Barbara Lifton

Local anesthetic needed...

...but novocaine isn't going to help local property owners with drilling-related pain.  Not everyone looking to sell up and leave the area is fleeing the prospect of flaming water faucets as you might be led to believe...some are just trying to recoup a lifetime's investment. 

Via The Lonely Conservative...Gaslandset to music:

Catchy, isn't it? But

...the creators “emphasize(s) that the video is not meant to be a substitute for ProPublica’s years of in-depth investigations. “While we hope that you enjoy the song….what we really want you to do is read about hydraulic fractured drilling, so you can truly understand ‘what the frack is going on.’

Precisely.  We'll get back to ProPublica shortly (don't you just love groups with noble-sounding Latin names?  Gives them a cachet of legitimacy).  In the meantime, I give you Phelim McAleer v. Josh Fox, director of Gasland (h/t Chrissy the Hyphenated):

Hmmmm.

Back to ProPublica...as the Unlikely Hospitalist writes at The Lonely Conservative

...Pro Publica has very progressive roots. That is in spite of the information that can be taken from their website, which highlights their association to the Wall Street Journal, this investigative group was initially given millions of dollars from the Sandler Foundation. These are liberal progressive billionaires needing to dispense of their hard earned gains by financing their political interests. Pro Publica also received a two year contribution of $125,000 each year from the Open Society Foundations. Not surprisingly, I suppose, this leads you directly to www.soros.org. If you find this a little hard to believe, google it, or just click the link above. The Open Society Foundation by the way, is a network of over 30 International Foundations, mostly funded by Soros, who has contributed more than $8 billion in this effort.

Yesterday, at Switchboard, the Natural Resources Defense Council staff blog (update: the NRDC's co-founder, John Bryson, was nominated yesterday to be Secretary of Commerce, replacing Gary Locke):

...there is recent news from New York State that mortgage lenders are denying applications where the property has a natural gas lease, including major lenders like GMAC, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, and may even reject an application if a neighbor has a lease. I learned about this from the firm Toxics Targeting, which has a lot of documentation on this issue on its website, including a recent radio interview with NYS Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton.

Assemblywoman Lifton has met with mortgage bankers in her district and discusses their difficulty in selling locally originated mortgages into the secondary mortgage market. They've told her they are each turning down 6-10 mortgage applications per week. According to a presentation by Tompkins Trust Company, a New York State bank, the secondary mortgage market requires that nothing "interfere with the use and enjoyment of any present or proposed improvements or the balance of the mortgaged premises," or the property's marketability or value. The lender goes on to say that a mortgage may be possible if the property is sufficiently large to ensure that any natural gas activity could be 5 acres away from the homesite for conventional financing, or 10 acres for FHA. That leaves out of a lot of homebuyers and sellers, since there is a substantial risk that natural gas production on one's property could interfere with the use, enjoyment, value or marketability of a home....

...[Lifton] also reports that homeowners may lose their title insurance. According to the Tompkins Trust Company presentation, most New York State title insurance policies do not cover properties where there are structures more than 35 feet tall, storage of machinery, equipment or industrial supplies, or any commercial activity. So even if someone has cash to buy a house and doesn't need a mortgage, very few people would likely buy it without title insurance.

The blogger finishes up with

*For an explanation of forced pooling, I recommend a recent ProPublica article on the topic.

All righty then.

Is it just me or do I detect a slight odor of gleefulness about the Switchboard post, a sort of schadenfreude at the situation of property owners unsuccessfully trying to sell and recover their equity and of potential buyers unable to acquire what may be their dream home? I've maintained that all of this concern for the environment—the global warmingclimate change stuff, the fracking stuff, the sustainability stuff—is as much about control as anything else...about telling others how to live their lives, about how to use or dispose of their property and so on, because let's face it—some people just plain know better than the rest of us.

This is nothing less that an all-out attack on the concept of private property. Do many of us put up with it because we're deathly afraid of appearing to be politically incorrect? Yes. And this state of affairs has been a long time in the making; another name for political correctness is cultural Marxism...and it really will be the death of us if we don't snap out of it:

  

And on a related note: Remember this from a couple of weeks ago?

