Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Those Who Presume to be Dictators . . .

Yesterday afternoon I attended the Mohawk Valley Health System's public information session on the new downtown hospital.  If MVHS can be personified, Mr. Perra's presentation came across as "It's all about me."  MVHS gave its criteria to Mohawk Valley EDGE which developed a list of potential sites and, at this point, public input is only wanted on issues such as "will there be a prayer space in the hospital?"

OF COURSE. The hospital is looking out for itself. But who looked out for the public's interest in site selection? 

The slide at the left from the presentation tells us who was responsible -- but the answer to the question is "no one."

One visibly irate observer (per the OD photo it was Mr. Critelli, but the OD never printed his question)  stood up and asked the obvious question on most people's minds "Who in the city approved this site?" Mayor Palmieri got up and took responsibility.

Mayor Palmieri and, indeed, all the officials and agencies named at left have assumed powers they simply do not have.

Utica has a duly enacted Master Plan that calls for a mixed-use walkable neighborhood where MVHS wants to put the Hospital.  The Master Plan is consistent with the "Gateway Historic District" legislation passed below in 2005, a zoning ordinance, that defines the forms of construction permitted on the site.  These documents represent the Will of the People and describe the public's interest. From all that has been revealed about the project thus far, the proposed hospital complies with neither.

Neither Mayor Palmieri, nor the City Planning Department, nor Mr. Picente, nor the County Planning Department, nor MV EDGE, nor Messrs. Griffo and Brindisi have the authority to ignore the Master Plan and the Zoning Ordinance.

Nor do they have the authority to close and sell the blocks of city streets that will be occupied by the hospital.

Nor do they have the authority to offer for sale the properties of the businesses who already occupy the site -- businesses which pay city, county, school and sales taxes and which employ people.

Nor do they have the authority to approve of a particular site from those that are available without the studies and public involvement required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act to ensure that the site selected minimizes environmental impacts to the maximum extent practicable.

We either live under the rule of law or we live in a dictatorship. 

Simply put, EDGE had no authority to offer, and the elected officials and public agencies had no authority to approve of, the downtown site.  Their decision is void ab initio.

Shame on them!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Another Nail in Upstate's Coffin . . .

Astorino: 'Secret Deal' To Shut Indian Point 'Potentially Catastrophic'
"Indian Point's two active nuclear power plants will close by April 2021 under an agreement confirmed Friday by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who said the 'secret deal' was 'a complete surprise to us' and 'potentially catastrophic.'"

While Mr. Astorino worries about higher property taxes and electric rates for Westchester County residents, it's going to be bad for us in Utica as well.

How much good will our new $35 million electric line and substation project do to attract a tenant to Marcy Nano if that electricity becomes more expensive because Upstate hydropower will be sent Downstate to make up for the loss of Indian Point?

Thank you Gov. Cuomo for putting another nail in Upstate's coffin.

On Fault Lines, we've been keeping our eye on Indian Point for over 10 years. Check out Indian Point: Our Problem, Too from 2011 with links to 5 earlier posts.  

Is Cuomo's Upstate Economic Development Program Collapsing?

Following last month's Marcy Nano disaster we read:
Is Cuomo's Upstate Economic Development Program Collapsing?

Update 1/10/17:
Albany: Money for SUNY Poly's 450mm program dries up

Monday, January 02, 2017

Happy New Year E.D.D. from the OCIDA . . .

HAPPY NEW YEAR and hat tip to the New Hartford Online Blog for this story!

There will be a public hearing by the Oneida County Industrial Development Agency on January 19, 2017 at 10AM in Butler Hall to consider whether OCIDA should give assistance to "Hartford Luxury Apartments LLC" (a) in acquiring approximately 14.5 acres of land at 161-169 Clinton St in the Town of New Hartford, (b) in constructing 4 condominiums containing 21 units and 4 apartment buildings containing 104 units, together with various other improvements and (c) in acquisition and installation of equipment in the improvements . . .

"all for the purpose of providing luxury apartments for lease to attract employers and to enhance economic development in the region . . ."

Have you ever heard of such B.S.?  

More power to the folks who want to build something new, but does it have to be with taxpayer assistance?  Instead of sustainable jobs OCIDA is giving us housing --- competing with plenty of housing already under construction in anticipation of "nano" -- which does not seem to be coming -- and existing housing coming on the market due to people packing up and leaving the region to improve their personal finances. OCIDA will ensure that the LLC folks will get all sorts of breaks from costs that average Oneida County residents will still be expected to bear when acquiring or improving their own properties -- properties that will become less valuable because of competition from this new, partially taxpayer-financed project.  If these breaks are so needed for economic development, why not just give them to everyone and eliminate the OCIDA and all the paperwork involved? It is better to spend money on bricks and mortar than complicated agreements.

