Saturday, January 28, 2006

Weird stuff from the GOPers

WTF are they talking about?
Democrats try to tar Rep. Sweeney with lobbyist connections -- "State GOP chairman Stephen Minarik charged Gillibrand 'is nothing more than an out-of-touch New York City trial lawyer whose political patron is one of New York state's best-known lobbyists.' "
Funny, no one has said anything about political patrons in Kirsten's campaign. Maybe Minarik is thinking of someone else?

Kirsten Gillibrand for Congress Kickoff!

January 26, 2006 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Bill Hyers 518-210-9742 Gillibrand To Formally Launch Congressional Campaign Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to Introduce and Endorse Gillibrand Hudson, N.Y ˆKirsten Gillibrand will formally announce her campaign for Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 31st at 11:30am. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer will introduce and endorse Gillibrand at the Historic Canfield Casino in downtown Saratoga Springs. Earlier that day Gillibrand will be in Hudson, NY at the Vincent Mulford Antique Shop and on Wed, Feb. 1st she will be in Delaware and Dutchess Counties. Gillibrand, who has attracted widespread support from excited residents ready for change, will lay out her vision for the 20th Congressional district. Joining Gillibrand and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in Saratoga and local officials as well friends, family, and local supporters in Hudson, Harpersville, and Rhinebeck. WHO: GILLIBRAND FOR CONGRESS WHAT: 20TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CAMPAIGN KICK-OFF Tuesday, Jan 31st, 2006 Where: 11:30 AM The Historic Canfield Casino, Saratoga Springs 9:00 AM Vincent Mulford Antique Shop,419 Warren St, Hudson Wednesday, February 1, 2006 Where: 12:00 PM Shaver-Hill Farm, 310 Shaver Road, Harpersville 4:00 PM Delamater INN Route 9, Rhinebeck # # #

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sweeney ad makes it to CBS New!

Kirsten's ad made it on CBS News. That's pretty cool.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Further Proof that Winter Sports Are Just a Dumb Idea - Wonkette

Hey, look who's being discussed at Wonkette!
Further Proof that Winter Sports Are Just a Dumb Idea - Wonkette: " JAN 23 2006 Further Proof that Winter Sports Are Just a Dumb Idea With Bob Ney in a state of Abramoff-induced leadership quarantine, his former post as Dumbest Congressman Ever is going begging. But we think New York congressman John Sweeney is a real up-and-comer. After news of the Abramoff plea deal forced vigorous, symbolic dollar-scrubbings from Denny Hastert on down, as well as new legislation to junk all lobbyist-financed travel junkets for Congress members, what does Rep. Sweeney do? Why, he hies off to a ski resort on his winter break for a lobbying-funded ski junket. What’s more, it’s a ski resort in Park City, Utah, so the graft-happy fella can’t even claim to be channeling lobbying largess into his picturesque Peekskill-West Point district. And as if all that weren’t symbolically damning enough, as you can see in the excerpt from the video clip thoughtfully posted by Sweeney’ss ‘06 opponent Kirsten Gillibrand, the terminus to the ski-lift is called ‘PayDay.’ We’re guessing the one named “Kick Me Hard” was due for scheduled maintenance that weekend. —HOLLY MARTINS"

Monday, January 23, 2006

Fred LeBrun in Times Union:

