As pickets protest House majority leader’s presence —

Meier and Boehner talk to Cortland business leaders

meier boehner

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Republican Congressional candidate Ray Meier called his visit to the area Monday part of a “courtship.”
“We’re gonna be back again and again in the course of the campaign,” he said.
That courtship took place with 30 community leaders inside the Community Restaurant on Main Street. About an equal number of congressional district residents from Cortland, Binghamton and other nearby cities protested the presence of House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who was in Cortland to support Meier. They were concerned about the future of Social Security.
Meier, a candidate for the 24th Congressional District seat being vacated by retiring Sherwood Boehlert, spoke to the leaders at a breakfast sponsored by the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce.
Meier is battling Oneida County District Attorney Michael Arcuri, a Democrat, for Boehlert’s seat. The race is one of the 10 most important nationally in the GOP’s campaign to keep control of the House.
Meier criticized his opponent’s focus on national issues, emphasized his own experience and called for lower taxes, more cooperation between businesses and universities and a steady continuation of the war on terror.
Meier is emphasizing local issues in his campaign.
“This is not a national race,” he said. “It is about you. It is about this community. It is about each community that comprises the 24th District of New York.”
Jordan Karp, spokesman for Arcuri, said Meier’s claim was absolutely baseless. Arcuri is concerned with energy independence, water issues and health care, all local issues, Karp said.
“I think that Mr. Meier must not think that health care is a local issue, then, because that’s been one of the things Mike has talked about in his campaign,” he said.
Meier said his background has shown him problems that people in the district face. Upon graduation from law school at Syracuse University, he moved back to his hometown of Rome and started practicing law. He represented farmers and other average people trying to make a living, he said.
“I was just handling the details of everyday life,” he said.
From there he went on to become Rome’s attorney, an Oneida county legislator and then Oneida county executive. It was during his job as county executive that he learned how to manage budgets, people and programs, he said.
He became a New York state senator in 1996.
“I have tried to stand out and even at times stand apart,” he said.
In regard to his political agenda, Meier said he would enact policies that support job growth.
For example, he’d do away with the death tax so people wouldn’t have to struggle or sell their businesses to pay it, he said.
“That’s important to the preservation of small businesses, which is the engine for the community,” he said.
Additionally, Meier said he’d like to lower taxes on manufacturers. Right now the 22 percent tax does not compare with the 18 percent of tax that Europeans and South Americans eventually receive back as a rebate, he said.
“We need to drag the tax code into the real world,” he said.
Meier said businesses could also benefit from working more closely with universities. So when businesses need to hire skilled workers, they can be sure those workers exist.
TC3 is already working with Greek Peak to train students for technical jobs at the resort, he said.
“You have a good start here with Al Kryger,” he said about Greek Peak’s president.
Meier also argued the War on Terror needs to continue at full speed. War is not an excuse for suppressing civil liberties, he said, but terrorists should not be given the same civil liberties as other people, he said.
“It is a government’s primary obligation to preserve the well-being and safety of individuals,” he said.
After Meier’s talk, Boehner echoed Meier, saying the United States must do what it takes to fight terrorists, as the recent terrorist plot in London proved. That means eavesdropping and bank monitoring programs must continue, he said.
Boehner said newspapers such as the New York Times have not helped matters by revealing those programs to the public.
“The people who are against us, they’re smart people,” he said. “They begin to change their methods.”
Boehner also told the crowd the role of entitlement programs is one of the biggest problems facing the United States.
He said at the rate things are going, more than half of young people’s paychecks will be going to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly.
“It’s a tsunami coming right at the American society and we’re unable to deal with it,” he said.
Politicians and Americans need to figure out what to do about the problem, he said. Later on, in response to a question, Boehner said he would not advocate for privatization of the entitlement programs. He was referring to proposals to create a system of personal retirement accounts to replace the current program.
“I would never advocate that,” he said. “There are very few people in Washington who have.”
Meier also said he did not support privatization of Social Security.
After the question-and-answer portion of the talk, Tom Hatfield, chief financial officer at Greek Peak, said he was impressed by Meier’s experience in dealing with business-related issues.
Meier realizes high property taxes limit job creation, hurting businesses such as Greek Peak, he said.
“It impacts us in every way imaginable,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield also said he was surprised and glad that Meier and Boehner do not support the privatization of Social Security. They believe the current system, a safety net for the elderly, disabled and their families that workers and their employers pay into, is preferable to a system of personal savings accounts.
But about 30 protestors outside of the restaurant argued Boehner does support the privatization of the Social Security. In fact, Mary Clark, the leader of the group, said Boehner was quoted as supporting it in a Washington newspaper. And she’s against that view, she said.
“We already have a way to pay for it,” she said about Social Security. “We’ve been paying for it for the last 71 years.”
Michelle Tulumello, of the Binghamton area, said she showed up not to protest Meier’s ideas, but his association with Boehner.
“It’s about the company you keep,” she said.
Bonnie Carlson, of Cortland, agreed Boehner was the group’s main concern. Despite what he said at the Community Restaurant, Boehner supports privatization of Social Security, Carlson said. And that’s frightening, she said.
As of Monday, Meier was planning on speaking to Cortland’s Rotary Club at noon today and visiting its senior center at 2 p.m., said Nicole Austin, Meier’s spokeswoman. He will hold a forum for the public on Sept. 3 at the Cortland Senior Center, she said.



Homer renews housing review

Staff Reporter

HOMER — About 15 local residents showed up at the village Planning Board meeting Monday evening to keep up with the planning process for the Homer Housing Co.’s senior housing project on Cortland Street.
After a lawsuit voided the original village approval of the project, they wanted to make sure the process goes right this time, said Homer resident Victor Siegel.
“We have no experience in going through this process so we’re just there to observe,” he explained this morning.
The concerned residents stayed for about 10 minutes. The board members quickly accomplished the next step of the project — resolving to send a letter to all agencies involved with the project.
The letter will tell the agencies they have the opportunity to challenge the Planning Board’s desire to serve as lead agency in the planning process.
If the other agencies accept the board’s status, then a public hearing on the site plan, including the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, will take place soon after. Otherwise, a lead agency first will have to be determined.
Siegel said the Planning Board seems to be going about its business correctly.
“We’re pleased that the Planning Board is following the letter of the law,” he said.
The village ordered work stopped on the partially completed 24-unit senior housing project on a 2.5-acre lot at Cortland Street and Orson Drive. The developer is Homer Housing Co., a subsidiary of Syracuse-based Two Plus Four Construction.
The Planning Board is in the process of redoing the SEQRA process after state Supreme Court Judge Kevin M. Dowd ruled June 30 the site did not receive adequate environmental review the first time by the Planning Board.