Getting B.S. instead of Economic Development is a sign that Oneida County has E.D.D. -- Economic Development Dysfunction.  Is there a pill for that?

The complete legal notice is available at New Hartford Online Blog.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Sorry State of Local Media . . .

Quad-C was announced in 2009.  In 2012 when the lack of action had become apparent, we were told that was because the scope of the project had increased. In 2013 we were told that a consortium of 6 companies would spend $1.5 Billion on chip R&D at Quad-C. In 2014 rumors that a key player in the 6 member consortium at Quad-C had backed out were quickly pooh-poohed by local media, but by 2015 we were told that GE would be the "anchor tenant." No mention -- much less an inquiry -- was made of what happened to the 6 member consortium. In July, 2016, a report out of Albany surfaced that work had stopped on a GE facility there that would manufacture components to be used at the GE facility here.  Again, little mention and no inquiry were made by local media as to where that would leave the Utica facility. More than 7 years after Quad-C was announced, here we sit with an empty white elephant and no clear path to occupancy in sight.  Worse, taxpayers and water and sewer rate-payers are on the hook to at least partially pay for and maintain the additional infrastructure to support both Marcy Nano and Quad-C -- infrastructure that our declining population does not need for itself.

The process is playing out again with the Downtown Hospital, where excuses for ignoring every site other than Downtown are readily accepted (e.g. the "wetlands" at the St. Luke's site are minuscule and have already been partially built upon), while questions about Downtown are side-stepped.  We still do not know the name of the person who originated the idea of placing the hospital downtown. We do not know who told MV EDGE it was OK to offer MVHS a site that was already occupied by going businesses, taxpayers, and public thoroughfares. How can a Downtown site have been chosen without even a Draft Environmental Impact Statement to aid in the choice between sites?

The Utica-area public is not composed of snowflakes incapable of bearing bad news.  We have been hardened by years of public corruption (hopefully in the past), disappointment and being misled. But we are bearing costs, financial as well as emotional, that are attached to these large government efforts being allegedly made on our behalf but so far showing no return.  We are entitled to the facts so that if the costs become too burdensome to bear we will know where to make changes.

While our suspicions have been confirmed that local officials have been holding bad news back from us, that does not excuse the lack of reporting on these issues by the media -- unless they have ceased being journalists and become propagandists for our elected officials and Chambers of Commerce. Lacking the facts, how are voters supposed to made informed decisions when these officials seek reelection?

Monday, December 19, 2016

No Nano . . . Now What?

The bottom dropped out of our economic development efforts on Friday as ams AG withdrew from the Marcy Nanocenter project.   And according to the Rome Sentinel headline, area officials place blame at the state level for no chip plant.

The finger pointing is sadly funny, because the Marcy project never even got to first base until the "state level" got the site's federal wetlands permit.   

So currently the Mohawk Valley is a two time loser on this venture, 2006 and now. Maybe the third time will be the charm . . .

In the mean time, what have we done as an area to make ourselves competitive with other parts of the country that have taken our jobs over the years?  How do our taxes compare?  How do our water, sewer, electric costs compare? How do our transportation costs compare? How does our regulatory complexity compare?

Hint: The burdens have not been lessened.

Until the fundamental issues affecting business' bottom line are remedied, our "economic development" efforts will always result in limited return.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The End of an Era . . .

Per WIBX, after 120 years, the Utica School of Commerce will close December 23rd due to sinking enrollment.

No surprise.  Literally around the corner Utica College recently established a business school in the old Woolworth's building.  And UC recently reduced its tuition.

Competition can be difficult, but good in the long run for the consumer.

Still, after 120 years and so many graduates in this area, it is sad to see USC go.
For Downtown, two steps forward, one step back.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

"Green 20" Schneiderman - A Win for the Public . . .

Per yesterday's National Review:
Last week, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and “Green 20” — an attorney-general-led coalition seeking to limit climate change — received yet another blow to their ongoing legal crusade against ExxonMobil when New York acting supreme court justice Henry Zwack ruled in favor of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free-market think tank that has received funding from ExxonMobil. 
As a result of the ruling, Schneiderman must comply with CEI’s FOIA request for the common-interest agreements made between his office and other state attorneys general, as well as his agreements with environmental activists. CEI believes that its FOIA request will reveal evidence that the lawsuit is politically motivated.
Good!  The New York public has a right to know whether its Attorney General is going after real lawbreakers or has weaponized his governmental office at the behest of special interests to harass those who disagree with them.