Once again, South of 5 and 20 highlights the utter hypocrisy of holding private industry to a standard that government can only dream of attaining...and all at taxpayer expense.

And I just liked "South's" tag: No Mo Cuomo.

If the shoe fits

  • Amount of NYS pension fund invested in shale gas and fracking companies: more than $1B
  • Percentage increase in value of the fund's 4.2 million Schlumberger shares over the years: 104
  • Watching anti-fracking, tax-the-rich Barbara Lifton squirm when faced with the embarrassment of the state's public sector employee pensions earning big bucks off fracking investments: priceless

The Ithaca Journal story is here.

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, has been one of the fiercest critics of hydrofracking in the Legislature, but said she trusts the work of the Comptroller's Office.

"I assume they look at these decisions strictly as investments and keep the politics out of it," Lifton said.

And

While the companies' practices continue to come under intense scrutiny from environmental groups, telling the comptroller not to invest in an industry would be setting a dangerous precedent, said Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton.

"This issue has come up on a number of occasions, and not just as it pertains to fracking, but as it pertains to a whole host of things over the years," Libous said. "If the comptroller started separating things out into what people agreed or disagreed with, there would be nothing to invest in."

No! I'm shocked—shocked!—that anyone could draw such a conclusion.

The lone commenter as of this writing says that the state pension fund has less than one percent of its assets invested in gas companies.  True.  But can you imagine the outcry if the shoe were on the other foot and a Republican comptroller were investing state funds in fracking?

A1157, Micro-stamping Legislation, passes in Assembly Codes Committee

This is an update to an earlier post. On May 3, Assembly Bill 1157 passed in the Assembly Codes Committee by a vote of 15 to 7 and will now head to the Assembly floor for consideration. Needless to say, the NRA is asking folks to contact their member of the Assembly, respectfully asking him or her to oppose the bill.  Since Barbara Lifton is one of the co-sponsors of the bill, I imagine you might as well talk to the wall but being on the record is a good thing anyway: LiftonB@assembly.state.ny.us.

"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined,...

...but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."—George Washington

Earlier this week, Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection wrote: "I'll be at a handgun training class tonight.  My wife and I finally are taking the plunge, and going through the NRA basic handgun safety course."

Well, the NYS Assembly is trying (again) to make it difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain handguns:

On Monday, April 11, the New York Assembly Committee on Codes (contact information for this committee can be found herewill consider anti-gun legislation regarding micro-stamping.  Assembly Bill 1157, sponsored by Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel (D-16) [and co-sponsored by Barbara Lifton--tvm], would require semi-automatic pistols manufactured or delivered to any licensed dealer in the state to be capable of micro-stamping ammunition.

Micro-stamping is an unproven technology that is easily defeated with common household tools and the replacement of a few small parts.  If passed, the availability of semi-automatic handguns in New York will be in serious doubt, as manufacturers simply may choose not to build or sell firearms for purchase in the state.  Of course, that is the ultimate goal of this legislation.  Make no mistake, this is a gun ban and it must be stopped.

Questions remain after Barbara Lifton's town meetings

Last in the series

Part 1 on taxes is here

Part 2 on the economy and economic policy is here.

Part 3 on the NYS budget is here.

Part 4 on education is here.

Part 5 on lobbying and campaign contributions is here.
 
Part 6 on Wall Street is here.
 
There are some other important questions that need to be answered.
  • During the recent election campaign, Ms. Lifton said that she wanted to abolish the STAR property tax rebate program.  (This would be, in effect, a tax increase.)  She later responded that she had voted for STAR in the past, but never denied that she had said these things. What is her position on STAR?  Will she protect it or follow through on her threat to abolish it?
  • There have been some legitimate criticisms of the way the Governor’s proposed budget was calculated.  Comptroller DiNapoli, amongst others, has said that the budget is a good first step but he warns that: 
  • Tax receipt projections are too optimistic. They have been overestimated every year since 2005-06.
  • There are large undefined and perhaps unrealizable savings, for example, $2.85 billion in Medicaid savings.
  • There are uncertain revenues, for example, cigarette taxes from Native Americans.

