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January 28, 2019 - 11:03pm

City Council supports resident's call to stand up against New York's new abortion law

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, Gov. Cuomo.

connelly_1.jpgDeclaring it his God-given right and responsibility to speak out against what he perceives as evil, Batavia resident Chris Connelly tonight asked City Council to stand up against New York State’s new abortion law.

“Abortion is murder and it has become America’s holocaust … 60 million children,” said Connelly, a former Marine now confined to a wheelchair due to an ATV accident a few years back.

Connelly, who spoke during the public comment portion of the Conference Meeting at City Hall, said he had no political agenda -- “I’m not here as a Democrat or Republican, but as a man made in the image of God.”

He contended that City Council has the power to shut down Planned Parenthood and to make “Batavia a sanctuary for the unborn.”

“If we choose to neglect our responsibility, I truly fear for our nation,” he said, quoting from Isaiah 1:16-20, a passage from the Bible that warns against evil deeds and implores people to follow a path of righteousness.

Last Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law New York’s Reproductive Health Act, a far-reaching statute that removes abortion from the state’s criminal code and allows medical professionals who aren’t doctors to perform abortions.

Furthermore, the law permits abortions to be performed after 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or if the health of the mother is at risk.

Cuomo came under fire from Roman Catholic clergy with some calling for the governor, a former altar boy, to be excommunicated from the faith.

Council member Rose Mary Christian applauded Connelly’s stance and urged the board to do something.

“Is there anything we can do to stop this atrocious thing in our city?” she asked, after bringing up the idea of a sanctuary city. “It’s the same thing (as fighting against illegal immigration) I’d like to have done for the right to life of our babies.”

After a brief discussion, Council President Eugene Jankowski, with consensus from his colleagues, directed City Manager Martin Moore to write a letter stating their opposition to this law and for it to be placed on next month’s agenda. Moore said he would wait for feedback from the public before drafting the letter.

Christian then made her feelings perfectly clear.

“He’s (Cuomo) a murderer period,” she said. “I don’t care how you slice it or dice it. He’s a murderer … period.”

In other developments, Council moved the following items to its Feb. 11 Business Meeting:

-- Scheduling of a pair of public hearings for 7 p.m. Feb. 25 that deal with the city manager’s proposed $27,494,132 budget for 2019-20 and the establishment of water rates, meter fees and capital improvement fees.

Moore’s budget calls for $5,251,607 to be raised by taxes, resulting in a tax rate of $8.96 per thousand of assessed valuation – the same as last year’s rate. That means that a house assessed for $70,000 would incur a tax bill of $627.20.

Water rates and meter fees are projected to increase by 3.5 percent while capital improvement fees are earmarked for a 10-percent hike.

-- Acceptance of “back pay” from New York State along with an annual increase in payments from the state in connection with an arterial maintenance agreement that will extend through 2049.

This supplemental agreement stems from the discovery that the City was underpaid for work it did to maintain state highways (routes 5, 33, 63 and 98) dating back to June 1994 and is not being reimbursed enough to cover its costs going forward.

As a result, the City will receive a one-time payment from the state for $218,539.88 to take care of the underpayments and now will be paid $183,017.40 annually, an increase of $6,500.

-- Authorization of two bonds to finance installation and construction of sidewalk and traffic signal improvements on State Street, Centennial Park, Washington Avenue, Bank Street and Richmond Avenue (pathways to schools), and to make water system and drainage improvements along South Main Street, Brooklyn Avenue and Union Street.

Costs of the sidewalk project are estimated at $1.1 million with 75 percent being paid through federal funding and the cost of the water system project is set at $913,000, which has been budgeted.

Afterward, during a Special Business Meeting, Council passed a pair of resolutions – one that accepts a $17,981 grant from the Genesee County STOP-DWI program for specialized patrols, training and equipment to combat impaired driving, and the other that executes a Community Development Block Grant of $50,000 for a feasibility study to evaluate the possible addition of a second ice rink at the Falleti Ice Arena on Evans Street.

