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January 18, 2018 - 12:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Joan Elizabeth Seamans, news.

seamansny27.jpgPress release:

Joan Elizabeth Seamans is a strong, compassionate woman who is ready to bring back decency and be a voice for the people of NY Congressional District 27.

“I fiercely oppose the cycle of special interests funding campaigns and legislation that benefits the wealthy instead of the people in NY District 27. My opponent, Chris Collins, has confirmed this practice. My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’ 

“It is time for 'trickle up' economics and legislation that gives the people in the district opportunity and financial security instead of the wealthy and corporations. My desire is to serve all constituents, Republican and Democrat alike. I am committed to listening, being engaged and take their concerns to Washington as their Congresswoman.”

A longtime business owner, she has operated, Short Street Photographers in Western New York for more than 30 years. She is: a past president of the Williamsville Business and Professional Association; a member the Public Policy Committee for the Amherst Chamber of Commerce; and a former Trustee in the Village of Williamsville. In addition, she is a member of NAWBO National Association of Women Business Owners.

Her political activism is far-reaching. She is a founder of a 1,300-member online group focusing on electoral issues, encouraging civic engagement and education of members about political and legislative issues. 

As a committed woman to community needs, Joan Elizabeth has worked for four years working with families whose children have addiction and behavioral issues. In addition, realizing the lack of services for our poor elderly, Joan Elizabeth spent six years connecting talented youth with residents of nursing homes all over Western New York.

Joan Elizabeth is a wife, mother, business owner, community leader and political activist. She and her husband Gary Nizinski have been married for 32 years. She has two children.

She comes from a humble background. One of eight children, she was taught resourcefulness and self-sufficiency early on. Her father, a World War II Navy vet is a lifelong Republican and her mother was a Democrat. She regularly acknowledges she has “a little bit of both of them in me.” Joan Elizabeth recently was granted guardianship of her father and has been a long time champion for the elderly.

January 18, 2018 - 11:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news.

Press release:

It has been a whirlwind week for NY-27 Congressional candidate Nate McMurray. On Sunday, the Grand Island Town Supervisor announced his candidacy to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 at the Brickyard Brewing Company in Lewiston. Voters from throughout the District came to support Nate’s effort to unseat ethics-challenged incumbent, Chris Collins.

Supporters, including City of Tonawanda Mayor Rick Davis, are confident that a Congressmember McMurray will remain connected to the people he serves.

“Nate will bring the perspective of the average American to his representation of the 27th District," Davis said. "Far too often people elected to Congress are well off financially and they do not think of the many struggling households we have in our area. Nate will be the voice those families need in Congress.”

After his announcement, Candidate McMurray wasted no time introducing himself to voters from Canandaigua to Batavia to Wheatfield. On Tuesday night he stood out among the five congressional hopefuls at the Turn NY 27 Blue Candidates Forum in Lancaster.

Dorothy Avery, a voter from the Town of Bergen, was “impressed with Nate’s creativity and strong ethical values. I’m confident he will represent all of NY27’s voters without regard for party affiliation or tax bracket.”

Who is Nate McMurray?

Nate is one of seven children raised in the District by his widowed mother in conditions of extreme poverty. His mother laid a good ethical foundation in her home, but was stretched to the limit by the demands of putting food on the family’s table and caring for her children.

With the help of New York’s public education system and public scholarship programs, Nate become a Fulbright Scholar, received advanced degrees including a law degree, and became fluent in Korean and Chinese. He spent time overseas and has had a successful business career. He missed Western New York so he returned home.

He is married and the proud father of two boys, and in addition to being Grand Island supervisor, he is vice president for Development for Delaware North.

Nate’s family instilled strong community service values. He was first called to run for elected office when he witnessed dismissive behavior on the part of government officials at a board hearing. Nate fought for the side of right and he was elected Grand Island town supervisor by only two votes!

In so doing McMurray became the only Democrat to be elected to office on the deeply Republican island in recent memory. He achieved this benchmark by reaching out to Republicans and treating all people, regardless of party affiliation or economic stature, with dignity and respect. His heartfelt capacity to connect with voters, and his ability to get the job done, will be a welcome change from the scandal-plagued and elitist tenure of Congressmember Collins.

James Sharpe, Grand Island Democratic party chair and town deputy supervisor, has worked with McMurray for years.

“Nathan is one of the most creative people I know," Sharpe said. "He is focused and energized and keeps the needs of his constituents front and center. He solves problems that confound others.

"He has a knack for identifying the issues and getting the job done. New York State’s agreement to remove toll barriers and give Grand Island cashless tolls is only one example.”

McMurray will provide true representation to the people of NY-27. He will work to make sure that all children have the advantages that were provided to him when he grew up in the District.

January 17, 2018 - 11:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in broadband, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) introduced legislation today that would create a national federal registry of communications infrastructure to help address the lack of high-speed Internet access in rural areas. This registry will help determine which assets are available for lease to better expand access and will facilitate coordination between federal, state and local governments, as well as between carriers.

