Democrat Photo by Nathan Mayberg
U.S. SENATORIAL CANDIDATE Howard Mills, left, was the guest speaker at the Sullivan County Republican Committees annual gala at the Villa Roma, chaired by Legislator Greg Goldstein.
By Nathan Mayberg
CALLICOON United States Senate candidate Howard Mills and New York State Senator John Bonacic were the keynote speakers at the Sullivan County Republican Committees annual gala at the Villa Roma in Callicoon on Wednesday evening.
Speaking during a private interview, Mills said New York needed an effective U.S. Senator. He called United States Senator Charles Schumer well-traveled, but not effective.
Weve lost aid in every federal category, from highway money to homeland security, charged Mills.
Mills said he did not attribute that loss to the G.O.P-controlled Congress or administration.
Many senators in the minority have delivered for their states, he said.
Mills further charged that the senior senator from New York spent too much emphasis on fundraising, rather than focusing on his constituents.
Mills compared the war in Iraq to the war on terror. He believed elections would be held in January, the next step in a free and democratic Iraq.
We need to win and give the troops what they need, he said.
Mills previously served as a supervisor of the Town of Wallkill and as an assemblyman, representing portions of Orange and Rockland counties.
Speaking to a crowd of prominent county Republicans, Mills took on Senator John Kerry for not being strong enough to fight the war on terror.
He further put down Schumer for introducing 163 bills, of which only 12 passed. Eight of them were the re-naming of a post office, he said.
He hasnt passed a significant piece of legislation, charged the assemblyman.
Mills also blamed Schumer for garnering less aid per capita for homeland security than Vice President Dick Cheneys home state of Wyoming.
Mills asked those in the audience to visit his Web site, Mills2004.com, and read his plans to further cut taxes and pass tort reform.
Before Mills spoke, Bonacic argued the importance of the presidential contest in about two weeks.
He believed the safety of our families and grandchildren are at stake. He said he didnt want a president that will outsource our security to the U.N. Nor did he wish to see a president who, he charged, had cut spending on intelligence.
He said Kerry talks the talk, but doesnt walk the walk on fighting terrorism.
This is a defining moment in American history, declared the state senator.
For his part, Bonacic said he has been fighting hard for Sullivan County. He boasted of the Empire Zone, which gave tax breaks for many businesses in the county. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts will be an international tourist attraction, he said, and that project will receive state aid.
In addition, Sullivan County Community College announced it would be teaming up with the State University of New York at New Paltz for a four-year degree program. That new program will be funded by the state and Alan Gerry.
New York State Republican Committee Chairman Sandy Treadwell claimed that two recent polls found that President George W. Bush was losing by single digits in New York State.
This is the most important election of my lifetime, said the former Secretary of State for New York.
He said the war on terror and the future of the country would be greatly impacted.
William Brenner, running against Maurice Hinchey for United States Congress, said his goal was to bring industry to the area. He said he would be heeding the advice of Bonacic, Sullivan County Republican Committee Chairman Greg Goldstein and the other county legislators, if elected.
Sullivan County Legislature Minority Leader Rodney Gaebel said no president has done everything right, but Bush deserved to be supported.
Goldstein said the four Republican Sullivan County legislators were not afraid to lock horns with the Democrats in the legislature.
He charged the Democrats with failing to make any decisions since they have been [in power].
He also took issue with their pledge for open government, charging that many meetings are behind closed doors. Important decisions were being made by two or three people, he argued.
Goldstein also denounced the proposed county budget. He said the Republicans were working hard to lower the proposed real property tax hike of 9 percent.
He also lauded Bonacic for all of the grant money he had secured for the county, including funds for the Route 97 corridor.
Goldstein added that support for Bush is remarkably high. He had more requests for Bush/Cheney signs than ever before for a Republican in a presidential election.
In a sign that interest in this years presidential election is especially high, Sullivan County Elections Commissioner Fran Thalmann stated that 45,000 county residents were already registered to vote, approximately 3,000 more than last year.
In an interesting side note, former Sullivan County Planning Commissioner Alan Sorensen was among those in attendance. He said he has been working on the states main street program in Albany, as an appointee of Governor George Pataki.
