Wednesday, April 01, 2009

On the Bottom . . . And the Top

Per the O-D, Forbes Magazine confirmed what we already knew: Area at bottom of Forbes list for business -- Taxes cited as an issue.

And the Utica Daily News also confirmed what we already knew: Utica, NY - We Have It All

Greater Utica is a great place to live -- IF you have a decent job. . . which are becoming harder and harder to find.

We also already know that our economic and business problems are all centered on how we govern ourselves -- and the resulting tax burden.

The question is, are we ready to do something about it?


Silence Dogood said...

Maybe our decade long stagnation of the local economy has sheltered us from what most of the country is going through. The additional taxes from the new budget just makes it easier to come to the conclusion that no matter how you try to get ahead, you have to drag (or support) government as a dependent. This forces entrepreneurs, innovation, and consumption to grind to a halt.
Whenever you hear people say what a great quality of life we have, it is usually those who are gainfully employed, own a business or works for some form of government entity. If you asked those who are on fix incomes and small pensions or looking for work they would rather give up some of the quality for economic growth in some way shape or form.

Greens and Beans said...

We are not the only ones fed up with the deterioration of the already anemic upstate economy. There is a secession movement being promoted supported by Al Roney to separate us from the downstate NY. Roney is an Albany area radio station personality that can be heard on WGY 810AM from 9:00am until 12:00pm ( ). Roney also feels that the state politicians are sucking the lifeblood out of upstate by funneling tax dollars from upstate to help the faltering downstate economy. The Governor and the leadership of the NY State Assembly and Senate are all from downstate. Therefore, they have the need to keep their constituency satisfied with our tax dollars. This keeps our local politicians relegated to being their slaves. For if the Mohawk Valley’s state elected Senators and Assembly members fail to play ball with the NY City leadership, they will be ostracized when rooting for a share of political pork. This taxpayer funded pork barrel slop is what is used to insure their reelection. And the residents of the upstate communities all bite the dust. The secession of these upstate communities from the leaches representing their New York City constituency could provide some semblance of a cure for the cancer that has been painfully killing the upstate New York economy.

On April 15th The Albany area is planning to have a Taxpayer Tea Party. (

Anonymous said...

Actually living here is pretty bad if you're a single young person. Socially you're shunned for not being married, people don't know what to do with you. If you don't have kids, they think everything is okay for you because you have a job. It's a REALLY lonely and depressing place for young single adults.
This region basically bends over backwards for the elderly and families. Not so much for the college grad.
I mean think about it... who in their right mind that is good at their major would want to come back hear after graduating college? You can't start a business here, you won't be taken seriously because of your lack of family, you can't find an intelligent spouse, and all the good apartments are for the elderly. For younger folks, you have to be a child or a parent of a child to get any benefit from this area.
Also the article/research is faulty on many points...
Lower cost of living? Probably doesn't take into account for wear and tear and accidents of vehicle ownership during the Utica winters. Or the mandatory renovations that need to be done for any house you buy int he region... roof, insulation, electrical work, updating the heating system, re-settling the house for crooked floors, replacing sheet rock because of cracked walls, etc.
Lower cost of living also does not include the fact that there are fewer resources for us to spend money at, we live a lower standard of living, and we get lower paychecks.
Lower housing prices does not take into account that almost all houses on the market here are "fixer uppers." I have a friend moving from Ithaca area, and he and his wife are having a difficult time trying to get a decent house, and is moving his search closer and closer to Syracuse. Plenty of AFRL folks actually live in Albany and Syracuse and COMMUTE all the way to Rome every day. There are even a handful that commute every day from Ithaca.
"Visitors to the area can't get enough" of here... because this area offers so little to begin with!
Utica doesn't have good food... At Long Island we have REAL Japanese restaurants owned by REAL Japanese people... Also when I'm together with friends that want to eat good food, we're constantly running over to Syracuse.
The events listed in the article require money.. some have a significant door fee that my friends with 9$/hr jobs can't afford. Not to mention their mandatory second job effectively bumps those activity out of their schedule. I've been going cafe hopping recently, and I'm always seeing them empty, or with one table surrounded by seniors. Church coffeehouses are even worse!
I can go on and on... what made me laugh the most was the ad claiming that Utica is a "University Town!" HOW MANY UNIVERSITIES EXIST HERE???
(Here's a hint: It's more than -1, but less than 1.. and the number is an integer.)

Don't trust the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce to give a fair assessment of the region, or Michael Case, who is desperate to fill a position in a city that no sane Urologist wants to live in. (Hey, he has to resort to LYING in order to drag urologists to the region) It's their JOB to scrape up whatever nice [twisted] words they can find about Utica to talk it up.