“It is almost unbelievable to think that approximately 65 percent of my district is underserved by broadband technology and about 3 percent is completely unserved,” Collins said. “Broadband access is important to our rural communities as our reliance on the Internet continues to grow for education, starting and administrating a business, receiving care from a doctor, or just plain shopping.”

Broadband companies have found it time-consuming, expensive and complicated to reach the communities that currently lack access. This inventory would be available to communications providers and include a description of assets, their locations, and a point of contact from each agency for more information on a given asset.

Collins sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which will be holding a series of hearings in the coming weeks to address removing barriers to infrastructure buildout, supporting innovation, and strengthening the public safety benefits that come with access to broadband Internet.

Collins added: “We need to think about things like public safety, making sure law enforcement has the ability to receive notification of an emergency and quickly respond. Our communities need broadband Internet access to stay connected, and I am confident we are taking steps in the right direction."

For more information about the Inventory of Assets for Communications Facilities Act of 2018, click here.

January 12, 2018 - 1:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nick Stankevich, NY-27, Pavilion, news.

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Press release:

Nick Stankevich spoke to about 30 constituents in the Town of Pavilion late Thursday afternoon. The gathering was hosted by Sarah Noble-Moag, of Noblehurst Farms.

Farmers, teachers, business owners and other local residents had the opportunity to meet the only rural congressional candidate in New York's 27th District.

He covered a range of questions from rural Internet access to immigration reform.

Stankevich acknowledged that there is a lot of work to do but it must be done by working with the people, making fiscally responsible economic choices and putting people first.

January 3, 2018 - 11:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, steve hawley, michael ranzenhofer, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“Although I am glad that the governor did not continue his game of political hide-and-seek with the legislature as we saw last year, wasting large sums of taxpayer money to present over 20 ideas with unsubstantiated legislative backing or confirmed funding sources amounts to little more than an expensive taxpayer-funded speech.

“I am glad to be back in Albany continuing to work hard for the residents of Genesee, Orleans and Monroe counties with my focus on lowing our families’ tax burden, making New York more business-friendly, fully funding our infrastructure and continuing to reform our charitable gaming laws.”

Press release from State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer:

“This year, the state of New York is facing a deficit in the billions. The budget must be balanced by restraining spending and not by more taxes for a state that has one of the highest burdens in the nation. It’s time to remove the barriers that inhibit growth in our Upstate economy and enact policies that stem the consistent loss of population of past decades, such as enacting comprehensive regulatory reforms and cutting energy taxes. 

“We should also seriously consider eliminating expenditures for the state’s economic development programs that are not creating jobs, including Start-Up NY and the tens of millions of dollars being spent on television advertising by the Executive.

“By getting our fiscal house in order, we can continue investments in improvements to our community’s transportation infrastructure and water quality, combating the heroin and opioid crisis and ensuring Western New York gets its fair share of state funding for our schools.”

Press release from Congressman Chris Collins:

"The Governor's speech was a pathetic attempt to rile his base, although even they have realized that his political empire is crumbling judging from the fact that the loudest round of applause came when he mentioned the Buffalo Bills. Republicans under President Trump have lowered taxes, rolled back regulations, and are seeing explosive economic growth. In comparison, under Andrew Cuomo, New York is facing a $4 billion deficit, the New York City subway is crumbling, and the FBI has opened an investigation into his hiring practices. New Yorkers deserve better."

December 22, 2017 - 2:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins, veterans.

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Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement offering his appreciation to elementary school students, businesses, and community organizations from around the 27th District for participating in his “Holiday Mail for Veterans” program. The office collected more than 1,500 holiday cards and delivered them to veterans at the Buffalo and Batavia VA facilities.

“I am proud of the tremendous support we received for our Holiday Mail for Veterans program from around the 27th District,” Congressman Collins said. “This program is a great opportunity for young students and other community organizations to say thank you and share some holiday cheer with the men and women who bravely served our country.

"I would like to thank everyone who participated and extend my very best to our veterans and active duty personnel and their families this holiday season.”

“We appreciate the support of our community for Veterans at VA Western New York Healthcare System,” said Paul Crews, interim Healthcare System director. “The cards with thoughtful messages brighten up their days knowing someone has taken the time to think about them at holiday time.”

Each year, Congressman Collins’ office reaches out to all NY-27 elementary schools to join together to show our appreciation during the holiday season. This is the first year cards were delivered to VA hospitals.

