Thursday, December 26, 2013

Not the Only Reason . . .

In the Christmas edition of the OD: Less water used could mean higher prices paid suggests that
As more and more residents, who get their water from the Mohawk Valley Water Authority, buy water-efficient appliances, the authority is forced to look at continually raising rates. . . . 
"When I came here 16 years ago, the average customer, the whole household used 80,000 to 100,000 gallons a year," [MVWA Executive Director Patrick Becher] said. "That's down to 50,000 gallons a year. We've been seeing a two to three percent declined in actual water sales, which is troublesome because our costs don't go down to operate the system."
Undoubtedly there is some truth to Mr. Becher's assertion that water-efficient appliances contribute to a decline in demand.  But is Mr. Becher ignoring the "elephant" in the room -- the Oneida County Sewer District -- whose charges have caused the bottom lines of all of our quarterly water bills to balloon?

Since Mr. Becher does not control the County charges, he may be forgiven for overlooking their effect . . . but we homeowners cannot.  The County signed the Consent Order, the County determined that a new sewer interceptor and expansion of the Wastewater Treatment Plant were necessary for economic development, and the County passed ITS costs on to the water users.  When it costs a small fortune to water your lawn or garden, or wash your car, you stop doing those things, even in times of drought like we had during 2012.  When you can no longer afford your water-using business (due to rates/taxes/regulations etc.), you leave town. And demand for water drops.

Our local government is so fragmented functionally and geographically that the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing -- making it incapable of adequately responding to the needs of the average citizen or small business. For every action taken by one part there is a reaction elsewhere.

While the reason for the story seems to be a set up for higher water rates, the more likely motivation is MVWA's recent application to DEC (buried in the legal notices last week) to expand its service territory to include all of the Towns of Frankfort, Schuyler, Kirkland, and Westmoreland. We probably will hear that MVWA needs to do this to get new customers to offset the decline in demand. See (scroll down to multiple counties).  The comment period expires 1/17/14 -- just in time for Christmas, New Years, and the ML King holidays!  I'll post more on this later.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Innocent Victims . . .

$2 Million settlement reached in Longo lawsuit
A $2 million settlement has been reached to resolve the wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Utica stemming from police Investigator Joseph Longo's murder of his wife in 2009. . . .

The lawsuit stems from Longo's killing of his wife, Kristin Palumbo-Longo, before he stabbed himself to death Sept. 28, 2009, inside their Deerfield home on Cosby Manor Road.
Mr. Longo's actions left his 4 children motherless, fatherless, and without a means of support. This is a real tragedy. One's heart cannot help but to go out to the innocent victims, the children.

But now the Taxpayers of the City of Utica are somehow on the hook for $2 Million. That's over $30 for each resident, over $100 for each family.  How did this happen?   What did UPD do wrong?  UPD took Inv. Longo's guns. . . . UPD confined him to a desk job . . . UPD insisted on counseling . . . But the Longo family insists that UPD did "not do everything it could."  But what more could UPD have been done? What more was UPD obliged to do?

The article speaks of cronyism . . . but that's nothing new . . . or unusual in any government agency. How did cronyism cause these deaths?

The article suggests that UPD could have done an internal investigation regarding allegations of officer-involved domestic violence . . . But what would have been the outcome? How would that prevent what happened?

The article suggests a "fitness-for-duty psychiatric evaluation" . . . But how would that have changed things?  Assuming that Mr. Longo was unfit for duty, what would have been the result?  Discharge from his job?  How would that have helped the marital maelstrom seemingly at the center of this sad story?

Somehow the UPD is the target of the suit.  But the UPD was merely Mr. Longo's employer.  The crime occurred in Deerfield.  UPD has no jurisdiction in Deerfield.  Other police agencies cover Deerfield.  If someone feels that he or she is in danger from another person, and no satisfaction is obtained from the other person's employer, should not he or she have taken other measures of self-protection?

When does the Taxpayer become responsible for the criminal acts of another person?  

Perhaps the Mayor is right to have settled this suit.  With four innocent children, who knows what the outcome of a trial would have been.  The damages could potentially be a lot higher.  But does that not say something troubling about our legal system?

Utica Taxpayers did not cause the Palumbo-Longo dischord.  Utica Taxpayers did not cause Mr. Longo's mental state.  Utica Taxpayers did not give Mr. Longo the knife.  And Utica Taxpayers did not commit the stabbing.  But Utica Taxpayers are now forced to pay for this crime.

Evil created innocent victims here: The four children . . . And the Taxpayers of the City of Utica.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why I DON'T Believe in Common Core . . .

