John Katko: Mr. Perfect or Flawed Human

John Katko, District 24NY Representative to the US House of Representatives, announced the other night on the news that he was bringing home $11m in grants for use in addressing the housing problems poor Central New Yorkers face. Some of the money will go to the city of Syracuse and some to Onondaga County. Of course, this is good news. In 2015 the Century Foundation published an article called “The Architecture of Segregation” which showed the role that being unable to own a house played in robbing poor people, especially poor black people of generational wealth. Redlining kept black folks in center cities that were losing their tax base as white people moved to the suburbs, and real estate companies found ways to keep black people from following them to more prosperous areas with better schools. It was racism that affected the pocketbooks and bank accounts of those who were denied mobility, who remained in crumbling inner city neighborhoods where the equity in any property people owned there declined as housing prices fell. Pioneer Homes (pictured above), the oldest housing at the heart of the city of Syracuse, was built in 1941 and is still fully occupied.

When children do not see way to join a society that seems to be thriving all around them but does not seem to offer them a way in, they begin to dream about ways to make it rich quick. Those who want to choose a legal route dream of succeeding in professional sports or in music. Those who see friends who seem to have found ways to stay local and strike it rich, are attracted by less legal role models, and by gangs which seem like families who have your back no matter what. A few kids are lured into success through academics, and when community programs came along that guarantee college funding to kids who do well in school the numbers improved. But we all know that school success is not always a path to riches, and unless you are born into a wealthy family wealth is certainly not likely to come instantly. Not having college debt speeds things up a bit. Hope is a tender thing, easily killed in harsh surroundings. The same gangs that offered support to members made inner city communities dangerous places that did not encourage the academic route, and tended to bully ‘nerds.’

To deal with gangs cities went the route of tough law enforcement, getting gang members off the streets and into jail. RICO laws made sure that gang members got long sentences. But retribution and vengeance are fostered more often by long jail sentences and gangs seem to stick and stay alive almost in defiance of law and order approaches. I am a law and order appreciator. Cultures that are not lawful and orderly soon disintegrate into thuggery and chaos. But there has to be something hopeful about administering justice in cities. 

Throwing people in jail, letting them out after time served, seems to mostly produce reoffenders, anger, and unhappy communities where residents hold vengeful feelings in their hearts. It is an endless negative loop and it is wasteful. It allows us to consider some people beyond redemption, as throwaways. People who only wish to inflict harm cannot be tolerated; people who are so addicted to drugs that they will do any crime to support their needs are also menaces to peaceful enjoyment of a neighborhood or a city or even a home. But I firmly believe that we can find more creative ways to short circuit reoffenders than simply sending them back to jail over and over. We can reach people if we find the right carrot, the one that will fire up the light in their eyes and make them want to do something new. As for addicts we can either set up programs that allow someone to feed their addiction regularly, or we can set up enough rehab programs to get people off drugs and, at the same time, find the pursuit in life that will serve as their carrot.

Well, right there in a nut shell is my beef with John Katko. He is a law and order man. He does not think about wasting human beings and providing hope. He believes that when people are bad you punish them and this teaches them to not do whatever they did again. Except we know that punishment only works in a very few cases. Using a stick without a carrot fosters anger and resentment, deep resentment that erodes the ability to hold hope for a better life in your heart. 

Plenty of people have studied the efficacy of using praise or using blame to encourage changed behavior and praise works better every time. It can’t be false praise. Finding what fires up the furnace in each person is not easy. Public schools are notoriously bad at it unless you are fired up by academics. Even if you are, the chaos in an individual’s life can make the pursuit of academics unrewarding. Why haven’t we, with all our knowledge, our brain power, figured out how to stimulate the imaginations of diverse populations of students? Why are kids still sitting in armed desks in neat alphabetical rows? Some of it is about money and safety. Some of it is about control. Some of it is about institutionalization. If certain schools can find ways to click with kids of all stripes, more schools could do the same. John Katko most likely thinks this is unrealistic and that ‘softness’ will increase violence rather than counteract it. But I think that using praise and blame together might be worth trying. Creative approaches to educating kids in the poorest neighborhoods would be well worth the extra cash they would cost. There are plenty of intelligent minority professionals in inner cities who could be trusted to design programs that entice participation, using their familiarity with poorer residents to best effect.

