My daughter Chloe is a student at St. Lawrence. On a recent trip home, we spent the four hours discussing political and social issues. We tend to share the same values, although it’s fair to say we each view the world in different ways …..which is to be expected, considering that I am a 55-year old man, and she is a 19-year old lady.

Over the years, she has accompanied me on various “grass roots” activities, including attending meetings, listening to high profile speakers, and assisting me in the door-to-door part of my epidemiological study of the Village of Sidney, N.Y. I’ve taken pride in introducing her to Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter; Robert Kennedy, Jr.; Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman; and others. In turn, through her, I’ve met Elizabeth de la Vega and John Nichols. (When Chloe was 12, she gave an off-the-cuff speech at an anti-war program in Binghamton, NY. Elizabeth told the audience, “We’ve just met a future US Senator.”)

Chloe and I discussed doing a blog together. Since I had already started — but recently neglected — this one, we decided to revive it. Starting next week, she and I will take turns posting essays here, on a wide range of issues. Our editor is a close family friend, Alyssa Hardy, a teacher-artist-musician-chef; Alyssa and Chloe perform as “Girls in Dresses” as an opening act for Dan Hardy’s band, “The Woodshed Prophets.”

It is my hope that in 2014, both Alyssa and Dan will begin posting here, as well. Also, Chloe and I will try to get her siblings — brothers Corey and Darren, and sister Darcy — to join our effort, too. If that happens, this blog should provide information, analysis, and opinions on topics ranging from the environment, to public education, to economics, to social justice. I am confident that our effort will be successful in providing food for thought for our readers. Please consider connecting your family and friends with our blog. Thank you!

Delivered Testimony of Dr. Larysa Dyrszka, Pediatrician at Hydrofracking Forum (4/25/12):


Patrick’s new ebook, Grassroots Handbook for Community Organizing, is now available for free download on Click here to download.

All business between other nations and the Iroquois was brought to the council fire of Onondaga.
— James Smith; The History of Chenango County: 1784 – 1880; page 13.

Andrew Cuomo is the first Governor of New York State to refuse to meet with the Iroquois Council of Chiefs. Despite numerous attempts by the Council to meet with the current governor, Andrew Cuomo has simply ignored them, and has failed to even acknowledge the Six Nations exist.

Governor Cuomo’s father had a very different approach to — and relationship with — the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. This began in 1975, when Governor Hugh Carey appointed him as Secretary of State; continued when Mario was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1978; and remained a significant factor after he was elected Governor in 1982, and was re-elected in 1986 and 1990.

Even the most rigidly right-wing Republican governors have had relationships with the Iroquois. The relationship between New York State and the Iroquois has, even in modern times, featured some very real tensions. In August and early September of 1971, for example, when NYS attempted to widen Interstate 88 south of Syracuse, where it passed through Onondaga Territory, Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered the NYS Police to “put down” the non-violent blockade of Iroquois blocking the proposed construction.

Literally as the police were preparing for a violent assault on the Onondaga and their supporters, Governor Rockefeller made an emergency call, redirecting the police to Attica State Prison. The very police officers who had hours before had their weapons trained upon the non-violent Iroquois would use these same guns to “resolve” the riot at Attica State Prison.

A quarter of a century later, Governor George Pataki would oversee a plan to have the State Police and National Guard conduct a military assault on Onondaga and several other Iroquois Territories. Days before the plan was to become operational, we learned about it by way of a “leak” from a state official with a conscience. Long story short: this allowed us to derail what would have been a violent and tragic chapter in New York State history.

The relationship between NYS and the Iroquois has been as damaged by purposeful distortions and outright lies in recent decades, as it has ever been. This has frequently been in regard to the “land claims” cases. State officials from both democratic and republican administrations in Albany play upon the ignorance of fears of the general public: these officials pretend that the Onondaga want to evict citizens from their homes and properties. In fact, the Onondaga have proposed no such thing; rather, they have suggested that the state clean up the many toxic industrial waste dumps that poison the environment, and cause disease and death in all living things.

