Eli Ruiz | Democrat
One of several dozen activists from throughout the tri-state area holds up a typical sign at Tuesday's protest in front of CVI headquarters in Ferndale. CVI hosted Congressman Chris Gibson’s fundraiser featuring House Speaker John Boehner. Gibson's local office sits just a few hundred yards away.
Protests greet Gibson fundraiser
Story by Eli Ruiz
FERNDALE August 9, 2013 While his supporters enjoyed a fundraising dinner some paid up to $1,600 to attend at CVI headquarters, United States Congressman Chris Gibson’s detractors took protest lines just across the street from the winding driveway leading to the opulent building.
Tuesday afternoon, they deployed signs and chants in an attempt to disrupt the lavish event, an event that featured as guest of honor House Speaker John Boehner.
Protestors called on Gibson and Boehner to end what they called “devastating ‘sequester’ cuts in Federal government programs and services.” Additionally picketers urged the two Republicans to vote in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, and to end their “quest to repeal Obamacare.”
The sequester is a set of automatic spending cuts put into law by the Budget Control Act. Signed by President Barack Obama in August 2011, that legislation raised the debt ceiling and sought to apply pressure on Congress to come up with a longer term plan for deficit reduction.
Obamacare is the unofficial name for The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which was signed into law on March 23, 2010.
“These sequester cuts have meant hundreds of lost healthcare jobs in the Hudson Valley,” said Hudson Valley organizer for Citizen Action of New York Kat Fisher. “Over 200 jobs are going away in Middletown . . . 60 more in Harris” at Catskill Regional medical Center.
Other organizations like the local chapter of the NAACP, Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, Worker Justice Center of New York, Occupy Kingston, Veterans for Peace, Hudson Valley Progressives, Women in Black, the American Postal Worker’s Union and more came together on Sullivan Avenue/Old Rt. 52 for the late afternoon protest.
Darrett Roberts of Poughkeepsie came to talk about immigration reform and gun control. “Republicans in Congress, but especially the House, have been ducking the issue of immigration reform… they do not want to introduce any gun control measures and they just seem to be under the influence of the special interests and just aren’t concerned about regular people’s welfare,” they said.
Dr. Herman Goldfarb of Monticello was there Tuesday to support his president: “I’m here because I want to see all of the plans of President Obama move forward and come to fruition… this will not happen with Gibson in office.”
“Gibson and Boehner are so out of touch with the American people and the American family,” explained Sandra Cuellar-Oxford with the Sullivan County chapter of the NAACP and a local activist. “Connect the dots to see the picture clearly; they have worked to protect big money, friends and corporate interests.
“They have no problem cutting vital safety net programs while they continue to advance subsidizing corporate welfare,” added Cuellar-Oxford.
In an interview with the Democrat, Congressman Gibson disagreed with Cuellar-Oxford’s assessment.
“I would say that’s not true,” he offered. “As the product of a working-class family my father was a union mechanic for Otis Elevator I was only the very first in my family to attend college,” added Gibson. “I started out as a private in the military and though I rose to great responsibility I’ve never forgotten where I came from or what being working class is all about. All my life I have been a force for bringing people together and in Congress I’ve worked tirelessly to expand the American Dream so that every American gets a shot . . . I reject that [Cuellar-Oxford’s] notion. My record is clean.”
Cuellar-Oxford continued, “This summer alone their failure to reauthorize food stamps, failure to reauthorize student loan rates, failure to do anything to stop the ‘Sequester’ and failure to create a jobs program was shameful.”
Ramping up for his 2014 bid for a third term in the House, Gibson claimed that more than $100,000 was raised at the event where no press was allowed.
“We had Republicans, Democrats and Independents all together at the event and it was actually our most successful ever,” said Gibson. “I’d like to thank Alan and Sandra Gerry not just for all they do for the area, but I’m also humbled that they’d host my event.
“We’ve got a long way to go in Sullivan County but I’m very very excited for the future here,” he added.
But perhaps Roberts summed up protestors intentions best: “This is why we’re here! We’re here for the American people, we’re here to protect the God-given rights of every decent human being in the country.”