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Hinchey takes farewell tour; After 20 years in Congress, Hinchey says goodbye

Congressman Maurice Hinchey poses with his friend Aileen Gunther, New York State Assemblywoman, in this picture from June 2011.
TRR file photo

By Fritz Mayer
January 2, 2013

TWENTY-SECOND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, NY — After serving in Congress for 20 years, for the past couple of weeks, Congressman Maurice Hinchey has been engaged in a farewell tour of his far-flung district, which stretches from Ithaca to Kingston.

At multiple stops along the tour, the progressive lawmaker said farewell to officials and constituents that he has worked with and fought for over the years.

He said to one group, “Despite all the battles won and lost, I wanted to be here today to say thank you to all of you who stood with me as we took on the big fights. I am very proud to have represented you in Congress, proud to call you my friends, and proud of what we have accomplished together. You stood with me every step of the way. For that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I look back on my life in public service proud of what we accomplished together, regretful that I could not do more and hopeful that you will pick up where I left off, and continue the fight for this region and for what is right.”

On the big national issues, Hinchey said he always tried to stand up for what he believed was right, even though it was not always popular. Hinchey pointed to his opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, votes against the deregulation of Wall Street that led to the 2008 financial collapse, and votes against unfair trade deals that caused the exportation of millions of manufacturing jobs. “Instead of listening to the lobbyists, I listened to the people,” he said. “Instead of standing with my political party, I stood with the New Yorkers I was sent to represent.”

Hinchey also laid out a list of what he considered his most important achievements as member of the New York State Assembly and U.S. House:

• Under Hinchey’s leadership as chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee, the panel conducted a successful investigation into pollution at Love Canal, the nation’s first major toxic dumpsite, and developed landmark environmental legislation including the nation’s first law to control acid rain.

• Between 1982 and 1992, Hinchey led an investigation into organized crime’s control of the waste-hauling industry that led to the conviction of more than 20 criminal figures, including one for murder.

• Hinchey successfully led the fight, first in Albany and later in Washington, to force General Electric to pay for and clean up the 1.3 million pounds of PCBs it dumped into the Hudson River between 1947 and 1977.