Maloney: Second Avenue Subway Project Entrances To Open On Time

This photo shows an arch form used for tunnel concrete operations on the east tunnel of the Second Avenue Subway. (credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney provided an update on the long-anticipated Second Avenue subway project as she announced her re-election campaign.

New entrances are now visible from the street as three new stations along the subway line are set to open in December, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.

Maloney expressed confidence that the new entrances would open on time, despite funding concerns for the project.

“There are some naysayers that say it won’t happen, but I believe it will because the professionals at the MTA tell me they are going to make it happen and they’re going to be on budget,” Maloney said.

Maloney has repeatedly expressed her concerns over the timing of the project.

Construction on the $4.5 billion project began in 2007, and MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast expects the first section — extending from 63rd Street up to 96th Street — to open on time in December.

Maloney said the project will be life-changing for those going and coming home from work.

“This is truly an investment in the economic development and quality-of-life for our great city,” Maloney said.

Last November, the MTA said the second phase of the project — which would extend the line up to 125th Street in East Harlem — will be delayed beyond 2019.

The MTA’s latest capital program includes $535 million to start phase two, which is $1 billion less than what was originally proposed.

 

How Low Will the Clinton Camp Go?

Picture at top:

Bernie Sanders, right, a member of the Congress of Racial Equality steering committee, stands next to University of Chicago president George Beadle, who is speaking at a CORE meeting on housing sit-ins in 1962. (photo: Special Collections Research Center/University of Chicago Library)

 

ongressman John Lewis has shamed himself. Long a hero to now-aging activists, he sullied his long-expected endorsement of Hillary Clinton by disparaging her opponent Bernie Sanders’ well-documented participation in the civil rights struggle as a student at the University of Chicago.

After announcing that the Congressional Black Caucus PAC was backing Clinton, Lewis answered a reporter’s question about Sanders: “I never saw him. I never met him. I chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years from 1963 to 1966. I was involved in the sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma (Alabama) to Montgomery and directed the voter education project for six years. I met Hillary Clinton, I met President Clinton.”

Others of us know young Bernie’s work and still speak highly of his student activism for peace and civil rights. We can also point to detailed confirmation in the Chicago Tribune, Rick Pearlstein’s profile of Sanders in The University of Chicago Magazine, and Mother Jones, which thoughtfully reproduced pages from old editions of the student newspaper, The Chicago Maroon.

Bernie’s biggest success came as a leader of the campus chapter of the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), when he spearheaded a lengthy campaign against landlords of university-owned buildings in Hyde Park for refusing to rent off-campus housing to black students. “We feel it is an intolerable situation when Negro and white students of the University cannot live together in university owned apartments,” Sanders told The Maroon in January 1962. As picketers left one of the residences, people yelled, “Go back to your jungles.”

Bernie’s agitation led to a 15-day sit-in in the reception room of the office of university president George Beadle, followed by continued protests and negotiations that finally forced the university to desegregate its housing. Sanders also led pickets against a local Howard Johnson’s after the arrest of 12 CORE demonstrators for trying to eat at a HoJo’s in North Carolina. He was arrested and fined for resisting arrest in a protest against school segregation on Chicago’s south side, and he went with several comrades to the giant March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Bernie was clearly a leader,” recalled Mike Edelstein, who served on campus CORE’s executive committee at the time. “He was taken seriously. You couldn’t take him for anything else because, like now, his humor is not his foremost trait.”

He was “very smart and very policy oriented,” said classmate Mike Parker, who is now in his 70s and – with Bernie’s support – is leading a fight to close down a polluting Chevron refinery in Richmond, California. “Knowing someone like him was part of the inspiration for what we’re doing here.”

Less well known, Parker and some of Bernie’s other comrades went to graduate school at Berkeley and helped shape the Free Speech Movement, which was largely about the right to advocate and organize on campus for civil rights demonstrations in neighboring Oakland and San Francisco.

