Thursday, September 30, 2010

State Taxpayers Finance Faxton-St.Lukes Expansion

Per the Utica Daily News . . .
Faxton-St. Luke's Healthcare was just awarded $31.3 million from the state as part of a competitive grant. . . .
With the money, the hospital will renovate the St. Luke's Home and build a new building on its New Hartford campus.
I'm happy that the $$$ is coming here instead of going to someplace else.  But if Utica is getting $31 Million, you can be sure that other communities across the state are getting similar grants. (Eg. Watertown just got $34 Million.)

Hospitals are private businesses that get plenty of our insurance money. With New York State supposedly broke, why are grants like this the responsibility of the taxpayers?

Or is this just more of Big Government taking over . . . Everything?

Oneida County Movin' On Up . . .

Oneida County is movin' on up . . . Moving Up to Spot #19 among the most heavily taxed counties in the nation when property taxes are are calculated as a percentage of home value. In last year's tally we were 24. The good news is that taxes are "only" 2.31% of home value as opposed to 2.4% -- most likely because average home values increased from $91500 to $106,600.  The bad news is that property taxes here are taking a greater percentage of our incomes, increasing from 4.0% to 4.4%.  

No wonder people and jobs constantly leave.  With numbers like these, "economic development" is a waste of time and money.

This does not even take into account our sky-high sales tax, sewer taxes, water fees, and utility costs.

Thank you Oneida County, our wonderful "international airport," towns, villages and cities.  Watch out Monroe County (Rochester) . . . We're shooting to take over your #1 spot.

Read more at The Tax Foundation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gonna Do What We Wanna Do . . .

At least that is the message coming loud and clear from the New Hartford Town Ruling Class as it ignores the wishes of the peasants -- er taxpayers -- to cater to the desires of a developer and of those who want to see Town government grow and grow.
“This is sprawl, that’s all this is,” said Frank Montecalvo of Comenale Crescent in New York Mills, some of which is in New Hartford. “We’re financing sprawl.” . . .
But that view is not shared by town Supervisor Patrick Tyksinski, who said many of the concerns expressed Monday were misplaced. . . .
“This is a project that’s not going to cost the taxpayers, and they’ll receive the benefit,” he said.
U Betcha this is sprawl and the Town Supervisor is spouting nonsense. Taxpayers WILL pay because PILOTs and FILM are monies that belong to the taxpayers.   As noted here last week . . .
Payments In Lieu of Taxes that go to pay for a road that is ONLY needed by the Business Park are payments that are NOT available to pay for the demand on police and fire protection that the project will generate. . . . Fees in Lieu of Mitigation collected from developers of other projects are Town funds intended to be used to mitigate the impacts of those other projects. Guess who winds up either paying to mitigate the impacts of the other projects or tolerating the environmental degradation of the other projects?
The New Hartford Business Park started out in 1999 as an industrial park -  a place for manufacturing.  People regionally felt that it would be worth the investment because of the shortage of building sites that meet the specifications for modern manufacturing plants.  Instead the people only got another office park -- something not in short supply -- which only entices economic activity to move from one part of this region of declining population to another.

When a declining population is encouraged through taxpayer subsidies and special benefits to spread itself over twice the geographic area, it makes the cost of supplying municipal services to that population skyrocket.  That is why taxes must go up in both Utica and New Hartford.

Developers and Town officials have benefited from New Hartford's pro-sprawl policies.  The taxpayers of New Hartford and of neighboring communities losing economic activity to New Hartford have lost.  These policies hurt the average taxpayer.  They must end.

Utica is Among the Best

Last week reported that Utica is the Number 6 BEST in the Country for Starter Homes.

Zillow median home value: $100,900
Month-over-month change: +1.07%

Avg monthly mortgage payment: $490.16
Mortgage payment as % of income: 13%
Unemployment rate: 7.1%
Cost of living: 88.40
In upstate New York, Utica has seen five consecutive months of significant monthly appreciation, with the most recent month-over-month increase above 1%. Both cost of living and the unemployment rate are much lower than the national average, while median home values stand at just over 55% of the national average

Not only is Utica among the best in price, buyers can look forward to the value of their homes appreciating as well!

