Donald Trump meets with leaders of Polish American community

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump met on Wednesday, September 28 with leaders of the Polish American community at the office of the Polish National Alliance in Chicago. PFA National President Timothy L. Kuzma represented the Polish Falcons of America at the meeting. The meeting was organized by the Polish American Congress (PAC).

PAC President Frank Spula welcomed Mr. Trump to the Polish National Alliance headquarters. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani accompanied Mr. Trump.

trump_01

President Spula addressed issues of importance to Polish Americans and Poland; specifically the critical need for a strong NATO, of which the Republic of Poland has been a member since 1999, as well as Poland’s inclusion into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Mr. Trump expressed strong support for both issues, including the support of a missile defense system which’s elements have been located in Poland. Mr. Trump said, “I am all for NATO and in a Trump Administration, we will have a friendly and strong partnership with Poland and Polish Americans.”

Although unfamiliar with the issue of inclusion of Poland into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, Trump expressed concern that Poland is not a member of the Program. Trump said, “I promise that within weeks of my Administration being sworn into office, I will see to the approval of Poland in the Visa Waiver Program.”

Mr. Trump thanked those in attendance for the hospitality afforded him and Mr. Giuliani.

Meeting participants included: Frank J Spula – President of the Polish American Congress & Polish National Alliance; Rick E. Pierchalski, PAC First Vice President; Mark Pienkos, PAC VP for Public Relations; Hubert Cioromski, PAC VP for Financial Development; Timothy Kuzma, President of the Polish Falcons of America and PAC Secretary; Micheline Jaminski, PAC Treasurer, President of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America; Romuald Poplawski, President of the PAC Illinois Division; Mary Anselmo, PAC National Director; Jacek Niemczyk, PAC National Director, General Manager of the WPNA Radio Station; Magdalena Pantelis, PAC National Director, General Manager of the Alliance Publishers and Printers; Joseph Drobot, PAC National Director, President of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America; Marian Grabowski, PAC National Director, Treasurer of the Polish National Alliance; Bozena Nowicka McLees, PAC National Director, Chair of the PAC Educational Commission; Charles Komosa, PAC National Director, Secretary of the Polish National Alliance; Margaret Blaszczuk, PAC National Director, Editor of the Polish Daily News; Alicja Kuklinska, PAC National Director, Editor of Zgoda; Mark Grzymala, PAC IL Division Director; Kornelia Krol, President of the Polish American Medical Association; Maciej Pisarski, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Washington; Piotr Janicki, Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Chicago; Anna Morzy, President of the Polish American Chamber of Commerce; Ewa Koch, President of the Polish Teachers Association in America; Jan Cikowski, President of the Polish Highlanders in America, and Iwona Wegrzyn Bochenski, President of the Warsaw Committee of Chicago Sister Cities.

trump_02

Following the meeting with leaders of the Polish American community, Mr. Trump spoke to nearly two hundred Polish Americans who gathered in the PNA headquarters. Mr. Trump reinforced his fondness and commitment to Poland and Polish Americans.

The meeting was organized by the Office of President Spula, Mr. William Ciosek of the Donald Trump Campaign with the assistance of Anthony Bajdek, Polish American Congress Vice President for American Affairs.

The Polish American Congress has reached out to the Hillary Clinton Campaign for a similar opportunity to meet with Secretary Clinton. As of today, the campaign has not responded to the invitation.

The Polish American Congress does not endorse candidates, but hopes to inform candidates as to the issues facing Poland and Polish Americans.

President Kuzma: Spring Travels

On Monday, May 9, I had the honor of attending ceremonies at the Polish cemetery at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Polish President Andrzej Duda laid a wreath in the cemetery in honor of the young Polish men who died while in training for the Polish Army during World War I. A Polish Falcons Honor Guard led by Druh Steve Flor, a Member of Nest 52, Rochester, N.Y., helped welcome President Duda. It was a great honor to briefly meet President Duda.

At the ceremony at the Polish cemetery in Niagara-on-the Lake is PFA National President Timothy Kuzma and his wife Patti with members of the Polish Falcons Honor Guard. On the far left is Rick Mazella, National Vice President Membership Development of the Polish American Congress.

