February 26, 2019

Meanwhile Back in Albany (v29)

Nathaniel Brooks/NY Times photo
We've talked about the new high-speed legislative agenda here in New York this session, now that the Dems are in charge of the whole shebang that is NY's state government.

One of the items in that agenda was a tip of the hat towards campaign finance reform. Recently, in that regard, our Sonofa Gov signed legislation that closed the LLC loophole, from which the governor and many other elected officials have benefited greatly over time. LLCs now are stuck with the same $5,000 limit, and there's also additional transparency required. Other changes to how we vote in NY were also made.

I say tip of the hat, because there's so much more that can be done, in my opinion, and as I was catching up on last week's newspapers, I saw my state Senator Rachel May's commentary in the op-ed section of my local paper talking about campaign finance reform. And while that reminded me that I'm still waiting for a response on a few questions I sent her 10 days ago on the failed Amazon deal, I was interested in what more she thinks needs to be done on one of my favorite topics.

She referenced two additional things we need: reducing the amount of money individuals can give, and "amplifying" the power of small donors.

Let's take a look.

February 25, 2019

Grains of Salt (v43): Hire Ground

Grains of Salt
Syracuse and Onondaga County are collaborating on a program that will help reduce panhandling and help establish an income stream for some of the city's homeless population.

In a few short months, we've moved away from plans to address 'aggressive' panhandlers via a local law, and instead will be looking to give people a leg up towards improving their situation.

How did this transition occur?  According to this article,
Four months ago, then-County Legislator Ryan McMahon proposed a different tactic against "aggressive" panhandling. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh voiced support for McMahon's efforts at the time, but stopped short of endorsing the legislation.
... after extensive discussions with social service providers and others, McMahon and Walsh unveiled  what they called "a better option."
That option? A $200,000 pilot program designed to provide jobs and support to this both visible and invisible population of the city.  The program, called Hire Ground Workforce Development, will provide transportation for up to eight people to job sites three days a week, and also connect them to services, such as drug counseling and health care.

McMahon, now the Onondaga County Executive, said his change in approach came from listening to the experts, something that a good leader should do. He said the old plan, the local law, never had the goal of putting people in jail, but was designed to avoid safety issues that come from panhandlers basically refusing to take 'no' for an answer.
Part of our dialogue was, is there an alternative approach to take, a conservative approach. That's kind of what we're doing here. 

February 24, 2019

Sunday School 2/24/19

Just one classroom today, CNN's State of the Union, primarily because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on, and I wanted to hear what he had to say about all of the foreign policy stuff going on, including the president's upcoming visit with Kim Jong Un and what's going on in Venezuela. 

That's where the conversation started.

Jake Tapper asked Pompeo what he meant by his statement that
The US will take action against those who oppose peaceful restoration of democracy in Venezuela.
Pompeo said that our policy is clear, that we support the people there and that we'll continue to do so, but as to specific actions, he said that would be addressed by the Lima Group this week, and,
There's more sanctions to be had. There's more humanitarian assistance, I think, that we can provide. I think we will find other ways to make sure that food gets to the people who need it... We will ultimately, I believe and the Venezuelan people will, ultimately, I believe, hold accountable those who have done so much harm to the fundamental basic rights of the people of Venezuela.
Tapper mentioned some of what the skeptics are saying,  including the suggestion that we are using humanitarian aid as a political tool. Pompeo said we where there are the request of the 'legitimate president' of the country, who asked for our help and helping was "our objective yesterday. It's our objective today. It will be our objective tomorrow as well." 

When Tapper said it seemed Maduro was not going anywhere, he was holding on to power and that it seemed the military was holding with him, Pompeo had a personal response to that. 
It always seems that way, until the day it doesn't. I remember when I was a young soldier patrolling the then East German border. No one predicted on that day in 1989 that that wall would come crumbling down. Predictions are difficult... I am confident that the Venezuelan people will ensure that Maduro's days are numbered. 