Below is a list of the 2017 “Holiday Mail for Veterans” participants:

Geneseo Elementary School – Geneseo
Livonia Elementary School – Livonia
York Central Elementary School – Retsof
Bloomfield Elementary School – East Bloomfield
Lewiston-Porter Primary Education Center – Lewiston-Porter
Charles A. Upson Elementary School – Lockport
North Park Junior High – Lockport
Hyde Park Elementary School – Niagara Falls
Colonial Village Elementary School – Niagara-Wheatfield
Blasdell Elementary – Blasdell
Clarence Center Elementary School – Clarence Center
Highland Elementary School – Derby
Parkdale Elementary – East Aurora
Wales Primary – East Aurora
Eden Elementary – Eden
GLP Primary School – Eden
Charlotte Avenue School – Hamburg
Union Pleasant Elementary – Hamburg
Harold O. Brumsted Elementary – Holland
Ellicott Elementary School – Orchard Park
Colden Elementary School – Springville-Griffith
Northwood Elementary School – West Seneca
Alexander Elementary School – Alexander
John Kennedy Intermediate School – Batavia
Byron-Bergen Elementary School – Bergen
Wolcott Street Elementary School – Le Roy
Dorothy B. Bunce Elementary School – Pavillion
Manor Intermediate School – Honeoye Falls
Monica B. Leary Elementary School – Rush
Perry Elementary School – Perry
Warsaw Elementary School – Warsaw
West Elementary School – West Seneca
Avon Primary School – Avon
Avon High School – Avon
Royalton-Hartland Elementary School – Gasport
Geraldine J. Mann Elementary – Niagara Falls
Marilla Primary School – Marilla
Camp Stella Maris School Age Program -- Livonia
Geneseo Girl Scouts – Geneseo
YMCA Preschool
4H Scottsburg Leaders – Scottsburg
Arbor Realty – Williamsville
Attica Elementary School – Attica
Kendall Elementary -- Kendall

Photos of cards, decorations, and letters from Jackson School, Byron-Bergen and Pavilion.

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December 22, 2017 - 9:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, batavia, news, Nicholas Stankevich.

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Nicholas Stankevich, candidate for the NY-27 congressional district, hosted an open house Thursday night to announce the opening of his campaign office at 56 Harvester Ave., in the Harvester Center.

“Our intention is to provide a great place for our volunteers to work on our campaign as we begin the important process of taking back the 27th Congressional District,” Stankevich said. “We will win this election only with the hard work of our volunteers and pressing the important issues that greatly influence the families of this district.” 

December 15, 2017 - 3:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Larry Piegza, news.

Press release:

“I don’t know how to fix all of our problems, but anyone can tell you that if you are about to remodel an old house, the first thing you should do is replace any rotten boards,” "Fix It" Larry Piegza says. “People are saying that the Republican Party is not the same party (as) it was 20 years ago and many people feel that Chris Collins is part of the problem.

"He doesn’t stand for the basic values moral Republicans believe in, nor does he put New York first. He is not making our health insurance affordable. We are drowning in taxes and Collins just voted on a tax bill that raises NYS residents’ taxes. Let’s start our remodel today.”

Fix It Larry Piegza began his campaign to run for the Republican nomination for New York State’s 27th Congressional District with the launch of FixItLarry.org. A computer-technician-turned-entrepreneur, he started a small software business in his attic with $10,000. He feels he is a great candidate because he sees firsthand how tough it is for small businesses to survive under government regulation.

Despite this, he has a 15-year track record of growing his company with no deficit spending. The company now employees 25 people. He feels that Western New Yorkers will benefit from his good decision-making skills and his strong desire for a balanced budget – both for New York state and the country.

“Many people are saying we’ve drifted from believing in good fiscal responsibility, ethical values, and a government that stays out of our lives. People are saying they’d like to see us return to these values. I’ve shown that I can make good fiscal decisions that aren’t at the expense of another person. I’d love to help restore the party to a strong ethical foundation,” his Facebook page states.

A West Seneca native, Larry went to Orchard Park schools and has lived in Western New York his entire life. Married for 19 years to a graduate of Pembroke High School, Larry has a daughter, 13 and a son, 15, that he likes to take outdoors year round, from sledding at Chestnut Ridge, hiking in Letchworth State Park, or visiting his in-laws in Batavia.

“This is a beautiful area and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. But we need a change in leadership if Western New Yorkers are going to survive,” Fix It Larry says. “Raising NYS taxes will not help New Yorkers. Voting to repeal without replacing our health care will not help us survive. The GOP is endorsing pedophiles, which is not a Christian value, and therefore Chris Collins needs to go.”

December 13, 2017 - 12:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nicholas Stankevich, NY-27, batavia, news.

Press release:

As the volunteer lists keep growing, Progressive Democratic Congressional candidate Nicholas Stankevich has opened his first district office. The work space is located at 56 Harvester Ave. in Batavia, Genesee County. Renovated from a former industrial work space, the Stankevich campaign has scheduled an Open House and the official opening to be Thursday, Dec. 21st, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

“Our intention is to provide a great place for our volunteers to work on our campaign as we begin the important process of taking back the 27th Congressional District,” Stankevich said. “We will win this election only with the hard work of our volunteers and pressing the important issues that greatly influence the families of this district.”

The office is housed in the old Massey-Harris plant. Designed as a workspace for volunteers, the office will be used on a continual basis to house volunteer activities for the Stankevich campaign.