In the NY Daily News a couple days ago was an article "Why I Believe in the Common Core" by Brett Peiser, CEO of "Uncommon Schools."
"The parents of our students understand that, contrary to the criticisms levied by a small contingent of opponents of the Core, the new academic standards are about establishing and teaching the skills and knowledge our students need to be ready for college-level work - not about high-stakes testing. . . .

Our country ranks behind too many others in international rankings of math and reading proficiency. Our schools have simply not been preparing children for college well enough, and we all need to do better.

Common Core is part of that solution . . . Common Core challenges teachers and students to get to the "why" behind how things work. So, it's not just learning that 3 x 5 = 15, but how and why that is true. It's a chance for students to become deeper and more critical thinkers. . . .
What's wrong with asking a third grader to figure out multiple ways of solving 12 times 8 or 36 divided by 4? What's wrong with asking a seventh grader to write an essay comparing two similar newspaper articles and how each author approached the same topic? What's wrong with asking any student to cite the evidence behind their answer?"
Mr. Peiser has mastered word-smithing well. . . .  suggesting those in agreement have higher "understanding" while marginalizing the opposition as a "small contingent" focused on trivialities. . . . citing conditions and aspirations that no one disagrees with . . . and, with the reader hopefully roped-in, presenting Common Core as the salvation.

If you had to rely solely upon the contents of Mr. Peiser's "informational text" for data and had no independent knowledge to draw upon, you would probably think that you now know all you need to know about the issue and accept his position as true.  Of course, Mr. Peiser is banking on you being ignorant . . . and that should make you angry!  It would be easy to marginalize Mr. Peiser's article as a crock by someone in a position to gain financially . . . but that avoids the substance.

The bottom line is that we all want our students to be able to think critically . . . but can you have critical thinking without something to think critically about? 

In the past we equipped our students with a "storehouse of knowledge"  -- things most people could agree upon: math facts and basic skills, history of our country and the functions of its government, basic principles of science, geography, world history, etc. That "storehouse" is the substance of critical thinking -- but it is now dismissed by Common Core proponents as "rote learning."

Why teach 10 ways to do multiplication when one SIMPLE "tried and true" way works and, once mastered, comes up with the right answer every time? The end result of the new approach is that NO way is mastered -- and students don't know when they've come up with the wrong answer. How can there be "understanding" of math without that storehouse of knowledge including math facts?

If you know nothing, there is nothing to understand!

The evil here is Common Core's emphasis on performance rather than knowledge (The same was true for Outcome Based Education, the Regents' "higher" standards of the late 90s, and a bunch of other reforms). By depriving our students of that "storehouse of knowledge" held in common with each other and with older generations, communications with the older generation becomes difficult, communications among different disciplines becomes difficult. . . . And this makes it easy to reprogram students, and eventually a population, using "informational texts" for whatever is the ideology of the day.

Example: If you knew nothing about the ice ages, multiple advances and retreats of ice, geologic changes in sea levels, the Vikings farming of Greenland, etc., you would be less likely to be a skeptic, and more likely to accept the "consensus" than humans are causing climate change. Which scenario (the acceptance, or being a skeptic) best represents "critical thinking?"

What does Common Core fill student's heads with besides mindless exercises in processing information?
At our schools, we inspired our students to "show what you know" on test day. Our students discussed Michael Jordan's career and how often he failed on his road to success, and that he was never deterred. Our students loved coming to school in Michael Jordan T-shirts during the exams. As the week wore on, one of our third graders wrote in a reflection about the challenging questions: "I just knew I wasn't going to give up."

Michael Jordan's career might be inspirational and give students something to talk or write about, but it is trivial in the larger scheme of things and spending a week on it is a waste of time.  It is not the "knowledge" the students will need to succeed in the future . . . and not the knowledge that society needs to maintain itself and help it to evolve in the future as new challenges arise.  

"Critical thinking" is "wisdom" . . . which comes with age and cannot be taught.  Common Core teaches the mimicry of wisdom while withholding the substance of it: knowledge.  

If you care about the next generation and the well-being of the nation, you will fight implementation of Common Core.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Flying High - - But Not Here . . .

