NY13 Blog; Retaking NY-13 from Rep. Vito Fossella

Following the corruption, ineffectiveness and hypocrisy of Rep. Vito Fossella.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Why should you blog your local race?

Because blog links to the Daily News's coverage of Rep. Fossella's corruption shot the story up to the number three link on Google for 'Rep. Fossella'. It has since been bumped down a little, but still holds a front page spot for all his curious constituents to see.

While Vito skis, his constituents Google him and don't like what they see.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Vito working hard for ski trips, er funding

A break from the voting numbers. Today we look at Vito Fossella's campaign site where he is an independent. And by independent we mean a Republican scared of his own party and his own voting record.

Under his About Vito section we get this great talking point:

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Vito remained a key leader on national security issues. He wrote the bill to the end pork-barrel distribution of homeland security and bioterrorism funding, which would send hundreds of millions of additional dollars to New York City.

Maybe this is just recycled text. Or maybe he has already forgotten that he is so inept as a member of Congress that homeland security funding for NYC was slashed by $83 million this year, a 40% reduction. Of course there was no pork-barrel distribution of homeland security funding.

Via ABC News we find out that the list of terror targets in Indiana effecting the calculation of its funding includes a popcorn factory. A petting zoo in Alabama. A parade in Tennessee.

"I think it's funny," Lehman said. "I think it's some kind of mistake."

The popcorn business is basically a barn in a cornfield with five employees.

"The last news people who were looking for us drove right by us," Lehman said. "They couldn't find us."

Vito Fossella skis while Indiana gets our homeland security funding.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Working Families Party II

All numbers via the 2004 NYC Election results.

I was expecting to follow up with the difference in vote totals between Kerry and Barbaro indicating a larger WFP voter turnout for Kerry. Curiously that was far from the case.

WFP totals for Richmond County (Staten Island)

Kerry: 2,193
Schumer: 4,171
Barbaro: 2,634

I figure voters who are turning out to vote on the WFP line are educated voters, understanding the implications of a WFP vote versus voting on the Democratic line. Amazingly WFP turned out more voters for Schumer than Kerry, and Barbaro even turned out more WFP votes than Kerry. I can't understand a scenario where a voter would vote WFP for one office and Democratic for the others, so I am going on the assumption that all of Kerry's WFP voters, also then voted Schumer and Barbaro on WFP. That makes the finding more perplexing because that suggests Schumer and Barbaro voters either voted Bush or skipped the Presidential vote. And yet Kerry took 14,500 more votes than Barbaro (poor down ballot attrition on the Dem's side). Schumer's worst AD in Staten Island still netted him a 63% victory. So why in a non competitive race did WFP voters come out for Schumer in larger amounts than Kerry?

Understanding this is a small part in learning how Dems will flip this seat.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Working Families Party

Since the WFP endorsement of Stephen Harrison I have started crunching some numbers of the WFP influence. Eventually I hope to tie this all together with a GOTV assesment for NY13. Going back to a previous post on minimum wage and poverty in Staten Island, I think a stronger coordination between WFP and the Democratic GOTV in the district can really lead to substantial gains from the State Assembly level and up. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of fusion voting you can read up on it here.

In 2004 John Kerry garnered 66,255 votes in Richmond County (Staten Island) on the Democratic line and 2,193 votes on the WFP line. His WFP numbers accounted for 3.2% of his vote in Staten Island.