“This office is really what this campaign is all about,” Stankevich said. “Our district used to be full of manufacturing jobs like those that were housed in this facility. Today, we have to develop 21st century jobs, educate our young people, train them in new technologies and opportunities that provide a strong livable wage. That is how we will bring back our communities in Western New York.”

Office Hours are daily, but dependent on the volunteer schedule. The Open House is a great way to grab a cup of coffee with the candidate to discuss the issues of the 27th Congressional District.

December 4, 2017 - 9:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today made the following statement after the United States Senate passed tax reform legislation:
 
“Now that the Senate has passed tax reform, we are one step closer to delivering on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to replace our outdated and complicated tax code. By doubling the standard deduction, lowering tax rates, and enhancing the family tax credit, families in Western New York will be able to keep more of what they earn.

"Tax reform will unleash America’s competitiveness and bring jobs and profits back home, where they belong. While there are differences in the House and Senate versions of the legislation, we will find common ground in conference and get this important bill to President Trump’s desk.”

November 17, 2017 - 6:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

collinsethics162017inset.jpgIt's not technically accurate to say the House Ethics Committee is investigating his involvement with Innate Immunotherapeutics, Rep. Chris Collins said today while in Batavia.

There have been questions about Collins and his alleged "insider trading" related to the Australia-based pharmaceutical company for more than a year.

The issue was first raised, Collins said, by Rep. Louis Slaughter, which led to an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

The three charges investigated by OSCE were dropped but the investigators referred two additional points of inquiry to the House Ethics Committee.

That, Collins said, is not an investigation.

"The Ethics Committee hasn't done anything," Collins said. "So to people who say I'm being investigated by ethics, I would say ethics is reviewing the OSCE, what I call 'the mall cops' report.' That doesn't mean they're investigating. And what didn't they do -- they did not appoint a subcommittee to look into it. If they thought there was wrongdoing they would have appointed a subcommittee to look into this."

Collins called the initial three points of contention and the two new issues a "nothing burger."

The points initially raised by Slaughter, he said, were that he had insider information about the progress of a clinical trial that he shared, that he facilitated discounted stock trading for congressional members, and that he supported a bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, because it benefited Innate.

To the first charge, Collins said, the clinical trial was a double-blind trial with nobody at Innate, including him, getting any idea of the potential results until the trial was completed and the results were released in July.

He couldn't have provided information on the trial to anybody because there was no information to provide.

As to the alleged illegal discount, Collins said, "We got this discount. The Office of Congressional Ethics totally dismissed that because it was available to every investor."

The allegation that Innate might someday come to the United States, and therefore benefit from the 21st Century Cures Act, was so preposterous, Collins said, that OSCE dismissed it without giving it serious consideration.

"That was such an outlandish allegation it wasn't even investigated," he said.

Out of the all the documents and emails reviewed by the OSCE, the staff came up with two more items it referred to the House Ethics Committee. One was that Collins allegedly communicated non-public information in emails to other investors and that he provided insider information about Innate to staff at the National Institute of Health.

In emails, Collins said he mentioned that the clinical trial had 93 participants. It was public knowledge that the trial would have at least 90 participants and the fact that there was 93 wasn't material to the value of the stock, he said.

He also shared his personal view that the trial would be done by a certain date, and then another date after that, and then a date after that, and in all cases he was wrong, he said.

"It was just my personal subjective opinion," he said.

'"Our CEO has done an affidavit saying he looked at those emails and there was nothing non-public in them," Collins said. "There was nothing significant in them."

As for the number of participants, he said, it's standard practice to sign up more participants than needed for a trial because some patients always drop out. The count of 93 vs. 90 really meant nothing to the value of the trial and it wasn't considered a secret by the company.

"Anyone who had called our office and asked how many people were recruited, we would not have even considered that confidential information and would have shared it," Collins said.

Significantly, Collins said, none of the people whom Collins shared information with through the emails bought or sold shares after receiving the information.

"If no one traded on it, even if I did share nonpublic information, there's no crime," Collins said.

The NIH meeting, Collins said, was part of a two-hour tour of the facility that he initially forgot about when the issue came up again a couple of years later.

The so-called insider information provided by Collins was an introduction of one scientist to another. It's common practice, Collins said, for NIH scientists to share information with outside scientists.

"There was a scientist in the one meeting who was looking at biomarkers and other indications from multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease, and some things (some aspects of the research) that there are no hard science measures on," Collins said. "It looks like this. It looks like that. Boom. Boom. Boom Boom Boom.

"And I said, 'you know, you might want to talk to our scientists because we're finding the same frustration in finding scientific measures of secondary progressive M.S. because there aren't any -- it's quality of life, patient-reported outcomes, doctor-observed things that are subjective, not objective, not scientific.

" 'You might want to want to talk to Jill. You guys should share some information.' And this woman said, 'I think it makes a lot of sense,' because that's what they do with the NIH. They talk to companies all the time."

The OSCE didn't even give Collins a chance to respond before forwarding the issue to the ethics committee, he said.

"My attorneys have subsequently done that, to point out that part of the role of the NIH is to meet with outside scientists," Collins said.