Democrat Photo by Nathan Mayberg
NYS ATTORNEY GENERAL Eliot Spitzer, right, shares a light moment with Sullivan County Democratic Party Chair Tim Hill at the Democrats annual Jeffersonian Dinner at Kutshers Monday.
By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO October 22, 2004 The Democratic Partys likeliest candidate for governor in the State of New York was in town for the Sullivan County Democratic Partys annual Jeffersonian Dinner, held at Kutshers Country Club in Monticello on Monday evening.
Eliot Spitzer, New York State Attorney General, has been heavily rumored for the last few years to be a candidate for governor in 2006. And he did nothing to quell those rumors at the dinner, talking up his record of going after financial institutions, the insurance industry and other types of big business.
Spitzer said he has some roots in Sullivan County, as his parents met in a hotel in Parksville. His dad played in the band, after growing up in the lower east side of Manhattan in a four-story walk-up with no hot water.
On current issues, Spitzer said the nation needs to shift the direction of its government 180 degrees. Of supreme importance to him in the upcoming presidential election would be the impact on the courts. He called the judiciary the single most important branch of our government.
He attacked President Bushs stated preference for appointing judges similar to Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, two of the most conservative judges on the United States Supreme Court.
If that is the direction of civil rights, weve got a lot of work to do, said the attorney general.
He also attacked the Bush administration for being so certain and firm that they lack the capacity to re-evaluate situations. He called on the president to admit his mistakes. He quoted former President Bill Clinton, who said, We should not confuse stubbornness with wisdom.
Spitzer boasted of his offices record of going after investment banks and insurance companies, or as he put it, we just followed the facts.
In response, he said, the investment banks helped write federal legislation to bar attorney generals from prosecuting investment banks.
Spitzer said his office had also uncovered collusion between insurance companies to drive up premiums. His office had the e-mails to prove it, he said.
While he is pro-market, the leading state prosecutor said there has to be integrity, fair-dealing and transparency in the marketplace.
The Bush administration hasnt been there to fight the fight, he charged.
Piece by piece, he said, they were taking away the pieces of the middle class.
Nobody has ever done so much for so few who need so little, added Spitzer.
The dinner was well attended and included United States Congressman Maurice Hinchey, as well as New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.
The night served several functions, including one as fundraiser and another as a rally before the upcoming presidential election between President Bush and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.
Hinchey said the countrys situation is growing increasingly desperate, due to the corruption and incompetence in the federal government.
The results, he said, are four million more Americans in poverty since Bush took office, and four million more citizens without health insurance. On the average, the American worker is earning $1,500 less per year. Energy bills have risen a median of $1,000 a year, and the national trade deficit had jumped from four trillion dollars to seven trillion dollars, argued Hinchey.
It took us 200 years to get to four trillion but only four years to almost double it, said the Congressman.
He attacked Bush for invading Iraq, as Hinchey believes there are no weapons of mass destruction, 9/11 connection, or Al-Qaeda connection. Even the bi-partisan commission and other reports have ruled out many of the administrations claims, argued Hinchey.
Meanwhile, he lamented the loss of nearly 1,100 Americans and approximately 7,000 wounded during the course of the war.
Thus the presidential election, about two weeks away, will be the most critical election since the Civil War, he said.
The crowd watched a video of Kerry, sent by his campaign. The video stresses Kerrys choice to volunteer for duty in Vietnam after he graduated from Yale University. Testimonial is given by fellow soldiers he commanded on a boat that engaged in several battles during the war.
In addition, the video depicts a Kerry who was honored with the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his courage, as well as his testimonial against the war when he returned home.
As a Senator, Kerrys record of fighting for health care, social security, education, the environment, and his involvement in exposing the Iran-Contra Affair were highlighted. The video also attempted to portray the personal side of him, including his love of hockey, windsurfing and playing the guitar.
In the background of the dining hall, one poster denounced Bush for signing legislation which would cut overtime pay for millions of workers.
And Sullivan County Democratic Chairman Tim Hill attacked Bush for not taking action to prevent a flu shortage.
If Halliburton made the flu [shot], we would have more vaccines than oranges in Florida, he said.
Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Chris Cunningham said the Democratic Party is different from the Republicans in that it cares about the little guy
not just the privileged few.
Gunther also took jabs at the president for attempting to turn the clock back to the 1930s through his domestic policies. She further charged that the administration went to war in Iraq with no plan, which she deemed a tragedy.