To put that in perspective here is the breakdown of WFP percentage of the vote total per borough that went to Kerry:

4.0% Kings County (Brooklyn)
3.2% Richmond County (Staten Island)
3.1% Manhattan
2.6% Queens
2.5% Bronx

Within Staten Island, Kerry's percentage of the vote coming from the WFP line was;

60th AD: 3.6%
61st AD: 3.6%
62nd AD: 3.2%
63rd AD: 2.8%

Next take a look at Frank Barbaro's WFP numbers, breakdown by Assembly District (AD);

60th AD: 5.2% (+1.8%)
61st AD: 5.2% (+1.6%)
62nd AD: 5.3% (+2.1%)
63rd AD: 4.5% (+1.7%)

Barbaro's WFP numbers clearly outpaced Kerry's in each AD. The question of leveraging this connection voters have with WFP and/or the strength of their GOTV efforts will play a large part in flipping this seat. Further analysis after some more playing with the calculator.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Vito and Tom DeLay

Tom DeLay's PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority PAC (ARMPAC) has reached an agreement with the FEC to pay $115,000 in fines for incorrectly reporting and using contributions. In addition they have agreed TO GO OUT OF BUSINESS. CREW tells us that this is in the top 50 fines ever levied by the FEC in the thirty years of it's existence.

CREW’s executive director, Melanie Sloan, stated, “the conciliation agreement reached between the FEC and ARMPAC shows a clear pattern of abuse of campaign finance laws.” Sloan continued, “on a disturbingly regular basis we learn that former House Majority Leader DeLay violated the law."

Rep. Fossella has taken $10,000 from ARMPAC. Despite Rep. DeLay's indictment and many ethical lapses, Fossella has refused to return the money. Sadly this is not the first time Rep. Fossella has been caught taking dirty money, only to return it after it was reported in the news. You can see the other questionable contributions Fossella has gladly accepted on the right side of the page.

Rep. Fossella now will you return the $10,000 in dirty money you have taken from Tom DeLay and ARMPAC?

Contact Vito Fossella:
Staten Island Office: (718) 356-8400
Brooklyn Office: (718) 630-5277
Washington DC Office: (202) 225-3371

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Send Vito to Iraq

Maybe Vito Fossella should look for a ski resort in Iraq so that he can get a good assesment of our situation while he is there, just like his Republican collegue Rep. Gutknecht. Gutknecht, an advocate of the war, doesn't hold back with his bleak assesment of what is going on after a recent visit. Via the Free Press;

Congressman Gil Gutknecht found the situation in Iraq more bleak than he anticipated during a weekend visit to the war zone, and said a partial withdrawal of some American troops might be wise.
Gutknecht, a strong supporter of the war since it began in March of 2003, told reporters in a telephone conference call Tuesday that American forces appear to have no operational control of much of Baghdad.
“The condition there is worse than I expected,” he said. “... I have to be perfectly candid: Baghdad is a serious problem.”


“Baghdad is worse today than it was three years ago,” he said.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Q2 Fundraising Results

With the help of several other bloggers across the state we are going to be reporting Q2 numbers from various Congressional races today. As other reports are in I will link to their results at the end of this post. Many thanks to the Working Families Party and WFPBlog for coordinating this, and for the recent endorsement of Stephen Harrison for NY-13.

Stephen Harrison
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period $0.00
Total Raised $41,071.09
Total Disbursements $27,837.10
Q2 CoH $13,233.99

Vito Fossella
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period $602,786.07
Total Raised $157,625.00
Total Disbursements $240,815.04
Q2 CoH $519,596.03

Rep. Fossella did end up with less cash at the end of the second quarter than he had at the end of the first quarter. However he does have $100K more CoH than he did at this point in 2004, although at this rate he may not top his expected $1.2 million fund raising goal. Stephen Harrison is well behind the 2004 nominee Frank Barbaro due in large part to a late campaign start.

NY13 Election Results (total $ raised)
Fossella 59% ($1,122,642)
Barbaro 41% ($425,228)

Frank Barbaro
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period $68,779.23
Total Raised $89,475.01
Total Disbursements $76,997.01
Q2 Coh $81,257.23

Vito Fossella
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period $279,513.60
Total Raised $172,370.00
Total Disbursements $40,566.43
Q2 CoH $411,317.17

Jack Davis
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period $98,024.81
Total Raised $158,210.00
Total Disbursements $234,170.43
Q2 COH $22,064.38

Tom Reynolds
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period $2,679,920.56
Total Raised $651,268.05
Total Disbursements $247,628.75
Q2 CoH $3,083,559.86

Election Results (total $ raised)
Rep. Reynolds 56% ($2,361,692)
Jack Davis 44% ($1,356,777)

Jack Davis
Reported no CoH or money raised during Q2 of the 2004 election.

