Sunday, April 29, 2007

Don't Tread on Us . . .

Sometimes "what goes around comes around," as someone astutely pointed out on Story Chat referring to Mr. Picente's complaint that the Federal National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor designation for Oneida County is unconstitutional. Just like Oneida County shoved a huge garbage dump onto the small (in population) Town of Ava, the Federal Government may be about to shove the NYRI power line onto politically insignificant Oneida County.

Shame, shame on us for thinking it was OK for someone else to sacrifice their environment for our needs . . . and dismissing their complaints as "NIMBY" sentiments . . . or merely standing mute while it all happened. . . NOW we will know how it feels. Maybe we will learn a lesson from the experience, and change our ways.

If we were somehow forced to become our brother's keeper, our decisions would be different. People would still find ways of accommodating their needs, but the negative impacts would be kept at home. For example, if Oneida County could not dump on Ava, it might have retained its incinerator in Rome and improved on it, keeping the negative impacts within the region receiving the benefits. If Downstate was unable to force Upstate to supply it with power, the Shoreham nuclear plant would be operating, there would be less opposition to offshore wind farms, or there would be controls on local growth . . . again keeping the negative impacts in the area receiving the benefits. We would be good neighbors to other regions.

While there are always winners and losers in government decision making, we seem to have lost the ability to accommodate each other's needs . . . We've become selfish . . . Or maybe it is simply that we do not have to look out for others' needs any more. People in population centers can simply use the government that they control to bludgeon their less populous neighbors into taking their garbage, or generating their power. It was not always that way. Our government has changed.

Congressman Hinchey also calls the federal move "unconstitutional." Maybe it is. But the conversation needs to be much broader than federal power corridors. It needs to address what is meant by "equal protection of laws," and, ultimately, it may require the Supreme Court to revisit some old decisions.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

School-Based Health Clinics: So Much is Wrong

The OD reported this week that St. Elizabeth's and Upstate Cerebral Palsy's health clinics have finally opened at Kernan Elementary and Donovan Middle Schools.

"We are very, very thrilled," [Kernan] Principal Andrew Rudd said.
No consolidation here . . 'the clinic will not replace the school's nurse's office.'

No wonder why Principal Rudd is "thrilled": The principal has no reduction in his staff, has another distraction to learning (providing another reason to hire more remedial staff) -- and another step toward government (and the politically connected "elite's") control of every aspect of our lives.

If this isn't enough to get you riled, here is something else to consider:

Health Insurance.

Visit St. E's or St. Luke's campuses and you will see vast expansions taking place. The expansions are so obvious and well known that there is even a rumor (and it is only a rumor) that St. Luke's is interested in the property occupied by Our Lady of the Rosary Church on Burrstone Rd., perhaps influencing the R.C. Diocese's decision to require OLR parish (which is growing) to discuss a potential merger with another parish (i.e., the OLR property will be easy to sell). Regardless, school based health clinics are another form of expansion.
It makes it accessible for the parents," said Melanie Padmanabhan, the family nurse practitioner at the clinic. "If there is an emergency, like if they have an asthma attack, we can treat them here. It's just like a regular doctor's office.
Baloney! We no longer have neighborhood schools so school clinics are not more accessible to parents. And emergencies can be handled by the school nurse (as usual) or by 911. While the parent of a child without transportation is cited as an example of the kind of person the clinic would serve, this would seem to be the exception rather than the rule. After all, how many parents who are really concerned about their child's health situation would send their child to the doctor without accompanying the child themselves?

According to "The Statistic," Oneida County's population has dropped by about 85,000 -- over 26% -- since 1970. In the face of such a precipitously declining population how are our health care providers able to continue the expansions? Health Insurance . . . the next best way to suck money out of your (or your employer's) wallet after taxes.
Students' insurance will be charged for services. If the child does not have health insurance, then the social worker at the clinic will help families get health insurance and other services.

Janine Carzo, administrative director for the St. Elizabeth Family Medicine Center, said the clinic is required by the health department to enroll 80 percent of the student population by the end of the year.
This is just another way for St. E's and UCP to "ding" health insurance and ensure a revenue stream to themselves . . . a way to keep revenue coming in while the population declines. Kids have a hangnail or a paper-cut ? . . Why send them to the school nurse when you can send them to a professionally staffed ("like a regular doctor's office") school-based health clinic - - as long as they have insurance. The school nurse gets some time off, and St E's and UCP get to ding the students' insurance policies. This is greed, plain and simple.