February 22, 2019

TGIF 2/22/19

Count me among the folks who are happy that this week is over, and hopefully things can get back to normal starting tomorrow, whether I knock off that bottle of wine tonight or not!

Let's see how some other folks did, starting in the sports world.

We got news (I saw it last Saturday, so it counts for this week) that a confidential settlement had been reached by Colin Kaepernick and the NFL, which resolves the second most hated man in football's collusion lawsuit. Whether or not it leads to a job on an NFL team -- he hasn't played since the 2016 season - remains to be seen, but there are a number of teams that might as well take a chance on him as not. Some have speculated that maybe the Pats would take a chance on him, and that's probably the most logical since they're the most hated team in the NFL.  Maybe hate plus hate could be a match made in heaven?

Speaking of the Pats, news broke today that the team's owner, Robert Kraft, had been caught in a South Florida sting and is being charge with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting a prostitute. Rumor has it there's video - but rumor also has it that there are bigger fish to fry in the sting, which may include sex trafficking, although I've seen nothing long those lines mentioned in reference to Kraft. Categorical denials are coming from his people.

Also on the seedy side of the street? Singer/producer R Kelly has been charged with multiple counts of aggravated sex abuse. Kelly has been getting new attention for prior bad acts, it seems, after a six-hour documentary, Surviving R Kelly, recently aired. If the allegations are true, he deserves whatever punishment he gets.

February 20, 2019

Wondering on Wednesday (v165)

And here we go, wondering again...

We did our taxes yesterday, and the most wonder-full thing about it was the question of how much time the IRS had to waste making the form almost (but not quite) the size of a postcard, in order to meet the Republican promise? As an aside, I'm also wondering if the person tasked with making the form tiny was an essential employee during the #Trumpshutdown?

Staying on taxes for a second, our tax prep package takes care of both federal and state, including picking up rocks and stuff looking for potential income-grabbing requirements and taxable income-reducing requirements. One of those caught my eye for a fleeting moment -- the one related to organized militias. I hadn't seen that one before, so hit the 'learn more' button, as I wondered if there would be any benefit to running out and getting a gun so we'd be able to take the reduction next year.

Sadly, in New York an 'organized militia' is not the same as the 'well regulated militia' we read about in the Second Amendment; New York actually wants you to be in the Guard or Reserves or similar, to get a benefit here. So no - no guns for us.

What else is on tap tonight?

February 19, 2019

My Middle-aged White Lady Perspective: Just Like Bernie, I'm Not a Dem

On the day my Dad would have turned 90, I'm taking a step that I never previously considered taking, and that I would never take without discussing with him.

How I wish he and I were having a conversation about this, instead of me just talking to - and through - my heart, which is all I've been able to do in the twelve years he's been gone.

And while I admit it's not much of a birthday present - or maybe it is, I don't know, the jury's still out on that -  I'm dropping my registration as a Democrat, and at least for now, I'm going the "I do not wish to enroll in a political party" route.

I know, I know -- if I do that I can't choose the candidates that make it to the party line on the ballot, and that was something that my father - a Democrat, a teacher, an old-school community organizer - drilled into my head when I was years too young to vote. But - and this is the sad part - I'm fairly certain they won't miss me.

The Democrats are not interested in listening to me, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be interested in listening to him, either. He and I, we're blue dinosaurs.

The Democratic party has turned so far to the left I'm afraid they won't be able to turn back - and worse, I have no idea where on earth we're going to end up even if they can turn the car back towards the center lane. Even more than that, their positions are so polarizing that they could perpetuate the divide we have now, rather than bridging it - and could help ensure another Trump term.

Here's how I'd explain this to my dad.

February 18, 2019

The Update Desk: Just Say No, Joe

Back in September 2015, when Joe Biden was agonizing over mounting a primary challenge against Hillary Clinton, I wrote a post suggesting that he not do it.

