Opinion Articles

This page provides a forum for members of the Democratic Party in Orleans County to express their individual opinions on a wide range of topics. These opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the Orleans County Democratic Committee. Submissions can be emailed to info@orleansdemocrats.com, we just ask you to be civil, watch your language, and avoid personal attacks.

Democratic Policies Do Not Hurt The US

Letter to the editor

Democratic Policies Do Not Hurt The US

This is part three in my answer to Paul Lauricella’s rant. He said Mr. Trump is winning. Well he has set some records for sure:
-most days vacationing.
-most games of golf played.
-least amount of bills signed.
-lowest approval rating.
-most cabinet resigniations.
-most criminal indictments.
-deficit increased to $21 trillion dollars.
-alienated importers of US farm goods hurting US farmers.
-giving huge tax cuts to corporations already enjoying record profits. Crumbs to the Middle Class.

Mr. Lauracella talks about building a wall. The only wall America needs is the one between church and state, as our Founding Fathers intended.

Mr. Lauracella bashed Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society policies. That means he is opposed to the Civil Rights Act, the Economic Opportunity Act, Medicare, the Clean Water and Clean Air Act, The Wilderness Protection Act, and numerous more. LBJ established the value system begun by John Kennedy, that the US will not tolerate poverty caused by racial discrimination. A fight that caring Americans are still taking up today.

Therefore I must conclude that Mr. Lauracella favors the conservative Republican agenda of ‘keep ‘em poor, keep ‘em sick, and keep ‘em stupid’. I can’t expect anything more from a climate change denier.

Al Capurso
Gaines

Setting the Record Straight

To the editor:

Setting The Record Straight

Mr. Paul Lauracella thinks that those who favor compassion and humanity over cruelty to children are “extremists”, hell-bent on destroying American society. Mr. Lauracella, there are thousands of refugee children languishing in cages as Mr. Trump golfs. I guess somehow that’s supposed to make our country great? To say, as you have, that those that seek to enter the US are criminals couldn’t be more wrong. Most are law abiding people as evidenced by FBI statistics.

Mr. Lauracella, you forget it was your hero Ronald Regan who gave corporations and the rich huge tax cuts, beginning the demise of the Middle Class. And now one pay check won’t feed most families. We Democrats make no apologies for advocating equal opportunity and equal pay for women in the workplace. Republicans in Congress have voted against legislation requiring equal pay for women every single time. Every single time. How immoral is that?

Mr. Lauracella, like many two-dimensional thinkers, you go on to confuse ‘pro-choice’ with ‘pro-abortion’. No one favors abortion. However, this difficult decision must be made between a woman and her doctor. Mr. Trump was pro-choice until he needed to pander to the evangelical community. Mr. Lauracella, if men like you could get pregnant, safe and legal abortions would be as easy to get as a drive-thru Big Mac. Stop tying to control women.

Liar In Chief Mr. Trump and followers like you Mr. Lauracella call careful, legitimate, factual news reporting “fake” and reporters the “enemy of the people”. How convenient when you don’t like the truth coming out than to shoot the messenger? Tyrants have done it for years.

There will be more I will be saying later but I’ll end this letter with a quote from Conservative columnist George Will: “The 2018 midterm elections this November won’t be about Democrats vs. Republicans. They will be about moral, decent human beings vs. Trump Supporters. Mr Collins, stop hiding.

Al Capurso
Gaines

Fact-check on Immigration Letter

To The Editor:

Usually, Paul Lauricella’s ultra-conservative points of view don’t bother me. However, his recent letter of July 2 crosses the line of accuracy and morality. To believe him is to assume all immigrants, undocumented or not, are living high on the hog, milking all kinds of public services at taxpayer expense. As we have learned to do with our current “president”, let us fact-check Mr. Lauricella.

My grandparents didn’t come here from Italy believing the “streets were paved with gold”, as he said. They were ready to work, despite the hardships and privations of being in a strange county and not knowing the language. And work hard they did. My grandmother kept the house and cared for the children so my grandfather could work the stone quarries, build the buildings and pave the streets with sandstone.

