Sunday, February 27, 2011

Concerned Citizens . . . For Utica!

Concerned Citizens for Honest and Open Government (CCHOG), by now well-known for shedding light on the goings-on in New Hartford, has started to shine light on City of Utica issues.

There have been several posts regarding the draft Utica Master Plan: 1/6 Hidden Agendas?  1/18 Neighborhoods & Parks,  2/17 Infrastructure and Waterfront Development. Also posts on the Housing Visions proposal: 1/17 Housing Projects in Utica, 1/11 Housing Visions 500K-600K Per 2-Family Unit.

Today begins perhaps CCHOG's biggest Utica endeavor yet:  Analyses of the 2010 City of Utica Assessment Database. Residential assessments are made available for download today in an Excel Spreadsheet format. (If you do not have Excel, a free program that opens Excel spreadsheets is available from Commercial and Government properties will be presented soon.

Some people will find this data extremely interesting.

Thank you, Concerned Citizens for making this information available!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Big Government In a Small City . . .

Per the OD: Proposal regarding secondhand dealers irks Utica businesses
A proposal to license businesses that buy and sell second-hand merchandise was met with criticism Thursday by those who would be affected. 
 . . .  There also is a $750 annual fee involved. 
By requiring business owners to keep records of buyers and to hold inventory for roughly two weeks before selling it, and by regulating the hours of business, Hauck said the proposal was an attempt to cut off one of the ways stolen goods are sold.
“This is not trying to cut business,” he said. “This is not trying to hurt anybody.”
While the intent may not be to hurt anybody and to prevent the trafficking of stolen goods, the fact is that these "big government" style requirements will hurt many small business people.  Many small entrepreneurs cannot afford the $750 annual fee and do not have the means of dealing with extra paperwork.

Utica is the place in the region that is best suited to the small entrepreneur.  Placing additional burdens on them either puts them out of business . . . or pushes them over the city line into New Hartford or Whitestown.

Big Government in a small city simply does not work.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Bad Habit . . .

Bad habits are hard to break.  Ask any smoker trying to quit.  Governments have bad habits, too . . . Like the addiction to suburban development at the expense of cities, exemplified in today's OD story Increased Access to New Hartford Business Park.

How strange is it that our state transportation leaders are considering more access off a state highway in New Hartford, and LESS access in the City of Utica.  If this cannot be seen as a prime cause of urban sprawl, then our leaders are not looking.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Parochial" Planning in New Hartford?

The Observer Dispatch gets it wrong again with its editorial Our view: New Hartford should rescind planning law - AT ISSUE: Pick board members based on what they know, not where they live

The editors at the OD have proclaimed the Town of New Hartford's 1996 law which requires the Town’s Planning Board to include a member from the villages of New Hartford and New York Mills as being "simply bad policy" because:
* Planning board members should be appointed based on what they know, not where they live in the town. . . . 
* Parochial appointments to municipal boards make no sense. . . . 
While having knowledgeable members could be a plus, planning board work is not "rocket science" and does not demand any particular expertise.  What it demands are dedicated members who are willing to put in the time to educate themselves about the issues . . . and people who are not afraid to think for themselves.

In a Town as diverse as New Hartford, guaranteed membership from the Villages makes PERFECT sense.  "Here's why:"
* Village residents reside in densely populated areas with an older public infrastructure when compared with the rest of the Town.  The needs of Village residents are, thus, distinctly different from the unincorporated areas of the Town.
* Village residents subsidize most of the Town's operations because Village residents get their services directly through their villages, yet have to pay the Town to provide the same services for other Town residents.  For example, Village residents pay the Village to plow their own streets, but have to pay the Town to plow the Town's roads.
The Planning Board determines which projects get built in the Town, impacting the demand for Town services. As the demand for duplicative Town services increases, Village residents' subsidy of Town services increases. Village residents should have a voice in determining those projects they subsidize. In addition, projects in outlying areas of the Town are often sprawl, drawing people and economic activity out of the Villages. Fewer people in the Villages causes higher taxes in the Villages because their infrastructure is already built and does not shrink with decreasing population.

The Parochialism complained of . . . is really on the part of the OD editors . . . They invariably take the viewpoint that favors further development in the Town.

Until the OD editors understand that the denser-populated areas (Utica and the Villages)  have been subsidizing development in unincorporated Town areas for the last 50 years, they will continue to back bad public policy decisions -- such as the proposal to remove the village resident requirement.

