Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Commissioner, Old Vision

A week on the job, and the OD is already asking our new Oneida County Airport Commissioner, W. Vernon Gray III, for his "vision:"
I would have the Griffiss International Airport become the regional center for all types of aircraft maintenance, repair and overall services, and an educational center for aeronautical education and job skills training ...
Sounds like doing more of what we've been doing, doesn't it?
I recently discussed with representatives of the U.S. Transportation Security Agency about creating a TSA-sponsored security training program at the airport. I would like for this airport to be an aeronautical education center.
Hmm . . . Aren't we doing the "homeland security" thing at the OLD Oneida County Airport?
Could the airport ever become a commercial airport with commercial airlines?
No. That's totally unrealistic at this point in time.
Same old, same old, same old . . .

Mr. Gray can be forgiven for his vision being exactly what we've already had . . . He's new to the job and needs to please his bosses. . . .

But, you have to wonder, just exactly whose vision have the taxpayers been paying to implement all these years? Who has been calling the shots? Certainly not the Board of Legislators . . . they are mainly rubber stamps.

This "vision" for the airport is troubling.

First of all, becoming a "regional aircraft maintenance center" with a supportive "aircraft education center" makes it sound like the Oneida County taxpayers have become business partners with Empire Aero . . . but without the benefits of partnership such as sharing the profits and setting corporate policy. It is doubtful that the county is trying to attract other aircraft maintenance companies to Griffiss. This fits the pattern of county officials becoming too close to those they deal with to be able to make objective decisions.

Second, dismissing the potential for commercial service permanently places Utica-Rome at a disadvantage when compared to smaller markets such as Elmira-Corning and Ithaca that have such service. While it may be "unrealistic" now because we've stupidly destroyed our old airport with its passenger terminal and can't afford to build a new one, to dismiss the possibility in light of comparative population statistics is simply wrong.

Third, visioning more of the same overlooks Griffiss' true 'diamond-in-the-rough' potential as a regional intermodal cargo port. Use your Mid-York library card and search the Syracuse papers in NewsBank under "Griffiss cargo" and "Hancock cargo" and see what you pull up. Oneida County leaders need to think beyond the county when dealing with something as big as Griffiss.

People in Syracuse see Griffiss' potential for cargo . . . and see it as helping
them . . . Why can't we?

If you are going to be successful in business, you have to look for a niche and fill it! Oneida County should not overlook the obvious.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

NYPA: Doing Something Right . . .

Here's a bit of Utica news . . . from the Buffalo WIVB Channel 4 website: New York Power Authority Trustees will hold public meeting

The story reported that NYPA was going to hold a trustee meeting in Buffalo on Nov. 19 . . .

This forum, however, marks the first time that members of the public are invited to participate by speaking at the meeting to the members of the NYPA Board of Trustees. Any individuals wishing to address the trustees at the meeting are asked to contact the Power Authority at (914) 287-3035. Remarks will be limited to five minutes.

The Western New York venue and the new open format mark the first of many efforts the Power Authority will undertake under the leadership of its new president and chief executive officer, Richard M. Kessel, to be more transparent and accessible to the public.

In fulfillment of the pledge to continue holding trustee meetings around the state, Mr. Kessel also indicated that the December trustee meeting will be held in Utica, New York, on December 16.

This is a pretty big deal . . . The high cost of power is one of those things that holds the Utica-Rome area back . . . and NYPA controls an awful lot of the Upstate inexpensive hydropower that converges on Utica from two directions.

It's nice to see that NYPA is willing to listen to the public . . . RIGHT HERE . . .

It's not so nice to have to go to Buffalo media to find out what's happening in Utica. It may be only a press release, but it's important to us. Where are you O-D, WKTV, Sentinel, and WIBX?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
. . . . and Thank You for reading Fault Lines . . .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rethinking Utica's North-South Arterial . . .