This is not the first time we've noticed that AG Schneiderman's actions have seemed politically motivated.

More on the Green 20 effort may be found in Investors Business Daily from August, and The Federalist Society from May.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Strange Stein Action. . .

By now you know about Jill Stein's request for a recount of the presidential votes in MI, WI, and PA.

Ms. Stein claims that she is calling for recounts because "we deserve election results that we can trust," and cites the potential for certain types of voting machines to be hacked.

The B.S. meter just went off scale.

First, and foremost, if Ms. Stein was seriously concerned about the hack-ability of voting machines, Stein and her "scientist"/ activist friends should have raised the issue long BEFORE the election at a time when it could have been fixed.

Second, until now, no one really questioned the election results, so Stein's reason for requesting the recount is a lie. Mrs. Clinton already conceded the election without requesting a recount, and there has been no evidence found whatsoever that any hacking had taken place. 

Third, Ms. Stein has no chance of winning (the usual reason for requesting a recount) and does not represent the public (she is not an election official).  And . . .

Fourth, it is strange that someone who did not garner more than 2% of the vote and admits to engaging in vandalism could gather the millions of dollars needed for a recount in such a short period of time. Who is supplying the cash?

Add on to all this, the stories floating out there about George Soros' connection to election machines in use in the US, his donations to Mrs. Clinton's campaign, and his upsetting the politics in overseas countries and then financially profiting from it, one really has to wonder what is going on.

Rather than give us "results that we can trust" Ms. Stein appears to be searching for reasons for us to distrust our election system. That serves our enemies well. If the results are upset, the turmoil would serve our enemies even better. 

No wonder why the Green Party is called the "Watermelon Party": Green on the outside but Red on the inside."  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The "Fourth Term" of Richard Hanna? - A 2nd Try ...

Well THIS seems to say it all. You judge a man by the company he keeps, and Mr. Babinec looks right at home with Our Local Republican Elite. 

You know Our Local Republican Elite ... The Ones always looking for that next big grant for that next "big project" that will solve our woes -- but never does . . . . The Ones who claim to work for you and me but have no problem giving us the highest taxes in the nation, putting us further into debt, and increasing water and sewer fees. . . . The Ones who constantly build more stuff for "economic development" that we do not need but have to maintain ... The Ones who won't hesitate to take your property to keep their schemes going . . . The Ones who will happily back a Democrat over a Republican (or split a Republican vote to elect a Democrat) if it keeps the money moving . . . The Ones who refuse to accept the decision of the Republican rank-and-file to support Ms. Tenney as their candidate, because they do not want their apple carts upset.

For all the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been brought into our area supposedly for us, only the connected are better off. 

It's time we stopped being used by Our Local Republican Elite! 

Vote Claudia Tenney for Congress.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Who is Exploiting the "Digital Divide?"

Per the ADK Daily Enterprise, U. S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is touting a new program to bring high speed internet access to rural areas. Bi-partisan support is expected. Congressional Candidate Martin Babinec also promotes the idea.

Using Democrat/RINO Republican-style identity politics that divides us into groups, Mr. Babinec cites a "digital-divide" between urban and rural areas where 74% of urban households have access to high-speed internet as compared with 64% in rural areas, raising fears of stunted educational and business development outcomes. (Somehow 74% to 64% does not sound like much of a divide, but if it makes some people jealous or envious and gets their vote, it works politically).

Obviously someone has to pay for these schemes.

Left on its own, the market will extend broadband to rural areas when there are sufficient customers willing to pay the necessary costs to put it there.

Gillibrand and Babinec propose to give a few people something for nothing. These proposals encourage waste, requiring the subsidy of service where it is not self-sustaining. (This is no different than "regionalizing" the water system in Utica, a topic exhaustively covered by this blog over many years).

To the extent the rural broadband proposals are intended to "promote economic growth," they contravene "smart growth" principles by encouraging "growth" (or urban sprawl) on locations where where additional services (such as water, sewer, roads, police and fire protection) will be demanded. Most likely the taxpayers will contribute to construct the system,  and existing broadband customers will have their monthly bills increased to maintain it.

The proposals of Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Babinec are socialist, redistributionist solutions that will increase all our costs to benefit a few users, but, important for the politicians, benefit politically-connected contractors.  If you want to know who these contractors might be, read the two links above and read in between the lines.  Several technology companies have signed onto Ms. Gillibrand's proposal. Mr. Babinec is pushing a "digital curriculum" that would seem to appeal to the same technology and education companies who are behind Common Core.

If high speed internet is important to your family or your business, then look for a city that has it!