Now that these issues are in the hands' of the ethics committee staff, there isn't much Collins can do but sit and wait, he said.

It's possible there will be an investigation, but Collins said he knows of members of Congress who have waited for years while the committee did nothing on complaints brought to them, and didn't even publicly acknowledge when the case was dropped.

"Here's the most frustrating part," Collins said, "they may never look at this. This could be hanging over my head as a 'nothing burger' because they're not even investigating it."

November 17, 2017 - 4:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, taxes, news, notify.

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(Photo: Chris Collins during a meeting today at the Job Development Center in Batavia.)

Rep. Chris Collins thinks he has the proof he needs to label Gov. Andrew Cuomo now and forevermore a pathological liar.

Following a meeting with county employment officials at the Job Development Center in Batavia, Collins took questions for reporters and in response to comments by Cuomo that the recently passed House tax reform bill will cost New Yorkers money, Collins immediately launched into a prolonged attack on Cuomo for claiming he had spoken with Collins about the bill.

"He attributed a quote to me that said that I said the reason I voted for the tax act was that I was pressured by Republican leadership," Collins said. "As I said, and it’s in The New York Times today, 'liar, liar pants on fire.' In seven years, I’ve never spoken to the governor. I certainly did not speak to him on this. Aand the outrageousness of him even fabricating a quote will tell you, if he will lie about something like that, he will not hesitate to lie about our tax plan."

The Batavian reached out to the governor's office for a response and received this statement:

The Governor's point was the Republican congress members he spoke to said they were under pressure from their political leadership‎ to vote yes‎. Collins and the rest of the New York Congress members who voted for their donors and against their own constituents can try to deflect from this irresponsible vote, but it's the Governor who stood up for New York taxpayers and always will.

Contrary to Cuomo's assertions about the reforms, the changes in the tax code will save most of his constitutes money Collins promised.

"I have said I will stake my career, my election next year, on the fact that 95 percent of the folks in GLOW and Erie County will pay less in taxes," Collins said. "If you do, then vote for me, and if you don’t, then don’t vote for me."

He challenged Cuomo to make the same pledge.

"If under our plan you pay more, then the governor was right and you should re-elect him, but next year when 95 percent of my constituents pay less, I would expect them to vote against our governor because he’s lying to them," Collins said.

Why isn't every single taxpayer in the NY-27 saving money? Collins explained it this way: If you're a married couple with no kids, with $80,000 in current state and local taxes, making $300,000 a year, living in a $1.5 million home, then, he said, you might pay $1,000 more in taxes.

Collins said most of his constituents will be quite happy when they get their first paycheck after Jan. 15 if the House bill passes the Senate -- and the Senate has its own ideas about how to change the tax code -- and they see their withholding has gone down.

"(The governor) is lying and he’s deliberately lying," Collins said. "He lied again and he exposed himself by talking about this and then attributing a quote to me. That’s beyond outrageous. I think he’s lost it.

"Now, from this day forward I can remind people, he is a pathological liar," Collins added.

November 17, 2017 - 12:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Job Bureau, chris collins, news, notify, NY-27.

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Rep. Chris Collins toured the offices of the county's Job Development Bureau this morning to learn more about the work the department does to help people in Genesee County find jobs.

The tour, led by Jay Lazarony, GLOW Workforce Development Board executive director, focused on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (oWOIA), which is a federal program designed to help youth and those with significant barriers to employment find and retain high-quality jobs and careers.

Many of the clients who enter the program have not developed the job skills that help them retain jobs.

Lazarony told the story of one woman who entered the program who had been working as a home health care aide but couldn't stay in a job. The training she received helped her understand what it takes to hold onto a job and also provided her with the skills to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. The program helped her with the expense of travel, shoes, and scrubs. She eventually landed a full-time job at the Genesee County Nursing Home and now she's studying to become a Registered Nurse.

"This is the stuff that we can do with that funding, is give people a great start," Lazarony told Collins.

Collins said he appreciated the insight because so often the programs that pass before congressional members for review are just numbers on a page but the tour helped him see how the program benefits people.

So far in 2017, the center has helped 989 clients, including 141 through WIOA. A total of 137 veterans have been assisted.

There have been 1,322 people placed in jobs in Genesee County through the department's services.

Collins also learned about on-the-job-training programs through 13 participating businesses, occupational training programs, 38 on-site employer-specific job recruitment sessions, and the Summer Youth Employment program that placed 39 high school students in jobs at 23 work sites this summer.

Sometimes the clients of the center need ongoing help, said Scott Gage, director of the bureau.

"We’ll actually stay with them for 12 months after they leave us," Gage said. "We can mediate anything going on with the business, help this person out with issues. We’ve got a lot of community partners we rely on to help us out, social service agencies that will help us out in a number of ways and there’s no funding involved. They provide services and we access those services."

There are currently more than 600 job listings on file with the bureau and most of those are good-paying jobs, Gage said. With local unemployment at about 4 percent, it's proving hard for companies to find skilled workers.

