Monday, December 27, 2010

Paladino on Empire State Development

Carl Paladino this morning posted on his Facebook site a letter to Empire State Development Chairman Dennis Mullen on Downtown Buffalo's future. The story of the failed government-dreamed-up projects to the west is remarkably similar to all the "economic development" nonsense we see here in Greater Utica (especially New Hartford) and Oneida County.  Here are some excerpts:

It was during the UDAG (Urban Development Action Grant) era that it became very apparent that government interference in the private marketplace subsidizing specific projects for parasitic developers was a road to failure. No one could compete with government subsidized projects and the creation of an unlevel playing field destroyed many good and in some cases historic properties in downtown Buffalo.
Everyone just waited in line for a UDAG. There was no incentive for the private sector to develop. Since that time, the ridiculous use of selective subsidies in the office market has continued the blight of our urban centers. For decades IDA's and Empire State Development have subsidized projects for tenants not otherwise disposed to leave the State of New York, to relocate from the urban centers out to affluent suburbs. . . . 
I submit to you that it is illegal under the State Constitution for the State of New York to loan or advance monies in any form to private firms. Article VII, Section 8, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution states: "the money of the State shall not be given or loaned to or in aid of any private corporation or association, or private undertaking; nor shall the credit of the State be given or loan to or in aid of any individual, or public or private corporation or association, or private undertaking, but the foregoing provision shall not apply to any fund or property now held or which may hereafter be held by the State for educational, mental health or mental retardation purposed." The Section goes on to provide exceptions to the general rule of banning gifts of State funds to private organizations, but none of the exceptions authorizes the gift of State fund for "economic development" whose gifts are made directly by the State or through intermediaries.
That is the law of the land.
Our politically corrupt State government and its "challenged" elected officials through its various agencies and authorities has violated the Constitution repeatedly over the years. . . .  
Allowing one developer to have an advantage over other developers because of political connections is a violation of the law. [emphasis mine]

I could not say it better!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Taking and Giving in New Hartford . . .

Town to use eminent domain to gain access to business park
The town plans to use eminent domain to take land owned by Twin Orchards Farm in order to connect Clinton Street to the New Hartford Business Park
Big Government in New Hartford! Who would have thought of it? In a move reminiscent of that awful situation in Kelo v New London, Government is using Government Power to take Private Property to make other Private Property more valuable and to enrich a Private Individual.

Sprawl marches on.  Taxes go up in New Hartford to pay for construction and maintenance of more municipal facilities and services, so the taxpayers of New Hartford lose money and the residents of New Hartford experience a decline in the quality of their environment.  Taxes go up in neighboring Utica because more economic activity is attracted to the edge of Greater Utica rather than to the core, leaving the infrastructure at the core to be maintained by fewer people.  This is LOSE LOSE for the average person.  But its a win for a developer . . . and a win for Town Government officialdom which can justify growing more government.

This is bad public policy.  The Town Board needs to nix this idea.

For more see NH Online.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

To the FCC: It's Time to Pull WKTV's License . . .

Television stations must obtain a license from the Federal Communications Commission because the useful radio frequency spectrum is limited and can only carry so much traffic. Once licensed, a broadcaster is permitted to sell advertising to earn its income.  However, an important criterion in obtaining and keeping a license to use the limited public bandwidth is that the broadcasting station serve the PUBLIC INTEREST.

Almost 40 years ago a Boston-based station, WHDH, learned this lesson when the FCC pulled its license to use Channel 5 and gave it to a competing group of broadcasters who promised more local programming operating under the call sign WCVB (Citizens Voice of Boston). 

A new question of "operation in the public interest" arises in Utica with the demands by WKTV that Time Warner Cable pay WKTV for the use of WKTV's content -- content that the FCC has authorized to be placed for free on the public airwaves in the Utica area -- and content that is of no interest to anyone living outside the Utica area.

Back when cable TV was in its infancy locally, it was called a COMMUNITY ANTENNA Television System, i.e., people using cable were using it as their antenna.  For local TV stations, that is still the case today.

WKTV knows that any money it charges to Time Warner for "use" of its signal will ultimately be charged back to the cable subscriber.

So why should people choosing cable as their antenna have to pay WKTV a charge, while those using a regular antenna do not?  It would appear that WKTV is not operating in the public interest when it blocks its signal from 70,000 or so local viewers . . . especially after going days without over-the-air broadcasts a few months back.

WKTV appears to be changing the model for local television from free over-the-air to pay-cable TV.  If that is the model it wishes to operate under, then, perhaps, its air spectrum could be better used for some other purpose.
 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Barnes Ave. Bungling 3 . . .

OD: Barnes Ave. businesses have 2 weeks to vacate 
The bridge, closed to the public because of safety concerns since Nov. 28, will be shut off completely from a collection of auto salvage yards and a waste hauler at the end of this year.
And though there will be some reimbursements, the eminent domain process does not make up for lost income, state officials said this week.
“We compensate for the property value and moving expenses,” said state Department of Transportation Spokesman Anthony Ilacqua.
Most small businesses fail.  It is trial and error until it is gotten right.  But when it is gotten right, they are self sustaining, reliably employ people, and become nuclei around which other entrepreneurs cluster to begin the same trial-and-error process until there are survivors among themselves.  Over time, a web of relationships develop with customers and businesses that becomes self-reinforcing.  The value of a business is more than property and inventory.  Its most important part is what used to be called "good will" -- the web of relationships.  The web is often irreparably disrupted when government takes a property, changes a traffic pattern, or changes a rule. 
  
For a state that professes to be soooo concerned about "economic development" and preserving jobs, and is willing to spend a Million Dollars a job to attract new jobs in some places, how easily it is for them to simply sweep away the years' long efforts of some people.

When government says it cares about jobs -- don't believe it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

When is “Just” not Just Just?

Today's press release from “Rust to Green” announcing the formation of New York's first “Local Food Policy Council” really made me sit up and take notice!
“What if every resident of Oneida County had access to fresh, safe, locally produced food that is distributed in a just and sustainable manner?”
“Just?”
“What if farming, food processing/distribution and culinary tourism were engines for the economic rebirth of Upstate New York? What if we could do all of this while contributing to a healthy environment, fighting diet related illnesses and creating “green collar” jobs that can’t be outsourced?
“Today, Rust To Green Utica announced the creation and kick off meeting of New York State’s first local Food Policy Council to work toward these goals.”
Don't you love seeing “Utica Greens” on the menu in Albany, Syracuse, or Rochester? Or hearing “Utica” mentioned on TV as Rachel Ray whips up her version of Chicken Riggies? Utica has long had a reputation for great food and restaurants that has drawn people from out of the area . . . a reputation that has steadily grown over the years, as Utica's diverse ethnic groups mature in their new home and open their own businesses. We have no count of how many boxes of mouth-watering Florentine, Caruso, or Cafe Canole pastries or cookies get sent all across the country – as do Manny's Cheesecakes -- but you know this happens often. O'Scugnizzo Pizzas get airlifted! People come to Utica with coolers to stock up on meats at Joe's and Hapanowicz.  Although declining in numbers over the years (perhaps NY could reduce its taxes and regulations to keep them here?), we still have a lot of local farms for apples, corn, squash, strawberries, potatoes, etc. There are also tours of the Utica Brewery, Omegang Brewery, maple syrup making . . .There is the MV Garlic Festival every summer in Little Falls, and Riggie and Greens Fests in Utica.  Do I have to go on?

Just . . . where has R2G been, anyway? Some ivory tower at Cornell? The Utica area already has these things . . . produced by the efforts of PRIVATE ENTERPRISE. Is that the problem?  Does R2G really think that it can do better -- without getting grants of taxpayer dollars?  
“Food is a basic human need along with adequate shelter, a safe environment and clean water. Yet, our local governments in New York have no comprehensive planning process to ensure access to healthy foods for all residents. No local government has a ‘Department of Food’ and the programs that address hunger, nutrition, agriculture and food sector labor conditions are spread across many agencies and jurisdictions.”
I don't know of anyone who does not have access to “healthy” food . . . or is the stuff at Chanatry's, Hannaford's, Price Chopper, Aldi's, Save-a-Lot, etc., somehow not healthy? If so, why have we not read about it? Is the unhealthiness of our food being kept from us by a secretive media on the take? We have a local Department of Health, State and National Depts. of Agriculture, and the FDA to keep food safe. . . . or is there something planned in the recent Food Safety and Modernization Act that will take our food away? Perhaps the R2G/Food Policy Council feels that some of our Utica specialties mentioned above are "unhealthy" and need to be replaced with their food selections? . . . produced and/or promoted by their "partners?"