So WHY, then, does the Utica Master Plan propose to require "affordable housing" in all new housing developments . . . and propose to construct "affordable housing" in neighborhoods that are not currently low to moderate income tracts?

WHO would benefit from such requirements?  WHAT AGENDA is being pushed?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Boost Upstate - Remove the Tolls

From an article in Crain's New York about the "accidental candidate" for governor, Carl Paladino, comes this bit of information. . . .
The Interstate 190 tolls were a passionate cause for Buffalo commuters in 2005. They thought it unfair that they were the only upstate residents who had to pay a New York State Thruway toll to enter their city. The money, they argued, didn't even stay in Buffalo. It was sent downstate to pay for maintenance of Interstate 84. 
State legislators didn't respond to complaints. The derisively named Western New York Commuter Tax remained. In 2005, Mr. Paladino got involved. . . .  
Mr. Paladino had told his lawyer, “Find me a bulletproof case.” The smoking gun was a decades-old law mandating that tolls be removed when the original bonds for that portion of the Thruway were repaid. That had happened in 1996. Mr. Paladino sued, and the state Thruway Authority removed the tolls.

“I think those experiences illustrate our capabilities,” Mr. Paladino says. “I'm a very determined person. I will do my homework. I will learn all the facts best I can. There's no challenge I can't take on.”
The Thruway Tolls are a tax on anything that moves by truck between the major cities of Upstate New York. That puts businesses that ship by truck in main line Upstate cities at a competitive disadvantage to those in places such as Tennessee which have no tolls on their interstate highways.  

Those original Thruway bonds have been paid off for us in Utica, Rome, Amsterdam, Syracuse and Rochester, too. It's time to do away with the Thruway Authority and the Tolls.

It's time to take steps that make Upstate New York competitive again.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Not Taken In . . .

Judging from the comments posted to the OD Article "Election watch: Arcuri ad takes aim at Hanna’s business activities," the public simply is not buying the mud-slinging that the Democrat Machine is selling and Mr. Arcuri is approving.

People know that when candidates and their surrogates resort to slinging mud, they have nothing more intelligent to say.  

Let's focus on the issues, folks, not the personalities.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NH Business Park - What Is the Public Price?

The New Hartford Business Park is back in the news. This time it's about a proposed ramp on and off Route 840 that will be the subject of a public hearing Sept. 27 6PM at Butler Hall.
Previous estimates have put the project – which includes extending Clinton Street into the business park and building a Woods Highway extension to Route 840 – at roughly $800,000.
That would be partly funded by a payment-in-lieu of taxes agreement with the hotel and could also be supplemented by existing fees-in-lieu of mitigation funds held by the town, according to the study.

The Environmental Assessment is on the Town Website as is a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).

The Assessment indicates that the project will generate Sewage that will be discharged into the Mohawk River, that 40,000 gallons of water will be used per day, that traffic will be generated that is significantly above present levels, and that a demand for community provided services such as police and fire protection will be created.  The assessment claims that the impact of effluent being transported to inadequate facilities and a requirement for new or expansion of existing waste treatment/storage facilities can be adequately mitigated by a project change.  It claims that the use of water can be adequately mitigated.  It claims that project incompatibility with existing drainage patterns can be adequately mitigated.

Curiously, the assessment claims that NO local state or federal funding will be involved.

Although it is sort of a shell game, the Taxpayers ARE paying for this. 

Payments In Lieu of Taxes that go to pay for a road that is ONLY needed by the Business Park are payments that are NOT available to pay for the demand on police and fire protection that the project will generate.  Guess who picks up the police and fire tab? The SEIS does not disclose this.

Fees in Lieu of Mitigation collected from developers of other projects are Town funds intended to be used to mitigate the impacts of those other projects.  Guess who winds up either paying to mitigate the impacts of the other projects or tolerating the environmental degradation of the other projects? The SEIS does not disclose this.

Guess Who will be paying to upgrade the sewage system to mitigate the additional sewage load? The SEIS does not disclose this.

Although the project claims that it will create 2,000 jobs, where will the jobs come from?  More than likely, local jobs will merely move from one place in the region to another. . . . That is nothing more than sprawl.  The SEIS does not disclose this . . .