The tight job market is helping to bring some people into the workforce who until now had opted out, Lazarony said. He said two recent clients the bureau has placed in jobs have worked their way up to full-time employment. They were in their mid-20s when they first came in and had never worked any type of job in their lives. They weren't part of the system at all. They just lived at home and didn't work.

There are other long-term unemployed who rely on the state's Safety Net program and they can be hard to assist, Gage said. They're capable of working, but they also have other underlying issues, such as disabilities, and sometimes they've just given up. That's a challenge, Gage said.

Collins observed that "Anybody who wants to get a job can get a job. It may not be at the wage they want, or the hours they want, or the job they want, but they can get a job."

Changes in aid programs initiated by Congress might change some of that, Collins said.

"As we continue down that road you’re going to start to see people lined up out your door," Collins said.

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November 16, 2017 - 11:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release: 

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today voted for H.R. 1, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will provide historic tax relief to families across America and spur economic growth. 

“With today’s vote, President Trump and House Republicans have seized this once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform our nation’s tax code,” Collins said. “Since this plan was introduced, I have crunched the numbers and know that this bill will allow families in Western New York and the Finger Lakes to keep more of what they earn, while unleashing America’s competitiveness to bring jobs and profits back home, where they belong.”

The legislation passed by the House today lowers tax rates, collapses tax brackets, increases the child tax credit and doubles the standard deduction, which will allow families to keep more of their paychecks.

Most families are likely to use the new standard deduction, no longer needing to itemize deductions. For those who still choose to itemize, House Republicans have maintained important deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local property taxes up to $10,000.

“Families that are struggling to make ends meet will see more cash in their pockets to help with everyday expenses,” Collins said. “This tax reform will also have an overwhelming impact on our nation’s economy that will create jobs and increase wages.”

Currently, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. H.R. 1 will lower this rate to be competitive with other industrialized nations. Additionally, the plan lowers the tax rate on small businesses to the lowest it has been since World War II.

Collins added: “Unfortunately, career politicians like Andrew Cuomo and Chuck Schumer have not been truthful over the past few weeks as they look out for New York City millionaires and try to keep more of my constituents’ hard earned money for their wasteful spending.

"I am only looking out for the people of Western New York and the Finger Lakes, and their wallets. The tax reform package ultimately sent to President Trump’s desk will improve the lives of my constituents and will truly Make America Great Again.”

Based upon average family household income, average home value, an estimated mortgage interest of 4 percent, and respective state and property taxes, a family of four in the follow counties under the House Republican tax plan would save an average of:

Erie: $1,845.60
Genesee: $1,637.50
Livingston: $1,736.40
Monroe: $1,872.76
Niagara: $1,703
Ontario: $1,836.52
Orleans: $1,362.64
Wyoming: $1,509.28
 
For more information on H.R. 1, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, click here.

November 2, 2017 - 2:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, taxes, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) applauded legislation to update our nation’s tax code that was released today by House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady. Collins cited the fact that this legislation will provide tax relief to hardworking families across America, create jobs, and grow our nation’s economy.

“Passing comprehensive tax reform will be one of the most important accomplishments we will see under President Trump,” Collins said. “Making America more competitive on the world stage will truly 'Make America Great Again' and allow more Americans to achieve the American Dream. Our nation is struggling and we need to fix the broken, outdated tax system that has burdened hard-working individuals and has crushed our economy.”

The plan outlined by House Republicans will strengthen the American middle class by doubling the standard deduction, and for those who want to itemize deductions to continue to write off property taxes, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions. The legislation also reduces rates for middle-class Americans, eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and enhances the Child Tax Credit.

“Tax reform is essential in order to grow our economy for our children and grandchildren’s generations,” Collins said. “I am confident that we will get this bill to President Trump’s desk and will see explosive economic growth.”

The framework puts America’s corporate tax rate below the average of other industrialized countries and promotes greater investment in American manufacturing. Collins supports reducing the minimum tax rate for small businesses and corporations in order to increase American competitiveness, create jobs and grow the nation’s economy.

For more information on H.R. 1, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, click here.

October 30, 2017 - 7:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, chris collins, NY-27, taxes.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement applauding Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady’s decision to include a state and local property tax deduction in the House Republican tax reform bill.

"I am pleased that Chairman Brady has agreed to keep the SALT property tax deduction in the new tax reform legislation. It goes to show you that leadership does listen to the concerns we as members point out. Now, New York taxpayers are poised for a big victory when federal tax reform provides them with more money in their pockets and better economic opportunity. It’s time for Andrew Cuomo to follow our lead and deliver comprehensive tax reform when it comes to the state income and property taxes New Yorkers pay."

The Ways and Means Committee is expected to release its tax reform legislation on Wednesday. For more information on the unified framework for fixing our broken tax code, click here.

Here's CNN's story on the status of the deductions.