Sweeney fell short on this one:
" You'd think after all the grief Republican Congressman John Sweeney has taken for holding a fat fundraiser at the home of a lobbyist out in Utah that there'd be at least a hint of recognition that this was reasonably dumb. Especially because Sweeney has become the poster child for reforming the way his majority caucus does business in the House in light of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. But no, not a sign of contrition. In fact, Sweeney all but said on Friday that if he had to do it all again, he would. And probably will. "I have to raise money. Political campaigns cost a lot of money. We all do it, in both parties. We all go fundraising out of state because we've tapped out resources in our own districts," he said. At the same time, he stressed that he doesn't think he's done a darned thing wrong anyway. Besides, he was busy schmoozing businesses with strong New York connections. He was on the job. The congressman maintains his actions were transparent, that he wasn't trying to hide a thing by holding a $2,000-a-person fundraiser at a ski resort in Utah that included dinner at a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist's home. He did the same thing last year. Notice was in the Congressional Record months ago, he says. It was no secret. Sweeney also is adamant that the dust-up this has created is nothing but politics. On balance, I suspect John Sweeney is just about half right. It is too precious and totally disingenuous to see five Democratic county chairs from his district, along with state Democratic chair Denny Farrell, stand up with ashes in their mouths and a straight face at a news conference and condemn Sweeney for sticking his ski poles in the wrong state: "Your decision to spend a weekend frolicking in Utah with lobbyists instead of here on the slopes of New York sends a terrible message and does nothing to encourage the all-important tourist industry here." Let me get this straight, Chairman Farrell. If Sweeney were frolicking with lobbyists on Whiteface instead, it would be OK? This is all about tourism? A cardinal rule of politics, as in boxing, is never give your opponent an opening, and surely Sweeney has done that. His most recent opponent is Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York City lawyer and the daughter of longtime Albany lobbyist Doug Rutnik. She is plunging through the gap, sensing opportunity. Her feigned horror over Sweeney's behavior is lame. But then again, as Sweeney suggests, it's largely about politics, and he'd certainly do the same thing if he could. It's all fair game. Which brings us to the other half, about his being at least as much wrong as right for behaving as he did in Utah. There's a certain political tone-deafness in Sweeney's response to the flap, it strikes me. As if advocating for lobbying reform even as he is cashing lobbyists' checks, so to speak, wouldn't raise the stink of hypocrisy. Stating on the fundraiser invitation that he's a member of the House Appropriations Committee is a nice touch, but more irony than I can handle in one column. Of course, the perception he created is grotesque, and the congressman has to know that, I think. (Page 2 of 2) Now, toughing it out is an accepted political strategy whenever there's a screw-up, but, privately at least, you acknowledge it could have been handled better and that there will be more caution in the future. But I'm neither hearing nor sensing any of that from John Sweeney. Surprising. Fred LeBrun can be reached at 454-5453 or by e-mail at "
What is strangest about the whole Sweeney flap, to my eyes, is that old Johnny boy takes the high ground on lobbying for two or three days running, issues a letter calling for change in Washington, then gets on a plane and heads to Utah to hang out with lobbyists. That's not just tone-deaf, it also assumes we're a bunch of rubes.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Watch How Congressman Sweeney Spends His Weekend!

Times Union Editorial Today.

It just keeps getting Better and Better.
Skiing for dollars -- : "

Rep. John Sweeney's fundraising practices unusual for someone who wants to clean up Congress

First published: Thursday, January 19, 2006 Just two weeks ago, Rep. John Sweeney was among a stampede of congressmen, Republicans and Democrats alike, who couldn't get rid of their otherwise zealously collected campaign contributions fast enough. Any money connected, in any way, to lobbyist-turned-felon Jack Abramoff or any of his evermore suspicious associates wasn't worth keeping. It instead went to charity -- $2,000 to St. Jude's Research Hospital, in Mr. Sweeney's case. If only that more circumspect and more judicious approach to accepting campaign money had lasted much longer than the fallout from the Abramoff scandal. There was Mr. Sweeney, a Clifton Park Republican, soliciting money last weekend on a Utah ski holiday where access to power was literally for sale. It was back to the same old dunning of lobbyists for fun, games and money that's so widespread in both Washington and Albany. For a $2,000 contribution to Mr. Sweeney -- the maximum allowed by federal law -- and the not exactly cheap cost of travel and lodging, Mr. Sweeney's supporters could cozy up to a congressman -- and a lobbyist as well. The weekend in Utah included dinner at Jeff Kimbell's house. He's a lobbyist representing such clients as the Novartis and Allergan pharmaceutical companies. Not very subtle, especially when the invitation to this gathering so crassly noted that Mr. Sweeney is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which controls a big portion of the fruits of access to government. Mr. Sweeney's office promises that his next report to the Federal Election Commission will disclose who -- as in which lobbyists -- attended the Utah fundraising event. That ought to make for some interesting reading. Why Mr. Sweeney would be taking money from lobbyists at this point, though, or even raising it in the presence of one, is its own riddle. It takes the glow off his credentials as a crusader for reforming the way the House operates. Nor is there any good reason why Mr. Sweeney's office would attack his potential challenger, Kirsten Gillibrand, a Columbia County Democrat, for questioning his fundraising practices. The words of Melissa Carlson, Mr. Sweeney's spokeswoman, are revealing enough to bear repeating. Just how is it, as Ms. Carlson says, that Ms. Gillibrand has 'chosen the low road in her first campaign for office in a district she barely knows, for people she's never met, for reasons we may never know'? Aren't the connections between members of Congress and their contributors a legitimate issue? Hasn't Mr. Sweeney, in his quest to shake up the House leadership, in effect made them one?"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Dem County Chairs: Why Aren't Local Ski Slopes Good Enough For Rep. Sweeney?