I would suggest that it is no coincidence that Andrew Cuomo also refuses to meet with the grass roots pro-environment, anti-hydrofracking community. Likewise, Andrew’s purposeful misrepresentation of the grass roots positions is no accident: he continues to claim that the grass roots bases their position on “fears and emotions,” despite the massive scientific evidence of the irreversible damage fracking does to the environment.

Thus, I am going to present brief reviews of, and links to, a number of university studies that expose not only the truth about hydrofracking, but also the blatant dishonesty of Andrew Cuomo.

More, I would like to invite everyone to the opening day of this year’s New York State Fair, in Syracuse, NY, on August 23. Traditionally, the Governor leads the opening ceremony, and Andrew Cuomo is seeking to use this opportunity to build on the foundation of his planned 2016 presidential run. We need to engage in a rally there, to let Andrew Cuomo know that we will not allow our land to be hydrofracked, so that he can get gas industry contributions to finance his attempt to create the Dick Cheney-wing of the Democratic Party.

At the Sidney Town Board meetings, Supervisor Bob McCarthy has taken the position that hydrofracking is essential: the gas, he notes, is needed to run the former Sidney Hospital, now a branch of Bassett HealthCare of Cooperstown.

However, on February 9, 2011, The Bassett Board of Trustees issued a statement that opposes hydrofracking in New York State, for health reasons. More, on February 23, 2011, the Bassett Medical Staff issued a resolution that opposes hydrofracking for health reasons.

At the August, 2012 Sidney Town Board meeting, I plan to question Supervisor McCarthy and the board members about this. I would appreciate having as many pro-environment, pro-health, anti-hydrofracking people as possible attend.

I spoke at a rally/ press conference yesterday in rural Brooklyn, Pennsylvania. The event was held on a beautiful old horse farm, near the beginning of the “proposed” Constitutional Pipeline. We were forced to compete with the sites and sounds of construction on the Williams Midstream Central Station (WMCS).

Curiously, the WMCS is being built, even before a FERC permit has been issued. That combination of government and corporate power has no greater example of arrogance, than the destruction of this large plot of land — somewhere around 56 acres — without the proper permit. If I had not seen it with my own eyes, it would have been impossible to understand just how damaging this monstrosity actually is.

Before the event began, a couple of brave souls stopped one of the large trucks driving on this narrow dirt road, and asked to see their permit. Of course, there is not one. And so the pair continued to “block” the road for a brief period, willing to face arrest for attempting to prevent a criminal act that is part of a criminal conspiracy. (Police did begin patrolling the road, but there were no confrontations.)

Part of the outline I had prepared included my paraphrasing Minister Malcolm X, who said that people needed to be prepare to be arrested for social justice. He further noted that the time had come when folks needed to be prepared to go to jail, to the Emergency Room, or to the cemetery. In the context of the struggle to protect the environment and all living things from hydrofracking, I believe that we are to that point now.

In my opinion, we are not fully prepared for this need. Let me explain. For example, I had not ridden to PA planning to get arrested yesterday. It’s not that I am too cowardly to subject myself to that process. But I had not prepared. To have been prepared, I would have discussed it with my wife and children. I would have taken the time to investigate what type of charges I preferred, if possible, to face. And I would surely have had contact with the local police force, and informed them well ahead of time of my plan. “The police” are not my enemy: many are either opposed to fracking, or would be if they knew much about it.

I would not behave in a manner that would make “the police” think that I am trying to be their enemy. This does not mean that all, or even most, would approve of non-violent civil disobedience. Certainly not at first. But I am confident that, once arrested, I willingly either accepted being sent to jail, or choosing to — rather than pay a fine or bail — they might at least think about it. And if I politely opted to not further burden the municipal or county jail by consuming food, I believe that enough local police officers would at least respect that I had the courage of my “convictions,” that it would be worth my while.

