Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
All Aboard the Amtrak Grousing Express!
It's truly amazing to see how one can worry about the wrong thing. Take for example, in this story in the Albany Times-Union:
Amtrak starts with food
Amtrak's move to have the Subway restaurant chain provide food on board trains originating or terminating in Rensselaer is the kind of efficiency move U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, would like to see more of. The congressman says he has been thwarted in his efforts to get a full accounting of Amtrak's assets and to learn what's making money and what isn't. Food service has been a sore point among some in Congress who think it's not earning enough for the government-supported passenger railroad. Amtrak discontinued its own food service on the trains that originate and terminate in Rensselaer last summer, saying it was losing $1 million a year. Sweeney wonders what else needs to be changed. "They were mandated by Congress to produce this information," said Melissa Carlson, a spokeswoman for Sweeney. "They have just not done it." Sweeney last week fired off a letter to Amtrak's acting president seeking answers. As of Friday, said Carlson, he hadn't received any. Meanwhile, the food service now is a source of earnings for Amtrak, with Subway paying Amtrak a portion of its gross receipts. And Amtrak passengers won't have to go hungry. "It addresses the passengers' need for food," Carlson said.First off, it's an easy target to grouse about the food anywhere, and Amtrak is everyone's anti government favorite whipping boy. So, Sweeney can look like a hero on this one. But wait. Amtrak service to his district is frequent daily stops in Rhinebeck & Hudson, and one stop each way every day in Saratoga, Fort Edward, Whitehall, & Ticonderoga. The 20th's problem with Amtrak is not that there are overpriced sandwiches. The problem is that there's no flippin' service. But where is our sense of priorities? How does Old Sweeney get a free ride on this? He can claim some kind of credit (and what weak credit it is) for pointing out something utterly unimportant to his constituents while totally ignoring a significant failure of the Federal Government in his district.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Times Union "Mr. Sweeney Dissents" - where have they been?
The Times Union editorial on Sweeney budget Vote:
"The vote was a close one, 217-215, with 14 Republicans breaking ranks with their leadership and siding with Democrats present who opposed the measure unanimously. Rep. John Sweeney was among the 14 Republicans willing to oppose a flawed plan. Mr. Sweeney, unlike the generally moderate Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New Hartford who voted for the bill, wouldn't go along with cuts in Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled, that some estimate will cost New York more than $1 billion over five years. He was troubled by changes in Medicaid rules that would charge co-payments to people who receive non-emergency care in hospital emergency rooms. The objective might make sense, at least in theory. But in Mr. Sweeney's district, which includes part of both the Adirondack and Catskill regions, a shortage of doctors often leaves emergency rooms as the only practical option for even routine medical care. The effect of cutting the deficit this way would have been harmful to too many of Mr. Sweeney's constituents. Other House members, Democrats especially, were even more pointed in their objections."Let's not get to the point where we start praising old Sweeney for his sudden independent-minded interest in his constituents. It's far more likely that he's afraid of the competition he's rightly earned by being such a lousy representative of his district. He's voted to allow Tom Delay stay Majority Leader, even if he's indicted. This is not a free agent, at all. Look, this guy voted to end the Paris Hilton Tax, has watched at least two hospitals close down in his district (in Cambridge & Sidney), but has found time to hob-nob with celebrities lobbying on horse slaughter & with baseball players on the (yawn) issue of steroids in baseball. The guy has never shown any interest in his constituents, and is only now running scared.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Activist link for Gillibrand Campaign
Now, that's good press!
Look who got first mention in a little piece on Bloomberg today:
Bloomberg.com: Republican Unity Frays as Lawmakers Brace for Election Fights
"Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- When Republican U.S. Representative John Sweeney ran for re-election in 2004, President George W. Bush was on his way to winning a second term and Sweeney enjoyed a huge money edge over his Democratic opponent, raising $1.39 million to her $22,823. As he looks to 2006, the New York lawmaker can't breathe so easily. Bush's record-low approval ratings, along with mounting questions about the war in Iraq, have bolstered the Democrats' hopes of regaining control of the House next November. Sweeney faces a challenger, attorney Kirsten Gillibrand, who has raised $120,000 so far, more than the combined total of his three previous opponents. ``For the first time since he was elected, he has a race that he has to pay attention to,'' said Amy Walter, House editor of the Washington-based Cook Political Report, which analyzes congressional races. Political analysts and activists say Sweeney is among about a dozen Republicans, mostly from states that went Democratic in 2004, who may face closer races next year than they have in the past. Those elections are a key reason that House Republican leaders are having a tougher time holding their party together. Sweeney joined 13 other Republican lawmakers last week to vote against a deficit-reduction measure backed by Bush that cuts $50 billion from Medicaid and other benefits programs. It barely squeaked by on a 217-215 vote. Hours earlier, 22 Republicans helped defeat a $142.5 billion spending plan for the departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. The legislation, rejected on a 224-209 vote, would have cut $1.4 billion from last year's funding level and stripped about $1 billion in pet projects that benefit lawmakers' districts.