Guess Who pays for more sprawl? 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wetlands, Schmetlands . . .

It's nice to see our federal representatives bring a full court press on getting the Army Corps of Engineers to move on the Marcy Nanotech wetlands permit.  ACE will not give a permit until EDGE finds a developer . . . but EDGE probably won't find a developer until it gets the permit.

But as noted here back in June, EDGE has too many subsidiary players for ACE, or the taxpayers to keep track of ...

With the "wheels within wheels" approach, just whom would the Army Corps hold accountable to ensure that all permit conditions are complied with? SUNYIT? EDGE? Fort Schuyler Management (with no track record, no assets, and no individual co-signers to secure performance)? An unknown developer or tenant for the site?
EDGE -- which shelved this permit application back in 2002 -- which kept the Marcy site from being "shovel ready" -- which allowed the Luther Forest Technology Park in former Sen. Joe Bruno's district to leap from the drawing board over Marcy to full development -- needs to be more transparent in its operations.

That said, there is another issue in this brave new world of Federal Government take over of our lives:  Why is there even federal regulation of wetlands?

New York State has an extensive regulatory framework over wetlands. They are all mapped so people are put on notice of where they are.  They also are all at least 12 acres in size, so they are significant.  Why is it the FEDERAL government's business to regulate smaller wet spots -- and even some not so wet spots -- to begin with?
So while Messrs. Arcuri and Schumer and Ms. Gillibrand should be thanked for getting behind EDGE (something Mr. Boehlert did not do when his party was in charge in Albany and Washington), perhaps they should be questioned on the Federal interest in these minuscule wetlands.

Perhaps it's time for them to end some of the Federal involvement in our lives and let the States do their job in their own way.

Friday, September 17, 2010

No More Global Warming . . .

Now its "Global Climate Disruption."

They hope that we just refer to the new White House-approved label instead of looking at the facts.

I opt for something more accurate: "Mother Nature."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What's With the City Council?

Utica council won’t seek state help with GroWest
A resolution asking various state agencies to launch their own investigations into GroWest Inc. was voted down by the city’s Common Council on Wednesday after it was proposed by two council members. . . .
Mayor David Roefaro and Corporation Counsel Linda Sullivan Fatata echoed the sentiments of opposing council members when they said the city’s only involvement with GroWest was through federal money, and that HUD and the FBI should be allowed to proceed without the state getting involved. 

The Gro-West situation cries out for an investigation by an organization that is TOTALLY DISCONNECTED from the local political/business scene -- and not a locally picked law/consulting firm which itself has profited from the handling of government grants (see the 990 link in the linked story).

What are they trying to hide?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Voting Booth Metaphor . . .

New Yorkers faced their new voting machines yesterday.  After the usual sign in, you are given a paper ballot,  go to a little booth to fill in circles with a black pencil for your choices (being very careful to stay inside the circles), then walk to a machine and feed it the ballot.

With the old voting machines that were used for around 80 years, it was ...
 bing-bing-bing whoosh/ding 
. . . and you were done.  You closed the curtain, pulled the levers for your choices, and registered the ballot by opening the curtain.

It now takes 5 times as long to cast a ballot as it used to. . . . and with all the high tech equipment and paper manipulation probably costs the taxpayers a lot more too.  It seem that the more we "progress," the further behind we get.

The new voting process is more complicated.  It takes more of your time and more of your money. . . . 

Isn't this just like the government that designed it?

A REAL "People's" Revolution . . .

His opponent had a double digit lead . . . and then on election eve the pollsters said they were in a "dead heat."

How wrong they were!

Political outsider Carl Paladino wins the GOP gubernatorial primary by a 2 to 1 margin!

They say that Andrew Cuomo is unbeatable . . . but "they" were wrong last night.

It promises to be a very interesting election season folks.  Paladino is the first real threat in memory to the status quo of a government that has become too big,  too controlling, too arrogant, too expensive, and too immune to change (regardless of what party holds the governorship) . . . . Paladino is also a threat to the many connected elite of both party stripes who have grown rich off the taxpayers.  The insiders will throw everything that they have at this guy to discredit him.