Speaking about New Hartford, New Hartford Online has an update on the New Hartford Business Park. Guess what? More taxpayer subsidies!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Netbooks in School . . .

Just a couple comments on MLK school in Utica distributing netbooks to all students

First, they can be a distraction from the essential learning that must take place in the elementary years. One school district in the Syracuse area already tried something similar with laptops, and abandoned the project.

Second, they are conditioning students to become dependent on electronic media for their knowledge rather than print media. Electronic media can be easily changed as anyone familiar with "find and replace" commands in writing software can attest. Are we setting up our children for government manipulation?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Like a Print by Currier and Ives . . .

Millers Mills had their annual ice harvest today. If it weren't for all the modern video recording and photo equipment people were packing, you would think it was 1895! After watching all the work to cut and haul the ice blocks from Unadilla Lake, you won't take modern refrigeration for granted any more.
[Click on the photos to view other sizes or to download]

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Where Did the Trillion$$$$ Go?

Alan Grayson may have redeemed himself with this episode where he questions the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve . . .
Clip courtesy of the "Daily Bail"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Griffiss: Oneida County's Big Mistake

Tonight's OD: Officials debate how to maximize Griffiss International Airport

The decision to move the county airport from the Whitestown airfield was, quite simply, wrong.  It made absolutely no sense to think that a region of declining population could support a significantly larger facility . . . But the lure of available Federal grants to spend proved irresistible . . . which lead to a disastrous decision.

Now we are stuck subsidizing a facility that too big for our needs . . . the cost of which contributes to our high rate of taxation . . . which taxation deters businesses from setting up shop here without all kinds of government "incentives" . . . with the cost of the incentives further contributing to our high rate of taxation . . . As the 19th highest taxed county in the Nation based on the percent of home value paid in taxes, this will not end well for us.

The significant investments already made in the airport seem to become justification for exacting even more money from the taxpayers . . . to hopefully buy that one thing that will make everything work out alright.

Oneida County seems to be in a death spiral that it cannot get out of. Hopefully our officials will figure out a way to make the most out of their Big Mistake. . . before we crash.


From the Sentinel: ‘No-no Nano’ except in Albany? Locals touting Marcy sure hope not
Ken Adams, the new governor’s pick to oversee economic development, said recently the state needs to re-evaluate its strategy to avoid the "political fantasy" that every region can attract any employer or industry it may desire. He specifically cited nanotechnology . . .
"We need to be viewed in an entirely different light, if we want to attract investments from other states and other countries," said Adams. "And that means being very clear that the Capital Region, for example, is the official home for nanoscale science. Period. If someone comes along and says ‘ want to do nanoscale science in Syracuse,’ they should be taken out to the wood shed. You can’t do it."

Let's stop the POLITICIANS' fantasy that ANY region -- including the Capital District -- can have "economic development" subsidized on the taxpayer's dime!

It simply is not fair that the taxpayers in Buffalo, Syracuse and Utica should be forced to prop-up a computer chip plant and the nanotechnology industry in Albany.

The government has no business picking winners and losers . . . Whether it is one city or region over another . . . or one company over another . . . or one industry sector over another.

Give us taxpayers ALL a break by ending the special "economic development" programs, ending the tax incentives, ending the infrastructure subsidies, and firing all the so-called "economic development" officials that we have. The programs, incentives, subsidies and officials are all GOVERNMENT, and it is too much GOVERNMENT that is driving people and businesses away.

Less is More.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Reminding We . . .

Utica's new congressman took the opportunity a week ago to mark his first month in office with an editorial in the Observer Dispatch - Guest view: Our nation is ‘at the tipping point’.

Predictably, he is being hit in the "comments" section of the article on-line for his vote to repeal Obamacare because, for some, the idea of another federal entitlement is just fine. However, the whole point of last November's election result was the fact that the majority of voters do not approve of more government involvement in their lives and the out-of-control spending that Obamacare would bring. Voting for Republicans was the only way for many voters to voice their displeasure with their government's direction . . . not that the voters actually supported the things that many Republicans were proposing to do.
What we cannot do is tax, borrow, and spend our way into prosperity. Government spending is a drain on real consumption and investment. Your money is best left in your hands; the government is not entitled to your money simply because the government makes poor decisions and its costs go up.
The congressman's view that money is best left in private hands -- that more money going to the government winds up being lost in poor decisions -- is right on the mark.

