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!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lackluster Performance . . . and Expectations.

Per the headline in the Sentinel: County’s household income trails state, national averages, Census Bureau figures show.
The household median income in the county — with a population of 232,500 — was $48,023, according to the 2015 American Community Survey. The statewide average was $60,850 while it the national figure was $55,775.
Clearly OC's income is lackluster compared with the rest of the state and country. But won't the State and County's "chip" related "investments" completely transform the regional economy?

The article tells us that Saratoga County's median income is over $75K, that Saratoga County is the center of Capital Region chip manufacturing, that local officials look forward to the impact of our chip fab, and that the average pay of all fab employees will be about $60K. The article suggests the chips will turn things around, but . . .


Assuming for the sake of argument that chip manufacturing will bring in 5,000 new jobs (instead of the 750-1000 seen in various prior press reports) that pay the $60,000 noted above, add same to the current labor force of about 132,000 for Utica-Rome (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) with the current average  pay for OC households of $48,023, the average pay for the region will ZOOM from $48,023 to . . . . $48,460! OR ABOUT a 0.8% increase.

In other words, 5,000 new $60K chip-fab jobs will hardly be a ripple in the local labor pond.  And that is assuming there will be takers for those jobs.


Based on the article, OC incomes are 14% below the national averages. But the cost of living in Utica-Rome is about 21% higher than the national average, with childcare, taxes and healthcare being the main culprits.  With these extra costs, why would people come here? Government subsidized childcare and healthcare (a temptation of politicians) would be no answer because they would only make the level of taxation all the more onerous.

Simply put, our local economy has passed the point of being able to sustain itself while people and businesses are free to go elsewhere.  Expensive "economic development" projects paid for by taxpayers only exacerbate the situation.

It is time to shrink the role of government in our regional economy.  Only then may we free up enough private capital to make it worthwhile for individuals to invest in the local economy.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Why So Fast?

The ink was barely dry on the charges against Alain Kaloyeros when, within 24 hours, Senator Griffo and Assemblyman Brindisi called upon SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher to fire him as president and CEO of SUNY Poly.
“It is extremely important that the primary mission of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute—the education of students—continue unimpeded."
Thank goodness they care about the institution's mission! What a change from two years ago when they precipitously ignored any concern over the Utica campus' identity, tradition, and mission to cheer the merger of SUNYIT with the glamorous (but niche oriented) College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Control of a Utica-centered institution was transferred to one more focused on Albany. Mr. Griffo and Mr. Brindisi need to own that... and perhaps they do, since they are now calling for the new president to be stationed at the Utica campus.

However, calling for Kaloyeros' ouster seems equally precipitous now.

It is understandable to want to remove the cloud that now hangs over the Utica campus. However, CNSE and SUNY Poly would not have existed but for Kaloyeros. There had not been this much excitement in the SUNY system since the 1960s when tons of money were spent on buildings and talent to make Stony Brook the "Cal Tech of the East." Kaloyeros brought that same kind of excitement to Albany, and made a piece of U. Albany so distinctive and important that it could stand on its own.

Let's not be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Courses and personnel are already in place at SUNY Poly, so the inertia is there to carry the institution forward on its current trajectory for awhile.  Kaloyeros is innocent until proven guilty, and he is fighting the charges. The fact that AG Schneiderman is also going after him suggests that the State charges may be politics.  Kaloyeros is neither a politician, developer, nor a "hanger-on" like the rest of the defendants seem to be, but he undoubtedly knows where all the bodies are buried. My suspicion is that he got sucked into whatever the ones with the political power were doing, and they are now throwing him under the bus to take the fall.

The record of Ms. Zimpher and the rest of the SUNY system has been rather lackluster, with a focus that seems geared to "economic development" rather than academic achievement.  If Kaloyeros is permanently replaced, it will likely be just another college administrator like we've had over the years, only now it will be one responsible for two campuses.  Kaloyeros, however, is more than an administrator.  He is a brilliant scientist in his own right, as well as a visionary.  He will be hard to replace.

Let the justice system's processes play out for awhile before throwing Dr. Kaloyeros overboard.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Running Out of Shoes to Drop . . .

Well it has happened. Per the headline in the Times Union this morning: Kaloyeros to be arraigned Friday morning in Albany. Mr. Kaloyeros, head of SUNY Poly here in Utica, and others are accused of bid-rigging on various high profile state-sponsored economic development projects across upstate New York -- projects that are the centerpiece of the governor's economic development efforts.

Local officials have been quick to point out neither of the two large projects in the Utica area, the AMS chip fab and Quad-C, have been implicated in the wrong-doing, and that progress on same is still expected.

Don't bet on it.

