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Archive for May, 2013

Memorial Day Speech
May 27, 2013

Good morning. Thank you all for being here.

It is a glorious thing that we have all risen, blinked sleep from our eyes and shuffled to the mirror, to mark one more day with a direct look into the glass, noting one more line, one more dark spot, one more sigh with one more promise to try for one more day.

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It’s a glorious thing.
We are all here.

God has given us a glorious day – cool and brilliantly sunny; a day shot with the verdant greens and vibrant colors of this new Spring. We are so blessed with this day and this early morning of communion. We are so blessed with this purpose and with our responsibility, for we are here in recognition of those that have given us this day with their lives.

We have come here with the knowledge that there are members of families all across this nation that had opened their eyes, and for the briefest of moments, lingered in the forgetfulness that sleep brings, before the terrible knowledge that a certain loved one will never again push away the covers of their bed and meet them in the familiar spaces that make up one’s home.

Families woke up today to silent rooms with empty spaces that will never again be filled. Even on days as glorious as this, when every surface is drenched with radiant recognition, the sunlight can seem senseless with loss.

We are here to share the burden of that sorrow and to offer our gratitude to those families for the heartbreak that they endure. Someone that they loved very deeply and completely has made the ultimate sacrifice and given their life for this nation, for this community, and for this day.

I encourage all of you that hear my words to take time today to visit every military monument in this city, as each stone is emblazoned with this names of young men and women that had readily offered up their everyday freedoms and comforts in the name of service. Take time to touch the cool, etched surface of granite and try to feel the enormity of each life given.

Remember that these are not anonymous names on a monument or numbered fatalities that are easily tallied. They were soldiers that stood in unison for the principles that make our country great… liberty, honor, valor, commitment, and selfless service to others. Most importantly, they were loved members of our community that had given the full measure of their devotion. They were our young ones and loved ones and unique souls that will never again know the kiss of daylight. Each left a family forever changed by grief and silence, just as our Country has lost the promise each young life carried for a greater future.

Our sadness is as palpable as the cool breeze that stirs the leaves and carries Taps into the distance.

But, because of this glorious day, we must understand the gifts that have been bestowed upon us and carry on with gratitude and obligation so that these sacrifices have not been made for naught. We must do all that we can to be supportive of our neighbors and the members of our community. We must nurture our children, treat our properties and environs with respect, participate in an open and honest governmental process, and dedicate ourselves to being honorable, involved citizens of a small city with big aspirations.

For those that have given us this day, we are obligated to bring prosperity and pride back to this small community.

And as a nation of small communities that make up the greatest power on earth, we must stand, as a bastion for all that is good and just. As a nation of wealth, we must share food, education, medication and resources so that the world is freed from poverty. As a nation built on equality, we must model tolerance, faith and charity. And as a just nation of unrivaled military might, we must democratically champion for the rights of the weak and the oppressed.

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This is what calls our boys and girls to duty and is what our young warriors have died for. We must never forget this higher calling.

Thank you so much to the Veteran’s Commission for organizing this tribute, year after year. We are all grateful for the work you do on behalf of the veterans of our community year round – from the careful tending of monuments to continuous advocacy on behalf of those that have served our country so well. Our veterans are the living embodiment of Amsterdam’s service to the defense of liberty and the nation. They stand here, not just in their own right, but also for all those who cannot.

In closing, please take time to remember those that proudly wear our uniform and actively honor our flag around the world today. We owe them our praise and deepest appreciation. Their service presses us to be our best.

It is a glorious thing.

To these many fine soldiers, we all pray, come back to us in the light and safety of God’s hands.

Amen

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Letter to the Editor

To whom it may concern:

I read the editorial in the Recorder today (Monday, May 20) regarding campaign finance law and political corruption with little amusement and quite a bit of distain. The points the editorial makes are sound: campaign finance laws are routinely broken and condoning small violations creates an environment in which more serious corruption flourishes. My issue with this expressed opinion is two-fold. 1. The missive seems to only target State politicians, and 2. it indicates that it is the sole responsibility of the State to audit and call attention to abuse.

Got ethics ?

There is no doubt that State politicians should be held to the highest standards of conduct, especially when handling contributed money because of the influence, either perceived or real, that it may have. The same must be held for all elected or appointed officials at any level of government.

This topic is particularly relevant to my experience during the last campaign. In August of 2011, my team brought irregularities in the reporting practices of the Emanuele Camp to the attention of the Recorder and other media outlets. Mr. Emanuele was interviewed about a donation that had exceeded the legal campaign finance limit and, because of the article, the contribution was returned. Mr. Emanuele said the transaction was the result of a strong supporter’s misunderstanding of the contribution limits, all of the while touting accountability as one of his first priorities. At the same time, he had not reported in-kind donations and costs associated with fundraising. It seemed to me then and still holds true today, that someone that had been an Alderman, Mayor and Chairperson of the Montgomery County Republican Committee should be well-versed in campaign finance laws and procedures and should definitely play by the rules.

Unfortunately, this did not turn out to be the case.

As the campaign progressed, I became increasingly distressed by Mr. Emanuele’s reluctance to make full disclosure of all contributions and expenditures. I wrote about this in my blog, wildthane.wordpress.com, in a posting entitled “Slight of Hand.” The following is that observation, dated November 4, 2011:

campaign

“I am baffled by the claim that Joe Emanuele is paying for his materials, when his NYS Board of Elections Campaign Finance Reports do not show this activity or the resources to produce them. His campaign manager tells us the committee to elect Joe paid for them and they only used the NYRSC return address for a better postal rate. There is no claim to support this activity on the NYRSC report, though they show contributions to races around the state. How can this be so? What gives? or who? and why?

Before the primary, I mailed out an 8.5″ x 11″, full-color card much like those now being delivered to households in Amsterdam every other day. The mailer cost me $3,234.77 for design, printing, and postage. We sent this card to Democratic voters in the city. The Emanuele pieces are evidently being mailed to Republican voters, but the numbers of cards being sent must be relatively close in number, so that I’d wager the cost is as well. To date, we’ve received four mailings at my house and I figure they must run around $3,000 a pop. Since August, the Emanuele coffers have hovered between $4,200 and $5,200, with small expenditures listed for literature: postcards, magnets, stamps… nothing over $210.00. My question becomes, how was the approximate $12,000 disbursement for mailed campaign material (and I dare say, there will be more) paid for?

As well, I notice when driving around our city a plethora of Emanuele signs of all sizes and materials. I purchased 250 signs for $1,438 and, once 70 or 80 of them went missing, reordered another 100 for $672. Mr. Emanuele shows no expenditure for signs, though he does show an expenditure of $108 for stakes. Research shows the Montgomery County Republican Committee paid $486 for Emanuele signs. To my mind, this just doesn’t add up, even without a math degree…

Where’s all of this money coming from? How come it is not being reported, even as in-kind donations? Why isn’t the lack of reporting being reported? Doesn’t this matter when my opponent has made integrity an issue in this campaign?”

The issues of honest fundraising and campaign reporting matter most on the local level. Your alderman, mayor or county official have much more of an effect on your day to day life than your assemblyman or senator. And, most importantly, it’s the law.

Unfortunately, this apparent lack of respect for the law wasn’t sufficiently reported during my last election. Now that the issue has drawn attention on a state-wide level, I trust that the media and our constituency will apply the same level of scrutiny to the upcoming local elections.

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