GUEST ROOM | Students, Stand in Solidarity with Ithaca’s Building Trades Workers

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unevenly impact working-class and marginalized communities, it has become clear that no crisis can be separated from the influences of rampant economic inequality. The U.S. climate crises, which are reportedly increasing in frequency and magnitude each year, are no different. For this reason, the promise of the Green New Deal as a policy platform that can address climate change, environmental racism and economic injustice has inspired the imagination of millions across the country. But workers and union leaders nationwide are warning that a transition to clean energy that does not include strong worker protections can create dire consequences, further exacerbating the massive wealth gap by weakening organized labor and pushing workers into temporary, unstable, or unsafe work. 

In the aftermath of Ithaca’s 2019 Green New Deal resolution, the local conversation has paralleled the national, with our community’s workers fighting for more worker-friendly policies to be prioritized in Tompkins county’s green jobs agenda. Currently, there is no worker representation on the county’s Industrial Development Agency, which is the department that provides tax abatements to developers seeking to build in the county and incentivizes many green development projects.

Ithaca Common Council Passes 2020 Budget

After months of revisions, proposals and back-and-forth, the City of Ithaca has finally settled on a budget for the upcoming 2020 year. Passed at a meeting of Ithaca’s Common Council meeting last Wednesday, the plan — which lists $80,397,578 in total spending — carries few surprises.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Pushing Forward the City’s Green New Deal

To the Editor:

There is concern among a number of us who support the goals of the city’s Green New Deal but watch the city advance development that is inconsistent with the necessity to reduce — not increase — local greenhouse gas emissions. The latter concern is exacerbated by the comments of several alder persons who voted for the GND but now question even the extraordinarily minor budget commitment to make their pronouncement substantive. Months ago in the wake of the contention over Cornell’s North Campus Residential Expansion, the Planning and Economic Development Board wrote the Common Council asking for training to competently analyze projects for their greenhouse gas and climate change implications — a request which has apparently been ignored. Recently, the director of planning and economic development admitted that she and her current staff could not produce a substantive GND. Moreover, we all know that it has taken existing staff and local consultants three years and running to create a Green Building Policy with codification and implementation still months off.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The Sky Falls Only if You Let It

To the editor:

There’s an earthquake of student action regarding climate change going on. One great example of this is the Juliana v. United States Youth Climate Lawsuit, which is headed for the Supreme Court. Young people filed a lawsuit against the United States federal government in 2015 for violating their and future generations’ right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” by refusing to seriously tackle climate change. Cornell students will surely join in on this scale of climate justice activism. But there’s something missing here.