ALBANY, NY: Newly elected Assemblywoman Pat Fahy and state Senator Cecilia Thaczyk were the featured speakers at the January 16 Save the Pine Bush dinner held at the Westminster Presbyterian Church. Carol Waterman made the introductions. Ms. Tkaczyk had not yet been certified the winner but in her comments, she said she was certain she would prevail, which she did two days later.
Pat Fahy began saying that while she barely had time to read the new gun control law that was rushed through the Legislature a week earlier, and is not comfortable with the process used to pass it; in this case, it was acceptable because gun control had been debated at length for many years in New York.
She congratulated SPB on its 35th birthday and SPB’s preservation efforts. She said preservation is not her field but her husband bikes to work at RPI where he is on the faculty. She wants to be an ally of SPB, recently visited the Discovery Center, and has requested membership on the Assembly environmental and energy committees. She has lived in NYS for 15 years after moving from Chicago.
One dinner attendee, Ivan Vamos, urged her support for a proposed walkway across the Hudson River from downrtown Albany.
Lynne Jackson said the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission was created by the state in part to replace SPB but this did not occur. SPB has even sued the Pine Bush Commission. Lynne said the Commission does great science but has no money available for land purchases or land trades. Lynne said the Commission obtained its office and the Discovery Center - the former SEFCU building - in a land trade. Lynne urged Ms. Fahy to lend support to legislation that passes the Assembly each year to make it easier for groups to obtain legal “standing” in court to protect land from developers.
SPB member Grace Nichols said the new gun control law contains provisions negatively impacting people with mental illnesses and additional time was needed for the Legislature and the public to analyze the bill.
Sounding not at all like a politician, Cecelia Tkaczyk, said she grew up on a dairy farm and lives in Duanesburg. She had grassroots support from the start of her campaign, and was outspent by her opponent $800,000 to $300,000. Her district contains part of five counties. She won a three-way Democratic Party primary, and also won a Green Party primary and line on the election ballot.. She said she obtained 1987 votes on the Green Party line and urged the Green Party to not leave its ballot line blank (to always run a candidate) or someone else, possibly not a Green, will take it.
She said one of her priorities is to obtain membership on the Senate elections committee effecting legislation to eliminate the numerous post-election series of steps she took to assure her victory.
Lynne Jackson mentioned the manner in which NYS Police arrested the Occupy Albany people including putting their hands inside the pockets of protesters. Lynne said, “Peaceful protest is under considerable attack in the United States.”
Lou Ismay said he believes Climate Change will make the higher elevation areas of NYS more suitable for agriculture. Ms. Thaczyk said she desires to create the infrastructure so farmers can easily connect via the Internet with their customers. She said, “We need to live sustainably” and has neighbors who run a Community Supported Agriculture.
The new senator said elections should be publicly funded; regular average people can not run if they must raise $1 million to be competitive. She said she favors a state-wide fracking ban. The natural gas industry, she said, must comply with clean water laws. “If we can not ban it [fracking], we can make it far more difficult for the gas industry to frack.” She said she favors building code changes to require alternatives to fossil fuels for heating and cooling.