Public Is Not Yet Sold On GOP

These are the last few days of Democratic control of Washington.  The GOP will take over control in January and even though the majority of Americans voted new faces into office they are not happy about the prosects facing our country.

The midterm elections – in which Republicans gained 63 seats to take control of the House and added six seats to their Senate minority – were widely seen as a rebuke to President Obama. Still, the public trusts Obama marginally more than they do congressional Republicans to deal with the country’s main problems in the coming years, 43 percent to 38 percent.

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Marine General Suggests Repeal of ‘don’t ask’ Could Result in Casualties

Don’t ask, don’t tell has been policy for years and dropping it has recently been discussed.  Is it time to just enroll men and women and not consider their sexual orientation?  Many people think so but not Gen. James Amos. 

“When your life hangs on the line,” said Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, “you don’t want anything distracting. . . . Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines’ lives.”

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Higgins Announces Additional $69 Million in HEAP Funds to New York State

Urges Congress to Pass 2011 Budget with Full Funding

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an additional $69 million to New York in Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) block grant funds—the largest additional sum in the country.

“As winter settles in, these additional funds have an immediate and meaningful impact on the livelihood of struggling Western New Yorkers, allowing them to stay warm and safe all season long,” said Congressman Higgins.  “While this supplementary funding is critical, Congress also needs to step up and pass a budget that includes the full funding of HEAP so that our seniors and families can receive the heating assistance that they very much need.”

It is necessary that Congress approve full funding to prevent program closure in January—the coldest part of the year—and accommodate for the projected increase in qualifying applicants.

Congressman Higgins has been a vocal advocate to both Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress urging the final budget to maintain the full $5.1 billion in HEAP funding.  To date, he has sent three letters:

  • On December 1st, a letter was sent to Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Obey, Minority Leader Boehner and Ranking Member Lewis. 
  • On September 24th, a letter was sent to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Minority Leader Boehner and Minority Whip Cantor.
  • On March 19th, a letter was sent to Chairman Obey and Ranking Member Tiart.

This funding is directed to low-income families and seniors on a fixed income to help them heat their homes.  During the 2009-2010 HEAP season, the program provided 203,237 benefits totaling $51.9 million in assistance to residents in Erie County and 31,818 benefits totaling $9,168,689 for Chautauqua County seniors and families.

Eligibility for heating assistance is based on income and household size.  For further information visit:

A program under the directive of HHS, the mission of HEAP is to assist those with the lowest incomes that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy, primarily in meeting their immediate home energy needs.  Funds are distributed based on each State’s weather and low income population.

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Editorial:

Are Amherst Senior Citizens Too Apathetic?

The residents who used to watch the Town Board meetings when they were shown on Time Warner’s free channels during the week, have stopped watching in droves because they can no longer understand what the Board is talking about.  Many of those residents are Senior Citizens who can not get out to attend the meetings because of mobility issues.

Our Monday night meetings are dominated by “The Consent Agenda.”  Every Monday the TB holds a work session during the afternoon where they talk about and vote on the agenda of the next Monday night Board meeting.   They say this is to help keep the evening meetings shorter.  It does do that, but what the citizens lose is immeasurable.

If the Board actually discussed the Town’s business at night the people watching would understand what was going on much better.

There are only about 4 or 5 people who attend the afternoon meetings, besides town workers.  The same goes for the Monday night meetings.  Attendance is sorely lacking.

The only news media in attendance, who ask tough questions and challenge the Town Board, is the Amhersttimes.com.  We ask tough questions and challenge the Board in the limited time we have to address them.

Here is a warning to the senior citizens.  The joy you get from the using the town facilities of Amherst may be taken away by this strongly business-minded board.  They feel the senior citizens are apathetic and don’t notice their services being diminished little by little while the fees for these same services go up.   The seniors had better wake up.

Senior citizens who had been watching Board meetings for years used  to feel they knew what was going on.  Now when they watch and hear “Consent agenda” over and over again they have no clue what was just voted on.  Despair and frustration replaces understanding.

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Hugh Jackman Injured During Oprah Show Entrance

Hugh Jackman with Oprah Winfrey
Don Arnold/WireImage.com

Hugh Jackman suffered an eye injury while attempting a dramatic entrance to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in Australia.

 The 42-year-old actor came in on a zipline from the Sydney Opera House to Oprah‘s stage, but hit a lighting rig when he didn’t stop on time.

 ”That’s gonna swell,” Winfrey said after paramedics rushed to the stage.

 After his injury was tended to, Jackman returned and joined his 10-year-old son in the audience.

“I came down waving to everyone, looking over Sydney Harbor, saw my dad, the kids and you, went to pull the brake, and then boing,” he told Winfrey. “Totally my bad.”

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Erie County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz today issued the following statement concerning Erie County Executive Christopher Collins’

I am disappointed, but not surprised at the County Executive’s actions. Once again, Chris Collins fails to recognize that there are checks and balances in county government.