Just . . . where is the need for a “comprehensive planning process” and a “Department of Food” ?

Just - ification for this program seems to be some recent USDA statistics, but this is clearly related to the 10% unemployment situation and not anything wrong with our food production and distribution network. We have a Dept. of Social Services and all sorts of Federal Welfare programs to ensure that people don't go hungry. We also have a network of food pantries, charitable organizations, school breakfast/lunch programs, and churches that feed the hungry.  People are given food stamps by the government. Is there suddenly a shortage of food stamps? Can't the Feds simply print more (since they seem to be printing more dollars)? If people are hungry, how are the Feds distributing food stamps? Dare I say it? How are people spending their food stamps, if hunger has taken a jump? The "Food Policy Council" seems to be merely more "piling on" . . .

I'm interested in hearing R2G's proposals for protecting the environment and “sustainability” (a mis-used word in my estimation). We can all learn from others who “think out of the box.”

But I get suspicious when environmental protection, food, health care, education, etc. seem to become excuses for political movements and agendas.

This isn't JUST about food . . .  is it?

Reuse, Recycle, ReUtica . .

"ReUtica" is a short film well worth watching about reusing old resources -- Genuine people, genuine efforts, genuine results: Private Enterprise!

reUtica from Matthew Ossowski on Vimeo.
 People like these who think out of the box will renew Utica!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Monk In the Cellar . . .

Ever wonder what it is like to be a monk living in a monastery?

Brother Jesse sneaks off to the computer in the basement to recount the day-to-day "action" (if you will) on his blog, Monk In the Cellar.

Drop in and visit . . . He needs some company!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Utika Steps Backward . . . Again!

[The following was originally posted on the internet May 13, 2002 on the now defunct "Pulse" web forum:]

Utica (Utika?) took a giant step backward this week with its major newspaper, the Observer-Dispatch, eliminating anonymous postings on its internet forum. While the O-D is certainly within its rights to do this, it has a chilling effect on free-speech.

There are various reasons why posters choose not to reveal their identity. While some may have evil intentions, the majority do not. Some may be public employees who would like to "blow the whistle" on wrong doing without jeopardizing their job. Others may want to debate issues with their friends without destroying good friendships. Still others may want their ideas judged by their content rather than by the reputation of the poster. It has been said that anonymity may be the greatest form of altruism.

Although there are anonymous posters who abuse the priviledge, most do not. And of the few who have made inappropriate postings .. many get retracted when others point out the error of their ways.

Given that the Syracuse newspapers and the New York Times -- with much larger readerships than the O-D -- allow anonymous postings on their websites, there clearly is no good journalistic reason for the O-D to forbid them.

The O-D has long been perceived as the organ of the Utica area "elite" -- the "movers and shakers" who act behind the scenes to ensure that their "vision" is implemented (assuring themselves of power and their cronies of high standards of living). Of course, we have seen where the "vision" has gotten us.

The entity who should be screaming the loudest for open government -- who should be going to court when government boards go into illegal executive sessions or fail to disclose information under FOIL -- is strangely silent ... except, of course, when it is necessary to serve its "vision." The entity knows that knowledge is power, and that the easiest way to control people is to control what they know. The entity now moves to ensure further control over the populace by eliminating anonymous postings.

It is only through (1) comprehensive knowledge by the people, (2) the free flow of ideas, and (3) political leadership with consensus building skills that this area will progress. The newspaper should provide #1 -- anonymous forums will encourage #2 -- and maybe, if more people become involved through ##s 1 & 2, the leaders for #3 will emerge.

The O-D's action demonstrates what's been suspected all along ... they are more interested in playing politics than reporting it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

HSR: What's It Gonna Cost Us?

New York state gains $7.3 million in high-speed rail funding
It's nice that NYS gets some support from people paying federal taxes in other states.

But what's it gonna cost US . . . the potential customers?  . . . the NYS taxpayers?

Numbers please. . . 

NYSED: Penny Wise Pound Foolish . .

NYS Dept. Education might drop one of three Regents exams, saving $1.5 million . . . and yet they can spend about $300 million renovating Utica schools alone.  Shave a half percent off Utica's construction bill and students in the entire state can get their Regents.

Just whom is NYSED serving? It's obviously not the students.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Wasting Wetlands in New Hartford?

Back in November, we were told about two large scale projects which had re-zoning variances rejected by the New Hartford Zoning Board of Appeals.  The OD Article is here, and the New Hartford Online Article is here. Although both were rejected, it was expected that both would be re-proposed again.  It is this blogger's understanding that the proposal for the J-K Lumber property is coming up again.  Per the OD Article the following is proposed:
A 15,400-square-foot Aldi discount grocery store that was to be built on 1.5 acres owned by building material retailer Jay-K Independent Lumber. The Germany-based company would have needed a use variance to operate the store at 8448 Seneca Turnpike between Jay-K and Zebb’s Deluxe Grill & Bar because existing manufacturing zoning does not allow mercantile uses.
More than a use variance may be required. The map that is posted above comes from the DEC website and depicts the vicinity of J-K Lumber.  Prominently displayed are two regulated natural features: a DEC Freshwater Wetland and the Classified Stream Mud Creek.  Under DEC regulations activities within a DEC Freshwater Wetland and a 100' "adjacent area" are regulated. Additional requirements may apply if activities affect the classified stream or its banks.

The vicinity of this particular area is already somewhat developed, with a lot of pavement which causes runoff into the creek.  People living along Mud Creek downstream in New York Mills are already contending, anecdotally, with increased flooding due to the large shopping areas that have been constructed along Commercial Drive.   The particular proposal here likely will require a large parking lot threatening more runoff into the creek.  Exacerbating the problem, however, is that this area also contains a wetland.

Wetlands offer many environmental benefits, not the least of which is flood control.  Wetlands are natural "sponges" that soak up runoff.  We lose them at our peril.

New Hartford's problems with poor storm water management are notorious.  They also have proven expensive for the taxpayers to remedy. Encroaching on this wetland threatens to create more problems, exposing the public purse to more liability.

New Hartford needs to protect its wetlands in order to protect its residents.  Any decision allowing development in this area must evaluate the impacts to the wetlands and to people down stream.


See New Hartford Online for more.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"No Statistically Significant Warming" . . .

Global Warming has been the subject of debate again in the OD, first with an editorial by Mr. Domenico, "We need a discussion on global warming," followed by a rebuttal by Mr. Schuster, "Throwing cold water on global warming."

Now come's this article from David Rose in the UK Mail Online: What happened to the 'warmest year on record': The truth is global warming has halted.
There is no dispute that the world got a little warmer over some of the 20th Century. (Between 1940 and the early Seventies, temperatures actually fell.)

But little by little, the supposedly settled scientific ' consensus' that the temperature rise is unprecedented, that it is set to continue to disastrous levels, and that it is all the fault of human beings, is starting to fray.
Earlier this year, a paper by Michael Mann - for years a leading light in the IPCC, and the author of the infamous 'hockey stick graph' showing flat temperatures for 2,000 years until the recent dizzying increase - made an extraordinary admission: that, as his critics had always claimed, there had indeed been a ' medieval warm period' around 1000 AD, when the world may well have been hotter than it is now.

Other research is beginning to show that cyclical changes in water vapour - a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide - may account for much of the 20th Century warming.