The Greater Utica "powers that be" seem to push in exactly the opposite direction from those things that the general public needs.
  • In New Hartford, they push to put traffic lights on Route 840, slowing traffic to encourage "development" of adjacent green fields.
  • In Utica, they want to cut off access to whole streets on the North-South Arterial to speed traffic, reducing access to brownfields awaiting redevelopment.
The difference between the two, of course, is that in New Hartford no neighborhoods would be disrupted by keeping 840 limited access with no lights, while in Utica, the West Utica neighborhood will be dissected even more than it already is by the Arterial.

Both proposals would encourage urban sprawl, upping taxpayers' costs. In Utica, lands which already have service infrastructure in place will be made less accessible to redevelopment. Meanwhile, in New Hartford, access is being given to lands without infrastructure, requiring the taxpayers to pay for service extensions if development is to occur. How wasteful!

Now that our older arterial projects are aging out and needing replacement, some people are rethinking the roles that these roads play in our every-day society, and seeing that modifications are in order.

NYCO redirects us to the Onondaga Citizens League which is Rethinking I-81, that interstate that slices up downtown Syracuse. OCL is advocating replacement of I-81 downtown with boulevards -- routing intercity traffic through the suburbs.

Greater Utica needs to start thinking along these lines. The current North-South Arterial has not been kind to West Utica, and proposals on the table all involve cutting off more streets and erecting more barriers to cross-neighborhood traffic.

Read the links at the OCL site, such as Removing Freeways-Restoring Cities, and see if you, too, come away thinking that we can do better than what is being proposed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Poised for Take Off???

Per today's OD: County airport poised for takeoff.
Recent changes at Oneida County’s Griffiss International Airport have positioned it to become an economic driver for the area, officials say.
To the "officials:" Where's the business plan?
  • What is the need that this over-sized airport will fill?
  • What data exists and what assumptions are being made to support any conclusion that this albatross can ever be made profitable?
  • What data exists and what assumptions are being made to support any conclusion that this albatross will ever return more to the taxpayers than is being taken from them

From the discussion we heard last summer, I think we all know that there is no business plan and no supporting data . . . just a lot of assumptions and hi-flying dreams and aspirations.

Our "officials" need to find a regional need (not Utica-Rome, but NE US) for Griffiss International to fill . . . and they better find it fast. If they don't, this "economic driver" is going to drive us . . . . right over a cliff!

5PM Update: Just a thought ... Maybe the county could contact our local Utica-Rome chapter of SCORE for some advice on developing a Business Plan!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What's (Not) In a Name . . .

An interesting segue to last Tuesday's post is this story out of Oswego via News10Now:
SUNY school name confusion . . . .

"I go to SUNY Oswego. That is primarily what I've gotten into the habit of calling this school,” said Philip Grom, SUNY Oswego senior.

However, some students call the school by a different name.

"I call it Oswego State,” said Mike Toper, SUNY Oswego junior.

Binghamton, however, isn't concerned:

At Binghamton University, also known as SUNY Binghamton, they don't care what you call the school just as long as you know where it is.

"I don't believe that there's confusion. The important part of any name and what you call it is the Binghamton part,” said Lois DeFleur, Binghamton University President.

In Utica we seemed to have solved the State/SUNY, or SUNY/University conundrum in an entirely different way. . .

In Utica, SUNY IT was called the State University of New York Institute of Technology at Utica Rome for about twenty years before the university shortened the name.

"Branding a college campus today is a complicated story and we feel the simpler the better and that's why all of our items, our website, our toll free number they all incorporate SUNY IT,” said John Swann, SUNY IT Spokesman.

"State University of New York Institute of Technology at Utica Rome" certainly was a mouthful. But "SUNY IT? " While it is short, may sound catchy, and we know where "IT" is, does anyone else? . . .

Calling it
"SUNY Utica" would not have been a "a complicated story" . . . except for us . . . here . . . in the "Mohawk Valley."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Larry's On the Case . . .