This is how progressive movements for social change take on a life of their own, and to belittle Bernie’s role insults a whole generation of activists, black and white, who worked where we were to do what we could, all at a time that Hillary Clinton was still a Goldwater Girl. Hillary changed, and Bernie and Elizabeth Warren are now pushing her to change even more. But that gives her campaign no license to let John Lewis bear false witness against Bernie to shore up black support in South Carolina and beyond.

What makes all this even sadder is that Lewis knows firsthand the sting of dirty politics at the highest level. Back in August 1963, when I was still a grad student at the University of Michigan, John came to speak at a meeting of our local Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). He was scheduled to be the youngest speaker the following week at the March on Washington, and he was testing the bombshell he intended to drop.

“In good conscience,” he planned to say, “we cannot support wholeheartedly the [Kennedy] administration’s civil rights bill, for it is too little and too late. There’s not one thing in the bill that will protect our people from police brutality. This bill will not protect young children and old women from police dogs and fire hoses, for engaging in peaceful demonstrations.”

“You tell us to wait,” he went on. “We cannot be patient. We want our freedom, and we want it now.”

“If we don’t see meaningful progress here today,” he concluded, “there will come a day when we will not confine our marching to the South. We will be forced to march through the South the way Sherman did – nonviolently.”

Thrilled by John’s presentation at Ann Arbor, a group of us from SDS stood right by the Lincoln Memorial waiting eagerly for him to give his speech. What we did not know, and what John learned only hours before, is that some of Kennedy’s backers refused to appear on the podium with John if he insisted on giving the speech he had written. In the end, Kennedy’s people forced him to say what they wanted, a story SNCC leader James Forman tells in The Making of Black Revolutionaries. Lewis confirmed most of the details to The Washington Post.

In the end, John’s attack on Bernie may not have much impact, and could well backfire the way that Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright’s remarks ended up hurting Hillary with young feminists. Several black leaders and activists are already endorsing Bernie as the candidate who best embodies the moral imperative of our time, and John Lewis has only demeaned himself to score a few cheap political points. But common decency and a proper regard for our shared history demand that Hillary disavow his comments and that they go beyond sterile apologies and both set the record straight.

 


A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, “Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.”

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Do Any Of Our Readers Remember AGWAY?

(Pictured above is Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley number 100 making a delivery to the Milford, NY AGWAY. Photo by Michael Bates from Gino’s Rail Blog.)