Even Phil Jones, the CRU director at the centre of last year's 'Climategate' leaked email scandal, was forced to admit in a littlenoticed BBC online interview that there has been 'no statistically significant warming' since 1995.
The idea that humans have a significant impact on climate is based on computer modeling that has produced erroneous results . . . The models did not account for the Medieval Warm Period before, and cannot account for the pause in global warming now, even as CO2 levels continue to climb. The "warmists" tend to dismiss incongruous data as a "local" effect or come up with other excuses why we should ignore such data such as the progression in temperature is "non-linear." The public does not want excuses -- the public wants correct results.  Ignoring data, rather than modifying one's thesis to account for it,  is a very un-scientific approach.

The fact is, if the models cannot account for well-known past conditions, and cannot account for present conditions, then they are not substantive evidence upon which policy-making may be legally based.

Per David Rose:
The question now emerging for climate scientists and policymakers alike is very simple. Just how long does a pause have to be before the thesis that the world is getting hotter because of human activity starts to collapse?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Tyksinski: Enabling More Sprawl and Downgrading the Environment At Your Expense!

Per the OD, New Hartford awaits state input regarding road projects
The town’s synchronized plan to fund a pair of road projects that would provide access to the New Hartford Business Park will need to fall precisely in place for taxpayers not to feel the cost of those projects.

The town is proposing a two-pronged project to extend thoroughfares to the business park . . .

 "With the 840 access, it's not just a project that would benefit the developer," town Supervisor Patrick Tyksinski said. "It would open that whole area for development. There's more up there than the business park in terms of tracts of land that can be developed." . . .  
Mr. Tyksinski, why do taxpayers need to open any new area for development when the region has plenty of areas where the infrastructure is already in place that are waiting to be REdeveloped? Boserts . . . Bendix . . . Washington Courts . . . Harbor Point . . . Utica Psych Center Grounds . . .

Is it because all those areas awaiting redevelopment are next door in Utica? Why can't you look beyond the borders of your suburb to see the damage this does not only to New Hartford, but the entire region?

Tyksinski said he would like the town to enter into a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the developer to help fund the roads’ construction.
Once the access projects are given the go-ahead, the town would bond for the cost of the roadway projects. PILOT payments made by Adler then would be used to pay off the debt service on the bond, the supervisor said.
So while this developer creates a situation which requires the Town to extend police services, fire protection services, snow plowing and road maintenance services, etc., the money that should go to pay for these services will be diverted to construct roads. . . i.e., New Hartford Taxpayers will pay more.

But to add insult to injury . . .
Mitigation fees collected from developers to offset the cost of upgrading infrastructure because of their projects also could be used, Tyksinski said.  
These are fees that other developers paid to New Hartford to mitigate the adverse impacts of their projects. Their projects do not need the proposed new roads, but they created needs for mitigation elsewhere that now may go unaddressed.  Either the taxpayers will have to accept the environmental decline associated with the other projects, or cough up more money for corrective measures (such as a traffic light, road widening, or storm-water retention.)

Developers and certain landowners benefit from this proposal. The general public does not benefit from this at all because it represents Sprawl. Mr. Tyksinski proposes to add more publicly-maintained infrastructure onto all the other infrastructure we already have while the regional population DECLINES!

This is New Hartford government simply justifying more New Hartford government -- fulfilling the ambitions of politically-connected individuals on the backs of the residents of New Hartford and the entire region! Practices such as this have contributed to Oneida County being the 19th highest taxed county in the nation when taxes are calculated as a percentage of home value (per the Tax Foundation, 2009). 


While New Hartford government is the focus of this story, New York State Department of Transportation (because it controls the roads) and Oneida County (through its IDA, Sewer District, and Planning Department) also bear significant responsibility for creating our costly sprawl. We already have far too much public infrastructure to maintain than our declining regional population can afford.  We should not be enabling more.

In the short term: It's time to pull the plug on government forcing the public to subsidize private developers' dreams.

In the long term: People need to start thinking of making Greater Utica a political entity to effectively deal with sprawl. 

More on this subject is posted on New Hartford On Line: "What a revoltin' development this is!" Revoltin' Indeed!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Utica's Cameo Appearance . . .

. . . in a Cato Institute report: Why New York Shouldn't Mourn Earmarks by Tad DeHaven.
New York would actually be a winner under an earmark ban, because research by my Cato Institute colleague Brandon Arnold shows that when it comes to the distribution of pork, no state fares worse than New York.


In 2009, New York taxpayers contributed just over 8.2% of the overall federal tax burden. It would be reasonable to expect a similar percentage of earmarked dollars to flow back to the state. In reality, New York received only about 2.1% of total earmarked funds. As a result, the Empire State has the dubious distinction of being the nation's biggest "earmark donor" state.


New York is not alone. Unbelievably, 90% of the US population resides in an earmark donor state. In addition to New York, taxpayers in 34 other states and the District of Columbia are essentially picking up the tab for 16 "earmark beneficiary" states.. . .


Just as earmarks have achieved notoriety for wasteful and ineffective spending, community development programs funded through traditional means have had the same problem.


Examples from New York abound. The city of Utica spent CDBG funds on a variety of improper uses, such as $902,799 on a marina and $255,158 on ski chalet renovations. The city of Troy used $1.6 million to lure a hockey team to the city. And Niagara Falls and Lockport used $12 million to build an amusement center, which shut down after just six months of operation. . . .

. . . the goal shouldn't be to get the state of New York an equal share of federal subsidies that go to state and local governments, be it earmarks or grants. Rather, the goal should be for New York and the rest of the states to reassume responsibility for their own affairs.   [emphasis supplied]

Friday, November 26, 2010

Barnes Ave. Bungling 2 . . . And Much More . . .

Today is the day the Barnes Avenue Bridge closes. The closing is the subject of another OD article today. Unless you are a bicyclist or prepared for a very long walk, the closure seals off access to a boat launch, picnic pavilion, nature trail system with viewing towers and platform, wetlands (including newly constructed ones) and several businesses . . .

Judging from the comments posted on the story, most people are placing blame on the City of Utica which is responsible for the bridge -- missing entirely the larger cause of the situation. There almost seems to be a sense of entitlement among those commenting that Utica is somehow obliged to maintain the infrastructure on which the Marcy and State property owners depend for access . . .  

Pinning responsibility on municipal labels perpetuates the entitlement mentality,  depersonalizing responsibility and making it easy to lay blame on a "corrupt" government . . . 

When viewed from the perspective of "the people" . . . .  those receiving services . . . those paying the costs to provide them . . . and those handing responsibility for both to "government"  . . . the problem becomes understandable:


Local government no longer binds together the people who receive, pay for, and have an interest in services. 

Marcy cannot give its Barnes Ave. taxpayers the street access they need;  Utica taxpayers have no incentive to give those people access when they get nothing in return; so the bridge falls apart. Had the Marcy Barnes Ave. properties been annexed into Utica, the property owners would have been represented on the Common Council, the deterioration would have been noted, the taxes coming in would have been an incentive to pay attention to the problem, and the bridge would have been fixed. 

The disconnect between people receiving, paying for, and having an interest in services has been institutionalized in the set up of the Water Authority and the Part County Sewer District  -- where most of the customers reside in the City of Utica, but far flung systems that go into Clayville, Westmoreland, or, potentially Verona, must be maintained. The population base within the City of Utica carries these systems in the outlying areas where the population density is too low for them to be self-supporting. The Water Authority and Sewer District are later stages of the same dysfunction that has created the Barnes Ave. Bridge closure.
 
Take the current Water Authority legal problems, for example. When the system was owned by the City of Utica, Gray Reservoir was just about the right size to serve the water needs of  the population within the City of Utica's limits.  Under the 1917 Agreement, however,  for the city's Board of Water Supply to take additional water from Hinckley Reservoir to supply suburban demand, an expensive expansion of Gray Reservoir would have been required.  There was no incentive, however, for city residents to take on this responsibility as long as the suburban areas demanding water insisted on remaining independent.  The expansion did not get done . . . and the stage was set for events leading up to the present day lawsuit. 