From Aviation Week: Million Air Expanding Facilities, But Refuses To Grow At All Costs
". . . the newest FBO to join the chain is a facility at Orlando Sanford International Airport. The facility is operated by Freeman Holdings Group, the ninth Freeman location in the Million Air chain. Freeman CEO Scott Freeman calls the Million Air addition a strategic move for the company that operators facilities stretching from California to New York. . . . As part of the addition, the facility is undergoing a $3.5 million renovation that including stripping the facility’s 10,000-ft. attached hangar down to the structural steel and rebuilding. The 7,000-sq.-ft. terminal building is also undergoing upgrades that will include some of the Million Air-standard features, along with a range of amenities such as a theater, flight planning room and executive conference room."
Wow . . . that's lots of money . . . and a theater? and an executive conference room? Think Mr. Freeman will be doing this at Griffiss?

Well, as the headline says, Million Air "refuses to grow at all costs."  Million Air's CEO Roger Woolsey says:
"“If you overpay for your property, you can’t make money ... or you charge ridiculous fuel prices.”"
With its highest sales tax, Oneida County is already behind the curve on keeping Million Air's fuel prices low.  How are other costs at Griffiss compared to elsewhere?  There is a special utility company there that pays some lush salaries for a small operation.  Are its costs lower?

If it costs too much to do business here, the customers . . . and business expenditures to attract them . . . will go elsewhere.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two Videos, Two Lessons . . .

The first video is by M.J.McDermott, a meteorologist for Channel 13 in Seattle, entitled "Elementary School Math, An Inconvenient Truth." Ms. McDermott does a good job explaining multiplication and division algorithms, comparing the tried-and-true algorithms most of us post-40 year-olds  learned with new algorithms being used in schools today.  Pay close attention to her revelation near the end of the video of comments made in the teacher's manuals by the book publishers.

The second video is by Karen Bracken affiliated with Tenesee Against Common Core, entitled "Common Core - Subversive Threat to Education." In this hour-long presentation she explains the historical context of Common Core, who is behind it, and its links or potential links to the United Nations, eugenics, and the UN's concept of "sustainability." Before dismissing this as an attack on the current administration, look at the "Who's who" revealed at 0:19:20.  Some names may surprise you (and, perhaps, you will no longer be surprised why Republicans often attack the Tea Party).

And before you dismiss the second video as a wild conspiracy theory, go back to the first video and ask yourself why students are studying inefficient algorithms that are never mastered, and then told to use a calculator?

After watching the second video, you will know the answer.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Honesty . . .

"We all knew. . ."
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

So if you all knew, Ms. Gillibrand, that a promise was being made that could not be kept, why the silence?

Since no one was listening to Republicans, why did the Democrats go along with the lie that was being perpetrated?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Did Our Sheriffs Really Write This Drivel?

OD: GUEST VIEW: New preschool plan can boost pre-K, cut crime By ROBERT MACIOL, CHRISTOPHER FARBER and ALLEN RILEY
We’re talking about children as young as 4 years old who don’t have the opportunity to participate in high-quality preschool. As a result, many start school without the pre-literacy and pre-math skills that form the foundation for academic success, and with behavioral issues that make it difficult for them to interact well with other kids in the classroom. Many then struggle in the early grades and continue to fall behind and eventually drop out of school before turning to crime. . . . Participation in high-quality preschool puts kids on a different path. . . . [emphasis supplied]
I don't know about you, but this does not sound like anything our sheriffs wrote . . . but I could be wrong.  The language used sounds suspiciously similar to that in Congressman Hanna's announcement a few days ago.

But that is not the interesting part.  

The sheriffs cite a slickly-produced report called "I'm The Guy You Pay Later"  which makes the simple argument to pay for preschool education now or pay to incarcerate people later.  The report comes from a group calling itself Fight Crime: Invest in Kids .

 Who funds this "national, bipartisan, non-profit, anti-crime organization?"
"Major funding for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is provided by: Alliance for Early Success • The California Education Policy Fund • The California Endowment • The California Wellness Foundation • Annie E. Casey Foundation • Robert Sterling Clark Foundation • Early Childhood Investment Corporation • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation • The Grable Foundation • Grand Victoria Foundation • The George Gund Foundation • Hagedorn Foundation • Irving Harris Foundation • Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation • W.K. Kellogg Foundation • The Kresge Foundation • McCormick Foundation • Ohio Children’s Foundation • The David and Lucile Packard Foundation • William Penn Foundation • The Pew Charitable Trusts • Pritzker Early Childhood Foundation • Rauch Foundation • Dr. Scholl Foundation • W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation."
Of course, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stands out because it is one of the key players behind the "Common Core."  We are all just finding out how "well-researched" that was!  This seems to be more of the same.  How clever, though, to get local law enforcement behind extending federal control over our schools.

It's not about education or crime-prevention, folks. It's about cradle-to-grave federal control over your children. . . or should I say control by our national elites.

