Thursday, February 24, 2005

Infighting bad for locals

I don't think the politicians are really interested in hearing what people think unless it is agreement with their viewpoint on things. The "infighting" that is going on over the sales tax makes great theater, but it is going nowhere. Utica and Whitestown's fight with the county may make their leaders "heroes"to their local constituencies, but they are not solving the real problems of the area: The area is uncompetitive with other parts of country. Government at all levels in NYS charges far to much in taxes and fees -- and life is made too complicated -- for companies to want to locate jobs here. The only answer government comes up with is more government in the form of special incentives and programs -- which creates more taxes and complications and drives more away!

I actually like seeing some of the fighting -- unfortunately there is not nearly enough to thoroughly air the issues. We are controlled by an elite that thinks it has all the answers -- and is too arrogant to listen to dissenting voices (or does things too quickly, or in secret, before dissent can develop) and consider that it might be on the wrong track.

The airport move I believe is one example of an issue that has not been thououghly aired. Is it really worth spending millions of taxpayer money to abandon a perfectly good and appropriately sized county airport -- placing at risk the jobs and investment in infrastructure there -- and move it to Rome to support Empire Aero (who has received millions in taxpayer subsidies already). If EA does not succeed, what have we accomplished? Simply spending millions to duplicate something we already have -- and -- maybe saddling ourselves with something that is too big to be practical -- doesn't seem smart. I would rather they take the millions of federal funds and try to turn Griffiss into something completely different from what we now have -- a cargo port to serve the Northeast. A Gamble to be sure. But if the money turns out to have been wasted there, at least we would not have destroyed the nice airport we now have.

As far as Genesis goes, I was inspired to join them when I read that they had sponsored a speaker who proposed turning griffiss into a cargo port.. I thought -- Wow, finally a group of people with new fresh ideas ... and willing to seek out experts in the field to get sound advice ... Well, it really hasn't gone very far since. Genesis has sponsored some nice events, and they are nice "cheer leaders" for this community which needs and deserves an accent on the positive -- but after having attended 2 years worth of meetings I'm frustrated that there is no reaching out to the intelligence in the room to get them to work on identifying and solving the region's problems. There is far too much fear of "stepping on toes" of elected officials or various groups or organizations. Our region will not move forward by merely putting on rose-colored glasses and chatting up the positive.

[For CONTEXT and FOLLOWUP of this post, see The Pulse]

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

County Airport Move

Perhaps I'm the only one who feels this way, but I really have to question the wisdom of spending millions to move the county airport to Griffiss.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with the county airport as it is now. It is truly a beautiful, well kept facility. If market conditions were right, it is capable of supporting scheduled passenger service. It is appropriately sized for this market since Utica-Rome doesn't generate enough traffic to fill 747's. It has spawned an adjoining industrial/commercial area that supplies 100s of jobs.

So, if the current airport isn't "broke" -- why "fix" it?

Sounds like the county doesn't want the "albatross" of having to maintain two airports, so it does away with the smaller one. But the larger one is clearly OUTSIZED for this area -- far too big for passenger, charter, or cargo service.

The county needs to recognize the value of its existing airport, and treat Griffiss as a completely separate issue.
It is wasteful to spend millions to duplicate what we already have. It also is extremely risky because there are a lot of businesses dependant on the airport which might not tolerate the disruption of having to move. It will saddle the county with an abandoned facility to dispose of. It will depress the values of surrounding properties until disposition is resolved.

Griffiss has to be recognized for what it is -- a facility sized to provide international service. Utica-Rome does not have the population to make this go -- but all of Upstate does. While passenger service is already taken care of, cargo service may not be. There was talk several years ago about expanding Hancock in Syracuse for this, but there is no room there.

The county is taking risks anyway -- I'd rather take a risk on losing money in trying to establish a cargoport at Griffiss (hopefully to create an economic engine that will spawn 100s of jobs), than on losing the nice airport we have now just to avoid taking care of two airports.

[For FOLLOWUP COMMENTS see Utica Area Discussions]

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Elite taking care of their own

Saw the article in this AM's paper about Ryan Nobles being appointed to head the Youth Bureau at $55K. While I liked Mr. Nobles as an Assembly Candidate ... this really smacks of the " Elite" taking care of their own. Of course this follows on the heels of the last director landing a job with the Utica School System ... Certain people with connections always seem to be taken care of.

And what do the taxpayers get? More taxes!

I was interested in reading that the chairman of the OC Legislature pockets at cool $21K for a part time job. Assuming that he puts in 10 hrs /wk, his pay rate would be the same as someone making over $80 k!.

COME ON -- These people are not worth their pay.

In fact, WHY DO WE PAY LEGISLATORS AT ALL? At one time local legislative positions were unpaid. I'm sure there would be plenty of volunteers willing to do it for nothing. .. willing to do it for the satisfaction of helping their home towns. PAYING LEGISLATORS ONLY MAKES THEM BEHOLDEN TO THE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP rather than to their constituents.

And we wonder why this area and this state an economic wasteland!

[For FOLLOWUP COMMENTS see Utica Area Discussions]

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