In a companion article OD raises potential disruptions in a child's continuity of care as an issue of concern. Unfortunately, the article seems to imply that the independent practitioners are the bad guys.

The school clinics are not about serving students -- they are a marketing tool : a way to grab "market share" from other medical service providers.

Health insurance rates in the Greater Utica-Rome area were at one time among the lowest in New York State. Now they are among the highest. This is no surprise because we are paying for all the expansions. School based health clinics will only drive rates higher.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

This is Just Silly . . .

Looks like Utica is buying into the Kyoto Protocol! I won't bore you with a dissertation on why I think this is nonsense . . . just direct you to previous posts here and here and here.

Utica Rising ... Bagg's Square Edition

Signs of Utica Rising at Bagg's Square!

There are a lot of old neighborhoods in Utica that just need an infusion of cash, imagination, and a "critical mass" of activity to come back to life. Varick Street seems to be approaching that critical mass state where it is starting to generate its own momentum. Oneida Square with the new Nolita Apartments is just getting underway. Now it is time for Bagg's Square, where Utica began, to begin again. It's good to hear that a developer, Stuart Bannatyne, is planning on taking over the old Doyle Hardware Building for loft apartments and shops . . . and across the street is an area just begging to be turned into, perhaps, a farmer's market. Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo came back to life . . . these Utica areas can too . . . and be so much more interesting to visit than suburban malls and shopping centers. We wish Mr. Bannatyne the best of luck.

Our Schools: How Bad Can They Get?

New Statistics are in and they don't look good. In Herkimer County, the high school graduation rate is about 75%. In Rome, the RFA graduation rate is only 65%, and at Utica's Proctor it's about the same at 66%. But don't worry . . . it could be worse . . .

In the Big Apple it's 50%, in Syracuse (Dan Lowengard's new home) it's only 47%, in Rochester (at one time known for high teacher pay) it's 39%.

Perhaps it is fitting that one of the worst performing school districts is in State Education Commissioner Mills' backyard in Albany at 38%.

* * *
The Rome paper fittingly tells us about a little distraction from the 3Rs. If students have to go to SUNYIT for a special "STOP-DWI Program" program, then they must be missing at least a half day of school. It seems like every special interest wants to make their pitches to schools -- and gets the "air-time" to do it. Nothing against "STOP-DWI," but the students have basic academic subjects that are not getting learned. Maybe with fewer distractions, some of those graduation rates will come up.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mixing Mills and Monasteries in Herkimer County

Maintaining silence until now, monks at the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery have finally voiced opposition to the proposed Jordanville Wind Farm and its armada of 75 turbines.

"The few-hundred acre spiritual retreat settled where it did because of the area's isolation and beautiful landscape ... said the Rev. Luke Murianka, deputy abbot of the monastery."
In essence, the wind farm is expected to interfere with this particular community's use of its own land . . . making it less conducive to contemplation and meditation. "Community Character" will forever be changed.

Interestingly, some of the commenters on "Story Chat" accuse the monks of being selfish.

"Carole Kowall" paints the monks as outsiders who "came to America in search of freedom to practice their beliefs," herself as one of those who gave them this chance, and implies that the monks are applying a double standard. Of course, the obvious difference is that the monks' community has been here for years and they will have to either give up their way of life or go elsewhere, leaving behind decades of crafts and tradition. Their community will be disrupted. The wind mill promoters, however, are the real "outsiders" who are not interested in a way of life but in making a profit (with with all sorts of taxpayer subsidies). They could go elsewhere with disruption of only plans.

"Jon Tinsdale" proclaims that "
we all need to go green" and preaches "The monks should realize it is for the betterment of the whole instead of the few that really count." There's that "selfish" accusation again.

Let's look at some facts:

1) The wind farm project is seeking a PILOT and will not build without it. That means that wind power is currently not economically viable without the local taxpayers' granting the promoters special privileges. We already know that certain provisions of state law already require everyone to subsidize these operations with special guaranteed minimum electric rates -- which is one factor in NYS having some of the highest electric rates in the country, making us uncompetitive for jobs.

2) There is no local need for the electric power the wind farm will generate. In fact, the "excess" of electric power upstate is cited as the justification for NYRI.