It's too bad that our local sheriffs seemed to have been sucked into this power play.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spending OUR Money -- to Advance THEIR Agendas . . .

Two articles in tonight's OD on very different subjects have something in common:

Mohawk Valley Water Authority receives $112,500 to do study
The Mohawk Valley Water Authority has received more than $100,000 in order to study water in western Mohawk Valley. . . . The authority received $112,500 total for the study through the Local Government Efficiency grants administered by the New York Department of State.
MVWA is a water purveyor, it is not a regional planning organization. MVWA is also a "power broker" in the region, using its base of rate payers in Utica and environs to give a gift of public water to those in outlying areas that MVWA and the regional elite deem worthy, enriching chosen developers at existing water users' expense.  Empirically MVWA has an agenda to expand its sphere of influence, regardless of the negative impacts of the sprawl it induces (an inefficient distribution of urbanization and lowered population densities that mandate increased per capita costs (more taxes and more fees) at various jurisdictional levels to support expanding areas of infrastructure and services).

Water is where Nature put it and it is still where it always has been. Local water supplies were studied to the nth degree back in 1968 (when our regional population was booming and water scarcity was looming) and a plan was crafted by Oneida and Herkimer Counties, in conjunction with the NYS Department of Health, which specified which localities would get water from which resources. Any studies of water needs today should be done by these same entities.

Money given to MVWA "to study water in western Mohawk Valley" is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house: it will undoubtedly produce a report to justify whatever agenda MVWA has.

Hanna sponsor of bill to increase preschool funding
. . . the Strong Start for America’s Children Act would give children and families nationwide better access to affordable high-quality early learning programs such as Head Start and preschool. . . “By focusing on early education, we can begin to break the back of intergenerational poverty, producing more taxpayers and a more competitive America through a better-educated, growing middle class,” Hanna said in a news release. “One in four children starts their life in poverty. This bill will help ensure their lives do not end in poverty."
The problem with Mr. Hanna's position is that he assumes lots of facts that are not in evidence. What is "affordable" and "high quality" to Progressives like Mr. Hanna likely will be something else to the everyday taxpayer.  After years of spending money on "Head Start," at best the results have been equivocal, as explained in a recent Washington Post article which is clearly sympathetic to the program.  So why do we continue with such programs when they do not produce material, easily recognized and lasting positive results?

Such programs, like all the spending on "Race to the Top"  to implement the "Common Core" 'standards,' are there to advance a Federal Agenda. . . . which is not education but control over the minds and hearts of the next generation. This is evidenced by the "rollout" of "Common Core" and the content of modules to be used in classrooms. It has long been accepted that power over education was left by our Founding Fathers to the States. . . . but the Feds have used the power of the purse (OUR tax money) to advance national education policies which have, thus far, produced disastrous results.

Mr. Hanna, who likes to paint himself as a fiscal conservative, is anything but . . . and his sponsorship of this bill is sponsorship of more federal intrusion into our everyday lives.

11/14 Update: National Review Online: Don't Look to the Feds for Pre-School Jennifer Garner's star power boosts Rep. Richard Hanna's early childhood education bill

Monday, October 28, 2013

Common Core: The PREQUEL . . .

Charlotte was not like the other bureaucrats.  She was only supposed to be a place-holder in President Reagan's US Dept. of Education until the department would be eliminated -- which never happened. While there she was shocked to find documents detailing federal plans to control the hearts and minds of our school children, leading to the ultimate goal of a planned economy.  She went public years ago with her findings, but received scant attention.

Implementation of the Common Core, which appears to be the culmination of 40 years of planning, brings new immediacy to Charlotte's discovery.

I found the interview below compelling, and well worth the 1 1/4 hr spent watching it.

Charlotte Iserbyt Interview - The Secret History of Western Education (1 1/4 hr)

For more information:
Charlotte's Book: The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shooting the Messenger . . .

NYS Education Commissioner John King must resign . . . at least that is the cry from many parents and teachers and the group "New York State Allies for Public Education" after Dr. King cancelled all of the remaining public forums dealing with the "Common Core" following the one marked by controversy in Poughkeepsie.

While the groundswell may make those calling for the Commissioner's resignation feel a sense of collective power, especially in light of the Commissioner's poor judgement in cancelling the forums, it is doubtful that it will change anything. Dr. King is a minion. At best, Dr. King will simply be replaced with someone else who pushes the same agenda, but with more finesse.  Dr. King may be the face of Common Core in New York, but he did not invent it and did not make it a requirement in New York's schools.

