Protecting Children Must Remain Priority for All

By SENATOR TIM KENNEDY

In September, Western New York was once again rocked by the tragic loss of a young child. Five-year-old Eain Clayton Brooks suffered repeated, brutal beatings allegedly at the hands of his mother’s live-in boyfriend. Eain’s life was taken as a result of this senseless abuse.

As the father of three young children, I was deeply saddened by Eain’s death. Our entire community has mourned his loss, and I cannot imagine the immense pain that Eain’s family has endured. My thoughts and prayers remain with them.

Eain’s death is an intolerable and heartbreaking tragedy, and we must do all we can to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.

Unfortunately, that is an all too common refrain. Clearly, the system is susceptible to improvement. We can do better. We must.

In Western New York alone, over the past several months, 10-year-old Abdifatah Mohamud, three-year-old Gage Seneca, one-year-old Austin Smith and now five-year-old Eain Clayton Brooks were brutally beaten and killed allegedly by individuals entrusted with their care. The circumstances surrounding each of their deaths are different, but together, the loss of these children call into question whether or not our county and state are meeting their obligations to protect the safety and well-being of all children.

That’s why we called in the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and asked them to investigate the practices and procedures of Erie County Child Protective Services.

The state has completed the first part of its investigative review and has issued a critical report outlining areas in urgent need of improvement. OCFS is now working to complete the second-phase of the review. This process is ongoing, and we will keep the community informed as we learn more.

The first part of he state’s review shed light on gaps in the system and presented initial opportunities to reform child protective services. 

We have begun working to draft legislation that will help ensure all children are kept safe from harm. We want accountability, transparency and responsiveness within child protective services locally and throughout the state, and we are committed to pursuing legislative reform to ensure that happens as quickly as possible.

Child abuse has become a nationwide epidemic. It’s a problem that has touched every town, city and village – and not just in Erie County, but across the state and nation as well.

Across the country, about 700,000 children have been the victims of abuse or neglect in each of the last several years. One child abused or neglected is enough to spark outrage, but 700,000 children – that is absolutely unacceptable and utterly appalling. Each year, child abuse and neglect tragically claim far too many young lives. An estimated 1,570 children died from abuse and neglect in 2011, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Child abuse needs to end, and it needs to end now. In Western New York, we have a history of fighting hard to pass stronger laws to protect children and prevent child abuse. And the success we’ve had in reforming state law has been the result of the widespread community support that has fueled our efforts.

As a community, we worked relentlessly to get Jay-J’s Law finally passed into law this year. With the dedication of Jay-J’s family and an outpouring of help from the community, the bill received legislative approval and became law. It toughens penalties for repeat child abuse, and it ensures children, especially those who have become victims of child abuse, have enhanced protections against their violent abusers.

When Governor Cuomo signed this important bill into law, we knew our work was not done. We, as a community, need to remain diligent in our efforts to stop child abuse and neglect. Our state needs even stronger penalties against abusers, a more responsive system of child protective services and new initiatives to prevent child abuse before it happens.

Eain’s family has formed a group called Eain’s Echo, which will help raise awareness of child abuse and aims to ramp up prevention efforts. This past weekend, the family held the first-ever Eain’s Echo Child Abuse Awareness Walk. After suffering an unimaginable tragedy, they are channeling their immense grief into positive action to prevent other families from experiencing what they’ve endured. Amid all of their pain, they are working hard to inspire the community to help them prevent child abuse and neglect.

Let’s remain steadfast and resolute in our ongoing work to end child abuse, once and for all. Children in Western New York and across New York State are depending us.

This column was first published in the Cheektowaga Bee on October 24, 2013.

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Senator Kennedy Praises ‘Buffalo Billion’ Investment to Jumpstart Clean Technology Industry in WNY

After unveiling of Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub @ RiverBend, Kennedy applauds Governor Cuomo’s intelligent public investment that is spurring private investment and creating hundreds of new jobs.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Senator Tim Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat and the ranking member on the Senate Economic Development Committee, praised the newly-announced “Buffalo Billion” investment to build the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub @ RiverBend. Kennedy says it will spark the development of a thriving clean technology industry in Western New York. Kennedy joined Governor Andrew Cuomo at his announcement today, and commended the Governor for his targeted public investment along the Buffalo River – which will spur substantial private investment and create hundreds of new jobs.