The people's desire for change in the "ruling class" is carrying over to local elections as well. The ever-popular Dave Townsend was never a member of the "ruling class" because they always kept trying to get rid of him as Assemblyman.  But people genuinely want leaders who can think for themselves, so they kept electing him. . . . and have now elected him again to run for sheriff in spite of a clear attempt by party "insiders" to defeat him in a primary.  Claudia Tenney, another "outsider," appears to have won over insider George Joseph, whom we can thank for our expensive new airport and destroyed old airport.  Claudia has an ability to engage on the issues that people are looking for.  Change is also coming to the Democrats, too.  Mike Hennessy constantly was a thorn in the side of the County Republicrat Establishment. He also is a man who can think for himself . . . so the people have picked him to run for senator.

Paladino, Townsend, Tenney, and Hennessy all think for themselves . . . THAT is why they won their primaries.    

This year we may finally have debates on Issues rather than Personalities.                                                        

Another One Bites the Dust . . .

Roughly 400 jobs to be lost as Rite Aid Distribution Center closes

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Utica's Not-So-Green Master Plan* . . .

*[This is the un-edited version of my article for the September 2010 Utica Phoenix which was shortened due to space constraints.]

Utica's much anticipated Master Plan finally has been released to the public.  Clearly, a new master plan was overdue, with the last being 50 years ago, following another 10 years earlier.  One of the first, written by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in 1908, guided Utica's development for the first half of the 20th Century, helping to propel Utica in an orderly fashion to a city of 100,000.

The importance of a master plan cannot be overstated.  A root cause of many of Utica's problems, such as population loss, poverty, declining education levels, high taxes and fees, and blight, is the significant decline of private-sector economic activity within Utica's borders. Without the means to an income,  people leave. As Utica evolves in the future,  government and private initiatives need coordination (not partnership) to reinforce each other and avoid waste, which will encourage growth of  the private-sector economy.  A good master plan fosters coordination by providing an easily understandable vision of the future that informs government leaders of priorities, while allowing private entities to see where they fit in.  A good master plan speeds government decision making and makes its actions more predictable, permitting private investors to calculate what they need to do to improve their own chances for success. A good master plan produces an environment where private activity can sustain itself with a minimum of government intrusion and without the infusion of taxpayer dollars.  A good master plan learns lessons from history and avoids the mistakes of the past.

Unfortunately, the Utica Master Plan provides no coherent vision and substitutes a cumbersome unpredictable process in its place.  The Plan injects government into what should be private-sector decisions and responsibilities.  The Plan repeats past mistakes, exacerbating sprawl with its associated costs and environmental degradation.  Overall, the Plan is more about a regional clique maintaining its control over Utica's future than about making it a better future.

Rendering the Electorate Irrelevant

The lack of vision in the Utica Master Plan becomes obvious upon comparison with the 1950 and 1960 plans.   The older plans had maps, which showed the existing and then the proposed street and transportation systems, parks, residential areas, industrial sites, other land uses, and public facilities.  Proposals were clearly defined and explained, many including cost estimates. The City Council knew exactly what it was approving when it approved the plans. The programs were clear to the officials who would implement them. If you wanted to build a manufacturing plant, start a restaurant or retail establishment, or buy a house, you could look at the master plan and know how your plans would be affected.  You would know if your street was going to be widened, buildings would be demolished, or a park built near by. 

Not so with the new Utica Master Plan. Except for a handful of poorly explained proposals that appear to be little more than excuses for glitzy artist renderings, the new Plan proposes a 'grab-bag' of vague concepts and “strategies” that seem uncoordinated and difficult to picture.  This appears intentional.

While Utica's older master plans could be read and understood by anyone, the new Utica Master Plan is like Hans Christian Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes: only the 'worthy' who can interpret its  words will be able to see the “vision” it represents ... and most will be too embarrassed to say that they cannot.

