Clean Air Finance Training!

 

Are you a member of Clean Air who wants to learn how your membership dues are spent?

Do you want to know how to read nonprofit financial statements and make assessments about an organization?

When you hear the term “projected cash flow” do you get really energized but not know why?

Are you on a nonprofit board and find that only one person asks all of the finance questions…you have no idea what they are asking, and their term expires in 4 months?

Do you love good snacks and the team at Clean Air and want to play a few games about nonprofit finance?

Then this training is for you!

Join us on Tuesday September 17th from 5:30-7pm at 394 Franklin St. Buffalo, NY 14202.

This training is open to current Clean Air members, donors, board members, organizational partners and staff.

Refreshments will be provided.
Childcare is available if requested by September 1st.

Questions or to RSVP, contact Rebecca@cacwny.org or call 716-852-3813.



The Future of Tonawanda Coke

The Tonawanda Coke Corporation operated a coke manufacturing facility at 3875 River Road Tonawanda, New York since the late 1970’s.  For decades, Tonawanda Coke caused tremendous quality of life issues in the community including air and water pollution, workers’ safety and health issues, employee fatalities, and now a legacy of contamination. Tonawanda Coke purchased the site from Honeywell, formally Allied Chemical, in the late 70’s, Honeywell is responsible for a portion of legacy waste on this site.

In New York State, there are two major pathways to remediate contaminated sites, the New York State Brownfields program or the Superfund Program. There are many distinctions between these programs. One major difference is who pays for cleanup.

The NYS Brownfields process allows developers to voluntarily initiate a plan for remediation, and be rewarded with tax credits to lessen the burden of cost.

The Federal Superfund Program; a robust, enforcement program designed to remediate large, extremely toxic sites. Under this designation, the Environmental Protection Agency has the legal authority to begin remediation and pay for the cleanup by recovering costs through the responsibly party.

The conflict over which designation arose when  Honeywell hired e3communications earlier this year for $3,750 per month and began reaching out to community members, environmental organizations, and elected officials to push for the Brownfield designation. See the recent article in the Tonawanda Bee.

According to Channel 2 News, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, said his office has had conversations with Honeywell representatives about the future of the property. Over the past two years, Higgins has become one of the top recipients of campaign donations from a political action committee affiliated with Honeywell, which had been loaning Tonawanda Coke money.

In late April, Higgins told News 4 Investigates that he supported a brownfield designation for the Tonawanda Coke property. But a week later, Higgins changed his position. Watch the story here.

Download (PDF, 209KB)

“This is not even a close call,” said Judith Enck former Regional Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency making the case for a Superfund designation, to The Buffalo News on May 31, 2019.

In a May 31st statement to The Buffalo News, John Morris, Honeywell’s Global Remediation Director, went on record to say The federal Superfund program is a more robust legal program. We don’t take issue with those people who say, ‘Hey, that’s a much stronger program.” Honeywell is responsible for large portion of legacy waste at the Tonawanda Coke site, operating the company until the late 70’s under their predecessor Allied Chemical.

Honeywell has a history of conflict with Tonawanda Coke regarding the company’s responsibility for cleanup. In 2015, Tonawanda Coke sued Honeywell for portion of legacy cleanup costs due to conditions of their purchase agreement. Then, in 2017, Honeywell loaned Tonawanda Coke nearly 8M to go towards criminal fines and remediation costs. Tonawanda Coke offered the mortgage of the property as collateral.

Honeywell’s Track Record and Profitability

Nationally, Honeywell has a long list of environmental, safety and health, and labor violations. Based in New Jersey, Honeywell is multinational conglomerate company that makes a variety products, provides engineering services and aerospace systems for private consumers to major corporations and governments.

Since 2000, at least 67 environmental enforcement actions have been brought against Honeywell, resulting in over $100 Million in fines.  Honeywell has a criminal track record of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), including a felony offense for knowingly storing hazardous waste without a permit, putting employees and the community at risk of exposure to radioactive and hazardous materials in Benton, Illinois.