WHAT WENT WRONG AT AGWAY
by Bruce L. Anderson and Brian M. Henehan
On October 1, 2002 Agway filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Many people are still asking what went wrong. This is a hasty attempt by the authors to analyze the situation. We hope that this short article will provide valuable lessons for other cooperatives and organizations.
First, a little history. Agway was formed in 1964, the result of a merger between GLF(Grange League Federation) and Eastern
States Farmers’ Exchange. A year later the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Cooperative merged into Agway. The result was a very large
agricultural supply and marketing cooperative that covered 13 states, spanning from Maryland to Maine to Eastern Ohio.
Historic Factors: Provide Members A Secure Market
Cooperatives are often formed to provide members a secure source of inputs and markets for their products. However, sometimes this motive can go to extremes. GLF (i.e. Agway), together with other New
York agricultural organizations, provided the leadership in establishing a radio network, Rural Radio Network, in 1946 to serve the radioneeds of farmers and rural residents. It was sold in 1959 when it had an accumulated deficit of $970,000 and total debt to GLF (i.e. Agway) of $1.36 million.
In 1946 GLF also bought approximately a 40 percent share of Mohawk Airlines,  the forerunner of USAirways, in the name of providing air transportation to Upstate New York. In this case, they fortunately saw their investment more than double before it was sold.
Another example was Agway’s attempt to provide services to members was its operation, together with Southern States
Cooperative, of Texas City Refining. The purpose was to provide
members a secure source of petroleum products. This proved extremely advantageous and profitable during the oil shortages of the early 1970’s.  However, the petroleum market eventually changed and Texas City proved a costly investment. It was sold in 1988 at a loss of $110 million.
In 1961, GLF helped form Curtice-Burns, a vegetable and fruit processing company, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y. Curtice-Burns was a combination of what were at the time two struggling vegetable processing companies. Over the years, the company was very successful, but in 1993 Agway announced that it’s controlling interest in Curtice-Burns was up for sale. The sale brought in a solid return, and this was one of the first indications that Agway needed cash to fund its other operations.
Emphasis on Size
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Agway was the largest cooperative in the
U.S., with sales of over $4.1 billion in 1984. At the time there was
an emphasis on cooperative size.  Agway being on the Fortune 100
list of U.S. companies was often mentioned in publications and meetings.
We believe that any organization that places primary importance on size over profitability can likely run into problems. We would argue that this is a malady that also eventually caused Farmland Industries and Ocean Spray their financial problems.
Ability to Manage Many Types of Businesses
There was a longstanding attitude at Agway, and predecessor organizations, that they could manage any type of business, even when other people could not.
Two major examples come to mind in Agway’s history.
The first was an effort in 1941 to get into the retail food business by starting the Cooperative Producers and Consumers Markets, today a Northeast grocery retail chain called P&C. The purpose was to assist New York farmers market meat from their livestock. Ownership interest in P&C was finally sold in 1961 following several years of unprofitable operations.
A more recent example was the purchase of H.P. Hood, a fluid dairy company, bought in 1980. A driving motivation was to help members of Northeast dairy cooperatives maintain a reliable and stable market for their milk, which was at risk. The fluid milk business has always
been very competitive, and operates much differently than an agricultural supply company.
Agway had no prior experience running a fluid milk business. In 1995, H.P. Hood was sold due to less than projected returns on their
investment and mounting financial losses. Another interesting aspect of this example was that right up to their purchase of H.P. Hood, Agway had a strict policy that they would not become involved in dairy processing.
Corporate Culture
We are sure some readers are already wondering why several of the above examples dateback to the 1940’s. We firmly believe there is significant historical momentum in all types of organizations. This is often embodied in what today is called “corporate culture”. Agway
instilled a lot of corporate culture in their directors, management, and employees. In fact, we remember when every Agway meeting or at any meeting that an Agway representative spoke at started with a recitation of the Agway mission. However, many of Agway’s old traditions and strategies may have out lived their usefulness or detracted from their willingness to change.
A $25 Equity Investment
To become a member of Agway, all a farmer needed to do was buy one share of common stock for $25. And that is all the investment many members have in the cooperative. We firmly believe there is a strong link between how much money members have at risk in a cooperative, and the interest they take in their cooperative, as well as the success of the organization.
Use Of Tax Paid Retained Earnings
Since equity was not coming from members, Agway used Tax
Paid Retained Earnings as their primary source of equity. Depending on this source of equity means that a cooperative needs to consistently generate positive Net Income. It is also an expensive source of equity, because corporate taxes must be paid by the
cooperative reducing the total funds available to build equity. In addition, when a cooperative becomes dependent on Tax Paid Retained Earnings, there is a greater tendency for the
cooperative to become “management controlled” rather than “member controlled”, given that member equity does not grow and most members have little equity at risk.
Heavy Use of Debt
Agway has always been highly leveraged. If compared to their competitors in almost any business, they would likely be one of the most heavily leveraged companies. During the entire 1984-2002 period Agway’s highest Equity to Total Asset ratio was 20.6%. From
1998-2001 Equity to Total Assets averaged 12.6%. Our general
rule of thumb is that when equity to total assets drops below 15% an organization is suffering severe financial problems. At one point it time, Agway had a goal of using one-third bank financing, one-third
subordinated debentures and one-third equity, primarily tax paid
retained earnings. During the entire 1984-2002 period, this goal was never achieved.
Subordinated Debt
Most of Agway’s debt, especially in latter years, was subordinated debt, also known as “junk bonds” because they are not secured by
assets. While the level of the company’s subordinated debt has remained relatively level over the past 5 years, operating cash flow to
support that debt became inadequate and deteriorated. As of it’s bankruptcy filing, the largest single owner of these subordinated debentures was Agway’s employees through pension fund and 401-K investments. They total approximately $35 million out a total of $425 million in subordinated debt. Members and public security holders own the remaining amount.
Limited Patronage Refunds
Except for 1987 and 1988, Agway has not paid a patronage refund to members since 1980. The primary reason is that sufficient Earnings were not being generated from the patronage business, i.e. their
agricultural supply operations. Most of Net Income came from
non-patronage businesses such as petroleum, leasing, insurance and produce distribution.
Excess Capacity
With the largest market share for feed and many other input supplies in the Northeast, Agway has been prone to carrying excess capacity, which is typical of a market leader. At the same time there was a major change in market conditions. In terms of feed, more farmers started mixing their own feed using direct purchased commodities, and moved away from the use of pelletized feed. This meant that many of Agway’s feed, and other input supply plants, were operating at significantly less than full capacity. This has a negative impact on per unit costs and can often lead to cut throat price competition.
A Triple Delivery System
For most of it’s existence, Agway had a triple delivery system with:
1) Agway Inc. owned corporate stores,
2) independent local cooperative stores, and
3) franchise representative stores.
There was a period when Agway tried to convert their corporate
stores into representative stores.
Then in the early 1990’s a decision was made to buy out all the independent local cooperatives to consolidate the delivery system. Financial performance did not improve because market
conditions continued to change.
Beginning in 1999, Agway sold or closed all its remaining company owned stores and sold their warehouse system to Southern States Cooperative. These moves were made because returns on these assets were chronically inadequate. Today most store customers do not realize that the cooperative no longer owns any assets related to the store distribution system. However, Agway remains a supplier to dealers and retains rights and revenues related to use of the Agway name.
Recent Issues and valuable tables are included in the full version of this report.