Trust someone who is not from here, but has lived here for at least 5 years. They can tell you that the area is in a general decline, and it's getting more and more difficult to "THINK POSITIVE" as all the Utica natives keep yelling at us to do.

Anonymous said...

Silence Dogood:
I am very well employed (for the region, but not America... my salary is about 20-40k lower than more fruitful regions for my degree and experience), but as I wrote in previously, I still do not think the quality of life is all that great here. I'd give up my money just to AT LEAST have some of my best friends back in the area.

I suspect that those who think we have a "great quality of life" and scream at people like myself to "THINK POSITIVE DAMMIT!" are the ones that don't know better, that never lived somewhere else that's more developed (many of these apologists claim that they've traveled with the military... but I've talked to military folks about base towns, and most of them are just as boring as Utica/Rome), they've grown up here and want to defend the town their high school was in, or they're paid to defend the town because they work for the local government (ie Mayor, County Executive, Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce, etc) or they're a head hunter trying to fill a position in a city that only recent immigrants seeking political asylum or refugee status would want to live in.

Strikeslip said...

I lived for many years outside of the area . . . and I've moved back twice. This is a great place to live ... but is becoming increasingly less so. It has been many years since it has been a good place for young adults . . . That is why I moved away twice. Fulfilling careers, and all that comes with them (including having your friends staying close at hand), are hard to find.

This was not the case in the past, so there is nothing wrong with our piece of geography. Therefore the problem must be us: the way we govern ourselves.

Now, what are we going to do about it?

Anonymous said...

Demographics don't lie. The area grows older and poorer. That trend which has been in force for nearly a generation is most likely impossible to reverse. Talking about our great quality of life flys in the face of reality. Only when the area faces up to and deals with realty in an open, honest, pragmatic fashion,can sensible change take place.

Strikeslip said...

What do you propose?

Anonymous said...

If you reread the post, you'll note that I'm suggesting that the first essential step is for the area to look at itself from a demographic basis. Income levels, age, out migration patterns, immigration, capital formation,etc., I don't recall any entity who has done this in at least 15 years. Only then can you asceratain needs and resources to plan for the future. I suspect we're throwing a small fortune into unrealistic ambitions. Utica's downtown, the international airport, the chip factory are but three of many. There may not be an answer as I suggest; it may be too late to halt decline. But, we're certainly not helping by squandering resources of money, time and expectation on unrealistic ambitions that sound good but mean nothing. It may not surprise you depending on your age that some of what that is being sought today have been kicking around for 50 years. Yet the agenda never changes.

Strikeslip said...

Anonymous -- The demographic information you mention as an essential first step is already available, has been available through the census figures for a long time, and confirms what we already know. Things are as you mention: The area grows older and poorer.

I agree with you that it is inadvisable to squander money on things that have not been studied and without being shown to have even a theoretical basis for success.

But you really offer no solutions -- or even an approach.

Your tone is disturbing. You appear educated -- but come across as thinking you're "better than." Maybe I'm wrong, but you give the impression of not wanting to be here, imply a bias against older people, and are just whining to make yourself feel better than the local yokels.

Back to my original question - What do you propose.

Greens and Beans said...

Albeit this was not requested of me, I find it all but impossible to remain silent when Strikeslip makes a RFP (Requests for Proposal) on this blog:
• My proposal is to halt the public apathy?

I’m referring to the apathy by students, parents, singles and the senior citizens. In particular, single young adults and students are not banned from public meetings. But if one would look at the audience at some of our public meetings, one would think that there must be an armed Gestapo or KGB agents posted at the entrances to keep them out. I can’t tell you how many times I have been the lone citizen in attendance at a Town Board or School Board meeting. Talk about “Wag the Dog” syndrome. Even the media is too lazy to attend some of these the meetings. They rather have the School District Superintendent or Town Supervisor telephone in the data for the media’s news articles.

At a recent Town Board Hearing regarding spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to deal with an abandoned and burnt out property, the Town found itself in a precarious position. They were requesting input from the public to see if they should spent thousands of dollars to provide for the public’s safety verses possibly encroaching on the owner’s property rights. The issue was who really owns the property in question? Is it the deceased owner’s estate? Is it the Bank’s foreclosure department? Is it the County of Oneida? Is it the Town? Or is it the School District? All of the interested entities were poised and waiting for one of the other parties to act first and take the lead in terms of accepting responsibility. Other than the Town officials, there were only three residents from the Town at this hearing. And one of them came along for the ride. There were no reporters from the media present.

