By Rob Montana
In last week’s edition, Tompkins Weekly ran responses from two candidates for the 1st Ward seat currently filled by Alderperson Cynthia Brock. In addition to Brock, who is running for re-election on the Democratic and Working Families ballot lines, Anthony Hayton – running on the Operation West Hill line – responded to questions we had about issues facing the city and what they potentially offer as members of the Common Council.
A third candidate, James Lukasavage, did not have the opportunity to have his voice heard in the same way. In addition, in error, the article highlighting the other candidates also stated he had run for city office several times – he has run only once before, challenging Alderperson George McGonigal for his seat four years ago. We apologize for the error, and wish to give voters the opportunity to hear more from Lukasavage before Election Day.
Running on the Ithaca New Cynics ballot line, his public service work has included volunteering at Loaves and Fishes, building a vegetable garden at Immaculate Conception School and writing a column for The Ithaca Times, and he has actively campaigned for the legalization of backyard chickens and meat rabbits in the city. Until recent years, Lukasavage said, he has been a registered Democrat – but now is a registered Independent – and the former U.S. Army medic first came to Ithaca about 30 years ago through Veterans for Peace.
Tompkins Weekly: Why are you running for Common Council?
James Lukasavage: I am running for Common Council in order to challenge what I see as a corrupt welfare security state that feeds parasitically off of marginal families. Specifically, I intend to use my position on Common Council to counteract the destruction of marginal families by the welfare security state, especially the Department of Social Services, Child and Adult Protective Services, by forming what I would call a Family Group Council, which would function in much the same way as the Community Police Board does, in that it would convene on an ad hoc basis.
The main difference between CPB and my Family Group Council would be that FGC would be composed of the members of the family impacted by the CPS or APS investigation, friends of the family, neighbors of the family, and yes, the referrer of the allegation against the family.
Then, again using my cache as a member of Common Council, I would lobby county and state legislators to effect specific reforms to Article 10 of the Family Court Act of 1964. Those amendments would be:
a) A family member can only be removed from a home by CPS/APS upon the issuance of a criminal charge and the order of not one but two judges, with one of those judges having not been formerly employed as an attorney for the Department of Social Services.
b) Department of Social Services must not be given a blank check to go on a fishing expedition in its investigation of a family. Without a criminal charge, an investigation by CPS/APS may not proceed, and if a criminal charge is made, then CPS/APS must constrain its investigation to the parameters of the criminal charge itself. If the criminal charge is determined to be unfounded, then CPS must terminate its investigation and withdraw its case against the family.
c) At trial, if a defendant is found guilty of a criminal offense, whether it be reckless endangerment, criminal neglect, or whatever, but the FGC is able to work out a viable plan for the care of the family, and all three attorneys for the family – the father’s attorney, the mother’s attorney, and the child’s law guardian ( in cases of CPS investigations) – agree that the family should be reunited without state intervention in their lives, then the court must concur with council.
I realize that part (c) of my proposal is crowded, but my aim is authenticity, not polish. Really, I hope to work out the details of my Article 10 reform proposal by committee. I do not presume to have all of the answers to all of the world’s problems, and, more than anything else, this is what I wish to convey to the public: Our survival as a species is not up to me, but to all of us, by consensus, and within the bounds of reason.
TW: What is the top issue facing the City of Ithaca?
JL: Ithaca’s biggest problem is hyperdevelopment, overcrowding and pollution.
TW: What makes you the best candidate?
JL: What makes me the best candidate is that I am extremely frugal. I am not one who believes that a program must be formed for every social problem, and that those problems can only be solved by throwing money at it. If there is a way to solve a problem that is free or costs very little money, then that will be my first choice.
Secondly, I have fresh ideas, though perhaps more radical than most people are willing to accept. I understand that people dislike radical change, but extreme times such as these call for radical solutions that don’t have to be especially discomforting.
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