So, John Katko, a rather inflexible, stern and all-knowing Mr. Law and Order, brings money home and it is for housing. He brings $11 m, which sounds like a lot but probably isn’t, and that money is divvied up among several agencies with differing missions, although all related to housing. Katko is given this money to bring home just in time to help him get reelected. We are all grateful for the money, but the timing is certainly suspect. And as long as Katko remains Mr. Law and Order and does not have any more creative dimensions to his approach to stubborn poverty and crime in city neighborhoods, to students who come to school with life problems that make academic pursuits seem like ‘baby stuff’, the cycle of street to jail and back is likely to continue uninterrupted. More, much more is called for. 

Syracuse recently competed for a tech grant with 250 cities and won one of only a few grants. The grant is for $3m and comes from a big unnamed bank. It is paid out over three years and cannot be used by the city for other initiatives. It must be used to plan and deliver tech skills to inner city residents. Here is some hope. Two pools of money to spend on our inner city. May it be spent as it should be. The money could make a difference. 

As for John Katko, don’t send him back to Congress. We can do better. He is no hero, he is flawed human just like the rest of us, but we can see that his particular flaws may be a lack of compassion and imagination. 

John Katko Hearts Donald Trump

The Daily Beast

I told John Katko, my representative in the US House of Representatives for the 24th district in NYS through the Countable app, that I would (if I could) vote yes to impeach Donald Trump and, although I knew he wouldn’t vote to impeach, I really wanted to know why a person who claims the moral high ground would choose to support “that man” over upholding his oath to protect and defend the US Constitution?

He sent me a letter by email (copy below) but all it contains is the same inauthentic party line answer that every “loyal” Republican party member gives – the evidence does not prove that the President’s actions rise to the level of being impeachable. Apparently we don’t just have different party affiliations, we have different interpretations of the Constitution. He says that he is working to solve many problems in the community and he is present for every vote, but he knows his party members in the Senate are not allowing action on these bills. 

It made me sad to realize that I am represented in Congress by a man who thinks so little, and examines his conscience in such a superficial manner that he simply offers up a manufactured excuse to cover up his lack of courage and originality, and his naked ambition. It is difficult to buck the extreme partisan pressures in Congress, pressures that so resemble the peer pressures we have supposedly long outgrown. Or perhaps due to arrogance and hubris Mr. Katko feels absolutely justified in his decision. But I find his moral blindness depressing.

John Katko was tough on crime in my city when we were experiencing lots of gang violence, but when he was done arresting perpetrators and putting them in prison, that area of stubborn poverty and segregation, so extreme that a group called The Century Foundation wrote a paper about it, was just as poor and just as segregated as when he began his task force. Neither he, nor anyone on the task force included any programs to work to improve opportunities for the residents, to try to change the cultural loop that had everyone stuck in place. Perhaps not his fault completely, because these were “law and order” days, these were the days when officials felt the need to get tough and felt no duty to change the community for the better beyond getting “bad” guys off the streets. These were the days of “stop and frisk,” the days of “lock them up” and don’t worry about any fallout in the community. 

Now, although we understand that there was a complicated system of racism involved and that minorities were being jailed at rates that were not proportional to the overall offender population, John Katko  still shows no flexibility, no soul-searching, and offers no solution for that area of his constituency trapped in an opportunity desert. For a city that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad our continued segregation is a stain on our character. We the people, here in NY24, deserve a representative in Congress who is not just a Republican rubber stamp. Do not return this man to Congress.

Note: Since the New Year and since Trump ordered the killing of Qassem Suleimani, the House passed a new resolution to make it clear that the Congress is to be consulted about executive decisions that might cause a war and needs Congressional approval to declare war. Representatives in the House do not believe the President has shown the danger of “imminent attack.” Although the measure passed, John Katko voted no on this resolution also. John Katko supports and imperial view of the Presidency.

