced public policies that make a difference in the lives of working families, from paid sick days laws and minimum wage increases to patrolling practices that affect student debt and environmental protection. The party works in an expanding coalition of labor, community, environmental, youth and faith groups to help build an economy that works for us and a democracy in which every voice matters.

To learn more about Katie Wilson’s campaign and her platform, visit her website:

Fighting Back: Attacking Trump Republicans on Every Front

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BROOKLYN, NY: 02 March 2018 -- I'm a big fan of studying history. And, while I'm not necessarily in agreement with those who have compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler (I don't think Trump is a diabolical genius, or a genius of any sort) I do see interesting parallels in today's America with the rise of fascism in the 1930's.

It spread like wildfire, its insidious destruction eating away at civilization like some flesh eating virus, one square mile of of Europe at a time.

Now, just like in the 30's, not a day goes by when we don't lose one more bit of freedom, give away one more human right, look in horror at one more tragedy engulfing our fellow humans on this planet. Trump's particular band of Fascism seems to be erasing the America I grew up loving as well as every bit of hope for 99% of us.

Sadly for me, (I'm supposed to enjoying retirement) Mrs. Warner didn't raise a son to sit on the sidelines, and so I zig-zag across 28,000 square miles of New York State fighting back in the only way I know how: at the voting booth.

Today, I'm in Brooklyn where Working Families Party Activists from across the state will make headline news this Sunday as we choose our candidate for U.S. Senate. Pretty heady stuff.

But for me, that's the easy part. The rest of the time I'm helping fight back Trump's fascism all fronts.

The first is in the Working Families Party initiative to get rid of the IDC in the New York State Senate. If you don't know what that is, don't feel bad ... neither do your neighbors. But the simple explanation is that it is a nickname for 8 State Senators across the state who got elected as Democrats, but who support the Republicans. They're what they brand themselves as the "Independent Democratic Caucus".

Horse hockey!

To get elected, they hide behind the Trump Republican tactic of the "Big Lie" -- pointing fingers at everyone else and telling voters "It's not my fault" -- while supporting Republican's efforts to stem voting rights, eliminate protection for women's reproductive rights, stop efforts to protect our environment and turn a blind eye toward the rampant corruption that has destroyed our upstate economy.

In Central New York, we have the only Upstate Member of this gang of eight who Political Pundit Alan Chartock of Albany calls, the "Traitors" -- Senator David Valesky of the 53rd Senate District.

We're going to give him the opportunity to start a new career by beating him in the Democratic Primary in September. How are we doing it? Well we're starting with the 500 prime Democrats who supported Mr. Valesky who have pledged to vote against ANY candidate who tries to unseat him because of his duplicitous actions.

Leading the charge is a courageous candidate out of the City of Syracuse, Rachel May. She's going to be here on Sunday when we announce the other seven IDC challengers as well as the WFP Senate candidate.

Then there's the Senate race next door to Rachel May's 53rd. It's Senate District 50, John DeFrancisco's seat. He's leaving it to get slaughtered in the race for Governor. It's in my region and we are looking at candidates who will turn that seat back to the Democrats where it belongs.

Last but not least are three of my four Congressional seats. All flippable from Red to Blue and all with great candidates. In CD 21 (the North Country) we've got the feisty single mom, Katie Wilson (WFP) vying for the Democratic nomination in June's primary. Then, she'll go on to go toe to toe with Elise Stefanik -- Trump's Congressional lackey -- and win this district back for the people.

On to CD 22, where Central NY Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi is about to kick Republican Claudia Tenney to the curb. Last poll of 2017 had him edging ahead. He's actually slightly out-raising her in the cash department and in my travels across the district -- he's #1 where it counts -- among the voters.

Last -- but by no means least -- there's newly designated candidate Dana Balter from Syracuse giving John Katko a run for his money in Congressional District 24. She's nothing but amazing. The WFP made a resounding endorsement by local WFP leaders and Regional Council on last Thursday, and she got the Democratic Designation from Onondaga County Dems two days later on Saturday.

How lucky I am to be working with all of these incredible people to fight against Trump's version of America, one front at a time.


















There's a Darkness Over America


December21st, 2017, Fair Haven, NY: Today at 11:28 a.m., the sun reaches its furthest southern point on the earth's revolution round the most celestial of bodies. It's called the Winter Solstice and is alternatively known as the shortest day of the year or the longest night, depending on your perspective.