Tom Reynolds
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period $2,279,411.85
Total Raised $354,437.80
Total Disbursements $57,068.06
Q2 CoH $2,576,781.59

Jack Davis is a largely self funded candidate and probably will make a large contribution to his race as November approaches. Thanks to Jack Davis, this race in 2004 was the second closest congressional race in NY state in which the seat did no flip to the Democrats. Expect this to cause Rep. Reynolds to bring in some of his highest fundraising numbers, and furthermore expect a lot of that to stay in the district in an effort to retain the seat instead of funding other NY congressional races. CQPolitics.com ranks this as a safe Republican seat.

Dave Mejias
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 0.00
Total Raised $235,506.84
Total Disbursements $7,000.00
Q2 CoH $228,506.84

Rep. King
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period $1,272,821.96
Total Raised $248,657.00
Total Disbursements $27,149.31
Q2 CoH $1,494,329.65

This really is the major news of Q2. Dave Mejias in just five weeks has been able to nearly match Rep. King's money raised. While we still falls short of King's warchest, Mejias is alredy the fourth overall on the list of Democratic challengers in NY in terms of CoH and he has only been at this for about one third of the past quarter. NY19, 20 (Gilibrand) and 24 (Arcuri) are the other races ahead of him. In 2004 Rep. King only brought in $87,183.41 in the second quarter and had a total CoH of $905,419.57, over a third less than he has this time around.

The Long Island Press ran with the story, and offers up this glimmer of hope for yet another serious flip of a NY House seat:

"Dave Mejias is a terrific candidate and is putting together a strong campaign," says U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland). Van Hollen heads up the recruitment effort for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and also co-chairs the DCCC's "Red to Blue" effort, which identifies vulnerable GOP candidates for upcoming elections.

The Red to Blue campaign helps Democratic challengers who have shown a strong ability to raise funds and organize, and currently is supporting 27 of the top ranked pick-ups.


CD03 -- http://ny13.blogspot.com Rep. King vs. Dave Mejias
CD13 -- http://ny13.blogspot.com Rep. Fossella vs. Stephen Harrison
CD19 -- http://dailygotham.com/blog/daniel_millstone Rep. Kelly vs. primary winner
CD20 -- http://www.democracyinalbany.com Rep. Sweeney vs. Gillibrand
CD23 -- http://www.bobaubin.com Rep. McHugh vs. Bob Johnson
CD24 -- http://wfpjournal.blogspot.com Ray Meier(R) vs. Mike Arcuri
CD25 -- http://thewalshwatch.blogspot.com Rep. Walsh vs. Dan Maffei
CD26 -- http://ny13.blogspot.com Rep. Reynolds vs. Jack Davis
CD29 -- http://www.rochesterturning.com Rep. Kuhl vs. Eric Massa

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Reality of Poverty

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While Vito Fossella is off skiing in Vail, Colorado and staying in five star hotels his constituents are busy working to actually support themselves.  Not many may realize he is making $165,170 in salary. If that was not bad enough, he is about to get a pay increase this January that would bring his salary to $168,500.  Curiously some members of Congress think if they can make this much money maybe, just maybe they should increase the minimum wage for the lowest paid workers in America. Unfortunately Rep. Fossella is not one of them.  The current minimum wage by the way is $5.15 per hour, whereas Rep. Fossella's salary breaks down to about $79.40 per hour for a forty hour work week.

salary$ per hr
Rep. Fossella$165,170.00$79.40
Minimum wage$10,700$5.15

It might be prudent at this point to mention that Rep. Fossella, as with all members of Congress enjoy some of the best health care benefits possible and is guaranteed a pension after retirement.  In fact he keeps that pension even if he goes to jail, as Rep. Cunningham has shown us.  Oh and he gets paid vacation time, if that wasn't evident with all of the time this Congress has been in recess.  For the minimum wage earner to make $10,700 per year they would have to work year round without any time off including federal holidays. As for them getting access to healthcare, well that is another story.