Honeywell has also been penalized over $55M for over 50 labor safety and health violations. In Honeywell’s Baton Rouge plant, Honeywell was found guilty in criminal court in the death of 32 year old worker Delvin Henry after he opened a mislabeled cylinder and suffered third degree burns. He died the next day.

Despite the millions of dollars in penalties and lawsuits, Honeywell still remains highly profitable. According to the Honeywell 2019 Proxy Statement and Notice of Annual Meeting of Shareholders, Darius Adamczyk, Honeywell’s CEO, total compensation was $19,246,604 in 2018.  In 2018, Honeywell ranked 77th in the Fortune 500, making it one of the wealthiest corporations in the world.

It would take the average worker in Erie County 8.5 lifetimes to earn what CEO Adamczyk earns in one year.

In addition to executive compensation, Honeywell also spends a tremendous amount of money on lobby firms and political contributions. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Honeywell spent over $6M through Political Action Committees (PACs) to political candidates in the 2018 election, including at least $159,923 to candidates in New York State. Honeywell International routinely spends close to $7 million each year on federal lobbying efforts.

The Current State of the Tonawanda Coke Site

In the fall of 2018, the Tonawanda Coke found guilty of violating their criminal probation related to a 2014 criminal sentence. Shortly after this verdict, the company’s leadership filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize their assets. The company ceased operations at the facility on October 14, 2018 and permanently vacated the site.

Currently, the US Environmental Protection Agency is using its short-term authority under the Federal Superfund Program to stabilize the site and conduct initial assessments.  A long-term remedial response is needed to ensure our health of residents living in the surrounding neighborhoods.

To learn more or get involved in this campaign, contact Rebecca at 852-3813 or at Rebecca@cacwny.org.



Remediation Begins at East Delavan Properties Site

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has begun remediation on a portion of the former American Axle site in the Delavan Grider community in Buffalo. Watch coverage on Channel 2 News.

The site at 1001 East Delavan Ave. is one of almost 400 contaminated sites in New York State that contain PCBs. PCB’s reference a group of chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls. PCB’s were used widely in electrical equipment like capacitors and transformers. PCB’s were banned by the Federal Government in 1979 due to the connections to cancer, liver damage and nerve problems. Once in the environment, PCBs can be transported long distances and they bind strongly to soil and sediment.

Download (PDF, 235KB)

In 1991, GM reported a spill to the DEC that led to the discovery of PCBs in oil beneath one of its manufacturing buildings. Three years later, GM found PCBs had leaked into a brick sewer line beneath the facility that feeds into Scajaquada Creek when the system is swamped by rain. According to state documents, up to 110,000 gallons of legacy wastes exists beneath the site. GM sold the site to American Axle in 1994, who manufactured automobile parts before declaring bankruptcy in 2009.

Developer Jon Williams, and East Delavan Properties purchased the contaminated property in 2008, beginning a tug of war with state officials on who was responsible for site remediation.

Download (PDF, 218KB)

In addition to the legacy waste, 1001 East Delavan is also home to new industrial manufacturers: Galvstar, who makes specialized galvanized steel and Niagara Lubricants, a lubricant manufacturer specializing in industrial and wholesale lubricants. Ontario Specialty Contracting Group (OSC) Manufacturing & Equipment Services, also owned by Williams, is based on this site.

Resident’s joined with Clean Air Coalition in 2015 to escalate pressure to expedite remediation. The American Axle Steering Committee formed, made up of resident’s living closest to the site. Steering Committee members had numerous meetings with the state, property owner, the City of Buffalo, and the Western New York Legislative Delegation over the course of 3 years. By the fall of 2018, their work paid off and the NYDEC announced that remediation on a 5 acre portion of the site will be initiated through a Superfund enforcement action.

