Water Man Spouts

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ode to Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer

In the past week, I have had e-mails, phone calls, and even a visitor at my home, asking me to join in an important project. These friends are all opposed to a plan for a huge power line to be run from Canada to New York City. The plan is being pushed by a group called New York Regional Interconnect.
From the information I have read thus far, it is clear that this is part of the Cheneyification of America. It is a project geared to enrich those associated with large energy corporations, at the expense of average citizens. The plan is being pushed through in an under-handed manner that is hardly surprising, considering the cast of characters involved. Two that stand out are Walter Rich, a railroad tycoon, and his chum Sherwood Boehlert, the soon-to-retire congressman from central New York.
Mr. Rich's lack of ethics are documented in "Railroaded in Cooperstown," a book by David Butler, Sr., the former Chief of Police for Rich's New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway. (Boehlert's true nature comes through in the book, too.) Mr. Rich brought Karl Rove to Cooperstown a while back. It's not so much that I am concerned about what type of riff-raff they accumulate on their own property; it's the impact they have on the local communities.
The proposed project, which has not been shown to benefit anyone other than those who are invested in the energy corporations, has been shown to pose a substantial threat to those in it's path. It threatens the health of those closest to it, and the quality of life of those living nearby. Thus, a growing number of citizens are banding together to oppose the project.
The opposition includes local republicans, democrats, greens, and independents. Some of the best information on the opposition comes from the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition's web site. See: http://www.udpc.net/
I live just north of Delaware County, and am joining with people in the Broome and Chenango Counties. It's not the first time that we've joined together with such groups. For over 20 years, I was involved with the effort to get the Richardson Hill/Sidney Center Landfill Superfund Sites taken care of. The 120-acres of toxic waste dumps there were located on a mountain top that had streams heading to two large rivers, the Susquehanna and the Delaware. The dumps impacted the quality of life not just on the mountaintop, but along both rivers as well.
More recently, I've mingled with many of these same friends and associates at the trial of the St. Patrick's Four, in Binghamton, N.Y. The group gathered at the federal courthouse included people ranging from local anti-war activists who were old enough to remember the Berrigan Brothers taking part in similar protests as the brave Catholic Workers on trial, to college students, and even Ray McGovern, who recently asked Donald Rumsfeld to tell the truth for a change.
There were also pro-war demonstrators there. In the first couple days, the Binghamton police kept the two groups apart, because of the tensions. By the third day, everyone realized that we had more in common than not, and both sides, and the police, were all on good terms.
One of my friends, who spent far more time at the trial than I did, is a former co-worker. She is a child psychiatrist, and one of the most sincere and dedicated human beings I've had the pleasure to know. In 1992, in 1996, and again in 2000, we would organize our co-workers, and do voter registration drives in the poor neighborhoods in rural Chenango County. We supported Bill Clinton, and we supported Hillary Clinton.
My friend told me that she had called Senator Clinton's office regarding the NYRI plan, and got a typical bureaucratic non-answer. We discussed our disappointment in Senator Clinton's move to the right on the Iraqi war. We are both democrats, but we are frustrated when any elected democrats become non-responsive to our needs, and are not open to hearing our concerns.
To use Hillary as an example, I note that I have met her twice. The first time was at the State University in Oneonta, on the day she announced she was running for Daniel Patrick Moynihan's seat in the Senate. I had waited there with the crowd of supporters, while she met with Moynihan at his Pinder's Corners farm. The next time I met her was in Sidney, NY. I waited with a group of local citizens, mainly democrats, while she met behind closed doors with local republican leaders. We never found out was she was discussing with them.
Now, I'm an old-fashioned democrat. A grass-roots activist democrat. A Fannie Lou Hammer, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party type. So if a democratic senator's office is going to be non-responsive to the community concerns being expressed by those who have invested time and money supporting their campaigns here in our neighborhoods in central New York, I am not going to sit like a bump on a log.
I looked around on the internet, and I found a web site for a candidate who is challenging Senator Clinton in the primary. His name is Jonathan Tasini, and his web site is:
I called his office on the teephone, and spoke to two people from his campaign. These are people who I've never met, and who I've never spoken to before, yet I felt like I was talking to old friends. Though they are from the New York City area, they are familiar with this region, interested in our concerns, and very well informed on the issues I called to discuss.
In the recent past, when I get the requests for contributions from the offices of Senator Clinton (and I've gotten as many as three in one day), I've done no more than enclose a note saying I can not in good conscience support a candidate who supports the Iraqi war. I refuse to invest a penny or a minute to aid a politician who weighs the potential political advantage of sending American kids to their death in Iraq. That is the Cheneyification of the Middle East.
Now I have found a democratic candidate for senate who is strongly against the Cheneyification of Iraq and of central New York.


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