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Hawkins News Conference in Buffalo
For immediate release: September 20, 2018
Howie Hawkins Says Green Party is the Progressive Choice in November
(Buffalo) Howie Hawkins kicked off his general election campaign in Buffalo today by saying he was Plan B for the 500,000 people who voted for Nixon last week as well as for other voters who think Cuomo is liberal.
Hawkins also said that the disgraceful response by the federal government to the devastation one year ago today in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands highlighted the need for New York to take much stronger action on climate issues and provide aid to the Puerto Rican environmental refugees who have come to New York. Hawkins’ running mate for Lieutenant Governor, Jia Lee, a public school teacher and union organizer, spent a week in August helping the Puerto Rican teachers union organizing to resist the full-scale privatization of public schools there sought by the Trump administration in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
The Greens are calling for the cancelling of the debt, eliminating the control board, fully funding reconstruction and solarizing the power grid. Hawkins added that “Cuomo doing photo-ops is not enough to solve the crisis in Puerto Rico.”
Ms. Lee issued her own statement: "One year after Hurricane Maria, we are seeing the blatant indifference to human suffering and loss. Further, disaster capitalism is forcing more instability in communities with more than 230 school closures, mismanagement of the school system, and the government's promise to continue privatization. The only hope is with the grassroots and militant efforts of the Federation of Teachers (FMPR) and its alliances.”
Hawkins also vowed to end the culture of corruption that dominates the State Capitol, with two of the Governor’s top aides being convicted for corruption, including a case involving the Buffalo Billion. Joe Percoco is being sentenced today for his conviction earlier this year. Over 50 New York State officials have been convicted or forced to resign since 2000 for improper activities.
“Cuomo cannot solve the simplest of problems, like finding one day for federal, state, and local primaries. He is utterly failing to address serious problems. Nearly half a century after the Surgeon General warned that urgent action was needed to stop child lead contamination, 40% of children in Buffalo and Syracuse today have elevated blood levels that cause neurological damage that impairs their physical, mental, and emotional development. When he can’t solve problems like this, there is no way that Cuomo can solve climate change and income inequality,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins plans to appeal to progressives who voted for Nixon, Williams, and Teachout in the recent primary. He called on them to support the Green gubernatorial ticket of Hawkins and Jia Lee, as well as Michael Sussman for Attorney General and Mark Dunlea for Comptroller. Hawkins said that the Green candidates are veteran activists who come out of progressive movements and are the most qualified for their offices.
With an increasing number of scientists, government bodies, and the media warning that the future of human civilization is imperiled by accelerating global warming and climate change, the Green Party wants New York to set a goal of 100% clean energy by 2030.
“Nixon urging Cuomo to get behind the Climate and Community Protection Act, which the state Assembly has passed three times, is ironic because it mostly codifies Cuomo’s own energy policy. We need to fight for passage of the New York Off Fossil Fuels Act, a plan for 100% clean energy by 2030, with the same sharp focus we had on the fracking ban in 2014,” Hawkins added.
“The good news is that we largely know how to move to 100% clean energy while creating millions of jobs, eliminating needless deaths from air pollution, and lowering energy costs. All we need is the political will to act and the Greens have that in abundance,” added Hawkins.
Hawkins, who is campaigning as an eco-socialist, said that now that the primary is over, there needs to be a much more open discussion about what being a progressive means in New York rather than the narrow debate during the Democratic Party primaries.
“While I certainly agree we need to end the Trump presidency as soon as possible, the gubernatorial election needs to focus on real solutions for New York’s problems,” added Hawkins.
Hawkins proposes four regional debates (NYC Metro area, Capital District, Central NY and Western NY), each focused on a topic: The Economy, Government Reform, The Environment and Climate, and Social Policy, including education, health care, criminal justice, and civil rights.
Hawkins and the Greens support the single-payer NY Health Act and a range of ethics and criminal justice reforms, including ranked-choice voting and proportional representation, full public campaign finance based on the Clean Money system used in Arizona and Maine, term limits, bail abolition, speedy trial, marijuana legalization, and Sanctuary State policies to protect immigrants.
One issue where Hawkins disagreed with both Nixon and Cuomo was the Governor’s property tax cap, which has done nothing to reduce sky-high local property taxes but has prevented local governments from funding needed services and improvements. Nixon wants to tweak the tax cap. Cuomo and Molinaro want to make it permanent. Hawkins wants to repeal it and instead have the state pay for its unfunded mandates and restore revenue sharing with local governments to 8% of state revenues so local governments can cut regressive property taxes.
To provide every child a good education, New York should fully fund and desegregate its schools, which are the most segregated in the country. Hawkins and Lee, a leader in the Opt Out movement, also want to scrap high-stakes testing to evaluate teachers, schools, and students. The Greens charge that the real goal of such testing is to attack teachers and put high-poverty schools into receivership and then privatization into charter schools.
On the housing affordability crisis, Hawkins said, “Universal rent control is pointless without repealing the Urstadt Law to give cities home rule on their rent regulations. We also have to radically expand quality public housing to provide affordable housing options for all.”
Hawkins noted that the income share going to the top 1% has grown from 12% in 1980 to 31% today. He called for progressively graduated tax brackets on multi-millionaire incomes and retaining, rather than rebating, the stock transfer tax. “The 1% can afford to contribute more. We need to fund a Green New Deal to revitalize public sector services and infrastructure, which are the public avenues that private commerce needs to thrive,” Hawkins said.