First, there has been no visible progress at Quad-C for months.  As noted in this blog on July 28 (a) the six-member "consortium" that was expected to occupy the building seemed to have vanished, replaced by GE without explanation; and (b) work had stopped on the GE facility in Albany that was to make the chips designated for packaging at Quad-C.  Although covered in Albany media, local media has been largely silent.  Until officials "come clean" on what has happened with Quad-C, we can speculate that there was never a commitment from the "consortium's" members, and that the governor strong-armed GE to step into the breech, using the state's supervision of a very expensive GE clean-up project in the Hudson River as leverage. If that is indeed what happened, GE would be a reluctant player in Quad-C, and will pull out at the first opportunity.

Second, control over the AMS project is now being transferred from SUNY Poly to Empire State Development.  While some local officials claim that ESD is where the project should have been all along, they are ignoring the fact that it was SUNY-Poly -- and probably Kaloyeros' expertise -- that got the project out of federal wetland limbo by obtaining the permit that allowed construction to go forward.  It is unknown whether this savvy will be required again to keep construction on track, but if so, it was SUNY Poly and Kaloyeros that had it, not ESD.    

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pay Raises for Everyone!

It must be the change of seasons. First there was a proposal to give raises to State legislators. Then to Utica officials. And Now to the County Executive and County Legislators!

And the pay raises are in the double digit percentages... About 60% for county legislators!

The money we pay them now certainly has not bought good government. We have some of the highest taxes in the country. Our area continues to bleed population and jobs. What reason is there to believe that better pay will produce better results?

In Saratoga County, which is increasing in population and doing well economically, they do not pay legislators ... Because they have no "legislators." Rather they have a Board of Supervisors who are paid by Town taxpayers ... Supervisors: people with direct responsibilities for day to day town operations, rather than people who merely vote and can point to their collective actions and executive recommendations as cover for poor results. A Board of Supervisors is the kind of government Oneida County had when it was booming.

Enough is enough.

Perhaps the solution to our poor local government, which seems to operate on behalf of a local elite rather than the average citizen and taxpayer, is to CUT LEGISLATOR PAY TO ZERO!

Simply put, paying legislators is a way to control their votes.

Maybe if legislator pay is cut to zero we will at least see government acting on behalf of the average citizen and taxpayer instead of special interests.

P.S. Our State legislators could use a "haircut" too! Texas, which is larger than NY geographically and in population, only pays its legislators about $33,000, and most of that is for expenses. New York pays 3-4 times as much. In Texas the legislators apparently see their job in the nature of doing the public good, rather than a career for themselves. The result: State policies that for years have made Texas a haven for people and businesses. Cut the pay of New York legislators and you cut the people acting in their own self interests.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New MVWA Transmission Line: 3 Things to Know . . .

Once the Mohawk Valley Water Authority received its state permit to expand throughout several towns surrounding Utica, you knew that the headline posted yesterday on the WKTV website would follow: New, larger water transmission line to help feed development, Nano Utica.  The story is spun as positive -- that the line would protect us from drought and provide water for "development."

Here are 3 things to know that you are not being told:

1) Current MVWA customers and the planned Quad-C and AMS projects do not need a larger transmission line, as there is already enough capacity to serve them.

Both the population and number of industries served by MVWA have declined from their peak several decades ago, resulting in a decrease in water demand from about 23 MGD to just under 19 MGD.   The current system is capable of producing up to 32 MGD with about 8 MGD lost to leaks.

2) Current MVWA customers are being forced to pay for someone else's water infrastructure needs. 

Since we customers do not need the larger transmission line for our own needs, and since MVWA's primary source of income is our water bills, we are being forced to pay for the infrastructure needs of the local elite who run the MVWA and their friends, including the speculative "build it and they will come" dreams of our local politicians.

3)  People in Herkimer County will pay in lost recreation and associated business income, lost power generation, and infringement of common law water rights.

Hinckley Reservoir was built to serve Canal purposes, not be MVWA's reservoir. Of all the non-Canal uses, only MVWA removes water from the Hinckley Reservoir - West Canada Creek system. Formerly MVWA was required to replace what it removed from Hinckley during dry weather with water from its own reservoir-- a reservoir that was required to be expanded to almost 1/4 the size of Hinckley itself as MVWA increased its water withdrawals. Since the State has eliminated this requirement, as MVWA ramps up its water withdrawals, water levels on Hinckley Reservoir will be low more frequently than they are now interfering with recreation, water uses and related business income on the West Canada Creek likely will be curtailed, hydropower generation will be reduced, and landowners along the creek will not have the amount of water flowing by their properties to which they are entitled by common law.

In sum, the politicians and elites who control the MVWA are using it to prey upon individuals and businesses to benefit themselves and their friends.