Give your thank-yous to the Board of Regents who "committed" the state to Common Core in January 2010! Also thank the Obama and Cuomo administrations for the "Race to the Top" in which Common Core is the centerpiece.

The Federal grant money is in the State bag and the Common Core is the string attached.

Focus on ridding the State of the Common Core, rather than the Commissioner.

Consider replacing it with the approach taken by "Core Knowledge,"  which is closer to the style of education in the past.   While this, too, has its critics, the approach has already worked, creating the most prosperous society the world had ever seen. The debate will then be over what "knowledge" will be transmitted to the next generation . . .  but at least it will be out there on the table for all to see, instead flying in under the radar of "performance" standards.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Common Core: Too Hot In the Kitchen . . .

YNN Hudson Valley: Parents raise concerns over Common Core standards New York’s education commissioner gets an earful on Common Core [video]

Apparently shortly afterward, the State Ed. Commissioner cancelled the remaining Town Hall Meetings on Common Core, including the one scheduled for October 30th in New Hartford.

According to a post on the NYS PTA Facebook page this morning:
While our goal was to provide an opportunity to learn and share, based on review of the initial October 10 meeting, the Commissioner concluded the outcome was not constructive for those taking the time to attend. Please know that NYS PTA will continue to work with all education and child advocacy partners to keep our members updated and informed on education, health, safety and welfare issues affecting children and families.
My guess is the "sharing" was anticipated to go one way -- and did so for well over an hour -- but the parents insisted on "sharing" what was on their mind when it was their turn, and were in no mood to give the Commissioner more time when he insisted on interrupting during the public's time. The public outcry clearly was not what the Commissioner wanted to hear. In the end, the public was only given 23 minutes to speak.

Public hearings are an important opportunity for government to get feed back on how well it is doing, and to make course corrections when it is on the wrong track.

It will be revealing in coming weeks whether NYS government will respond to the public concern and ditch the Common Core, or if it will forge ahead with this terrible program dictated out of Washington because it "knows better."

Friday, October 11, 2013

8th Grade Math: Then and Now . . .

Common Core standards, testing, and materials have become the topic of conversation in numerous public meetings around the state.  A lot of parents, students and teachers are upset.  What's the fuss about? I thought a simple comparison of "then" and "now" might be helpful.

 On the left is the table of contents from "Making Arithmetic Work" Silver-Burdett Company 1952 edition, an 8th Grade math textbook, editions of which were commonly used in the Utica area throughout the 1950's. Flipping through the book, the "Money and Interest" chapter describes family budgeting, what money and thrift are, what banks do, various kinds of checks, and paying for use of money (interest). "Sharing Risks and Benefits" explains the purpose of fire, auto, hospitalization, accident, and life insurance and how they work.  It also describes different kinds of taxes and common terminology in working with them.  Other chapters to note are "Earning a Living" and "Borrowing and Investing Money."

On the right are the Common Core grade 8 math standards. (I was unable to find a textbook for them.)  In a nutshell it is all mathematical theory.  Searching through CC standards for other grades I was unable to find where the useful practical information from the 60 year old book above are addressed.

An Eighth Grade Education used to be generally accepted as being prepared for everyday life.  That is clearly reflected in "Making Arithmetic Work"'s contents.  It's not clear what these Common Core standards prepare students for, although it is proclaimed that they make students "college and career ready."

What happened to being life ready?

Headlines to Cheer About!

This has been a long time coming . . . .
Yes, there are grave reservations of the "Public-Private Partnership" model: (1) it's constitutionality under the NYS Constitution (it seems to violate Article VII Sec. 8) and  (2) it's self-sustainability once the initial slug of taxpayer funding is used up.  Comments during the congratulatory speeches to the effect that such partnerships are now necessary because normal market forces no longer work were troubling because national trade policy and state taxation and regulation have changed the market forces.

Yes, there are reservations on the environmental impacts of this development and spinoffs, particularly on the viability of our water supply to support non-chip related uses and population growth.

Yes, there are reservations on whether or not this mega-development will become an excuse to burden area residents with even higher levels of taxation and water and sewer fees.

Nevertheless, this is still a positive announcement.

Let's cheer about it!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Rep. Hanna's "Common Sense" . . .

From Rep. Hanna's Facebook account this morning:
"This morning I voted to pay federal employees who have been furloughed because of the government shutdown. . . .  It isn’t fair for employees to be involuntarily furloughed and lose pay because of Washington’s inability to approve a spending plan. I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House for approving this commonsense measure, and I urge the Senate to quickly send this bill to the President’s desk."
How does this work, Congressman? Are you saying that if furloughed federal employees are not working we are going to pay them anyway? For doing nothing? That's not "Common Sense" --- It's "Nonsense."