Does anyone realize that the Mohawk Valley Water Authority has voted to halt the recording of the “public comment” portion of their meetings? Does anyone know how or why this decision was made? Does anyone realize that part of the justification for the impending water rate increases is placed on the failure of this area to attract and/or retain major companies? In the past the Mohawk Valley Water Authority and the Mohawk Valley Edge have been allies on many ventures. But now, when the Water Authority is seeking justification for rate increases and to expand its service to areas outside of the legal boundary of the Nine Mile Water Shed via the bogus expansion attempt to service the Town of Verona (and ultimately the Turning Stone Casino), the Water Authority seems to be pointing its finger at the apparent failure of the economic development efforts of agencies akin to the Mohawk Valley Edge to attract and/or retain major businesses that utilize large quantities of public water.

I get perturbed when I read that the public is upset with the state of the political and economic climate we find ourselves in here in the Mohawk Valley. But what is the difference between the citizens who are publicly disenfranchised, and those who simply act as if they are publicly disenfranchised? I can’t help but wonder if the economic climate would be different if the entire cross demographics of the general public would take a more active role in governing their own back yards. What if we were to expose the lazy politicians, the public authority appointees, and the news media for the disservice they arrogantly perpetuate upon us? But who really knows if the public officials are really doing their jobs if the general public and the news media are absent from attending these public meetings? Freedom is not free. It requires your participation.

Anonymous said...

Strikeslip,there is a difference between data being available and data being known, understood and discussed in the public forum. It is also a bit foolish of you to suggest that your blog is the proper forum for anyone to present a serious platform for change that matches demographic and resource reality. A plan that I and others worked on a few years ago is nearly 50 pages and that may now be out of date. You should also be a little more controlled about judging those who communicate with you and your readers.It may serve to limit your readership. I have noticed that one feature of some local bloggers is a kind of thin skinned know-it-allism.

Anonymous said...

Strikeslip. The demographics also indicate that we are a very dumb area. Our education levels are among the lowest in the country. It's not saying very much to be, "better than" around here, at least in the brains department.

Strikeslip said...

Greens & Beans -- another excellent post!

Anonymous - You invite people to judge your motivations when you respond to a question that calls for a substantive response with, essentially, nothing.

As far as having a "plan," in this day and age it would be appropriate to post it on the internet, distribute links, and let the public "kick it around." There are plenty of websites where you could post a 50 page document.

So what if it's "outdated"? If there is something worthwhile in it it is worth posting. I'm sure that there are enough interested educated people who would like to see a viable plan to make our region better.

Anyway, I would be interested in seeing whatever "plan" you have. Please post it and send me a link.

Frankly said...

I was the first two "anonymous" posts... you asked what "we" are going to do about "it."
I'm looking to leave. I invested my life here... from 20 years old to 29 years old... and I have nothing to show for it. Fewer friends, less money (I've pumped so much of my own money spending on local businesses, personally helping people financially, and contributing to local charities...), and a wasted life. I only had one girlfriend here, and she was my first (and last) taste of the psychotic young women in the Mohawk Valley. (It's so bad, even the young men all the way in BOSTON know that the women that live here are super-crazy...)

I have a job, true. However, where I work used to be a little fun back in 2003. Now, everything that was fun was taken away, and on top of that, huge restrictions have hampered progress and productivity. I appreciate that I have coworkers that I can get along with easily... but I can make friends with co-workers no matter where I go.

Anything _I_ do would take another DECADE to see growth and benefits... A decade I'm not willing to sacrifice for a region that's taken so much away from me and has given so little back.
It's time for me to finally be a little bit more selfish.

I've finally determined the reason why people are begging young single adults to come back to the region.

1) The families need baby sitters.
2) The elderly here need more emergency organ donors.
3) Social workers need more teenage single mothers to keep them employed.

That's about it.

Strikeslip said...

Frankly -- Thank you for posting. I left the region myself -- twice -- for career reasons so I understand your frustration completely.

Perhaps I should modify what I said earlier: This is a GREAT place to live IF you have a decent job and IF you have a family.

Does that mean that we should give up on the singles? No, we should still try to attract them ... tho it becomes increasingly difficult.

I know that you are just being cynical with your reasons why "people are begging young single adults to come back to the region."

Here's the real reason (which you will discover yourself when you finally settle down and have a family): PARENTS DON'T LIKE SEEING THEIR CHILDREN HAVING TO MOVE AWAY. . . . and there are some children who don't like having to move away.

If you are in a position to help things change for the better, you should . . . but you need to do what you need to do to secure your own life first. Simply complaining all the time does not help. Identifying what is being done wrong could help if enough people start thinking the same way that the thoughts get translated into political action.

As far as a wasted decade in your life, there are many of us who have had similar experiences. I'm one of those who believes that everything in life has a reason -- but it may be many years before you know what the reason is.

Frankly, you owe it to yourself to go elsewhere because you are not happy here. Maybe at another stage in your life this will be a better place for you.

Good Luck.