Instead of saying what it means, the Utica Master Plan hides behind jargon to describe its intent. “Safescape principles” will enhance our sense of comfort and safety downtown.  “Transportation Demand Management strategies” will be implemented to increase the efficiency of the transportation system.  A lighting ordinance will be developed that is consistent with “Dark Sky principles.” “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design” standards will be adopted for each neighborhood. The city will adopt a  “Complete Streets Policy”  and work with the NYS Dept. of Transportation to “incorporate context sensitive solutions” along the North-South Arterial.  These are only examples. Jargon obscures agendas. It will be anyone's guess how these “principles,” “strategies,” “standards,” and “solutions” will be translated into laws or bricks and mortar on the ground ... although certain insiders undoubtedly know.

The esoteric language implies that planning for the city's future is beyond the comprehension of mere elected officials and members of public bodies, such as planning or zoning boards, that would traditionally oversee the substance of a master plan. Instead, an elite corps, which will be given specialized training, will be appointed to interpret and implement the Utica Master Plan.  This corps will be spread among at least seventeen committees or groups that could be counted on the Master Plan's pages. The most important, the “Utica Master Plan Partnership Advisory Board Executive Committee,”  is placed by the Master Plan on an equal level with our elected Executive Branch and Common Council! 

The message is obvious.  The People's elected representatives cannot be trusted with decisions over Utica's future, so an elite group will be appointed to make these decisions for them, which the representatives will be expected to rubber-stamp.  This is rubbish, of course.  A good master plan needs neither interpretation nor specialized committees for its implementation.

The Utica Master Plan seems less a vision of the city's future and more an attempt to render the People's elected representatives irrelevant, while private agendas get advanced.

Intrusive Government

The Utica Master Plan boldly goes where other plans have not –  and should not – by imposing requirements or making taxpayers pay for things that have more to do with political agendas than city planning.

For example, the Utica Master Plan requires new housing developments to include 20% “affordable units,” and dictates that “affordable housing” will be created in areas that are not now low-to-moderate income census tracts, with the objective of achieving a “mixed income model” in city housing. 

First, these requirements presuppose a questionable need.  Whenever the Utica region is ranked against others in the country, the affordability of its housing is always a top selling point -- and everyone knows that most of the “affordable” housing is within city limits. (Is it just coincidence that “affordable housing” is proposed for Utica, while New Hartford's recent plan proposed 5-acre-minimum sized lots? Where did these ideas originate?) If anything, Utica needs more upscale housing – housing that would generate increased tax revenue for the city, while having a minimal impact on its services.  To compete, Utica needs more upscale choices, otherwise people looking for a better home will find them in New Hartford or another suburb, taking their tax dollars with them.

Second, these requirements purport to dictate to people that they must live in a neighborhood conforming to a “mixed income model.”  People resent government tinkering with their  freedom of association.  Past “social engineering” backfired and created more problems than it solved. For example, the “forced busing” of Utica school children not only failed to achieve a utopian vision of racial balance in Utica schools, it destroyed one of Utica's greatest assets, neighborhood schools, and led to parental dis-involvement, socialization/behavioral issues, a lot of wasted time on a bus, traffic congestion ... and flight to the suburbs.  

Third, the proposals presume to know the marketplace.  However, developers only come to an area where they can make a profit.  If the “mixed income model” is viable, there will be no need to write it into the Master Plan because people will do it.   If it is not viable, it will require either constant infusion of taxpayer cash to keep it going, or the government doing things itself. Either way will doom Utica, which is barely able to afford basic services (let alone prepare brownfields for redevelopment), to spend a ton of money on social experimentation.

Other proposals in the Utica Master Plan similarly take a paternalistic view of Utica residents and businesses. Government must tell them what is good for them, how they must do things, and/or government will do things for them. Under the Master Plan, government will promote “Green Building & Home Rehabilitation” in its neighborhoods by incorporating “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Neighborhood Development” principles, and provide "education and training" in that field.  Government will educate people on the “Slow Food Movement” and how to be a first-time home buyer. Government will develop a “restaurant row,” a tourism marketing plan and a tourism-readiness training program for staff in tourism industries, downtown business owners, and the community at large.  Government will provide grants and loans to people to bring their properties up to code.