3) Unlike conventional coal or nuclear power plants, which could potentially be located away from people and screened, this project will have a footprint of FIVE THOUSAND ACRES. That is significantly larger than the stone quarry that "Ms. Kowall" complains about. And while "Mr. Tinsdale" thinks the windmills are "not bad" to look at, the novelty will surely wear off when we are inundated with them. (Refineries look beautiful at night, too, but I wouldn't want to live next to one.)

4) The monks are probably one of the "greenest" communities on the continent regarding the lifestyle that they lead. Why should they be expected to sacrifice that so that someone else in a far off city can indulge their creature comforts with a little less guilt?

"Community Character" is an important factor to be considered when weighing the environmental impact of a project, and whether or not a project should be allowed. The Jordanville Monastery is quite unique in North America and is a local treasure. (See the excellent photo presentation on the OD site). It is one of those things that contributes to the cultural diversity of the entire region. At one time it attracted the famous conductor Rostropovich to reside in the area. Surely, the wind farm will destroy the character of the monastic community at Jordanville. While some may "pooh pooh" visual impacts, such have and can provide the basis for denying a project.

Herkimer County has to make a decision on what is more important to its future: the money that will flow to local government and landowners from the project, or preservation of its character. While windmills will become commonplace, destruction Jordanville's character, once done, will never be replaced.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Bass Ackwards and Beefless in New Hartford

On November 15, 2006, the New Hartford Town Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of the Town's Comprehensive Plan Update. But the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement for the Adoption of the Comprehensive Plan Update was not accepted until March 14, 2007. Soooooo . . . . The Planning Board seems to have recommended approval of a plan before it had the statement of the plan's environmental impacts.

Bass Ackwards, n'est-ce pas? Je ne comprend pas.

Ou est le boeuf?

But take a close look at the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement that has been accepted. There are identification of actions that may cause impacts, and identification of things that might mitigate impacts, but no attempt to estimate the magnitude of potential environmental impacts of the various developmental scenarios advanced by the Comprehensive Plan. Where are the estimates of traffic, water usage, solid and liquid waste production, etc. etc.? Will the Town have the resources to handle these impacts?

If Town Government thinks that such details will come out in the plans and environmental reviews of specific projects as they are proposed in the future, it needs to think again. If the Town's Comprehensive Plan is followed, such projects will only be little segments of the whole defined by the plan. One can imagine a series of "negative declarations" (that projects will not have a significant environmental impact) because individual segments or projects, alone, might indeed be insignificant. However, the same projects, taken together as envisioned by the plan, may spell disaster. This is precisely what should have been addressed in the generic EIS. The Town is obliged to avoid "segmentation" and to address "cumulative impacts." This is not apparent in the environmental impact statement that the Town has accepted. With such environmental unconsciousness, it should be no surprise that Town residents are now forced to pay to fix, e.g., storm water problems that did not exist 20 years ago. You can't see the problem coming if you don't look for it.

The Town Board has bought a bun with no beef.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Paying for Poop: Oneida County's Dereliction of Duty

Last week we were told that Oneida County faces a state DEC order that bans new sewer hookups in several communities until the County stops polluting the Mohawk with sewage. The Lowe's project and others will be put on hold. County Executive Picente is shocked at the consent order, and does not want to agree to anything that would bar "economic development."

Some local officials in New Hartford are in a snit and point a finger at the State.

"The state is being unrealistic," Planning Board Chair Hans G. Arnold said. "They have to re-examine. It is a highly damaging move on DEC's part."
Meanwhile, some County officials point a finger at local officials. Rome Legislator David J. Wood said,
"It should have been dealt with at a local level before . . . These are the things the municipalities should have been on top of. Now the state's coming in with a big stick."
The state is being practical. "Economic development" causes poop and other waste products which need proper disposal. Since everyone was told of the pollution well over a year ago, we have heard neither expressions of concern nor suggestions of solutions from Mr. Arnold or other local officials, especially from those involved with planning or approving new developments -- who should know where the new poop is going to go! In fact, while New Hartford acknowledges that the pollution problem exists (see 7.1.1) , it plans for even more development (see p. 21). The state's ban is a logical and necessary move to prevent the problem from worsening. The lack of action this past year makes it quite clear that no one will fix the problem until they are forced to do so.

The County must assume responsibility for this violation. While the local municipalities should not have permitted developments without knowing that the resultant waste would be properly handled, the County looked the other way while the local municipalities overwhelmed County facilities. In fact, the County seems to have rewarded them for doing it: witness New Hartford's receipt of a fat $150,000 check from County Taxpayers for NH's development efforts (see p. 6).