At the ceremony at the Polish cemetery in Niagara-on-the Lake is PFA National President Timothy Kuzma and his wife Patti with members of the Polish Falcons Honor Guard. On the far left is Rick Mazella, National Vice President Membership Development of the Polish American Congress.

Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, lays a wreath in honor of the Polish cemetery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, lays a wreath in honor of the Polish cemetery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

As part of a trip to District I in May, I had the opportunity to visit the Nest 946 Polish School in Somerville, N.J. This impressive School was started 31 years ago by Frank and Regina Grodzki, longtime Members of Nest 946. There are 185 students, many of them Falcon Members, enrolled in the school this year. I had the pleasure of watching some of the 11-year students take their final oral examination (Matura in Polish). They did a great job and I was most impressed. I also talked with the director of the school, Lucyna Lis, as well as two of the instructors.

Nest 946 Polish School

Nest 946 Polish School

Also in May I attended the Executive Summit meeting of the American Fraternal Alliance in Toronto, Canada. The highlight of this meeting was the presentation of a potential new branding campaign that can be used by all fraternal organizations. In very broad terms, think of the milk industry and its “Got Milk” campaign that has been so successful. If the concept is eventually adopted and implemented, PFA can use the program to establish awareness about who we are and what we do. I will certainly keep a close eye on this idea as it develops.

I wish you all a wonderful and safe summer, and I look forward to seeing those of you at the Convention.

Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Travel to Poland and Spain

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

The President will travel to Warsaw, Poland, and Spain July 7-11. From July 7-9, the President will attend the 2016 NATO Summit, his fifth and final Summit with NATO leaders. The meeting will afford an opportunity to underscore Alliance solidarity, to advance efforts to bolster security to NATO’s east and south, and to project stability through new partnerships beyond the North Atlantic area. The President will hold a bilateral meeting with the Polish President to discuss U.S.-Polish relations, reaffirm the American commitment to Poland’s security, and exchange views on the broader security environment in Europe. While in Warsaw, the President will also meet with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission to discuss U.S.-EU cooperation across a range of shared priorities, including countering terrorism, fostering economic growth and prosperity, and addressing the global refugee crisis. Following the visit to Poland, the President will travel to Spain from July 9-11. The visit to Spain, an important NATO Ally, will highlight robust security cooperation, a strong political and economic relationship, and longstanding people-to-people ties. The President’s agenda in Spain will include meetings with His Majesty the King of Spain and the Acting President of Spain.

###

Getting to know Andrzej Duda

Polish Americans may know by now that Andrzej Duda defeated Bronislaw Komorowski in Poland’s May, 2015, presidential election. But, it is not surprising that they may not know much about him; he has not been in the political forefront recently.

Andrzej Duda, a 43-year-old conservative lawyer, has strong ties to the powerful Kaczynski twins.

The devout Catholic was close to the late president Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in 2010, and calls himself his “spiritual heir.”

However, Duda only became well-known after Lech’s twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a former prime minister and current leader of the Law and Justice (PiS) conservative opposition party, crowned him presidential candidate.

PiS is the main opposition party to the governing centrist Civic Platform (PO) that has been in power since 2007, following a two-year PiS government.

Born in 1972 in the southern city of Krakow, Duda was a choir boy and Boy Scout in his early years before earning a law degree from the Jagiellonian University.

When PiS came into power in 2005, he was named Deputy Justice Minister, a job he gave up in 2008 to become an aide to Lech. He was elected to the Polish parliament in 2011, then to the European Parliament in 2014.

Duda has promised voters numerous social benefits in fiery campaign speeches, including introducing extra tax exemptions for large families and lowering the retirement age, which the PO government had gradually pushed back to 67 years. Some observers believe his pledges would be too much for the Polish economy to bear. “His promises go well beyond the powers of the president and his generous economic proposals could even ruin the (much larger) German budget,” said Radoslaw Markowski, a political scientist at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Others are confident it can be done.