I thought he shouldn't, for a number of reasons including these.
Beyond the personal issues, he's contemplating going up against the Clinton Machine, and the money, and the full wrath and fury that will come to anyone who seriously challenges her as the campaign goes on. She's playing softball now, with Bernie Sanders, and ignoring Marty O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee altogether (as is just about everyone else). But when push comes to shove, this kinder, gentler, softer haired Hillary will go by the wayside - it's only a matter of time.
Biden, not even in the race, is polling very well. But great polling numbers aside, I think it's too late and the public agonizing, while honest and transparent, would end up hurting, not helping him. Sadly, in this day and age, any political operative (from either party) who failed to turn some of those musings into anti-Joe soundbites would surely lose their job.
And, I think his entering the race would have been more meaningful and successful with Beau as trusted adviser, closest confidant, head cheerleader, and political compass than it would with Beau as the one who, by his absence, looms larger than life over his dad's shoulder...
Please, Joe - be selfish, for yourself and your family. Just say no. 
And here we are again with headlines telling us that our Papa Joe is agonizing about getting into the 2020 race, at the age of 78, against what's looking like a pretty big - and relatively young - field of generally progressive opponents.

February 17, 2019

Sunday School 2/17/19

Only time for one lecture this morning, as I'm in day three of a partial technological shutdown here at veritable pastiche. In advance, I thank you for your patience and for sticking around until all issues are resolved.

Today's classroom? This Week with George Stephanopoulos, with co-host Martha Raddatz handling the interviews. I chose this one primarily for William Weld, who says he will primary president Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination. But first, a couple of highlights from the other guests.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told Raddatz that his state would "definitely and imminently" be filing a lawsuit challenging the president's declaration of  a national emergency, noting it was not a surprise. Raddatz wondered about any harm being done to California, since Trump's focus was on Texas. She asked (without irony) if Becerra was
...confident your state has concrete standing to challenge this? What harm is he doing to California with this declaration?
 Becerra's response?
We're confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm. And once... all the different states are clear, what pots of money that taxpayers sent to DC he's going to raid, which Congress dedicated to different types of services; whether it's emergency response services or whether it's fire or mudslides in California or maybe tornadoes and floods in other parts of the country, or whether it's our military men and women and their families who live on military installations that might - that might have money taken away from them, or whether it's money taken away from drug interdiction efforts in places like California, a number of states, and certainly Americans will be harmed. And we're all going to be prepared. 
Becerra talked about how strong the border is, in the words of DHS, and that entries "by those that don't have permission" are lower than in 20 years or so, therefore
...it's clear this isn't an emergency, it's clear that in the mind of Donald Trump he needs to do something to try to fulfill a campaign promise. That doesn't necessarily constitute a national emergency that would require us to essentially stand down on all sorts of federal laws and also violate the US Constitution. 

February 14, 2019

The Update Desk: Please Say it Ain't So

I'd love to say it ain't so, but it is in fact so, according to these updates:

  • The Associated Press tweeted  BREAKING: Amazon drops New York City as one of its new headquarter locations, will not search for another.
  • Reuters tweeted BREAKING: Amazon says it will not build headquarters in New York after mounting opposition
  • J David Goodman tweeted AMAZON CANCELS PLAN TO COME TO NEW YORK "After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens" - Amazon spokeswoman Jodi Seth
And here is the statement released by Amazon, as published in the NY Times:
After much thought and deliberation, we've decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens. For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long term. While polls show that 70% of  New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.
We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion - we love New York, its incomparable dynamism, people and culture - particularly the community of Long Island City, where we have gotten to know so many optimistic, forward-leaning community leaders, small business owners, and residents. There are currently over 5,000 Amazon employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and we plan to continue growing these teams.
We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and their staffs, who so enthusiastically and graciously invited us to build in New York City and supported us during the process. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have worked tirelessly on behalf of New Yorkers to encourage local investment and job creation, and we can't speak positively enough about all of their efforts. The steadfast commitment and dedication that these leaders have demonstrated to the communities they represent inspired us from the very beginning and is one of the big reasons our decision was so difficult. 
We  do not intend to re-open the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the US and Canada. 
Thank you again to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the many other community leaders and residents who welcomed our plans and supported us along the way. We hope to have future chances to collaborate as we continue to build our presence in New York over time.
It will be interesting to see who, now, will be creating the 25,000 $150,000 promised jobs that would have helped create and support countless small businesses that would have spun off from this project, and how long it will take for those jobs and small businesses to materialize. And unionize, of course.  I'll wait patiently for that.

