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Voices in the Crowd
By Daniel Flatley & Perry White
Times Staff Writer & City Editor
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Voices in the Crowd

DeKalb Junction firefighters to get grant funds

First published: July 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Last modified: July 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm

DeKALB JUNCTION — U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both D-N.Y., announced Friday that over $43,000 in federal funding will be provided for the DeKalb Junction Volunteer Fire Department. The money, allocated by FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighter’s Grant Program, will be used to purchase new gear and air packs.

“The dedicated men and women at the DeKalb Volunteer Fire Department put their lives on the line each day to protect our residents and property. In order to do their jobs effectively they need top-notch equipment and protective gear,” Sen. Schumer said. “This funding will allow our firefighters to purchase the vital resources they need to continue their important work of saving lives.”

Firefighting grants are awarded competitively based on a department’s financial needs and how well they follow the program’s priorities.


Ritchie finds funds for Massena girls hockey uniforms

First published: July 24, 2015 at 2:45 pm
Last modified: July 24, 2015 at 2:45 pm

State Sen. Patricia R. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, announced Friday that she has set aside a member item of $3,000 for new uniforms for the Massena Lady Raiders Hockey Team. The team took the state title this year when they defeated the Kenmore Devil Dogs 3-0.

“Through their winning of the state championship, the members of the Massena Lady Raiders Hockey Team all have demonstrated that dedication and teamwork pay off,” Sen. Ritchie said in her release. “A success like this doesn’t come overnight, it takes the determination of team members and their coaching staff—as well as the support of the community—to achieve such a tremendous goal. This funding, which will allow the squad to purchase new uniforms and keep the uniforms they won the championship in as a souvenir is just one way to show how extremely proud I am of all the team has accomplished.”

Head Coach Jennifer Gray said the win was a reward for the team’s preparation.

“The capture of the state title was a huge moment for the Massena Lady Raiders that only came after countless hours of practice and preparation,” Ms. Gray said.

The team was honored at the State Capitol earlier this year.


Former Rep. Owens: failure to pass DHS funding bill will have a devastating effect

First published: February 13, 2015 at 12:15 am
Last modified: February 13, 2015 at 12:13 am

Former Rep. William L. Owens issued a statement expressing “dismay” at the failure of the U.S. Senate to pass legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

“The failure to pass a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill will have a devastating effect as it will shut down our borders and negatively impact national security and our local economy,” Mr. Owens said. “The Republican majority in Congress claims this is the result of the President’s Executive Order on immigration as opposed to the Republican-controlled Congress’s own failure to offer comprehensive immigration reform or to act on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill passed in the previous Congress. If my former colleagues were more serious about this issue, they would vote to revive the Senate bill and to strike the Executive Order. I would vote for this approach if I were in Congress. It is a rational compromise and good governance.”

A Democrat, Mr. Owens was first sent to Congress following a special election in 2009. He ran for the office again in 2010 and 2012 and served two full terms representing the 21st Congressional District before announcing he would not seek re-election in 2014. He now works as a strategic adviser for McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, Washington, D.C., as well as for his law firm Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murname, Kelleher & Trombley, PLLC, Plattsburgh.

Mr. Owens said in a email Thursday that he decided to speak out on the issue because “this would be devastating to local economies if border shut down or curtailed.”

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, was elected in November to represent the 21st Congressional District. She voted in support of H.R. 240, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which passed the House 236 to 191.

The bill has hit a roadblock in the Senate, where Democrats have repeatedly blocked the bill from coming to the floor. The Democrats object to provisions in the bill that would undo President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration — a part of the legislation Republicans included to fight what they describe as an abuse of executive authority on the part of Mr. Obama.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, blamed Senate Democrats for the impasse as well as Senate Republican leadership for failing to resolve the issue. Mr. Boehner has refused to bring a bill to the floor without the provisions undoing Mr. Obama’s actions on immigration.

Congress is facing a Feb. 27 deadline to pass legislation to fund DHS. — DPF


Stefanik named to leadership post on subcommittee

First published: February 05, 2015 at 11:34 am
Last modified: February 05, 2015 at 11:34 am

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, has been named vice chairwoman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness.

