Barack Obama

NY-25: POTUS Endorses Slaughter

The re-election campaign for veteran Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-New York, got a major boost a day before polls open. President Barack Obama endorsed Slaughter in New York’s 25th congressional district race.

Obama pointed to Slaughter’s record on issues like Medicare and Social Security, a woman’s right to choose, college affordability, and environmental protections, as reasons for his support.

“Congresswoman Louise Slaughter will fight to defend the progress we’ve made over the past eight years. I trust Louise to keep fighting for all the things we believe in,” he said in a statement. “Our children need us to keep working to make this country stronger, fairer, safer and cleaner, and Louise will do just that.”

The president is also sending out a robocall to voters in Slaughter’s district urging them to support her Tuesday.

“I am proud to receive President Obama’s endorsement,” said Slaughter. “We have worked side by side over the years to tackle some of the biggest issues we face, from improving our infrastructure to expanding health care coverage to creating good-paying jobs and transforming our economy. President Obama’s time in office will be remembered for positive change that has touched every American. I am proud to have fought for the progress we’ve made under his leadership, and I’m honored to have his support in this race.”

Slaughter is in the midst of a high-profile battle against Republican Mark Assini, currently the Gates town supervisor. Assini came within 1000 votes of Slaughter in 2014.

Obama Meets WNY Army Hero’s Infant Daughter

Just minutes before stepping onto Air Force One in Hawaii to fly to China earlier this month, President Obama met with newest member of the Miller family.

On September 2nd, Major Patrick Miller and his wife, Ashley, introduced the President to their infant daughter, Harper, who was just four weeks old at the time.

miller

“You could tell he’s got a lot of experience kissing babies and shaking hands. He was genuine,” Miller said.

In April 2014, Miller was severely wounded when a shooter attacked Fort Hood in Texas. His wife first got a visit from the President and First Lady while he was still in the intensive care unit.

A few months later, the Western New York native was out of the hospital and got a chance to meet POTUS himself. But this month, with Harper in his arms, was a different experience.

“When the President of the United States says to you, ‘Patrick, look how far we’ve come over the last two years,’ all while we’re looking at our newborn daughter, I can’t describe the feeling. In that moment of reflection it was just so powerful and sincere. It was amazing,” Miller said.

Major Miller said President Obama is one of the first people outside of her immediate family that his daughter has met. The couple currently lives on the Army base in Hawaii.

“She really hasn’t met too many people yet,” he said. “That should change when we come home for the holidays.”

Miller said the family is planning their first trip home with Harper around Christmas.

Cuomo Keeps Pressure On EPA Re: Water Regulations

As the first joint legislative hearing on water quality is taking place in Albany, the Cuomo administration is keeping the pressure on its main nemesis in the PFOA mess – the EPA – issuing a letter to the federal agency calling for closure of a “loophole” that exempts small community public water systems from contaminant testing requirements and threatening to act on its own to address the issue if necessary.

In their letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos and DOH Commissioner Howard Zucker note that public water systems that serve less than 10,000 people are exempt from the agency’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule program.

Under the status quo, according to the Cuomo administration, public water systems serving some 2.5 million New York residents are not required to be tested for these contaminants. Combined with those who use private wells for drinking water, 6.5 million people – one-third of all New Yorkers and nearly 60 percent of residents outside of New York City – are currently relying on water systems that do not require the testing of emerging contaminants like PFOA.

​ Due to this arbitrary threshold, the EPA requires just 188 of New York State’s 9,000 regulated public water systems to test for unregulated contaminants, which makes no sense,” the commissioners wrote. “This lack of oversight means the state’s 2,700 small community water systems – including the Village of Hoosick Falls – as well as thousands of non-municipal entities, including businesses and schools, with their own water systems are not tested for unregulated contaminants.”

“If testing were required in all of these cases, PFOA in the Village of Hoosick Falls water system would have been detected much earlier. How did the EPA come to settle on this arbitrary threshold? And why should people who live in areas served by public water systems below this threshold be treated as second class citizens – does their health and safety not warrant the same protection as everyone else?”

Seggos and Zucker say that this problem is not unique to New York, and should be addressed ASAP by the EPA. If the agency doesn’t take action, the commissioners said, the Cuomo administration will propose legislation to address the issue at the state level, ensuring that at least residents of the Empire State are protected.

This is just the latest salvo in the escalating battle between the governor and the EPA over who is ultimately responsible for the PFOA crisis. So far, neither side has shown any sign of backing down.

WNY Native Recognized During State Of The Union Speech

There was a Western New York tie to the State of the Union address, Tuesday, but most people probably missed it.

Obama said during his speech, “I see it in the soldier who gives almost everything to save his brothers, the nurse who tends to him ’til he can run a marathon, and the community that lines up to cheer him on.”

Does the story sound familiar? It did to Major Patrick Miller, an Olean native.

Miller was seriously injured during the 2014 mass shooting at Fort Hood. As he recovered, he was celebrated as a hero and even met the President briefly, last year.