A Pump and Treat System was constructed and began to remediate contaminated groundwater in late April. This system focuses on 5 acres of the 40 acre site. Questions and concerns remain regarding remediation plans for the rest of the site.

If you live in the area and want to learn more about the pump and treat system, contact the NYSDEC and at 716-851-7000 and ask for Chad Staniszewski, Project Manager.

If you want to get involved in this campaign, contact Clean Air Organizer, Shontae Cannon-Buckley at 716-852-3813 extension 1.



Advocacy Institute is Back in Town!

The Advocacy Institute, in partnership with the Clean Air Coalition, is returning to Western New York on June 10th! 

Join us for a powerful day of training, sharing updates on the political landscape in Albany, and connecting with other groups from the region working on legislative campaigns at the state level.  

We’re offering two sessions — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Find out more about each below and join us for either or both.

  • June 10, 2019
  • Morning refresher: 9:30am – 12:45pm
  • Afternoon political landscape deep-dive: 1:30pm – 5:30pm
  • Location: 2421 Main St #100, Buffalo, NY, 14214
  • RSVP here (deadline May 20)

Morning refresher session. Join us from 9:30am – 12:45pm to learn about state power and authority, why we need to go to Albany as much as we do, how to maximize our impact while in Albany, and legislative and budget timelines. This session is great for folks who are newer to work in Albany and / or newer to the Advocacy Institute.

Afternoon political landscape deep-dive. Join us from 1:30pm – 5:30pm for updates on the key players in Albany, what is the impact of last November’s election, and how the session is progressing thus far. We’ll also hear updates and dig into specific campaign questions.

Please note that these are two separate sessions and are for people working on active legislative campaigns at the state level. We anticipate more demand than we can meet for this training and will be accepting participants by application on a rolling basis.

  • Please answer every question on the application by May 20.
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered.
  • Please also make sure to let us know on the application of any dietary restrictions and need for assistance with childcare.
  • If accepted, in-person trainings are free for members and cost $25 per person for prospective members.We invite each organization to send 2 participants to attend.

Want more information? Call Clean Air and ask for Linnea or Rebecca at 716-852-3813. Or email info@cacwny.org

 



SAVE THE DATE! 10TH ANNUAL DINNER MAY 30TH!

NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR THE 2019 ANNUAL AWARDS!

Each year our organization recognizes the work of our members and supporters at our Annual Dinner. Our work is based on the principle that no one can accomplish anything alone. We work with many people in many neighborhoods who deserve recognition. Who should we shine the light on this year?  Make your nomination today!



Congratulations Brian!

We would like to announce that Community Organizer, Brian Borncamp will be transferring out of his position at Clean Air to a position in the private sector.
Brian has been a member of Clean Air since 2013, actively involved in the advocacy and implementation of participatory budgeting. In 2016 Brian joined the Clean Air staff supporting member campaign teams fighting the Battaglia corporation in Seneca Babcock and working towards the clean up of PCP’s and other chemicals at the former American Axle site in Delavan Grider.

For those who know Brian, you know that his on-point campaign research, data skills and talented facilitation will be missed. We want to thank Brian for his time with us and wish him all the luck in his next endeavor!


Clean Air Annual Meeting Thursday January 31st!

Join us at our Annual meeting to celebrate and prepare for another year of organizing! Our membership and partners will come together from across the region to learn from each other, share success and challenges, and vision for 2019!

Clean Air Annual Meeting Thursday, January 31st 2019 5-7pm. 

Refreshments served at 5pm. Meeting starts at 5:30pm.

United Way of Erie County Conference Room 102

742 Delaware Ave. Buffalo, NY

 

Our meeting is open to anyone who wishes to attend, however, only Clean Air members are able to vote on this year’s board of directors (See the slate below). If you are a member and have not received your ballot in the mail, please contact Rebecca at Rebecca@cacwny.org. If you wish to become a member today, you can do so online here.

