Monday, January 28, 2008

Cathy Fahey, my mom, rocks.

here is an email i got today (remember, my mom is on the common council) :


I am working on some legislation you and others in Buffalo (and your local legislators) might be interested in. It concerns lower income individuals who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) when filing state and federal tax returns. The EITC is largely geared to help families with children. A family with two children is eligible for the EITC if the income is under about $35,000.

Research indicates that a high percentage of these individuals (Albany has some of the highest percentages in NYS as does Buffalo) use fee-based tax preparation services to obtain their refunds. In order to pay the fee they often end up taking out a loan called a Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) at interest rates of up to 700%. The tax preparation fee combined with the fees for the loan end up costing between 15%-20% of the average refund check of an EITC eligible individual. An example is a single parent of two making $28,000 and eligible for a $1600 refund, who ends up paying $265 for tax prep fees and a RAL.

The EITC should be going directly into the pocket of these citizens and instead they are being preyed upon by these tax preparation businesses. In addition, it is money that is not going into our local economy. It is no coincidence that you tend to see a lot of these tax prep places in lower income neighborhoods. One zip code near PUSH (14208 zip code) has one of the highest rates of people eligible for the EITC who use fee-based tax prep places in NYS and 1 out of every 2 of these folks uses a RAL in the process.

There is legislation at the state level and federal levels that doesn’t seem to be moving and, from what I can tell, does not preclude legislation at the local level. NYC passed legislation several years ago requiring full disclosure and posting of all fees to customers by tax prep places as well as notification that they can receive their full refund from the IRS in less than ten days if they have a bank account with direct deposit. They are also required to give customers a Taxpayers Bill of Rights that informs them about RALs and fees and warns them of illegal practices to avoid. As a result of the NYC legislation, the percentage of EITC eligible individuals applying for RALs in low income neighborhoods in NYC is LOWER by upwards of 20% than that of individuals from Albany and Buffalo’s low income neighborhoods.

I have attached a few different documents for you to look at. One is an informative report on the issue by the Children’s Defense Fund. I have also attached the NYC’s Consumer Bill of Rights and the draft of my resolution which I hope to be introduced shortly here in Albany.

Hope all is well with you and Colin! I don’t know if Colin told you but we are probably coming out to visit this coming weekend and staying over at a hotel Sat. night. We will try to bring whatever furniture, lamps, etc. we can fit in the car.

Love, Mom


Thursday, January 24, 2008


because you need this:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Revolutions, Caulk Streams, Dead Birds

Hi friends. Harrison suggested I post something on here, and in the spirit of the New Year - trying to do more shit better and what not - I wrote it on my list of 'shit to do'. It's at the end of a long shit-list, but I worked a long day today, so tonight it is taking precedence over insulating my roof, and repairing the broken windows in my attic, and removing the newest pigeon that flew up there and died. Happy New Year! For real though, things are good in Burlyvit. The wine gig ended with winter, so now I'm working for my slumlord who is a cool guy and a contractor, among other things, such as a complete burnout. But it works out, because he pays me to do all the stuff he forgot, like insulating? Anyway, I'm helping build an $800,000 addition for a 28-year-old dude. His mom owns a ritzy co-op, and his shower has a stream running out of it. Seriously. He had rocks grouted into his tile bathroom, and a stream runs out of his limestone steam-shower, across a granite tiled bathroom floor, into a black marble jacuzzi. Yeah Vermont! Go Green! Shop local! Oh well... It is a pretty cool project. I get to do a little bit of carpentry, but mostly I'm the painter, though the last couple of days have involved 10 hours each of caulking. If any of you have spent much time caulking, then you realize why I am glad that my New Years revolutions did not include anything about improving the sophistication of my jokes. Any job involving caulk provokes a stream of necessary questions: Hey Jeff? Jeff is my landlord. How much caulk do you like? To use on the window seams? Do you prefer the white caulk or the brown caulk? It's terrible. And by 7:00 I've been on my knees all day and I have caulk all over my hands and in my hair. So it's a good thing that my actual New Years revolution was to start working less. I decided that I've been way too motivated in 2007, so I'm stacking my piles of cash and jumping in Ryan Murray's new used truck in about a month, and heading West. Maybe I'll see you on the way through. Rock on. Dan Badger.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

nytimes slide shows.

grandmothers against war nyc, traditional fight in india, john edwards supporter in nevada with an "i'm votin' for kids" sign, nevada caucus-goers.

michigan primary & ice festival in south korea!