“Buffalo is on an economic winning streak. Teamwork and hard work is leading to new work for Western New Yorkers,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “By investing in the growing industry of clean technology, New York State will help put Buffalo at the cutting edge of new discovery and set this region forward on a path toward sustained economic growth. Governor Cuomo is making a sharply intelligent investment here with the Buffalo billion initiative. The Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub will spur unprecedented private investment and create hundreds of new jobs here in Western New York. 

“For far too long, Albany had ignored Buffalo and Western New York, but over the last few years, under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, that has changed – and in a big way. The economic revival of Buffalo and Western New York is now a priority for the state, and it’s because Governor Cuomo has led the way in directing new investment to our region. On behalf of a grateful Western New York, I say, ‘Thank you Governor Cuomo.’ Thank you for keeping your promise as you continue to deliver on the Buffalo Billion. Thank you for your confidence in the people of Western New York, and thank you for this substantial investment in Buffalo’s bright future.

“Western New York became a leader in clean energy production when we harnessed the power of Niagara Falls so many years ago. This Buffalo billion investment will help our state and region live up to our legacy of innovation, attract new industry and spur job creation.”

Governor Cuomo announced today the state will invest $225 million from the Buffalo billion to construct a new clean-energy campus at the RiverBend industrial site – which will create hundreds of new jobs. Two new companies based in California, Soraa and Silevo, are relocating to the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub and will create 850 new permanent jobs. The two companies are investing a collective $1.5 billion in this project. The project will also create at least 500 construction jobs. It’s expected the state investment will lead to several hundred additional jobs in the future, as new manufacturing companies are attracted to the state-of-the-art facilities.

The 90-acre RiverBend site is the former home of Republic Steel. New York State’s $225 million investment will build necessary infrastructure such as water, sewer, utility and roads, and it will finance the construction of 275,000 square feet of facilities for Soraa and Silevo. As additional manufacturing firms are attracted to the RiverBend site, new facilities will be built to accommodate their needs. 

Click here for more information from Governor Cuomo's office. 

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Senator Timothy M. Kennedy represents the New York State Senate’s 63rd District, which is comprised of the town of Cheektowaga, the city of Lackawanna and nearly all of the city of Buffalo. More information is available at http://kennedy.nysenate.gov

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Governor Cuomo Announces Ford Motor Company To Invest $150 Million In Its Hamburg Stamping Plant

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Ford Motor Company will invest $150 million to make significant upgrades to its Hamburg facility, just outside Buffalo. The new machinery and state-of-the-art equipment will allow the Ford Stamping Plant to remain competitive, secure its long-term presence in the region and retain 640 full-time, permanent jobs and create 350 new jobs in Western New York.

“Ford’s $150 million investment in its Hamburg facility is proof positive of Western New York’s status as a leading hub of advanced manufacturing,” Governor Cuomo said. “By going the extra mile with this major investment, Ford is cementing their competitiveness in the region while keeping and adding hundreds of good-paying jobs right here in Western New York. As we work to attract and retain businesses, the State is committed to providing the support needed to drive our economy and keep it moving forward.”

The Western New York stamping plant is the only remaining stand-alone Ford stamping plant, all others were either closed or integrated with assembly facilities. Ford’s investment will include the upgrading and addition of multiple press lines. The cut blanks, or pieces of metal that are stamped into car parts, will enable Ford to ship these blanks to any Ford plant in the country. The Hamburg plant is closely tied with the Oakville, Ontario assembly plant, considered by Ford to be one of the most competitive and important facilities in the Ford system.

“Ford Motor Company is proud to partner with New York State and Governor Cuomo to keep this stamping plant going strong,” said Paul Kosaian, Director of Manufacturing, Stamping Operations, Ford Motor Company. “This is an investment that expands the plant’s manufacturing capabilities, ensures the relationship with the Oakville site, and keeps Western New Yorkers working to fill the growing demand for the Ford F250, F-350, Flex, Edge, Focus and Econoline as well as the Lincoln MKX and MKT.”

Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development provided a state incentive package valued at $7 million to assist Ford in the development of its project in Western New York. A $5 million NY Works Fund capital grant will be used for a portion of the machinery and equipment purchases associated with facility renovation. The Ford Motor Company also qualified for up to $2 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits from the state in return for Ford’s investment and job creation commitments. In addition to this $7 million incentive package, the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board is recommending an award of $1 million for training 100 new employees. 

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner said Kenneth Adams, “Ford has a better idea for its stamping plant in Hamburg. It is making the plant better by investing in state-of-the-art assembly lines. It is making the employment outlook better by providing well-paying jobs that will support families now and far into the future. New York State is proud to have played a part in Ford’s better idea for Western New York – just one of the many positive projects that are moving the local economy forward.” 

The Ford Stamping Plant in Hamburg opened in 1950. It currently employs approximately 600 people who work to make doors, quarter panels, body sides, hoods, fenders and floor panels. 

New York State Senator Mark Grisanti said, “Ford is shifting its manufacturing facility into high gear in Hamburg New York. Ford and New York State have their GPS devices set for the same destination. We are set for success. We are set for creating jobs. We are set to be a center for advanced manufacturing. We are set to move towards a future that is bright as Governor Cuomo and businesses continue to make big investments in Western New York.”

New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "Today's announcement is a huge win for the Town of Hamburg, and for advanced manufacturing in Western New York. The investment of over $100 million into the Ford Stamping Plant in Hamburg shows how important the Western New York labor force is to the Ford Motor Company, and I thank them for making this commitment to manufacturing and auto industry jobs right here in the Town of Hamburg. I am also pleased that New York State is investing in the upgrades at the Ford Stamping Plant. Advanced manufacturing is a top priority here in Western New York, and the investments announced today from the Ford Motor Company and New York State are making that priority a reality." 

Scott Adams, director UAW region 9 said, “It's huge for the Stamping plant, for the UAW members, and the community. This investment in new machinery and lines will eventually lead to this plant operating with nearly a thousand employees. That's tremendous growth that really gives present and future workers some long-term viability.”

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Governor Cuomo Announces Ford Motor Company To Invest $150 Million In Its Hamburg Stamping Plant

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Ford Motor Company will invest $150 million to make significant upgrades to its Hamburg facility, just outside Buffalo. The new machinery and state-of-the-art equipment will allow the Ford Stamping Plant to remain competitive, secure its long-term presence in the region and retain 640 full-time, permanent jobs and create 350 new jobs in Western New York.

“Ford’s $150 million investment in its Hamburg facility is proof positive of Western New York’s status as a leading hub of advanced manufacturing,” Governor Cuomo said. “By going the extra mile with this major investment, Ford is cementing their competitiveness in the region while keeping and adding hundreds of good-paying jobs right here in Western New York. As we work to attract and retain businesses, the State is committed to providing the support needed to drive our economy and keep it moving forward.”

The Western New York stamping plant is the only remaining stand-alone Ford stamping plant, all others were either closed or integrated with assembly facilities. Ford’s investment will include the upgrading and addition of multiple press lines. The cut blanks, or pieces of metal that are stamped into car parts, will enable Ford to ship these blanks to any Ford plant in the country. The Hamburg plant is closely tied with the Oakville, Ontario assembly plant, considered by Ford to be one of the most competitive and important facilities in the Ford system.

“Ford Motor Company is proud to partner with New York State and Governor Cuomo to keep this stamping plant going strong,” said Paul Kosaian, Director of Manufacturing, Stamping Operations, Ford Motor Company. “This is an investment that expands the plant’s manufacturing capabilities, ensures the relationship with the Oakville site, and keeps Western New Yorkers working to fill the growing demand for the Ford F250, F-350, Flex, Edge, Focus and Econoline as well as the Lincoln MKX and MKT.”

Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development provided a state incentive package valued at $7 million to assist Ford in the development of its project in Western New York. A $5 million NY Works Fund capital grant will be used for a portion of the machinery and equipment purchases associated with facility renovation. The Ford Motor Company also qualified for up to $2 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits from the state in return for Ford’s investment and job creation commitments. In addition to this $7 million incentive package, the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board is recommending an award of $1 million for training 100 new employees. 

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner said Kenneth Adams, “Ford has a better idea for its stamping plant in Hamburg. It is making the plant better by investing in state-of-the-art assembly lines. It is making the employment outlook better by providing well-paying jobs that will support families now and far into the future. New York State is proud to have played a part in Ford’s better idea for Western New York – just one of the many positive projects that are moving the local economy forward.” 

The Ford Stamping Plant in Hamburg opened in 1950. It currently employs approximately 600 people who work to make doors, quarter panels, body sides, hoods, fenders and floor panels. 

New York State Senator Mark Grisanti said, “Ford is shifting its manufacturing facility into high gear in Hamburg New York. Ford and New York State have their GPS devices set for the same destination. We are set for success. We are set for creating jobs. We are set to be a center for advanced manufacturing. We are set to move towards a future that is bright as Governor Cuomo and businesses continue to make big investments in Western New York.”

New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "Today's announcement is a huge win for the Town of Hamburg, and for advanced manufacturing in Western New York. The investment of over $100 million into the Ford Stamping Plant in Hamburg shows how important the Western New York labor force is to the Ford Motor Company, and I thank them for making this commitment to manufacturing and auto industry jobs right here in the Town of Hamburg. I am also pleased that New York State is investing in the upgrades at the Ford Stamping Plant. Advanced manufacturing is a top priority here in Western New York, and the investments announced today from the Ford Motor Company and New York State are making that priority a reality." 

Scott Adams, director UAW region 9 said, “It's huge for the Stamping plant, for the UAW members, and the community. This investment in new machinery and lines will eventually lead to this plant operating with nearly a thousand employees. That's tremendous growth that really gives present and future workers some long-term viability.”

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STATEMENT FROM SENATOR PATRICK M. GALLIVAN

Former State Trooper, Senator Gallivan Mourns The News Of Trooper Ross Riley's Passing

"From the day a trooper is sworn in and dons the gray uniform and stetson, they, and their loved ones, become life members of the New York State law enforcement family. Today we mourn the tragic news that a member of that family, Trooper Ross Riley, has perished during a training exercise in Letchworth State Park. My heart and my prayers go out to the Riley family, to those who served with Trooper Riley and the entire law enforcement community across the state of New York."

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan – 59th District

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Senator Gallivan served for fifteen years with the New York State Troopers and was twice elected Sheriff of Erie County. He currently represents all or parts of Erie, Monroe Livingston and Wyoming Counties in the New York State Senate.

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Senator Kennedy Urges State Education Commissioner to Schedule Community Forum in Buffalo

State Education Commissioner canceled, then rescheduled a series of town-hall meetings across the state, but NYSED has not yet scheduled forum in Erie County. 

 Kennedy wants Commissioner to hold community forum in Buffalo to ensure area parents have the chance to learn more and ask questions about new Common Core standards. 

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, is urging New York State Education Commissioner John King to schedule a community forum in Buffalo to ensure local families have the opportunity to hear more and ask questions about the state’s new Common Core standards. Previously, Commissioner King canceled, then rescheduled a series of town-hall meetings across the state. King was expected to appear in Williamsville for an October 24 forum prior to the cancellations, but NYSED has not yet scheduled a new forum in Erie County.

Currently, the only forum scheduled in Western New York is planned for December 4 in Jamestown, an over hour-and-a-half drive from Buffalo. Also, according to their website, NYSED has not yet finalized a time or specific location for the Jamestown event.

“Western New York parents are disappointed and frustrated that no community forum has been scheduled in Erie County. They are eager to discuss their concerns and ask Commissioner King questions about the state’s implementation of Common Core standards,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “It’s hard to believe that NYSED would expect Buffalo families to drive over an hour and a half away on a school night to participate in a forum with the chief state official tasked with ensuring the quality of our schools. I urge the State Education Department to add a community forum in Buffalo to their schedule and ensure parents, educators and community leaders in Western New York are heard when it comes to the future of schools throughout the state.”