And I'll wait patiently for all of the politicians who proudly declare that they won't accept corporate money to similarly disavow union money.

And, I'll wait patiently for the Dems in the NY Legislature to immediately meet with NY's  Congressional delegation - Schumer, Gillibrand, and all the folks in the house, including AOC -  to demand legislation to update corporate tax regulations so that so that American companies like Amazon can no longer legally have a $0 federal tax liability - and I want them to do that FIRST, before they worry about taxing the rich businessmen who own and run the companies that they so desperately do not want here in the Empire State. 

Waiting patiently, but not holding my breath (I'm not an idiot).

February 13, 2019

Wondering on Wednesday (v164)

The weeks, they go by so fast, don't they?

Just last Wednesday, we were reviewing the president's SOTU (something I never really finished doing, I realize - so I'll get to that soon, I promise), and worrying about the potential for another shutdown, and a bunch of women in white and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's random standing around.

And here we are a week later worrying about the potential for another shutdown, we've got more Dem women running for president, and well, the Speaker is  - well, the Speaker is the current Queen of the Meme for her clapback of the president.

On the possibility we'll have another #Trumpshutdown, which his team has said remains on the table, we know that a bipartisan agreement was reached the other day, and we hear that the president is "not happy" with the compromise that was reached, but is expected to sign it if it gets to his desk. He's suggesting that there'll be some $23B for border security when all is said and done, some part of it to be found by juggling money from department budgets that may keep him from having to declare a national emergency to get at funds.

He's also proclaimed that no president has ever worked harder and I have to wonder, where's the data for that? Bueller? Anyone?

February 12, 2019

Please, Say it Ain't So!

If you're a New Yorker like me, these can be crazy times.
  • Our Sonofa Gov has his lowest favorability rating I think since he took office, even though we've now got a trifecta state government (single party control of the whole shebang) and the agenda is moving forward at a pace described by one member of the media as 'drinking from a firehose'; 
  • Our senior senator suffers as well from poor ratings;
  • Our our junior senator announced her candidacy for president and, in doing so, branded herself a liar; 
  • We're doing our taxes and feeling the pain of the Christmas present the president and the Republicans gave us back in 2017; and
  • We're maybe going to blow the Amazon deal. 
That's right - we're maybe going to blow the Amazon deal, which will bring one of the company's new headquarters locations to Long Island City (the other is being built in Arlington VA).

What does this Amazon HQ2 deal mean for the two areas?  Here's a snippet from CNN back in December. that touches on what the deal means, and what the selected cities need to be working on - now.
The to-do list for both locations includes making sure there's enough housing for new hires, improving the local transportation and infrastructure and adding nearby schools. The company says it will invest $2.5B in each place. Both will have more than 25,000 workers over time, and hiring starts next year. 
And, as that article noted, "there's still plenty of work ahead for New York and Northern Virginia."

So, Virginia is moving forward full steam ahead but what's happening in New York?

February 10, 2019

Sunday School 2/10/19

Strolling through the hallways this morning, doing a little eavesdropping on people, including jack-of-all-trades Mick Mulvaney at Fox News Sunday and a couple of voices on  CNN's State of the Union: South Bend mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY).

