Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Limits of Tolerance . . .

Diversity is America's strength. Tolerance makes it work.
But tolerance has its limits...

Three stories from The Blaze this past week illustrate how this worked for one New York State Senator:
Where does one draw the line between tolerance and political correctness? 
What should one do when that line is crossed?

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold 
is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
..........    Thomas Jefferson 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

OMH Disses West Utica . . .

... while Being its Most Prominent Slumlord!

Per WUTR last Friday: MVPC Brigham Building tour sparks controversy; some say public is being shut out
Some of the Utica City Council members were told they would be getting a tour of the facility this afternoon. Upon their arrival, they were told the tour was cancelled and they'd have to leave the premises immediately, otherwise we'd be forcibly removed.
Per an exchange of e-mails secured by Fault Lines, Councilman Vescera arranged with Gov. Cuomo's Regional Representative, Charles "Sonny" Greco, for a tour by three parties of the Brigham Building on the Office of Mental Health's MVPC campus on Friday, September 21st at 4PM. Mr. Greco made it very clear that a head count was needed, and that all tour participants were to "come prepared with hard hats, steel toed boots, and flashlights or he/she will not be permitted on the tour."

It's not clear from the story above what went wrong, but the prospective tourists were denied access in rather blunt terms. Did the tourists follow the rules? Did too many people show up?  No explanation is apparent.

Formerly a cornerstone of West Utica with a lot of good-paying jobs, the MV Psych Center has shed almost all of its employees over the years, recently closing its last ward. The hulking abandoned buildings, boarded up and with broken windows are unsightly. Additionally many former residents on the margins of the bell-curve of social behavior have taken up residence near by. The triple whammy of job-removal, slum-like buildings, and significant numbers of people with behavioral problems has contributed to the decline of the West Utica neighborhood.

The City of Utica, for the most part, has allowed all this to occur for years with nary a wimper of complaint.

However, as defective as the City's new Master Plan is, the Plan recognizes the importance of the Psych Center both to the neighborhood's current state as well as to it's potential renaissance. The Master Plan calls for the City and State to come up with a redevelopment plan where the campus could host private facilities as well as ones owned by the state ... much like the Harriman Campus in the western part of Albany.

The fact that developers are showing an interest in the Brigham Building is a good sign for Utica, and the planned tour was to be an aid in potentially redeveloping the site.

The State needs to do its part.  While it won't acknowledge its role in West Utica's decline, it could at least cooperate with those who are trying to build the area up.

State officials need to remember what is stated at the bottom of each of Mr.  Greco's e-mails: 

Monday, September 24, 2012

DOT Ignores West Utica

... While Bulldozing its way through it!

Per YNN: Stakeholders give feedback about Arterial
Utica and the Department of Transportation are in the final stages of planning the $62 million North-South Arterial project. ... And to help them decide on the finishing touches, the D.O.T has pulled together a stake holders committee. . . .
It's a committee of 17 people who represent numerous organizations throughout the city, including the police and fire departments, Holy Trinity Church, the Chamber of Commerce and even the historical society. Their responsibility is to give feedback, specifically about the aesthetics.
But just who does DOT think are the real stakeholders? Check out DOT's list at left. Where are the people who live within a couple of blocks of the arterial who will have to walk out of their way to see their neighbors? Where are the businesses along the arterial (the ones not getting special treatment such as a parking lot) whose customers may get lost trying to find their shops after the arterial is finished?

DOT ignores the people and businesses most affected, while giving a seat at the table to "regional" groups such as the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce and Genesis.

And where is the City on this?  It's with the regional groups rather than its own residents!

Until government starts paying attention to how its actions affect individual people and businesses, economic activity will continue to be taken elsewhere.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

More Public-Private "Partnerships" ? ...

. . . or more Giveaways of Public (Taxpayer) Money to Private Parties?

