Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gotta Hand It To These Guys !!!

 Turning Stone Resort Casino announces $100 million luxury retail outlet, entertainment complex . While MV EDGE is running around like a bunch of losers spending Oneida County taxpayers' money trying to stifle potential competition for Turning Stone from Seneca County,  Turning Stone has moved on to beat any potential competition.

Love 'em or hate 'em, you have to admire Turning Stone's entrepreneurial spirit playing their fair or unfair advantages for all their worth.

Let's face it.  There is no way the Utica/Syracuse market alone could support such an outlet center. Now the well-heeled of the region won't have to travel to Manhattan for luxury items.

This is a PLUS for US.  

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Global Warming Baloney

Gotta love this guy . . .    :-)

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Should Upstate Split from NYC?

This was a question someone posted on Topix, generating the "we can get along without them" vs "we need them" type of discussion.  One person posted that both regions need each other.  I agree with the last view.  (I remember in the 1970s when NYC was in an incredible amount of debt, but the Upstate economy was fine and kept things afloat for all).

The problem now is that the needs of these different regions are no longer reflected in state policies. The Downstate majority runs everything to its favor. The Upstate perspective is inadequately represented.

Before the NYS Senate was reapportioned in the late 1960s to reflect a "one man one vote" US Supreme Court interpretation of the "equal protection" clause of the US Constitution, State policies had to be good for both Upstate and Downstate to get past the NYS Senate. A bit like the US Constitution's giving each state 2 senators regardless of population, the NYS Constitution gave Upstate regions more representatives to ensure that differing regional perspectives had a voice in policy making. The result was state policy that was good for the entire state. Compared to now, Upstate was booming back then.

This balance was done away with by the US Supreme Court. You can point to that event as marking the beginning of Upstate's descent both financially and in population, and the entire state's loss of representatives and importance in Washington. Now it is the "tyrrany of the majority" found in a pure democracy that rules us ... something that the framers of both the US and NYS Constitutions sought to avoid.

Restoring the Balance would resolve the issue, but how to get there is a big question. Getting the US Supreme Court to revisit and reverse its past decision -- and then NYS restoring the old Senate representation formula -- would be one approach. Splitting the state administratively into Upstate and Downstate regions with laws having to be approved by the representatives of both regions to become effective might be another approach.

But if the balance cannot be restored, then the only hope for Upstate survival is to break away and make its own policies.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Year, Another Rate Increase for MVWA . . .

Water rates rising for fifth time in five years. Will it ever end?

Probably not.

The board controlling the Water Authority is appointed rather than elected by the public.  They answer to politicians.  Therefore, decisions are likely to advance the local (read County) political agenda (formerly New Hartford expansion, now Nano Utica/Marcy, but always crony favoritism) rather than the interests of the consumers. Take a look at the rate structure . . . it heavily favors the high volume industrial users rather than the typical stay-at-home consumer, yet the cost to treat each gallon of water is the same for all.

The board also depends upon Water Authority officials for their information -- officials whose expertise is limited.

Since the paying-public has already lost control of the system, perhaps now is the time to consider selling the water system to a large waterworks corporation such as American Waterworks or Aqua America. These corporations serve many regions rather than one, have developed an expertise that cannot be matched by our local utility, and, most importantly, would be answerable to the  NYS Public Services Commission when they try to increase local water rates.

Will you ever see persons that think this way appointed to the board?



Thursday, October 23, 2014

The McDermott Surprise . . .

I don't know about you, but after watching the NY Governor debate last night the Libertarian candidate, Mr. McDermott, was  the big surprise! 

Mr. Astorino came across as being plastic... He presented nothing that we haven't heard before. While he is against Common Core, he would "replace" CC standards with New York State standards . . . but we've already had NYS standards that didn't help.  He would, at best, be another Pataki . . . appealing to more conservative voters, but not fundamentally transformative.

Mr. Hawkins was the big disappointment. Based on the last debate I expected a more intelligent discourse from him, even though I disagree with him on almost everything .... But all I heard was his Utopian wish list . . . and his accent!  . . . Where did that come from?

As for Mr. Cuomo ... The state is a mess.  The targeted corporate welfare on steroids only spends taxpayer money.  It will not create a sustainable economic revival because the structural problems that created NYS' malaise are never addressed (high taxes, over regulation, high utility costs, etc.).
 
Mr. McDermott nailed both the Common Core and the Charter Schools issues for me. I know some of my conservative leaning friends will disagree on the Charter Schools issue because Charter Schools create choices for parents.  But Charter Schools are still Government Schools.  They may create choices for now, but they are tuition-free competition for the truly independent private parochial schools. After the parochial schools get killed off, there will only be government schools -- and they all will be promoting the government's agenda rather than a diversity of thought.