New York State Democratic Committee Press Release: "

Dem County Chairs: Why Aren't Local Ski Slopes Good Enough For Rep. Sweeney?

Last weekend, Congressman held lavish fundraiser with lobbyists at ski resort in Utah; But the Congressman's district contains beautiful ski slopes like Hunter, Windham, & others Democratic County Chairs in ski areas Sweeney represents write letter to congressman today blasting him for ignoring the district and being out-of-touch Local Democratic County Chairs today blasted Rep. John Sweeney for holding a lavish skiing fundraiser in Utah, when Sweeney's own district contains several beautiful ski slopes. In response to Sweeney's decision to choose a Utah ski resort rather than the many top-flight resorts in his own district, a group of Democratic county chairs in Sweeney's district today wrote the Congressman a letter blasting him for being out-of-touch with his constituents. "Why is John Sweeney holding skiing fundraisers in Utah when his own district has some of the finest ski resorts in the country?" Democratic spokesman Blake Zeff asked today. "Aren't New York slopes good enough for him?" Sweeney hosted the ski-weekend fundraiser last weekend in Park City, Utah with a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist. ''Skiing with Sweeney'' was billed as a $2,000 contribution-per-person event at the Utah ski resort, where, according to the invite, the Sweeney room rate was $349 a night. Democratic County chairs throughout Sweeney's region today blasted the congressman as ignoring his district so he could focus on lobbyists instead. "I do not understand why John Sweeney has to leave this beautiful area," Washington County Chair Sheila Comar said. "If John Sweeney doesn't think his district is lavish enough for his big-pocket lobbyist friends, maybe he should get himself another district," Saratoga County Chair Larry Bulman said. "We have some very challenging double black diamond slopes right here in the great northern Catskills in beautiful Greene County," Greene County Chair Tom Poelker said, "so why go all the way to Utah?" In addition to Bulman, Comar, and Poelker, the letter was also signed by Sue Montgomery Corey, Chair of Essex County and William Montfort, Chair of Warren County. A copy of the letter is enclosed (please note: Sweeney's press office has received the text of the letter by email). Ski slopes in Sweeney's district and the neighboring vicinity include Whiteface Mountain in Essex County; Gore Mountain in Warren County; Willard Mountain in Washington County; Hunter Mountain and Windham Mountain in Greene County. #### January 18, 2006 Honorable Representative John Sweeney Clifton Park Office
939 Route 146
Suite 430
Clifton Park, NY 12065
Dear Representative Sweeney, We hope this letter finds you well and that you enjoyed a restful holiday celebration and happy new year. We are writing with respect to your decision to hold a skiing fundraiser last weekend with a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist in Park City, Utah. We do not understand why you would need to travel all the way to Utah to hold a skiing event when your own district has some of the finest ski resorts in the nation. Your event, called ''Skiing with Sweeney," could easily have taken place in Gore Mountain in Warren County; Willard Mountain in Washington County; Hunter Mountain and Windham Mountain in Greene County, among many others. Your decision to spend a weekend frolicking in Utah with lobbyists instead of here on the slopes in New York sends a terrible message and does nothing to encourage the all important tourist industry here. We hope that as the campaign continues you will consider spending more time in the district you were elected to represent. Thank you for your consideration. Best regards, Herman D. Farrell, Jr. Chair, NYS Democratic Committee Larry Bulman Chair, Saratoga County Sheila Comar Chair, Washington County Sue Montgomery Corey Chair, Essex County William Montfort Chair, Warren County Tom Poelker Chair, Greene County"

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Democrat challenges Sweeney fundraiser with lobbyist --