In terms of foreign policy, Duda wants to strengthen ties with the NATO western defense alliance, amid security concerns over Russia’s activity in neighboring Ukraine. “The best course of action for Poland would be to have U.S. troops stationed on its territory. It’s the only way to guarantee the country’s security,” he said.

Duda says he opposes Poland’s entry into the Eurozone “so long as the standard of living of Poles remains below that of Germans or the Dutch.” Incumbent Komorowski also suggested care before adopting the Euro.

Like Poland’s Catholic Church, he also opposes in-vitro fertilization and came down hard on the 2011 Istanbul Convention, the world’s first binding legal instrument to prevent and combat violence against women, which Poland ratified last month.

Duda crisscrossed the country wooing voters and, five days before the first round of the election, won the support of the Solidarity trade union.

He is in favor of amending the constitution to make referendum proposals backed by at least one million signatures automatically go ahead. The parliament can currently veto proposals, and does.

Duda is married to a teacher, Agata, and has one daughter. His father-in-law is the Polish writer, poet and literary critic Julian Kornhauser.

Source: Polonia Media Network

President Kuzma: Druh Kuzma Goes to Washington Part 2

Following up on my last blog post, I returned this past Sunday from a very successful trip to Washington, D.C. I couldn’t have asked for better weather for driving back and forth. The leaves are just beginning to change and it looks like nature will give us a spectacular show this fall.

Once in Washington I made my way to the offices of McBee Strategic, the firm hired by the American Fraternal Alliance to engage legislators in the effort to protect the tax-exempt status of fraternal benefit societies like the Polish Falcons of America. I met with Executive Vice President Jenn Fogel-Bublick and Associate Allison Johnson. Jenn and Allison planned all my visits that day. Over lunch we discussed the schedule for the day and discussed the presentation to the Senator’s staff.

Allison then accompanied me to the Senate office buildings (across the street from the Capitol Building) for our meetings. The first two stops were at the offices of the two Connecticut Senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. Following those two meetings we then visited the offices of the two senators from Pennsylvania, Robert Casey and Pat Toomey. While I did not meet directly with any of the Senators I did meet with the legislative staffers who work on these issues.

It is important to remember that while the Senators, or Congressmen, actually make speeches, run for election, cast votes, etc., it is the staffers who do the real leg work in the congressional offices. They do the research, write the legislation, and like in my visit, they conduct many of the meetings with constituents. It is rare to get quality one-on-one face time with a United States Senator. What is amazing is that I would peg the average age of the congressional staff somewhere in the mid-20s. These are all young people who have great responsibility in the legislative process.

The message at all the meetings was essentially the same. First, while there is no specific legislation or action on the table threatening the exemption now, Allison explained the nature and importance of fraternals in the U.S. She provided each office with a folder of information about fraternals that was specifically tailored for each state. I then told the story about the Polish Falcons and the role we play for our members and in our communities.

Two examples I cited were the Penguin Plunge sponsored by Nest 519, Middletown, Conn., and the work that Nest 163, Mocanaqua, Pa., did for flood relief victims in that area.

All of the meetings were positive and we were well received. I believe we were hugely successful in creating a greater awareness of the importance of fraternal benefit societies, and of the Polish Falcons of America. I am confident that if this issue does arise in the upcoming battle over tax reform that these Senators will support our cause. I did learn that Sen. Murphy was the founder of the Polish Caucus in the Senate. I did not know he was Polish until the meeting.

One final note on the meetings is that all the staffers were open to the idea that we should invite the Senators to our events. We should take advantage of this. What better way to tell our story than to see it first-hand. It is one thing for me to go Washington and meet with staff and tell them about the Polish Falcons. It is entirely another for a U.S. Senator to visit one of our Nests, shake the hands of Falcons and really get to know who we are. I plan to reach out to Nests and Districts in this regard in the near future to see if there are opportunities for Senators and Congressmen to visit with us.

I want to thank Joe Annotti, American Fraternal Alliance President, Jenn Fogel-Bublick and Allison Johnson from McBee Strategic for all the work they did in arranging these meetings for me.