Mr. McDermott is really a long-shot to actually win because he is not of a "major" party.  But in this era of three Republican County Executives (including our own) endorsing Democrat Governor Cuomo, are the Republicans really a viable party in New York State anymore?  The People have no real choices any more. . . . 

Unless they seize power for themselves.

That was Mr. McDermott's overall message last night:  Give power back to the People, and they will fix things themselves.

That Idea, is truly something new


Friday, October 10, 2014

"Trophy Project" . . .

A healthy dose of pure skepticism was on display last week in Buffalo's ArtVoice over Gov. Cuomo's deal with Solar City (the subject of a post here) and whether it would be a "game changer." Using local economic statistics, writer Jim Heany demonstrates that while the project might be nice for Buffalo to have, it really doesn't change anything.

Deals like SolarCity provide Cuomo with the kind of trophy project that politicians pine for. 
But they also underscore how uncompetitive the business climate in Western New York and New York State remains. What’s more, these deals are a stark reminder that Cuomo and the rest of the Albany crowd have failed to enact reforms that would give us a fighting chance to improve our economic plight without having to ply companies with corporate welfare.
While taxpayers are being forced to pay to manufacture solar panels in Buffalo, the governor is working dutifully to expand the customer base for solar panels, also at taxpayer expense, right here in Oneida County.

Our money is being spent to create an unsustainable false economy . . . unsustainable because these projects do absolutely nothing to change the conditions that have caused NY's economic decline.

Mr. Heany is correct.  Trophy projects change nothing until state policy is reformed.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Pied Piper of Green . . .

God bless Howie Hawkins . . . I always enjoy listening to an intelligent conversation about current issues and politics, and you can count on that from Mr. Hawkins, rather than the public-relations focus-group-tested  rhetoric you get from mainstream politicians.  Mr. Hawkins elevates the grade-level of the discourse, and for that you have to welcome him and thank him.

Nevertheless, Mr. Hawkins, in the report of his presentation to the OD Editorial Board, really offers nothing more to the voters of New York State than promises of what many would like to see . . . a Utopian vision if you will . . . of things that have already been tried but would end up causing more harm than good in the long run.

Employment assurance: People who are unemployed will be able to find full employment by doing community service or public work.
Roosevelt's WPA may have put people to work, but it prolonged the Depression by distorting market forces... keeping people in "public" make-work jobs rather than jobs in the private sector doing things for which there is a demand. This has been done before (Soviet Russia) and does not work. When the government puts people to work, it builds things that bureaucrats want rather than things that people (i.e., the "market") want . . . Remember the Yugo? I wonder how Mr. Hawkins feels about "workfare?"
Affordable housing . . .it matters in New York City and other larger areas...
Not necessarily . . . There is plenty of "affordable housing" in Detroit . . . and there will be in New York City, too, once the green ideas take hold.
. . . increasing the minimum wage - possibly to $15 per hour
This is the "living wage" shibboleth: That everyone, whatever their job, should be paid enough to support themselves and their families. While "living wage" is a nice outcome . . . and has actually been achieved in some places without government mandate (like North Dakota where fracking is allowed, or Switzerland which has no minimum wage) it is a distortion of the "market" and ultimately must fail unless the entire economy is government rather than "market" controlled (which again, like Soviet Russia, ultimately will fail). YOU pay someone wages based on the perceived value of services YOU receive in return. If a minimum wage is set, that means that people earning the minimum are most likely NOT providing a commensurate value of services in return . . . YOU are "overpaying" them. Of course, value is relative to the local economy. If it is humming with near zero unemployment, then you will likely pay a "living wage" to others to get menial tasks done.
Clean energy . . . “To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Hawkins said. “Lower electric costs, full employment, clean energy. That’s the way to go.”
No-brains is more like it! Wishing does not make these things so. It's time that we learn from others.  As already noted in der Spiegel, the German "green energy" policies have turned electricity into a luxury item -- busting the "lower electric bills" myth. In Spain the promise of "green energy" lead to a 26% unemployment rate! So much for "full employment."  And Clean?  How clean is it with windmills chewing up and solar reflectors frying birds?  With entire landscapes covered with windmills or solar panels?  And with landscapes festooned with powerlines?  What happens when these "large footprint" projects fail . . . or just get old and wear out?

Mr. Hawkins says things that a lot of people like to hear . . . like children enjoying a fairy tale.  And the more plausible-sounding the tale, the greater the enjoyment. . . . But it is still a tale.

Mr. Hawkins is the Pied Piper of Green.    

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Is It Communism?

