Blood on the Tracks

For any male coming out of high school in the 1960’s, the Vietnam War became a dominating imperative that could not be side-stepped. The rudimentary process of registering for the draft became an increasingly nerve-wracking rite of passage as the war began to escalate, first with troop deployments followed in short order by body bags. Patriotic fervor and duty often became resignation and despair as the war seemed to have no end; the psychological state of the country worsened as criticism went from academic teach-ins and mass demonstrations to civil disobedience and sporadic violence.

One person who “covered the water front” in this regard was S. Brian Willson, who spoke at the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca on Thursday, November 10th. Seeing him step onto the stage gave me chills. Although six years older (age 70), I looked at him as I examine myself and my actions from that time period. We both have graying hair, but his body is much less complete than mine having a pair of prosthetic limbs, limbs that were not lost during the war but as a consequence of it. Willson had come to relate his journey of life as exemplified in his recently published book “Blood on the Tracks”.

Blood on the Tracks Read More »

101 Reasons to Ban Fracking


101 Reasons that High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) Needs to be Banned in New York State
1. If risk to our aquifers were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
2. If risk to our food quality and supply were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
3. If risk to our air quality were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
4. If risk to runaway climate change were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
5. If HVHF’s externalized costs were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
6. If the lack of disposal solutions for produced water and drill cuttings were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
7. If roadways clogged with heavy trucks, moving through established communities were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
8. If increased crime were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
9. If increased traffic accidents were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.
10. If jeopardizing the lives of emergency response teams were the only reason HVHF needs to be banned, it would be sufficient.

101 Reasons to Ban Fracking Read More »

Economic Development and the Cost to the Citizens


by Dave Duncan
previously printed in the Bridge newspaper, but still timely

For many years the municipalities of Broome County and the County itself have been suffering from a drastic income shortfall. Reasons include the decline in population related to the manufacturing plants that have relocated elsewhere, the declining real incomes of the remaining workers, an increase in lower paying services jobs, the aging of the population and the necessity of maintaining the crumbling infrastructure. The problem cannot solely be attributed solely to current or past elected officials.

We are now in a position where our representatives and the Chamber of Commerce tell us, that we, the average residents must pay more taxes, while at the same time having our basic services cut. Each new budding politician campaigns on the platform of correcting the mismanagement of prior office holders but when it comes to protecting the interests of the financial and corporate elites, nothing changes. Yet there is another, unexplored, part of the equation.

Economic Development and the Cost to the Citizens Read More »

Local Politics: Sean Massey

Elections all over the country rewarded a progressive agenda. There was a big win for collective bargaining in Ohio. In Buffalo, Democrats unexpectedly won several local seats. The state of Maine repealed a Republican effort to deprive voters rights.

Yet, in Binghamton NY Republicans won the County Executive seat and two Council seats. Regrettably, among them was Sean Massey, Even a prominent Republican said, “I can’t believe he lost. Sean Massey really worked hard and did so much more than anyone else. We won’t see that again.” Sean, who is an assistant professor at Binghamton University, a restaurant owner (Tranquil Bistro), co-chair of the Commission on Downtown Business Development, and an active force in many local organizations, won the seat from Chris Papastrat by a mere 14 votes (if memory recalls) four years ago. On Election Day, Papastrat won it back by a much bigger margin.

Why? Elections are hard to analyze, but it may be that Sean got caught up in an anti-Ryan move, and certainly an anti-incumbent sentiment. Ryan’s tolerance of the Occupy Binghamton movement and earlier support of the Cost of War clock may have added up. According to one canvasser for the Working Families Party, “The voters in that district were angry, out of proportion to their concerns. One was the $3 garbage labels for oversized items, even though it is estimated that it has saved the city $70,000 in the first 9 months in user fees at the landfill. Another concern was money spent on the Southside Commons that some voters felt could have been better spent on road repair.” (The Commons was built by other grant money, however.) “Late ads from the challenger, Chris Papastrat, also seems to have riled people up,” according to this worker. Many voters were troubled by the all Democratic council and Papastrat is seen as an affable, benign, if not overly intellectual figure. And perhaps an anti-gay sentiment swayed some voters as well.

What is clear is that City Council has lost a unifying figure, a very smart policy person, and a true leader. Sean is not going away, but Binghamton has lost his considerable talents as a Council person and that’s really sad.

Local Politics: Sean Massey Read More »

The Truth About Fracking

Scientific American has published a lengthy article about the science of hydrofracking by Chris Mullins, “When multiple “fracks” are done in multiple, adjacent wells, however, the risk for contaminating drinking water may rise. If fracking is defined as the entire industrial operation, including drilling and the storage of wastewater, contamination has already been found.” You can see a preview at but you must buy the magazine to read the whole thing. Mullins says that “Advanced tests, such as putting tracer chemicals down a well to see if they reappear in drinking water, could ultimately prove whether fracking is safe or not,” but regulators are not waiting for the science to come in.

