Category Archives: Politics

13 Year Old Arrested After Post Shows Him Holding Gun

TRUMBULL, Conn. (AP) — A 13-year-old Connecticut boy has been arrested after police say he posted a photo of himself holding a handgun in a group text on social media.

Trumbull Police announced the arrest Sunday, a day after he made the posting.

They say a parent of one of the other students alerted them to the post after they saw it on their child’s cell phone.

Police say they determined there was no threat to the public. They say it turns out he was holding a BB gun and had cropped out the gun’s red tip when he took the picture.

The boy, who was not identified by police, was charged with disorderly conduct and was scheduled to appear in court March 3.


Al Franken joins long list of lawmakers ousted by scandal

United Press and Channel 8

Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota announced on Thursday that he will resign in the face of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. He joins a long list of lawmakers ousted by scandal.


— Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. Is retiring next month after revealing that he discussed surrogacy with two female staffers.

— Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. Retired abruptly Tuesday amid sexual harassment allegations by former staff members. The 88-year-old Conyers was the longest-serving House member.

— Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa. Resigned in October after the anti-abortion lawmaker allegedly urged his mistress to end a pregnancy.

— Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. Resigned in 2011 after posting lewd pictures of himself on Twitter. He initially claimed he had been hacked, then admitted to sexting with various women. He later was sent to prison after he was caught sexting with a teenage girl.

— Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., Resigned in 2011 after he was accused of sexually harassing the 18-year-old daughter of a political donor.

— Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. Resigned in 2011 after admitting to an affair with the wife of his chief of staff. Ensign was accused of helping the husband get a job as a lobbyist to try to keep him quiet.

— Rep. Eric Massa, D-N.Y. Resigned in 2010 after he was accused of sexually harassing male staffers in his congressional office, including engaging in unwanted tickling.

— Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind. Resigned in 2010 after admitting to an affair with a female staffer.

— Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla. Resigned in 2006 after media reports that he engaged in sexually explicit instant message conversations with teenage, male congressional pages. At least 10 people came forward to allege that Foley had sexually harassed them or made inappropriate sexual comments.

— Rep. Robert Livingston, R-La. Announced his resignation in late 1998 after being chosen as the next House speaker, citing adulterous affairs. Livingston shocked his colleagues by announcing his decision to the House as it debated the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. He left Congress in March 1999.

— Rep. Mel Reynolds, D-Ill. Resigned in 1995 after being convicted of sexual assault, statutory rape and other charges stemming from a sexual relationship with an underage campaign worker.

— Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore. Resigned in 1995 after a series of women, including former staffers and lobbyists, accused him of sexual harassment and assault. A report by the Senate Ethics Committee described Packwood’s “physical coercion” of women and “a habitual pattern of aggressive, blatantly sexual advances, mostly directed at members of his own staff.” The committee recommended his expulsion. Packwood resigned before the Senate could vote to expel him.

— Rep. Donald “Buz” Lukens, R-Ohio. Resigned in 1990 after being convicted of contributing to the unruliness of a minor for having sex with a 16-year-old girl. Lukens initially refused to resign from Congress, but was defeated in a GOP primary and later resigned.

— Rep. Jon Hinson, R-Miss. Resigned in 1981 after being arrested on sodomy charges.

— Rep. Wayne Hays, D-Ohio. Resigned in 1976 after The Washington Post reported that a 33-year-old clerk with House Administration Committee said she had been placed in her job to be his mistress.

Alan Chartock’s The Capitol Connection: The Chutzpah Kid rides again

Yes, that’s right, it’s time for another chapter about the unbelievable gall of a politician riding across the plains of New York. Not unlike the red headed cowboy, Donald Trump and his brand of making stuff up, we now have our own trusty companion in the form of Andrew Cuomo who, the press reports, has decided to frontally attack other state Democrats. Like any hero of the old West, he is taking on a crowd of made up desperadoes.

Let’s see. There is his old enemy Big Bill de Blasio who, for some unfathomable reason he seems to hate with a passion that might better be channeled to his love life. Then there is the matter of mayoral control of the schools. He says he’s for it but apparently only for a year or two which is just silly. And with Cuomo, one never knows what game he’s playing. This is classic Cuomo, say one thing and do another. So who does that remind you of? YES, the red headed cowboy. Go right to the head of the class.

