Tag Archives: government

A Play in Three Acts

7 Oct

Krugman today, in praise of the Occupy movement, concisely explains our recent history and how we got there.

A weary cynicism, a belief that justice will never get served, has taken over much of our political debate — and, yes, I myself have sometimes succumbed. In the process, it has been easy to forget just how outrageous the story of our economic woes really is. So, in case you’ve forgotten, it was a play in three acts.

In the first act, bankers took advantage of deregulation to run wild (and pay themselves princely sums), inflating huge bubbles through reckless lending. In the second act, the bubbles burst — but bankers were bailed out by taxpayers, with remarkably few strings attached, even as ordinary workers continued to suffer the consequences of the bankers’ sins. And, in the third act, bankers showed their gratitude by turning on the people who had saved them, throwing their support — and the wealth they still possessed thanks to the bailouts — behind politicians who promised to keep their taxes low and dismantle the mild regulations erected in the aftermath of the crisis.

Thoughts on the #BUFTruck Council Hearing (UPDATED)

30 Sep

As promised, here are my thoughts about the Food Truck public hearing at City Hall yesterday:

1. It was striking that only one person spoke in opposition to the food trucks.  John Fusco of Zetti’s has become something of an unintentional internet phenomenon with his focus on restrooms and his strong New York accent, but upon reflection, boycotting these restaurants isn’t the answer. I know Fusco, and he’s a good guy. I disagree strongly with what he said, but I appreciate that he was the solitary truck opponent to get up and voice his concerns. I have a bigger problem with the other restaurants, who put on a conciliatory public face while trying to kill or hyper-restrict the trucks.

2. The truck owners were very eloquent advocates for their cause. Pete Cimino of Where’s Lloyd was especially passionate and really killed it.

3. The Common Councilmembers who were present (all except Mickey Kearns) all seemed to indicate that they were willing to pass a law to regulate (in a good way) food trucks, and are concerned about the time, place, and manner details. This is the sausage-making that most people ignore, but is critically important.

4. The resolution at the end of the meeting was that the trucks and restaurants put their heads together and come up with a set of rules that everyone can live with. It is hoped that recommendations from this advisory committee will be completed within 30 days, in the hope that the law can be changed by November.

5. Going back to that word – “regulation”. It sometimes gets an undeserved bad rap. Regulating food trucks with time, place, and manner restrictions is a massive improvement over the status quo, whereby the trucks are prohibited from working the streets and setting up just about anywhere except on private property, or in locations for which they have a permit.

6. The story told by architect and developer Steve Carmina was startling. He owns a building at Main & Mohawk that likely wouldn’t have been leased had Lloyd’s taco truck not set up there and made that corner a destination of sorts a few days per week. That stretch of Main Street is especially bleak and depressing, but when that truck is there, it acts as a magnet for people from all over the city and region. He gave the truck credit for that pedestrian traffic and resulting economic activity, which in effect revitalized that corner.

7. There has been some “first world problems” and “stuff white people like” type criticism over this issue. I get it. But scratch the surface, and this is an issue that has plagued Buffalo for years – the city’s business friendliness. There’s loads of reasons why Buffalo’s downtown business district is a bleak shell even between 9 – 5 on a weekday.  Further restrictions on mobile businesses will only help to perpetuate that – ease them and perhaps it’ll change.

8. The food trucks are at a seasonal disadvantage. When the temperature drops, their customers won’t take kindly to standing in line for an extended period of time exposed to the elements. The regulations the city imposes should be eased between November – March to let the food trucks more easily find customers.

9. Two people spoke, expressing to the Council that they were prepared to invest huge money into their own food trucks, but not until the legal uncertainties were resolved. That’s the real-life consequence of slow action on needed legislation.

10. It’s great that people are taking an interest in this political process.  Hopefully, they’ll recognize that almost all of Buffalo’s problems have political solutions and they’ll become more involved and active.

11. I will try to keep on top of the committee’s work and report what sort of progress is being made, and what sort of nonsense might be taking place.

12. The legislative process is silly and slow, but the city, her leaders, and their staff are listening. A petition posted earlier this week has garnered over 4,300 signatures solely based on social media.  Each time that petition was signed, that signature was sent via email to each Councilmember and the head of Buffalo Place.