The Sewer System was similar.  There was no incentive for Utica to expand the sewage treatment plant and collector system to serve a wider area as long as suburban jurisdictions were unwilling to become part of Utica and share their tax base.  A county system was eventually created to get around this problem, setting the stage for the suburban sewer violations that now will plague the region with costs for years to come.

The Barnes Ave Bridge closure symbolizes the inadequacy of our city and suburban fiefdoms to deal with regional infrastructure issues. Local government must be reformed to bind together the people who receive, pay for, and have an interest in services. 

WKTV . . . Holding Its Viewers Hostage

WKTV (actually its parent company) is now in a spat with Time Warner Cable.  According to its "Get the Facts" Webpage  . . .
Time Warner Cable’s carriage agreement for WKTV expires on December 15, 2010. After the agreement expires, it will be illegal for Time Warner Cable to continue carrying WKTV on its systems in and around Utica. To keep Time Warner Cable from dropping WKTV, we offered Time Warner Cable a fair deal to extend the agreement.  . . . .
Why has Time Warner Cable refused to pay fair value for WKTV?
We have no idea. Time Warner Cable pays fees for channels like ESPN, TNT, and Fox News. WKTV is – by far – the highest rated and most popular channel on Time Warner Cable’s system. It is only fair that Time Warner Cable pay a fee that recognizes the value of our programming.
WKTV wants to charge Time Warner Cable for the privilege of carrying its signal . . .

Of course, any charge by WKTV to Time Warner will eventually be reflected in your monthly Time Warner Bill which is already far too high owing to other Hostage Like situations created by YES and certain other cable networks.

WKTV intends to collect Money from You via Time Warner . . . for airtime that is already being paid for by advertisers to be free.

WKTV cannot compare itself to Fox or other cable networks.  They do not have over-the-air facilities and are used as enticements by Time Warner to get customers.  People are willing to pay for this variety.

The added value of getting WKTV over cable --  a more reliable signal and no antenna to deal with -- is being provided by Time Warner, Not WKTV.  If anything, WKTV should pay Time Warner for the additional reach that it provides.


People are losing their jobs and are cutting expenses.  Now is no time to shove additional costs down their throats, WKTV.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Coyote

I received the following in an e-mail and thought I'd share ...

New York
The Governor Elect of New York is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out, bites the Governor, and attacks his dog.
1. The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie "Bambi", then realizes he should stop, the coyote is only doing what's natural.
2. He calls Animal Control. Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the state $200 for testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.
3. He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the state $200 for testing it for disease.
4. The Governor goes to a hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for disease from the coyote and for getting his bite wound bandaged.
5. The running trail is shut down for 6 months, while Fish & Game conducts their $100,000 survey to make sure the area is free of dangerous animals.
6. The Governor next spends $150,000 in state funds, implementing a "Coyote Awareness" program for residents of the area.
7. The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease, throughout the world. 
8. The Governor's security agent is fired for not somehow stopping the attack and for letting the Governor attempt to intervene.
9. Additional cost to State of New York: $75,000 to hire and train a new security agent with additional special training re: The Nature of Coyotes.
10. PETA protests the coyote's relocation and files suit against the state.
Arizona
The Governor of Arizona is jogging, with her dog, along a nature trail.
A coyote jumps out and attacks her dog.
1. The Governor shoots the coyote with her state-issued pistol and keeps jogging.
The Governor has spent $0.50 on a .45 ACP hollow-point cartridge.
2. Arizona buzzards eat the dead coyote.
And that, my friends, is why New York is broke!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Embracing Decline

Didn't want to let this article go by without commenting about it.
Utica officials adapting to declining population, jobs
After decades of failing to push back against a decline in jobs and population, city officials are saying it might be time to embrace it.
"Embrace" decline? These officials lost me there.

Certainly Utica is like other declining Upstate NY cities where the manufacturing base has been totally decimated by New York State's high taxation, high regulation, big union ways.

That said, what has Utica done to drive people away? People do not feel safe. Streets and sidewalks are decrepit. The schools are low performing. And taxation has gotten way too high.

Utica has adopted policies and gotten help from the State and regional agencies that have contributed to it becoming a high-cost unattractive area. . . such as selling its water works which forces Utica residents to subsidize suburban services . . . such as participating in the Oneida County Part County Sewer District . . . which again forces Utica residents to subsidize suburban services . . . such as encouraging the State to take more properties and businesses for arterial highway expansion.

Utica leaders need to stop embracing the causes of its decline instead of embracing decline.

Our Future Congressional Problem . . .

 Low-tax states will gain seats, high-tax states will lose them
Migration from high-tax states to states with lower taxes and less government spending will dramatically alter the composition of future Congresses, according to a study by Americans for Tax Reform . . .
New York and Ohio are likely to lose two seats each. . .

No doubt New York's seats will be taken out of Upstate, because New York's policies have been more toxic to the Upstate economy, driving people away.

Don't be surprised to see our local congressional district significantly enlarged - - - or broken up and combined with others.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is the Glass Half Full?

The latest twist in the seemingly unending saga of the Mohawk Valley Water Authority vs the New York State Canal Corp and others is the Appellate Division's modification last week of Judge Hester's 2009 ruling. Per the OD, the water authority is still hoping for extra water.

Ultimately MVWA will get the extra water . . . but it will be at a price.

Judge Hester's 2009 ruling "in equity" of allowing MVWA to draw 35 cubic feet of water per second from West Canada Creek without providing compensating flows was the judge's attempt to preserve the status quo among the warring parties while they worked out a long term solution for the taking of greater amounts of water. Litigants on both sides of the lawsuit, however, suspected there was no basis "in law" for the judge's solution, so they appealed on that issue (and others), and the Appellate Division has thrown out  the 35 cfs allowance -- or limitation depending on one's perspective.

The Appellate Division -- as did Judge Hester -- tacitly acknowledged that the 1917 Agreement between Consolidated Water Co and the State of NY is a valid agreement. A plain reading of the 1917 Agreement  makes clear that unless MVWA maintains a compensating reservoir and makes compensating flows to the West Canada Creek (to make up for the water MVWA removes from the Creek during low flow periods), MVWA has NO right to take ANY water from Hinckley.  The issues to be resolved thus come down to whether the state defendants intended to relinquish their rights under the 1917 Agreement or should now be barred from enforcing that Agreement because of their inaction at doing so for decades.

Persons who have not been significantly harmed by the breach of an agreement would not be expected to sue to enforce the agreement . . . at least not until the breach becomes or threatens to become significant.  I don't believe that threat can be seen as significant until (1) Gray Dam was destroyed and (2) MVWA planned to vastly expand the reach of its system.

I believe that this matter will ultimately be resolved by the construction of a new reservoir that substitutes for Gray Reservoir. If MVWA does not willingly construct it, the state will do so in its stead, and then charge MVWA costs for its use.

Either way costs will be passed on to MVWA customers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Barnes Ave. Bungling . . .

Barnes Avenue bridge closure will strand businesses .
The bridge over CSX railroad tracks provides the only access to several businesses located at the far end of the no-outlet street.
The bridge closure also closes off vehicular access to
  • A well-used boat launching site on the canal
  • The Canalway Bike Trail
  • The Utica Marsh Nature Trail System and watchtower
  • A picnic pavilion and a couple fishing spots
  • New wetlands which were constructed this past summer
What a demotion for the old bridge! Back in 1950, Barnes Avenue connected Oriskany Blvd. in Utica with River Rd in Marcy, and the corridor was planned to be THE major North-South thoroughfare through West Utica via a connection with York Street. See the plan above which, if followed, would also have provided additional access to the Barnes Ave. properties from Genesee St.

The situation that is being created -- public facilities (and money) that will go to waste -- private taxable property that will become essentially worthless -- is the result of bungling on all levels of government. 

First it is absolutely breathtaking that the City of Utica strong-armed CWSI to move to its new Barnes Ave. site this summer while knowing that the bridge eventually was going to go. . . .  and didn't anyone think that the trucks going over that bridge would hasten deterioration?