But it doesn’t stop there. Now he pulls the old switcheroo and tries to blame de Blasio for his troubles on the MTA. Like the old song about another politician, Cuomo simply can’t get off of that blame train. Governors are often immune to trouble because way too few people know anything about state government. It’s just too remote. Mayors, on the other hand, are held responsible for more immediate problems like failure to clear up the snow or collect the garbage. But this time Chutzpah Andrew has literally touched the third rail. People are sweating in the subways. The trains are breaking down. They are sweltering infernos and Andrew, the Chutzpah Kid, is getting blamed for the mess.

This is the way it works. Andrew basically owns the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He gets to name the most people on that board and he has always tried to take the credit for anything good that happens on the subways. One case in point is the mule-like braying and credit claiming he did over the opening of the Second Avenue Subway. You would think that he laid every brick on the line himself. But now, the Chutzpah Kid is ringing his hands suggesting that he doesn’t have ENOUGH power. Whoever is giving out breaks might think about giving me one of them.

Then there are his inexplicable attacks on Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. DiNapoli is one great politician. He is SO good that he may actually be giving politicians a good name. From day one, the Chutzpah Kid has been trying to deprecate DiNapoli. DiNapoli took a damaged Comptroller’s office and set things right. Now it is back to doing its job. That has apparently made the Chutzpah Kid even crazier. As occasionally happens, there was a jerk who did some corrupt things working in the office of the Comptroller. DiNapoli fixed it but that didn’t stop Andrew from suggesting that this was the worst thing to have ever happened. This is where the chutzpah thing really showed itself. Remember, this is the same Andrew whose best pals are now on trial for corruption schemes that would and should make any politician blush. In Andrew’s case we are not talking about some schlemiel way down in his administration. We are talking about his best friends. Who the hell is Cuomo to be casting aspersions on Tom DiNapoli, one of the most honest, decent men in politics? Not only that, Cuomo worked out a deal with the morally corrupt legislative leaders to take away some of DiNapoli’s pre-audit functions that might have stopped the Cuomo cronies from their schemes. Instead of giving DiNapoli back his powers, the Chutzpah Kid said that he would appoint people like the ones now on trial to oversee his agencies. Are you kidding?

So the Chutzpah Kid rides off into the sunset, ready for his next adventure.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at

Reblogged from Troy Record

Amtrak maintenance backlog tops $38 billion on northeast route

Crains New York Business via California Rail News

The busiest U.S. passenger rail route needs $38 billion to stay in good working order, a 36% jump over the estimate just a year ago, according to a group that oversees the Northeast Corridor.
Though Amtrak and the regional railroads that use its tracks have pledged $3.3 billion for infrastructure over five years, that won’t go toward the backlog of projects needed to refurbish signals and power systems, replace bridges and build a new Hudson River tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey, according to a five-year capital-investment  plan released Thursday by the Northeast Corridor Commission.
All told, 820,000 daily riders—two-thirds of them commuters using New Jersey Transit, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road—are at risk of increased service interruptions or even failure of the entire 457-mile Boston-to-Washington route. Last fiscal year, 11% of trains using the line were late or canceled.
The Gateway Project which includes a new Hudson River rail tunnel to relieve commuter rail congestion is $25 Billion of this $38 Billion backlog.

Here comes the big “John B” locomotive

Here comes the big “John B” locomotive rolling down the track and attracting hundreds to every depot along the way. They’re there to get a close look at the new, powerful engine, one of the largest in the country at 31 tons.

The mail train from Schenectady now is drawn westward by the “John B,” named in honor of Utica’s John Butterfield. On both sides of the engine appears a good likeness of Butterfield and his name. Why Butterfield? Well, why not?

In 1857, he opened the west with his overland stagecoaches that were the first to carry mail from the Mississippi River to the West Coast in fewer than 25 days. He had signed a contract with the U.S. Post Office to deliver mail on regular runs to California. Many said it could not be done.

Butterfield built dozens of stations along the 2,800-mile route, equipped them with fast, fresh horses and hired the best stagecoach drivers in the country. His first stage between St. Louis and San Francisco completed the trip in 24 days, 18 hours.