This a scanned copy of the letter I received from John Katko:

Elise Stefanik, John Katko and a Snowflake in Snow Country

John Katko, Elise Stefanik from – Google Image Search

Elise Stefanik, John Katko and a Snowflake in Snow Country

Elise Stefanik showed her allegiance to the Freedom Caucus and Trump at the Impeachment Hearings last week. She showed that she could talk trash to Adam Schiff, who is heading the hearings, but who is a Democrat. She was as disrespectful as those in her party like to be and they have been in Congress for far longer than she has. She proved she could be “one of the boys.” Perhaps she handled the moment when Adam Schiff held her to the process rules in such an unprofessional manner, even though they had been agreed upon in advance, because she is new to her role as a disrupter and she just reacted as the young person she is. But everyone certainly noticed her and she had her 15 minutes of fame, and may it be the only 15 minutes she gets. It is far too simple, if you are Republican, to join the Trump cult and to find yourself unable to disapprove of anything our creative and criminally-minded leader thinks up even if he breaks every rule America tries to live by and every rule Ms. Stefanik has sworn to uphold. 

Elise Stefanik represents the NY 21 district which stretches from the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario (Watertown) over to the Vermont border (Plattsburg), from Albany to the Canadian border. Much of the region is mountainous and rural, sprinkled with a few resorts and tourist spots, a few wealthy suburban enclaves, some farmers, some Amish residents, some colleges, the Adirondack Preserve, and the seat of NY State government. Summers are spent near water and winters are snowy, long, and very cold. Her parents own a successful business and Stefanik has a degree in government from Harvard. She has stuck to her goal to work in government ever since beginning with the Bush 43 administration.

Some of northern NY is very similar to the Rust Belt, with factories that once offered lifelong employment folding or moving elsewhere. It was not obvious before Stefanik was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2014 that many in the north country would be backing Trump in the 2016 election. Although Stefanik said she was a moderate Republican she helped Paul Ryan, a Tea Party favorite, prepare for the 2012 election. She has also worked for two groups, Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Foreign Policy Institute – two organizations that claim to be nonpartisan, a claim that is considered questionable. Since Stefanik’s district abuts mine to the north I knew that she became a Trump backer in the 2016 election. Many people in the north country who do not support Trump have no current local representation in the House since Trump supporters almost never vote with the Democrats.

So here I am, a libtard, a snowflake in snow country, surrounded by Republicans who toe the party line. I have Stefanik in NY 21 and then I have John Katko in NY24. John Katko came to Congress through law enforcement. He worked for the DOJ as a senior trial attorney at the US-Mexican Border (he has a degree in law from SU) and in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and as an assistant US attorney in Syracuse, NY where he helped prosecute gang members. He is a good man, except for the fact that his ideology is old and his law and order approach is currently being questioned. 

Syracuse, NY has popped up in recent research as one of the places in America with the most stubborn pockets of poverty and segregation. Policies pursued in the get-tough-on-crime years have done nothing to change this situation in Syracuse (and many other cities). John Katko has proven to be a hard worker, but inflexible in his belief that tougher is better. He also sees no reasons to work across the aisle although he occasionally votes with Democrats when it suits him. He does not want to listen to other points of view. If you write him he answers, however he says he understands what you are saying but he cannot agree with it and he must vote his conscience (not exactly the way one would expect a representative to think). It is incomprehensible how he can stomach someone like Trump as he is a very straight-arrow Catholic. But his inability to be flexible, both in terms of policy and sociological remedies, is the biggest argument against him. John Katko and Elise Stefanik are both members of a conservative group in the House called Tuesday Group.

So I am living in the midst of one district full of Trump supporters (and Katko has many in the district who agree with him), and I am bordered on the north by another Trump district. I have to hope that Dana Balter will win in NY24 (by magic) and that Tedra Cobb will win in NY21 (she has a bit more financial backing) and it appears that both of these House seats are very unlikely to be overturned in 2020. Slick ads for John Katko have already begun to appear, but I have seen no ads, slick or otherwise, for Democrats. And while I understand the rigor and purity of grassroots funding, I find it almost impossible to accept that it can win a national race in the age of Citizens United.

Dana Balter and Democrats, Please!


We need to vote for Dana Balter. Republicans, in their TV election ads, are telling people in New York’s 24thdistrict that Democrats (specifically, Dana Balter) want to raise our taxes. Elections ads are always one-sided, and often skewed ideologically. What these ads are not telling voters is what they will most likely get if they vote for the Republican candidate (John Katko) and what they will most likely get if they vote for Dana, a Democrat.