13. The Mayor’s office has been characteristically silent. Typical. Why is he letting the Council lead on this issue? Why isn’t the Mayor taking a stand one way or another – why isn’t he saying anything about what is at its core a story about how the city deals with businesses, and how quickly it adapts to novelty? To my mind, Byron Brown should spend the next week sampling the wares at each of the trucks, listening to their concerns and stories.  He should be thanking them for enhancing the quality of life downtown. Because he’s a politician, he should also be listening to the concerned restaurants.  He should also then be using his office to be a leader, and help bring about a fair resolution that is a win for everyone. We don’t have a mayor like that, apparently. This issue underscores what a disappointment that is.

UPDATE: 14. I forgot to add the most important part. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FOOD TRUCKS. 

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Related articles

Live-Tweets from the #BUFTruck Hearing

29 Sep

The Tweets are in reverse chronological order – the newest one is at the top. I shouldn’t have done it that way, but it’s the way Twitter is read, and it was how it sort of fell together.

I’ll write more about my thoughts later, but the Tweets from various attendees speak for themselves.

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The Food Truck Public Meeting: What to Expect

28 Sep

1. It will be in room 1417 of City Hall at 10am on Thursday September 28th.  In case the crowd is too large, there is a strong possibility that the meeting might be moved to the legislative chambers on the 13th floor.

2. You will have an opportunity to speak, if you wish.  Look for a sign-in sheet. There are no restrictions on who can speak, but it is likely that your comments will be limited in time, and that they be relevant to the matter at hand.  Tailor your remarks in such a way as to zealously advocate on behalf of the food trucks you love, while recognizing the legitimate concerns that existing brick & mortar restaurants have.  If you have specific recommendations or ideas, bring them up – don’t assume that it’s obvious, and don’t assume it’s already been thought of. If you have researched the matter and can point to specific provisions of actual laws that have been enacted in other cities, cite them.

3. This is not a bitch session. This is your opportunity to be heard with respect to some real, positive legislative change that will put Buffalo ahead of many other cities in the state. If you’re a Buffalo booster – young or old – this is a big deal.

4. Come with your mind open. Do not presume that all restaurants are opposed to food trucks. Do not prejudge what the councilmembers’ opinions or positions are. If someone speaks on behalf of a business association with which you disagree, listen respectfully. When you’re doing something novel – when you’re ahead of the times – there’s a lot of hand-wringing and anxiety that goes into that. Be respectful of others’ viewpoints, and expect them to be respectful of yours.

5. The matter is not going to be resolved tomorrow.  You will not walk out of there having witnessed a new food truck law being debated and enacted. This is just one part of a lengthy process, which will continue to evolve and be discussed and debated – both privately and publicly.

6. The meeting will be live-streamed. Look for it here at WNYMedia.net.

Kill All the Whales

28 Sep

Let me tell you a little fable that just happens to be true.*

The world was a very dark place in 1850. Dim tallow candles with reed wicks were common, lamps were inefficient, and widespread electricity was several decades off. Man had known how to extract kerosene from coal for thousands of years, but a safe and reliable method for burning it indoors was not yet invented. Instead, the world relied on whale oil to impart some small light on the dark nights.

Whale oil stunk, was hard to obtain, and was expensive. But a large segment of the world economy was based upon its production, and its use endured as German inventors tinkered with kerosene lamps. Right, bowhead, and sperm whales were chased to all ends of the earth, harvested and slaughtered to extract the gooey incendiary fluid from their heads. In the end, it was not the superior illuminative properties of kerosene that won the day, convincing the world to switch to a preferable product. Rather, necessity again proved the mother of invention; kerosene lamps only took off once demand for whale oil far outstripped the supply, driving the price up. Kerosene needed to be cheaper than whale oil to force a global change. In other words, no one would switch until we had killed all the whales.

