Over 70 people braved the rainy, windy, and chilly weather to attend a “Jobs not Cuts” rally in front of Congressman Gibson’s office in the Kinderhook Village Square.
The Speakers ranged from SUNY student Devin McConnell, who was the rally leader, to a teacher, a businessman, a union member and unemployed. Mike Lonigro, President of Upper Hudson Central Labor Council said of the rally: “We’ve lost 7 million jobs since 2008. Congressman Gibson and his colleagues need pass the President’s jobs bill without delay. Inaction is not an option; we need to put people back to work!”
Blue Carriker of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, decried Congressman Gibson and the GOP lead House of Representation avoiding and ignoring jobs bills and instead focusing again on limiting women health choices.
Lee Jamison, a Social Worker from Stuyvesant held up Saturday’s Register Star front page article concerning employment cuts at COARC. A candidate for Stuyvesant Supervisor, she also held up the following photo showing a “Bridge Closed” in her home town. There are no plans for repair or replacement.
Andrea Grutza, a teacher and PEF member spoke of the educational benefits in the American Jobs Act. The American Jobs Act provides for up to 280,000 teacher jobs and construction or fixing 35,000 schools.
Carl Roby spoke as a retired IBEW union worker and the continuing problems with profitable corporations like Verizon insisting upon give backs and reductions in Health Care and Retirement benefits. His union represents workers with CWA which recently had to strike to get Verizon back to the bargaining table.
A complete press release is as follows:
Devin McConnell, SUNY Albany Student and community organizer for the American Dream Movement at Devin.McConnell@gmail.com or call 518-336-6190
October 15, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Columbia County NY Residents Join the Nationwide Protests to Support American Jobs
Kinderhook, NY, Representing Small Town America, Demands Freshman Republican Congressman Christopher Gibson Support Jobs Legislation
KINDERHOOK, New York—The small town of Kinderhook New York, home to freshman Republican Congressman Christopher Gibson, and birthplace of Martin VanBuren, 8th president of the United States, added its voice to other protests nationwide by decrying Congress’s failure to pass President Obama’s Jobs legislation this week.
Approximately 100 people from all walks of life gathered on the town green, across from the Congressman’s office with homemade signs supporting not only the Jobs bill, but also government investment in county infrastructure. The rally was led by local resident, American Dream organizer and State University of Albany, NY student, Devin McConnell. “We are a peaceful gathering of friends and neighbors, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed and all of whom are demanding that Congressman Gibson support his constituents by voting for any and all components of the Jobs bill when they come up for a separate vote in the House.”
Many locals stepped up to the makeshift podium to be heard. Leslie Gabriel, resident of Hillsdale, NY, and another American Dream movement organizer, was the first to speak. Waving a list of closed bridges in Columbia County, Gabriel pointed to the immediate need for safe roadways and called for putting engineers and construction workers to work on the repair and maintenance of the county’s currently closed roads and bridges.
Echoing the urgent need for infrastructure repair and maintenance, Lee Jamison, Stuyvesant Democratic Party leader and social worker said, “Signs throughout the town saying ‘Road Closed’ and ‘Bridge Out’ indicate the hardships to local people whose homes are isolated and less accessible for fire and rescue vehicles. “As a social worker, every day I witness the poverty and devastation caused by Congress’s inaction and neglect of the unemployment problem.”
Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner, currently seeking the Democratic nomination to face Congressman Gibson next November, was also at the event. "I challenge the Congressman to support the American Jobs Act to strengthen the economy and infrastructure of this district," he said.
McConnell closed the event by saying, “The American Jobs Act is a bipartisan, no brainer piece of legislation that is critically necessary and urgently needed to get America back on its feet.”
Rebutting the charges of “class warfare” being leveled at supporters of the “millionaires’ surtax” designed to pay for the Jobs bill, McConnell said, “Policies that support corporate greed such as the bank bailout, oil subsidies, union busting and free trade agreements are the true weapons of war against the American middle class.”
Before leaving activists at the event all signed a large banner reading "Pass The Bill" as well as individual copies of the bill that will be delivered to Congressman Gibson on Monday, October 17th when his office is open.
Text of Speech given by Devin McConnell,
American Dream organizer and State University of Albany student at Kinderhook, NY, October 15, 2011
Here we are. Welcome Everyone. We got MoveOn folks here, our friends from labor are here, we got Planned Parenthood here, we got teachers, Joel Tyner's here, Peter Stoll is here, we got local Democrats here, and we even got a Republican or two here somewhere. So what are we here for? What's brought together all these different groups? All these different people? All these different interests?
What brings us here today is the one issue that rises above all else, the one issue that is the intersection of all of our causes. Our economy
Were here because it's hard to afford health care when you don't have a job, it's hard to worry about energy consumption when you can't keep the lights on, it's hard to bring a child into the world with the uncertainly of where you're next paycheck check would come from, it's hard to get a kid to graduate from high school or college when you can't afford the books they need, or if there isn't anyone in the classroom to teach them. It's hard to fight for well paying jobs that can support a family when millions don't have a job at all.
Last month the president addressed congress and the nation with a plan to help our economy, to start putting people back to work, to get the machine going again and start people spending again and working again and start businesses hiring again and that plan is called the American Jobs Act and we are here today to tell our congressman to vote for this plan!
At this point in time our government must act to facilitate spending in our economy. And you know what? That is something that everyone agrees on!
