Friday, May 15, 2009

Divided We Fail . . .

In the conversation following yesterday's post on New Hartford's fiscal foolery I suggested that the Town should become part of Utica because town leaders had been trying to make NH a city for years, duplicating what was next door and eliminating the suburb that people moved to NH for.
Utica provided enough government for 100,000 people -- and that is about what is left in Utica+NH+Whitestown now. One government for all three to me is a no-brainer.
One reader responded:
Strikeslip surely jests. New Hartford people may be fat and lazy when it comes to government involvement but they are not stupid. The incompetency and corruption in NH pales to that of Utica. Why, Utica produces so called leaders who can't produce two coherent sentences together." One goverment for three" sounds good but is an undesirable, pipe dream given Utica and its political players.
This got me thinking.

Utica may have had years of incompetent leadership -- but why would that not be expected? The region's most capable people are most likely to live in the "better" neighborhoods -- which are in the Suburbs. But (given NH's latest fiasco) we don't seem to have competent people running for Village or Town offices either. If you were a successful and capable person would you want to put up with the petty small-town politics that is governed by cliques? You know that you would be banging your head against the wall, wasting time.

City-Suburban merger would enlarge the gene pool and dilute the cliques -- maybe attracting better leadership.

It might also encourage more airing of issues.
While the Utica City Council can be comical at times, there is at least debate on the issues, unlike the rubber stamping Town Boards.

Who would govern an enlarged Utica? Utica voters are notoriously complacent -- which explains why all our regional leaders are now from Rome in spite of Rome having 1/2 the population. If NH and Whitestown became part of Utica, voters from those places likely will run the city.

Now think about this: If people from NH and Whitestown ran Utica, how would they govern?

Do you think they would put up with bulldozing their orchards or fields for business parks and "town centers"? I don't think so. I think they would try to figure out a way to make THEIR downtown vibrant with business activity instead.

Do you think they would concentrate their police patrolling Main St NYM or the 840 looking for people going 2 MPH over the speed limit? I don't think so. I think they would put them in Cornhill to squelch crime so that their children could be safe when purchasing the region's most affordable housing. (And if suburban children buy inner city homes, we would not have the absentee landlords renting to whatever scum comes up from NYC to sell drugs)

Do you think they would turn governance of their sewer system over to a political body (the county legislature) most of whose members aren't even affected by the system? I don't think so. I think they would want to control their system themselves.

Do you think they would vote to send their water supply to Verona, knowing that a shortage will occur if their population significantly grows? I don't think so. I think they would want to conserve their water supply for their own future growth.

I see only positives from merger - - for Everyone but the Special Interests who control small-town government and the government employees whose jobs would be eliminated.


Anonymous said...

As the one who you answer, I thought of the "upgrade" impact of what you write. I did not do the math. I assumed and still do that the potential larger enlightened voter pool would not be enough.Perhaps as an intellectual excercise it should be worked out on paper. But, practically speaking, I can't conceive of suburbanites tackling Utica under any scenario. A metro government of a county or two county nature may offer a better solution some day. Event that would require such a dire financial condition that any improvement might be too late.

SmallBizMan said...

After NH residents get through with this Earle Reed "shortage".
Quite a scathing article in the OD today. And the Utica/Rome/Herkimer residents and businesses (all communities) tire of having their cities towns, burgs and boros nail business owners and homeowners like you and me. Then maybe your visionary idea will not seem like such a stretch. I pay over $10,000 a year for my home and business building in taxes. Add in the multitudes of "other" taxes like sales tax, payroll, tax, utility taxes, etc.,etc.,etc., etc., etc., and no business in it's right mind will locate here, much less be able to survive here. This area is barely holding on at at the cliffs edge, and the community needs to take some sort of monumental action before....???
Thanks Strikeslip for your compelling dialogue, on a very important issue.