Thursday, January 10, 2008

"I Want, I Want, I Want" . . .but What Do We Need?

Put together a pot of (our) money, and the politicians will find a way to blow it on their pet projects (and buy votes). That seems to be the real plan behind Gov. Spitzer's plan to revitalize Upstate.
“Together, we must enact this $1 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund and create an upstate whose best days aren't behind it but are ahead of it,” Spitzer said.
Nice words -- but no substance.
Every region in upstate will receive funding, said Daniel Gunderson, whom Spitzer appointed as upstate development czar. Funding will be allocated based on Regional Blueprints designed in meetings across upstate and will be specific to each region, Gunderson said.
This "Regional Blueprint" idea is a crock.

"Regional Blueprints" which are "specific to each region" sounds like "Pork Barrel" to me -- designed to keep some certain politicians in office. And "allocation" sounds like some regions will be winners, and some will be losers, based on politics . . . Like the Albany area has been a winner (to the tune of $Billions of OUR money) while the rest of us eat dirt.

Oh, sure, there are some projects that might be important to particular localities. There are the industrial parks and other pet projects. You can read the local list of "I Wants" in the OD Article. Some of the spending on local water and sewer systems is likely to make up for LOCAL failures in maintenance, to cure downright violations of the law, and to continue policies that encourage urban sprawl (upping regional maintenance costs). That hardly sounds like the kind of behavior that should be rewarded.

The point that the plan appears to miss is that most of Upstate west of Schenectady shares in the same malaise. That so many communities are in the same boat should tell us that it is State Policy (not local) that has caused the problems. . . . and that a $1Billion spending plan is like a $1Billion aspirin: it may provide some symptom relief, but does not get to the heart of the problem.

Because the plan does not address the systemic problems that are driving jobs and people out of Upstate, all this plan will accomplish is to give us a bigger hole to dig out of.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

So, what do you suggest Strike?

What do we need?

Strikeslip said...

We need to look at Upstate west of Schenectady ("Upstate") as if it was

its own state, compare it with competing states (such as North Carolina),

and determine the things that we do differently that put us at a

disadvantage. Undoing those things becomes the Upstate Action Plan that SHOULD be demanded by our legislators -- but is not. Here

is what comes readily to mind:

(1) Get rid of the Thruway Authority and tolls and pay for maintenance in

the same manner as other highways. NC's interstates are free -- The

Thruway is not. That is an immediate advantage for NC, reducing costs to

businesses there for shipping their goods and shuttling parts and

supplies between plants. The Thruway puts all the cities along its length

at a disadvantage because of the added cost of doing business -- but

especially the Utica and Buffalo areas which have no alternative free

interstates leading out of town.

(2) Keep "Upstate's" hydropower upstate and build Nuclear plants Downstate. There is no good reason why electricity should cost more Upstate than it does in other states, but it does because state policy has siphoned off our "cheap" power and used it to reduce power costs downstate. Power is expensive downstate because it is scarce, and that is because state policy has turned its back on Nuclear. The Shoreham LI nuclear plant was built around 1980 at considerable cost, but was not permitted to go on line because of Downstaters' safety fears. Downstaters then had to absorb the cost of the unused power plant in higher rates (which they created), and deal with a shortage (which they created). The pain was so much that Gov. Cuomo in the late 80s used state policy

to send more upstate power downstate to moderate their rates... But THAT raised OUR rates and placed US at a disadvantage with OUR competitors. I wonder if our legislators even realized what was happening.

Gov. Spitzer plans on repeating history when the Indian Point Nuke

plant's license comes up for renewal in a couple years. He is fighting it and wants to take the plant off line. This is the major power source for Downstate. Where will downstate get its replacement power from? You

guessed it. And what will that do to our rates? You guessed it. And

what will that do to our competitiveness? You guessed it again. (Of course, it is OK for Osewgonians to live with 2 nukes in their back yard, and Rochesterians to live with another. The double standard is amazing.)

(3) Reign in state taxes by drastically reducing the overly generous State aid to local school districts for local school construction. $300 million for Utica and almost a $Billion for Syracuse is simply outrageous. The easy money encourages building more than is needed or what can affordably be maintained. Our quality of Education reputedly is much better than our competition but we still lose jobs to our competition -- so all this spending is actually counter productive because the taxes are raised.

Take a look at the article on the new initiatives the Governor has planned for the state (apart from upstate). They are nice for NYC and areas that have the high incomes that could afford such programs, but they will raises OUR costs and our taxes are driving people away. Extending programs does NOT make sense for US.

Anyway, that is where I would START.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Strike! Seeing that anything that is manufactured or warehoused for distribution here will most likely travel by truck to its destination, having the thruway tolls abolished for upstate businesses would give the upstate economy one heck of an advantage. And add some across the board utility cost parity with the Southern States and you have restored economic boom times again to upstate New York.

Let us give it some thought as to what these proposals would grant upstate:
• All manufactured goods would become more competitive.
• All of the distribution centers would find it profitable to expand.
• Orion Bus would expand.
• Remington Arms would again return to full employment.
• Our abundance of clean and plentiful water resource would prosper the brewing operations in Utica.
• Soft drink and spring water bottlers would return.
• Food distribution warehouses would reopen.
• Meat packers would return.
• Perhaps United Parcel Post would follow through with their plans to center Eastern Seaboard operations at the Oneida County Airport located at Griffiss business and Technology Park in Rome, NY.

Local employment would proliferate. Real estate would double in value. Upstate New York’s population would return to restore the Mohawk Valley to its prominence that we enjoyed when we were kids growing up in this awesome area of the U.S.

The above can also become a reality if we could get a New York State Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Majority Leader from the Mohawk Valley. But unfortunately we have a better chance of seeing UFOs land at Griffiss than to have the luxury of getting our political act together.

Anonymous said...