Take a listen, starting with Buttigieg, the youngest person running for president in 2020, at age 37. He's also openly gay, a Rhodes Scholar, and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Jake Tapper asked about his call for a "new generation" in American leadership, and whether that mean the old folks should get out of the way, and out of the race. Buttigieg mentioned a recent campaign trip he made to Iowa.
The only group that was more interested in generational change than the youngest voters I met were the voters who were about my parents' age...if you're from an older generation, you care about the world you're leaving. If you're from my generation, you're thinking about the world that we're going to continue living in... 
He also mentioned how interesting it was that, from a policy perspective, everyone's talking about something submitted by someone even younger than he is - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of course, and her Green New Deal, which Buttigieg called "the right beginning."
Obviously, the Green New Deal, as we have seen it so far, is more of a plan than it is a fully articulated set of policies. But the idea that we need to race towards that goal and that we should do it in a way that enhances the economic justice and the level of economic opportunity in our country, I believe that is exactly the right direction to be going in... the question of what the world is going to look like in 2054, which is when I'm going to reach the current age of the current president, that's not a rhetorical question - that's a personal question. 
He has an interesting perspective which might be fun to watch.

Let's see what the others were talking about.

February 9, 2019

Meanwhile Back in Albany (v28)

Nathaniel Brooks/NY Times photo
With so much focus on how quickly New York's 'trifecta' government got out of the gate this year, it's easy to understand how some recent news may have flown under the radar, but it surely is as important as the legislative agenda we're seeing passed with record speed.

Here's the lede from an Albany Times Union article earlier this week:
New York state is facing an unexpected $2.3 billion shortfall - the most significant in eight years - due to a sharp drop in income tax collections for December and January, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo revealed on Monday.
The governor, who had announced his $175 billion spending proposal for 2020 last month, cast blame on the federal government, attribution the drop largely to the 2017 federal rollback of the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT, which he said was designed to penalize Democratic "high-tax" states. "Everything we did economically is right," Cuomo said Monday. "We tightened our belt, we cut taxes, we're creating jobs, and here's a penalty just because we are Democrats."
The article in the Buffalo News started out with this:
Less than three weeks after he proposed his 2019 state budget, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday raised red flags over slipping tax revenues and suggested that some popular items in the fiscal plan, including state aid to schools, could face cuts from what he offered in mid-January. 
Calling the situation "as serious as a heart attack," the Democratic governor said revenues are $2.3 billion below projections for the fiscal year that ends March 31. That is on top of a $500 million revenue dip form personal income taxes that the Cuomo administration recently projected when it put together a budget plan last month. 
And here's how City and State NY presented the news:
The flashy and progressive $175.2 billion executive budget Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented last month just rain into a roadblock earlier this week when the governor and New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced a $2.3 billion shortfall in income tax revenue - on top of the $500 million dip in revenue at the end of last year. Cuomo and DiNapoli both have pointed to the 2017 federal tax law capping how much of their state and local taxes (known as SALT) that income tax filers can deduct from their federal tax liability as a force that caused some of the state's high earners - who contribute a significant amount to the state's income tax revenue - to flee to states with lower taxes. 
Let's take a deeper look.

February 8, 2019

TGIF 2/8/19

Can it be time, already, to look back at who had a good week and who might have one that was, shall we say, less than stellar?

Afraid it is - and it's an interesting week for sure, in that some of the folks on the good side of the ledger also found themselves on the less than stellar side, too.

For example, there was the president, coming off his State of the Union address which Republicans loved, even though he sounds in many ways more like a Democrat than one of them, what with his plans for family leave and empowering women in other countries, and even in his goal of wiping out the spread of HIV/AIDS in the next 10 years. But he showed his rosy red colors, making sure to further inspire fear in the hearts of Americans when it came to immigration and abortion. So, that put him on the good list - ratings were good, ratings for his house network were good, and even some polls showed that the speech was well received.

But then, we learned today that there's apparently been a caravan of undocumented workers at Trump properties, including hotels and golf courses, for years - and, according to some of the workers, with the full knowledge of the people running the properties. Undocumented workers say they told their bosses they had no documentation, and it didn't matter - or even more interesting, when they showed fake documentation that was of poor quality, they were told to get better fake documents.

Now, because it's Trump, I'm sure none of this will matter, because nothing matters when it's him. But for some people, everything matters.