So far Republicans have not raised anyone’s taxes. Remember that Grover Norquist of Americans for Progress holds Republican pledges which attest that they will not raise taxes ever. I don’t know if each new group of GOP members of Congress signs on to the same pledge, but you must have noticed that no one’s taxes went up. Some went down a little, some went down a lot. In fact, the more money you had the larger the cut in your taxes. Why are government representatives signing a pledge to an organization outside of our government?

What did this tax cut bill, which my Republican Representative voted for, get us. Precious little!. We were told to expect pay raises. How big was your raise?

What we will get is a big deficit.

Republicans were against the stimulus Obama wanted and got, which halted the Great Recession and turned the economy around. But the GOP insisted on budget sequestration (across the board cuts) because of “big spending” Democrats. The GOP constantly complains that we need a balanced budget amendment (a terrible idea given the flexibility needed in a federal budget). Events arise that cannot be predicted.

So how could the GOP pass a tax cut bill that will raise the deficit so much?

They can do this because they have big plans for the 2019 FY Budget (fiscal year), which they don’t plan to bring up formally until after the 2018 election. 2019 is a year when no one is up for reelection. The proposed budget for 2019 has already been written and is out there on the internet, although not finalized.

That 2019 Budget plans to make up for GOP overspending on tax breaks and military spending by making cuts. Guess what they plan to cut – and by quite a lot – Social Security and Medicare. How will that play out for people who survive on Social Security (which they paid for) or because of Medicare (which they paid for).

Here’s what Paul Krugman had to say on the subject:

“Now, Republicans who call for cuts in social spending to balance the budget are showing extraordinary chutzpah, which is traditionally defined as what you exhibit when you kill your parents, then plead for mercy because you’re an orphan. After all, the same Republicans now wringing their hands over budget deficits just blew up that same deficit by enacting a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy.

So it might seem shocking that only a few months later they’re once again posing as deficit hawks and calling for spending cuts. That is, it might seem shocking if it weren’t for the fact that this has been the G.O.P.’s budget strategy for decades. First, cut taxes. Then, bemoan the deficit created by those tax cuts and demand cuts in social spending. Lather, rinse, repeat.”

If we reelect our Republican representatives, who vote the party line or (same thing) the Trump line 90% of the time or more, we are voting to experience the sadness of watching our parents and grandparents or even us, live lives of financial desperation. Some Americans cannot afford to live if they lose their Social Security payment and/or their Medicare coverage. It will not be pretty. John Katko (NY District 24) votes with Trump 89% of the time.

Dana Balter, Democratic candidate, is, therefore, your best bet if you want to live comfortably in a society that seeks to benefit workers as well as people who are unable to work. Dana Balter is a Progressive Democrat, not far from Bernie Sanders at all, although she is not running as a Democratic Socialist. She is running as a Democrat but she will also run on a Working Families line.

Working people should be paid more. If corporate heads are walking away with such enormous profits, then that makes you really cheap labor. Even if they paid workers higher wages they could still have enough profit to make themselves wealthy. Our taxes should help pay for things working families need like bigger pay checks, paid family leave and universal health care. We might even ask for more vacation time.

Judging by the wealth captured and held by the 1% there is plenty of money around to pay for those things. If so much wealth is pooling at the top something is off-kilter. It may be greed, it may be fear, it may be entitlement, it may be pure hedonism, but it is wrong. We might need to raise taxes on the wealthy because they are unlikely to willingly pass some of their profits back down the line. All evidence suggests that “trickle down” does not work.

Dana doesn’t want to lie and say that taxes definitely won’t go up if we try to give workers better supports that suit the times we live in when both parents usually work and there are so many single parents. But there are other places we might find money besides raising taxes. There is far too much money in our military budget, at least there would be if Trump would stop fomenting hostilities around the globe. What was just added to our military budget would pay for Social Security and Medicare for quite a while.

As far as we the people are concerned we can’t afford John Katko. We need Dana Balter to win!


Appeal to Democrats – New York 24th



Democrats, we need some star action here in Syracuse, New York. If you don’t have some big name people arrive soon to lavish some support on Dana Balter you will lose this seat in the House of Representatives. Some funding is also desperately needed. Aren’t there any billionaire Democrats in New York?