Per Larry Tanoury, Jr., the County is proposing a money-grab from its municipalities that host OTB facilities by ending a law that shares OTB revenues with them:
In this case, the city of Utica will lose over $35,000, Rome over $30,000, New Hartford over $20,000, Deerfield/Marcy over $20,000, etc.
But the story gets WORSE . . .
Although the Utica Common Council members (republican and Democrat) expressed great concern over this, the other members of the Utica delegation supported this cost shifting measure. According to a media source, the Mayor of Utica also didn't have a problem with it.
Looking at the places adversely affected, this proposal should be easily defeated. But it's clear that the legislators are not thinking about their constituents . . . rather, they are thinking about their own county positions first.

With the exception of Larry, Utica's county legislators (and county government in general it seems) are among Utica's worst enemies.

On that note, here is a cheery idea from Westchester via the Buffalo Pundit: Considering county life without the County Government .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Embellishing Educators . . .

Nice . . . The top two BOCES-screened superintendent candidates for the Utica City School District have been caught by the OD "embellish"ing their resumes.
Neumann’s resume says she worked at the Wyandanch Union Free School District as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and technology from 2004 to present.

Neumann actually was hired as the director of technology in 2004 and promoted to assistant superintendent a year and a half later. . . .

Willis’ resume says he served as assistant superintendent of human resources and administration at the South Orangetown Central School District from July 2005 through July 2007. He actually was hired as the director of technology and was promoted to assistant superintendent in July 2006

. . . . And George H.W. Bush was President from 1981 to 1993 (12 years!) . . . wasn't he?

What's worse than candidates fudging (lying) on their credentials are our local officials minimizing it:
Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Superintendent Howard Mettelman, who serves as the district’s search consultant, said Tuesday the listing of the last title held is common practice.

“Some of it depends on the style of resume,” Mettelman said. “The purpose of a resume is to see the scope of experience. The other background information comes out in the interview.” . . .

“It’s generally a common practice to list the last position held,” said Steven Kalies, an associate professor at Utica College and retired BOCES superintendent. “You’re not going to get to that level of detail on a two- to three-page resume. That’s something for the boards to follow up on.”
Bull tickey! This has nothing to do with "style of resume" or "level of detail." Expecting it to "come out in the interview" is a deflection of responsibility. Do Mettelman and Kalies actually think someone is going to ask "Now what did you really mean when you said that you were assistant superintendent from 2004 to present?" How outrageous! They got caught . . . and Mettleman and Kalies are sanctioning dishonesty.

And speaking of Supt. Mettleman -- as well as other BOCES Superintendents, because the practice of offering so-called "free" superintendent-search services is wide spread -- "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" as they say . . . and then "There is no such thing as a free lunch."

How about all those lucrative contracts between local school districts and BOCES? Isn't it nice that BOCES' superintendents are in a position to manipulate the process that will select the people who will ink deals with them later on? Ever wonder why a lot of superintendents seem to think alike? They are sorted that way to keep the "bloodline" pure.

The School Board will fix this right? That Lou LaPolla, who is a dependable voice of reason will take care of this . . . won't he?
Board Vice President Louis LaPolla also said he was not concerned.

“It is not a necessary requirement to be an assistant superintendent before becoming a superintendent,” LaPolla said. “I look at the educational qualifications and business experience to oversee tax money.”
Wow . . . So I guess people who would inflate their claimed time in a position by 100% or more can still be counted upon to present accurate financial information for the Board to act upon... or to accurately report student scores on standardized tests . . . or simply be honest in how district employees are performing.

The Utica City School District should reject these candidates and consider others . . . and get beyond the carefully screened Stepford Supts churned out by BOCES.

While Steve Schiavi (who publicly tossed his hat in the ring months ago) may be a tad too liberal politically for my tastes, he (1) is qualified, (2) is a known quantity, (3) is willing to work for less, and (4) based on his writings in the Life and Times, clearly holds the needs of the community paramount. He, or some other independent minded individual like him, should be given a shot.

Nanny Oneida County?