Does Ms. Lifton believe in a more conservative / realistic budget in which the voters and taxpayers of NY State can have confidence?  She needs to get into the nitty-gritty and stop with liberal generalities.  Her inability to speak of anything but cuts in the anticipated budget would seem to say she does not want a realistic budget.

  • The Governor wants to eliminate transfers and consolidate funds.  (The budget philosophy has been to use Public Authorities as a way to mask expenses and borrowing from the public.)  Will she support this?

Report: Barbara Lifton town hall in Newfield, Part 6

Sixth in a series

Part 1 on taxes is here

Part 2 on the economy and economic policy is here.

Part 3 on the NYS budget is here.

Part 4 on education is here.

Part 5 on lobbying and campaign contributions is here.
 
Governor Cuomo said, “You can never solve a problem if you refuse to acknowledge it.”  After listening to Assemblywoman Lifton, at her town meeting, she obviously is not heeding his words.

Hatred of Wall Street

Ms. Lifton decries the fact that corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash that could help invigorate the economy.  She ignores the fact that the same thing happened during the Great Depression; corporations had very uneven spending during the 1930’s BECAUSE OF Roosevelt’s tax policies and his anti-business attitude.  Could the same thing be happening today?  Is government the problem, not the solution?

Ms. Lifton loves taxes and states that taxes on Wall Street are major contributors to the state budget revenues.  However, she also states that she would tax away bonuses of Wall Street firms that needed to be bailed out. She ignores that many of these Wall Street firms have paid back their bailouts.   Isn’t this killing the goose that lays the golden egg?   

How about the General Motors bailout?  GM paid back the original bailout with more bailout borrowing.  And what about “Cash for Clunkers” and a $7,500 rebate on overpriced GM cars?  Does the latter count as a bail out of GM and its unions?

Think about Wall Street bonuses from a personal standpoint.  Wouldn’t we all want a boss that recognizes our accomplishments and lavishes bonuses on us in recognition of our work?  We may think they are extravagant – I do – but I also think a major league pitcher with a losing record and a 4.0 ERA is not worth $3 million.  But Wall Street, the Major Leagues and the Baseball Players Union have their own opinion.

Report: Barbara Lifton town hall in Newfield, Part 5

Fifth in a series

Part 1 on taxes is here

Part 2 on the economy and economic policy is here.

Part 3 on the NYS budget is here.

Part 4 on education is here.

Governor Cuomo said, “You can never solve a problem if you refuse to acknowledge it.”  After listening to Assemblywoman Lifton, at her town meeting, she obviously is not heeding his words.

Lobbying & Campaign Contributions

Assemblywoman Lifton vehemently DECRIES the lobbying influence of corporations but, amazingly, FLATLY DENIES that unions are major campaign givers and lobbyists.   

In 2010, 5 of the top 10 campaign donors were unions, as were 12 of the top 20.  The largest union donor was AFSCME, which gave over $43 million and the top 5 unions gave almost $150 million.  Not bad for donations that did not exist, according to Ms. Lifton.  And all of them were Democratic supporters.  Check out: http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

She also says that her political contributions come in small donations.  But in the recent campaign, her largest donor was Vote/Cope, a branch of the NYS United Teachers Union in the Hudson Valley.

So, her stance on lobbying & campaign contributions would seem to be that it is okay for unions but not for corporations. 

I am sure she has heard of the 1st Amendment.  Liberals seem to believe strongly in the 1st Amendment, when they are doing the talking.  When the opposition speaks, they are a bit more flexible about it.

Report: Barbara Lifton town hall in Newfield, Part 4

Fourth in a series

Part 1 on taxes is here

Part 2 on the economy and economic policy is here.

Part 3 on the NYS budget is here.

Governor Cuomo said, “You can never solve a problem if you refuse to acknowledge it.”  After listening to Assemblywoman Lifton, at her town meeting, she obviously is not heeding his words.

Education:

Before the current recession, there was great concern about the "Brain Drain"; college graduates were leaving NY for states where there were jobs.  The "Brain Drainapparently continues as Governor Cuomo has said, “New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation.  Our young people will not stay.”  Ms. Lifton’s economic strategy is to produce more, higher-level, college-degreed graduates. (Apparently, NY taxpayers need to fill a shortage in other states where jobs are growing.)