Democrats in the House are leading the charge to try to decrease the disparity between minimum wage and a liveable wage, lead by Rep. Barrow (GA-12) who is trying to

"discharge the Committee on Rules from the consideration of the resolution (H. Res. 614) entitled, a resolution providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 2429) to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage; which was referred to said committee on December 15, 2005 [source]

This has 191 signers, curiously missing from that list is Rep. Fossella even though it has bi-partisan support as evidenced by Rep. Christopher Shays (CT-04) a Republican from Connecticut being the most recent co-signer.

Currently the Democrats in the Senate and House are trying to attach a raise in the minimum wage to a bill granting Congressional pay raises.  Rep. Miller (CA-07) introduced a motion to instruct conferes on S 250, the VOCATIONAL AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE ACT. The following is from Rep. Miller's speech on the House floor:

This motion instructs the conferees to make it clear that when the bill states its purpose is to prepare students for highways jobs, that in no event should those jobs pay less than $7.25 an hour. The minimum wage today is just $5.15 an hour, and for nearly 10 years the Republican leadership has stood in the way of a raise for America's lowest wage workers. That is a shame, it is an insult, and it is a moral outrage. This is the year when Members of Congress from both parties should come together and show how serious they are about raising the minimum wage and that they are serious about valuing hard work.

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind my colleagues that the Fair Standards Labor Act, containing the minimum wage, was passed in 1938 to alleviate poverty. Yet now the minimum wage condemns workers to a life of poverty for themselves and for their children. That is what we do when we fail to raise the minimum wage. We put the Federal stamp of approval, the congressional stamp of approval, if you will, on the wages of those individuals, so that even though they go to work every day, every week, every month, and all year long, they will not be able to raise themselves out of poverty.

That is just unacceptable for this Nation, which is the beacon to the world about economic opportunity, which is the beacon to the world about understanding what it means to have every citizen participate in our society. If they work those 52 weeks a year, they will only earn $10,700, which is $5,000 per year below the poverty line for a family of three. The current minimum wage will not even support a single worker and a single child above poverty. Raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour will mean an additional $4,370 a year to help minimum-wage earners support their families.

I don't have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, because I know you support this act, but here are the facts. Here are the facts. Those workers today are stuck at 1997 wages. By Federal law, their wage is $5.15 an hour. That wage was secured by the Congress of the United States on a bipartisan vote to raise that wage to $5.15. Since that time, the Republican Congress has refused to entertain an increase in that minimum wage.

On July 12, 2006 the House voted against this motion 260-159, and our very own ski aficionado and member of Congress joined them in voting down a pay raise for the lowest paid American workers.

It is perplexing to explain why Rep. Fossella would vote down an increase to the minimum wage but what will disappoint anyone with any sense of compassion, is that 9% of Staten Island lives below the poverty level according to the 2001 Supplemental Survey by the US Census Bureau.

The following are based off of the Census numbers for Staten Island:
9% of the residents of Staten Island lived in poverty

11% of related children under 18 were below the poverty level

6% of people 65 years old and over were below the poverty level

8% of all families and 27% of families with a female householder and no husband present had incomes below the poverty level

Since the release of this information in 2001, the poverty level in Staten Island has increased to 10.1% in 2003. Staten Island has a projected population of 464,573 in 2005, equating to about 46,000 people living below the poverty line. In 2004 Vito Fossella won his re-election by only 35,000 votes.

While Vito Fossella skis, his constituents keep falling below the poverty line.