Butterfield became known as the country’s “Mr. Transportation.” He also built and operated hotels and two years ago was elected mayor of Utica. In 1862, he opened a trolley line along Genesee Street from Broad Street to New Hartford. Utica thus became the only the fifth city in the country with trolley service – after New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans. Later, Butterfield, Henry Wells and William Fargo were among the founders of a company that evolved into American Express. His son, Daniel, was a major general in the Civil War and co-composer of the bugle call, “Taps.” (John Butterfield is buried in Utica’s Forest Hill Cemetery.)

This Week in History is researched and written by Frank Tomaino.

Why Trump’s Attack on a California Railroad Should Trouble You

CHANCES ARE, YOU ignore the federal budgetary process. If the esoteric language and shifting deadlines don’t drive you away, the decades-long timelines and internecine politics will. So it’s understandable you didn’t dig up the details when, last week, the Wired MagazineFederal Transit Administration delayed a $637 million grant for Caltrain, the San Francisco Bay Area’s commuter rail system.
You should have, even if you’re not one of Caltrain’s 60,200 daily riders, or don’t live in the region, or even the state. By delaying this particular grant—which would electrify Caltrain’s rails, so trains can ditch diesel—the Trump Administration didn’t just deal a temporary blow to the health and economy of the Bay Area. It may have launched the opening salvo in what could be a war against public transit, with national consequences.

See full article in Wired Magazine

Babka for Bernie: A May-Day Bake Sale for Bernie Sanders

t’s May Day 2016, an unseasonably warm day in San Francisco with the sun glinting off the bright multi-colored rooftops that surround Dolores Park. The park itself sits high on a gently sloping hill, overlooking the city’s historic Mission District.

At the lower entrance to the park, I catch up with a bevy of lively Bernie Sanders supporters who have adopted a unique new slogan in their continuing and growing support for the intrepid Senator from Vermont. It’s “Babka for Bernie … Feel the Bern and Feel the Bun!” They continue with “Vote with your taste buds for the candidate who has vowed to take the money out of politics and who believes that universal health care is a human right worth fighting for.”

The Babka for Bernie cart is postered with HUGE photos of Sanders, in the now famous shot of the people’s candidate welcoming a little bird that has landed on the podium in front of him, as if to deliver a special message of support from the bird world. But in place of the peace bird is a big babka bun – a replica of the warm chocolate cinnamon buns that were baked with love all through the early morning in support of Bernie Sanders. Five Bucks for Bernie gets you a fresh hot generous bun that melts in your mouth.

The babka cart is about to leave Dolores Park for a trek though the Mission District with the final destination being a formal gathering of Sanders supporters to elect delegates to represent the 12th District of San Francisco at the Democratic National Convention. I follow along for the two-mile stroll through the crowded May Day streets of San Francisco’s Mission District now, alive with music and street sounds.

(photo: Jennifer Hasegawa)

(photo: Jennifer Hasegawa)

An array of folks greet the babka cart. There are many Sanders supporters who cheer the cart on. Some buy the babka buns for Bernie. Some Clintonites argue gently with the Bakers for Bernie. Despite the politics, one or two good-spirited pro-Clinton folks splurge for a bun.

Among the most conflicted Bernie supporters seem to be the ones who have already decided to go for Hillary if it’s clear that Bernie is out of the picture. They worry out loud that if they don’t switch, they might just end up with Trump. “I really love Bernie,” one octogenarian confides, “but I might have to leave the country if Trump gets elected.”

The babka cart stops for a spell on Valencia in front of a Bernie-friendly shop that specializes in indigenous imports from Mexico and Central America. This is clearly Bernie territory, with Trump piñatas and Trump toilet paper rolls (his face on each sheet) prominently advertised in the window.

There, I speak with volunteer babka baker-in-chief, Jennifer Hasegawa, about the motivating force behind her unique method of raising money for Sanders. Hasegawa said it has been a very long time since she has felt like this about politics and a particular candidate. She also adds, like many people who approached the cart for a Babka for Bernie bun, that it is not simply about a particular candidate but a new way of thinking about elections and a new kind of candidate that really puts the people before corporations and big money interests.

“Bernie Sanders is not owned by Super PACs and corporations or any other entity that could influence his power in a way that is not all about the people,” says Hasegawa. And she says she isn’t supporting Bernie because he’s a dreamer. Rather she’s supporting him because he’s a realist who is trying to meet the needs of average Americans through partnering with his supporters.