Regardless of what people like Mr. Lauricellla and Fox News say, there are very few tax payer services immigrants can qualify for. Since the 1980’s, less than one percent of Medicaid goes to screening and stabilizing emergency patients regardless of citizenship status. Let me restate that; a minuscule amount of money is spent on the emergency health needs of immigrants. Who among us, besides Mr. Lauracelli and Mr. Trump would turn away very sick children? This is not prenatal care or other vital treatment services. Immigrants don’t qualify for that. In this country, we don’t advocate neglecting hungry children or their education. Therefore, Congress has allocated funds for school nutrition programs, WIC nutrition, and Head Start. Mr. Collins, are you listening?  Do you care?

And Mr. Lauricella, undocumented immigrants cannot vote. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits, even though many contribute to the system.

Democrats are not “the enemy, trying to take down America”. Mr. Lauricella sees “leftists and socialists in every nook and cranny, even heads of religious institutions”. We have heard this kind of talk before. Read your history of Nazi Germany and the McCarthy era in 1950’s America. Cynicism designed to divide our country and scapegoat the helpless.

I don’t know any of Mr. Lauricella’s “leftists, communists and socialists”. But I do know the difference between Democrats and Conservatives. The former is the party of “US”. The later is the party of “ME”.

Lies and paranoia will not serve our country well. Christian values of charity, mercy and benevolence will. When you see an immigrant child and their hard working parents, ask yourself a question that Charles Dickens asked; “Are they not of the human race”?

Al Capurso
Gaines

Village of Albion Election

Dear Editor:

There is still time to register to vote in the March 20th Village of Albion election.  March 9th is the last day for new registrations.

And the residents of the Village have a real choice this year.  It is up to each of them individually to consider whether the Village is moving in a positive direction as inexorably as could be expected.  One party has run the “show” for a long time.

Certainly, the republican field is solid and offers experience.

The democratic candidates—Joyce Riley, Sandra Walter and Jason Dragon—are newcomers who deserve serious consideration.  I know Village Trustee candidates Sandra and Jason pretty well.  I do not know Joyce as well, but Bob Golden, who has a lifetime commitment to improving the local community, assures me that she is very capable.  She and her family have been actively involved in helping where they can for a very long time. Together, Joyce, Sandra and Jason would bring intelligence and a fresh perspective to the many issues facing Village government.

Though I am mindful that the republican field has been trying hard for quite a while, I encourage Village voters to shake things up and vote for a new approach on March 20th. Vote democrat for a change!

Sincerely yours,
Gary Kent
Albion, NY

The Relevance of the Constitution

The Federal Constitution is the framework of our Republic. My introduction to it came from Roswell Sanger, an American History teacher I still hold in high regard. Drs. Harold Rakov and Owen Stephen Ireland picked up where he left off. I later taught about the Constitution for 34 years.

My mentors made clear that the Legislative branch was intended to be first among ostensible equals; hence Congress was outlined in Article I. The House and Senate, after all, have the power to impeach and remove members of the other two branches, as well as a major role in amending the Constitution.

Before further comment, it perhaps should be noted that the United States Constitution is a masterpiece that holds together brilliantly, has stood the test of time quite well and includes nothing lacking purpose. Its’ language and content are chosen with utmost precision. Context is also crucial.

Article II, section 4 indicates the grounds for impeachment as “treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors”. Treason is, more, or less, defined in Article III, section 3 and includes, “. . . adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort”. Bribery is fairly straightforward. “High crimes and misdemeanors” is a phrase, like many others in the Constitution, which cannot be strictly defined/constructed and was worded the way it was purposefully to allow for/require interpretation. Otherwise, it has little meaning. The definition of treason, as the authors clearly intended, certainly allows enormous latitude for interpretation.

For another telling example of a section of the Constitution with no clear meaning under the doctrine/notion of “strict construction” one might check Amendment IX. It again makes abundantly clear that the Founders expected much of the Constitution to be loosely constructed. Otherwise, Amendment IX would define no rights whatsoever and there would be no purpose for its inclusion. Such language– as well as Article V– was meant to permit the Constitution to be adaptable to changing circumstances.

A powerful argument can be made that any determined effort to ridicule and devalue institutions whose stature and credibility are vital to our republic provides encouragement to the enemies of the United States. Those who denigrate the validity of our election results, use whatever stature and credibility they may have to question judicial outcomes, seek to undermine respected institutions such as the F.B.I., and regularly impugn the integrity of our free press unwittingly tear the Republic apart from within. As Fran Townsend, George W. Bush’s Homeland Security Advisor, said this week about the current war of words over memo releases, “. . . this public acrimony only benefits our enemies”. Perhaps under Article III, section 3, such political nonsense might qualify as collective treason!

