to the Bottom
looked like a victory for New York’s lower-income workers
was derailed by Gov. George Pataki on July 29, when he vetoed
a bill—which he had requested the Legislature expedite its
vote on—that would have gradually increased the state’s minimum
wage to $7.10 per hour by 2007. This year’s serious campaign
to raise the minimum wage was waged by the state Assembly
and groups like the Working Families Party and labor organizations
[“Making Ends Meet,” FYI, March 11]. There is now talk, however,
of an override.
Could the overwhelming votes in favor of the bill have been
a political maneuver during this, an election year, for Republicans
to look good by voting for it and blaming the bill’s failure
on the governor’s veto? That remains to be seen, but it’s
a charge advocates are levying. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
has vowed to try to override the veto, while Senate Majority
Leader Joseph Bruno seems less inclined to do so.
the Senate sincerely wants to see the minimum-wage increase,
they will override the veto. If they don’t override the veto,
that sends a message that they passed the minimum wage to
look good politically but they really didn’t intend to raise
it,” said Karen Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action
of New York and a member of the Working Families Party’s executive
committee. “We’re asking every senator who voted for the bill
to agree to vote for the override and also to urge Majority
Leader Bruno to bring the bill to the floor for an override
going to do the budget first and then we’re going to consider
again what action to take, if any, regarding the minimum wage,”
said Mark Hanson, a spokesman for Sen. Bruno. “No decision
has been made whether there’s going to be any override action
Early on, state Republicans voiced opposition to the bill,
favoring a minimum-wage hike at the federal level even though
the current administration opposes one. This objection remains
one of Pataki’s reasons for the veto, saying an increase would
deter businesses from operating in New York. Advocates of
the hike, however, point out that many minimum-wage jobs are
ones that don’t usually get moved out of state, such as service
sector jobs in restaurants, hotels, farms, and retail.
Currently the minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, which for a 40-hour
workweek adds up to $206 a week or $10,712 a year. The last
time the state raised its minimum wage was when the federal
level increased in 1997. There are 12 states where the minimum
wage is above the $5.15 federal standard, and of those only
Massachusetts and Connecticut had job-creation rates below
the national average, with nine others ranking above.
Weapon of destruction? The paper hook that helped set
police off. Photo courtesy of indymedia
the Democratic Convention last Thursday (July 29), things
turned ugly when protesters and police started to scuffle.
Convention week to that point had largely been free of violence
[“The Un-Conventional Party,” July 29], but demonstrators
had suggested that Thursday would be one of massive, decentralized
That afternoon, several hundred demonstrators marched from
a Bl(A)ck Tea Society rally at Copley Square to Canal Street
outside the Fleet Center and the “free-speech zone.”
Some burned a flag and a two-faced John Kerry/George Bush
in effigy while chanting, and others acted as pirates, wearing
makeshift pirate gear. The police at the scene called in backup
who arrived in full riot gear. It was not the effigy, however,
that prompted arrests, but possession of a “fake incendiary
device,” which turned out to be either a paper pirate’s hook
or an empty water bottle.
Several other protesters claim to have ended up on the wrong
end of a few nightsticks and were roughed up but not arrested.
Avast Ye! Boston riot police in front of the remains
of a Bush/Kerry effigy. Photo courtesy of indymedia
to a boston.indymedia.org posting by Nick Giannone—one of
those arrested who was prominently featured on the front page
of the Boston Globe with his face being pushed into
pavement by a policeman’s hand—he’s being arraigned on Aug.
6 but is not fully aware of what the charges are against him.
Signs of the time: some of the omnipresent antiSLC posters
in Hudson. Photo by: Miriam Axel-Lute.
July 28 forum on the much-debated St. Lawrence Cement plant,
held at Rhinebeck Town Hall, drew 75 concerned citizens from
Columbia and Dutchess Counties and surrounding areas. The
proposed two-million-ton-per-year cement plant in Greenport
was officially proposed in 1999, and has been the subject
of a prolonged battle over permits, air pollution, visual
impact, wetlands destruction, and economic development. Daniel
Odescalchi represented St. Lawrence Cement at last week’s
forum. Sam Pratt, of Friends of Hudson, represented community
opposition to the plant. The forum highlighted the arguments,
but provided little in the way of common ground.
Odescalchi: St. Lawrence supports news jobs and little
league-teams. Because no water will be drawn from the Hudson
River, the plant will probably save “a million fish lives
a year.” And by the way, we bought this property in the 1920s.
Sam Pratt: The plant would in actuality create only one
net job, and the American Lung Association says that the plant’s
emissions would be hazardous to all, especially those with
asthma, the young, and the elderly. Every kind of air pollution
is going up except sulfur dioxide.
If we build it, it will have to meet standards.
The plant won’t affect scenic views because it will be “tucked”
away in an existing quarry.
How they could “tuck” away anything as large as a 400-foot
The plant would generate 270 truck round-trips per day.
DO: Most of our figures are “worst-case scenario” figures.
“We’re seeing a lot of companies going overseas—we’re investing
in New York state and that’s a damned good thing.”
The plant would be bad for local economy; “it’s a square peg
that doesn’t fit into this region’s economic plan.
Would FOH ever support this plant?
In the beginning . . . we proposed moderately scaled plants
but we’re long past that. Now were just gonna stop them.”
People “just don’t understand the project.”
For more on the opposing viewpoints, visit www.friendsofhudson.com
Seems Mr. Clyne Does Not Want to Answer the Question
Photo by: John Whipple
(July 30), the David Soares campaign for Albany
County District Attorney staged what it promised
will be the first in a series of debates between
Soares and a “cardboard Paul Clyne” (really a
cardboard George W. Bush from Party Warehouse
with a computer printout of current District Attorney
Paul Clyne’s face pasted on). The brief exercise
(Clyne didn’t answer, Soares gave the main soundbites
of his campaign) was intended to dramatize Clyne’s
refusal to debate Soares. Rick Canfield, Soares’
campaign manager, said Clyne told the campaign
that Soares “wasn’t entitled” to a debate. This
Tuesday, Soares released a plan to fight violent
crime, which he says has risen 36 percent under
Clyne, by focusing prosecutions on drug kingpins
and “predatory criminals” while using community
prosecution, diversion programs like the community
accountability board, and after-school, job-training
and education programs to keep first-time nonviolent
offenders from becoming “hardened criminals.”
a Light Against Crime
Photo by: Shannon DeCelle
residents gathered in Central Park for a rally
and flashlight walk against crime on Tuesday (Aug.
3) as part of National Night Out against crime,
an annual event sponsored by National Town Watch
in which residents turn their porch lights on
between 7 and 10 PM as a symbolic anticrime gesture.
There were National Night Out events in dozens
of cities and towns across the state.