Iowa Democratic Town Hall

Tune in to CNN on Monday, January 25, 2016 at 9:00 PM to watch a Democratic presidential candidate town hall, moderated by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. This 2 hour event will be held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Village of Albion Democratic Caucus

CAUCUS NOTICE

Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of Section 15-108 of the New York State Election Law that a Democratic Party Caucus in the Village of Albion, County of Orleans, State of New York, will be held at The Hoag Library located at 134 S. Main St., Albion, NY 14411 on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at the hour of 7:00pm.

The purpose of this caucus shall be to make party nomination(s) of candidates for village office(s), and also for candidates to fill vacancies in village offices, if there shall be any, to be elected at the Village Election* on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 in the Village of Albion.

All duly enrolled members of the Democratic Party of the Village of Albion are eligible to participate and vote.

*Offices: Trustees (2)

Sandra E. Walter Caucus Chairman

Wind Farm Considerations

The Democratic Party is committed to an emphasis on renewable energy sources. Governor Andrew Cuomo has set ambitious goals aimed at reducing the dependency of New Yorkers on fossil fuels. The Orleans County Democratic Committee applauds efforts to reduce such dependency as a sensible and prudent means of addressing air quality and climate change issues important to the future of our planet and its inhabitants. However, the complexity of this task has come home to Orleans County in the controversy over the proposed Lighthouse Wind Project by Apex.

Preserving the environment of all regions of our state is important. A plan should be developed to balance agriculture use and natural habitat before proceeding on a wind farm project. Addressing the impact of the project on property values is also an important consideration. Orleans County is not a wealthy community – a significant portion of the wealth of our citizens is often in their homes and property. All the citizens of Yates would have to live with the wind farm, not just the leaseholders. So, listening to and addressing the concerns of that whole community is just as important as securing a green energy future for New York.

As in the larger community, local Democrats have diverse opinions on the specific issues around the Apex project. What we do agree on is that consideration of the placement of such projects and the environmental and social impact they would have should be an essential part of the decision-making process.

Diana Kastenbaum Visits Our Committee

Dear Orleans County Democratic Committee:

I wanted to thank the Committee for inviting me to your meeting on Wednesday, January 6, 2015 at the beautiful Hoag Library. It was a pleasure to come and speak to you and share some of my thoughts and future plans as an active Democrat. It’s always good to be among fellow Dems who care so much for their community and who work hard to uphold our Democratic ideals.

I was glad my daughter, Millicent, was able to come along as well and you had an opportunity to meet her. As a Senior at Cornell University in Ithaca and a Government major, local government, in particular, is her passion. Thank you for being so gracious and inviting to us both.

I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you and working together to bring good things to our communities.

Most sincerely,

Diana

Diana Kastenbaum
Batavia, NY

Insights Into How the Criminal Justice System Operates

Article by Gary Kent

Our criminal justice system is designed to have built in checks and balances. These have evolved from hundreds of years of practice, as well as judicial interpretation and precedent. In important ways, they enjoy Constitutional sanction.

Law enforcement is reined in principally by amendments 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Amendment 9 should not be forgotten in this regard, though its importance is often overlooked.

Warrants issued by a judge limit searches under amendment 4 and protect people from potential police abuse of privacy. If law enforcement can establish probable cause to conduct a search, a judge may grant a warrant allowing the search. Searches are supposed to be “reasonable” and specific as well.

Amendment 5 provides protection against self-incrimination. Precedent has added the so-called Miranda warning before other than routine questioning. Under amendment 5, once someone is found innocent, a prosecutor cannot give it another try on the identical charge. Amendment 5 requires “due process” before anyone may be deprived of “life, liberty, or property.” Following due process involves providing the accused all the protections and procedures provided under the law.

Numerous important protections for the accused are contained in amendment 6. Among these is the right to counsel. Under amendment 6, an accused is entitled to subpoena witnesses in his/her behalf. This amendment safeguards people against overzealous prosecution.

The Constitution requires an indictment process. Prosecutors must convince a grand jury to indict a person suspected of breaking the law. Only then may the accused be forced to go to trial before a judge and jury capable of deciding guilt or innocence. Trials are supposed to be “speedy.” Precedent and law have helped define what “speedy” means.

Law enforcement and prosecution are typically separate in order to permit each to limit the other. A district attorney (prosecutor) can wish to take someone to trial for loss of “life, liberty, or property,” but cannot do so unless he/she can get a law enforcement agency to make an arrest.

Similarly, without an indictment from a grand jury, the arrested person cannot be put at further risk in a trial before a judge and jury. In this way, a prosecutor can restrain law enforcement (the police). In practice, it is fairly rare for a grand jury not to indict. A district attorney may decide not to even seek an indictment, thereby checking, and often frustrating, law enforcement.

For the system we have to work properly, each human component of it must behave even-handedly and ethically. In practice, abuse is difficult to determine. If it was ever in doubt, the 14th amendment made it clear that justice must also be “blind.”

Most independent are federal judges and those state judges who are appointed. District attorneys and sheriffs have to face elections, though, in many instances, the public may fail to hold them accountable due, in part, to politics and political party enrollments.

A question about the Major Felony Crimes Task Force came up during the S.C.O.P.E. forum. Two of the candidates indicated no problem with having this law enforcement arm under the direction of the prosecutor (district attorney). Coincidentally, or not, the candidate who won the election thought the Major Felony Crimes Task Force should be run by the sheriff.

The problem with the way it is now is that putting a law enforcement “arm” under the prosecutor’s direction circumvents the system of checks (limits) described above. A district attorney who controls an important part of the enforcement mechanism is no longer being kept separate from law enforcement. In this case, there is less control over the district attorney’s power.

While, in fact, they normally work closely, appearances are also important in order for the public to have confidence in the system. For the system to work effectively, keeping law enforcement and prosecution separate provides important limits on both and can contribute to much-needed public confidence.