DONT FORGET TO TWEET!!
Twitter and other platforms on social media are some of our best tools for reaching some elected officials nowadays. Insiders tell me that Governor Cuomo pays particularly close attention to his twitter feed, and did especially during the fracking movement at its height. The Niagara Bottling Fiasco came in on the tail end of the fracking movement, and there were some strong correlations regarding both extractive industries. I was just learning about pipelines at the time, and how deep NY was in it… I was sure to make that connection.
I called a friend and got a crash course in Twitter social norms and went to town.
First thing I did was go to the pages of some of my most esteemed movement builders,like, Mark Ruffalo, and I followed every organization that he followed that made sense to the cause I was working on. I did this with several strong leaders. I filled my own newsfeed with incredible information. Twitter was where I fist became acquainted wight he movement. People use Facebook, but, Twitter… That is where you can tailor your feed to learn something important and take actions all day long.
One of my first tweets was:
@NYgovCuomo #DontBottleNY #DontFrackNY #DontPipeNY
My first real social media storm on governor Cuomo was when I realized that Niagara was going for more Economic Development money than our team was focused on.
Keeping an eye on the Governor
Once you dig into the Economic Development directives in your community, you begin to learn a lot! For me, it was a complete eye opener. The hubris I carried, being a newbie in the movement, ramped up as soon as I realized that Niagara Bottling Company was going for more than the StartUPNY abatements. I called upon the economic development team at Kingston Citizens and asked them to look again. The awards were to be granted in about two weeks, and on little to no sleep, up all night studying the MHVREDC for 4 days, I was ready to petition the Governor and I was going to go for that money, one way or the other. We didn’t know at the time, but it was 10.8 million dollars, and with incredible teamwork, we did it!
When I asked Jennifer Schwartz-Berky for her help writing a petition, I had a long dissertation on how the Governor needed to blanket the entire economic development council in sustainable goals. I had lists of reasons why Niagara Bottling company didn’t fit the criteria for the Consolidated Funding Application. I had reasons why the Mid Hudson REDC was not green enough, you name it, 78 or so hours “teaching” myself the directives of the Economic Development Council in the Mid Hudson Valley, I thought I knew what was up. But the reality was, there was one simple reason why the grants should not be awarded—The State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) had not been completed. In the end, instead of my sponsoring a petition, Kingston Citizens and partnering orgs put forth a succinct petition and we went to town getting it signed.
You can check out that petition HERE.
And that is the beauty of teamwork. I was naive and ready to pounce, and Jenny was smart enough to know the novel I had written wouldn’t have worked, but she heard me and had she not, we otherwise might have missed a key element in our strategy. This was a key funding source for Niagara, and we hit them unexpectedly.
Sometimes it is as simple as that! But if you don’t catch it at the right time, you blow it. We were fortunate enough to catch it less than two weeks before the grants were awarded.
***NOTE: The importance of this action was later confirmed in Bloomfield CT. when Niagara made sure to secure all Economic Development Grants before the public was aware of their proposal. Whether this was legal in CT, or not seems irrelevant, the point was that we were instrumental in teaching them new tricks. Be ahead of the game.
Our first phase of the petition went to the recipients first thing Monday morning. On Tuesday, the award ceremony for the following day, was postponed 26 hours due to “inclement” weather.
On Thursday, Niagara was not awarded the CFA grant. This was a huge win for us. This was the first time in MHVREDC history, that a CFA grant award ceremony was picketed.
We immediately moved to stop the other Economic Development revenue stream in sight…
StartUpNY, a program set up through SUNY, to usher in new business on short term tax abatements was being hit from all sides. Not only were the young students at the college unhappy about Niagara Bottling as an option for internships, but Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli had just announced that StartUpNY was a broken program. We later came to find that of the 72 jobs Startup brought to the people, the program cost NY taxpayers, $679,368 per job.
“New York state spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to spur economic development and job creation through ESDC programs,” DiNapoli said. “New Yorkers deserve more thorough accounting about whether these programs are achieving desired results.”
CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO SIGN THIS VERY IMPORTANT PETITION TO:
Governor Andrew Cuomo, State of NY
Kenneth Adams, President of Empire State
Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of SUNY, NY
Donald Katt, President of SUNY Ulster
Kevin Cahill, NYS Assembly District 103
George Amedore, NYS Senate
Michael Hein, Ulster County Executive
James E. Quigley 3rd, Town of Ulster Supervisor
Shayne Gallo, Mayor of the City of Kingston
TWEET TO THE GOVERNOR:
thesameboat.us twitter handle: @woodstockwater
SHORTLINK TO MOST RECENT (see above) PETITION: chn.ge/18IkYME
(Don’t forget to include the person org or business you are referring to!)
Here Are a Few Helpful Tweet Handles:
You get the idea… 😉