A story that warms my little heart to see. Get this. On Friday, 13 January, Sweeney issues a statement calling for soul - searching among the GOP in the wake of the Abramoff lobbying scandal. Then he gets on a plane and goes to Utah to hang out at a pharmaceutical lobbyist's luxury home and charges people $2,000 a head to see him there. When the Democratic challenger for his seat asks what's up with this, Sweeney's spokesman says this is "malicious, self-serving, & hypocritical," while Kirsten's campaign is 97% individual financed. Who's the self-serving hypocrite here? - Democrat challenges Sweeney fundraiser with lobbyist:

"By DEVLIN BARRETT Associated Press Writer

January 17, 2006, 3:24 PM EST

WASHINGTON -- A would-be challenger to Rep. John Sweeney took aim Tuesday at the Republican congressman over a ski-weekend fundraiser in Park City, Utah with a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist.

'Skiing with Sweeney' was billed as a $2,000 contribution-per-person event last weekend at a ski resort, where, according to the invite, the Sweeney room rate was $349 a night.

Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic lawyer seeking to run against Sweeney, charges the event undercuts Sweeney's effort to fix recent troubles in Congress including a burgeoning congressional corruption probe by holding new party leadership elections.

'The congressman talked about reform and here he is out at this posh resort doing the same old business,' said Gillibrand campaign manager Bill Hyers.

Melissa Carlson, a Sweeney spokeswoman, called the charges 'malicious, self-serving, and hypocritical.'

Sweeney has called for new elections for all House GOP leaders except Speaker Dennis Hastert, saying the Republican members need to do some 'soul searching.'

The congressional probe centers around corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with a federal criminal probe of a number of members of Congress and staffers.

Days after Abramoff's guilty pleas, former majority leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, announced he would not seek to reclaim the post. DeLay was already battling a felony campaign finance indictment in his home state.

Sweeney has not been linked to any of the corruption allegations, but Gillibrand's camp charged Tuesday that the ski fundraiser showed the congressman is part of the lobbyist problem in Washington.

The invite included a dinner at the Park City home of Jeff Kimbell, a medical and pharmaceutical industry lobbyist.

'Are we really treating the voters of the district well by having some swanky dinner to raise money for his campaign at this pharmaceutical lobbyist's house when obviously low-cost prescription drugs are a big issue in the district?' said Hyers.

Sweeney's office countered that, during the trip, Sweeney met with an executive of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to talk about economic development in and around Lake Placid, N.Y., and said his opponent Gillibrand had failed to follow basic campaign reporting rules.

'Ms. Gillibrand has chosen the low road in her first campaign for office in a district she barely knows, for people she's never met, for reasons we may never know,' said Carlson.

Sweeney's campaign has received more than $50,000 from lobbyists for the 2006 election cycle, second only to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., among New York members of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political fundraising.

Gillibrand plans to announce a policy that every meeting with a lobbyist should be publicly disclosed.

'We need to set a new standard (in which) you need to fully disclose every single thing about that meeting,' said Hyers. 'That's reasonable, especially in this climate.'

This is a good one.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Times Union Takes A Swipe @ Sweeney

And such a nice boy, too:
Original is here:

"Rep. Sweeney, reformer

He proposes a bold idea, then backs away in favor of a less ambitious plan

First published: Sunday, January 15, 2006

It's unlikely to make the Almanac of American Politics, the authoritative reference book for keeping tabs on members of Congress. And it's not about to be in U.S. Rep. John Sweeney's campaign literature as he runs for re-election this fall, either.

For all of a day or two, though, the Republican congressman from Clifton Park had the credentials of a reformer for the ages, surpassing anything proposed by any of his 434 colleagues in the House of Representatives.

Having the Republicans elect a new majority leader to replace the disgraced, and indicted, Tom DeLay of Texas wasn't enough, Mr. Sweeney was saying. All the leadership posts should be up for a vote, including the one Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois holds.

Mr. Sweeney was right. The House, actually all of Congress, is engulfed in its biggest collective scandal in a generation. How different would things be, then, if Mr. Hastert remained in power but all the lesser positions were open to change?

Shouldn't Mr. Hastert be held to higher standards than ever?

As Mr. Sweeney himself told us on Tuesday, the people aspiring to lead the House and its Republican majority conference ought to 'come affirmatively before us and avow that they present no problems to Congress and to our majority.'

It wasn't an attack on Mr. Hastert, at least not directly. Nor should it be.