NYC’s Finally Trying a Subway Design That Cuts Crowding and Delays

New York City’s subway system is among the most expansive, popular, and best in the world. It’s also insufferably crowded and ill-equipped to handle the rising ridership that comes with the city’s growth. But there’s hope for a subterranean transit future that doesn’t look like rush hour in Tokyo: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will experiment with open gangway cars.

It’s a simple trick used all over the world to ease crowding and reduce delays. Like on an articulated bus, individual cars aren’t divided. In other words, the space between cars becomes usable, increasing a train’s capacity without adding length. And right now, anything that lets more people ride New York’s subway is a very good thing.

The city’s population is expanding in Brooklyn and Queens, straining a system already at capacity. Subway ridership on the system has spiked in recent years to levels not seen since the late 1940s. The MTA saw ridership climb 2.6 percent between 2013 and 2014 to 5.6 million riders each weekday. All told, the system served 1.8 billion trips in 2014.1

In response, the MTA has increased service and launched more bus rapid transit. It’s also expanding the subway system, building the Second Avenue line and extending the 7 line from Times Square to the west side of Manhattan. Those projects, however, are almost prohibitively expensive—the first phase of the Second Avenue project, which is expected to serve 200,000 daily riders with three new stations, will cost $4.45 billion. It should open in December, after nine years of construction.

All of which is to say, “more subway” can’t be the only answer to dealing with more riders. That’s what makes open gangway train cars so appealing: They expand the system’s capacity without the labor and expense of expanding the system itself.

The design also reduces overcrowding in specific cars or areas, since riders can distribute themselves more easily. London found the design can increase capacity by as much as 10 percent. More than rescuing some poor soul from being lodged in someone’s armpit, dispersing passengers can reduce what the MTA calls dwell times, when the train’s sitting in a station, waiting for everyone to push their way out of or into particularly crowded cars. There’s a potential safety benefit, too, since illegal or dangerous behavior is harder to hide in an open car.