Elsewhere in the magazine is an editorial saying the “fracking is getting ahead of the science” and the writer is urging New York where it is now under consideration, to “go slow” until the safety issues are resolved.

Cornell had released a narrated PowerPoint presentation on the SGEIS (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) on Hydrofracking. They have waded through the lengthy document to brief the public about the report. Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Community and Regional Development Institute at Cornell University has posted a new narrated powerpoint presentation that highlights the latest revisions to the SGEIS. The presentation can be found at


The Truth About Fracking Read More »

Occupy Binghamton – October 15, 2011

Originally posted on my tumblr, on which I’m following the Occupy movements in upstate New York as closely as I can –

On Saturday, October 15, the Global Day of action, about 300 people showed up to “Occupy Binghamton,” a protest that is part of a grassroots movement organized by a large group of people, including Binghamton University, Broome Community College, and the union AFO-CIO. The event began at the park located at the corner of Court St. and State St. in Binghamton, where participants gathered to hold signs for an hour before having a general assembly and citizen speak out.

Cars passing by honked their approval. Some participants could be overheard remarking to each other, “Don’t honk, join us.”

Click to read more and see photos.

Occupy Binghamton – October 15, 2011 Read More »



Having just returned from Occupy Wall Street – NYC, I have learned much about the capacity of people to cooperate and connect. Finally, I see the end to the tunnel of citizen apathy, diminished expectations and assured mutual self destruction. Finally, I see young, old, able, disabled, fortunate and unfortunate sharing, caring and working in the streets for a sustainable future. It is wonderful to witness and more wonderful to participate in.

The permit to occupy Liberty Park (Zuccotti Park) didn’t include P.A systems or megaphones. Thus, people use people to transmit speakers’ words and phrases during General Assembly each evening. The speaker stops often for various parts of the crowd to echo the last spoken clause, before resuming. The crowd reverberates the words and soul of the speaker. We are joined, listening carefully, responding carefully, caring considerably.
If a person wishes to speak or interrupt, he or she or she/he yells out “MIKE CHECK, MIKE CHECK, MIKE CHECK”. The crowd noise invariably lowers, and the new speaker begins to lead the discussion. Interruptions are infrequent, but honored. The mutual respect is palpable.

Each morning at nine, representatives from the various “working groups” sit cross-legged on the concrete under a large red sculpture that to me resembles a spinning gyroscope. Members of the clean-up crew weave around sleeping bodies and this small forum of consensus elected reps. Here too, one hears a muted “Mike check, Mike check, Mike check”. In this case, the caller can’t hear the current speaker and signals to the person to speak up. Courtesy abounds here. Many working groups report – Coordinating, Internet, Sanitation, Art and Music, Outreach, Logistics, Disabilities, Public Relations, Financial, etc. All are given opportunity to share their concerns, aspirations and daily accomplishments, but kept on point and within time constraints. These people are organizing for the long haul, but keeping the short term problems center stage. They sense time has arrived for them to build a movement from the ground up and are taking their role in it seriously.

It is time for us, however we can, to “MIKE CHECK, MIKE CHECK, MIKE CHECK” and take our time to speak out or, at least, make sure we hear and transmit the messages coming from this growing movement. We all can do something, here, there, at work or at play to keep the momentum growing. Wall Street is finally getting nervous and it’s not from regulators in NYC or Washington, DC. It from activated citizens who are standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the streets worldwide.

The “99%” have more power than the “1%” who own most of our country. We just need to collectively exercise that might through non-violence and focused action here and now.


Susquehanna River has a History of Flooding

Susquehanna River has a History of Flooding
by The Associated Press

An aerial photo shows the flood waters around West Branch of the Susquehanna River and Susquehanna River merging into one in Sunbury, Pa. Nearly 100,000 people from New York to Maryland were ordered to flee the rising Susquehanna River as the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dumped more rain across the Northeast, closing major highways and socking areas still recovering from Hurricane Irene.

read the rest of the article at

Susquehanna River has a History of Flooding Read More »

Flood Pictures of Binghamton NY

9/8/11 Flood stage is at 12 feet but the river is now at 25 feet, give or take a few inches. Downtown Binghamton is deserted and 20,000 residents have been evacuated including those in neighborhoods in the First Ward, Conklin Ave., and the East Side.
The 2006 flood came up over one of the flood walls, which were built after the 1936 floods, and still holding, although several leaks were discovered. There was no repair of them after the 2006 floods. This river is spilling over the flood walls on both of the rivers that define Binghamton, but so far the walls have held and a bigger catastrophe has been avoided.

Flood Pictures of Binghamton NY Read More »

Scroll to Top