It would be “worth my while” for two reasons. First, because both “the police” and people participating in civil disobedience frequently view one-another through suspicious eyes, it could serve as a hint at the transforming power of non-violence in action. Second, that might make the pro-environment, anti-fracking people to consider the very real possibility that nothing less than a coordinated, wide-spread non-violent action is needed — as soon as possible.

The primary reason that I do not think that we, as a community, are quite ready to do this today, is as a result of my observations at recent public and private meetings. Last week, for example, I attended a Sidney Town Board meeting. Sidney is a curious town of about 5,000 people, which has all of the very good and very bad found in the United States. Bob McCarthy, the Town Supervisor that made Sidney a national sick joke  in 2010, has been accurate described as “Otis, the town drunk of Mayberry, with a severe case of tea party-rabies.”

Now, Bob can be frustrating to talk to, if one intends a meaningful communication. But too often, some of the good people who are faithfully attending the board’s meetings lose their temper, and react angrily to McCarthy’s rudeness. Thus, in a public meeting of twenty to thirty human beings, the focus becomes the bitter fruit of McCarthy.

I do not need to provide examples of short tempers et al found within parts of the anti-fracking community: anyone who has been active over the past year are already aware of too many examples. Even yesterday, several old and new friends talked about this dynamic. And so in my speech, I used a Rubin “Hurricane” Carter quote:

“Hate can only produce hate. That’s why all these wars are going on, all this insanity. There’s too much anger in the United States. People are too afraid, too numbed out. We need to wipe out this hatred, fear, distrust, and bitterness. We need to understand, to forgive, and to love.”

In order to really understand hydrofracking, I try to view it in the context that Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman taught me when I was young. Time and time again, there were ugly cases of corporations desecrating “Sacred Ground” with toxic destruction. In Sidney in the early 1990s, the local political-corporate machine destroying a mound the traditional Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy recognized as Sacred Ground — to cover a toxic industrial waste dump site. I told how the construction company began destroying the Sacred Ground, in between scheduled hearings in the New York Supreme Court.

Or a Pennsylvania example in the 1930s, Iroquois Clan Mothers and Chiefs brought professors from Cornell University down the Susquehanna River, to the island where the historic figure, and Iroquois prophet, Hiawatha was born. That site is known today as Three Mile Island.

In order to be fully prepared to engage in the absolutely-necessary tactics to stop fracking, we need to fully understand the nature of the beast we are fighting. And in order to fully understand that beast, we have to wipe out the negative energies that are found within us, as individuals, and as a community. I’m not saying that Bob McCarthy is your friend, but do not allow the Bob McCarthy-ites to control the conversations. Bitterness contaminates the vessel which contains it. We need to be vessels of cool, pure spring water.

By no coincidence, it was when my good friend Rubin rose above the anger and hostilities associated with his being wrongfully incarcerated for twenty long years, that he rose above the corruption parts of the legal system that had placed him behind bars.He found that true freedom only existed upon Higher Ground.

When we get started towards that mound, I am convinced that we will see that engaging in a major, well-coordinated campaign of civil disobedience is necessary. And that means exercising our Amendment 1 rights along the length of the proposed Constitutional Pipeline.

This world and yonder world are incessantly giving birth: every cause is a mother, its effect the child.
When the effect is born, it too becomes a cause and gives birth to wonderous effects
These causes are generation on generation, but it needs a very well lighted eye to see the links in their chain.
— Jalal-ad-din Rumi; Persian Sufi poet

This blog is about environmental issues of concern to citizens in the northeast. In recent times, I have been working to prevent “energy” corporations from hydrofracking in New York State. This, like each and every environmental issue, is of consequence to human beings in other places. I live near the intersection of the Unadilla and Susquehanna Rivers, for example, and what enters the water here travels down to the Chesapeake Bay. More, the toxin industrial wastes we dump today flow in time, to poison future generations.