It's bad enough that we live in a nanny state . . . but now a nanny county?
Oneida County may ban texting while driving

I understand the intent here . . . and think that people who text while they drive should be thrown in jail and the key thrown away.

But WHY is Oneida County taking on this issue?

Here we sit in a county with the highest sales tax, among the highest property taxes, losing population and jobs like there is no tomorrow, with an oversized airport that is sucking us dry, with a sewage system spilling raw sewage into the river, etc., etc., etc. . . . . and they worry about passing a new law to forbid TEXTING?

Where is our legislature's sense of priorities? Let the State take this on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We are NOT the Mohawk Valley . . .

Last week it was this: Group works to unite the Mohawk Valley
The dateline on the story was "Mohawk Valley, N.Y."
Genesis began with six local businesses and community leaders who wanted to give the region a fresh start by unifying the area that spans from Cooperstown to Rome and has close to 300,000 residents.

On Sunday it was this: Guest view: Gov. Paterson really needs to pay the Mohawk Valley a visit
The O-D, in Nov. 8 editorial, called upon the governor to hold a town meeting in the Mohawk Valley even though he had held one in Syracuse — predicated on the fact that “we have problems unique to our region…”

Enter, Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce. In June of this year, the chamber formally invited Gov. Paterson to provide the keynote address at a Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce 2008 Business Congress. The Congress was to be held in this fall, created to provide business leaders, the governor and selected state agency officials, an opportunity to exchange ideas, and create initiatives to meet the problems endemic in our region.

It was the chamber’s belief that this Congress could serve as a foundation to begin a strong partnership that would lead to improving the economic wellbeing for the people of the Mohawk Valley.

There was no response to the chamber’s invitation . . .
Genesis, and the MV Chamber of Commerce, just don't get it . . . .

"WE" are NOT the "Mohawk Valley!"

Here is how OTHERS see the "Mohawk Valley" (courtesy of Wikipedia):

"Major cities

Genesis lies when it talks about "uniting the Mohawk Valley" when it leaves out Amsterdam, Gloversville, Johnstown, Rotterdam and Schenectady.

The "Mohawk Valley" Chamber of Commerce certainly would not be satisfied if the Governor chose to visit the Mohawk Valley by making a stop in Rotterdam.

Simply put, the name "Mohawk Valley" does not describe who we are.

Scroll down to the bottom of the Wikipedia page and you will see "Metro areas: . . . . Utica/Rome." That is how OTHER people see US.

On Sunday we were given a well-deserved lecture on how our "negativism" is a turn off to outsiders and is bringing us down. . . .

Isn't trying to shove "Mohawk Valley" down our throats when the label does not fit a prime example of the negativism at work?

Stop the negativism. . . . Stop trying to make us be something we are not . . . Start being proud of who we really are!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Dropped Vowels and Local Cultural Literacy . . .

Today's OD had a good editorial that I generally agree with: Dropping vowels can be funny, but negativity is nothing to laugh about. (Is it just me, or has the OD started to put a bit more meat in its articles since Mr. Kieta took over as editor?) After poking fun at some of our regional quirks, Joe told us what we needed to hear -- all the more credible by the fact that it was coming from a non-local.
Quirks aside, there’s a lot to love about this part of Upstate New York. . . .
Joe then ticks off a long list of things that all to many of us take for granted. He then concludes,
Sure, the winters are bitterly cold and snowy, the economy is moribund and the politicians too often are inept. But despite all of the bad, there’s a quality of life here that can’t be denied.