In Buffalo, parents have long expressed an interest in meeting with Commissioner King to share their children’s first-hand accounts of their educational experiences. Kennedy believes the State Education Department needs to follow through on their previously-planned meeting for Erie County to give area parents the chance to raise concerns with senior education officials about local schools.

In a letter sent Friday, Kennedy urged the NYSED Commissioner to reschedule a forum in Erie County, and to hold it inside the City of Buffalo.  He wrote, “It is imperative that you do not ignore the largest school district in Western New York in favor of an event that is about 70 miles – or more than an hour-and-a-half drive – away from Buffalo. Considering the high cost of travel and the large number of Buffalo families who rely on public transit, many parents will be forced to pass up their only opportunity to meet directly with you. I urge you to schedule a meeting in Buffalo and give families here the chance to attend one of your community forums.”

Concern over the impact of high-stakes testing has been growing across the region and state. In October, Kennedy teamed up with Assemblyman Sean Ryan and Senator George Maziarz to host the Summit for Smarter Schools at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo. About 2,500 people turned out to participate in the Summit – which brought together parents, community residents, education professionals and public officials to discuss needed reforms to ensure schools in Western New York and across the state are gearing children with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century global economy. The discussions largely focused on the use and impact of standardized testing in an effort to help de-emphasize the high stakes nature of these tests.

“Every day, I hear from parents and teachers about the damaging effects of high-pressure, high-stakes tests,” Kennedy said. “There’s no question that testing has its place, but we need to it right. Appropriate, reliable testing will help us ensure students are learning the skills they need to achieve academic success without over-testing and over-stressing young children. As a state, we need to pursue real solutions to the challenges our schools face.”

You can read Senator Kennedy's letter to Commissioner King below, or by clicking this link.

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Senator Timothy M. Kennedy represents the New York State Senate’s 63rd District, which is comprised of the town of Cheektowaga, the city of Lackawanna and nearly all of the city of Buffalo. More information is available at http://kennedy.nysenate.gov.

Full text of Senator Kennedy’s Letter to the NYSED Commissioner:

 

November 15, 2013

 

Dr. John B. King, Jr.
Commissioner of Education
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234

 

Dear Commissioner King:

I write to request that you include an event in the City of Buffalo in your Community Forum Schedule. It has been brought to my attention that, currently, the only event scheduled in Western New York is set to take place in Jamestown on December 4. I certainly appreciate you traveling to as many regions, and holding as many forums, as possible, but it is imperative that you do not ignore the largest school district in Western New York in favor of an event that is about 70 miles – or more than an hour-and-a-half drive – away from Buffalo.

Considering the high cost of travel and the large number of Buffalo families who rely on public transit, many parents will be forced to pass up their only opportunity to meet directly with you. I urge you to schedule a meeting in Buffalo and give families here the chance to attend one of your community forums.

Buffalo Public Schools are in the midst of a crisis, and parents are rightfully concerned about major changes to their children’s education. While I am sure that an event held in Jamestown would inevitably draw a large contingent from the City of Buffalo, parents should not be forced to drive over an hour on a school night to hear from, and address, the senior-most education official in the state about an overhaul to their child’s curriculum. I am sure that Buffalo Public Schools would be happy to host you in any location in the city, and there are plenty of large auditoriums throughout the district.

In the City of Buffalo, 80 percent of schools are rated as “Consistently Low Performing.” This makes it even more important that you to come to Buffalo and explain the changes that we can expect in the coming months and years to our statewide education system. If, as we've been told, these changes are going to improve educational outcomes, then a struggling district like Buffalo ought to have been the first stop on your Community Forum tour. Again, I hope you will find a time and date to come to Buffalo to speak to parents about the Common Core changes coming to New York State. At the very least, you must hold an event closer than 70 miles away from Buffalo.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter, and I hope to see you soon in Buffalo. If you have any questions or if I can be of assistance, please feel free to contact me in my district office at 716.826.2683.

Sincerely,

 

Timothy M. Kennedy
New York State Senator, 63rd District

 

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