February 6, 2019

Wondering on Wednesday (v163)

Taking a look at the president's State of the Union - let the wondering begin.

Here's what he said, according to the written transcript, to open his speech (there were some ad libs throughout the night):
As we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans. Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as TWO PARTIES but as ONE NATION.  The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican Agenda or a Democrat Agenda. It is the Agenda of the American People.
He also noted
There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage to seize it. Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our COUNTRY.
And, there was this
But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution - and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good. Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America's future.
The decision is ours to make. We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress of pointless destruction...
Members of Congress: the State of our Union is Strong.
Let's look at what he put on the table to entice people to join him.

February 5, 2019

Seeking Unity in the State of the Union

News has it that the president is seeking to give us a message of unity in tonight's SOTU, which will be coming your way at 9PM eastern time.

He's tried giving us that message before - think Charlottesville, for example - with limited success. Usually that's because he's not able to restrain himself - and his handlers are not able to restrain him - from tweeting nastiness, lies, or self-defeating misinformation within hours of giving a speech. He's hampered by that whole, "I'm talking to you, not to myself" trap that ensnares so many people in public life, but maybe tonight will be different.

For example, we're told in this report recapping an appearance by Kellyanne Conway on Fox and Friends, that the president will focus not only on unity, but on an "end to retribution and  resistance politics"- but Conway was not optimistic that his "rivals.. will respond well." And, she said,
It's a very uplifting address to celebrate milestones of American greatness, including those that have anniversaries coming up in 2019... When he is calling for unity and he is talking about actual portraits of Americans who have achieved greatness on behalf of all of us, including our brave men and women in uniform... (if there is) anybody sitting there with their arms folded, looking like they're sucking lemons, he is calling for unity and working together. They will need to decide if they're serious about that as well. 
She also added that the president wants the legislature to "do its job" including "meaningful immigration reform" with a physical barrier that "you can't crawl under, climb over, drive through or walk around."

(As an aside, I noticed that the president's advisor didn't mention the pole vaulting option; she might want to look at that, now that Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker again.)

Finally, Conway noted, he'll tout his many accomplishments, which bad people deny, and he'll address late-term abortion, a topic that will delight his base and antagonize people who believe that the government doesn't need to be between the patient and her doctor. You'll recall that was a huge rallying cry for the Republicans on why the Affordable Care Act was a horrid idea for the country.

Go figure.

February 3, 2019

Sunday School 2/3/19

Today we've got the Super Bowl edition of Sunday School, as president Trump sat for an interview with Margaret Brennan, host of Face the Nation on CBS.

Among the topics they discussed and my summation of each):
  • the shutdown, the national emergency at the border, Nancy Pelosi (BAD!)
  • the kerfuffle with the intelligence folks and whether or not Trump feels they're intelligent; (SMART!)
  • ISIS, Syria and Afghanistan; (WINNING)
  • his Cabinet and how they're acting; (GREAT PEOPLE!)
  • the NFL, the USMCA, Barron and the national anthem; (GREAT PRODUCT!)
  • the Russian witch hunt; and (HILLARY'S EMAILS)
  • Venezuela, North Korea and China (DEALS!)
Let's dive in, shall we?

February 1, 2019

TGIF 2/1/19

The first TGIF of February, and it's all good news - how does that sound?

First up,  a shout-out to new Congressman Anthony Brindisi, who represents the district next to mine here in Central New York. Brindisi was named one of the co-chairs of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 27  moderate-to-conservative Dems. In his role, he'll be the whip, the one responsible for helping ensure members stick together - and vote together - in support of the caucus's ideals:
The Blue Dogs are dedicated to pursuing fiscally-responsible policies, ensuring a strong national defense for our country, and transcending party lines to get things done for the American people.
Brindisi's already made a dent in his first few weeks in Congress - first, he kept his commitment and did not vote for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker; and he and John Katko, my Congressman, managed to spend bipartisan time recently calling for an end to the #trumpshutdown.  Good on both of them for that.