People and private businesses will do these things on their own, if they make sense and are economically viable.  Requiring people to do these things, or having the government do these things for them, will impose unnecessary burdens and costs, favor one business or person over another, or foster dependency.  Government involvement or “partnering” with private businesses is especially troublesome.  It not only runs the risk of violating Article VIII of the State Constitution, it tempts the government to abuse its power – to crush its “partners'” competitors.

All these items smack of  “Big Government” – but geographically, Utica is small government. To avoid the costs and government manipulation, people will simply move to one of the surrounding towns like they have been doing for the past 50 years. How does that help Utica … or the region?

Unlearned Lessons

The Utica Master Plan notes Utica's population loss,  its low income and education attainment levels, low percentage of owner-occupied homes, the relocation of jobs to other parts of the country, and the relocation of employers and residents to suburban areas.  It goes into mind-numbing demographic detail with facts and figures to describe Utica's current state. It also touts the area's positives, presenting the sub-text that, if we just build on and promote the positives, all the problems will go away. 

Glaringly, the Plan entirely omits information that ordinary people would consider essential: the cost just to be here -- the cost of local government (taxes); the cost of power, water, sewer, etc.; the cost of local regulations; the foregoing costs computed as a percentage of local income and of property value; the foregoing costs and percentages as compared with other regions in the country.  Regardless of our beautiful landscape,  our relative freedom from natural calamities, our outstanding menu of outdoor activities, our rich and easily accessible cultural venues, our ethnic diversity, our great restaurants and other charms; and regardless of how much we improve and promote them; jobs, and the “creative class” that the Master Plan says it wants to attract, will not come to Utica until the cost of just being here is brought in line with the parts of the country that are growing.

By omitting the cost information, the Plan sidesteps the questions of  “Why are costs here so high?” and the inevitable “Who is responsible?” that follows.  Decisions of the past and their consequences, particularly ones at the local and regional levels, are left unexamined, allowing those who profited from them (including some key players in the drafting of the Master Plan) to continue undisturbed, while dooming Utica to extend its history of decline.            

Being “Green” Where It Really Counts

The Utica Master Plan paints itself  “green” by offering strategies to protect the environment.  While welcome, they are trivial compared to the environmental consequences of the Big Picture.

While Utica's major problem is economic decline, the Region's major problem is urban sprawl – and the two are directly linked.  Rolf Pendall in his Brookings Institute paper “Sprawl Without Growth – The Upstate Paradox” documented that urbanized acreage in Central NY grew 45% in the 15 years between 1982 and 1997, while the population fell.  You know from your own memory that this trend has continued in the 13 years since.  It does not take a Rhodes Scholar to know that, if a declining population spreads itself over twice the area, taxes for municipal services must skyrocket, making the region uncompetitive.   As people leave Utica, the fewer left behind must pay more to support what exists. Meanwhile, suburban jurisdictions must take on new expenses related to their “growth.” 

Sprawl imposes environmental costs on everyone.  People are deprived of potential food sources when farmland and orchards become shopping areas and parking lots.  Wildlife habitat is forever destroyed.  Storm water runoff increases, leading to flooding and water pollution. People must travel farther in their day-to-day errands, using more fuel and adding to air pollution. Traffic congestion and noise move into outlying areas.  Buildings are abandoned in the inner city, exposing people to vermin, hazardous materials, and fires. 

The Utica Master Plan fails to discuss sprawl.  That allows the Plan to ignore the local policy decisions that helped drive sprawl such as: (1) the configuration of the Arterial system, which simultaneously made city neighborhoods difficult to navigate, while paving the way to  undeveloped outlying areas; (2) the destruction of literally hundreds of tax-generating properties for Arterial and Urban Renewal projects, which forced relocations to outlying areas; (3) the “regionalization”  of the water and sewer systems, which uses Utica residents' fees to subsidize extension of services to outlying areas; (4) County programs, which offer incentives for development in outlying areas.  The Plan does not mention the State's proposed taking of 80 additional properties and closing off more streets for the N-S Arterial remake. The Plan is silent on County incentives for suburban and rural greenfield development.  Like old Urban Renewal, the Plan will destroy a stadium and a park with several ball fields, so they can be rebuilt elsewhere. The Plan will regionalize fire, EMT, and road and sewer maintenance so Uticans can support suburban development.   The Plan is for more sprawl because it continues the policies that helped to create it.  