Second, a LOT of heavy machinery and trucks moved over that bridge when the new wetlands were constructed over the summer to offset wetlands that would be taken for the Marcy Nanocenter.  Didn't the county or the state or whomever planned the new wetlands consider the impacts to the bridge of the construction?

Third, when all the public facilities were planned, didn't anyone think about permanent maintenance of future accessibility?

Utica obviously has fiscal problems.  While the CWSI situation is inexcusable, why should Utica be expected to maintain the only access to properties that are located in Marcy? . . .  properties from which Marcy collected taxes for the last 50 years.  And why should Utica taxpayers be expected to spend millions to provide access to what are regional recreational facilities? 

Why was Barnes Ave. never annexed into Utica after the Thruway severed its connection with River Road in Marcy?  Why do Maynard volunteer firefighters cover this area when Utica has a fire station in West Utica nearby?  Let's keep doing things as we've always done even though it no longer makes sense.

Greater Utica is a practical reality that needs to become a political entity. . . .

Barnes Ave with its stranded businesses and public facilities is the latest victim of local parochialism . 

Friday, November 12, 2010

QE2: An Unconstitutional Taking of Property . . .

A second round of Quantitative Easing (QE2) is now underway, supposedly to stimulate the economy, but effectively devaluing the dollar, much to the chagrin of the US' trading partners.  Cheaper US dollars make US exports less expensive for buyers in other countries, but they also make foreign imports more expensive here.

Supposedly China has kept its currency, the yuan, artificially cheap for years, which has contributed to the US trade deficit. However the US is receiving little sympathy from its trading partners to pressure China to strengthen the yuan because of the US' own rounds of printing money.
A stronger yuan would shrink the U.S. trade deficit with China, which is on track this year to match its 2008 record of $268 billion, and encourage Chinese companies to sell more to their own consumers rather than rely so much on the U.S. and others to buy low-priced Chinese goods.
But the U.S. position has been undermined by its own central bank's decision to print $600 billion to boost a sluggish economy, which is weakening the dollar.
Also, developing countries like Thailand and Indonesia fear that much of the "hot" money will flood their markets, where returns are higher. Such emerging markets could be left vulnerable to a crash if investors later decide to pull out and move their money elsewhere.
In all likelihood the US' newly printed money will NOT stimulate the US economy, but, rather, be invested overseas where better economies will produce a return on investment.

Few outside the conservative media discuss the negative impact of QE2 on the average person: eventual inflation.  The National Inflation Association recently released its projection of future US food prices.
NIA projects that at the average U.S. grocery store it will soon cost $11.43 for one ear of corn, $23.05 for a 24 oz loaf of wheat bread, $62.21 for a 32 oz package of Domino Granulated Sugar, $24.31 for a 32 fl oz container of soy milk, $77.71 for a 11.30 oz container of Folgers Classic Roast Coffee, $45.71 for a 64 fl oz container of Minute Maid Orange Juice, and $15.50 for a Hershey's Milk Chocolate 1.55 oz candy bar. NIA also projects that by the end of this decade, a plain white men's cotton t-shirt at Wal-Mart will cost $55.57.
$23 for a loaf of bread?  OUCH!

NO ONE is discussing the legality of printing money to stimulate the economy.

Back when the dollar was backed by gold or silver, money had clear value.  You could trade your paper dollar for precious metal.  But if someone gave you a counterfeit dollar, you were robbed!

Nowadays, the dollar is (per Wikipedia) supposedly
backed by all - the sum total of - the underlying value systems in an economy, namely sound governance, sound economic policies, sound monetary policies, sound industrial policies, sound commercial policies, etc.
In other words, the money is only as good as the country that makes it, similar to shares in a corporation.

If you owned 10 shares of a corporation that had 100 shares outstanding, you would own 10% of the corporation.  If the corporation simply printed up 100 more shares and gave them away, the corporation just took 50%  of the value you owned in the corporation and gave it away.  That would be theft if it was done without your permission.  That is why creation of new shares requires authorization of the existing shareholders . . .  and that usually requires the corporation to receive something of value in return for the new shares issued.

QE2 is like a corporation printing up more shares. . . But when did you (or your elected representative) give permission for this to happen?  What is the value that the country receives in return?

Essentially the value of your hard-earned savings in the bank is being taken from you.  Debtors, on the other hand, can satisfy their debts with dollars of less value.  Wealth is being redistributed.

The Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution provides that
No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. 
The money you have in the bank is your property.  Through QE2 the government is taking your property's value and redistributing it to others, allegedly for a public use, but giving you nothing of value in return.


QE2 is therefore an unconstitutional taking of property.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Track Addicts . . .

From the OD: Local officials: Give NY more funds for high speed rail
Andrew Cuomo, the governor-elect for New York, recently wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood asking that the funding from Ohio and Wisconsin be redirected to New York if it becomes available.

On Tuesday, state Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, D-Rome, joined the cause by e-mailing U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats of New York, asking for their support in obtaining the funding. . . .

Comments on New York asking for the money from Ohio and Wisconsin:
* DOT Communications Director Deborah Sturm Rausch: “Everything has a price tag, and the more money we have to support high-speed rail, the more we can do.”
* Utica Mayor David Roefaro: “Absolutely, we’ll take the money because that’s something we desperately need here in Upstate New York.”
  
The Mayor Roefaro quote sums it up best -- its the MONEY that is desperately needed -- by the politicians in New York State.

As this blog has pointed out several times, no one has EVER demonstrated that the proposed High Speed Rail could significantly reduce door-to-door travel times or reduce travel expenses over competing transportation modes such as the Thruway.  Upstate NY would be economically much better off simply removing the Thruway tolls and making the Thruway like free interstates everyplace else.

All High Speed Rail does is present an opportunity to spend taxpayer money to create a system that will require a constant infusion of taxpayer money to keep it running.

In the process, the MONEY will be used to CONTROL PEOPLE through their government-dependent paychecks.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Upstate Resignation . . .

From Fred Siegel at City Journal . . .
Politically, much of upstate New York has teetered between rage and resignation for years. Begin with the rage: upstate New Yorkers are far likelier than Gothamites to agree with Tea Party supporters across the country in viewing the federal government as a threat to their interests, and they take an even harsher view of their own state government. . . . upstaters often consider Albany a semi-criminal enterprise run out of Manhattan. No wonder: the state’s executive-level leadership—its governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general—all hail from the New York City metro area, while upstate New York contains nine of the ten counties in America paying the highest property taxes as a percentage of home values, thanks partly to the fact that Albany requires counties to pay for a portion of Medicaid. . . .
New York’s next governor will face the task of reconciling the estrangement between coastal and midwestern New York. When I asked a well-educated upstate friend what he thought upstate should do if Andrew Cuomo—who plans to revive the region by rearranging its economic development agencies—wins the governor’s race, he replied, only half-jokingly: “We have to secede.” Here is the one area in which New York already leads the country: its residents, seceding on their own, have made it Number One in outmigration among the states. Or to use another word, they are resigning as New Yorkers.
Read the full article: Upstate Rage or Resignation

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Power to Reform State Government . . .

. . . has always resided with the governor, via the governor's power over the budget, as explained by E. J. McMahon in his City Journal article "The Bucks Stop Here." So with every governor we've had within recent memory pledging to reform New York, why has reform not happened?

It is probably because real reform requires telling special interest groups "No, you can't have that anymore." Most politicians won't do that because it opens themselves up to criticism. . . which could lead to loss of popular support . . . no re-election . . . and an end to a political career.

Instead of reform, we get finger pointing at a dysfunctional state legislature to deflect from the responsible party.

But the responsible party is the governor.

Who among the current crop of candidates will have the guts to use the extraordinary powers of the governorship to institute real reform?  Certainly not an Attorney General who failed to enforce state tax laws against New York's Indian Nations.  Who is willing to use the budget power?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Paladino Platform . . .

Virtually no campaign literature is out there from the Republicans for Paladino. In fact, it has been obvious from the day he won the primary in a landslide that the Republican party has done nothing to support its duly elected candidate ... No surprise there.