APAC Conference

The following day I attended the second annual Conference of the American Polish Advisory Council (APAC). APAC is headed by Gen. Edward Rowny, former U.S. Arms Negotiator with the Soviet Union under President Reagan. The topics presented at the conference were interesting and well done. I estimate that about 50 people were in attendance.

Andrew Nagorski, a noted Polish-American journalist, gave a keynote address on his newly-published book, “Hitlerland”, the story of Hitler’s rise to Poland and the perspectives of Americans to Hitler in Germany at that time. His presentation was excellent and of course I had to buy a copy of the book afterward. (I did have the opportunity to meet Mr. Nagorski several years ago at a meeting of the World Affairs Council in Pittsburgh.)

Next, Ian Brzezinski chaired a panel that focused on current U.S.-Poland strategic relations. (Ian Brzezinski is the son of noted foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski) The main theme of the presentations was that the U.S.-Poland relationship is strong and it must be even stronger in the face of renewed threats from Russia to destabilize the region. The security of Poland is essential for a stable and secure Europe. And the support of the U.S. for Poland’s defense is essential to this security.

There was also a panel chaired by Will Schreiber, of APAC, on the status of the Visa Waiver issue. The proposal is currently a part of the larger immigration overhaul reform bill that was passed by the Senate but is still being debated in the House. The future of the legislation is still uncertain. The panel discussed the situation and possible solutions if the proposal dies along with immigration reform.

Finally, there was a brief presentation from a new organization, the Polish Warriors Foundation, which is seeking support to help wounded Polish soldiers in Poland.

Overall, the conference was informative. I learned new things, bought a book, and met a lot of interesting people in the Polish American Community. I should add that the Polish Falcons were acknowledged for being a supporter in the program book. Any time we can create awareness for the PFA that is a positive for us.

Polish American Congress

I am actually writing this blog in my hotel room in Chicago, Ill., as I am here for the Polish American Congress (PAC) National Council of Directors Meeting. Polish Falcons has been an important part of the PAC since its founding in 1944. Since its inception the PAC has been the leading Polish American organization in the U.S. to advance the cause of Poland and Polish Americans.

The National Council of Directors meets twice a year, usually in Chicago. I serve as National Secretary for the PAC. The President of Polish Falcons has traditionally held this position, the same way the President of the Polish National Alliance serves as the President of the PAC.

Also at the PAC meeting is Druh Steve Flor, a member of PFA Nest 52 Rochester, N.Y. Druh Steve is the PFA District IX representative to the PAC Western New York Division and a National Director representative from the Division to the National Council of Directors Meeting. Druh Steve is an enthusiastic activist in the Polish American Community and we are fortunate to have him in the ranks of the Polish Falcons.

There are many challenges facing the PAC. First and foremost is funding. Earlier this year difficult decisions had to be made, specifically the office in Chicago was closed leaving only the office in Washington. Fundraising efforts are being planned but there is still a lot of work to do.

There is also the issue of the mission of the PAC. While Poland was a communist country the goal was simple—a free and independent Poland. That mission was accomplished a while ago. Poland is thriving. There have been issues that have galvanized the PAC since then (i.e. Poland’s inclusion into NATO) but that is in the past now too. The Visa Waiver issue is still being fought but it does not create the same kind of emotion as the fight against communism or the NATO issue.

Polish Americans absolutely need a strong effective organization to unite our community. There are many Polish organizations in the U.S.—cultural, educational, fraternal, etc. We need one organization that unites us and brings us together under one umbrella. The Polish American Congress is that organization. If we have a strong, united voice, people will listen to us.

My role with the PAC is to help make the organization as strong as possible. And if the PAC is strong and the PFA is an integral part of the PAC then we will all benefit from these relationships.

PRCUA

While in Chicago, I will have the honor of attending the 140th Anniversary Banquet of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (PRCUA) this Saturday (Oct. 5). I am certain this will be a fabulous affair. I will be attending with District II President Paul Sadowski and his wife Beth.

PRCUA President Joe Drobot and his wife Judy attended our Convention and Anniversary celebration last July in Pittsburgh. I am glad to be able to represent the PFA at their anniversary.

Czolem.