Contact Vito Fossella:
Staten Island Office: (718) 356-8400
Brooklyn Office: (718) 630-5277
Washington DC Office: (202) 225-3371

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Fossella in Vail

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Staten Islanders,

Vail is amazing! I have been trying to figure out what to do with my tax breaks the President has been so gracious with, so I decided to take the family on vacation. Fortunately my campaign had a little extra cash so as long as they pretend to be working for the campaign I can write it off. Bobby Ney is a hoot when you get a little tequila in him and put him on some skis. And you should see our lodge, it is bigger than any house you guys can afford back home. But don't worry it is full of lobbyists, so I am keeping myself busy. It is hardly a vacation with all the talk of Indian tribes. Wish you were here...


ps; my lawyer wanted to make sure I let you guys know that Jack Abramoff just happened to be vacationing here at the same time, it is just a coincidence alright. And yeah that hat freaks me out too. How does he ski in it?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rep. Vito Fossella and Rep. Bob Ney

Remember those trips Rep. Fossella took to Vail Colorado with Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio? Remember when the New York Daily News covered this story, reporting that Rep. Fossella has spent in excess of $25,000 of his campaign money to fly his family to Vail each winter to attend this ski trip? Remember Rep. Fossella attended those ski trips with just two other members of Congress besides Rep. Ney and a chalet full of lobbyists?

Today we learn that a second aid to Rep. Ney has been subpoenaed to testify in an ongoing investigation by the Justice Department relating to influence-peddling in Congress.

This is on top of Rep. Ney's top three aids leaving their jobs with his office.

The top three aides for Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) are leaving, or already have left, the Ohio Republican’s office, the latest sign that Ney’s legal and ethical troubles stemming from the Jack Abramoff scandal are growing worse with each passing day.
via Roll Call

As the probabilty of Rep. Ney running into ethical and more serious legal trouble with his connections to Jack Abramoff increases each day, the looming question is just what exactly was Rep. Fossella doing with him for the past six years in Vail? And why has he yet to reveal just who those lobbyists were that he was with? It would make sense that Rep. Fossella could easily lay to rest any concern of his constituents and the general public by releasing this information.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fossella scared to discuss Iraq

Rep. Fossella, our favorite Independent from Staten Island appears to not believe that our foreign policy or on going war in Iraq is a policy worthy issue, or so that is what you may gather if you try to find his thoughts on it. His campaign site has a total of three references to Iraq.

One is a news article discussing mail susidies for families to send mail to soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One is a piece by Fossella criticizing Lebanon for their role in fighting terrorism.

And the third is a piece on legislation Fossella sponsored 'to ensure that federal and local officials don't send mixed signals to the public during terror emergencies'.

It is staggering to try to understand how incompetent Rep. Fossella is in regards to taking a stance on a war he openly voted to allow our President to enter into. It is not as if Fossella promotes a stay the course attitude akin to most Republican responses. Instead it is such a non-issue to him that it doesn't even garner recognition in his campaign to his constituents. Maybe if he ignores it, it will go away.

2,500 American deaths in Iraq, and Rep. Fossella manages to muster up THREE mentions of the war. If only one of them was a plan to support our troops with something more than mail.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fossella scared to be a Republican

Rep. Fossella wants another term in office but he is doing all he can to disassociate himself from the Republican Party. Apparently he is now running as an independent as the banner on his own website shows. Hey look they underlined it too just in case you didn't notice.

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A simple google search shows only seven times the word 'Republican' appears on Fossella's campaign site, and six of those are news articles someone else wrote mentioning the R-word. Fossella's only use is this criticism of his own party:

Stood up to the Republican leadership and helped pass legislation to expand public funding of embryonic stem cell research to help find a cure for diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

It is probably not a bad thing to try to distance yourself from the corruption that is bringing down your own party. What I am looking forward to seeing is how he distances himself from his own corruption in his party. How do you run away from yourself? Again a question for his constituents to consider. If he is already useless bringing home money, and he is now running scared from his party, what use is he going to be when he suddenly is in the minority party after November?