The Republican elite have never been receptive to candidates that have been selected by their members, especially candidates who think for themselves, because THEIR power over the party (and any spoils) is threatened.  Local examples of such non-support include Assemblyman Townsend (where the party elite gave him constant primaries), Mr. Longeretta's bid for DA, and Mr. Hanna's first bid for congress.

One piece of Paladino campaign literature did make it to my house, though none of my neighbors got it. It was a simple, black-and-white two-sided printed sheet. . . . It was substance, not form . . . Like the man it represents.
Here is a link to more platform information.
Don't judge a book by its cover . . . Look at what the candidates stand for . . . Then decide.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bad News for the Area: Rome Savings Bank

WKTV: After more than 150 years, Rome Savings Bank no longer local .
Rome Savings has entered into an agreement whereas they will merge with, and into, Berkshire Bancorp., Inc. The two entered into the agreement October 12, but it's subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals by shareholders and isn't expected to be completed until the first quarter of 2011. 

This is a repeat of the demise of the Savings Bank of Utica earlier in the decade. If there are sufficient shareholders in Rome to stop this, you need to think carefully about what this will mean to Rome if this goes through.

Banks are an important part of their communities' economic well-being. Time was when loans could be reliably made on a handshake. The bankers were more likely to take risks because they personally knew their clients. That source of capital is rare these days when loans are based on metrics determined in a far-away boardroom. Bankers' not knowing their borrowers helped to contribute to the mortgage crisis.

This merger will make things that much more difficult for local businesses.

Chinese Garlic 2 . . .

The original Chinese Garlic post raised concern that "free trade" policies threaten national  security.

Today I read this article from Business Insider that did not make me feel better: 19 Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Will Make You Weep.  Among some of the more concerning points:

  • The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001
  • The United States has lost a total of about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since October 2000.
  • The United States has lost a whopping 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
  • From 1999 to 2008, employment at the foreign affiliates of US parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1 million
  • If our trade deficit with China increases at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.
  • As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.
  • Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.
  • The Census Bureau says 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty, which is the highest number of poor Americans in the 51 years that records have been kept.
  • In 2008, 1.2 billion cellphones were sold worldwide. So how many of them were manufactured inside the United States? Zero.

And leaders don't consider this exportation of jobs and shuttering of factories a threat to national security?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Paladino In the Big Apple . . .

From NY1 News: Paladino Outlines Plan For "Lean" Budget

Paladino spoke at length today during a one-on-one interview with NY1's "Inside City Hall."

His appearance comes after NY1 offered both leading candidates for governor an opportunity to take part in a debate in Buffalo tomorrow. While Paladino accepted the station's invitation, Democrat Andrew Cuomo did not respond to the request.

Afterglow . . .

Peak Color may have passed . . . but the Afterglow remains . . .
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2010-1027-1823p

2010-1027-1814pProctor Park
Valley View
and Rutger Park
Utica, New York

Not Time for Redlich . . .

Warren Redlich made an impression (a good one) when he appeared in that 7-way governor-candidate circus debate.  He was on WIBX yesterday and said all the right things.

But this is not the time to vote for Redlich.

Mr. Redlich should have given Mr. Lazio a primary for the Republican slot . . . But he did not.  (Mr. Redlich ran for Congress in '06 as a Republican).   Mr. Paladino did and fought an uphill battle against the Republican Party elites to earn his place on the ballot.  Mr. Redlich should do the same . . . next time.

In the mean time, those holding conservative values should get behind the candidate who had to earn his place on the ballot.  He might not fit the image you had hoped for . . . but the fact that he beat the insiders should count for something.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Carl Paladino: What You See Is What You Get . . .

Last week David Andreatta wrote in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle about a series of videos Carl Paladino had done for a Buffalo publication, Artvoice.  Paladino was asked to do them because he had long been outspoken on many issues including indian casinos, Thruway tolls, and the public schools . He could always be counted on to get a discussion going. What makes the videos interesting is that they were compiled well before Mr. Paladino started his run for governor, and, probably, well before the thought even crossed his mind.
"He didn't reinvent himself for this election," said Artvoice publisher Jamie Moses. 
Well before Paladino the Gubernatorial Candidate said he would enforce the collection of taxes from native tribes selling cigarettes to non-Indians, Paladino the Outspoken Businessman was railing against the "15 to 20 thugs" who he said run the Seneca Nation with an unfair tax advantage. 
"It isn't the common Indian that's benefiting," Paladino told Artvoice in January 2009. "It's the big thugs who run everything. ... They should tax them and make things fair, make the rule fair, play by the rules."

In March 2009, Paladino criticized a prevailing wage measure in Albany that would have required developers like him to pay higher wages on publicly financed construction projects as the work of downstate "union-minded" legislators.

"We'd like to see this nonsense of giving union labor and contractors a special edge in New York state stop," Paladino said. "It has stymied upstate development." . . .

None of the videos could be described as rants. Nor does any reveal Paladino as the erratic torch wielder that his critics and political opponents have portrayed him as to voters.



You be the judge... The Paladino videos are available on Artvoice.  Who do you believe is more likely to change the corrupt culture in Albany?

Considering Cuomo?

I wanted to write a piece about Andrew Cuomo, but Peter Landesman in American Thinker beat me to it, beginning with the exact same thought that I had been having . . .

 Andrew Cuomo the New York State Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor last week issued one of the most preposterous statements ever:
  "I understand that the people of the state are frustrated. I'm frustrated. I'm angry. Nobody knows Albany corruption better than I do. I've been staring at the beast for three years."
What has he been doing during the last 4 years? One would think that he, as Attorney General of New York State, has been in a better position to curtail corruption than he would be as Governor. 

Bullying people on Wall Street has not helped the people on Main Street. Main Street's problem is an overgrown, intrusive, arrogant, corrupt, money-grabbing state government, and the AG has done little there.

Mr. C's tenure at HUD gives little to be enthused about, unless you were a teacher or cop who bought one of his HUD homes at half-price because he thought you were underpaid. Talk about rewarding the public employee unions. Jacob Gershman commented in the Wall St. Journal a few days ago
Andrew Cuomo points to his time as Housing and Urban Development secretary as a prime example of how he's made government more efficient and effective. But federal auditors say Mr. Cuomo oversaw a "poorly planned" overhaul of personnel that bulked up HUD's public outreach but undermined the agency's enforcement efforts.

Does anyone really believe that this career-politician candidate will change Albany for the better?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Not A Fake Candidate . . .

For a change, it looks like voters are going to have a real choice in the 116th Assembly District this year. It's Johnson v Destito, and unlike Republican challengers of the past, Johnson is no fake candidate.

Friday, October 22, 2010

DEC Commissioner Grannis Fired . . .

... apparently for warning the governor against further staff cuts.  From the Times Union:
A front-page story in Tuesday’s Times Union described one likely cause: the leak of a memo sent by DEC to the Budget Division that laid out in stark terms the possible consequences of the planned layoffs of more than 200 agency employees.
The unsigned, undated memo warned that fewer polluted sites would be cleaned up, fewer regulators would be available to oversee the potential natural gas drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale, and stocking of game fish could halt.
It's too bad that the governor feels it necessary to shoot the messenger. An agency head should not be sacked merely because he reports the natural consequences of staff cuts.  With fewer staff, enforcement must suffer.
In order to avoid cuts to programs that protect human health or address immediate environmental damage, the memo suggests the most logical places for deep cuts would be outdoor recreation and sports — including skiing, fishing, hunting, camping and hiking.
Really? Well, this raises some questions. People pay fees for skiing, camping, fishing and hunting. Why did Mr. Grannis suggest cutting these things when people pay for them? Is it because they all are almost exclusively Upstate NY activities (Grannis is from Manhattan)? Is it politics (where Downstate dominates)? Did Grannis forget that the DEC used to be the Conservation Department?

Perhaps Mr. Grannis was sacked simply because he was unwilling to deal with a state budget crisis.  Yes, he correctly concludes that less staff means less regulatory enforcement.

How about doing away with some of the regulations????

We got along just fine without the DEC Office of Climate Change and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative regulations . . . and there is absolutely no evidence that this program has any potential whatsoever to affect the climate. This was politics starting with Patacki. It can be done away with.