 

2019 Board Slate

Board members are elected annually. All board members serve 3 year terms. Board members fulfill the following responsibilities:

  • To provide guidance and assistance in implementing the strategic goals and objectives of the organization
  • To fundraise and build organizational capacity
  • To evaluate the Executive Director
  • To be active on at least one board and attend organizational events and membership meetings as able

New Board Candidates (the following board candidates are up for their first three year term)

George Boger is the Field Coordinator for the Western New York Area Labor Federation, ALF-CIO. George works to improve the lives of and increase the power for working families, bring fairness and dignity to the workplace and secure social equity. Economic justice and organizing is central to George’s purpose in life. His analysis is that in order to win any real long lasting change, it will take Labor’s commitment to the community, and community’s commitment to Labor.

Returning Board Candidates (the following board candidates are up for a second three year term)

Emily Terrana is a proud Buffalonian, mother of two and longtime community organizer and educator. She currently works as PUSH Buffalo’s Movement Education Specialist and has trained on how to build a movement for a Just Transition around the country and internationally.  She has served on the board of Clean Air Coalition of WNY since 2016 and is eager to continue the work with all of you!   Emily holds a degree in Women and Gender Studies from Buffalo State College and has had some of her writing published in Selves, Symbols, and Sexualities: An Interactionist Anthology. Emily has a deep rooted passion for gender, climate and economic justice and believes that there cannot be liberation for any of us without liberation for all of us.

Jennifer Yuhnke Carman is a Buffalo native that became a Clean Air Coalition member in 2012 during the West Side Campaign and was actively involved in the Participatory Budgeting Buffalo campaign. She has served on the Board of Directors for the past three years, serving as the Secretary in 2017 and Co-President in 2018. Jennifer has worked at the affordable housing agency Heart of the City Neighborhoods, Inc. for the past eight years. It became apparent that Heart of the City’s mission to create healthy, quality, affordable housing would go to waste if the fight for social justice, equity, and public health was not also given priority in the Buffalo communities she lives and works in. Jennifer is excited for the opportunity to continue working with the members, staff, and Board of Clean Air as we continue to fight and win.



We Support Tesla Workers!

Buffalo, NY – Organizations from West Virginia to Montana, Pennsylvania to Kentucky, comprising of thousands of members, joined with The Clean Air Coalition today to show their support for workers organizing a union drive at Tesla Gigafactory 2.

Shortly after local Channel 4 WIBV broke the news of an organizing drive today, a joint letter was released by over a dozen community organizations located in coal mining communities across the country in support of the drive. (Read the Full Letter Here).

The letter states, “We support workers who are organizing a union at the Tesla Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York. We see the unionization of Tesla, and of the renewable sector, as a strategy to build a just and equitable renewable energy economy, an economy that provides generational sustaining careers as our energy system transitions.”

Located in the heart of the Rust Belt, the Tesla Gigafactory 2 is a photovoltaic (PV) cell factory that produces solar roofing tiles, which look like conventional black roof shingles but contain solar cells. The facility is located in Buffalo, New York, and built on land formerly occupied by the shuttered Republic Steel and Donner Hanna Coke sites.

“The Clean Air Coalition supports workers organizing at Tesla. This is an incredible opportunity to show the country what a sustainable green economy can look like for poor, working class people and people of color. We are motivated and excited by this chance to build something new that works for all of us, not just billionaires and developers,” says Linnea Brett, Community Organizer at Clean Air Coalition.

Tesla Was More Than a New Business Coming to Buffalo –

Tesla Was a Promise

The Tesla facility wasn’t just a state-funded renovation project: Buffalo Tesla was a promise of the new economy – jobs that not only sustain our families but also the environment, jobs that can literally power our homes and businesses.

The project was given $750 million in taxpayer funding to build a state-of-the-art solar production facility located at 1339 South Park Ave., Buffalo, NY 14220. The $750 million giveaway, part of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s highly criticized Buffalo Billion program, is 1.5 times the entire budget for the City of Buffalo.