Both progressives and liberals as well as tea party folk and conservatives agree that government should facilitate spending, the disagreement comes over how to do it. Those on the left think that the government should facilitate spending through directly by building infrastructure, ya know roads, bridges, airports and highways. As well as giving states the money to keep teachers in the classroom, keep cops on the beat and keep first responders ready for the dispatch. Meanwhile those on the right advocate the government spending through indirect means, primarily by cutting taxes so that the government puts money back into peoples pockets so that they can spend it.
The American Jobs Act takes both of these approaches. First off it cuts taxes. It cuts the payroll tax in half for working people, you and I, our paychecks will get bigger and we will have more to spend. It cuts taxes for small businesses, and only SMALL businesses, so they can better afford to hire workers, and expand their operation. It has targeted tax credits specifically for hiring our veterans and for hiring the long term unemployed so businesses will be better incentivized to hire those that really need and deserve a job. And this is good. I'm sure all of you in this crowd know someone who's lost their job in this recession, or know someone currently serving in our armed forces, this plan is for them. So this bill takes the tax cut approach to facilitate spending indirectly.
It also takes the approach of facilitating spending directly. It spends some money fixing up our roads, our bridges, our water systems, and our schools to help put some of the millions of construction workers that have lost their jobs back to work. It also has a fund for states to avoid having to layoff tens of thousands of teachers and police officers.
So the bill takes both approaches, it's splits the difference, its about 50% tax cuts and 50% spending. Thats called compromise. And the thing is both parties have supported both of these approaches in the past. It was President Eisenhower, a republican, who spent the money to build the interstate highway system. And it was President Kennedy, a democrat, who championed tax cuts to grow the economy. And both parties have for decades authorized and reauthorized spending on tax cuts and on infrastructure without a peep. Now it's being seen as some kind of "controversial bill". It's not it's basic economics! Ya know what else? Not only is it supported by all the major labor unions, but it's also supported by the chamber of commerce. Those two can't even agree what color blue is but they're telling us one thing clearly "Build infrastructure!"
Of course there are some that tell us we can't do these things because it's just not proper for government to do, "Big Government!" they call it "watch our for big government!". Well how many of you went to Ichabod crane? Or have kids that went to Ichabod crane? I'm a graduate myself, an you know who else is? Congressman Gibson. And I can tell ya that in the past year or two I've seen the school start to come apart. They've had to close two schools, they've cut back after school activities and busing, they've eliminated classes and they've laid off thirty, forty, fifty teachers, people who taught me, who taught your kids, who teach his kids. It shouldn't be that way, that shouldn't happen, this is America don't tell me we can't put teachers in the classroom, don't tell me it's not the role of government to build our schools, to pave our roads, to fix our bridges, to keep cops on the beat, to build America. That's exactly what we have government for! From our founding fathers who laid the first national roads and founded the first public universities up to today that is what we expect of government and that is what we expect of Congressman Gibson. So he should vote for it!
Now of course their next talking point is gunna be "we can't afford it" "how ya gunna pay for it?" well the answer is simple. Were going to raise the taxes on people that make more than one million dollars by 5%. Back to where it was ten years ago. When we were prosperous and when our tax system was fairer. And of course this is where they scream "class warfare" "ya can't do that it's class warfare!" "your antagonizing the classes". Well it wasn't class warfare when you gutted welfare, it wasn't class warfare when you raided our social security fund to finance your tax cuts, it wasn't class warfare when you gave our tax dollars to subsidize insurance companies and banks and oil companies, it wasn't class warfare when you let wall st off the leash and then took our money to bail them out when they failed, it wasn't class warfare when you held people's unemployment insurance hostage or the FAA or stole from the post office or broke up our unions, or outsourced our jobs with your so called "Free trade agreements" so if it's class warfare to ask for 5% more in taxes from millionaires and billionaires ot put people back to work then hand me a helmet, the 99% is going to war. It's not a war of choice, it's a war of survival
And though the hour may look late, and though hope may be down to a flicker. Never forget the wise words of dr king "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice". And that justice is coming, the sleeping giant is starting to awaken. Look to Egypt where decades of living under the thumb of a dictator who plundered the countries wealth brought a peaceful demonstration that toppled a regime Look to Europe where the people have taken to the streets to protest crippling austerity that sacrifices their futures and livelihoods to pay for the mistakes of the banks that gambled their treasuries and hid their debts with accounting tricks. Look to Wisconsin where tens of thousands of people flooded the capital to protest their right to organize and form unions being stripped away in order to give out corporate tax breaks. And now, as I speak, there are tens of thousands of people across this country occupying cities and standing up to those that crashed our economy and got away even richer, standing up to those that pay no taxes while our tax bills go up, standing up to those that would put profits ahead of people or ahead of the well being of the planet, to those that have rigged the game against us for decades. We're standing up to say ENOUGH! we're standing up to tell our elected officials to put the rest of us ahead of the entrenched interests that paid their way to washington or we'll pull them right out of Washington. After all we've got 99% of the votes, they've only got 1%! so Pass the American Jobs Act! Start putting our people to work, and start repairing this economy. Do what we sent you there to do!
And so here we are, assembling peacefully, as is written in the constitution, to petition our government for a redress of grievances. But this is not the end of our petitioning, no it's just the beginning, for the list of grievances runs long and the need for redressing is great. So I cannot urge all of you enough to continue to contact congressman Gibson and demand he vote for this bill in its entirety. Call him, write a letter, fax a letter, email, Facebook, tweet, send a carrier pigeon! Because that is what democracy demands, an active and engaged citizenry. So carry this message with you, talk to your friends, your family, convince your coworkers and your neighbors and tell them to petition our government for a redress of grievances and make them do it. If you'll stand up and demand your representative represent you and vote for this bill then we can help our economy, save the American dream, rebuild America and kick some ass for the middle class!