The County has the legal authority to control what goes into its facilities. If it wanted, it could have limited their use to the urbanized acreage that existed at the time the facilities were designed. It could have made hookup of new areas to the system contingent upon receipt of a fee that would go toward expanding the capacity of the facilities to accommodate the additions. It did neither. Instead it makes excuses and looks for a bailout.

"We’ll look for federal and state assistance," Picente said in commenting on how to pay for the upgrades. "It’s a problem across the nation. It just can’t go on the taxpayers and the county."
No, Mr. Picente, this is not a problem across the nation. The national problem you refer to was cured by all the federal Clean Water Act funding during the 1970s. Oneida County's current problem is one of local making. It is the result of incompetence, negligence, lack of attention, or catering to special interests -- the costs of which, unfortunately, always come down to local taxpayers and ratepayers.

Innocent people will be hurt. Health risk aside, there will be a financial impact. The problem must be fixed by 2011 at a cost of up to $66 million. As I blogged a year ago here and here, the users of the County System will likely pay the price -- if not all users, then at least those in the portion served by the Sauquoit Creek collection system. Unfortunately a lot of innocent homeowners and businesses, the people who are located in the oldest parts of the sewered area, the people who have paid for years into the system through their user fees, are going to be financially hurt. They will be forced to pay for the remediation needed which is the share that should have been paid by the developers before they were allowed to simply hook on.

The County's propensity for passing on poop extends to other areas. Now the County wants to inject itself into the dispute between the Mohawk Valley Water Authority and the State Canal Corp. which is holding up expansion of the water system.
Kirkland wells polluted by E. coli have been cited as a reason why city water must be brought to the hinterlands. But where does e. coli come from? It comes from fecal material -- i.e., POOP AGAIN. Somehow, waste material is getting into people's drinking water wells. There is simply no excuse for this to happen in this day and age. Long Island's Suffolk County with over a million inhabitants is almost entirely dependent on ground water for drinking AND on cesspools for wastewater disposal, but does not have this e. coli problem. Suffolk County achieves this astounding feat by carefully regulating what people can do. Why is Oneida County not able to protect its ground water resources? Instead of solving another poop-pollution problem, the County uses it to justify extending a city water system. Could it just be an another way of pandering to developers?

The County has been derelict in its duty to the environment. The $177,000 fine (which should not be passed on to the rate payers, and which is only a small fraction of what DEC could have levied or what DEC would have levied had this been a private business) is well deserved.

* * *

From subsidized water and sewer for developers, go to CNY Snakepit to read how other business interests seek subsidies of a different sort.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dog and Pony Show

The New Hartford Dog and Pony Show is done. Cathy at NH Online has more here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Paving Paradise . . .

This is a great place to live. We always knew it . . . and now it has been validated in Utica-Rome's ranking among the best "green" places to live. Accessibility to fresh produce and short commutes to work are among the criteria we score well in. But . . .

It's not going to last. If you think back to 30 years ago, you will remember more active farmland and development concentrated in the cities and villages -- things that contributed to the region's quality of life and to being "green." These things are fast disappearing -- not because we are growing -- but because we are spreading out: Urban Sprawl. This conclusion is not based on just anecdotal evidence (though it is all around us). It was established by a 2003 Brookings Institute Study by Rolf Pendall: Sprawl Without Growth - the Upstate Paradox. Our area is one of the worst places for sprawl. Pendall documents that urbanized acreage in the Central New York (Utica-Rome-Syracuse) region increased an astounding 45% between 1982 and 1997 while the population decreased. He writes:

  • "Continued decentralization of people and jobs away from Upstate New York's cities and villages is undermining the economic health and quality of life of the region."
Oneida County has lost more than 40,000 people in the last 30 years. So why do we insist on further expanding our infrastructure?

Misguided policies. New Hartford will be preparing a Generic Environmental Impact Statement because "more residential growth is anticipated." How can this be if the regional population is declining? It is because we are merely rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship. New developments are drawing the population out of older ones. New Hartford has already taken residential development out of Utica . . . and now it apparently is feeding on itself because its own population has declined . . . but it is planning on sucking more office and retail demand out of other areas. All the while, more streets, waterlines, sewers, sidewalks, expanded schools, etc are required. Our politicians, presumably at the bidding of developers, encourage and facilitate more of this "faux growth" by sending water and sewer lines further afield. It produces more tax dollars in certain jurisdictions for them to hire their cronies. But, while some people get "new," and some developers and landowners get rich, the public in general gets a reduced quality of life. "Pave over paradise and put up a parking lot." Some developer gets money from Lowes, but the public loses an orchard.