The 21st District congresswoman, the youngest member in the House, was selected by her colleagues for the position.

“I am grateful to Chairman Thornberry and my colleagues on the Committee for the opportunity to serve in this important position,” said Rep. Stefanik in a news release. “The Readiness Subcommittee has extraordinary responsibility overseeing the budget for the Department of Defense. From this position, I will be able to work to undo the damaging effects that the sequester is having on our military readiness as well as bring a strong voice to protect and strengthen the interests of Fort Drum. I look forward to working closely with Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman on these important issues.”

The Readiness Subcommittee is responsible for the single largest account within DoD’s budget, the release said.

Military readiness, training, logistics and maintenance issues and programs, military construction, installations and family housing issues, and the BRAC process are all part of the subcommittee’s purview.

Fort Drum and its proponents will likely be pleased that Ms. Stefanik is vice chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees the Base Realignment and Closing process.



Heastie fills Assembly leadership positions

First published: February 05, 2015 at 9:11 am
Last modified: February 05, 2015 at 9:11 am

Two days after taking over the leadership of the Assembly, Speaker Carl E. Heastie announced his leadership appointments.

Unsurprisingly, Assembly members from the Greater New York City region took all but two of the top 21 appointments, with the Bronx, Queens and Long Island heavily represented.

The only two upstaters named were Majority Leader Joseph D. Morrell from Rochester, and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton of Ithaca as chairwoman of the Majority Steering Committee. Ms. Lifton held no leadership positions under ousted Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The only Democrat in the north country, Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, Theresa, was named chairwoman of the Farm, Food and Nutrition Task Force. She was moved to that post from the chairmanship of the Commission on Rural Resources.

Many committees have new chairmen, but Ways and Means will still be led by Herman Farrell, and Agriculture still will be headed by William Magee, of the Madison County hamlet of Nelson.

One notable appointment is the continuation of Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Queens, as chairwoman of the influential Education Committee. She was the final challenger for the Speaker’s position, bowing out a day before the Democratic Caucus unanimously chose Mr. Heastie.



Stefanik to hold Glens Falls office grand opening

First published: February 03, 2015 at 4:02 pm
Last modified: February 03, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, is scheduled to hold a grand opening ceremony at her district office in Glens Falls from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday at 136 Glen St.

The event is open to all constituents of New York’s 21st Congressional District, according to Ms. Stefanik’s office.


Blankenbush: new Speaker must commit to reforms; Congressional office gets the Downton Abbey treatment

First published: February 03, 2015 at 10:33 am
Last modified: February 03, 2015 at 10:33 am

Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, released a statement Tuesday calling on the next speaker of the Assembly to embrace and adhere to meaningful ethics reform.

There is currently a contest for speaker, though most reports confirm that Carl Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, is set to assume power today.

“New Yorkers have been waiting far too long for reforms, their trust in government has been violated over and over again by elected officials who break our laws and take advantage of their positions of power. When the Democrats select a new speaker, that person must take advantage of this opportunity to hit the restart button and adopt strong ethics reforms that take a no-tolerance stance on politicians engaging in criminal activities, set term limits for leadership positions such as speaker, and fairly distribute resources among legislators so residents, especially upstate, are fairly represented,” Mr. Blankenbush said.

Former Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan was arrested in January on federal corruption charges. After a whirlwind week in Albany, he announced he would step aside from his position of authority while he defends himself against the charges.


■       ■       ■

Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., visited Watertown in September to stump for Elise M. Stefanik, who was then a candidate for Congress. Now Ms. Stefanik is Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, and Mr. Schock is getting attention in Washington for his new Downton Abbey-inspired digs in the Rayburn House Office Building.

According to the Washington Post, Mr. Schock, one of the youngest members of Congress, had his office decorated in the style of the popular PBS show with the help of an interior decorator from his home state who specializes in repurposing cast-off items.

Annie Brahler, owner of Euro Trash, decorated Mr. Schock’s office for free, although the Congressman reportedly had to pay for the furnishings. Still, Mr. Schock did not want to discuss the decor with the Washington Post, according to reporter Ben Terris.

