Constituents Discuss Issues With Congressman Maffei

OSWEGO, NY – More than three dozen area residents got to discuss what was on their minds with U.S. Representative Dan Maffei this afternoon (Jan. 17).

Constituents from the 24th Congressional District gathered in the in the Oswego Public Library’s Community Room to await their turn to “Discuss it with Dan.”

Rep. Maffei said he holds the mobile office hours to give people the opportunity to meet with him one-on-one to discuss their thoughts, ideas, questions, and concerns.

U.S. Representative Dan Maffei chats with the crowd at the Oswego Public Library prior to meeting each one individually to discuss their concerns on Friday
U.S. Representative Dan Maffei chats with the crowd at the Oswego Public Library prior to meeting each one individually to discuss their concerns on Friday.

“There are different ways you can reach your congressman. You can write your congressman or call your congressman and that’s fine. But we also want to go out to them by doing these ‘Discussions with Dan.’ We go out and meet people where they are, make it easier for them. Sometimes there is a specific thing they want us to work on, something that affects their live individually or their neighborhoods,” he said. “It works well. If something becomes a bigger topic we can also set up a meeting to follow up.”

A lot of things they are focusing on are jobs and the economy, he said.

“I think people are frustrated that they feel things aren’t getting done to the level that they need. We really need to do a lot more with infrastructure,” he added. “Everything we do in Washington we try to make it cooperative to what’s going on in the district.”

Maffei added that he is looking forward to meeting the new director of the Port of Oswego Authority Zelko N. Kirincich to the position of Executive Director.  Kirincich began his new position on January 6, but was at a conference today.

“I am very excited to have someone with his experience both in Tampa and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is important particularly with the widening of the Panama Canal. What we want is someone creative who is going to see a lot of opportunities for the Port of Oswego,” he said. “It just happened our schedules didn’t fit this time. But, I’ll be there to meet him. There are a lot of good things going on at the port. We’ve taken some hits in the economy, but this is an area where we can see some growth.”

Prior to the event in Oswego, Maffei called on the independent, nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office to investigate offender tracking systems, also known as electronic monitoring devices, like the one David Renz repeatedly disabled prior to murdering Lori Bresnahan and sexually assaulting a 10-year-old child in March 2013.

Bresnahan formerly worked in the Oswego City School District.

Renz disabled his electronic ankle monitor 46 times; each time failing to elicit a response from the federal probation office responsible for his supervision, the congressman said.

It is clear that electronic monitoring devices are far from perfect and the consequences of failure can be horrendous, Maffei added.

He is asking the GAO for a study of the technology of the devices.

“Because it happened here, I think we’re all more aware of it. It’s my responsibility to see that it doesn’t happen again here or anywhere else,” Maffei told Oswego County Today. “Clearly, it was a human error. Neglect. There is better technology available, so why don’t we look into that?”

He also wants to ensure there is accountability on the part of those who monitor the devices, he added.

“What happened to the young child and Ms. Bresnahan is a terrible tragedy. We need to do whatever it takes to make sure nothing like this is ever repeated in Central New York or anywhere else across the country. I urge GAO to conduct a full investigation into the flawed electronic monitoring system that David Renz was able to exploit,” said Maffei, who serves as the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Subcommittee on Oversight.

In December 2013, Rep. Maffei introduced the Federal Probation System Reform Act to prevent another case like David Renz by establishing an Inspector General for Probation and Pretrial Services, making it a crime to remove an electronic monitoring device, and establishing national standards for the use of electronic monitoring devices.

Since taking office in January 2013, Rep. Maffei has held “Discuss it with Dan” events in every county of the 24th Congressional District. Additional “Discuss it with Dan” events will be announced in the future.