Friends started asking Miller if the State of the Union comments were about him. The soldier didn’t know so, Wednesday, he called a White House aide who told him they were.”

“We’re grateful that President Obama recognized our family and everything we’ve been through. I especially liked how he recognized the community (WNY) for standing behind us as well,” Miller said.

Following White House Announcement, A Renewed Push To Ban Conversion Therapy

New York lawmakers and advocates on Thursday made a renewed push to ban so-called conversion therapy for gays and lesbians after President Obama called for an end to the practice.

“President Obama joined the chorus of voices calling for the end of this abhorrent practice, and it is up to us to respond quickly and firmly,” Queens Sen. Mike Gianaris said. “For New York to live up to its role as a leader in the fight for LGBT rights, we need to protect children from this intolerant pseudo-science. Conversion therapy is based on intolerance, not on psychology, and we must end it in New York.”

Opponents of conversion therapy maintain it relies on non-existent science that is harmful, especially for LGBT youth.

A bill that would ban conversion therapy is yet to be approved by the Republican-led Senate.

“The State Senate leadership needs to come to terms with the fact that this disgraceful practice is nothing but child abuse and consumer fraud,” said Manhattan Sen. Brad Hoylman. “The well-being of LGBT kids like Leelah Alcorn, who President Obama mentioned, is being endangered because kids have been led to believe by therapists that they’re sick and need to be cured. Plus, well-meaning parents across New York and the entire country are being cheated out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for therapy that won’t work.”

The measure, along with the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, did not come up for consideration last year in the Senate, despite a flurry of lobbying on the bills toward of the end of the session. Advocates at the time believed they have enough votes for passage.

“President Obama confirmed his support for all LGBT youth by publicly condemning the practice of conversion therapy on minors and vowing to support every state-led effort to ban the practice – including the effort we are leading here in New York,” said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan Schaefer.

Updated: The Cuomo administration has weighed in as well, calling the practice “outrageous and discredited.”

“New York has always been a leader when it comes to standing up for the rights of the LGBT community,” said Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever. “Gay conversion therapy is an outrageous and discredited practice that should not be permitted in New York.”

Asked About Giuliani’s Obama Comments, Cuomo Gives Cautious Answer

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declined on Friday to directly criticize comments made by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani that accused President Obama of not loving the country, saying he wanted to the context of the remarks.

Cuomo, addressing reporters earlier in the day, added he believes the president loves the country, and that such rhetoric isn’t necessary.

“I know he’s taking a significant amount of criticism on it. I would like to hear — I haven’t heard the former mayor’s context of what the statements were. Obviously, President Obama loves the country and nobody should be attacking someone’s basic love for the country,” Cuomo said in Brooklyn today. “You can have political differences without going to the essence of loyalty and love. But I haven’t heard the mayor’s comments or what the context was. I know all to well that sometimes you say something and it comes out the way you don’t mean. So I want to hear the context.”

Giuliani this week at a political gathering in New York City for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker criticized Obama’s response to overseas terrorism, saying:

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”

The event was sponsored by supermarket mogul and Republican former candidate for mayor John Catsimatidis.

Some critics interpreted racist undertones in Giuliani’s comments regarding the president’s upbringing.

Giuliani later said it was racist for him to say that considering Obama has “a white mother.”

Giuliani in 1994 endorsed the governor’s father, then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, for re-election, crossing party lines and alienating the eventual winner of that election, Republican George Pataki.

Giuliani has also spoken warmly of the current governor in recent years,

Miner To Obama: Syracuse Open To Immigrant Children

As concerns and tensions grow at the country’s southern border over undocumented immigrant children, Syracuse Stephanie Miner wrote in a letter released Thursday to President Obama opening her city.

“Our nation is rightly proud to point to the famous promise at the entrance to New York Harbor: ‘send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,’” Miner wrote in the letter to Obama. “Here in Syracuse, we stand ready to live up to that promise.”

Miner added in the letter that the Department of Health and Human Services as conducted a partial assessment of a potential site in Syracuse to house the children, saying her city is ready to provide a “safe and welcoming site.”

“The federal officials have been open and transparent as we work through these issues yet we feel we can move faster to mitigate this crisis. Indeed, the desire to help exists across the entire Syracuse community,” Miner wrote.

Here’s the letter:

Miner Letter to POTUS n — 7 17 14 by Nick Reisman

Decorated Iraq War Veteran Calls POW Exchange ‘An Impeachable Offense’

Iraq War veteran and former Congressional Candidate David Bellavia has been a vocal critic of President Obama but Monday he took things to a whole new level.  The Silver Star recipient and author sounded off following the controversial prisoner of war exchange over the weekend.

“I mean let’s be honest. This is an impeachable offense,” Bellavia said. 

The Taliban released U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five of their members that had been detained at Guantanamo Bay.  Bellavia told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen he wasn’t exactly in favor of the move.

“What the Taliban just got was their version of MacArthur, Patton and the CIA director all in one,” said Bellavia.

Republicans in Congress have expressed concerns with the potential precedent the prisoner exchange could set.  Bellavia wasn’t the only one who echoed those concerns.