I just wish more of you would realize it. The negative attitude is a big turn-off to newcomers, and it damages the area’s future.
Great editorial! . . I could not agree more . . . but the comments about the dropped vowels nagged at the back of my mind for some reason . . . I read them again . . .
I always snicker when servers at the area’s excellent Italian-American restaurants drop the endings of the names of key ingredients, as if there’s a phonetic butcher wielding a razor-sharp cleaver in the kitchen.
Prosciutto ham morphs into “prishoot.” Did the “-to” get sliced into the trash?
"Snicker?" Since when is Joe Kieta an expert on Italian pronunciation? He would be right if he were speaking Bolognese, Roman, or Milanese Italian . . . but dropped final vowels are perfectly acceptable when speaking Neopolitan, Foggian or Barese Italian. Dropped vowels are normal in the Mezzogiorno, the formerly poor part of Italy where most Utica Italian-American families originated -- as normal as the drawl in the southern USA speech. Snickering at dropped vowels in Italy would be construed as a put down, reflective of class differences between the north and south.

Snickering at dropped vowels in Utica is construed the same way ... reflective of a long simmering class schism between Utica and New Hartford (not to mention ethnic bias) that seems to be taking far too long to go away. Was the snickering a put down?

In the end, I'm giving Mr. Kieta the benefit of the doubt. His remark about snickering is probably the result of local cultural illiteracy, intended in jest as a way to fit in. After all, he told us that he is from Cleveland, via California (so what would he know about local sensitivities) and is of Polish and Sicilian ancestry (so what would he know about Italian?)(nudge nudge wink wink).

Joe, your main point is well taken . . . Hopefully the other remarks were truly well intended, and not an indication that you have adopted the attitude of some of the people you work with. That attitude is the root of much of the negativity you complain of.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reorganizing . . .

Just to let you know that I've done some rearranging of the Lists on the left, moving some names from what is now called "Local" Blogs to "Policy" Blogs to reflect their geographically broader appeal.

Newly listed are Regional Communities and Christopher Leo, which should be read by those interested in how we organize government and govern ourselves.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wrong Regionalization: The Oneida County Sewer District

[This article was originally published in the October 2008 "Utica Phoenix":]

Over 40 years ago Oneida County made the first "regionalization" effort in Greater Utica by forming the Oneida County Sewer District to serve 12 area municipalities. The goal was noble: build a system of sanitary sewer interceptors, pumping stations and a treatment plant to clean up water pollution in the Mohawk River, and make it affordable by spreading the cost over all system users by charges attached to water bills. The goal was accomplished, but flaws in the scheme have produced harmful results.

Dilution of representation: One flaw is that sewer district residents ceded control of the system to many disinterested parties, specifically, the county legislators from places untouched by the sewer district. This meant that decisions would not necessarily be made from the perspective of the customers receiving the service and paying the bills, but rather by many people who would not be held accountable for their actions - people who could use their controlling position to advance other agendas.

Uncoordinated decision-making: Another flaw is that decisions over sewers are made by people with no responsibility for other municipal services, making it unlikely that decision makers will be aware of how their decisions could adversely affect the supply of other services.

Diluted representation and uncoordinated-decision making have contributed to urban sprawl, the county's violation of water pollution laws, and the people of Utica subsidizing suburban growth.

Utica is geographically small, with most of its land previously developed. In an older age when people gravitated to cities for convenience, as structures aged and fell into disuse, they were replaced with something bigger and better. Utica was no different. With the automobile and improved highways, outlying areas also became convenient to reach. Since it usually is cheaper to build on undeveloped land ("green fields") than tearing down an old structure and rebuilding, both people and businesses started to migrate to the suburban areas as city structures aged, paying to extend the city's water and sewer services.

With the advent of the Part County Sewer District and its interceptor lines, far-flung localities were able to tap into the treatment plant located in Utica. These places could never have afforded on their own the level of service that they received. Since the vast bulk of the population lived in Utica, Utica residents paid for most of the cost of this system. In effect, Utica residents were financing suburban growth while encouraging the rotting of their city from within.

In the last 15 years or so, suburban and county leaders adopted a "growth" policy -- both wanting to increase their tax bases and encourage the creation of jobs. Extension of the sewer system was a necessary ingredient. New developments were permitted to attach their sanitary sewer lines into a county interceptor that had an overflow into the Mohawk River. The overflow, however, was there to relieve pressure from storm water from the older sections of the region, places that had combined sewers built before storm water and sewage were required to travel in separate lines. Attaching the new sanitary waste-only lines into this combined overflow was illegal because it increased the amount of sewage that would spill into the river. The county and suburbs could have avoided the problem by constructing a separate interceptor for the sanitary waste-only lines that would bypass the overflow, but that would have been very expensive. Instead, the suburbs and county avoided this cost, and expanded their tax bases by degrading the environment.