The public also gets the bill. Sixty-six million dollars, to be exact -- the cost of just the sewer work needed due to the over development in New Hartford. But who will pay this bill? WE ALL WILL, regardless of whether we live in New Hartford or not. How could this happen?

Multiple Jurisdictions. Land use planning in New Hartford is an exercise in myopia. NH's plans immediately affect all adjoining jurisdictions, because while the lines are clear on a map, there is no real spatial separation between them. There are also overlay jurisdictions: the MVWA service area and the part county sewer district, among others. Every municipal entity and jurisdiction is doing what it feels is best for its own particular constituency without regard for the effect on the whole. The financial problems of the sewer district are only a taste of what will come, until this region gets its act together. And TOGETHER is the operative word.

More in future posts . . .

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Outrageous Behavior in New Hartford Part 2

This blogger also heard what NH Online reported earlier today: that the NH Town Clerk is planning another recount of the voting on the Town's Bonding proposals. But the story this blogger heard is that the election inspectors will be called together to conduct this re canvas. If they had participated in the previous recount, then why call them back to do it again? Is this an attempt to "validate" results that have not been validated -- i.e., the reported recount results? Does this not suggest that the inspectors did not participate in the recounts reported upon last week? And if the inspectors did not participate in the recounts, then does that not leave the tally as announced the day after the election as the only true and valid vote count (which defeated the storm water bond proposal)? And if the election result from the day after the vote is the only true and valid vote count, then did not the Town Clerk lie to both the public and potential investors when she announced to the public in the Legal Notice of Estoppel that:

"Such resolution was duly approved by a majority of the qualified voters of said Town voting at the special Town election duly called, held and conducted on March 29, 2007." ? (emphasis supplied)
If such is the case, then one would hope that the Town Clerk has good personal legal representation (i.e., not at taxpayer expense) since knowingly announcing something that is untrue would seem to be beyond her official duties . . . . Perhaps the estoppel notice should be rescinded.

Interestingly, if the bonding was defeated as originally reported, but no one challenges what the Town is doing in court, the bonding will still go through, according to the estoppel notice. Doesn't that make the truth irrelevant? Is this how we want our government to operate?

The public has no way of verifying what the Town Clerk has alleged since she has refused to disclose the certified voting results to the several individuals who have requested same. However, we do know that she has the results, and we do know that she refuses to give the public access. When an individual controls an important piece of evidence, but fails to disclose it, the trier of fact (here, the "Court of Public Opinion") is entitled to draw an inference against that individual. Here, the inference may be drawn that the results are contrary to what the Town Clerk has publicly announced . . . and other inferences may flow from that.

It is our understanding that the District Attorney has taken an interest in this matter. Hopefully a thorough investigation will ensue. We will look forward to finding out what has really happened.

Monday, April 09, 2007

More Outrageous Behavior in New Hartford

In today's Legal Notices, the Town Clerk of New Hartford announced that the bond referendum for the Storm Water Bonding proposal passed . . This is the same Town Clerk who originally announced on March 29th to all the news media that it failed to pass, but then performed a "recount" with neither public notice to persons who opposed the bonding proposals nor indication that steps had been taken to secure the voting machines. Meanwhile, persons who have asked the Town Clerk to see the "official" documentation of the vote have been denied . . . and told it would be the week of April 16th before the documents would be available.

In a nutshell, the Town is going forward with the bonding, and forcing those who question the Town Clerk's vote recount to start a court action within 20 days.

The Town Clerk's publication of the notice of estoppel is reprehensible given the obvious irregularity of the vote recount. The appearance of impropriety is so strong that the District Attorney needs to investigate.

Post Script -
The public should also question "Why the rush to bond?" Why not, instead, take the time to first demonstrate to the public that the recount was properly done -- i.e. disclose all the vote documentation? The Town must be in a desperate financial predicament if it needs this money this quickly. Maybe that is the real story behind why Oneida County gave the Town a $150,000 check of county taxpayer money about a month ago, even though there was no obligation to do so. (That action never made sense to this blogger since NH was at the same time declared to be the "economic engine" pulling the county ... Giving NH money is sort of like taking coals to Newcastle). And that suggests that there are insiders at the County level who have known the real story for quite some time.

