Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dealing with the Devil?

WKTV: Remington Arms to manufacture rifles for the country of Oman
Congressman Richard Hanna (R-24) confirmed the announcement to NEWSChannel 2 Thursday evening...
Hanna said, "The expertise and quality of Remington and their centuries of experience are clearly recognized not only by our own men and women in uniform who depend on their products to keep them safe on the front lines, but also nations around the world."
Oman?? What is the likelihood that at some point these arms will be used against our own people?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

TWC: Dissing Customers! and Catholics!

Not Getting What You Paid For?  Stations missing from that fancy 55" flat screen digital TV that you recently bought?  You are not alone!

It is really disturbing that in the middle of a presidential campaign ... and just as two local saints are being canonized ... Time Warner Cable chooses to futz with C-Span and EWTN (along with several other channels) to make them unavailable to customers who are paying for them unless they go to Time Warner to get an additional piece of equipment!  (To add insult to injury, you have to install the equipment yourself.)

I cannot say that I was not warned that something was going to change on 10/10.  I got a letter dated 9/4/12 from Mike Munley, President of Residential Services, indicating that if I wanted to continue viewing these channels "on additional direct-connect analog TVs (and similar devices)" I could request, for a limited time, a Digital Adapter -- free of charge through November, 2013, and then 99 cents/mo. thereafter. But I do not have an analog TV... and my flat screen technological marvel is not similar. Why should I need a digital adapter for a digital set?  Well it's been 10 days and several digital channel scans and still no C-Span and no EWTN ... but now I get several heretofore undelivered Syracuse stations (which carry the same networks as Utica stations) and a duplication of stations found elsewhere on the dial.

I can understand TWC wanting to conserve bandwidth so it can deliver even more trashy channels that I won't watch, but with all the duplication, this is obviously not about conserving bandwidth. And since all new TVs are digital but still require the adapter, it's not about going digital.   It's about forcing you to use a box, for which you will eventually pay a monthly fee, on every set in your house.

I thought we ditched set-top boxes back in the 1980s!

If I have to use a box/adapter/whatever, and waste the digital tuning technology in my new TV -- or pay for stations that I cannot receive --  then I might as well look at alternatives like Dish, DirecTV, or FIOS which require a box for everything.   In the meantime, I intend to complain to the authorities:  each local municipality from which TWC must receive a franchise before doing business ... state agencies ... Why stop there? This could go even higher: to  the Bishop ... or the Pope!

Mr. Munley claims TWC is "committed to bringing you ... high-quality entertainment" and that "We appreciate your business ..." but TWC just made 2 high-quality stations inaccessible without special equipment ... and I do not feel appreciated.  Frankly, I'm disgusted. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Remaking Genesee Street . . .

I couldn't let this topic go without a comment since I touched upon it a couple years ago . . .

While Genesee Street is in bad need of a make-over, and FREE (not the proposed- pay-station) parking is needed near business places, preferably right on the street, for them to compete with their suburban peers, the idea of a median down the middle seems wrong-headed.

A median will destroy Genesee Street's special character. That street's width, combined with it cutting diagonally across other streets and the long view-shed from Smith Hill to Oneida Square creates a unique urban environment that is beautiful and prominently displays iconic pieces of architecture.  The wide views give a feeling that one is in a place of importance. Indeed, it is our place for parades and important events.

A median would make Genesee St. feel more intimate -- more like a suburb. But people look to downtowns for excitement! The median will destroy the unique niche that only Genesee can fill.

That said, I like the idea of remaking Genesee St. without a median. Look at the Champs Elysée as a model. Reduction of traffic lanes should be done only if supported by a traffic study based on current traffic PLUS that which would be generated by full occupancy of existing buildings.  Pedestrians should be given the right of way in designated crosswalks between Franklin Sq. and Court St. On street parking should be increased with diagonal parking on at least one side if the lanes can be narrowed or both sides if lanes are eliminated.

But whatever is done a traffic study must support any proposed changes to lanes.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Fear, Smugness, Arrogance? ... or Dirty Trick?

From the Binghamton PressConnects: Email: Hanna threatened to end ads if station didn't drop debate plan.
Rep. Richard Hanna told WUTR-TV in Utica he would stop running campaign ads with the station unless it dropped plans to co-host a debate in which Hanna refused to participate, according to an e-mail written by the station’s general manager. WUTR’s Stephen Merren said Thursday he accidentally sent the e-mail recounting the conversation to the spokesman for Democratic candidate Dan Lamb.
From the Journal News' "Politics on the Hudson" blog:
WUTR, an ABC affiliate, had planned to co-host a debate with WSYR, also an ABC affiliate, that would be taped Friday and broadcast later in the month. The new district covers three TV media markets—Binghamton, Utica and Syracuse. Hanna declined to participate in the one-hour event, which the stations then shortened to a half-hour session with Lamb only. WUTR pulled out of the debate after Hanna’s phone call to Merren on Tuesday. On Thursday, WSYR also canceled plans for the debate. “We are going to have to back out of this taping on Friday and deal with our relationship with Congressman Hanna on our own,” Merren said in his Wednesday email, which described Hanna as “angry.”
Initial reaction to these stories may be outrage.  This certainly will give some pause for pulling the lever for Mr. Hanna.  Debates have become an American tradition.  Not participating in them could signal fear of not doing well . . . or smugness that one doesn't have to be bothered because polling suggests one is ahead. Whatever the interpretation, non-participation deprives voters of a side-by-side comparison. Avoidance of scrutiny by a public servant will be taken by many as arrogance.

But something else may be afoot here . . . 

WKTV is already hosting a debate (10/23/12 @ 5:30p). WUTR recently established a news organization that directly competes with WKTV.  It would be natural for WUTR to want to be able to offer its viewers a debate like its competitor.  But the Hanna-Lamb debate schedule is rather intensive (see the Lo-Hud article).  How many debates can the candidates be expected to engage in?  Could some of them have been combined? Did the new guy on the block, WUTR, simply insist on a debate that Mr. Hanna had no time for ... and then threaten to give Mr. Lamb an "empty chair" to debate with when WUTR didn't get its way -- to bully Mr. Hanna into acquiescing?  If you are a candidate and were pressured like that, wouldn't you threaten to pull yours ads? The media where these stories are running would not be aware of the media competition going on in Utica -- and would be sympathetic to local-candidate Mr. Lamb.

The Binghamton article leaves out the fact that the contestants are already scheduled to do a debate in the same market on WKTV.

Mr. Lamb seems awfully quick to accuse Mr. Hanna (in both articles) of "using his money to influence the journalistic decisions of a local news station."

We can only speculate on what really happened, but the "accidental" nature of the e-mail from Mr. Merren of WUTR to Mr. Lamb's campaign seems suspicious -- as does Mr. Lamb's quickly jumping on the situation.

Regardless, these stories require Mr. Hanna to clarify what happened . . . otherwise his constituents will speculate whether his actions represent fear, smugness, arrogance ... or the product of a dirty trick.