The project promised to provide thousands of jobs throughout the state. At the time of the deal, Gov. Cuomo guaranteed 1,460 “direct manufacturing jobs at the new facility,” according to a press release issued by his office. Western New Yorkers were promised job training programs and “high road” jobs with family-supporting wages, as much as $65,000 per year. After Tesla acquired the Solar City facility, the company advertised job listings for primarily entry-level positions with wages as low as $14 an hour and limited benefits.

“This is about the deal that was promised to Western New York,” said worker and organizing committee member Curtis Johnson, who has worked for over 30 years in the manufacturing industry, “The deal was high road jobs. That was the promise.”

“The state invested $750 million in Tesla and it is imperative that the residents of Western New York have the opportunity for careers that sustain families. Unionization at this facility is crucial to providing jobs with good pay and benefits. Our community invested in Tesla. It’s time Tesla invested in our community,” said Rev. Kirk Laubenstein, Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Justice.

The promise began to crumble in the fall of 2017, when news broke that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara had opened an investigation into the Buffalo Billion bid selection process.

In July 2018, Alain Kaloyeros, who oversaw some of Gov. Cuomo’s top economic development projects as president of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, the governmental organization tied to the Tesla building, was convicted of illegally steering hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of state-funded contracts to the governor’s friends and allies. A federal jury found Kaloyeros guilty of two counts of wire fraud and one count of wire fraud conspiracy after two days of deliberation. Yesterday he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Louis Ciminelli, former president of Buffalo-based contractor LPCiminelli, was also found guilty of wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud. LPCiminelli received the multi-million dollar contract to build the Tesla plant.

The Governor was not charged with any wrongdoing.

Tesla Reports Best Quarter for Solar

In a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, Tesla says it’s now exceeding its hiring commitments to the state. Bloomberg Business went on to report that “Musk assumed an optimistic note in a recent earnings call, boasting of his ‘best quarter ever for solar’ in terms of profitability, while assuring shareholders that Tesla would accelerate Solar Roof production in 2019.U.S. News notes that if Musk meets the goals and Tesla’s stock value rises during that time period, it “could net him more than $50 billion.”

While workers and community members celebrate news of a profitable quarter, it stands in stark contrast to the pay workers take home every week.

“Our wage package is much lower compared to other manufacturing jobs in the region,” said worker Rob Walsh. “We are worth more.

According to the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council’s 2018 Progress Report, the average advanced manufacturing career annual salary is $62,579, 114% more than the starting wage at Tesla.

“A union is a benefit for all of us and our families, the community as a whole,” said worker and organizing committee member Pete Farrell. “The people I work with are high quality people, people that take initiative, and that’s why we are organizing.”

Labor, Community and Environmental Justice Partnership Forges New Path

As the devastating impacts of climate change and the decline of the coal industry continue to shape our lives and communities, the transition of our energy economy becomes both increasingly urgent, and economically inevitable. New York State’s Clean Energy Mandate dictates that 50% of electricity consumed will come from renewable energy by 2030. The shifting energy economy in Buffalo is a reflection of national trends, where public and private investments in renewable energy continue to grow.

As our economy transitions and new workplaces emerge, workers still face the same basic set of concerns: a need for wages that can support families, job security, benefits and other basic protections. Buffalo Tesla workers see unionizing as their best chance at providing for themselves and their families while doing work they can be proud of. Local community and environmental organizations have come out in numbers to support Tesla workers and this organizing drive.

“The workers organizing at Tesla are on the front lines of making these promises to us, to our community, come true,” says Clean Air’s Linnea Brett. “As they move toward unionization, we are all stepping forward with them, making the promise of a new, green economy a reality.”

“I wanted to work at Tesla because I wanted a job in green energy, a job that can change the world,” said Rob Walsh, a Tesla worker and member of the union organizing committee.

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