Again, to quote Mr. Sweeney, this time from his recollection of a phone conversation between them: 'This isn't some coup d'etat. This is an opportunity that offers us a momentum to provide leadership.'

That momentum, though, was gone just a day after. On Wednesday, Mr. Sweeney backed away from his bold idea. Committee chairmen might have to face a vote of confidence of sorts for their posts. And so will the contenders to succeed Mr. DeLay. But nothing changes at the top. The status quo will only be so different.

It's not that Mr. Sweeney has a bad idea as he goes about circulating a petition of support for his proposal. Not at all. It's just that last week he had a much better one."
Look, it's all about planting a ill-formulated, thin seed. Then people will half-remembered, which is good enough. Look like a call for reform without actually being one.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pot, Kettle, whatever.

Perhaps one of the best places to come clean is in one's own house? Notice that this comes out on Friday afternoon, when no one pays attention to the news?
"Sweeney releases letter on House GOP leadership
January 13, 2006, 5:23 PM EST
WASHINGTON (AP) _ New York congressman John Sweeney's effort to hold votes on a raft of top House GOP positions edged forward Friday as his office said he had at least a dozen firm supporters among fellow Republicans.
Since former majority leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, announced last week he would not seek to recapture the position, Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, has been leading an effort to try to get wider leadership elections.
His office on Friday released copies of a letter written with California congressman Dan Lungren seeking to drum up support for the elections.
Spokeswoman Melissa Carlson said the effort has the firm support of at least a dozen members and 'we fully expect to have at least 50 by the time' House Republicans return to Washington at the end of the month.
'We must seize this opportunity to regain the trust the American public placed in us,' the letter states without referring specifically to GOP concerns about a burgeoning congressional corruption probe.
Sweeney and a handful of others began trying to gather support this week for a new internal vote on all seven leadership positions below Speaker Dennis Hastert.
'The current environment requires a fresh direction and clarity in our vision for the future,' the letter states. 'The time has come for those who wish to lead this conference to rise to the challenge, unite the party and stand before the conference to outline a clear agenda for returning to the values that we as Republicans hold dear.'"

Friday, January 13, 2006

Sweeney really in touch with the common folks of his district

Over at 10,000 Things, Andrew White posts the figures for 4th Quarter Fund Raising, and, well, there's pretty good news, if you ask me. Kirsten has already raised more money than anyone else Sweeney has run against before. What impresses me is that 60% of the money Sweeney has raised is from individuals. Gillibrand: 97%. That says it all, folks. But wait, there's even better stuff. How about money from the Alexander Group, which will be closing down before Abramoff's blood spills all over it. That John Sweeney, really working for his district. He's hanging with the rich fatcats, while his district continues to work really hard to make ends meet. Just a quick check at the Census Bureau reveals: Mechanicville Median Household Income: 79% of NY State MHHI (Saratoga County), Hudson 55%(Columbia County), Scroon-66% (Essex County), Masonville 76% (Delaware County), Dresden 69% (Washington County), Glens Falls 69% (Warren County) and on and on and on. Meanwhile, we continue to lose hospitals (at least two in the district have closed on Sweeney's watch), jobs, see our power rates & energy costs climb (National Grid up 20% this year!, gas $2.60 now, fuel oil $2.70 now. Don't even mention property taxes! So, who's totally out of touch with his district?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Glens Falls Post Star on Gillibrand Appearance at Union Hall