He is correct when he says . . .
" . . . I also believe we are at a tipping point in this country . . ."
However, he also says . . .
"We are deluding ourselves if we believe that we are somehow entitled to a higher standard of living than the rest of the world. We must make better choices and aggressively prepare our children to compete in the new global economy. We can do that through putting an increased emphasis on education."

Are "we" delusional? Do "we" believe we are entitled to a higher standard of living than the rest of the world? Have "we" made poor choices? Do "we" need to be more aggressive? Do "we" need the federal government to educate us?

Just whom is this "we"?

While there will always be those in our society, rich and poor alike, who have a sense of "entitlement," that is not the traditional American view. This country was founded by "rugged individualists." Our society expected "self-reliance," not government reliance . . . and certainly not government being used to further private interests. We expected our government to protect us, but to otherwise leave us alone. Our society's value of the individual was crystalized in our Constitution's acknowledgement that we have individual freedoms which come from God, that we are the source of the government's power, and that the power we gave to government was limited to certain enumerated things that individuals cannot do for themselves, but which are necessary to protect our individual freedoms -- such as provide for the national defense and regulate commerce.

If we developed a higher standard of living than most of the rest of the world, it is because we, as individuals, had the ability to earn it. How? We had the freedom to do it! Our freedoms allowed and encouraged us to work harder, be more productive, and be more innovative. Our government did not mollycoddle us with a lot of entitlements which reduce productivity in other countries (e.g, the short work weeks, early retirements, and month long vacation shut-downs common in Europe).  Our government did its part, however, by protecting our freedoms from those who would destroy them, whether they be foreign or domestic, and whether by force or by economic means.

If our national standard of living seems threatened, perhaps it is because the national government has failed to do the limited job we gave it to do. Perhaps it has failed to properly regulate interstate commerce by allowing some companies to become "to big to fail" . . . or to become so large that their economic power rivals that of government with the capability of crushing individual efforts. Perhaps it has failed to properly regulate foreign commerce, placing economic theory and a "global" perspective above preserving an environment where individual citizens can find productive activities to engage themselves in. Perhaps it has spent too much and become too indebted to foreign interests which do not share our value of individual freedoms, thereby placing our freedoms at risk through economic means. Perhaps the federal government has become too involved in things it was never intended to be involved in . . . such as education, using federal tax money to turn our schools into social service centers, create student "rights" that undermine parental rights, control large blocks of voters with grant-funded jobs, and promote a national "agenda" above the individual.

The "we" that brought our nation to its "tipping point" are those who have been designated as our policy makers, whether they are in the legislative, executive or judicial branches of government.  . . . "We the People" just need to remind them of that.

US Sides with Russia Against Britain?

I just don't know what to make of this . . .

WikiLeaks cables: US agrees to tell Russia Britain's nuclear secrets

Throw our friends under the bus to make peace with our enemies?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Getting Federal Government Under Control . . .

A couple of stories in the OD tonight with local impact give some hope that the Federal Government cannot do just anything it wants.

Ruling could block future NYRIs
A lawsuit filed in 2007 by the local organization Communities Against Regional Interconnects (CARI), along with other groups from across the nation, has now taken down the federal law that once gave NYRI a fighting chance.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled Tuesday the U.S. Department of Energy had wrongly created “corridors” in which the federal government could trump state law on power-line siting. There were several such corridors designated across the nation.
The court said the Department of Energy did not properly consult the states where the corridors would be located and failed to do environmental reviews of the corridors.
It's one thing to regulate interstate commerce. It's quite another to force it to take place in one's backyard. . . . But isn't the 9th Circuit the one that is most often reversed?

Changes to Map of Oneida Nation reservation reversed
Changes to the U.S. Census maps that increased the Oneida Indian Nation’s reservation from 32 acres to more than 300,000 acres have been reversed, the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed Thursday. . . . 
It turned out that in a routine Census map updating process in 2010, the Nation had requested that the boundaries of its reservation be redrawn to show the full extent of its original reservation, which was established in 1794.
While the Oneidas may be outraged that the map change has been reversed, most of the public was outraged when the change was surreptitiously made . . . and now we find out at the Nation's mere request.  These things impact people.  If changes should be made, the process for making them should be transparent.