DEC regulates wetlands over 12.4 acres. While DEC is probably best equipped to deal with wetland protection, the Federal Army Corps of Engineers has gotten into the act, and regulates much smaller ones. There is duplication here.  It was the US EPA that discovered the Oneida County sewer violations, not the DEC.  Better enforcement from EPA? Or were DEC Staffers hands tied?

DEC is a complex agency, and it has a history of being motivated by more than environmental protection.  The firing of Grannis may be a sign of this.

Great Debate . . .

In case you missed it: DioGuardi v Gillibrand for US Senate. This was the best debate so far this season.  To me, DioGuardi came off cool, calm, knowledgeable, authentic, independent and decisive. Gillibrand sounded remarkably like Mike Arcuri with the same stock campaigning language heard on commercials - - - which makes you wonder if they have a school for this stuff somewhere. The "Lightening Round" near the end where the candidates could only give a Yes or No answer was especially telling.  Gillibrand does NOT think the Tea Party movement has been a good thing and does NOT think that Andrew Cuomo should debate 1-on-1 with Carl Paladino.  That says it all.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Throwing Money at a Problem

 Schools ponder how to use Race to the Top money.
Millions of dollars soon will flow into local school districts, courtesy of a $696 million federal Race to the Top grant the state was awarded in August. . . .
Although school districts are aware of just how much funding they will receive, officials said it’s difficult to pinpoint what the money will be used for . . . Districts have until Nov. 8 to tell the state how the money will be used.
In other words, money is simply given to local districts that have no plan. Nice.

Buying votes, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Decent Debate . . .

Mr. Hanna and Mr. Arcuri squared off in their debate for the 24th District congressional seat at MVCC last evening . . . What a difference a lack of five superfluous candidates makes! It was much more informative than that circus Monday night at Hofstra ... although the adage that "There is no such thing as a stupid question" was disproven when someone asked "We have a Department of War, would you support creation of a Department of Peace?"

Everyone has  their own opinion of who "won" or "lost."  To me the debate was a "draw" -- both men were prepared -- both delivered their points well.  Both seemed to agree on many issues.  Both appeared capable. Where they differ is on philosophy.

The decision will come down to what the voters believe should be the size of the role of Federal Government in their lives.

If you believe in more Federal involvement, Mr. Arcuri is your man.  If you believe in less government involvement and more reliance on the private sector to satisfy needs, Mr. Hanna is your man.

It's that simple.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Dud Debate . . .

Last night voters were subjected to the most agonizing hour-and-a-half of this election season's programming . . . perhaps of any election season. That was the NY Gubernatorial "Debate" . . . and the term "debate" is used very loosely.

Paladino supporters certainly must be disappointed in their candidate's lack of performance last evening.   Per YNN: 
It was almost as if Carl Paladino, the fiery Republican, turned the fire extinguisher on himself. He also left the stage mid-debate for a bathroom break, stumbled over words and at times, confused Medicaid and Medicare.
As for his main challenger, Andrew Cuomo:
The Democrat kept stately and bland, offering few specific commitments, animated most when speaking about ethics.
Paladino clearly is not an orator and appeared uncomfortable. His wild hand gesturing was distracting.  Cuomo, on the other hand, was glib but non-substantive.

OK, so we know that in the speaking department, Cuomo is hands down the better speaker of the two. (To be honest, I thought Madam Davis won the debate over all, but she is not a viable candidate and some of her positions are just nonsense).   However, a good speaker does not automatically point to who would be a good governor.  . . .

And we, the voting audience, did not get a chance to really see what the principal two candidates stand for . . . how they think. . . because of the absolutely ridiculous spectacle of having seven candidates on the stage at once. 

I felt like I was watching a 3 ring circus. The whole "debate"  was a farce.  It should have been Paladino vs Cuomo. Then we would have seen the real issues developed.  There was simply no chance for that to be done under the format that was chosen.  

As lousy a speaker as Paladino is, I think he still would go for a one-on-one debate with Cuomo -- and Cuomo would refuse.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

He Was Only Being Honest . . .

Did Carl Paladino blow it?  The sense of most of the talking heads on O'Reilly last night was that he unnecessarily alienated a group of people when he came out against gay marriage.

Per a WCBS report . . .
Paladino tried to give out lollipops at Monday’s Columbus Day parade, but he was mobbed by reporters after he told a Brooklyn Hassidic group he didn’t want kids “brainwashed” into thinking gay marriage is a “valid” option. . . .

“I unequivocally support all gay rights, all gay rights except the right to be married. I’m a Catholic and I believe in Catholic values,” Paladino said.
Meanwhile Andrew Cuomo was marching in a "gay pride" parade with his two daughters (it was National Coming Out Day).
“Have you ever been to one? The men wear little Speedos and they grind on each other. Would you take your children there? I don’t think so,” Paladino said.
Carl has a point there. Most people would feel it inappropriate to expose their children to such behavior. . . .

The gubernatorial candidates clearly are on opposite sides in what people on Fox would call "The Culture Wars." Cuomo and a representative from GLAAD criticized Paladino's remarks . . .
“They were reckless in light of all the recent violence that we’ve had. They were divisive. They were the worst cynical politics trying to pit people against one another, trying to pit groups against one another,” Cuomo said. “It is repugnant to the content of what New York is.” . . .

“We’re sending a message to young people that it’s okay to discriminate, it’s okay to commit violent acts, that it’s okay for gay kids to kill themselves and that’s not okay, particularly in a place in a country that supposedly values all of us,” said Jarrett Barrios of The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Actually it is Mr. Cuomo and Ms. Barrios who are pitting groups against each other. Mr. Paladino never said it is OK to discriminate, never said it is OK to commit violent acts, and never said it is OK for gay kids to kill themselves. All he said is that he did not believe that gay marriage was a "valid" option. He was only being honest about his beliefs. 

Given the fact that 6,000 years of human tradition is on Mr. Paladino's side, it is presumptuous for Mr. Cuomo, Ms. Barrios, and a number of legislating judges across the nation to say otherwise.

The discussion of "gay marriage" gets off track when it focuses on "rights."  Marriage was never intended for the purpose of conferring "rights" on individuals.  Rather, marriage was instituted to perpetuate society by injecting stability into a union because of its potential for children.  Since two people of the same sex have no potential to procreate, it makes no sense to apply the concept of "marriage" to them... i.e.  as Mr. Paladino says, it is not a "valid" option.    

It's refreshing to see a candidate being himself -- warts and all -- rather than someone who is carefully managed to always say the right things to the right people.  This will be an interesting election.

Chinese Garlic . . .

A few weeks ago I went through my annual ritual of harvesting basil from my garden to make a year's worth of pesto sauce (basil + olive oil + garlic which I blend and freeze into cubes for later use).  This year my garlic did not do well, so I went to the local grocer for the garlic.

Surprisingly, in spite of all the garlic that is grown locally, the only garlic I could find came from . . . China!

Not having the time to shop the farm stands, I reluctantly purchased the Chinese garlic even though the possibility of contamination from poorly managed Chinese landfills crossed my mind.  Admittedly, it was good smelling garlic, and the price was right  . . .  but it got me thinking about the increasing prevalence of foreign-grown produce on local shelves . . . the inconvenience attached to finding locally grown produce . . . and the decimation of local agriculture.

Something is very very wrong when it is easier to purchase garlic grown 12,000 miles away than garlic grown 12 miles away.

Those thoughts led to thoughts about the decline in locally produced goods, such as men's suits from Joseph and Feiss, radios from General Electric, garden tools from Union Fork, and textiles from many now-closed plants.  In fact, I recently replaced my old broken Union hoe (made locally) with a new Union hoe (made in China).  It was upsetting.

"Free Trade" has been a mantra chanted by both political parties in recent decades.  Not having majored in economics, it is difficult to counter the statement in Wikipedia:
"[T]he broad consensus among members of the economics profession in the U.S. is that free trade is a large and unambiguous net gain for society."
"Consensus" is often a matter of perspective. I can accept the above statement if  "gain" is confined to getting products into the hands of consumers at the lowest possible cost, and "society" is global.