Dana Balter  wants to replace John Katko as the Representative holding the  New York 24thDistrict seat in the House of Representatives and many of us would like that very much. Dana Balter certainly has the intelligence for the job. There is also evidence, in terms of her take on the issues and her close relationship with her brother who has some hereditary challenges, that she exhibits the compassion for others that seems to be missing in the 115thCongress and, to some degree, in her opponent John Katko, who seems to be a more “tough love” kind of person.

Katko can see that there are people in his district who disapprove of some of the policies coming out of Washington, but he refuses to give them a face-to-face listen. He seems fearful of dissent and unwilling to entertain any views other than those he has arrived at through his own experiences. He has essentially disenfranchised a fairly large share of his constituency. But John Katko is the incumbent and incumbents have an enormous edge against new political candidates.

Clearly, Conservatives in Washington want John Katko to retain his seat in the 116thCongress when it convenes after the election.

That’s why Mike Pence and his wife came to Syracuse in June.


Mike Pence visits Syracuse today to raise money, tout Trump tax overhaul

By Mark Weiner, ,

“Vice President Mike Pence plans to spend four hours in the Syracuse area today, promoting the Republican tax overhaul and raising money for Rep. John Katko’s reelection campaign.

Mike Pence will be the featured speaker at a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser for Katko at noon at the Embassy Suites hotel next to Destiny USA in Syracuse. The White House said the event will be closed to the public, and no press will be allowed inside the banquet facility.”

Then Ivanka made her way to Syracuse, not exactly a fashion-forward destination, to announce her father’s new job’s training initiative and to bring three deserving Syracuse student to Washington to sign the bill. I don’t want to be cynical because Syracuse needs these kinds of programs, but the timing also could not hurt in John Katko’s campaign as the incumbent for the 24thDistrict seat.

Ivanka Trump tells execs at White House: Syracuse tech students an inspiration


President Donald Trump signs an executive order on job training as three Syracuse high school graduates, from left, William DeJesus, Robert Felder and Lilly La, watch in the East Room of the White House. Ivanka Trump, fourth from left, invited the students to the ceremony on Thursday, July 19, 2018, in Washington.  (Andrew Harnik | AP Photo)

By Mark Weiner, ,

“Last week in Syracuse, New York, I met several recent high school graduates who join us today,” Ivanka Trump told the executives. “Through the Pathways to Technology Program they each graduated with more than 20 college credits and experienced interning in fields such as science, manufacturing and electrical engineering.”

Dems please note the large election fund gap between John Katko and your candidate, Dana Balter. If you want to win this seat you need to find some more dollars for Ms. Balter.

John Katko has $1.2M edge over Dana Balter in NY-24 campaign for Congress


By Mark Weiner, ,

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. John Katko begins his reelection bid against Democrat Dana Balter with a $1.2 million advantage over his opponent in available campaign funds, federal records show.

Katko, R-Camillus, had $1.3 million in cash in his campaign account, while Balter had $101,112 as of June 6, according to reports the campaigns filed with the Federal Election Commission in Washington.

Balter had to burn through some of that cash as she battled to win a Democratic primary campaign on Tuesday against Juanita Perez Williams in the 24th Congressional District.

That leaves Katko with a lopsided advantage that will allow him to outspend Balter on campaign advertising.


Please do not let John Katko represent us again, at least without putting up a fierce though fair fight.



Reasons Not to Reelect John Katko

John Katko big

They say all elections are local and this time, since we are talking about the midterms in 2018, and since my Senators are not up for reelection, this truly is a local election. Since I live in the 24thdistrict in NYS, my representative, John Katko, is up for reelection.

However, since the Citizen’s United decision, allowing businesses to pour money into elections that were once considered strictly local matters, local elections have come to be dominated by partisan national concerns and by wealthy Conservatives who control GOP politics these days. Because of the atrocious amounts of money being spent by Conservatives to decide who should fill a seat in the House of Representatives, and since Republicans pockets are deep, Democrats must raise huge amounts of money to stay in the race.