October 26, 2017 - 12:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Today Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) released the following statement after voting in support of the Senate-passed budget that paves the way for tax reform:

“Passing the budget was essential to getting tax reform completed without the threat of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. We have set the stage to pass a tax reform bill that will drop corporate tax rates, put the United States on an equal playing field with the rest of the world, and lower the tax burden on small businesses. My colleagues and I are committed to sending President Trump a tax reform package in the coming weeks that will lead to explosive economic growth, create jobs and put money back in the pockets of working families.”

The budget passed 216-212. Here's more from the Washington Post.

October 24, 2017 - 1:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

There are eight people who have active files with the Federal Elections Commission, making them eligible for a primary campaign in June 2018 for New York's 27th congressional district.

Rep. Chris Collins is the incumbent and is one of the eight who has filed.

Not all who have filed are running, but even among the announced candidates, an incumbent being targeted by both primary and general election challengers is unusual.

His campaign chief Chris Grant said he isn't worried.

"We live in very fluid political times, so people, especially on the Democratic side, whip themselves into a frenzy because they believe, wrongly, that the country agrees with their progressive, extremist positions and then they run into the reality of running against an incumbent congressman who is very popular in his district," Grant said. "I'm not surprised by any of it."

The seven people with FEC filings are:

  • Kevin Aleong, who has no party affiliation but does have a campaign website;
  • James Banks, a Republican, whom we wrote about yesterday;
  • David Bellavia, who ran against and lost to Collins in a primary in 2012, and has yet to express his intentions for 2018;
  • Sean Bunny, a Democrat, who has said he's running but has yet to make an appearance in Genesee County;
  • Erin Cole, a Democrat who has reportedly dropped out of the race;
  • Michael McHale, a Republican who ran in 2006 but has made no announcement about 2018; and,
  • Nicholas Stankevich, a Democrat who was in Batavia yesterday to announce his candidacy.

Frank Smierciak II, a 26-year-old Republican, has also announced his intention to challenge Collins in the primary and got a lot of attention from the media for running at such a young age, but he has yet to file with the FEC.

The fact there are Republican challengers also isn't a concern, Grant said.

"Every cycle now, people get into the fall of an off-year election and they think there is an opportunity and then the reality of qualifying for the ballot and running a real campaign rears its ugly head before they reach February, March, and April," Grant said.

Collins is popular in his district, even with an ethics investigation hanging around, and it hasn't hurt Collins at all that he was an early and vocal supporter for Donald Trump for president and continues to be loyal to Trump.

Trump is perhaps more popular in the NY-27 than any district in New York.

"It's not Trump," Grant said. "It's because of what Trump said, Trump's message."

Collins was out in front on the issues that drew people in the 27th to Trump, Grant said, such as "destructive trade agreements, and jobs being shipped overseas, and a Washington culture of elitism that ignores the people in districts like the New York 27."

Challengers to Collins are perhaps a bit out of touch with reality in the 27th District, Grant suggested.

"I think all of these candidates watch way too much cable news, pay too much to the Acela corridor press and whip themselves into a frenzy about a race they can’t win," Grant said. 

He added, "The progressive resistance movement is nonsense. It's so out of touch with what middle-class working families care about. It just shows they don't understand what people care about in the district."

As for Bellavia, the one candidate who might come into a race with some name recognition, Grant had no insight on whether he's actually running.

Last night, The Batavian emailed Bellavia, a resident of Batavia, about the FEC filing and his only response, "You noticed that?" He didn't respond to a follow-up message pressing for more clarity and confirmation.

"David's his own man and we respect him and we respect his service (Bellavia is an Iraq War vet), but we're going to fight hard for every vote in the New York 27," Grant said.

October 24, 2017 - 11:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nicholas Stankevich, NY-27, batavia, news.

stankevichannounceoct2017.jpg

With a promise to focus on people and jobs, a Mumford resident, Nicholas Stankevich, stepped behind a lectern placed in front of the entrance of Batavia High School yesterday and announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the 27th Congressional District.

Stankevich has just finished a tour of the school led by Pat Burk, chairman of the Batavia City Schools District trustees.

Burk said he was endorsing Stankevich because the candidate would support education and favor policies that continued the flow of funds from the federal Department of Education to local school districts.

"Districts require a certain level of cooperation and funding from the federal government in order to provide for many of our neediest students," Burk said. "Programs that are called upon daily to aid and assist our children are in jeopardy under current conditions and this administration."

Burk then discussed some of the programs that assist students and educators that are threatened, including Medicaid, nutrition programs and programs to promote new technology and training.

"Nick Stankevich will work with our local educational leaders to understand the needs of our students and the families that we serve," Burk said. "He will work to maintain a high level of funding that is needed to provide for our neediest children."

When asked for specifics on his education policy, Stankevich said that's a work in progress.

"There is this is a lot of work to be done," Stankevich said. "It's holding people accountable. And like I said before, as the campaign goes on we'll get into more specifics on legislation."

As he said before, he doesn't yet have specifics on his "people and jobs" platform.

"As we unfold more and as the campaign goes along we will be releasing specific policies and specifically to jobs," he said.

