Hanna Addresses Library Cuts, Hosting Small Business Workshop
Utica, NY (WIBX) - Congressman Richard Hanna, (R,C,I-Barneveld) is making his way through parts of the 24th Congressional District, reminding his constituents that he's working for them. His first stop was at the Mid-York Public Library in Utica where he told the staff that he understands the important role they play in the community. Hanna who served on the Utica Public Library Board for a number of years says he understands the financial struggle its facing.
Hanna said his goal is to lend the full support of his office and listen to what library officials have to say, "It's an easy place to cut, but the one thing about a Library is that it's a great leveler. Information is something that should be available to everyone and the lower you are on the economic totem pole, the more difficult it is to do things like get internet access. We take it for granted, but a lot of people don't have it--a lot of people don't have computers, they're expensive, and so a Library offers something to people that they can't find anywhere else."
He says the Library offers many people--especially the disadvantaged--the use of computers and the ability to apply for jobs. During his speech, Hanna seemed to distance himself from the Republican party when addressing cuts to education and other institutions like public libraries. He said, "I'm comfortable being a Republican. I think that I probably find myself distanced a little bit from both parties because they both tend to be run by their extremes. I have a very independent voting record in Washington, one of the most independent--I look at everything, I study it, I read it, and try to find the best solutions and I don't really care where they come from. But, these are harsh times so it's important to bring balance, it's important to remember that education is the one great leveler and has been throughout history, and Libraries educate."
Hanna who voted twice in favor of approving, FY2012 Continuing Resolution, (219Y-203N), a bill that would keep the government operating until November 18, 2011 and provide disaster relief to those affected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee said, "I didn't think it was appropriate to hold up money from FEMA for all the people in Binghamton and for those throughout the District that need it, and all up and down the Eastern seaboard." Hanna goes on to say," We tried to keep the funding where it should be and needs to be. It's a federal responsibility and it's not fair to play politics with the needs of peoples lives and the destruction they've endured, they need to get on." He pointed to his bi-partisan efforts with Congressman Paul D. Tonko, (NY-21) that included gathering 90 signatures in support of the measure.
When asked about the threat of the government shutting down again Hanna said, "I don't think that'll happen. I think that after watching the FAA bill fall apart, which was an embarrassment, I wasn't in favor of that, I absolutely don't think that will happen. There is a rumor that they may call us back this week, but nobody wants that."
He says Congress has an 11-percent approval rating, "And some days I look out and wonder who those 11 people are that approve it--it's such a mess from day to day," he said. The Barneveld Republican blames the extremist in Congress for the threat of another possible government shutdown. "When you have 30 or 40 people that want to push for their extreme views it's hard to get through that because you need their votes and sometimes the things you have to do to get them on board aren't really palatable, generally."
Hanna says he gets "yelled at from time to time" from constituents, but chalked that up to the nature of the job. He said, "We're trying. And we know who we work for, and it's for every individual in the District. We try to be responsive, I call people back, we try to finish what we start and because of that we've had a number of pretty nice successes." Hanna says although his wife may not approve of him running for a second term, he says he plans to stick with the job if it's determined that he's "productive" and "doing a good job."
Congressman Hanna's public schedule also includes hosting a Small Business Workshop at the Whitestown Community Center, and a visit to Upstate HomeCare in Clinton.