“There are no obvious downsides,” transit expert Yonah Freemark wrote on his blog last year. Others have gotten the message: Three-quarters of metro systems outside the US use at least some open gangway cars, Freemark has found. The design’s carrying folks around old, established systems in Paris and London, as well as through newer networks in China, Azerbaijan, Algeria, and Egypt.

New York’s transit agency isn’t making any wholesale changes yet (in case you hadn’t guessed, it tends to move slowly). It plans to spend $52.4 million on 10 open gangway cars of two different designs to be used in a single train. The pilot project is part of the authority’s 2015-2019 capital plan. The new cars would be ordered early next year, but the MTA hasn’t said when they might enter service. They’ll be used on the A and F lines, according to The Daily News.

“The idea behind these open gangway cars is that we really want to look at all options as we move forward with the design of the next generation of subway cars,” says MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz. It’s not a change to be made lightly. The lifetimes of these trains are measured in decades, so any design that doesn’t work as well as hoped is a very longterm problem.

What Bernie Sanders Has Achieved

As he has been for most of the past year, Bernie Sanders is on the road. On Thursday, he was scheduled to hold a town-hall meeting at the Twin Arrows Casino, east of Flagstaff, Arizona. You read that right: the seventy-four-year-old Vermont senator was set to issue his trademark call for a “political revolution” and to demand more income and wealth redistribution at a capitalist mecca in one of the most conservative states in the Union.

That, in itself, says something about Sanders and the historical significance of his campaign. He has cast aside many of the rules and adages of American politics, one of which is that it’s hard for liberals, never mind self-described socialists, to win support in the Sun Belt. And although Sanders now seems unlikely to win the Democratic nomination for President, he has achieved much more than that.

In reaching out to the young, the idealistic, and the disillusioned, he has earned far more votes than virtually anybody in the Democratic Party (or the punditry) expected. He has expanded the political space, bringing controversial issues like rising inequality and political corruption, which had previously been considered the province of leftists and policy wonks, into their rightful place at the center of the discussion. And by refusing to accept corporate money and basing his campaign on individual donations, he has reinvigorated American democracy.

It is obvious that Sanders has, in the process, put a scare into Hillary Clinton’s campaign. What is perhaps less widely acknowledged is how close he came to upending it. Of the twenty-five states that have held Democratic primaries and caucuses, Sanders has won nine and Clinton has won sixteen (plus American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands). But outside the South, where Clinton has won large majorities of black voters, many of Sanders’s losses have been narrow.

Given the way the primary calendar was structured, with many Southern states voting in February and March, Sanders’s route to victory was always going to be precarious. It depended on stunning Clinton early, building up momentum in the Rocky Mountain and Midwest regions, then scoring some big victories in the Northeast and on the West Coast.

The Sanders campaign achieved its initial goal, virtually tying Clinton in Iowa, trouncing her in New Hampshire, and losing by a whisker in Nevada. Had Sanders earned a few thousand more votes in Iowa and Nevada, he would have won all three contests. Given his opponent’s strength among black voters in the South, Super Tuesday was always going to be tricky for him. On election day, Clinton’s victories in the Southern states were even bigger than expected, and they earned her a sizable lead in the delegate count.

Still, Sanders carried Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont, and in Massachusetts he came within two percentage points of victory. Over the next week, he won three more states—Kansas, Nebraska, and Maine—and then, of course, Michigan. Had Sanders followed up that shocking triumph by carrying Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio, this past Tuesday, his insurgent game plan would have been back on track.

That it didn’t quite work out doesn’t detract from the impact Sanders has had. To gauge his influence, you need only listen to one of Clinton’s campaign speeches. On issues like inequality, trade, the environment, corporate offshoring, and bringing Wall Street miscreants to justice, the former Secretary of State has adopted Sanders’s language—and, in some cases, his policies. Clinton had undoubtedly always intended to run as a center-left progressive in 2016, just as she did in 2008, but Sanders has forced her onto ground she hadn’t originally intended to occupy.