The law eventually caught up with the county, and a Consent Order was proposed to clean up the river and settle the violation with the state. This complicated document was kept under wraps, then plopped into our legislators' laps in July 2007 literally hours before they were supposed to vote on it. No time was given for anyone to digest it or come up with alternatives. The cost was estimated at $66 million, but there was little discussion of who would pay for it other than an assurance that the county taxpayers would not. That left the sewer users, the bulk of whom still are Utica residents, to pay the bill. Again, Utica residents would be tapped to finance suburban expansion. Approval of the Consent Order was proposed and seconded by legislators from Boonville and Ava, places outside the sewer district, and the rest of the legislators "rubber-stamped" the deal.

About two weeks later, the legislature "rubber-stamped" the hiring of consultants to resolve the problem. Only the "affected" municipalities were invited to participate in their selection, which meant "not Utica," and that only the places that created the problem would choose. Not surprisingly, Shumaker Engineering, which performs a lot of work for the Town of New Hartford, was one of those chosen. Through sewer user fees, Utica residents will pay New Hartford's chosen vendor to solve a problem largely created by New Hartford.

As if that were not enough, the county (i.e., the sewer users) was permitted to pay part of its fine to the State in the form of an "environmental benefit project." What project was chosen? A parking lot for New Hartford's Rayhill Trail. The Town that benefited the most from the violations got rewarded with a parking lot paid for, in significant part, by Utica residents' sewer user fees!

Reviewing other documents, it appears that the county has more "stick it to Utica residents" in store for the future, such as planning to require Utica to remove storm water from its combined sewers that will to free up capacity at the treatment plant – which could later be reallocated for suburban use.

Suburban and county policies have not resulted in "growth." Regional populations and jobs continue to decline. Instead, economic activity is merely moved from one part of the region to another. What has grown is the public infrastructure that we all must pay to maintain. While the suburbs increase their tax bases, they also increase their expenses, and lose their "suburban" character.

County and municipal leaders need to restructure how the sewer district is governed. Meanwhile, Utica city officials and county legislators need to oppose policies that shift the cost of suburban development onto Utica residents. That would not only make Utica a more affordable place to live, it will also help to preserve the suburban quality of life.

[Be sure to pick up the November "Utica Phoenix" to read "Consolidation: Top-down, or Bottom-up?"]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No More Bailouts . . .

Now, Obama Asks Bush to Back Rescue of Automakers.
" . . . congressional Democrats began drafting legislation to give the Detroit automakers quick access to $25 billion by adding them to the Treasury Department's $700 billion economic rescue program."
Of course, it is just the "Detroit" automakers who will benefit. You don't hear Toyota asking for a bailout . . . or Honda . . . or Nissan . . . all of whom make cars in America.

The "Detroit" automakers need the bailout, as opposed to their competitors, because their expensive United Auto Workers contracts have bled them dry. And which employee union was a big contributor to Democrat party coffers?

This proposal is taxpayer life-support for an unsustainable situation.

Let the bankruptcies occur so the old contracts can be shed . . . and let the companies be reborn.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Canal Comeback: Upstate Comeback? Griffiss Potential?

This NYT story almost slipped by unnoticed, but eagle-eye NYCO caught it in her "Erie Canal revival?" post: Hints of Comeback for Nation’s First Superhighway .
The canal still remains the most fuel-efficient way to ship goods between the East Coast and the upper Midwest. One gallon of diesel pulls one ton of cargo 59 miles by truck, 202 miles by train and 514 miles by canal barge . . . A single barge can carry 3,000 tons, enough to replace 100 trucks.
That is amazing! Not one of the most fuel-efficient ways . . . THE most fuel efficient way.