Now is the opportunity for you and your Republican colleagues to put your money where your mouths are . . . not only on Obamacare, but on the debt ceiling and our out-of-control federal spending.

Do what the President refuses to do: PRIORITIZE, then cut.

Put the employees in the programs we really need back to work -- and layoff the rest. A Federal Job isn't welfare. People in the private sector are laid off every day and government employees should expect no different treatment. Or are you afraid of prioritizing Federal Spending for fear of offending some of your favorite groups on the dole?

We sent you to Washington to make tough decisions, but you've become like everyone else!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Common Core: What Are They Pushing?

Everyone, not just parents, should be aware of what is being taught in school these days . . .
It looks like Common Core is pushing an agenda that most Americans would disagree with ... and it is making the simple so complex that parents are unable to help their children (undermining the family, and blocking the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next).  

It's all the better for government to control the minds of its subjects.    

Beware . . . the next generation will be our keepers . . . What are we creating?

See for more information.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Public Schools: Anything But Education!

OD: Community schools address more than academics
“Community schools are designed to address social, emotional and health issues that students have that might interfere with their learning,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group.
“It can range from counseling services to health services - anything to make sure that their basic needs as a human being are being taken care of so they can be able to succeed educationally,” Easton said.

And "anything" will mean "everything" if these people get their way . . .
It's particularly beneficial in low-wealth areas where children might face challenges such as malnourishment, unattended health and dental issues, unmet social and emotional needs, or even a lack of a regular place to sleep, according to the Alliance for Quality Education. . . .
On Saturdays, the school would be open for the community from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the school year, and some days over the summer to allow students and their families to see physicians, visit dental clinics, work with librarians and social workers, and get legal advice such as working with parents on leases . . .
In this day and age of welfare, foodstamps, federal school breakfast and lunch programs, and medicaid, one has to ask WHY are children malnourished, have unattended health and dental problems, and lack a place to sleep? The answer, of course, is that the "families" of these children are not meeting their responsibilities. . . . and the lack of responsibility becomes the excuse for the government to step in AND REPLACE THE FAMILY.  And the more the government steps  in, the easier it becomes for individuals to become lazy and abandon their familial responsibilities --- providing an excuse for more government involvement.

Replacing the family is really what these programs are all about, because cohesive family units nurture perspectives and values that might run counter the latest dictates out of Washington and Albany.   

In similar fashion, government-sponsored charter schools are designed to bring about the demise of parochial schools, because parochial schools also nurture perspectives and values that run counter to government dictates.

"Community Schools"  have little to do with education and everything to do with extending government control.

It's time to break this cycle.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

So when DO you take action that means something?

OD: Hanna Bucks Republican majority in shutdown battle
Hanna was one of two Republicans who voted against delaying Obamacare . . . "I would take a clean (continuing resolution),” he said. “I have voted dozens of times to repeal, reform and defund Obamacare. There are glaring problems with the law and we see more daily.”
Problem is, the Democrats and the Administration are not negotiating to change Obamacare.  Instead, they simply exempt their friends and politically connected cronies (including THEMSELVES) from Obamacare's onerous requirements.

Mr. Hanna's voting "dozens of times" to repeal Obamacare at times when the votes had no impact are meaningless.

This time, the Republicans are finally using what little leverage they have to bring the Democrats to the negotiating table. . . . but Mr. Hanna sides with the Democrats.  One can only conclude that Mr. Hanna tacitly supports this law.

The American public should have the same exemption from Obamacare that Congress has.

Delay Obamacare for a year.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dump Fed Education . . .

Joe Bottini is spot on in today's OD's Guest View: Common Sense trumps Common Core anyway
. . . The 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution dictates public education is a state issue. They should dismantle the U.S. Department of Education and help Arne Duncan find a real job. . . .

The federal government sets requirements for states for their “piece of the ill-gotten pie,” and local districts are given state requirements to receive some crumbs from that “piece.”
And like crack addicts, states and local school boards will do whatever is asked of them to get those federal funds. . . with the funds fostering policies and programs of questionable value while advancing the careers of those bringing in the $$$.

Mr. Bottini correctly points to big businesses, the money they will make producing educational materials, and their influence over politicians as motivation for the federal involvement . . . But I believe there is more.

With Federal Funds comes a Federal Agenda a/k/a Federal Control over what is in the hearts and minds of our children. Give them a few more years and control over the nation's populace will be a snap!