The GOP likes having a majority, but that majority is never large enough for their tastes. In the 115thCongress there are 193 Democrats, 236 Republicans and 6 vacant seats in the House of Representatives. The Republicans can pass anything they want to pass through the House right now and have been very productive. As long as you are happy with Conservative ideology it seems quite satisfying.

Laws that will negatively affect Americans are being passed everyday but they are designed to detonate after Trump’s reelection in 2020.This is not the way our contentious, lively government usually operates. Usually we hear more voices on any given issues and decisions have to be hashed out in compromises. Blending of ideas may actually produce best governance. Democrats need to flip 24 seats to have a say in the House and they need to retain the seats they hold right now. Elections have consequences. We have always known this but it has come to have the deeper meaning offered by hard experience since the 2016 election.

So election ads have already begun in my district and people are being told things about John Katko that are patently untrue. They are being told that Mr. Katko gave up a great job as a law and order gang-buster, a job he loved, in order to go to Washington to represent the community that he loves, the 24thDistrict of the State of New York. He acts like representing his district in Congress is a personal sacrifice that he has undertaken on our behalf. This does not sound like the proper spirit in which to approach public service. However Katko has impressive bona fides and the essence of this part of the ad is probably true.


The same ad assures us that John Katko is bipartisan, the most bipartisan of all the representatives. He crosses the aisle to vote more than anyone else. It could be true that he crosses the aisle more than others, but he would only have to do that about two times to beat out all the other representatives. John Katko, according to, voted with Republicans and Trump 89.3%. That hardly qualifies as bipartisanship. How many people do you think will look this up? Well, I’m guessing, not any people who watch Fox News. But here is the link:

I found this summary on the site but it may not be quite accurate. It says Katko supports public health but he voted to have Trump’s very bad health plan replace the Affordable Care Act.

Summary of voting record: Representative Katko opposes taxing businesses, consumer protection, environmental protection, financial sector regulation, gun control, foreign and humanitarian aid, labor rights and wages, increasing revenues, taxing the wealthy, domestic surveillance and supports big business, funding education, public health, taxing the middle class, avoiding default, poverty amelioration, higher spending.

There is a very readable graphic to back up this summary at this link:

John Katko is no hero to me. The way he sets about cleaning up gangs is to put them away in jail for a long, long time. He represents the inner city of Syracuse (along with suburban and rural communities). The inner city of Syracuse is consistently on the lists of the poorest cities in America. Locking up people who do the frightening things that gang members are reported to do makes Katko’s constituency feel safer. But it has not solved the problems of gangs in our little city. Don’t you think there is a correlation between being very poor and ganging up? Well I do.

Katko brings money home for our farmers, which is good, but he does not bring home money to create and run programs that would change the dynamics of our inner city. He does not seem to worry that the poorest people have the worst schools and the fewest opportunities. He thinks like Donald Trump. If people are bad, lock them up.

Many of his constituents would fail to see value in money spent to keep children out of gangs. Many would fail to see value in offering to help these kids get to college. And that is directly due to current Conservative messaging which many of Katko’s constituents listen to all day every day. On Fox News it is drummed into people’s heads that college messes up people and society. A college education is not a good thing. Manual training is the way to go. I have no problem with manual training, but I think a liberal college education changes people’s world view forever and in very positive ways. Conservatives think just the opposite.

Clearly it will not be possible to change Katko’s mind set. He is who he is. He is a Conservative and he is an extreme Conservative. He may have voted against the farm bill because it would cut SNAP money for his poorest peeps, but I believe he was allowed to vote against the party on this one issue because they had enough votes without him, and because it would be a huge negative against him in his reelection campaign.

Remember I live in Katko’s district. I have met the folks from the Democratic side of the aisle who would like to meet with Katko. They are good people with valid concerns. He does not do Town Halls unless they are limited to attendees who sign up in advance and unless they are scripted. He does not speak with the resisters who haunt the pavement outside his downtown Syracuse and his Auburn office carrying signs to make their point because it is almost the only way to communicate with him.

John Katko works only for the people who voted for him. He does not have to compromise with the rest of us who are not Conservatives because Conservatives control all parts of our national government and they all delight in denigrating everything Democrats/Liberals/Progressives have to say.