The ability to move large quantities of things so cheaply, and to move extremely large items as well, should make this region attractive to ... not an "innovation" economy or an "information" economy (which can go anywhere) . . . but a manufacturing economy. In fact, our region was built for manufacturing.

Public officials who don't know facts such as these, or the history of how this region developed, don't know enough to be able to lead Upstate back to prosperity . . . and are probably doing things that produce the opposite result.

So even though Upstate was built for manufacturing, what has New York done? New York did everything possible to make manufacturing impossible. It sent our cheap hydropower out of the area. It placed a toll on our major superhighway. It imposed overly complicated regulations. . . So even though we have the cheapest mode of moving raw materials and goods from one market to another, businesses no longer give Upstate a second look -- at least not without heavy taxpayer subsidy.

Upstate legislators need to work to roll back the changes in state policy that have hindered manufacturing. If they do, then maybe some of our manufacturing-friendly assets such as the canal will start working in our favor again.

As for Griffiss, I blogged on this before, but I will again: It's biggest potential is as a multi-modal cargo port: Rail, Air, Highway and Canal all come together there. We need to make the most of this.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Here Comes NYRI . . .

If you thought FERC with its national interest electric transport corridors was bad, you ain't seen nothin' yet . . .

Gore Urges Obama to Create U.S. Power Grid

The delicate balance our forefathers placed in our Constitution to protect the less populated states, and their diverse ways of life, from the wills of the more populated ones, is being slowly dismantled.

This path has already been trod on a smaller scale by New York State.

The delicate balance our forefathers placed in our NY State Constitution to protect its less populated areas, and their diverse ways of life, from the will of the more populated ones, was dismantled 40 years ago . . .

While the results have been disastrous for Upstate . . . the entire Empire State has suffered, being a mere shell of its former self.

Will the US now go down this road . . . producing some winners but a lot of losers? And, in the end, become . . . ordinary?

There is strength in diversity.

Are we going to continue as a nation of states? Or one state?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Michael Crichton . . .

Global warming skeptics, and those of us who believe that no scientific theory should be placed above question, have lost a great friend and ally with the passing of Michael Crichton . . . a person who raised doubts with facts . . . and entertained us at the same time.

Michael Crichton on Environmentalism as a Religion

To Live In Utica . . .

That is the decision to be made by all those job seekers who would like to work for the City of Utica.
Starting Jan. 1, all newly hired Utica employees – from janitors to fire and policemen to department heads – will be required to live in the city that employs them, Utica Mayor David Roefaro said.

A referendum strengthening the city’s residency requirement passed Tuesday, according to unofficial election results.
I think that the voters made the right decision, though I wish the law would be enforced for existing employees as well, since it apparently has been on the books all along.

And there should be NO EXCEPTIONS.

I disagree that this limits the city from getting the "best" employees. The brightest or the most educated employees are not the "best" ones if they regard a city job as merely a stepping stone to something else. . . or they are unwilling to live with the consequences of their own work.

Public employment should not be just a job . . . It is a calling to serve.

City residency will filter out those for whom service to their fellow residents is not an important motivation.

Now, if only the Utica City School District would follow suit!

Election Observations . . .

Except for the local Congressional race where there are still thousands of ballots to be counted, it's all over.

Congratulations to the winners . . .

. . . and Thank You to the losers . . . because without you, we would have no choices.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Forewarned is Forearmed . . .

Susan Arcuri at JusticeDenied13501 notes that about 6,000+ absentee ballots have been requested of the Oneida County Board of Elections, and expresses concern over potential voter fraud. 6000 is a lot of votes in Oneida County and could easily swing an election! She suggests that pole watchers familiarize themselves with the names of those recently deceased to ensure that "they" do not vote. (One wonders why voter lists are not purged whenever a death certificate is filed.)

Anyway, "Forewarned is Forearmed" as the old saying goes.