Watching as the United States gets torn apart from within is beyond depressing. It is increasingly clear that patriotism is more than displaying the red, white and blue while simultaneously approximating Sergeant Schultz’ mantra, “I hear nothing; I see nothing; I know nothing”.

Sincerely yours,
Gary Kent
Albion, NY

Response to Senator Ortt

Senator Robert Ortt
175 Walnut Street, Suite 6
Lockport, NY 14094

Dear Senator,

I am receipt of your recent mailer “No NY Tax Breaks for Hollywood Millionaires”. I will not sign it.

First of all, you are connecting Weinstein to the entire film industry. That is wrong.

Second, you write about “Hollywood welfare”, while not giving a hint of concern about one of the biggest welfare scams I have ever seen, the recently approved so-called Tax Reform bill that quite simply rewards the very rich at the expense of everyone else. I am expecting a major impact on my tax obligations because of this bill. If you were being vigilant about taxes and budgets this is what you should be addressing in a taxpayer-financed mailer to your constituents.

Of course, the most reasonable place to address my concerns about federal tax law is my Congressman Christopher Collins, but he steadfastly refuses to respond to any mail, messages or phone calls that I have sent him. He has made it very clear that he is only accountable to his donors. He seems to have missed the lesson in 9th grade civics class that representatives are accountable to all of their constituents. So I am rightly skeptical of new tax laws endorsed by a representative who appears to be afraid of his own constituents.

Senator, I am very disappointed in your mailer. I am very disappointed that you are not addressing the most significant issue related to taxation. I expect better.

James R. Renfrew, Clarendon NY
January 6, 2018

Response to Stephen Hawley

I’d like to take a few moments to respond to Assemblyman Steve Hawley’s reply to the Orleans Hub editorial “GOP State Senate blueprint for NY should include equitable AIM funding for villages”.

Currently, village residents are terribly overtaxed compared to our non-village neighbors. This is directly a result of how localities can tax, how services are provided, and how the state distributes aid to correct for any inequities.

The county taxes all county residents. The towns for the most part tax all town residents (except for paving town roads). The villages can only tax village residents. When villages provide services themselves that means that the county and towns need to provide fewer services. Comparable services of the county and towns get redirected outside of the villages.

The unfairly high village taxes are a prime reason why the tax base has continued every year to gradually shift away from the villages. Every time a person decides to buy a home or property the market corrects for this unfairness by depressing sale prices in the villages.

Mr. Hawley’s response mentioned Medicaid, but the local share is a county expense and hits all county residents equally in the county tax rate. It doesn’t adversely impact village residents.

Mr. Hawley mentions a few bills that he has sponsored. I read each bill and it looks like the first 2 address any future state programs and doesn’t help correct the existing overtaxing of village residents. His response claimed that the 3rd bill would redirect extra AIM funding to villages, but when I read the text it seems to redirect extra AIM funding to towns as well – so, again, no correction to help overtaxed villages.

I expect that if we fail to address the existing unfairness of our local government structure then you will see further decline in the villages going forward. Our state representatives need to start work cooperatively with the state to fix this situation – and lay off unproductive insults of the governor and “downstate politicians”. Our local leaders need to be willing to go outside their comfort zone and consider reorganizing how local governments provides services. A county where all localities thrive is going to be more attractive to outside investment that one with struggling villages.

Jason Dragon
Village of Albion

Disinformation New Network

Dear Editor:

Not to worry that Thomas Jefferson said, “If I had to choose between a government without newspapers and newspapers without a government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.” Ignore the fact that the Orleans economy has essentially depended on “chain migration” for many decades. Imagine railing against those who feel ‘entitled’ to disability while you “reform” the tax code and give yourself and your fat cat pals tens of millions in tax breaks. In the President’s words, “My accountant tells me I will get killed by this bill.” Of course, we won’t know until we see his tax returns. Don’t hold your breath.

The seriously naïve among us should consider the grave risks implicit in restricting their television news viewing to what I often refer to as DNN, the Disinformation News Network. Of course, keeping the blinders on will permit them to feign surprise when everything hits the fan. Much of the American electorate appears to have an elementary concept of citizenship in a republic. Why does the President persist in efforts to undermine public confidence in the judiciary? Why does he often question unfavorable election outcomes? Why does he often attack the media and label fact-based truth “fake news”? How does it help the American people to undermine the professionalism of the Federal Bureau of Investigation? Does ignorance alone explain why a President would act to sabotage public faith in so many of the institutions vital to the very existence of our republic?