Fast forward to today, as history provides a less than hopeful prediction of our fossil fuel future. It is increasingly obvious that there is enough oil, natural gas, shale and tar sand on this planet to destroy it. We will never “run out” of oil – we find more dead dinosaurs too quickly, and our global reserves only increase year to year, even as demand surges. We can’t kill all the whales. If we burn every drop of oil, the climate change effects would be calamitous.

Can we break the locust-tendency of our human inclinations? Can we break the basic economic cycle that only forces a change to solar, wind, hyrdo, tidal and (yes, probably) nuke power once gasoline is too expensive? Do we need to use a gimmick to fake ourselves into making the switch, by taxing fossil fuels to force the change, like a dieter removing all tempting food from the house? Or can we collectively make a smart, healthy decision for our planet, and choose to swap while it still costs more? History says we haven’t yet. Breaking the streak is our challenge.

* I totally stole this anecdote, though not the later conclusions, from Bill Bryson’s excellent “At Home: A Short History of Private Life.” You should read it – it’s really good.

Cuomo in the Environmental Vanguard

31 Aug

Governor Cuomo’s first year in office has been marked by pragmatic success and (except for same-sex marriage legalization) low-drama victories: an on-time budget that left taxes unraised, slashed government workforce, slow balanced approach to hydrofracking and generally competent governance that has left Republicans and Democrats mostly satisfied. The aftermath of Hurricane Irene will test his emergency operation chops, but the flood waters in the North Country and Hudson Valley will eventually recede and he’ll be stronger for it.

Such a steady hand on the tiller belies an area of policy in which Cuomo is quietly making a big splash: water quality and invasive species management. The environmentalists that are howling that he is too lenient on natural gas extraction can’t complain that he is taking a mushy middle approach in picking a fight with the international shipping industry. Here, New York is acting more as California has with marijuana and clean air laws – setting a bold regulatory standard at the state level, and expecting the federal government and foreign countries to catch up to the program. Let me explain.

 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is promulgating regulations that would require international shipping vessels to retrofit their freighters with miniature wastewater treatment plants in their ballast tanks. In the last twenty years those ballast tanks have been responsible for carting invasive species around the planet, as a Maersk ship takes on water to fill its tanks in the Crimea and dumps it in Lake Ontario while off-loading Chinese televisions in Hamilton. These invasive species – some well known like the Zebra Mussel, others less so – have remade the ecology of the Great Lakes, Saint Lawrence Seaway and Hudson River.

Cuomo and the DEC want it to stop. Whether they will be able to, or even can, is a matter of debate. The shipping industry correctly notes that the technology New York is calling for is not simply prohibitively expensive, but also currently doesn’t exist. The DEC says they are seeking to spur innovation and technology research with these regulations, and as long as the shipping industry is showing a good faith effort to develop such ship-based wastewater systems, they will be patient. Perhaps not unexpectedly, there is no crash Manhattan Project-like effort currently underway to comply. 

In this effort Cuomo has few political allies either. Most analysts agree that New York adopting these measures would effectively halt water-borne trade upstream of New York’s portion of the Saint Lawrence. In President Obama’s administration, only the regional EPA official has gotten on board with the plan, and the agency itself is developing shipping regulations that are far less stringent. Canada is howling as well, as a far greater percentage of their GDP floats in container ships down the Seaway. Even fellow Great Lakes states have not shown support. In Ohio, where the state legislature recently floated a water diversion bill that was vetoed by Republican Governor John Kasich, there is a plan to punish New York if it implements this regulation. Republican Congressman Steven LaTourette has introduced an amendment to the EPA’s Appropriation bill that would strip any state (read: New York) of all EPA funds if it implements regulations that would force freighters to clean their ballast water. All involved, including Rep. LaTourette, agree this is a simple gimmick to force the DEC to flinch. The EPA currently spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year in New York doing a myriad of clean up projects.  