I have sent letters to John Katko and he always answers them on nice official stationery and he is very professional. But it is clear that he places no value on the things I say or feels any need to listen to my point of view. His message is always a variation on “I understand, but…”. I never remember a time in American politics when voting for the party that didn’t win meant that you were totally beside the point, but we are in that time now. Political discussions are difficult and it is easy to win a debate when the other side is not allowed to speak, but, in such a system, if there are policy failures it will be very clear who erred.

Mr. Katko votes constantly. His attendance is good. He loves to vote I guess and it is his job, but if I just read about what is in a bill or House Resolution on, I can predict how he will vote and I am always right. The Republicans used to complain about the Democratic “nanny state”, but these Conservatives want to control every little thing and overturn every little regulation. They want to get rid of our National Parks and that is pretty serious, but many of the laws or HR’s that have passed deal with minutiae, which could, however, when combined, create massive changes in our democracy.

I hope everyone will seriously consider voting against this partisan guy, John Katko. He is obviously a ‘nice’ person, civil and with good manners, but he is an inflexible person and arrogant. He has a “daddy complex”. He thinks he rules by ‘divine right’ because he is a Christian man. He believes he knows what is best for all of us and that as long as the people who voted for him are happy then he is certain that he has done his job. Although, that is not even close to his job.

One more bonus link:



Diabolical Moves to Pass a Flawed AHCA



My representative in Washington in the House of Representatives is John Katko who is serving his second term in Congress. He represents a sprawling CNY district which includes an inner city (which has been identified as one of the most stubborn pockets of poverty in the US), suburban areas which are quite affluent, including the one where his family lives, and rural areas where poverty is more the rule than the exception.

He has been elected in an area which has fairly recently been turned red by empty factories and recession. Republicans promise the hardest hit folks that they know the secret to turning the economy around and bringing jobs back. Democrats did not believe that they could promise any such thing. Republicans poured money into Katko’s election. The Democrats never came forth with the level of support that was necessary to help turn the area blue again. Ever since the Citizen’s United decision Republican PACs and donors have poured money into areas where it looked like they had a shot at turning any little dot on the map into a red dot. And their attention to detail has paid off.

So now we have a representative who is basically bought and paid for, who has, so far, voted the party line. And we have the health care bill coming up for a vote, supposedly as early as Thursday, March 23, 2017. In a district with as many poor people as Katko’s,  the number of people who will lose health care if the AHCA passes will be enormous. One of the problems is, of course, that the full impact of this bill will not be felt until 2020 so that these poor unsuspecting folks can vote this guy in again before they get zapped. Isn’t our politics lovely? Anything that can be done will be done.

I sent my Representative in the House the following letter asking him to get in touch with his better self:

Rep. John Katko:

Although I am sorry to write such a long letter I hope you will indulge me and read it in its entirety.

I am thinking that you are not thrilled by everything that is happening in Washington. I know that you are an earnest man who has a serious interest in serving the people in your district, which is a mix of urban, suburban, and rural cultures with diverse needs that few other representatives have to deal with. I suspect that you are a Catholic man, or at least a man of faith. I know that your unshakeable Conservative values include a firm pro-life stance and probably an economic view that fits with the one usually held on the right, one of fewer regulations and possibly even tax breaks to help employers take greater risks.

I don’t believe that someone with your inflexible position on women’s reproductive rights should be in government at all, but there are obviously many people in this district who do not agree with me. So I will leave this issue aside except to say that if you have your way in this matter it will make women’s lives far more difficult and will reset the clock on women’s rights back to my grandmothers’ days.

However, what seems most doubtful to me is that you want to “deconstruct” the American administration as the President’s men and women seem to want to do. It seems doubtful to me that you want to invite Vladimir Putin in to influence American politics. I find it hard to believe that you would like to vote in lower taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class people you represent. You just don’t seem like a person who wants to see our schools with insecure funding which could have profound effects on the quality of education in America and make opportunities unequal across the states.

I also find it hard to fathom why you might want to support the American Health Care Act when so many in your district would lose health insurance and so many seniors would be negatively affected. You don’t seem that extreme to me. I would guess that you are more moderate than some of your colleagues. But I do not know how ambitious you are. I do not know what you owe to the national party and the super PACs and other Conservative organizations. I do not know how courageously you would fight the very powerful pressure brought to bear on Conservatives in Washington by the base and the upper echelons of the party and by big money people.