“I support him because he admits that he won’t be able to do everything,” she says, as she bags another Babka bun for a Bernie supporter. “Rather, he is calling upon us to do our part, guided by his stewardship and his advocacy to change the course of our country and steer it in a direction that determined by and supportive of its 99%. If he is elected, Bernie will bring about a peaceful political revolution of the people. In fact, even if not elected, I believe he will be at the center of a historic movement by the people of America. And this is why Babka for Bernie had to happen regardless of predictions and poll results. This is about the platform and the movement.”

And why, I asked Hasegawa, babkas?

“Baking babkas is a skill I’ve developed over the course of several years. It is not an easy bread to make – but the work is worth it, to see the beautiful, complex form that comes out of the oven and to watch people enjoy them,” said Hasegawa. “As I watched the Bernie Sanders campaign fight for its rightful place in the election process, I thought, the least I can do is knead and roll out some dough and sell my babka buns, one by one, to feed Bernie’s supporters and to raise awareness and support for his campaign.”

Two Carts on the Roll for Bernie

The babka cart moves smoothly through the streets of the Mission, offering its sweet treats and getting many takers, delighted by the unique delivery of the Bernie Method. A second information cart rolls right alongside the babka cart – offering information, posters, buttons, and various other kinds of Bernie paraphernalia.

The information cart is being pushed along the crowded Mission streets by Choppy Oshiro, an art designer for the National Nurses United, the largest organized group of working nurses in the country. NNU has thrown its support behind Sanders full throttle and has even hired buses to travel though primary states and get out the vote for Bernie.

(photo: Quarry Pak)

(photo: Quarry Pak)

“This is a movement that is bigger than all of us, bigger than Bernie Sanders,” says Oshiro as we arrive at the front of the building on Cesar Chavez Avenue, where there is a long line snaking around the block, made up of people who have come to vote for their delegate to represent them and Bernie Sanders at the National Democratic Convention.

“This is really great and it’s absolutely fascinating,” she said. Oshiro would eventually go inside and vote for several NNU nurses who were eventually elected to be delegates.

I follow the babka cart down the long line of San Franciscans who have come to cast their ballot on May Day. I open my microphone and interview many enthusiastic Bernie supporters, and potential Bernie Sanders delegates, as they savor their babkas.

Here’s a sampling of what they had to say :

“My name is Alise Germano and I’m running today to be a Bernie Sanders pledge delegate for Congressional District 12, San Francisco. This is a really important part of our democratic process. And I think a lot of people aren’t aware that they get to choose their pledge delegate for their candidate. In this case, Bernie Sanders. So people are coming in. We’ve had a great turnout, so far … You get to pick 5 women and 4 men, plus an alternate. There are at least a good one hundred people running for delegates. It really shows a lot of excitement about Bernie Sanders and about what he brings to American politics today. This is part of the spark that’s going to reignite democracy in our country. And I’m really happy to be part of this today. Bernie Sanders is a once in a lifetime candidate … And this is the first time I’ve ever stood up for a political candidate. And I think a lot of other people are doing the same, which is really exciting.”

“My name is James Barlow, I go by Jake. And I’m a Bernie or Bust delegate candidate. I want to take the fight for Bernie all the way to the convention … California has so many delegates. It’s one of the delegate rich states, and there are so many up for grabs. And there are so many supporters for Bernie in California. I think we’re his largest support base. So he’s going to do incredibly well in California, and get an incredible amount of delegates.”

Anonymous senior: “This Sanders campaign is larger than the election. It’s about making sure ideals live longer than people do. It’s about believing in ideals. Believing in justice, affordability, equity. It’s not about Bernie at all, really. It’s about making sure that the political process represents all of us.”

“My name is Brian Madden and I’m here because I think there’s a lot of issues that need to be brought up, like switching your party from Green Party to Democrat, so you can vote for this election, before May 7th. And I’m here to get inspired.”

Anonymous Woman: “I’m a baby boomer who is totally Bernie or Bust. I think if we don’t win this one it doesn’t matter what happens afterward. And therefore if it ain’t Bernie, forget it. I plan … if Bernie is not the democratic nominee, I plan to vote for the Green Party nominee. Here in California I’m happy to say we have several people on the ballot, it’s not just the two parties. And I plan to exercise my vote. I will vote for Jill Stein, no question about it. It’s my way of saying that I care enough to show up and I’m informed, and all of that, and I’m not going to vote for Trump or Hillary.”