Union: Sweeney no friend of labor

Democratic congressional candidate visits Fort Edward By MAURY THOMPSON
Published on 1/11/2006
HUDSON FALLS -- When talking about the past, union leaders spoke in round numbers of about 1,250 employees who once worked at local General Electric Co. plants.
Turning to the present, they cited a precise number of 234 employees left at the Fort Edward plant.
'GE led the world from Schenectady. It was founded here and it ran away,' said Roger Delano.
Delano and 12 other workers at the Fort Edward plant stopped by the union hall in Hudson Falls after their shift on Tuesday to meet Democratic congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, who said Congress could help rebuild the nation's manufacturing base by offering incentives to companies that develop vehicles that run on alternative fuel.
'We would be the world leaders in the most important technology that is available today,' she said.
Gillibrand, a lawyer from Hudson, criticized incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. John Sweeney's votes on labor issues.
Sweeney voted in favor of liberalizing trade agreements with the Dominican Republican and five Central American nations, and voted against a bill that would have increased benefits to workers that lose their jobs when plants move out of the country, she said.
Sweeney, she continued, also voted against increasing the federal minimum wage.
Sweeney was tied up in meetings Tuesday afternoon and not available to comment directly, said his spokeswoman, Melissa Carlson.
Carlson said Sweeney has been a 'strong supporter' of protecting prevailing wages, unemployment compensation and pension security for union members.
'Rep. Sweeney is the son of a local shirtcutter union president and (a) former New York state labor commissioner who understands the issues affecting working families,' she said.
Sweeney, a four-term incumbent from Clifton Park, has generally enjoyed support from labor unions in previous campaigns.
In the last election cycle, for example, labor-backed political action committees contributed $50,000 to his campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Gillibrand, however, said Sweeney has fallen out of favor with labor because of his recent votes.
'He may not gain their support this time,' she said in an interview after the meeting at the office of Local 332 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.
On other issues, Gillibrand called for tighter restrictions on lobbyists, tax cuts for the middle class and allowing the federal government to compete with private health insurance plans.
Medicare, a federal health plan for the elderly and disabled, has 3 percent overhead costs, compared with 30 percent for private health plans, she said.
Asked by union members about her position on the Iraq War, Gillibrand said Congress should immediately pass a resolution banning permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.
'I'm not clear why we entered this war. The president has yet to really tell us what his motivation was behind this,' she said. 'One thing I'm quite sure, though, is that America is not an imperialist country. We don't just go into countries to take them over because we want their oil.'
Also on Tuesday, Gillibrand's campaign announced in a press release that it raised $249,035 in the last three months of 2005, bring the total amount raised so far to $370,680.
Sweeney had $712,933 in his campaign fund as of his last public report on Sept. 30, according to the Center for Responsive Politics."

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sweeney calls for 'soul-searching' in the HR

New York Daily News - Politics - Tom makes a DeLay-ed exit: "New York Rep. John Sweeney of upstate Clifton Park called for a total reassessment of the House Republican leadership and new elections. 'I feel the time is right for us to do some soul searching and have an open dialogue about the direction of the House,' the Republican said."

What kind of soul-searching does a political operative-flack-crony do? This the usual sort of cheap sentimental yet meaningless sort of nonsense you get from a guy like Sweeney. Dump him. Maybe he wants to stop acting like a tool of the interests.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sweeney Lets his District Down, calls it a Success

Nice work, John. Good thing homeless people "don't vote."

Spinners, spinners, spinners

Capital Region homeless get less help from HUD

Federal funding cut to programs in area counties, though aid is up for state

By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, January 5, 2006

ALBANY -- When local politicians announced this year's federal aid to fight homelessness in the Capital Region, they lauded the award of $5.2 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Left unsaid was that the total package represents an 18 percent decrease from last year.

Programs in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties will receive about $4.7 million, a 27 percent drop from the $6.4 million provided in 2005, according to HUD figures.

Saratoga and Warren counties, which didn't apply for HUD aid in 2005, will receive about $590,000, with the lion's share of $436,000 going to the Glens Falls Housing Authority.

'I fought hard for these federal funds for New York and my district, and I will continue to fight for our fair share,' U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, said Tuesday, when the aid was announced.

Sweeney, who is vice chairman of the appropriation subcommittee that funds HUD's budget, highlighted a 2 percent statewide increase to $127.5 million. He said New York was among only a dozen states to get more money this year from HUD.

On Wednesday, Sweeney spokeswoman Melissa Carlson said the reduced aid figures in the Capital Region were 'good news' because HUD awarded grants based on which areas showed the most serious needs.

'This shows that the needs in our region are being addressed, and we are doing a bit better job ... than in other areas with greater needs,' Carlson said.

Some advocates for the homeless rejected Carlson's rosy outlook.

'That is doublespeak, for sure,' said Donna DeMaria, executive director of the Homeless Action Committee in Albany. 'There is more of a need to help the homeless than ever, and it is not being addressed.'

DeMaria's program will receive about $80,000 to pay for two workers to use a van to search out homeless people on the streets and bring them food, clothing, blankets and other supplies. Last year, DeMaria's committee received $210,000 from HUD.