The reality, however,  is that "society" is not global. Different cultures place importance on different things, which is reflected in their countries' laws.  We have laws to protect the environment, and to protect workers, but other countries do not.  Our laws raise production costs here in relation to those elsewhere.  That causes production to move elsewhere.  While some Americans complain that other countries engage in unfair trade practices by subsidizing their agricultural production, subsidizing strategic industries such as steel production, or by manipulating their currencies, aren't we doing the reverse with our environmental and labor laws?  If we did away with our labor and environmental protections, would that not arguably be a subsidy?

To paraphrase a common saying, "Free Trade isn't Free."

The cost is to our culture and the things we consider important.  What we gain in a clean environment and decently paid workers, we lose in jobs and wealth. . . .

And ultimately lose in National Security.

It is simply amazing that national leaders seem clueless to the security implications of Free Trade.  With most of our manufacturing capacity -- and increasingly agricultural capacity -- exported offshore, what is left to protect us if we get into a war?  We survived and succeeded during WWI and WWII because we had peacetime manufacturing and agricultural capacity that could be converted to wartime use.  What is there to convert now?

Software engineers cannot feed or clothe us.

We are vulnerable and need to do something about it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Like the Keystone Cops . . .

Only NOT FUNNY . . . . 

At least that was the thought that came to mind when reading that the much vaunted Marcy NanoCenter construction has been delayed.
More than $27 million has been committed to the development of the Marcy NanoCenter site, but construction has yet to begin because the plans are needlessly tied up in the government regulatory process, Mohawk Valley EDGE President Steven DiMeo said. 
"Needlessly," perhaps, but the blame needs to be placed squarely on Mr. DiMeo and our County level leaders (from Mr. Picente back through Mr. Eannace).
Among the delays has been the permitting process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District, DiMeo said.
Well, it was MV EDGE that pulled the wetlands application and put it on the shelf back in 2002, possibly costing us the Global Foundries chip plant that went to Malta.  EDGE let its application languish for four plus years and now it's an issue?
The DEC is looking into whether there would be any problems with water availability. 
Y'er darn tootin' there's an issue of not enough water. Thank Mr. Becher of the MVWA and Oneida County Leadership which has been calling the shots at MVWA for that one.  It was pointed out over two years ago that given the capacity of the filtration plant, if MVWA's plans to expand to Verona were approved, there would be NO water for the Chip-Fab site. Since then, Judge Hester's ruling limits MVWA's take from Hinckley reservoir to significantly less than the filtration plant is capable of processing... I.e., MVWA/Oneida County's bungling of obligations has created a water shortage. 
The Oneida County Sewer District is under a state consent order due to the sewer system spilling sewage into the Mohawk River during certain levels of rainfall. Because the system is already over capacity, the DEC is looking into whether the Marcy NanoCenter would add to the problems.
Oneida County sewer district officials knew for years that the illegal hookup of separated sanitary waste lines into a Combined Sewer Overflow was causing an unacceptable spillage of sewage into the Mohawk River.  Without a doubt, they looked away because the hookups permitted New Hartford and the County to grow their tax base (never mind that it was really sprawl that exacerbated Utica's financial problems and created demand for other services (at more cost) in the suburbs).  Mr. Picente exacerbated the problem by rushing into the Consent Order with DEC before giving the public a chance to have input (which may have opened his eyes to some issues -- but Mr. Picente avoids involving people who may have expertise on an issue because he cannot control them).   Oneida County and Mr. Picente's mismanagement of the sewer district and Consent Order have created another issue that the Marcy NanoCenter must deal with.

The wetlands permit, water, and sewer issues were all avoidable and should never have happened. 

That they were allowed to develop and fester demonstrates the utter cluelessness of  Oneida County leadership when it comes to dealing with environmental issues. Marketing Marcy NanoCenter without first coming to grips with the environmental issues not only wastes the taxpayers' money, it will cause ill will toward the County by prospective NanoCenter tenants because their time is being wasted.

There is no legislative quick fix to all this (although the County is trying).  Any attempt to take a shortcut through state-level legislation will only make the situation more complicated and expensive than it already is. THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS.

Its time to admit that mistakes were made, correct them, and move on. . . . and just maybe some heads should roll, too . . .

Friday, October 08, 2010

Ignorance By Design 4 . . .

From the American Thinker: Do American History Teachers Value Feelings over Knowledge?
Nearly half of American history teachers believe it is less important that their students understand the common history, ideas, rights, and responsibilities that tie the country together as Americans than that they learn to celebrate the unique identities and experiences of its different ethnic, religious, and immigrant groups. . . .

Given that feelings trump facts in so many classrooms, is it any wonder that there has been such a precipitous decline in Americans' knowledge of their own country's history?

Think about it.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

OIN Anti-Townsend Mailer . . . Backfires . . .

At least with this voter.

Per the Utica Daily News, the Oneida Indian Nation has acknowledged sending the mailing that complains that Oneida County Sheriff Candidate Mr. Townsend voted "Against Protecting Students from Bullying and Harassment" not once -- but twice -- while he was Assemblyman.

Politically, the proponent of the mailing is seriously out of touch. Mr. Townsend's rejection of Assembly Bill A03661 is exactly the type of action that kept getting him re-elected time after time after time.

The law Mr. Townsend voted against is called the "Dignity for All Students Act" and supposedly would prevent bullying and harassment. The act defines several characteristics of students as being protected (race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, and sex); requires state regulations, school district policies, sensitivity training of school personnel, student curriculum in "tolerance" etc. in each grade K through 12, and minimum suspensions for student transgressors; would create an "incident reporting" system; and, of course, provide grants to school districts. The law may be well intended, BUT . . .

"You can't legislate morality."

Human behavior and interactions are very complex and every situation is unique. We already have the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and numerous statutes on the books that already inform us parents, students, and those who run our schools, of what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior. Adding twenty more pages of regulations will not improve the situation. Trying to regulate all activities in all situations with special rules is not only a futile exercise, but counter productive. It's like the "zero tolerance" ("zero brains" I call them) policies on "weapons" that require suspension of a kid who might innocently forget his cub scout jack knife in his pocket.

This law will not prevent bullying . . . but it WILL create a bureaucratic nightmare and a lot more spending.

Laws do not prevent bullying. Capable teachers and administrators do.

Administrators that need to cling to a rule book to enforce proper behavior frankly have no business running our schools.

Cheers to Mr. Townsend for rejecting another prescriptive, intrusive, "feel good," but ultimately ineffective, expensive and counterproductive law.

Meanwhile, OIN needs to stick to running its world class casino, golf courses, and other wonderful venues, and to stay out of politics . . . or it runs the risk of becoming another Barbra Streisand -- who should just shut up and sing.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

HUD Throwing Good Money After Bad . . .

This is unbelievable. Mr. Arcuri announces that Utica will receive a HUD grant for over $4.2 million . . . in spite of $Millions of HUD monies having allegedly been misspent by Gro-West. Obviously corruption is not a problem for Mr. Arcuri nor for HUD -- as long as the political connections are correct -- otherwise why is more money being doled out?

Now the "Affordable Housing"  requirements of the new Utica Master Plan suddenly make sense.  They're the excuse to keep the pipeline of corruption flowing with federal taxpayers' money.

All the more reason why State officials need to be brought in to investigate the situation . . . but then again, do you really think Attorney General Andrew Cuomo wants to make his Utica and Washington friends look bad?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

No Pressure . . .

What the Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Disruption Alarmists have in store for us "Deniers" and Skeptics. . .


N o t . F u n n y . a t . A l l

Ignorance By Design 3 . . .

From Today's OD: Utica school staff and students ride for a healthy lifetyle .
The Healthy Bike Ride for Kids is an annual bicycle event in which teachers, staff and students cycle through Utica to raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle . . .
Your tax dollars hard at work. Instead of diagramming sentences, the kids get to watch teacher ride a bike  . . .