SUNYIT organization would help local manufacturers 
The new Center for Global Advanced Manufacturing will provide computer programs and other tools such manufacturers might not be able to afford on their own, so the businesses can better develop new products.
“Many small manufacturers here say low access to newer tools and processes keep them from being even greater,” said College President Bjong Wolf Yeigh at the Friday announcement. “Our aim is to provide the resource.”
In New York, we have about the highest tax burden in the country . . . but the taxpayer can still be tapped to subsidize private companies.  

 I would argue that this violates the NYS Constitution, but the Court of Appeals does not seem to care (too bad the judges are no longer elected). Regardless, some people will get help and others will not.  Those who do not get help -- including those who do not seek it -- are placed at a competitive disadvantage to their peers that get the help.  The government, essentially, picks winners and losers.  

This moves us in the direction of state-capitalism ... sort of like the old Soviet Union. . . . and we all should remember how well that turned out.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Saga of the New Hartford Town Library Continues . . .

. . . as does the attitude problem of some employees and trustees.

The impression is that they do not care about those who are paying for their "private club."

Read about it on New Hartford Online Blog: New Hartford Public Library Trustee Meeting on Sept. 19, 2012

Underperforming Upstate . . .

An article was published in Business Insider this past week listing "The 11 Worst-Performing Cities in America."

Isn't it odd that the author chose to list 11 instead of 10?  Perhaps it was to avoid having the article over-emphasize New York since Upstate New York cities comprise four out of the "top"  (or should I say "bottom") worst-performing cities.  Those cities are Albany #4, Buffalo #5, Syracuse #9, and Poughkeepsie #10.

Albany is rather interesting being the worst in  NY considering the literally 100s of Millions of taxpayer dollars spent promoting nano-tech there.  I guess pouring tons of tax dollars into supporting private businesses just doesn't raise everyone's boat.

And before popping champagne corks over Utica not being listed, Utica-Rome Metro was not even considered because this area is no longer among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in population.

Considering that other "old" metro areas in the Northeast such as Boston and Worscester, MA are doing quite well should strongly suggest that the problem is rooted in NYS policies.

For detailed information on which areas are doing well and which are not check the interactive map on Brookings Metro Monitor September 2012.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Local jerky, country store to expand, relocate
Mohawk Valley EDGE presented Jodi-Lynn Patla, owner of Joe’s Jerky and Nonnie’s Country Store, a check for $32,500 last week to assist in the manufacturing expansion and retail relocation of her businesses.
Dependency  on government ... and government competing with local banks.  That's what's going on here . . . NOT economic development.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Suspicion Confirmed!

A week ago it was interesting to see a photo of Oneida County Executive Tony Picente standing with Oneida County majority leader George Joseph tagged "Friends of" the Orange County Candidate who is running against Claudia Tenney, the Assemblywoman from New Hartford in Thursday's Primary (9/13/12).

Well now it has been confirmed by the campaign flyer at left that Tony Picente has actually endorsed Ms. Tenney's opponent.

I don't know what axe Mr. Picente has to grind with Ms. Tenney, but his endorsement of someone from entirely out of the area requires some explaining.

Undoubtedly there are deep philosophical differences between Mr. Picente and Ms. Tenney with the former being a big government/spender type (Airport, NanoCenter), and the latter a conservative.  But to say through his endorsement that someone from over 100 miles away from New Hartford can better represent that Town (and the Town of Paris next door) than someone who actually resides in New Hartford is plain nonsense.  It appears that Mr. Picente cannot put his personal agenda aside for what is best for the area.

And we wonder why we have no clout?

Perhaps a comparison of the two candidates better explains Mr. Picente's endorsement.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Could Not Have Said It Better Myself . . .

So I will simply post a link to Bobby Sullivan's post about Vescera, The Common Council, and Freedom in City Hall!

Buying STEM Majors?