A $5,000 local match was required for the CDBG, with funds provided by Batavians Paul Viele, Matt Gray, Steve Pies and Stephanie Call. Viele, a City Council member, recused himself during the vote.

benedict.jpg

City Council recognized Karen Benedict, left, for her nearly 20 years of service as records clerk for the Batavia City Police Department. City Council Member Patti Pacino, right, read a proclamation in Benedict's honor, and Benedict followed by praising the City's police officers for their dedication and professionalism. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Sammy DiSalvo
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Some things in this article are vague or misleading:

-> "...removes abortion from the state’s criminal code..."
The wording of the bill under subsection 10 part (b) retains that abortion is still illegal under certain circumstances, just as it is legal under certain circumstances: "abortion in the second degree as defined in section 125.40 of the penal law, abortion in the first degree as defined in section 125.45 of the penal law..."
I would hope for this addendum in the original article so that the information in the article isn't subjective and misleading but rather neutral and informative.

-> "...allows medical professionals who aren’t doctors to perform abortions."
The wording of the bill is: "Section 2 of the bill creates a new Article 25-A of the Public Health Law (PHL), which states that an abortion May be performed by a licensed, certified, or authorized practitioner..."
So the professional who performs the abortion must be licensed, certified, or an authorized practitioner. The article makes it sound like anybody is legally allowed to perform abortions. In reality, you still must be a professional with proper training/education. I recommend that the article be edited to make this clear. Without this being clarified, it is meant to skew readers' opinions.

Stating City Council's objection to the law in a letter is fine, as people are entitled to their opinions. While Chris Connelly, like City Council, is entitled to his opinion, suggesting that Planned Parenthood be shut down because of his personal religious beliefs while disregarding how the rest of the population may feel, puts his feelings above others'. If City Council decides to act in any way to shut down Batavia's Planned Parenthood, they would be hurting hundreds of people who rely on cancer screenings, free birth control, STD testing, and many other services. City Council should continue to support its population. Even considering the idea of shutting down Batavia's Planned Parenthood would be an act of disregarding the people City Council serves.

For those who do not know, here is a list of what Planned Parenthood does globally:
-324,000/9,500,000 services = 3.4% of services are abortions.
-Advocates for health reproductive services, sex education, reproductive rights.
-Birth control and long-acting reversible contraceptive.
-Emergency contraception.
-Clinical breast examinations.
-Cervical cancer screening.
-Pregnancy testing and counseling.
-Testing and treatment for STDs.
-Vasectomies.
-LGBT services.
-Sex education.

Without the above two points being clarified, this article is misleading and subjective, meant to skew readers, which is NOT how journalism should be. I expect The Batavian to hold its journalism to a higher standard than the misleading reporting and writing in this article that lacks the information required to be true, neutral, informative reporting.

I look forward to seeing this article edited to become a neutral and informative piece of journalism.

-Sammy

Howard B. Owens
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Sam, I appreciate your willingness to weigh on this issue with some facts that address what Mr. Connelly said, I totally reject and find insulting your contention that the article is misleading and subjective.

Mr. Pettinella is a very good reporter. I'm sure he added none of his own opinion or slant to the story. He reported precisely what happened at the City Council meeting. To suggest otherwise is nonsense. This story is a report of what happened at a City Council meeting. It is not a story about abortion, that just happens to be what was said at the meeting. If you had been there to speak at the meeting, then your information would be included in the story. Since you weren't, it wasn't. That's neither the fault of Mr. Pettinella nor The Batavian.

The article is neutral and won't be changed. It accurately reflects the views of the speakers. It can't get more neutral than that.

John Roach
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I was at the meeting, and the story does reflect what the speaker said and what Council did

david spaulding
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So all it takes is an opinion from a citizen and an agreeing board member to draft a letter stating their opposition to a state law? Tell me how this guy being a former marine and crippled from an accident has any merit?
Eugene, as a non-disabled, non-military veteran, who believes in every woman's right to her body, I ask you to withdraw your directive to the city manager and tend to the city's business.
If you don't like the laws of New York you have to move, you can Not change them.

John Roach
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David, are you sure you mean that if you don't like a law, you can "not change them" and you "have to move"?

Howard B. Owens
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I find the idea of "if you don't like the laws move" rather intolerable.

