Congressman Katko was home in the 24th District during the congressional recess. His office had assured a Sierra Club representative that a meeting would be arranged while on recess. I was to join the Sierra Club-initiated meeting to ask Mr. Katko’s support in maintaining present levels of spending for the EPA (the present EPA budget is already 20 percent lower than it was in 2010) and to support environmentally sound efforts in the proposed renegotiation of NAFTA (NAFTA allows companies to offshore their jobs and their pollutants).
Mr. Katko’s office never communicated back to the Sierra Club representatives and in fact wouldn’t let anyone come up to his office when they stopped by to deliver petitions from over 600 Sierra Club supporters asking for protection for the EPA. Neither did his office respond to an invitation from Indivisible-Cayuga for him to attend a town hall during the recess which initially gave him control of dates to match his calendar needs. Mr. Katko is now back in Washington. His selective meetings allow him to get and give support without hearing from a large contingent of constituents.
Katko is good at making broad statements about supporting the environment while his record of support is 26 percent for 2016, as scored by the League of Conservation Voters. I think one of the more egregious positions Katko has taken this year was his support for Trump’s repeal of the Waters of the U.S. Rule. Mr. Katko’s statement about this support indicated he had heard from “countless farmers” from across his district about this “broad rule [with] the potential to harm Central New York’s vast agriculture economy.” Agriculture is important to the 24th District economy. In Cayuga County there are approximately 890 farms (113 dairy farms with 72,000 plus cows) and 78,000 plus citizens. Farmers and their families are approximately 5 percent of the population. The voices of the rest of the county, who are watching our lakes experience toxin blue-green algae, have not been able to communicate with their congressional representative about their concerns for safe drinking water and protections for lands within our county.
Minimally Katko needs to be more responsive to requests. He then needs to take action that protects our water and land for all of us. He represents all the people of the 24th District not just those who are lucky enough to be able communicate with him.