Anonymous law student: “I am a student at U.C. Hastings, School of Law, and last semester I worked on an income inequality project. I developed a policy strategy on income equality in California and how it has progressively gotten worse. I did a lot of research on Bernie Sanders simultaneously and learned that everything that he articulates really resonates. And it is very evident now, especially as I’m 24 and incurring six figures in debt, and really concerned about it. I want to be in public service, and it’s really hard to even find financial aid and loans to support us in our endeavors so I have a lot of conviction in my support for Sanders. I am very convinced big money shouldn’t play a part in democracy and in the republic. And now I’m the editor and chief of our constitutional quarterly, and I have a lot of passion for Bernie, even though everyone says that we’re kind of the under dogs.”

(photo: Quarry Pak)

(photo: Quarry Pak)

At the end of the afternoon, I check back with Hasegawa, the babka baker, and ask her if there was there a special reason why she wanted to bring babkas to the Bernie Sanders campaign on May Day. “Well, I wanted to find a way to participate in the political process, the election process. I was tired of just railing against election coverage, I wanted to find a way that I could personally contribute to the process and I love making babkas. People love babkas. And I imagine Bernie would love babkas too.”

Dennis J Bernstein, Reader Supported News

Union slams de Blasio’s transit funding policies in ‘bad old days’ ad

The TWU is warning Mayor de Blasio to fund the MTA or risk taking the subway back to the “bad old days.”

In an ad to run in the Daily News and other publications Monday, the Transport Workers Union Local 100 depicts de Blasio riding a relic of old New York — a tagged-up train — with the caption, “Where are you taking us?”

“Mayor de Blasio risks taking us back to the bad old days of the 1970s and 1980s, when graffiti-covered subway trains regularly broke down and rickety buses sputtered from stop to stop,” the ad says.

The TWU, Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Gov. Cuomo have been pressuring the mayor to kick in $3.2 billion to the transit authority’s $30 billion repair and upgrade program.


Cuomo has promised to put $8.3 billion into the capital plan that pays for upgrades to the aging transit system and megaprojects like the Second Avenue subway.

But de Blasio has fought back against putting more money into the state-controlled agency, saying the city already increased funding to $657 million and city residents shoulder the burden of running the transit system through taxes and fares.

De Blasio has said he’s wary of giving more money to the MTA when $270 million for transit has been siphoned out for the state budget. He also wants a greater say in how the money is spent to ensure it goes to city projects.

“Instead of recruiting surrogates to make false attacks, the state must do its job and work with the city on a fair and responsible framework to move forward,” de Blasio spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said.

The TWU ad warns that crowded rides on a crumbling system will not get better without a fully funded capital plan, while new subway trains and the Second Avenue subway are at risk.

This is the TWU’s second ad against the mayor on transit funding.

Connecticut To Seek Operators For New Haven-Springfield Commuter Rail Line



Newington Junction Station in 1930’s

Newington Junction is a section of the town of Newington, Connecticut. It is centered at the intersection of Willard Avenue (Route 173) and West Hill Road in the northwestern part of the town, in the area generally just south of the Hartford city line. The name of the area refers to the railroad junction where the railroad line from New Haven meets with the railroad line from Bristol and Waterbury. The depot on the left was built in 1891 by the New York & New England RR. The passenger station on the right and the freight depot behind it were constructed by the NYNH&H in 1890.

Thanks to Tyler City Station, The most authoritative source for information on Connecticut railroad stations

The Hartford and New Haven Railroad of Connecticut was chartered in 1833 to build a railroad between Hartford and New Haven. The…

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The unfinished business of race and equity

Johns Hopkins University Press Blog

Guest post by Daryl G. Smith

smithIf the last few months have taught us anything, it is how much more we have to do as a society in addressing the unfinished business of race. The events in Charleston, Ferguson, Baltimore, and Los Angeles, as well as the incidents at Oklahoma State, to name only a few, revealed the many ways in which our society and its institutions have or have not addressed long standing issues of inequity and also whether the leadership of our institutions from all sectors of society has adequate capacity to address these issues today. Indeed, many of these events highlighted the role and credibility of leaders, as well as their effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) in addressing race. And as happened every time there are crises, campuses across the country have been pressed to respond and to take action in addressing diversity on campus—including as it pertains to enrollment…

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