His rejection of the County Legislature’s 2011 Budget amendments in their entirety is just another example of his attempts to run the county on his own, regardless of what the law and the other branches of government say. You cannot run government and improve our community by behaving like a bully. Government works best when compromises are reaches by parties. Chris Collins does not believe in compromise or debate.

Additionally, it is quite clear as a matter of law that Mr. Collins does not have the power to declare the Legislature’s entire budget amendments “null and void.” I am sure that if this matter went before a court of law, the court would rule the same.

Finally, I am also disappointed to hear the criticism he leveled against my independent civil service staff. These public servants who have served Comptrollers Alfreda Slominski, Nancy Naples, James Hartman and me are dedicated and have only worked in the best interests of the citizens of Erie County by saving millions of dollars through exposing waste, fraud, and abuse.

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Congressman Higgins, Business Leaders Sound Alarm on Economic Development Program Omitted from Fed Tax Relief Bill

Congressman Higgins, Business Leaders Sound Alarm on Economic Development Program Omitted from Fed Tax Relief Bill

 New York Job Creation Suffers a Devastating Blow if Program Isn’t Saved

 Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) will be joined by Western New York small business leaders to sound the alarm on a provision excluded from the tax bill, up for a vote by the Senate and House this week, that is poised to kill an economic development program creating jobs in New York.  

 Who:

  • Congressman Brian Higgins
  • Howard Zemsky, Partner of Larkin Development Group
  • Chris Jacobs, President of Avalon Development
  • Dave Mawbry, President of Flexo Transport
  • Dave Sullivan, President of Industrial Support, Inc. 
  • Jeff Hauser, CEO of Capital Management Services
  • Representatives from Freed Maxick, Renewal Community Experts
  • Paul Dyster, Niagara Falls Mayor
  • Art Robinson, Community Activist
  • Vince DeJoy, City of Jamestown Councilman
  • Carolyn Bright, NYS Dept. of Labor

 What:

The tax bill package that is currently moving through the Senate does not extend the Renewal Community package, a program that is responsible for more than $150,000,000 in direct investment, creating an estimated 2,300 jobs in Congressman Higgins’ district since 2002.  Local business leaders will discuss the benefits of the program and Congressman Higgins will discuss steps he is taking to fight for its extension.

 Five of the 40 designated Renewal Communities are located in the State of New York:  Buffalo-Lackawanna, Jamestown, Niagara Falls, Rochester and Schenectady and Congressman Higgins’ district includes two of these regions.

Where:

Larkin At Exchange Building

726 Exchange Street, 6th Floor Lobby

When:

10:00AM – TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14

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New Democrats of WNY Annual Holiday Party

THE NEW DEMOCRATS OF WNY INVITE YOU TO JOIN US AT OUR ANNUAL HOLIDAY PARTY!

TONIGHT, DECEMBER 13 FROM 6:00 – 8:00 PM AT
OTTO’S RESTAURANT, 3972 UNION ROAD, CHEEKTOWAGA, NEW YORK

We hope everyone is having a happy and healthy holiday season and invite you to join us as we celebrate the season and look forward to 2011.

Food and drink will be provided and a good time will be had by all. Cost is $20 per person or Free if you pre-pay your 2011 dues of $30 person or $50 per couple.

Hope to see you tonight for a fun night with friends!

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Rep. Ron Paul, G.O.P. Loner, Comes In From Cold


Ron Paul in November 2007 campaigning for president. He is considering another run in 2012.

The worm seems to be turning for Ron Paul.  During his 20 years in Congress, Mr. Paul has staked out the lonely end of 434-to-1 votes against legislation that he considers unconstitutional, even on issues as ceremonial as granting Mother Teresa a Congressional Gold Medal. His colleagues have dubbed him “Dr. No,” but his wife will insist that they have the spelling wrong: he is really Dr. Know.

As virtually all of Washington was declaring WikiLeaks’s disclosures of secret diplomatic cables an act of treason, Representative Ron Paul was applauding the organization for exposing the United States’ “delusional foreign policy.”

For this, the conservative blog RedState dubbed him “Al Qaeda’s favorite member of Congress.”

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In Tax Benefits to the Middle, Political Lift for Obama


Representative Chris Van Hollen, left, represented House Democrats in debates on the tax deal.

The Senate poised to hold a key vote today.  A hefty portion of the $858 billion tax package will benefit middle- and upper-middle-income Americans — precisely the demographic that felt neglected the last two years as the White House and Congress focused on the major health care law and on helping the unemployed and people facing foreclosure.

These new tax breaks are in addition to the cuts Mr. Obama had always planned to maintain on all but the highest incomes, and they could pay big political dividends to Mr. Obama and other Democrats in 2012 — a point that the president and some senior advisers are counting on, and one reason that they were willing to give in to Republican demands to extend all Bush-era tax rates.

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