Scott Murphy faces a strong challenger in a tough political
The race for the 20th Congressional District seat between
incumbent Democrat Scott Murphy and political neophyte Republican
Chris Gibson is very close, according to recent polls. In
terms of experience, Murphy beats Gibson hands down. However,
in an electoral climate where constituents are anxious to
change the political oil, anything can happen.
feel good that we’re going to get reelected but I think it’ll
be a close race,” said Murphy. “That’s the nature of the year
that we’re in.”
Gibson, a proponent of free market policies and limited government,
criticized Murphy’s support of President Obama’s healthcare
bill and the economic stimulus. Gibson is strongly against
the recently passed healthcare bill.
think that as a consequence of that bill we’re going to end
up with higher premiums, higher taxes, more regulation, and
more big government at a time that we need to be reducing
the size of the federal government,” said Gibson.
is totally and absolutely untrue,” said Murphy. “That is something
he just says over and over again, but that doesn’t make it
Gibson called into question the methods by which the Congressional
Budget Office created their cost-savings forecast, which helped
the healthcare bill pass. Murphy has certainly taken flak
in his district for supporting the healthcare plan, but that
decision was partly responsible for him getting the Working
Families Party endorsement, as they are on record saying they
would not support any candidate opposed to the bill.
Gibson said that the Independence Party chairmen from Columbia
and Warren counties endorsed his campaign. However, Murphy
won the larger NYS Independence Party endorsement. Gibson
said that was mainly due to Chairman Frank MacKay deciding
there wasn’t going to be a primary. MacKay could not be reached
Gibson has the Republican Party nomination and recently enjoyed
the fundraising clout of Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio)
at a private function in Saratoga Springs. According to the
most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission,
Gibson has a $452,000 campaign fund, compared to Murphy’s
Both candidates agree that government transparency is a key
issue; however, they differ on the means to that end. Gibson
said that every major effort to get corporate money out of
politics is struck down by the Supreme Court.
need a creative, new approach to reforming the political process”
said Gibson. “I’m an advocate for term limits.” Gibson said
that if he were elected he would draft legislation that would
prohibit legislators from serving for more than two terms,
a total of eight years.
Murphy has sponsored clean- government bills, such as the
Fair Elections Now Act, and supports movements by progressive
political organizations, including Moveon.org’s “The Other
98%” initiative, that focused on limiting corporate influence
on politics and repealing the recent Supreme Court ruling
that gave corporations the same first amendment rights as
Gibson has stated he is against the now-defunct Disclose Act,
a law that would enhance campaign donation disclosures.
bill was meant to combat corruption, the problem is the bill
itself was corrupt, because it didn’t treat all organizations
the same,” said Gibson. “I don’t even think the bill would
be constitutional.” Plus, he said he opposes the Fair Elections
Now Act, a bill that would provide public financing for independently
funded candidates, because that would mean more government
Murphy characterized Gibson’s stance on issues of government
transparency as typical of the Republican attitude. “The Republican
leadership told him key Republicans are going to stand firmly
opposed to any disclosure and he just does what he’s told,”
Both candidates stressed the importance of creating jobs and
growing small business in the 20th district.
I’ve started and helped build have created over a thousand
jobs,” said Murphy. “I don’t think people are particularly
going to be worried about partisan politics as much as they
are who can get the job done, and the job is very clearly
getting the economy moving and getting people back to work.”
Gibson said the biggest impediments to job growth in the 20th
are tax regulation and healthcare costs. “I believe that we’re
going to revitalize the economy by removing impediments to
growth,” said Gibson. “Not by sending money to Washington
and doing it through a stimulus bill.”
Murphy said his constituents are familiar with him and his
track record. “I think what people are looking for is the
candidate that is going to be better at getting the economy
moving and helping create jobs and I think my experience is
absolutely on point for that project. It’s what I’ve been
doing my whole life.”
Up the Dough
pays half a million dollars in fines, but not everybody is
Those living within 30 miles of the Lafarge cement plant in
Ravena are collectively coming into $490,000. But many expressed
disgust after hearing on August 24 how New York state plans
to shell out this settlement money.
Lafarge North America reached an agreement this January with
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the 13 states
that host its cement plants. The corporation agreed to curb
harmful emissions of the respiratory toxins nitrogen oxide
and sulfur dioxide at all its U.S. plants.
Modernization of the 50-year-old Ravena facility will achieve
that, Lafarge claims. The draft environmental impact statement,
which sets permit conditions for the proposed upgrade, is
expected to come out soon.
Lafarge also consented to pay a $5 million in civil penalties
to the federal government and the affected states. In late
August, about 75 people gathered in a high school across Route
9W from the Lafarge smokestack for a public meeting about
New York’s share of the award money.
They watched a PowerPoint presentation about school boiler
replacement and green-energy curriculum training for 65 4th-
through 6th-grade teachers in the Coxsackie, Hudson and Ravena-
Coeymans-Selkirk school districts.
Other ideas, submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, will
be considered, said New York State Energy and Development
Lee Jamison of Stuyvesant shared her impressions of the meeting
online with other members of the group Stop the Tire Burn.
lot of people were puzzled and frustrated,” she posted. “A
major failure to communicate, if every I saw one. . . . The
poor NYSERDA staff were, or seemed, totally clueless about
the Lafarge issues. We were invited repeatedly to talk to
staff ‘after’ rather than publicly.”
Susan Falzon, an officer with the environmental watchdog organization
Friends of Hudson, stormed out of the auditorium.
was furious,” she said. “They should make it a public meeting,
not a dog and pony show. The consent order was a good one.
It’s just that at the very end, where the rubber meets the
road, the community was ignored. I felt that they didn’t hold
a public meeting to listen to people; they came with predetermined
conclusions about how the money was going to be used.”
Those in attendance were also upset that grants will be doled
out depending partly on how much cost-sharing applicants are
willing to bear.
taxpayers shouldn’t have to pony up in order to take advantage
of it,” said Elyse Kunz, co-founder of Community Advocates
for Safe Emissions, based in Ravena. “NYSERDA had already
made its mind up. People in the audience had a lot of interesting
ideas. They seemed unwilling to listen or enter in any kind
NYSERDA attorney David Prior, who chaired the meeting, said
his agency’s goal is to “get the money on the street.”
understand that folks are frustrated,” he said. “They’ve been
living with the plant and living with the litigation. They
became aware money was available. We tried to find the best
bang for our buck without burning through a lot of administrative
As of Aug. 31, Prior said he had received no e-mail proposals.
He said he planned to discuss “a couple of ideas” e-mailed
to the state Department of Environmental Conservation during
a conference call in early September with the state Attorney
General’s office. During the conversation, he hopes to set
a deadline for e-mail submissions.
was thinking a month would be a reasonable amount of time,”
With an application deadline in late winter or early spring,
the money could be distributed in late spring so that projects
may be completed over the summer of 2011, said Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk
Schools’ energy manager Matt Miller, one of the few who left
the meeting unfazed.
have plenty of projects we can use the money for,” he said.
“The elementary school boilers are 45 years old. They’re at
the end of their useful life.”
Air filters are another possibility, he said. As it stands,
RCS must replace filters frequently because they clog with
“what appears to be cement dust,” which hardens with moisture,
He added that the funds the district would otherwise have
to spend on furnaces or filters could be used for other budget
loose ends this week-