A lifelong resident of Western New York, Stankevich described himself as both an educator and small businessman. His first business, of five, was a swim school, which he said he ran successfully for 12 years. Currently, he is in charge of marketing for his parents' bed and breakfast in Mumford. He holds an MBA from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management in Los Angeles. On his LinkedIn profile, he also lists himself as cofounder (with his brother Jason) and CEO of a startup technology company based in Los Angeles, Instrekt. The company describes itself on Crunchbase as,"... an Airbnb style, trusted community-driven marketplace for people to list, discover, and book activity-based lessons around the world."

His experience, he said, prepares him to focus on jobs, jobs for people.

"There are many different ways to do economic development and mine would be more of a people-first approach that helps the community," he said.

He said he decided to run because he sees so many problems around us.

"Just stepping outside your door, looking down the street," Stankevich said. "You know there's there's a lot to be done in all of our communities and I believe that we need new leadership and we need a new direction."

October 23, 2017 - 6:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, James Banks, news.

jamesbankscongressoct232017.jpg

James Banks says he's just an average grandfather from Western New York who wants to see if somebody who is just a regular guy can get elected to represent all of the 27th Congressional District, not just a favored portion of it, or if monied-interests will win out again.

He's running a low-key campaign to try to upset Chris Collins in the NY-27 primary.

He stopped in Batavia today to discuss his nascent campaign and political ambitions.

Banks has nothing against Collins personally, though he does believe he could represent the district better in Washington.

"I think Mr. Collins is a great businessman," Banks said. "As such, he's a risk taker. I have great respect for him. He was a great county executive in Erie County. He's a family man. I have no personal conflict with Mr. Collins all."

However ... 

"He has seemed to indicate that he does not have an obligation to be responsive to his constituents in terms of holding a town hall or some kind of communication, regular communication work, where he's going to hear the good and the bad and the ugly," Banks said, "where he can just realize that it's people not trying to attack him personally but just trying to participate in government."

Banks is a lifelong Republican from Lancaster who voted for Ronald Reagan when he cast his first presidential ballot in 1980. He's worked in industrial sales for 25 years, which has enabled him to travel extensively throughout WNY so he knows the district well, he said. 

This is his first attempt to win public office.

On policies, he describes himself as a fiscal conservative.

"I think the debt that we have incurred is a great danger to our country and that it ought to be addressed and, really, brought under control," Banks said. "How we do that? I don't pretend to have all the answers but I would make that a priority."

He also favors free trade.

"I'm a free market capitalist," Banks said. "I think that the approach of alienating many of our best customers around the world is a little bit shortsighted. As a salesman, I'm always looking for more customers, not fewer customers."

He doesn't oppose a border wall if officials conclude that's the best way to secure our borders, but he recognizes that immigrants built this country and there should be a place for them in 21st Century America.

"I went down to Journeys End Refugee Services in Buffalo, which has been there a long time bringing legal immigrants into the country and helping them set up a new life," Banks said. "I can't even imagine the places that these people came from.

"When you hear about the stories of Rwanda, South Sudan, and I've met people from Pakistan, from Iraq, I can't even imagine what those people have gone through to get to America.

"I think we should be more welcoming. And I think it's good economics.

"At the end of the day you get great people coming in who may look a little bit different than you or have different beliefs, but you all share the core beliefs that you love your family, you love your community. You love your state you love your country."

He's not interested in making decisions for other people on how they live their lives.

On abortion, he said, "I've actually read the opinion, Roe versus Wade and I've kind of weighed that against the 14th Amendment, which protects citizens and persons. So it's a tough question, but I'm not the guy who's going to go to a young lady in distress and try to lecture her on the most difficult choice she can ever be faced with. That is best left to her, her parents, her preacher, her doctor, her relationship with God."

On gay rights, he said, "It's really none of my business. I'm concerned with myself and my own relationship with my wife of 35 years."

He does think we should watch over our environment.

"I think it's a no-brainer that if we don't have a healthy environment to live in, then basically nothing else matters," he said. "I'm not a climate fanatic but I I try to do my part in terms of recycling. But it's a huge mistake and to deny that we have challenges -- that is foolish."

He is a fan of the beauty of Western New York and he isn't a fan of people on the national stage who run it down.

"When you look at Clarence, Orchard Park, Hamburg, the suburbs around Rochester, the Finger Lakes, this is an awesome place to live," Banks said. "When I hear a presidential candidate, as in the last election besmirching our home by saying Western New York is a disaster or Upstate New York is a disaster -- just look at Buffalo look at Rochester, look at Syracuse look at Albany, it's a disaster, I kind of take that personally.

"You know this is my home. It's your home. Do we have problems? Absolutely. Should we work together to solve them? Yes. I have no doubt, you know, but it is far from a disaster."

Banks hasn't formally announced his candidacy yet. He is looking for volunteers to help pass around petitions so he can qualify for the primary ballot. Banks said he can be contacted through the LinkedIn page he's set up for the campaign.

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