She also asserted that NYS employers were dying for college graduates as well as holders of advanced degrees.  (Other than a few specific areas, where does she get this idea?) 

Ms. Lifton lists energy costs and health care as the things driving up school budgets, but fails to mention teacher salaries and pension benefits as a primary cause (or that they are any cause at all). But every article on school budget increases mentions pension costs as a primary cause of school budget increases.  This definitely qualifies as not acknowledging a problem.

She says that private colleges get Bundy Aid to help aid the poor.  However, Bundy Aid is a flat payment to private colleges, per graduate.    Colleges also get Bundy Aid for out-of-state residents who graduate.  During the recent campaign debates, she said that it was important that NY taxpayers also subsidize foreign students in our colleges.  (There seems to be no end to the wonderful things she can do with other people’s money!) 

Tax Facts for New Yorkers

From Henry Kramer, Tompkins County GOP Media and Communications Liaison:

The following story appeared on Fox News today and shows some remarkably disturbing facts for New Yorkers.  Note that despite Barbara Lifton's claims about how good NY is for business and how no one will leave, we are rated last on total tax and regulatory burden, and she wants to make these burdens worse.

At a recent town hall meeting, Lifton threw in another tax, 100% (not a misprint) of wealth to go to the state at death (a 100% death tax, no inheritance).  I presume this would mean you could not will your home or anything you had left to your spouse, children, or anyone else.  Barbara and the State would get it.  A great incentive to older people to sell and move out.  During the Tom Reynolds campaign, Lifton said on videotape that she would do away with your basic STAR tax exemption.  And, Lifton and Sheldon Silver are pushing to increase taxes for wealthy New Yorkers --- that of course will not encourage them to stay here and pay our level of taxes.

State tax burden in NY is now virtually equal to our federal tax burden.

The Tax Man Cometh: How Does Your State Compare?

By William La Jeunesse

Published March 02, 2011

FoxNews.com

While most Americans focus on federal tax rates, a new report shows the state and local tax burden can be equally painful.

The average tax burden in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey exceeds 12 percent, which is roughly equal to the national federal income tax average of 12.2 percent.

But the lengthy study by the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank, found more remarkable comparisons between states.

For example, the five lowest tax states, Wyoming, Tennessee, South Dakota, Nevada and Alaska pay about 40 percent less in taxes than the highest tax states, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Rhode Island.

Why the disparity? For Alaska and Wyoming, massive oil and gas revenues make them outliers. Nevada enjoys sizable gaming and tourism income. 

But experts say the decisions and political choices of lawmakers also play a role in how much states tax their residents.

"How much lawmakers spend is driven by who elects them," said Tax Foundation economist Marc Robyn. "A small government state, they elect small government type leaders and they won't be spending as much."

There is also a massive disparity among states that are friendly to business. When researchers combined the costs of government regulation and red tape with the total tax burden of income, property, sales, corporate and unemployment taxes, the worst states to do business are New York, California, New Jersey, Connecticut and Ohio. The best are South Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, Nevada and Florida. Powerhouse Texas comes in at 13.

"Voters can feel like they are being trampled under foot. But if enough momentum builds and people really want to change things they can vote for a lower tax state or move to a lower tax state," said Robyn.

That is easier said than done, but in three states where the tax burden has steadily grown, voters recently elected tight fisted Republican governors who ran on promises of fiscal responsibility.

For example, Ohio and Indiana used to be among the 10 most tax-thrifty states dating back to 1970s. Now they are among the worst, dropping 20 spots in national rankings. Both elected Republicans, along with perennial loser Wisconsin, which ranks among the lower states in per capita income, but fourth highest in taxes.

***

You can watch the video (which I couldn't embed) here.  Thanks, Henry.

Rifle Bill Passes State Senate

Cortland County sportsmen and women will be allowed to use a rifle while hunting deer or bear under legislation (S.1683) passed by the state senate on February 28.

“This is common sense legislation that mirrors regulations already in effect in neighboring counties allowing the use of rifles while hunting big game,” said Senator Seward.  “More importantly, Cortland County sportsmen and women, who collectively have an impeccable safety record, strongly support the change.”

The bill has been sent to the assembly where Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton is the prime sponsor.

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