Given the state of public education today, can anyone really say that it is better today than 40 to 50 years ago when there was minimal federal involvement? Public education these days is less about giving students knowledge and more about telling them how to think.

While there will be short-term withdrawal pains, we'll all be better off if funds for Federal education programs get cut off.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's about time!

No communion for Nancy Pelosi: Vatican court head
Mrs. Pelosi should be denied Communion until she changes her advocacy views on abortion, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke said, according to the Western Center for Journalism.  
That’s canon law, not opinion, he said. Canon 915 states that Catholics who are stubbornly contrary “in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
I wondered when someone from the Church would finally set Mrs. Pelosi straight on Church doctrine since she had gotten into a habit of twisting things around to fit her political agenda.

Monday, September 23, 2013

One-Way Parochial Walls??

The OD's View:  Parochial walls must come down.
The smoldering tiff between the Utica Common Council and a committee that recommends federal funding for nonprofits once again puts an accent on the embarrassing parochialism that can threaten growth in our community. . .

In this case, the flames are being fanned by the age-old city residency argument. . .

Hopefully the people that might be considering setting up a multi-billion dollar computer chip operation here aren’t watching all this. It’s theater of the absurd. . . .

To believe that someone from outside one set of lines doesn’t care about what happens across those lines is just plain silly.
What's silly is OD's claim that city officials believe that people from outside don't care about what happens in the city.  Untrue! The city has long recognized that "outsiders" care and invited them in to help -- e.g. the Utica Master Plan steering committee which had several non-residents among its members.

What is absurd is the OD's position that residency requirements are not relevant.  If that is the case, let's get rid of the residency requirement for mayor . . . or how about New Hartford town supervisor?  . . . . Yes, those suggestions are ridiculous.  Even though someone in Utica "cares" about what happens in New Hartford (because NH's decisions have caused increases to Utica's tax, sewer and water rates) NH would not allow a Utican to run for town supervisor. The laws contemplate that municipal officials have "skin in the game" by being resident within the municipality.  If Utica is forming a committee to distribute public funds to city projects, it is Utica's prerogative to limit participants to residents who will live with the consequences of their decisions.  "Caring" is not enough.

It is interesting that it is always Utica that is on the receiving end the OD's cries of  "parochialism."  The "parochial walls" always operate one way,  favoring suburban interests.

If the OD is seriously interested in eliminating "parochialism," it would advocate ridding ourselves of multiple municipal boundaries that allow suburban jurisdictions to accumulate wealth at the expense of city residents.

Municipal Boundaries = Parochial Walls

Somehow I do not think the OD is ready for this.  Until the OD stands for a true merger of city and suburban governments, it should be ignored.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Utica: Letting Others Do Its Planning . . .

OD Today: Carl's Furniture City closing its doors.

Another loss of a taxpaying business from the City of Utica! . . . In hardscrabble West Utica no less. . .

While only Carl knows the real reason or reasons for closing his doors, the closure of his store should come as no surprise.  As this blogger noted back in 2011 in a post about the Utica Common Council's seeming lack of interest in determining the true impacts of the N-S Arterial Project . . .
The Council is apparently prepared to allow huge swaths of properties to be removed from what should be in private hands and have them turned over to highway use. That guarantees that they will never be the site of economically productive activities . . . never create jobs or wealth . . . and never generate a dime of tax revenue for the financially-strapped City of Utica.

. . . no attempt is made to estimate the potential revenue loss that can be expected to result from the change in traffic patterns when Sunset Ave. and Warren St. are cut off. Businesses, such as Carl's Furniture, will lose customers when they become difficult to reach and the city will lose sales tax.
This did not have to happen this way, but it was too easy to let the State do all the planning for its highway with the city just there to "tweak" the plans with suggestions on whether the retaining walls should have ivy covering them or not. The City never had a real plan for the surrounding West Utica neighborhood . . . So the State's arterial plan became West Utica's plan.

Something similar is happening in the Utica Harbor.  While the new Holiday Inn Express is a lovely addition to the neighborhood and it is touted as part of the Utica Harbor development, the hotel is surrounded on three sides by a tall white privacy fence that separates it from the Harbor.  The hotel developer, no doubt, looked at the location near the thruway exit and downtown and thought it was an ideal place for a hotel ... but the harbor played no role in it, otherwise why the privacy fence?  At the Harbor, it looks like individual developers are doing their own planning with no overall view to relate the private developments to each other.  

