Saturday, June 30, 2007

New's York First Catholic Governor

A reader sent along this link to an article in last week's Evangelist about New York's first Catholic Governor:
In 1994, Dominick Lizzi wrote "Governor Martin H. Glynn: Forgotten Hero," a biography of New York State's first Catholic governor.

Thirteen years later, he has updated the book because "I don't want people to forget who he was and the great contributions this great man made to the state."

Mr. Lizzi, a member of St. John the Baptist parish in Valatie, is a retired social studies teacher and historian/archivist for the Town of Valatie. The new edition of the biography was sponsored by a government grant obtained by the Capital District Celtic Cultural Association.
. . .
Gov. Glynn himself is nearly invisible to New Yorkers due to his short term in office (he completed the term of another governor who had been impeached and removed from office) and his suicide in 1924.

In the prologue to the second edition of his book, Mr. Lizzi writes, "This forgotten governor was a man of dreams, a poor man who became rich, and a man of small stature that became a giant -- one who worked with Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan and William R. Hearst. He was among the powerbrokers of the Albany and Tammany [political] machines and he lit the sky of American Progressive politics."

As governor, Glynn was responsible for workers' compensation legislation in New York as well as laws that established length-of-workday rules and limited child labor.

As a result of Glynn's suicide, Mr. Lizzi said that his name was not spoken by the Irish Catholic community from which he came.

"To these people, his suicide was a disgrace," the author explained. "His name drifted into anonymity. They couldn't say bad things about him because he was a good man and he accomplished a lot in his lifetime. They simply stopped talking about him at all.

"He made so many changes that benefitted generations of New Yorkers. Growing up in the mill town of Valatie, he saw the direct result of suffering, poor wages, child labor and abuse. The unfortunate circumstances of his death caused him to be forgotten for too long. I hope to change that."

Albany Catholic wants to thank Pat Pasternak for writing this intersting article.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Quote

From today's Capitol Confidential, the blog of the Times Union newspaper:
Among politicians the esteem of religion is profitable; the principles of it are troublesome.

–Benjamin Whichcote (courtesy of


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Someone you should meet

On his blog over at Sojourners, Jim Wallis writes an interesting piece about the new Prime Minister of Great Britain.
I want to introduce you to someone. His name is Gordon Brown, and he just became Britain's new Prime Minister. You have probably been hearing and reading the news about the transition from Tony Blair to Brown.

Among other things, Brown is a voracious reader, and reads many American books about politics, including those that focus on moral values and politics. That’s how I first met Gordon Brown: I was speaking in Britain and got a call from the office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer (his former position) saying that Brown wanted to get together that evening, if I was available. So I went over to his office at the Treasury, and he told me that he had read my books and had many questions for me. So we put our feet up and began talking, and have been doing so now for a number of years.
. . .
Gordon Brown is one of a new kind of political leader who seeks to practice moral politics. He has already worked very closely with the community of faith and seeks a vital partnership. He knows that even politicians like him need to be challenged and held accountable by social movements with spiritual foundations. He once told me that without Jubilee 2000, the church-based movement to cancel Third World debt, the Labor government would have never done so. He encouraged me to keep building such movements because the world of politics needs them.

Albany Catholic recommends reading the entire entry here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Legal defense for the poor

The Journal News down in White Plains ran the following editorial this week. It also applies to the poor in our area.
New York has an embarrassing record on state money spent on legal defense for poor people. Last year it spent $2.54 per poor person for civil legal services; in comparison, Massachusetts spent $16.50, New Jersey, $23.44 and Minnesota $32.33, according to the Legislative Gazette in Albany. Thanks to some new money in this year's state budget, and a new requirement that banks pay higher interest rates on accounts specifically set up to provide such services, New York will be a little less red in the face in the future.

The final 2007-'08 state budget includes long-awaited increases in money to provide legal assistance to the poor, with $6.8 million that was cut last year restored and $8 million in new funding. Long-awaiting the money were groups like Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, a not-for-profit that provides free legal service for low-income resident in the Lower Hudson Valley. Clients, including the elderly and the disabled, receive help in domestic violence cases, housing disputes and in securing public benefits.