Throughout history, these 24 hours are known as the worst of the year. And, in 2017 it should be no different.

According to astrologers, the planet Saturn and the Sun both pass through the constellation Capricorn which means that they actually "line up" in the heavens -- for the first time since 1664.

Apparently this is bad. 

Meaning that if you are planning any big projects for today you might want to reconsider. It will take longer, be more frustrating and come out worse than if you wait till Friday. Unless of course you're a sailor, who then has to wait till Saturday to cast off because superstition dictates that you shouldn't start a long voyage on a Friday.

At this rate, we might as well just wait to do any work till after the New Year and start drinking right now. I mean ... what's the point if the astrologers all think it's bad?

Of course there are some people who don't believe in all this astrology stuff. Too corny. Too weird. Too crazy.

But with Donald Trump in the White House, I've come to take a different view of superstition, astrology, fortune telling and ouigi boards. The dark pall he has cast over our nation has been the most depressing I've seen since the Nixon Presidency. So now, all of this "kooky" stuff certainly make more sense than he does. and he's the leader of the free world.

You need to know though, that despite all, I'm a "glass half full" kind of guy.

So here's my advice. If you woke up today feeling that the darkness over America is even darker than usual, take heart. While today we get to enjoy just 9 hours of daylight, starting tomorrow, we creep back towards a minute more and then even two minutes more come January 7th. It keeps getting better all the way to the other side of the sun next June when we hit the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year when we will have somewhere around 15 hours and 22 minutes of daylight.

In my job, I travel all across Upstate and talk to people who are itching to change America to be a better place, where our rights are protected, all people have equal opportunity and peace reigns. And, the optimism surrounding the mid-term elections next year that will spell then end of the madness is tremendous -- an overwhelming wave that is unstoppable.

Like I said, brighter days are just around the corner.



Winning one for the good guys

 Alfredo and me after the polls closed.

Alfredo and me after the polls closed.

Sometimes, the good guys actually do win. Last November, In Albany's 11th Ward, Alfredo Balarin was elected to the Common Council in a vicious battle to beat back the bad guys.

He becomes the first Latino to serve in office in the City!

His opponent, incumbent Judd Krasher, collected so many illegal absentee ballots that it it became clear that parking would NOT be a problem on election day. Virtually every one of the absentee applications gave "Out of Town on Election Day" as the reason for needed an absentee ballot. That would mean that essentially a third of the voters had left town. It was an absurd abuse of the law and a sordid attempt at stealing the election.

Fortunately -- thanks in large part to former City Court Judge Tom Keefe who led a team that gathered dozens of affidavits from voters who said they were duped -- the plan to rob people of their voting rights was foiled.

Rumor has it that an investigation is continuing to see if criminal charges can be filed.

In the meantime, it's nice to know that in this age of Trump where rules and justice don't matter, the good guys actually DO win once in a while!

A Baker's Dozen on Why You Should Thank Unions

President John F. Kennedy once said, "The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America."

On this Labor Day, 2016, it's good to remember what Labor Unions have brought us -- particularly today when workers' rights are under attack on the federal, state and even the local level with such insidious enthusiasm.

Here's a baker's dozen reasons why we should take a moment this Labor Day to thank people who care enough about their neighbors to be in a union and to appreciate what Organized Labor has brought us.

  1. The weekend
  2. The 8-hour Work Day
  3. Overtime Pay
  4. Minimum Wage
  5. The 40-hour Work Week
  6. Unemployment Insurance
  7. Child Labor Laws
  8. The Age Discrimination and Employment Ac of 1967
  9. The American With Disabilities Act
  10. Workers Comp
  11. Social Security
  12. The Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 requiring equal pay for women.

I'm a proud card carrying member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO. And, for the couple of decades I spent working for labor unions in the local building trades, I received the Rochester Labor Council's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

They were the best years of my life and, there's probably nothing I enjoy more than sitting around telling war stories about those "good old days" which really were just yesterday.

A lot of people say that Organized Labor's day has passed. People think that the days of business and government beating down striking workers and using their power to devastate working families is a thing from another time. Ancient history. Something out of the nineteenth century.