Hanna proposes college tax credit
 U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna was at SUNYIT Thursday promoting a bill he crafted that would provide a tax credit for students in science, technology, engineering and math.
“We have to acknowledge that this country has to step up and formally encourage people to do the things we say they should be doing,” Hanna said.
The last I checked it costs the same to get a degree in biology as it does in art. And we make up for our lack of STEM majors in the workplace by importing them from usually poorer countries such as India. Therefore, a lack of money does not seem to be the cause of so few people going into STEM majors ... so why should this solve the problem?

If this program does, somehow, encourage more to go into STEM areas, are they the type of students who really have the interest and aptitude for it?  Or are they just going for the money?  How effective will they be in the workplace?  Will they be happy?

I think this whole approach is wrong and, in an era when the Federal Government borrows 40 cents out of every dollar, incredibly wasteful.  This only benefits the higher education lobby and not the population at large.

Why are other countries more successful at recruiting STEM students?

Answer that question and you will know whether this program is appropriate or not. I suspect that you will find curriculum differences in K-12 education that have created the problem.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Marcy NanoCenter in the Balance - Part 2

. . . or "Why government shouldn't play entrepreneur" . . .

Yesterday's OD had an article The Marcy nano site: what now? That's a good question!

While this blogger  believes that EDGE is correct in that its site should be permitted, EDGE is dealing with administrative agencies (Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency) whose missions, protecting the environment, produce natural inclinations to expand their jurisdictions, prohibit everyone from doing anything, and force all who disagree to go through litigation where the deck is stacked against them. Even when a victory limiting an agency is won, as in the 2006 Rapanos Decision, it is often after a great toll, and what the victory actually means on the ground may still be unclear. These inclinations have only increased under the current administration in Washington where Executive Orders and guidance documents have pushed the limits of the law.

Prudent investors simply avoid getting involved with such situations.

But we are not dealing with prudent investors.  We are dealing with EDGE and Oneida County involving tax dollars, governmental power, and strong personalities. The wetlands issue has been known since 2001. Where private investors would long ago have insisted upon a permit before spending another dime, we continued to send our people around the world, build infrastructure, confiscate private farmland, and make plans for a chip-fab that may never come.

Of course we could always get lucky and have a manufacturer come here that is willing to deal with the ACE issue, but what is the chance of that when they can go anywhere in the world?

Surprising for an administrative decision, the Army Corps of Engineers described Marcy NanoCenter as a "build it and they will come"  project. That was derisive. If past is prologue, and consistent with other County-led efforts such as the Airport, the Sewer District and the Water Authority, we'll continue to dig in our heels, make things even "bigger" and "better," marginalize those who disagree with us as naysayers, and create a "too big to fail"  situation that requires another level of government to step in.

I propose skipping all the local taxpayer-sapping interim steps and bring in another level of government now.

EDGE and the County need to turn this problem over to Big Guns who are better equipped to deal with the Federal government and have as much, if not more, at stake:  the State of New York.  The State, after all, certainly talks a good game of being "open for business," has big plans for SUNYIT, and hangs its hat on a high tech future.  SEMI-NY was a State initiative. The State designated Marcy NanoCenter as one of its key development sites.  The State supposedly has economic development expertise.  The State has environmental expertise, has working relationships with the Federal environmental agencies, and even has a potential to assume some of the federal authority in certain circumstances.   Marcy NanoCenter is beyond local capabilities to pull off.

That done,  the county needs to discontinue its "entrepreneur" approach to "economic development." That is the responsibility of the private sector.  Instead, the county needs to focus on its job of governing in a manner that  ensures taxpayers get value for their dollars.

Well-run, competent, and efficient government will be the region's best economic development incentive.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Interesting . . .

The Oneida County Executive and the Oneida County Majority Leader are pictured at left with the Orange County challenger to the local candidate for State Assembly.

Interesting ...

Also interesting is the story of the Oneida County candidate that was published recently in the Colgate University newspaper.

Maybe it's just my imagination, but . . .

doesn't it seem that our local leaders fear those who may know more than they . . . and will even throw the region under the bus to shut those with different ideas up to protect their own turf?