Why do our intelligence agencies agree Russia sought to influence our 2016 Presidential election in favor of Donald Trump? Does Vladimir Putin have something on his “friend”? What does it mean to be “played”? Why has Russia/the Soviet Union been committed to the use of “disinformation” for decades? What is the Constitutional definition of treason? What did presidential historian Douglas Brinkley mean when he noted eight, or nine, months ago that, “The smell of treason is in the air”? Why did conservative republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona say Donald Trump reminded him of the “Biblical Flood”? Is “fake news” a euphemism for inconvenient truth? Was President Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky consistent with “other high crimes and misdemeanors” under Article 2, Section 4, of the Constitution?

Do you think the Constitution’s author(s) would view at least some of what is going on today as consistent with language included in Article 3, section 3, of the Constitution? Or, are you for “loose construction” only when it suits you and applies to Democrats? Are you patriotic?

We had all better hope Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a George W. Bush appointee and life-long Republican, succeeds before the President, his Machiavellian allies, and DNN does him in. Finding God soon might make it more likely any desperate prayers get answered before the greatest nation on earth gets taken down. Or did teaching American History and the Constitution for 34 years just make me hopelessly alarmist?

Sincerely yours,
Gary F. Kent
Albion, NY

Collaboration on Local Services

Dear Editor:

Those who did not appreciate Jason Dragon’s thoughtfulness on the subject of increased collaboration—and even consideration of consolidation—where local services are concerned may be experiencing the symptoms of early onset myopia. The key to progress may lie in thoughtful consideration and even tentative inquiry. Outright rejection of the possibilities makes little sense to me.

Even if potential benefits are relatively unremarkable initially, anything gained/saved would be a plus. Even a handful of dollars spent wisely can make a difference.

When I suggested merging the highway operations of Albion and Gaines upon the retirement of the Albion Highway Superintendent a few years ago, my only motive was giving taxpayers a break when an opportunity presented itself. If we do not scour the landscape for such opportunities, we have no-one to blame but ourselves for increasingly untenable “situations”.

A few letters ago, I applauded some of those who have the courage to say what needs saying. In my view, Jason can be added to the list.

Sincerely yours,
Gary Kent

Political Observations

Dear Editor:

What follows is not intended to “hold together” particularly well.

According to the President’s accountant (speaking to the President), “. . . this tax bill is gonna kill you”, or so the President said. Though it is unlikely to hurt the President, as long as his tax returns remain secret, he can make whatever assertions he likes with impunity. Or am I missing something? One thing I do not get—considering its potentially disruptive impact on the economy—is why any tax “reform” effort would include such wide-ranging alterations in the existing code.

I missed whatever Daniel Del Plato had to say that prompted Gerard Morrisey’s November 16th letter. As I recall, the Constitution provides for impeachment in cases of “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors”. It also includes “giving aid and comfort” to the enemies of the United States in its definition of what constitutes treason.

It is unclear to me where the State of Denial is located, but those who live there may benefit from considering why the Russians wanted so badly for a certain enigmatic businessman to become President of Russia’s adversary, the United States of America.

While “we” are going off, what is with “our” fascination for brutal autocrats such as Philippine “President” Dutarte?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony this week gives a glimpse into why President Trump is unhappy with him. At the same time, it has to have disappointed some Democrats who were hoping to be handed a “smoking gun”. I watched Ohio Representative Jim Jordan put on a truly theatrical attempt to get the Attorney General to agree to support appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s role in the Uranium 1 deal. Sessions twice dismissed his entreaty with undisguised disdain (blew him off). Those who understand the importance of maintaining confidence in our institutions and Constitutional system had to be encouraged by Sessions’ refusal to use his position to play political games. As for the “I don’t recalls”, I do not find that so surprising.

With regard to Judge Roy Moore, I predict Alabama voters will refuse to elect the apparently reformed and forgiven woman(teen)izer who either is a great liar or is suffering some serious memory loss.

Ken Burns series on The Vietnam “Conflict” is must see viewing for anyone who didn’t end up there. The fact that I had a close friend die there made it extremely difficult for me to listen to, watch, and process. It aired on PBS Channel 21 last weekend.

Sincerely yours,
Gary Kent
Albion, NY