Whether the change in the ecology of north-eastern rivers and lakes is good or bad is a matter of debate. That it is radically different is indisputable by all. In the Hudson River estuary, where fresh and salt water mix, zebra mussels now make up half the biomass of the entire ecosystem. Quagga mussels now number 900 trillion in Lake Michigan alone – their filtering of the plankton in the water has reduced fish stocks to the point where the last commercial fishing boat just left the port of Milwaukee, ending an industry dating from the 19th century. Closer to home, cloudy Lake Ontario is now crystal clear, swept clean by zebra mussels. Sport fish charter boat captains that I have spoken to say that the mussels have been a mixed blessing – zebra mussels provide some food and habitat for wildlife and the desirable fish are still there, but they can see the monofilament lines in the newly sparkling water and they are harder to catch. More frustrating on a hourly basis is the spiny waterflea, another newly introduced species, that clings to lines in off-yellow clumps, tangling rigging systems and requiring constant cleaning. 

What comes next?  As the DEC originally recommended these regulations during the Paterson administration, Cuomo has the political cover to back down. But should he?

Clarence, Politics, and the Constitution

9 Aug

Metaphor

The Clarence Town Board is wading in very perilous constitutional waters.

Town resident Dan Snyder has routinely sought and received town permission to set off a fireworks display at his home on July 4th. A similar request for 2012 was recently before the town board.  Mr. Snyder is a very strong supporter of the town’s local volunteer fire districts, and based on what he believes to be Town Councilman Joseph Weiss’ poor support of them, has mounted a very public and visible campaign against Mr. Weiss this election season.  Among other things, Mr. Snyder has paid for paid political flyers to appear in the Clarence Bee, and has erected several anti-Weiss signs throughout Clarence:

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Here is the text of a press release that was sent on Snyder’s behalf on August 4th:

Two Clarence Town Board members don’t want Town resident and prominent businessman Daniel Snyder expressing his political views, especially in an election year in which one of them is trying to hold on to his council seat.

Last week the two councilmen, allies Peter DiCostanzo and Joseph Weiss, refused to grant Snyder’s entertainment company a permit to hold a patriotic Labor Day fireworks display on his own  property unless Snyder would agree to a political gag order.

The Town officials responsible for reviewing fireworks permit applications, Community Development Director James Callahan and Fire Chief Michael Rogowski both said Snyder met all the legal requirements for a permit.   And the Town Attorney, Steven Bengart, told the Board there was no legal reason to deny Snyder, who traditionally has held fireworks displays on other national holidays, including Independence Day.

Snyder has participated in this year’s political debate in Clarence by erecting signs on his properties and sponsoring newspaper ads critical of Weiss’ mean-spirited, intimidating style and his failure to support volunteer firemen, teachers and other public servants and residents.

When the Board considered Snyder’s long-pending permit request at its July 27 meeting,  DiCostanzo conditioned the permit on an agreement to ban all political signs.  When Snyder refused DiCostanzo and Weiss denied the permit–even though other council members cautioned that the illegal gag violates the U.S. Constitution.

But while the nay-saying Councilmen have silenced the fireworks for now, they may have ignited an explosive–and potentially expensive–constitutional crisis for the Town, and maybe for themselves personally.

Snyder has hired Buffalo First Amendment lawyer Joseph Finnerty to help resolve the situation.

“This is Clarence, New York, USA; not Communist China” said Snyder.  “Public officials can’t stifle political debate through threats, brow-beating and punishing tactics.  I’ve lived in Clarence a long time.  I support the community.  I just relocated my corporate headquarters here.  This just isn’t right.”

Finnerty said: “I’ve been defending the First Amendment as a lawyer for almost thirty years.  In all that time, I personally have not encountered locally such a blatant public attack on political speech as Board Members Weiss and DiCostanzo made last week.   Civil libertarians should be outraged.  The issue isn’t fireworks anymore (if it ever was); it’s freedom of speech.”

Finnerty and Snyder are right on this. The First Amendment is specifically designed to prevent the government from imposing prior restraint, chilling, or punishing political speech – which is accorded the most constitutional protection of any speech.  Yet here, DiCostanzo and Weiss have specifically refused to grant a lawfully sought permit because they are unhappy with Mr. Snyder’s opinion, and the way in which he voices it; they have unconstitutionally politicized a completely ministerial function of the town board.