Monday, November 21, 2005
The 10,000 Things: Kirsten Gillibrand for Congress in NY-20
Dems want seat in 20th district
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Post Star Editorial On Sweeney - - Holy Cats!
Trying to figure out Sweeney By KEN TINGLEY Published on 11/20/2005 THE POST-STAR I've never known quite what to make of Rep. John Sweeney. We've met a couple times in editorial board meetings here at the newspaper. The first time, he seemed distant, perhaps a little suspicious and a little angry. That was before he was elected the first time, when the majority of people in these parts voted for the Democratic candidate. The second time, he was a sweetheart, a professional politician who was quite charming. Of course, that was right before he got married, so maybe he was in love. When we wrote about him being in a traffic accident after skiing in Greenwich several years ago, the newspaper stories brought up the fact that he might have been drinking and that the police might have given him some special treatment. After that, the congressman didn't talk to us here at the newspaper for a long time. Probably just a coincidence. He talks to the newspaper a lot through his spokespeople, which we all know is really the spokespeople talking and the congressman signing off on it. Does anyone really believe that what a spokesperson reports is actually what the congressman said?
If you want to read the rest, you'll have to check it out somewhere else, I'm afraid. In essence, the point they make is that Sweeney isn't consistently in touch with the press, and then sometimes he's just plain antagonistic. They want to know, what's up with this guy.
Phoney Bar Fight
"Sweeney in a bar fight? Maybe ... or maybe not By CHRISTINE MARGIOTTA Updated: 11/18/2005 10:10:45 PM U.S. Rep John Sweeney made national gossip news this week -- not for making policy, but for taking a punch. A gossip column in Thursday's New York Daily News reported Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, took a blow from a Red Sox fan who'd had enough of Sweeney's pro-Yankees banter one evening earlier this month at Bobby Van's Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. Sweeney spokeswoman Melissa Carlson flatly denied the report, saying the alleged incident was nothing more than a "heated discussion about Yankees vs. Red Sox. The story originally appeared Wednesday in Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. A Bobby Van's bartender who withheld his name for work-related reasons said he was on duty the night in question and saw nothing. "It didn't exist. It did not happen" he said. "He didn't get hit while I was here. We don't know anybody that hit any congressman, that's for sure. If I had seen it, I would have done something about it, you can guarantee that." The bartender is known by patrons as a particularly faithful fan of the Boston Red Sox. "We all have our crosses to bear, and that happens to be my one," he said. That allegiance has made him the target of friendly back-and-forth from Sweeney, an apparent die-hard Yankees fan, for the past five years. Sweeney and his staff frequent the New York-style restaurant and make their Yankees loyalty known, the bartender said. "John Sweeney and I are good friends," the bartender said. "He and I do have a banter every time we see each other.""
An oldie but one that raises an interesting question
Thursday, July 7, 2005Umm, what pressing work for upstate New York is being done in Italy in July?
Sweeney slams Schumer over potential high court nomineeThe Associated Press WASHINGTON — A Republican congressman from upstate New York launched an unexpected broadside Wednesday at Sen. Charles Schumer over the new opening on the Supreme Court.
Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, criticized Schumer, a Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, for recent comments about the vacancy created on the bench by the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Sweeney, who is traveling in Italy this week with a congressional delegation, issued a statement Wednesday saying he is "deeply disappointed in my colleague Senator Schumer's comments with respect to the role of the Senate in the nominating process."
Sweeney spokeswoman Melissa Carlson said the congressman was unhappy about comments the senator made in Albany on Tuesday about the search for a successor to O'Connor.
"I don't like ideologues on the bench," Schumer said, adding he wanted "a thoughtful, mainstream (nominee) with the ability to see the other side ... I hope the president nominates a consensus nominee, someone who would get 90 to 95 votes in the Senate ... Somebody who will interpret the law, not make it."The response from Sweeney is unusual in that New York lawmakers in Washington, even those of opposing parties, rarely criticize each other directly. Sweeney has not been involved previously in the political wrangling over judges or judicial nominees.