Lauderdale, Cancun, South Beach . . . Utica?

Utica ClubWe don't have the sun . . . or the sand . . . or the surf . . . but just maybe we're "cool." Maybe it takes someone from out of the area who has been around to see Utica's possibilities. . . This was noted in an article from last week about a Long Island entrepreneur who is investing in Utica's Varick Street (shades of Bourbon Street?).

While this blogger is not a frequenter of Saranac Thursdays, he often walks the Varick Street area at lunch time. There IS a certain industrial age funkyness that is attractive. And the area seems to be experiencing somewhat of a renaissance with the new restaurants, watering holes, and even shops (check out those at the "Finish Line" next to the old Globe Mill). The proposed new club will only enhance what is there to make Varick Street and the entire "Brewery District" a destination.

Hopefully Utica will do its part. . . Police the area to keep it safe . . .and Pave the potholes.

Meanwhile, we wish Mr. Demar a lot of luck with his Utica endeavor.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Divertimenti in New Hartford

Behold the Dramatization of what may have happened last weekend in New Hartford, courtesy of Gear from CNY Snakepit: Mysterious Machinations Mystify Many In New Hartford

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

The news out of New Hartford seems to get more convoluted with every passing day . . . Today we find out that silence reigns supreme in New Hartford -- nobody official is talking about what happened with the bond vote and recount(s). Per the article, on Tuesday the Town Clerk invited residents to look at the results of the recount, but on Thursday a request to examine the voting records was denied . . . and the requester was told it would take up to the week of April 16th to respond to the request. Town Councilman David Reynolds said,

"The town clerk is going to respond in an appropriate manner"
Sorry, but the Town Clerk's response to date has been wholly inappropriate.

The public is well aware that Town government tried to sneak the bonding into place last October under the radar, but got caught by an astute resident. A group of residents mobilized, worked hard, and successfully petitioned to force a vote . . . only to have the vote (which by law had to be conducted in mid-January) abruptly canceled and rescheduled by the Town Board through an irregular procedure so it could have more time to "sell" the bonding to the public. The vote finally takes place, and the results were announced by the Town Clerk last Friday that all proposals were defeated. The Town Clerk, last Friday, had to have been confident that her count was accurate in order to announce the results without reservation. As we've previously said, had a recount been announced and machines impounded to a neutral's custody at that time, it would have been understandable given the closeness of the storm water proposal -- but that's not what happened. Instead, the public is later told that a "recount," which took place under suspicious circumstances, has a proposal passing . . . and now the public is being denied the chance to see relevant documents until the week of the 16th.

There is a strong odor about this. Making people wait until the 16th gives plenty of time for various officials to "get their stories straight" and maybe even to manufacture evidence.

New Hartford is starting to sound like the old Utica of the 1950s. Maybe we should start calling it . . . "Sin Suburb."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rewriting History ... Again?

This is getting ridiculous. Per today's OD:

"No. 5: Purchase of new building for housing the police department: Yes- 794, No- 866."
That's a difference of 72 votes. Yesterday it was reported to be a 150 vote margin. Last week it was something else.

Either the Town Clerk doesn't know how to count, the Reporter doesn't know how to report, or something fishy is going on.

Too Many Cookies, and a Message from a Reader

Too many cookies woke this blogger up in the middle of the night ... and a message from a reader kept him up.

Off Topic but since you linked to justice denied 13501 and he has made some rather serious charges against many folks and now has seemingly ended his short lived career as a blogger I'd like your opinion as an enabler/linker as to his/her intent and or authenticity.

Sincerely, Jim
"Enabler" . . . Yeah, that got my attention!

The blogger community is pretty welcoming. It is common practice to link to new bloggers on the scene and give them a "boost." It is also a way to increase one's own readership because usually they will link back . . ."Sitemeter" data verifies increases in readership the more links that are exchanged. Technorati ranks a blog based on the number of links to it from other blogs. But "enabling?" If a linked blogger is going to engage in something questionable, enabling that behavior was never intended. But isn't that the result?

