SENECA FALLS — Mary Fox, who was at the Women March in Seneca Falls rally Saturday, said she attended a similar march in Washington, D.C., in the early 1970s — and she doesn't believe enough has changed since then.
Fox, 67, attended the third annual march with granddaughter Jaida Fox, who had never attended a march before. Jaida, 17, paused briefly with her mouth agape as she jerked her back and head in surprise when Mary talked about her prior experience, and Jaida said she hadn't known that.
Mary said she has wanted to attend a recent march, and despite a knee replacement, she borrowed a walker to attend. She talked about the progress between then and now, saying things have changed "a little bit."
"It's getting there, but it's still got far away to go," she said.
The Seneca Falls march was held in tandem with other events across the country. The area has a long women's rights history, since it was the site of the first women's rights convention in 1848.
The event's rally was held at Trinity Park instead of Women's Rights National Historical Park, as it had been for the last two years. March organizer Melina Carnicelli, of Auburn, said in between bouts of enthusiastically greeting people who were attending the event that the switch was made due to the march's permit being pulled due to the government shutdown. Carnicelli said the venue change didn't stop the event, however.
"This rally and march is all about supporting and being vigilant activists around women's rights and equality, so that's what brings people out," she said.
People holding signs referencing everything from civil rights to reproductive rights to climate change, with several references to U.S. President Donald Trump, could be seen anywhere one turned within the rally crowd.
"They can shut the government down, but they can't shut us down!" Maureen Quigley said to the roar of the crowd.
Matthew Brown, a women's health provider in Rochester and newly elected trustee for the Monroe County village of Fairport, attended the rally dressed complete with a crown, as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or "Notorious R.B.G.," as he called her in a reference to rapper The Notorious B.I.G.
"The election in November of 2016 made me realize I had to be doing more, and that starts with coming out to rallies, and it continues with knocking doors and donating and volunteering and doing everything I can to protect the things that I think are important in this country," Brown said.
Rebecca Neff brought her grandchildren, Olivia Filiberto, 13, and Alex Filiberto, 8, with her, though the children said with shy smiles that they didn't want to go. The kids' mother, Heather McDaniel, was also with them.
"I think it's important for the young girls to know that if there is something worth fighting for, you go out and share your voice," Neff said.
Gwen Webber-McLeod, president and CEO of Auburn-based business Gwen Inc., spoke at the event, saying her parents were raised in the South during the Jim Crow era and raised her and her three sisters in their military family to be "uber-confident, educated and with an understanding of how money works." They were taught to combat racism and believe they could be whatever they wanted, Webber-McLeod said, making them "accidental feminists" in some ways. While taking a course on the history of American women at SUNY Potsdam, Webber-McLeod said she became an "intentional feminist."
In Albany, there is bipartisan agreement that the state should make the property tax cap permanent. But will there be bicameral agreement that the property tax cap should remain in place?
This week, the Democratic-led state Senate will consider legislation to make the property tax cap permanent. The bill is sponsored by freshman state Sen. Jim Gaughran, a Long Island Democrat.
Gaughran highlighted the importance of his bill because of the impact of the new federal limits on state and local tax deductions. Under a federal tax law signed in 2017, there is a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions. For residents of high-tax states, such as New York, the new limit will prevent them from being able to deduct all of their state and local taxes.
That's why Gaughran is pushing for making the property tax cap permanent instead of a temporary extension. A permanent tax cap, he said, would provide for permanent relief.
The tax cap was one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's early legislative achievements. He, along with Republicans in the state Senate, pushed for the adoption of the cap in 2011. The cap limits local government or school tax levy increases to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. If a local government wishes to exceed the cap, it must receive approval from voters.
Supporters of the property tax cap tout the benefits for taxpayers. In his State of the State address last week, Cuomo said the tax cap has saved the average homeowner $3,200.
Making the property tax cap permanent is part of Cuomo's 2019 agenda.
"I understand if New York City does not feel the property tax cap issue the same way Long Island and upstate does. Because it's not the same issue. They don't have the same burden of property tax," Cuomo said.
"Between Nassau and Westchester, you're number one and number two in the nation. You have property taxes of ($20,000, $30,000, $40,000) in those counties. It makes a real difference ... At least if we can say the 2 percent is going to be adhered to, I think it will help give people confidence in the system."
The major hurdle, though, was never the state Senate. Under Republican control, the state Senate passed legislation to make the property tax cap permanent. Republicans believe the tax cap is essential to provide relief to taxpayers and rein in property taxes.
Deputy Senate Minority Leader Joe Griffo, a Rome Republican, said Friday that there are "more than enough votes" in the Senate to make the property tax cap permanent. Cayuga County's delegation, which includes state Sens. Bob Antonacci, Pam Helming and Jim Seward, will likely support the Democrats' bill when it comes to the floor for a vote Wednesday.
The big question is if the Democratic-led state Assembly will join the state Senate in supporting the permanent extension of the tax cap.
In the past, Assembly Democrats have been reluctant to support the tax cap. There are outside groups, such as New York State United Teachers, which opposes the tax cap. Critics of the tax cap say it handcuffs municipalities and school districts that are already in rough financial shape.
Griffo believes it will take a lot to convince Assembly Democrats that they should make the property tax cap permanent.
"If the Democrats in the Senate are serious, they will implore their Assembly colleagues to pass this important bill now so it can be signed into law next week," he said. "We fought for it, but will they?"
The answer to that question will likely come during the budget process. Cuomo and state Senate Democrats want to make the property tax cap permanent. Assembly Democrats could hold firm and reject the cap's extension, but that would be a blow to their Senate Democratic counterparts, especially those who defeated Republican incumbents in the November election.
The property tax cap debate will play out over the next couple of months. But Gaughran is confident Senate Democrats will do their part to preserve the tax cap and help local governments.
"The Democratic Senate majority is going to provide local municipalities and school districts with mandate reform and increase state aid to our region to help lower local tax levies," he said.
As the snow began to pile up and vehicles began sliding off area roadways Saturday, the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office issued an advisory asking people to avoid unnecessary travel.
The travel advisory covered 6 p.m. Saturday until noon Sunday. The sheriff's office said hazardous conditions would exist, but the decision to drive was left to the discretion of the traveler.
A winter storm warning remained in effect for all of Cayuga County, and as much as two feet of snow were expected in parts of the county. The snow was expected to be accompanied by strong winds and below-zero wind chills.
Sheriff's deputies were on the scene of a crash in Sennett early Saturday afternoon after a vehicle went off the road on Route 5 on a hill near Jericho Road. Similar minor accidents were reported in other areas.
The Seneca County Sheriff's Department also issued a travel advisory effective until 1 p.m. Sunday, reporting that roads were snow covered and slippery but passable Saturday afternoon. The department said that winds were expected to pick up later Saturday, causing drifting. Deputies and highway workers were set to continue to monitoring the road conditions throughout the weekend.
Onondaga County also issued a travel advisory through noon Sunday that does not restrict travel but acts as a warning to motorists that hazardous driving conditions may exist.
For the safety of all residents, the county said in a news release, the general public is encouraged to consider the need to be on the roads during the above time frame and to use extreme caution while traveling in or around Onondaga County.
Statewide, buses and tractor-trailers were banned from the New York State Thruway and other major highways beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday with an indefinite expiration date. It covers several major highways, including nearly all of the New York State Thruway system and the entire length of Interstate 81.
See the latest closings and cancellations list at auburnpub.com.