I'm here to tell you that it isn't so. The need for the protection of the rights of working families is even greater today than ever before.

And since I promised you a "baker's dozen" reasons, here's a story from early in my career that provides yet another.

Back in June of 1996, over 1,500 labor activists gather in Cleveland, Ohio to do something historic -- found a political party that would truly speak for working families. It was called the Labor Party, and its founder, Tony Mazzocchi -- head of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union -- was fond of the slogan, "The bosses have two parties. We need to have one of our own."

His idea inspired a couple of dozen of Rochester's Union leaders in the Building Trades to make the trek to Ohio and, I was among them -- slated to speak before the convention representing what was then Bricklayers Local 11. I wasn't a Bricklayer, I was a speechwriter and Steve Remington, who was then the Business Manager of the Local asked that I do it as my speaking skills would better express the sentiment of the members.

I labored over my words carefully, inspired by the task and the responsibility of speaking for the men and women of the craft. But when my time came to speak, I threw away those preciously prepared words in favor of speaking extemporaneously -- inspired by a guy I met in the hotel bar the night before.

Prior to that moment, I had been one of those people who believed that much of the violence that characterized the early days of the movement was over. Contracts, I believed, were agreed to in a civil manner, and strikes were just so much theatre.

But it just so happened that at the same time we were holding the convention, members of the Newspaper Guild and the Teamsters from the delivery facilities of the Detroit Newspapers were striking in the Motor City. While I was in the hotel bar, I literally fell over a guy in a wheel chair wearing his motorcycle colors, who was behind me in the crowded room and who I didn't see. I offered my apologies, bought him a beer, and we found a space at a table in the corner. Sadly, I don't remember his name, but the meeting was to be pivotal in my life.

"What are you here for?" he asked. I told him of my mission and returned the question.

"I'm a Teamster on strike from the delivery facility of the Detroit Free Press," he replied. And I couldn't help but notice that his wheelchair seemed to me to be somewhat of a obstacle to his throwing around bundles of newsprint.

At this point we were joined by a guy who was obviously a fellow Teamster, and my new friend pointed to him after noticing the look on my face.

"It's his fault," he said, and he pointed upward.

The story he told sends a shiver down own my spine to this day. (Note that I have cleaned up the language a bit for sensitive readers.)

"See, we work together over at the plant. And, last year on the day it was our turn to walk the picket line at the strike I stopped answering my telephone. I was looking at it as just another day off to work on my bike when this jerk knocked on my door to tell me it was time to go. I told him where to stuff it, but he's my partner so I had to go. We jumped on the motorcycles and off we went.

When we got there, there was a whole lot of guys there on the line and the bosses had beefed up security. In fact, they were doing a lot of intimidation at that point -- sending cars to neighborhoods where our Union leaders live. Following their kids to school. Harassing their wives in the supermarket. Crap like that.

We took our place on the line and kept on moving, marching in a long circle along the sidewalk, when suddenly, from out'a nowhere two big-butted guys randomly grabbed me -- Pinkertons, they were. And, while about a dozen of their buddies held back everyone else, they beat me so badly that I've been in this wheelchair ever since."

I was speechless.

The other Teamster then said, "Yeah -- this guy's one of the keynote speakers tomorrow." And then added, "You guys want another beer?"

Needless to say that when I gave my "warm-up" speech early the next morning I was inspired in a different way. This guy, who hadn't even been a strong Union guy -- was sitting in a wheelchair because he exercised his rights. And now, rather than sit by feeling sorry for himself, was one of the strongest advocates for action I had ever met before -- or since.

The tactics of vilolence had failed. Rather than intimidate him, they made him stronger.

When my new-found friend wheeled down the center aisle in the convention hall the next day, the crowd did something he couldn't ... they gave him a standing ovation. And believe you me, there wasn't a dry eye in the place by the time it was over and he told his story.

He gave one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever heard from a Union guy. He changed my life and I remembered him often over the next twenty plus years I worked for Unions.

So, while you're having a hot dog today, or cracking another cold one and running around with the kids, maybe you can take a moment to remember that the rights for working families you enjoy are delicate. They didn't come from some far off march a couple of centuries ago. They were won just yesterday by guys and gals in the mail room, and on the factory floor, and on picket lines who were just like you and me, but who paid a bigger price than we will (hopefully) ever have to.