I don't know JusticeDenied's intent or "authenticity." JD provided some good links to what appear to be reliable internet sites for some of his/her points . . . sites that may prove useful for data mining at a later date. It was also interesting reading, for awhile. After getting Jim's message, I reviewed the last couple of days' posts. They seem to have shifted from elected and public officials (who need to be held to close scrutiny) to private individuals (who have a right to be left alone). Posts seem to be more titillation than substance (the secret codes and whatnot). Facts that may have been presented seem to have been thrown like pasta against the wall, in hopes that something would stick. Instead of data + logic = conclusion, there is a tone of rumor. And now, the unexplained "departure." I want to be fair to JD, and maybe if I knew more of what he/she knows, I would feel differently. But right now I am confused as to what the blog is about, think name-calling is unjustified, and I don't want to enable that.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rewriting History?

Unfortunately, residents of New Hartford now have another reason to distrust their town government. According to today's O-D a recount of last week's vote has been taken, and the storm-water management bonding has passed by "at least" 60 votes with the "final" vote tally available on Tuesday. From the Town Clerk:

"It bothered me over the weekend that it was such a close defeat," Young said. "We added the figures again, and we discovered errors in the tally sheets."
Yes, it would bother anyone for a vote to be that close (originally reported as only a 6 vote difference). . . and a recount should have been expected.

But no recount was announced.

From the article, the public is led to believe that the Town Clerk decided to do the recount on her own ... and apparently without notice to those who would want to observe. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday newspapers go to print, but nary a word about a recount being considered.

Interestingly, some people were given notice of the recount. A person who called him/herself "Democracyinnewhartford" on "Mon Apr 02, 2007 5:23 pm" on the OD's Story Chat was the first to break the news that a recount had already taken place, saying that:
"It sounds like the folks who have been against the bonding (and just about everything else the town board has proposed) better check their facts.....

It is my understanding that after a re-count the tides have turned...

Confounding reporting by the Observer-Dispatch only further clouds the issue. On 3/31 the OD reported that:
"The move of the police station fell short by 52 votes."
But today it reported that:
"Proposition No. 5, which proposed moving the police department to 1 Oxford Crossing and releasing space at the Kellogg Road facility for the town court use, had failed by just six votes. But after the recount, Young said it was defeated by about 150."
It was the stormwater issue that originally failed by 6 votes, not the police station. Regardless, had the recount been announced immediately -- and an opportunity given to observe -- there would be no question now about the change in outcome.

The manner in which this recount came about and the apparent secrecy in which it was conducted gives residents a reason to suspect that fraud might be involved ... Or is it desperation by town officials spending money faster than it is coming in?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Why the Well Worry, Mrs. D.?

It's rather interesting that Mrs. Destito is worried about contaminated wells in Kirkland when her district is Utica, Rome, Whitestown, Floyd, and Marcy. It's also rather interesting that certain elected officials in western Oneida County think that they should just be able to tap into "city" water that comes from Herkimer County, when alternative supplies are readily available from other sources.

The engineering study conducted to determine the best source of supply for Verona (as part of Verona's permit application) concluded that among 3 alternatives (the City of Rome, the Onondaga County Water Authority, and the MVWA), the MVWA was the least cost effective solution.

However, Verona ended up going with MVWA because MVWA was willing to have its ratepayers subsidize the cost of the waterline project through a little shell game. According to the agreement between Verona and MVWA, Verona and the Indian Nation would be able to credit the cost of putting in the pipeline against a portion of their water bills for the next 30 years! Such a deal! That means that the MVWA customers in Utica, New Hartford, etc. will be paying part of Verona's share of MVWA's system operation and maintenance. We can speculate why MVWA would enter into such a one-sided agreement, but I'll leave that to the reader. Suffice it to say that Verona and the Indian nation will share a water supply system (including an expensive treatment plant) already substantially paid for by Greater Utica residents without paying an "entry fee" for their share. A large swath of land crossing the middle of Oneida County will suddenly become more valuable with the addition of "city" water, enriching certain landowners at other people's expense.

While MVWA will get some new customers to share its costs, it will also be taking on the responsibility of servicing a VASTLY INCREASED service area. Projections anticipating growth within MVWA's existing service area, when added its expressed intentions to serve Verona, the Indian Nation, Sherrill and Vernon, will pretty much put MVWA at the limit of its treatment plant --- and make it very difficult for the Utica area (which is Mrs. Destito's district) to accept a new large user, such as a Chip- Fab.

Why the well worry, indeed, Mrs. D.?