The board minutes are attached below, and pages 168 – 170 memorialize the matter:

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Snyder is threatening a lawsuit, and followed up with this press release on Friday:

            The First Amendment lawyer representing Clarence resident Dan Snyder took another step late yesterday toward breaking the constitutional stalemate created by two Republican elected officials. Councilmen Peter DiCostanzo and Joseph Weiss refused to grant him a permit to hold a patriotic fireworks display unless he agreed to remove from his property election signs critical of Weiss’ performance in office.

Attorney Joseph Finnerty served Clarence Town Clerk Nancy C. Metzger with two Freedom of Information requests.  “We are using the principles of open government to expose just how utterly illegal their conduct has been,” said Finnerty.

Snyder has asked for records showing how the Town has treated other applicants for fireworks permits, as well as all documentation concerning how his own application was treated.  Town administrators charged with reviewing permit requests said Snyder’s should have been approved, and so did the Town’s Attorney.

“The public comments of Mr. DiCostanzo at last week’s board meeting are damning enough,” the attorney said.  “We believe the rest of the information we’ve requested will leave the perpetrators of this constitutional injustice exposed in the court of public opinion and without a place to hide in a court of law.”

DiCostanzo and Weiss told Snyder he could not entertain the Town with Labor Day fireworks until he stopped expressing his dissatisfaction with Weiss’ performance in office.

Weiss and DiCostanzo’s unconstitutional grandstanding may be related to the 2011 race for town supervisor. Incumbent Scott Bylewski, a lone Democrat in a Republican sea, is in an increasingly heated re-election campaign against a Republican opponent who is closely supported by Mssrs. Weiss and DiCostanzo, who voted against this fireworks request based on Mr. Snyder’s political speech. That’s bad government, and it’s dumb politics. But above that, Snyder’s team is right that this is a pretty blatant constitutional violation for petty political purposes. It reeks of political intimidation and violates the law, decency, and any notion of fair play.

What’s happening here is a concerted effort – Constitution be damned – by Weiss and DiCostanzo to paint Bylewski as somehow unethical. Bylewski’s opponent David Hartzell is already beating that drum with his own insert in the Clarence Bee.

A political ally of Bylewski’s filed a general objection to Republican supervisor candidate David Hartzell’s Conservative party petitions, and has submitted a bid to the town’s IDA to do some marketing work. Startlingly, sources tell me that Hartzell, as town IDA chairman Hartzell, said in an open meeting that the bidder could expect a “backlash” from the IDA; that the applicant would be rejected solely because he is a political supporter of Hartzell’s opponent.  (I have sent a FOIL to the town clerk to obtain a recording of that meeting’s proceedings.)

If true, there appears to be a growing pattern among town Republicans to threaten and exact retribution against political opponents, even if it violates the United States Constitution.

For their disregard for the Constitution, Weiss and DiCostanzo should be ashamed, and their re-election should be prevented.  To find out more, send your contact information to ClarenceBetterGov[at]Gmail.com.

Governor Cuomo Moves to Phase 2

20 Jul

There’s nary an Albany special interest group that is particularly pleased with the Cuomo administration. He is leading from the center, as good leaders should, alternating between conservative fiscal policies and progressive social policies. There is no question that Cuomo has pushed a dysfunctional Albany legislature into implementing meaningful change. Whether it be reworking union contracts, SUNY 2020, balancing the budget, passing same sex marriage, or passing big ethics reforms, most of what Cuomo’s “New New York” plan for the first half of the year has been focused on getting Albany back to work.

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo revealed his plan for the second half of the year, and it’s going to be focused on the rest of the state – specifically, he is focusing on reworking local governments to make them more efficient and regionally focused. Creating jobs and a comprehensive review and reinvention of government(s) will be front and center, helping to make New York less of a byzantine nightmare and more competitive with other states.  Here’s video that Politics on the Hudson shot:

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If Cuomo can resurrect local discussions about regionalism and government consolidation, then filling in that dot for Cuomo may very well prove to be the best vote I ever made.

 

 

 

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

4 Jul

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
  • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
  • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

 

Senator Mark Grisanti On His Marriage Equality Vote

25 Jun

Please watch the whole thing, and if you’re a constituent of his, please contact him and pledge your support to help him make up whatever support he may have lost by doing the unthinkable – researching an issue, evolving, and changing his mind.

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