Last summer, I was invited to speak at a number of forums on hydrofracking, around the state. One, in Cortland, NY, had a particular effect upon my thinking. As I was preparing to speak, I noticed a couple of large frames hanging on the church wall behind me. There were old newspaper articles and photographs from the late 1950s. A young minister named Martin Luther King, Jr., had spoken from the very spot where I would stand to speak.

Dr. King’s teachings have been a major influence on my thinking since I was young. His example, I believe, is one that all those engaged in the Good Fight for social justice should follow. And while I recognize that none of us (least of all me) will approach the moral authority of a King or Gandhi, the experience of speaking in that Cortland church made me determined to do whatever I could do to protect the water, soil, air, and future, from hydrofracking.

I decided that there were three individuals that I needed to meet with. The first was NY State Senator Thomas Libous, who is misrepresenting this area by aggressively advocating for fracking. The second was environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., from Pace University, and Riverkeeper, and who serves on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s advisory panel on fracking; and the third was Robert’s (ex) brother-in-law, Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Senator Libous was unwilling to agree to a meeting with the grass roots leaders in our region, much less me. After numerous communications between myself and his aides, I wrote a letter stating that I would engage in a hunger strike unless he met with us. He sent a letter in response, stating that a hunger strike would not change his mind: he simply would not meet with us.

Thus, in January, on the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, we held a rally/ press conference outside of Libous’s Binghamton office, announcing my hunger strike had begun. Thanks to an article by Will Pitt on TruthOut, literally hundreds of people from across the country began calling Libous — as well as Kennedy and Cuomo — asking that the senator meet with me. On the 23rd, I addressed a large rally inside the state capitol building, and noted that area high school students were calling Libous’s office. Some were preparing to do a series of rallies at his branch offices.

Tom Libous and I met within a couple of hours that day.

In April, I was able to set up a meeting with Robert Kennedy, Jr., and grass roots leaders (and high school students) from around the entire state. I believe that it was a productive meeting. There are, however, other good people who were not satisfied. Perhaps that is the way it should be.

In early June, the New York Times reported on a “leak” from Albany, that Governor Cuomo would soon give the go-ahead for hydrofracking in the Southern Tier. Although the governor’s office denied it a few days later, it appears that Andrew Cuomo plans to make the counties of the Southern Tier a sacrifice area. Indeed, that leak could only have been made with Cuomo’s okay ……and his plan to run for the presidency in 2016 requires, he believes, the generous support of the energy corporations.

On Monday, July 9, Governor Cuomo spoke on New York Public Radio, saying that he believes there should be hydrofracking in communities that “want” it. Cuomo continues to respond to documentation that shows that the majority of people are opposed to fracking, including the majority in towns that are currently “represented” by officials who favor it. The concept of “home rule” in the context of the current make-up of numerous communities in the state does not reflect upon opinions of residents. Nor should a person who might be in a minority have their property destroyed by a neighbor’s decision.

I called both Pace University’s Environmental Law Clinic and Governor Cuomo’s office earlier this afternoon. The governor has been watching for three things in the Southern Tier”:

  1. an increase in letters-to-the-editor in newspapers such as the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, opposed to fracking;
  2. rallies in the Southern Tier, specifically targeting Senator Libous’s office; and
  3. evidence that the anti-fracking movement is increasing its numbers. Also, Cuomo continues to say that the anti-fracking people rely on “fears and emotion, not facts.”

I have invited Andrew Cuomo to meet with the grass roots leadership from the Southern Tier, to discuss the facts. These include both university studies on the damage fracking does, as well as accurate statistics on the numbers of residents opposed to hydrofracking. We are willing to meet with him here, at Pace, or at the State Capitol. The aide I spoke with today said that my request will be evaluated by others serving the governor.

She also recommended that I write a letter to Cuomo — not an e-mail — that contains the general information covered here. It will be in the mail by morning.

What I am hoping is that you will also contact Cuomo’s office, and urge him to meet with the grass roots leaders from New York’s Southern Tier.

The phone number is: 518-474-8390.

His mailing address is:
Governor Andrew Cuomo
NYS Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Thank you for your support.


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