To read the story, visit:



Stefanik to visit north country Thursday, co-sponsors bill combating human trafficking

First published: January 28, 2015 at 5:14 pm
Last modified: January 28, 2015 at 9:56 pm

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, will be attending two events in the 21st Congressional District Thursday.

Ms. Stefanik will visit Clarkson University and SUNY Potsdam.


■       ■       ■

Ms. Stefanik posed a question at the first meeting of the Armed Services Committee, according to Capitol Confidential.

The question was about acquisition chain of command, the story said.

Ms. Stefanik reportedly asked, “What steps are you currently taking to clarify both authorities and improving accountability of the decision-makers within and throughout the chain of command?”

Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall said there are accountability measures in place, including removal of ineffective people.

To read the story, visit:


■       ■       ■

Ms. Stefanik co-sponsored a bill aimed at combating human trafficking that was passed out of the House Tuesday along with a host of measures.

The bill is H.R. 350, “The Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention and Recovery Act of 2015.”

“Sadly, the horrific crime of human trafficking is far too prevalent in our society,” Ms. Stefanik said. “That’s why I was happy to support these common-sense proposals to help victims of trafficking as well as to help law enforcement go after the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Specifically, I was proud to see legislation I co-sponsored to help ensure that our nation’s law enforcement agencies and communities have the best information on how to prevent and deter these crimes pass unopposed by voice vote.”


■       ■       ■

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, released the results of her 2015 legislative survey Wednesday.

According to the results, strong support for reforming Common Core, concerns regarding raising the minimum wage and support for making the state’s two percent property tax cap permanent are among the results, Sen. Ritchie’s office said.

To view the full results of the survey, visit:



Intrigue in Albany: Speaker Silver reportedly losing support

First published: January 26, 2015 at 4:18 pm
Last modified: January 26, 2015 at 4:18 pm

The state Assembly is reportedly scheduled for a 5 p.m. session as word of a movement to oust Democratic majority Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, filters out of Albany.

“It’s really up in the air right now,” said Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River.

According to Capitol Confidential, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, told reporters that the power-sharing deal put forward by Mr. Silver was unworkable.

“We didn’t think it would function, we didn’t think it was workable at all,” Ms. Paulin said. “We weren’t sure how anybody would make decisions. We were concerned we would be thrown into a chaotic state and would not be able to get the Assembly agenda done.”

The New York Times reported Monday that Mr. Silver had arranged to step aside and delegate his duties and authority to five senior Assembly Democrats. Mr. Silver was charged with five county of corruption last week.

By midday, however, that arrangement seems have crumbled, as other prominent Assembly Democrats began voicing their dissent.

Assemblyman Keith Wright, a longtime Democratic legislator from Harlem, called for Mr. Silver’s resignation.

Mr. Blankenbush said he heard other rumors about a growing movement in the Democratic Conference to wrest power away from the embattled speaker.

State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, issued a statement earlier in the day calling for Mr. Silver to resign his position.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, who defended Mr. Silver last week, has not yet returned a request for comment.

Assembly Democrats were scheduled to enter conference at 4 p.m., according to Mr. Blankenbush.



Griffo: Silver needs to step down

First published: January 26, 2015 at 2:05 pm
Last modified: January 26, 2015 at 2:05 pm

State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, issued a statement Monday calling on embattled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to step down from his post while he defends himself against federal corruption charges.

The New York Times reported that Mr. Silver would temporarily delegate his duties as speaker to five senior Assembly Democrats. He was charged Thursday was five counts of corruption and using his political power to amass personal wealth.

“Sheldon Silver needs to step down from his post as Assembly speaker,” Sen. Griffo said. “This cockamamie idea where five people are going to take turns negotiating on behalf of their conference is going to severely undermine the effectiveness of the budget process. It’s too important to the people of New York that we deliver an on-time budget.”

Sen. Griffo was critical of the power-sharing idea, which he said was unworkable.

“This proposed power sharing is never going to work,” Sen. Griffo said. “Here’s why: In negotiations, compromises are inevitably made. It’s a give-and-take, in which one area of the budget sustains a cut so another can receive funding. How in the world are we going to make progress if five people need to negotiate among themselves before they can negotiate with the governor and the Senate?”


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