Clients, agencies and Assembly Democrats pronounced themselves thrilled at the changes. "Year after year, we have faced an executive branch unwilling to fund civil legal services,'' said Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, in a press release. "It is a refreshing change to have a partner like Gov. Spitzer who believes that the words 'liberty and justice for all' should have meaning for all New Yorkers."

As important as the new money is, there is a proposed change in regulations afoot that also will bring in more recurring money. The Interest on Lawyer Account Fund was set up in 1983 with the support of the New York State Bar Association to provide additional financial support to civil legal service organizations. It has been decimated by federal budget cuts, Spitzer's office said. The IOLA program, which has given more than $154 million in grants since it was set up, requires attorneys to deposit funds from clients either in interest-bearing accounts for the benefit of the clients or in interest-bearing IOLA accounts.

Yet the interest on that IOLA account money has been pitiable. The top 80 banks that handle such funds have paid an average interest rate of less than 1 percent, even on accounts of more than $100,000.

New state regulations just out of Spitzer's office will require banks to pay a more competitive rate. At about 2.7 percent, the interest could total at least $45 million more a year for nonprofit legal services, it's estimated. No legislative action is needed for the fund change, but a 45-day comment period has begun, ending July 15. In addition to the applause, our only comment: It took, disgracefully, far too long for New York to do the right thing.

Albany Catholic has nothing to add, although we may have questions for those banks.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sojourners on the Issues

The mission of Sojourners is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Toward that end, they offer Sojourners on the Issues, a series of electronic study guides designed to spark discussion and thought about how to live out God's call for justice in our world. Each guide includes classic Sojourners articles (including many previously unavailable online), questions for discussion, and ideas for further study.

For the cost of $4.95 each, you'll be able to download your discussion guides immediately - easy to print, copy, and distribute to your Sunday school class, small group, or for study on your own.

You can learn more about this excellent program here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The politics of the Sacred Heart

Rev. John Dear S.J. is a Jesuit Priest, Peace Activist, Organizer, Lecturer, Retreat leader, and author/editor of 20 books on peace and nonviolence. In his latest column for National Catholic Reporter, he writes:
The image of the Sacred Heart invites us to practice universal love, eternal forgiveness, infinite compassion, active nonviolence and perfect peace. That means, among other things, we can no longer support killing, injustice, war, or any kind of violence. It means further that we must live out a new ethic and create new nonviolent structures that institutionalize nonviolent love, dignity and peace for every human being on the planet.

Alas, for centuries, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been coopted into a private piety disconnected from the world, politics, and war -- from the abyss of destruction. I have the impression that some uphold the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the one hand, and the flag on the other, as if Jesus' personal salvation for us individually has nothing to do with what our country does, or how the poor suffer and die; as if we can worship the Sacred Heart, yet remain racist, sexist, greedy, selfish, violent, and warlike, personally and as a church and a nation.

You can read more here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Did you miss us?

We are back in business after an unplanned hiatus, and because we ar e backlogged, we will begin with some material lifted directly from some other websites. We found this particularly interesting:

It would surprise few people, conservative or progressive, to learn that coverage of the intersection of religion and politics tends to oversimplify both. If this oversimplification occurred to the benefit or detriment of neither side of the political divide, then the weaknesses in coverage of religion would be of only academic interest. But as this study documents, coverage of religion not only overrepresents some voices and underrepresents others, it does so in a way that is consistently advantageous to conservatives.

The report is called Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in Major News Media. Among the study's key findings:

Combining newspapers and television, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed in news stories 2.8 times as often as were progressive religious leaders.

On television news -- the three major television networks, the three major cable news channels, and PBS -- conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed almost 3.8 times as often as progressive leaders.

In major newspapers, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed 2.7 times as often as progressive leaders.

Despite the fact most religious Americans are moderate or progressive, in the news media it is overwhelmingly conservative leaders who are presented as the voice of religion. This represents a particularly meaningful distortion since progressive religious leaders tend to focus on different issues and offer an entirely different perspective than their conservative counterparts.

You can read more here.