It isn’t just Clinton, either. Even Republicans have been taking up some of Sanders’s themes. “The top one per cent under President Obama, the millionaires and billionaires that he constantly demagogued, earned a higher share for our national income than any year since 1928,” Ted Cruz said earlier this year. Donald Trump has talked about the need to raise taxes on hedge-fund managers and leveraged-buyout tycoons. John Kasich has rebranded himself as a champion for the poor and excluded. Of course, the regressive tax policies that Cruz, Trump, and Kasich are advocating would exacerbate inequality, rather than reduce it, but the fact that Republicans have felt obliged to address these issues at all surely owes something to Sanders and the populist wave that he represents.

Sanders’s other big theme is money in politics. Particularly since the Citizens United ruling, many politicians, Clinton included, have warned of the corrosive effects of big money on our democracy. But nobody has made the argument as passionately or as powerfully as Sanders. “American democracy is not about billionaires being able to buy candidates and elections,” he said in launching his campaign. “It is not about the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and other incredibly wealthy individuals spending billions of dollars to elect candidates who will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer…. This is not democracy. This is oligarchy.”

Since Sanders uttered these words, last May, his message hasn’t changed. Day after day, he has spoken in terms that haven’t been heard from a serious major-party candidate since William Jennings Bryan, the great prairie populist, who famously accused his opponent, William McKinley, and the moneyed interests who supported McKinley, of trying to “crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.” (Bryan was referring to the gold standard, which he opposed.) In much the same way that Trump has labelled Sanders a Communist, the Republicans of Bryan’s day called him a fanatic who would wreck the American economy. Even some Democrats depicted Bryan as a dangerous radical with impractical policy proposals.

Bryan never became President, but in attacking the powerful interests that dictated policies in Washington, and calling out the corrupt politicians who were beholden to those interests, he helped to create a popular movement—Progressivism—that would have an enormous impact on American policymaking in the first half of the twentieth century, from Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting to F.D.R.’s New Deal.

It’s too early to say what Sanders’s legacy will be, or whether some of the ideas that he is pushing—such as breaking up the big banks, introducing a single-payer health-care system, and returning tax rates on the rich closer to the levels that F.D.R. introduced—will eventually be adopted. Given the Republicans Party’s grip on Congress and the centrist mindset of Clinton’s advisers, it is hard to see much movement in this direction any time soon.

But it is also evident that, in the past ten months, Sanders has defied the pundits, alarmed the comfortable, and inspired the young. He has turned what looked to be a political coronation into a lively and hard-fought contest, forcing his opponent to modify her positions and raise her game. He has demonstrated that Presidential campaigns don’t have to be beholden to big donors. And he has shown that, surprisingly enough, there is still a place in American politics for an independent-minded speaker of uncomfortable truths. What’s more, he isn’t done yet.

By John Cassidy, The New Yorker

Comets Handled by the Devils

The Utica Comets fell behind early and could not mount a comeback in a 5-1 loss to the Albany Devils on Saturday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. It was the Comets first regulation loss at home in 11 games, dating back to Jan. 13.

Alex Friesen (1-0-1) scored halfway into the second period to stop his scoreless drought at 21 games, while Richard Bachman turned aside 27 of the Devils 32 shots on goal in the loss.

The Devils capitalized on two first period Comets miscues to jump out to a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes of play. Matt Lorito and Jim O’Brien provided the first period goals for the visiting team at 7:58 and 16:12 respectively.

With under seven minutes to play in the middle frame, Alex Friesen cleaned up a rebound and batted the puck past Wedgewood for his ninth goal of the season. Ronalds Kenins and Jordan Subban assisted on the goal.

Four minutes later Nick Lappin re-established the Devils two-goal lead with a power-play goal.

O’Brien and Blake Pietila of the Devils accounted for all the third period goals for Albany’s 5-1 win.

With the loss the Comets fell to 31-22-6-3.

The Comets wrap up their fourth straight three-in-three weekend when the Binghamton Senators come to town. Puck drop is scheduled for 3pm at The AUD.