the audio slideshow on this article
so, today on broadway in saratoga springs, ny i saw a pretty sizable group of barack obama supporters with their "ny <3s obama!" signs (right across from the saratoga peace alliance, mind you)-- whoa baby, he's everywhere! it's pretty crazy!
i'm staying in saratoga till monday, then i'm driving back out to geneseo in my Quest! i've had a really great break! today i went into price chopper (my famed place of employment) with eileen (my famed mother) to buy stuff for a little party she's having, and also to say goodbye to some friends, and co-workers. it was really nice! i ended up running into my old history teacher (whom eileen and i both LOVE). i proceeded to excitedly show him the $29.99 breathalyzers that price chopper now sells, while eileen tried to convince him to run for public office (like she always does). it was great. i then saw a buddy from high school/geneseo (who shall remain nameless), who became incessantly jealous when he thought i was shopping with my [our] old teacher. it was pretty funny, because my teacher and i started pretending that we had been hanging out, and shopping together, and said that we had just gotten back from seeing "there will be blood"-- the film my buddy has desperately wanted to see with me. i guess you had to be there... it was pretty funny though, since my teacher did all the joking without any pushing from me!
this break was really great though. i got to spend time with lots of people that i love (friends, family), relax and think quite a bit, organize lots of stuff for school/geneseo in general, try to get things sorted out for this summer, and worked it up at the chopper! i've already discussed this with some people, but i am soso thankful that i have worked at that grocery store for as long as i have (even with all my constant complaining). i just love [so much] all the people, all the people that i've known for years, all the people that i meet on a daily basis, all the wonderfully kind and nice people who make you so happy about life, all the miserable people that you're able to cheer up with a smile or a joke, all the mean people who make you stronger, and all the people who have nothing, but yet seem to have everything because of their joy for living and humanity, all the little old ladies who are just desperate for a compliment or a "how has your day been ma'am?" and all the little old men who light up when you give them a big smile! all the migrant workers who are just looking for a "hello" from someone once in a while, and all the little kids who just want someone to talk to them.... i dunno... you wouldn't think it (but maybe you would), but all of these people are in the grocery store, every day, all the time, and that's why i guess... (other than laziness), that i've stayed there for so long. because i love meeting new people, and remembering all the old people (and having them remember me too!). i really love it, and just kind of wanted to say it here. i think i've said it before, but that's the thing-- having these emotions spread over you is a pretty powerful thing, and when it happens to you at a place that can also make you want to go cry in the corner on a moment's notice, i guess that's why i think it's so great!

grocery stores... the best world microcosms.
hope everyone is well! talk soon. <3

Monday, January 14, 2008

kevin's blog

if you care about $$$ and housing...

the subprimer

is my friend kevin's blog. it details the dirty tricks and shenanigans of wall st. titans and how they hurt people like you and me. check it out.

in other news, roller-derby pics up soon.

It's much better with the "shaboom shaboom"

EDIT: I do not know what happened to this video, but I can't seem to fix it. 30 seconds of sound with a sped up 2 minutes of visual. It's really bizarre.

I'm uploading this video at the request of one Harrison Watkins. It is 1:30AM and I rerecorded it cause it was too big, but it also means I'm a little bit suckier than I normally am, so please keep that in mind (though I doubt the true statements community will judge me too harshly) H-bomb promised to upload a very specific and hilarious picture of himself in return, so I hope he follows through, for the sake of all of our enjoyment. I just started to play the guitar this semester, as inspired and encouraged by my roomie Phil...and I've finally started to learn some songs and rock outttt! I also got a new laptop this break with sweet webcam options (Matt Lapennas, you know you love the webcam), which has resulted in way too many hours in my room playing with the guitar and webcam or BOTH AT THE SAME TIME.

This break has been lovely. Gosia, A polish foreign exchange student that I was wonderfully close with my senior year of high school and have kept in contact with ever since, came back to the states for a few days to visit and it was absolutely wonderful. She is an amazing person who, at 22 has already visited like a bajillion places, speaks 3 languages fluently, and helped to start a non-profit organization for kids she taught in Madagascar. She's one of those people that makes you feel bad about how little you've accomplished, yet simultaneously gives you hope for the future of humanity.

Other than that? I worked at questar with crazy kids, received my first grad school grades (Dean's list heck yes!), and spent crazy amounts of time with friends and family. The dragoncloud crew came to visit albany, which was the bomb diggs, and we went dancing at a very gay and transsexual friendly 80s dance night at the fuze box in Albany. We boogied up a storm with a whole host of interesting characters..and it somehow resulted in me going on a few dates with a random indie rock looking boy with a v neck t-shirt that I danced with that night. Though the V neck was darling, he turned out to not be my prince charming in the end (though he DID have old saved by the bell episodes on DVD, which was a major plus).

I've gotten to see the fabulous Fiona Murray a lot this break (though we haven't made cooks ONCE! We will remedy this, tuesday), and a little bit of Harrison and an even LITTLER bit of Matt Lapennas (cause I suck and get sleepy and don't visit people like a lame-o). Just got back from NYC today on a trip for MORE visiting of people I haven't seen in way too long: I'm grateful for everyone I did see, but wish there were more mandatory holidays for people to come home for, goddamnit. President's day? Groundhog day? We need more vacations!!! I love you all, and I'm gonna get back to my quest to be an indie-folk superstar. Hope everyone's doing well!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

if you ever wondered just what exactly my apartment looks like

room, room, kitchen, room...

i have a stuffy nose. we ended with some new year's pics. how is everyone else?