Saturday, May 31, 2008

Family & Friends of Homicide Victims

Family & Friends of Homicide Victims is, as the name suggests, a Capital District group that supports "the ones left behind."

What they do:
* We work together with community based victim service providers.
* We share our stories and experiences.
* We find commonality and programs which help us build communities.
* We work with a lot of different agencies to understand, improve and develop programs that will be beneficial and help us, “The Ones Left Behind”.
* We strive to help each other regain that sense of being safe.
* We are also involved with restorative justice practices and advocacy programs.
* We may not have been able to prevent the death of our loved one, but we can certainly bring meaning to their life.

You can learn more here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Albany's Wasteful 'Investments'

George Marlin is the author/editor of ten books including Squandered Opportunities: New York’s Pataki Years (2006), The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact (2004) and Fighting the Good Fight: A History of the New York Conservative Party (2002).

In 1993, Mr. Marlin was the Conservative Party nominee for mayor of the City of New York, and in 1994 he served on Governor-elect Pataki’s transition team. He served two terms as Executive Director and CEO of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In that capacity he managed thirty-five facilities including the World Trade Center, LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark Airports, PATH Subway and the four bridges and two tunnels that connect New York and New Jersey.

With this background, he is well-positioned to cast a wary eye on corporate welfare, something we at Albany Catholic have done, and for which we have been criticized as anti-American socialists by some of our more irate readers. Perhaps Mr. Marlin, because of his experience, can present the argument without facing such criticism.

He did so most recently in the pages of the New York Post, with an article entitled Albany's Wasteful 'Investments':
With New York's five- year cumulative deficit now projected to hit an astounding $27 billion, Gov. Paterson has no choice but to cut state spending.

Ripe for the chopping block: company-specific economic-development projects run by the executive branch that contribute little to the state economy compared to their cost. Here are two candidates, one each from the Pataki and Spitzer teams:

In 2006, Gov. Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno awarded the mother of all economic-development subsidies to an also-ran computer-chip maker, Advanced Micro Devices. The state agreed to deliver the breathtaking sum of about $1.2 billion to AMD - $750 million in cold, hard state-taxpayer cash and over $450 million in Empire Zone tax waivers, should the company decide (AMD still isn't obligated to proceed) to build a chip-manufacturing facility in Saratoga County, coincidentally the heart of Bruno's district.

In return for that shocking subsidy, AMD agreed to create about 1,200 jobs. Do the math: That's a cost to the state of more than $1 million a job.

Now it turns out that, despite its apparent skills in wheedling record sums out of state elected officials, AMD isn't capable of making money making chips. Pair that with a botched acquisition and miscues in rolling out its new super chip, and its stock has headed steadily downward. At about $7 a share, it's off about 83 percent since the New York deal was announced. AMD is now in the process of firing 5,000 employees.

The taxpayers' potential loss is even more shocking, however. While Saratoga County may benefit, on a statewide basis, the size of the AMD subsidy makes it impossible for the state to come close to breaking even.

Advocates for the project, many of whom stand to benefit financially from it, argue that the AMD factory would create spin-off jobs benefiting the state. That's true to a limited extent, but the project simply couldn't create enough spin-off jobs ever to make the state whole on its more than $1 billion outlay.

Another sham "investment," this one by the Spitzer administration, was the relatively modest $1.5 million for Corning Inc.'s new R&D facility in the southern tier. The state aid provided was so modest that it undoubtedly did little more than ensure government officials a speaking role at the press conference announcing the new R&D center.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Evangelicals for Obama?

The Seattle Times reports on a growing trend among evangelicals.
Michael Dudley is the son of a preacher man.

He's a born-again Christian with two family members in the military. He grew up in the Bible Belt, where almost everyone he knew was Republican. But this fall, he's breaking a handful of stereotypes: He plans to vote for Democrat Barack Obama.

"I think a lot of Christians are having trouble getting behind everything the Republicans stand for," said Dudley, 20, a sophomore at Seattle Pacific University.

Dudley's disenchantment with the GOP isn't unique among young, devoutly Christian voters. According to a September 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 15 percent of white evangelicals between 18 and 29, a group traditionally a shoo-in for the GOP, say they no longer identify with the Republican Party. Older evangelicals are also questioning their traditional allegiance, but not at the same rate.

The rest of the story is here.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Bishops Oppose Reduction in Catholic School Reimbursement

The New York State Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of New York State in matters of Public Policy. The role of the Conference is to seek justice, fairness and charity for all, with a particular emphasis on the poor and vulnerable.

The Conference recently issued an “Acton Alert” regarding funding for Catholic schools:
On April 9, Governor Paterson and State Legislative leaders proudly announced another record increase in funding to public schools -- $1.8 billion more than they received last year. That's a 9 percent increase -- twice the rate of inflation. Here's what they said:

"Even in difficult times, we still must strive to provide critical funding for our education system." - Governor Paterson.

"...this budget delivers results for every student, parent, teacher, school, administrator and taxpayer in New York State." - Senate Budget Statement

"This historic increase in education funding....maintains the Assembly Majority's long-standing commitment to provide a quality education for all of New York's children." - Assembly Budget Statement

But what did they do for religious and independent schools? Just the opposite.They CUT funding used to reimburse mandated costs of religious and independent school costs by 2 percent. By doing so they have broken the state's long-standing legal commitment to reimburse independent and religious schools for 100 percent of their mandated expenses. This is completely unacceptable.

We need you to contact the Governor and your legislators now to let them know you cannot accept this injustice.

Take action now by going here and sending a pre-written, editable e-mail message to Gov. Paterson and your state Senator and Assembly Member. The automated system will find your legislators by your home address.

If you can't open the link, go to and click the Take Action Now button on the homepage.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Is Obama the True Conservative?

We at Albany Catholic do not endorse candidates. We do however, like to keep our readers well-informed. With that in mind, we pass along the following item. The March 24, 2008 issue of The American Conservative had an interesting article entitled The conservative case for Barack Obama by Andrew J. Bacevich, who writes:

Barack Obama is no conservative. Yet if he wins the Democratic nomination, come November principled conservatives may well find themselves voting for the senator from Illinois. Given the alternatives—and the state of the conservative movement—they could do worse.

Granted, when it comes to defining exactly what authentic conservatism entails, considerable disagreement exists even (or especially) among conservatives themselves. My own definition emphasizes the following:

- a commitment to individual liberty, tempered by the conviction that genuine freedom entails more than simply an absence of restraint;

- a belief in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and the rule of law;

- veneration for our cultural inheritance combined with a sense of stewardship for Creation;

- a reluctance to discard or tamper with traditional social arrangements;

- respect for the market as the generator of wealth combined with a wariness of the market’s corrosive impact on humane values;

- a deep suspicion of utopian promises, rooted in an appreciation of the sinfulness of man and the recalcitrance of history.

Accept that definition and it quickly becomes apparent that the Republican Party does not represent conservative principles. The conservative ascendancy that began with the election of Ronald Reagan has been largely an illusion. During the period since 1980, certain faux conservatives—especially those in the service of Big Business and Big Empire—have prospered. But conservatism as such has not.

The rest of the article is available here.

Legislative Pork

The State Senate has posted its 2008-09 "member initiative forms" here.

The State Assembly has posted its 2008-09 "legislative initiatives" here.

These sites allow us to see how our legislators dole out our money. You may find some recipients worthwhile, and others, well, not so much.