'Each year, the allocation for programs in Albany County becomes a little less,' DeMaria said. 'It's definitely a problem.'

In Troy, Tracy Neitzel, executive director of Joseph's House and Shelter, said her organization was glad to get what it did. 'We were nervous that HUD is reducing the money it provides for services,' she said. 'Holding our own is good news.'

Neitzel said her group is using its aid to pay for workers who search the streets to find homeless people who are afraid to come into shelters for help.

During Sweeney's announcement in Clifton Park, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings said he was pleased with the aid. 'This funding will strengthen my commitment to improving the quality of life for all residents,' Jennings, a Democrat, said in a statement released by Sweeney's office.

This year, 11 programs in Albany County will get about $1.9 million, down from $2.5 million in 2005 and $2.6 million in 2004.

The largest share goes to the Albany Housing Authority. It will get $433,000 this year, a reduction of about 63 percent from $1.2 million in 2005.

Attempts to reach Jennings for comment Wednesday were not successful.

Republican Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian also attended Sweeney's news conference to publicly thank the congressman. This year, six programs in Rensselaer County will receive $1.3 million, down from $1.76 million last year, a 26 percent drop. In 2004, HUD provided $2 million to programs in the county.

In Schenectady County, seven programs will get $1.49 million in 2006, down 30 percent from the $2.1 million to five programs in 2005. In 2004, the county's programs received $2.2 million.

Sweeney Donates Abramoff Money to Charity

Newsday: "

After guilty plea, New York lawmakers return contributions


Associated Press Writer

January 4, 2006, 5:57 PM EST

WASHINGTON -- Several New York lawmakers decided Wednesday to give up political donations from Indian tribes linked to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, now at the center of a burgeoning congressional corruption probe.

There have been no New York members of Congress implicated in any wrongdoing. Still, several are getting rid of donations from tribes that were Abramoff clients to avoid any association with the scandal.

Rep. John Sweeney, for instance, will give up $2,000 donated by an Indian tribe for the 2002 election. Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, will give the money to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, said his spokeswoman Melissa Carlson.

Carlson said the contributions 'were legally accepted and fully reported. But in light of Abramoff's guilty plea concerning the lobbyist's deplorable activities, the congressman has decided that the best course of action is to donate the $2,000.'

Late Wednesday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign announced she also would return $2,000 in donations from tribes that were Abramoff clients.

'To ensure that there is no question of any connection with Mr. Abramoff, Friends of Hillary will contribute the total of $2,000 to a New York charity,' Clinton spokeswoman Ann Lewis said in a statement.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Westchester, also received a total of $2,000 from Abramoff client tribes for the 2004 election cycle. Her spokeswoman said that money will be returned.

But Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of Harlem, the New Yorker who received the largest amount from Abramoff clients at $36,000, intends to keep the money and a Rangel spokesman said Wednesday that Abramoff's guilty pleas do not affect the congressman's decision.

Abramoff, 46, pleaded guilty in Miami federal court Wednesday to conspiracy and wire fraud stemming from his 2000 purchase of a gambling boat fleet. A day earlier, he was in a Washington courtroom pleading guilty to three other federal charges as part of a deal with prosecutors to cooperate in a corruption investigation into members of Congress.

The wide-ranging corruption probe involving Abramoff could involve up to 20 members of Congress and aides, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

Many members of Congress were re-evaluating their contributions in wake of both Abramoff's guilty pleas and a decision by the Bush-Cheney campaign Wednesday to give up some donations from Abramoff, his wife, and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. Each gave the campaign $2,000.

Democrat Eliot Engel, whose district includes the Bronx and its northern suburbs, plans to return a $1,000 donation from the Saginaw Chippewa tribe.

'Congressman Engel is happy to send the money back because he doesn't want there to be any issue of impropriety,' said his spokeswoman Rebecca Gale, adding the congressman and the tribe shared concerns about rural health issues.

Aides to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, a powerful Republican who leads House GOP fundraising efforts, defended $7,000 in contributions from Abramoff client tribes to his political action committee.

'Tribes across the country have become more politically active over the past several years; and, like any other group, they are free to participate in the political process as they see fit _ as long as it's done in accordance with the law,' said Bill Oorbeek, executive director of Reynolds' PAC."

There are no indian reservations in Sweeney's District. Why would he accept any money from Abramoff or his clients?