If you don't like the laws, speak out against them. If you don't like the laws, try to elect new representatives. That's the American way. Free speech. Democracy.

The idea that somebody would have to move because they don't like the laws is rather noxious. Imagine, "Dear Patrick Henry, you don't like the rules under the Crown, so move."

We don't know where this country will be on abortion 10, 15, 50, or 100 years from now. Society evolves. A free society evolves through the free exchange of ideas.

Christopher Putnam
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Yeah, A disabled vet knows whats best for a womans body. He should be able to force his religious beliefs into everyone's life.
Roll yourself back home and mind your business.

John Roach
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Christopher, you do accept his right to state his opinion in public, right? Or have you decide he does not have that right?

Rich Richmond
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Chris Connelly. Thank you for your service to our Country, Marine, and defending our First Amendment Rights. You have proven your Patriotism and courage. François-Marie Arouet, pen name Voltaire said it best, "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

It takes a real tough guy and keyboard warrior to tell a disabled person, "Roll yourself back home and mind your business."

david spaulding
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John, I meant what I said. While it may read different on paper, in theory it's accurate. I live in New York where they have illegally passed laws and the courts are ok with that.. If you don't like the laws of New York State Move Out for you can Not change them. This is Cuomo country and Cuomo knows.

david spaulding
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A council member calling the Governor of New York a murderer on the record... Oh My.. The nerve of that woman. I am Offended ..... Take it back and apologize Rose Mary for the board will have to take action if you don't. This kind of behavior by a board member is unconscionable and can Not be tolerated.

david spaulding
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Red Flag on Rose Mary..... anybody else see it ? Eugene, see any Red Flags? The woman is obviously mentally unstable, send the sheriff over, Rose baby it's time to turn in any and all your firearms, just to keep the rest of us safe. I don't care how it's sliced or diced, it's the Red Flag law....

Eugene Jankowski Jr
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I believe one of my responsibilities as council President is to never discourage a member of the community from speaking their concerns at a meeting and to allow council members to speak freely, representing their wards as they see fit. However, it’s also my responsibility to organize council resources during the meeting and at times direct and assist council members with the process.

At each council meeting time is allowed for the public to speak and for council members to respond to those speakers. In this case Mr Connelly made a plea for City Council to respond in some way to the recent changes in the NY State abortion law and Council Person Christian proposed council take an action. I’d like to clarify the process and what was discussed. If you’d like you can watch a televised version of the complete meeting on the local cable tv channel.

Council Person Christian responded to Mr Connelly’s plea and suggested a “sanctuary city” approach. I suggested maybe a letter of disapproval would be more appropriate. Mrs Christian agreed and the beginning of the decision process began. Council directed the city manager to draft a letter of disapproval to the governor to be discussed and debated at the next conference meeting which is scheduled for February 25th. As I stated at Mondays meeting, this would also give plenty of time for the public to contact their council members and weigh in. If council were to approve of the letter on the 25th it would then be moved to the March 11, business meeting for a final vote. At any time during the process, council can change the wording of the letter or choose not to send it.

The public feedback to the abortion law and City Council’s letter in response is very divided. However, there’s one common theme in the feedback I’ve received so far that I agree with. The local community wants City Council to stick with local issues that we have control of and stay away from the controversial state and national issues that we have no control of. Also, as members of the community, individual council members are free to write individual letters of opinion to any higher elected representatives as they see fit.

I personally believe that City Council writing a letter of either approval or disapproval of the abortion law changes at this time will alienate half of the community on either side and it wouldn't represent a clear direction or a consensus. Therefore, my intentions are to revisit the letter request under old business at the next available council meeting which is the February 11th Business meeting. I will recommend Council withdraw the request to write a letter to the Governor and suggest Council stay focused on local issues. Council as a group will then be able to make a final decision on how to proceed.

I appreciate your input and if there’s anything else I can do to assist please contact me

david spaulding
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Eugene, FYI The law is not the "NY State Abortion Law" as you keep saying in your post, the law is called "The NYS Reproductive Act." I have a fairly good idea where you stand on the issue, when it comes to letter writing time, I hope you will consider where I stand.

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