Not the People's Plan
Since the Master Plan avoids a hard look at the policy decisions that contributed to economic decline and sprawl, the status quo will be maintained.  Many have benefited from that status quo.  Their fingerprints are all over the Plan … and the Utica Master Plan will keep them in control.      

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tale of Two Mosques . . . A Sequel

In last month's Tale of Two Mosques, the local acceptance of the Utica mosque was contrasted with the widespread opposition to the proposed New York City "Ground Zero" mosque.  Both cities have long embraced diversity, so accusations of bigotry as motivating mosque-opponents in the latter simply do not ring true.  The comparison revealed that the mosque developers in each place took a different approach, respecting the sensibilities and sensitivities of the local people in Utica, and not caring about local impacts whatsoever in New York City.

Some Muslims are starting to publicly say that the "Ground Zero" mosque is a bad idea.

On this ninth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks we will be inundated with images of that horrific day.  As you watch the pictures of the buildings burning and then collapsing, of people jumping to their deaths, of others fleeing for their lives, you know three things: (1) many people have been emotionally scarred forever from that event; (2) a mosque at 'Ground Zero' WILL be perceived by those who wish to do this country harm as a symbol of conquest and an encouragement for more attacks; and (3) a mosque at 'Ground Zero' advanced as a matter of religious "right" rather than as an apology for a misuse of Islam will inflict further emotional distress on the community.

I suggested that someone should test the limits of free speech and freedom of religion by suing to enjoin the "Ground Zero" mosque on a theory of  "intentional infliction of emotional distress" -- a common law tort.

According to an article posted yesterday on WorldNetDaily, that suit has been brought.

Lawsuit: Ground Zero mosque would be 'terror'
Claims 'it is intended to carry out continuing psychological warfare'

The case was filed today by Vincent Forras, representing himself, a "first responder" who was injured during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks just a block away from the proposed mosque site. 

Working with the case is Larry Klayman, president of Freedom Watch USA.
The action, not the first filed over the proposal, alleges the project would be a "nuisance" and would result in "intentional infliction of emotional distress." . . .
It is known, the claim states, "that al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations like to and do return to the 'scene' of prior terror attacks, to show that they can continue their campaign with impunity, thereby instilling greater terror and severe emotional distress on the populace. That is why the World Trade Center was attacked more than once and why assets and persons at Ground Zero are likely to be attacked again."
"It is also why the Ground Zero mosque [supporters] want to put an Islamic center specifically at that location – in order to show the world that 'they' can do it again … and to perpetrate continuing and heightened psychological terror on the victims," the case says.

It will be interesting to see how the courts respond to these allegations.  Frankly, I am not expecting that this challenge will be successful . . . The courts, particularly state courts, will probably look at this merely as a "rights" issue rather than a "warfare" issue. Courts are not accustomed to dealing with warfare.

At some point, however, it must be recognized that exercising rights under certain circumstances can be warfare.  When that happens, does our constitution require our nation to be completely vulnerable to psychological attack?  

How should the line of what is or is not to be permitted be drawn?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Heads Up: State Nanotech Lab in Syracuse . . .

Per the Post Standard today: New York state plans to spend $28 million to create nanotechnology lab in Salina
 The state will invest $28 million to turn a former General Electric Co. laboratory in Salina into a nanotechnology research and development facility projected to employ up to 250 people.   . . .
Last year, the state announced plans to create a business incubator and technology accelerator at State University Institute of Technology in Utica in partnership with Albany’s NanoTech center.
In July 2009 the Utica (SUNYIT) facilities were announced .  Per the OD:
An important component of the new facility at SUNYIT would be a 10,000-square-foot space called a clean room.

The room, which would have the proper environment for scientists to research and make tools needed by nanochip manufacturers, would be the only one of its kind west of the Hudson Valley, Silver said.
Perhaps the Syracuse and Utica facilities have entirely different missions . . . but perhaps not.  

We have become somewhat jaded in the Mohawk Valley with New York State announcements.  More information is needed here.