Last week I commented on Oneida County's solar projects, noting that one of the companies involved had just entered a huge deal with New York State to build a panel manufacturing facility in Buffalo. Something about the deal in the Sentinel article referenced caught my eye . . .

Under the deal with SolarCity, the state will spend $350 million to build the sprawling factory on South Park Avenue and provide $400 million in funding for equipment, with the state following the economic development model that it used to build up the semiconductor industry in the Albany area. 
Under that model, the state invests in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment that typically are too costly for companies to acquire on their own and then signs agreements with companies, like SolarCity, that want to access it. . . . [emphasis supplied]
The "economic development model" is State ownership of the factory and State ownership of the equipment. . . .  i.e., "public" ownership of the means of production -- a hallmark of Communism.  Although one or two factories may not mean NY has gone communist ...
SUNY Poly has also sought to use this same model in Marcy where it owns a site that is being developed in hopes of attracting up to three computer chip manufacturing plants.
We certainly have not had armed revolutionaries taking over factories like in Russia a century ago . . . But we have had over-regulation, taxation, and trade laws shut down factories here sending the jobs overseas  to the benefit of large transnational corporations that are cozy with the government. . . . and now we are trying to "lure" jobs back and reopen factories with taxpayer financed incentives like the deal discussed here plus a loose immigration policy that drives wages down.

Whether by armed revolution or by laws and regulations, isn't the end result the same?  Elites (rather than the public) will control the means of production . . .  and the people working in the factories will be nothing more than serfs.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lower That Sales Tax!

The OD gave us a "sneak peak" at the County's 2015 Budget a couple days ago, but we didn't see what we were looking for.

Before another dime is spent on "economic development" projects, the County's Number One Priority should be cutting our total sales tax rate from 8.75% to 8.00% -- the rate that is paid in Syracuse, Rochester, Schenectady, Albany, and Binghamton.

Oneida County needs to bench mark its costs of doing business against those of other places and to bring them in line with other areas .

This region cannot continue to stand head and shoulders above its peers in taxation and expect to be taken seriously as a place to do business.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Make Milk When the Sun Shines . . .

Let's pretend that you own 5 acres of vacant land near Oriskany.  A dairy farmer approaches you and asks if he can graze some cows on your land for free for 20 years. In return, you promise to buy milk from the farmer for 20 years. . . You are told that at current prices you could save $12,000 a year.  (You really love dairy products!) Is this a good deal?  or bad deal?

A reader wrote that something unusual was going on over some land in Oriskany near the old County Airport. . . but instead of grazing cows, it was solar panels.

A February Rome Sentinel article revealed that Oneida County made a deal with a company called Solar City -- to allow Solar City to install almost 7,000 solar panels that it owns on 5 acres of county land and keep them there for 20 years to make electricity.  In return the county agrees to buy power from Solar City for 20 years. . . . Under current market conditions the county expects to save $12,000 a year.   Is this a good deal?  or bad deal?

Per the Sentinel: "in exchange, the county agrees to buy power from SolarCity, usually at a lower rate than they would pay a conventional utility."

"USUALLY?"

The milk deal is pretend -- the solar deal is real.  If you were considering the milk deal what questions would you ask?  If you were considering the solar deal, wouldn't you ask similar questions?

The deal with Solar City was approved by the O.C. Legislature back on February 12 by a unanimous vote. Per the ocgov.net website, the legislators were presented with an "expedited communication" outlining the agreement that had been sent to the County Executive only a few days earlier.  Although the letter to the C.E. says that the service agreement is attached, what was attached to the communication given to the legislators via the website was only an outline.

If you were asked to give up 5 acres of land for 20 years wouldn't you want to read the contract yourself before going forward?  Wouldn't you want time to research the company and think about what could change in the next 20 years before signing on the dotted line?

The Better Business Bureau has rated the company A+, though an article on CaliforniaWatchdog.org regarding homeowner project horror stories would make me at least want to review the fine print of any contract.

Perhaps more concerning is the fact that there seems to be a "bandwagon" for this and similar "green" projects that is driven by Federal and State incentives.   How likely will this continue? Should it continue?

Some people point to Germany as a model for green energy.  The Germans have been at this for a long time. However the headline of a recent article in der Spiegel says it all: Germany's Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good.

The German consumers are waking up to the fact that they've been sold a bill of goods with "green energy" and now must reduce their standard of living.  Are we next?

Yesterday's Sentinel had an update on the solar panel project ... It also notes that Solar City will be building a solar manufacturing facility in Buffalo.  Read the deal the state is giving to Solar City  . . .

There is something a lot bigger than "green energy" going on here.  Can you figure it out? Stay tuned . . .