“It’s something we want to look at because obviously we want to make sure our men and women who are serving abroad are safe and are not being targeted as perhaps future hostages,” said Senator Kirsten Gillbrand, D-NY. 

Why Bergdahl disappeared in the first place is also being questioned.   After speaking with the Bergdahl’s squad leader and members of his company, Bellavia believes he not only deserted, he defected.

“He walked off the base. There’s no argument about that. There’s no debate. He learned Poshtu. He converted to the religion and this is not Stockholm syndrome. He did this beforehand,” said Bellavia.

Bergdahl is recovering at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany; once his medical condition has improved U.S. Defense Officials hope to learn more about his disappearance. When he returns home, Bellavia said Bergdahl should be received as a criminal, not a hero.

“I hope that his parents get to see him but they should visit him in Leavenworth (Federal Prison)  because that’s where he belongs. Six men lost their lives trying to find this kid,” Bellavia said.

The White House pushed back claiming members of Congress had been well aware of the effort to recover Bergdahl for years describing the exchange as “entirely consistent with past practice.” Bellavia says the administration was caught off guard by the criticism. 

“I think he (Obama) expected us to have a parade for him (Bergdahl) and unfortunately it shows that these advisors that are around this President aren’t ready for primetime,” Bellavia added.

Obama, Back In New York

From the morning memo:

President Obama sure does <3 New York lately. The president, fresh off his trip to the Tappan Zee Bridge in Westchester County and New York City for the 9/11 museum dedication last week, is trekking to Cooperstown on Wednesday. The first trip, a mere dozen miles from the site of the GOP convention, featured Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a prominent speaking role (His GOP opponent, Rob Astorino, not so much). The second trip will also overlap with a state political convention. The state Democratic Party will hold its convention in Melville, Suffolk County starting Wednesday. With Obama in New York, yet again, Cuomo will surely be along for the ride. Cuomo in 2012 did very little public campaigning for Obama's re-election effort. At one point, he was scheduled to appear at a campaign rally in Florida, only for the trip to be scuttled when Superstorm Sandy roared into the East Coast. Cuomo, on the other hand, could certainly still benefit from other prominent Democrats, along with one former and possibly future occupant of the Oval Office. Talked in political circles late last week was former President Clinton, along with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, may put in a surprise appearance at the Democratic convention. Such an appearance, of course, would be rife with 2016 overtones as the Clintons seek to unify the party in advance of the next presidential campaign. Cuomo has been discussed as a potential 2016 candidate himself, but has strong ties to the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party. The former president had a prominent role in the swearing-in of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this year and was an ardent campaigner for Obama two years ago. As Democrats head into a convention with its statewide officeholders not exactly getting along these days, a Clinton appearance for all Democrats, especially in New York, could be a common denominator.

Obama Returns To NY During Dem Convention

President Obama, who big-footed Day One of the state Republicans’ nominating convention by holding an event at the Tappen Zee Bridge – just miles away from where they were gathered in Westchester County – will return to New York next week on Day 2 of the Democrats’ convention at which Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be formally nominated to seek re-election this fall.

According to a heads-up travel advisory provided to members of New York’s congressional delegation last night, Obama will be in Cooperstown – home of the Baseball Hall of Fame – next Thursday to discuss tourism. No further details were immediately available.

The president also discussed the importance of tourism to the US economy during his weekly radio address this morning. He also confirmed his impending trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Tourism is, of course, a favorite subject of Cuomo’s – especially upstate tourism.

Just this week, the governor hosted the state’s second “tourism summit” at which he announced a $45 million campaign to promote travel to the state, up 50 percent from last year.

He also announced plans for a new tourism ad campaign featuring New York-based celebrities like Ed Burns, Steve Buscemi, Billy Joel, Robert De Niro, Michael Strahan, Meryl Streep and Vanessa Williams.

The Democrats are scheduled to hold their covnention in Suffolk County on May 21-22.

Traditionally, the covnentions start with the nomination of down ballot statewide candidates – state comptroller and state attorney general – on Day One, and build up to the main event – nomination of the governor and his running mate (the identity of whom we still don’t know, thanks to LG Bob Duffy’s recent announcement that he won’t be on the ballot) – on Day Two.

Last week, Obama traveled to Tarrytown and used the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project to call on Congress to increase infrastructure spending.

Cuomo joined Obama at that event, which deflected some attention away from the GOP gathering in nearby Rye Brook, and also caused a bit of a political flurry over a seat that was supposedly denied – at the Cuomo administration’s request – to the governor’s GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. (A Cuomo spokesman denied this allegation, which was made by Astorino’s camp).

The governor was also with the president and First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday (Day Two of the GOP convention) in Lower Manhattan for the dedication of the 9/11 memorial museum.

A Cuomo spokesman declined to comment about Obama’s return trip to New York.

The president has made several trips to upstate New York during his tenure. He is scheduled to make yet another visit here at the end of this month when he delivers the commencement address at West Point on May 28th.