Well I guess we, as your constituents, will see how extreme you are or how courageous you can be. Will you fight for the needs of your constituents the way a parent fights to meet the needs of their children. Every day I awake to see what new actions of this administration have weakened the foundations of our democracy and every day I am more and more shocked and distressed about what I see. Yet every day I feel more and more helpless to have any way to stop this administration from undoing every single thing I think any modern culture should try to do for the people it governs.


Mr. Katko knows that the AHCA is not a good replacement for the ACA. He knows that it will create hardships for a large number of his constituents, and that it will please some of his constituents. He is between a rock and hard place but I was hoping that he would take the moral high road instead of the economic low road. I was hoping he would be brave enough to pick people over party in this instance. I am still hoping for that.

Federal Government Sweetens the Pot

The Federal government, however, is quite diabolical when it is determined to get its way. They have added an enticement to the health care bill that is only being offered to Upstate NY because Mr. Katko (and others upstate representatives) was having problems liking this legislation. They have also included some tidbits to tempt other Republican representatives who are less than delighted with this rushed and deeply flawed piece of legislation. The New York Times included a piece about these “carrots” in this morning’s edition.

In this article the authors, Thomas Kaplan and Richard Pear (with Jesse McKinley contributing reporting from Albany) tell us the following:

“House Republican leaders, trying to lock down the votes of wavering upstate New York Republicans, inserted a last-minute special provision in their health care bill that would shift Medicaid costs from New York’s counties to its state government”

(While it is true that Medicaid costs are among the mandated budget items that are an enormous burden on county budgets and while it is equally true that relief plans should be in the works, this Federal move to immediately shift the burden of these costs to the State of New York budget is a totally unplanned move that could perhaps bankrupt the state and is at the very least a political ploy strategically designed to get a very bad health care bill to pass, and at the most is something the states should raise an outcry about. Is it even legal?)

The article goes on to say:
“The move – one of a number of changes designed to gain more votes – would affect New York State only. It could save county governments outside of New York City $2.3 billion a year. But it could shift costs to state taxpayers or deny New York the same total in matching federal aid if the state continues to require those counties to contribute to the cost of Medicaid. Upstate New York Republicans, backed by local government officials, pressed for the measure over the angry opposition of New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew M. Cuomo.”

“The more we learn about the repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act, the sicker New York gets,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement Monday night.”

While I can see what this measure does for county budgets I cannot, for the life of me, see what if does for poor people who need health care.

“The newly released set of changes does not directly provide more generous tax credits for older Americans as many Republicans had been requesting, but it lays the groundwork for the Senate to enhance those tax credits at a later stage in the legislative process.”

“President Trump and House conservatives already agreed to other changes involving Medicaid, including offering states the option of imposing a work requirement for certain able-bodied beneficiaries. They also agreed to let states choose a lump-sum block grant to fund their Medicaid programs instead of a per-capita allotment originally set in the House Bill.”

The Republicans representative who were wavering are now feeling that they can get back on board. But, although you can patch some tires and drive on them, some tires prove unfixable. Putting patches on this bill does not in any way make it a better health care plan. In fact New York’s governor has more to say:

“This cut is so severe that the majority of hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities located in upstate New York and on Long Island would be devastated, Mr. Cuomo said.”

What do I Say to Mr. Katko Now?

I guess this puts the ball back in his court, although I still believe that he has to legislate in ways that serve the majority of his constituents but, in particular, the poorest of his constituents, since we are talking about something that means life or death in many cases. I also know that he will have a county executive to deal with and that this relief from what she calls “unfunded mandates” will put a great big old smile on her face. And who will win? Supposedly I will win because my taxes will go down or there will be more money to spend locally, but I have never minded that some of my tax dollars help people less fortunate than me. I have little extra money to contribute to the many charitable causes that break my heart, but this, since I am used to it, is a relatively painless way to give back for my many blessing.

John Katko, please stick to your guns and vote down this bill which will hurt many of your constituents and perhaps the entire state of New York, which DT would love to humble because of the Governor’s defiant statements. As I said, diabolical.