If the nanocenter becomes a reality, the prediction is 5,000 jobs there plus another 15,000 spinoff jobs. That represents a lot of new money and new people coming into the area.  Where will they go?  Will they create more cookie-cutter sprawl into Marcy, or will they come into Utica to recreate a vibrant, interesting city?  These new people are the "creative class" and will naturally gravitate to a dense diverse urban environment because it is more stimulating.

If Utica is not ready with a vision where the new arrivals can see a place for themselves, they will build anew elsewhere.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nano: Finally Getting It Right!

WKTV: Mohawk Valley EDGE finally succeeds in securing Marcy Nano site
Officials with the Mohawk Valley EDGE have travelled the globe time and time again in attempts to lure a chip-fab manufacturing plant to the Marcy Nano site at SUNYIT. In the end, the end user came...from Albany. The problem for years has been that an end user would not commit to the site without a wetlands permit in place, and the Army Corps of Engineers wouldn't grant the permit without an end user committed. But now, the EDGE has announced that CNSE, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, will act as the committed end user; a developer, really, to build a 450 mm manufacturing facility on SUNYIT property in Marcy.
Here's why, for the first time, I think the NanoCenter project is going to succeed.

(1) The "Big Guns" have been brought in . . .

In this post from a year ago I said the following about the elusive federal wetlands permit . . .
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 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.
Bringing in the CNSE as developer is bringing in the "Big Guns." These guys have a track record of success.

(2) The Feds finally have a credible "end user" of the site that they can hold accountable . . .

In another post from over a year ago commenting about EDGE's creation of another not-for-profit I said:
Frankly, if I was the Army Corps I probably would not issue a final permit either. 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? There are too many players involved for the Army Corps -- or we the taxpayers -- to keep track of.
With CNSE as developer, the Federal Army Corps of Engineers only needs to deal with one entity, CNSE, that will have control over the site. In the end, the situation becomes somewhat similar to the shopping centers which have obtained ACE wetlands permits without securing tenants. EDGE could not credibly substitute as a "shopping center" developer . . . but CNSE can.

This is going to work!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Total Failure!

Obama/Clinton/Kerry's Total Failure foreign policy . . .

From "France 24": Russia 'to renew offer to supply S-300s to Iran'
Russian President Vladimir Putin will offer to supply Iran S-300 air defence missile systems as well as build a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant, the Kommersant business daily reported Wednesday.
Get ready for WWIII!

County Mission Creep . . .

OD: $500,000 could be available for flood mitigation in Oneida Co.
A proposal made Monday by Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente . . . could provide municipalities with a chunk of $500,000 to help put a dent in the bill’s associated with flood mitigation projects . . . “This region has been dealing with numerous issues with flooding the past few years,” Picente said. “This past storm really exposed a lot of the flaws in creek beds and streams that we were able to look at afterward and say, ‘Ah, that’s the problem.’”
The problem, Mr. Picente, is not "flaws in creek beds and streams," but, rather, flaws in Town-level decision making on where to allow development and the form that the development should take.

New Hartford's now-legendary storm-water problems are self-induced ... created by allowing development in the wrong places, allowing developers to get away without mitigating the impacts of their developments, and taking monies reserved for addressing adverse impacts and using them to foster more development.

Town of New Hartford government and its cronies have benefited richly from the development, induced by cutting corners, in the form of tax revenue and reduced development costs.  The Town's taxpayers, meanwhile,  have had to fork over millions to fix storm water problems created by poorly regulated development in the past only to see new developments create new problems.

And now the richest municipality in Oneida County will soon have help from ALL County taxpayers?

Lines need to be drawn as to what level of government is responsible for what service.  Storm water management has always been the responsibility of the local municipality because the local municipality has direct control over development.  Not allowing development in harm's way, and not allowing development that creates runoff and harm to others, eliminates the need to fix "flaws in creek beds and streams."

The County should not ding all its taxpayers to reward poor decision making on the Town level.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Chinese Chickens?

Almost 3 years ago it was Chinese Garlic  that got me thinking about trade policy and gave me a big case of agita.  Now it's the prospect of importing Chinese Chicken that is making my stomach turn!

What are our bureaucrats thinking of?

In the name of free trade we give a potential enemy the means of attacking us biologically ... Sorry ... We have the means internally to satisfy our need for chicken and do not need to take this risk.

This is a failure of our system of narrow-focus administrative agencies that cannot or refuse to comprehend the bigger picture. It's not in their job description.

And Congress, which has the power to do something about this, is either bound by their political ideologies and allegiances or entirely missing in action.  No one protects ordinary citizens any more.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Not Nearly Skeptical Enough!

WKTV quoted Congressman Hanna as saying:
"The actions of the Syrian regime against its own people are heinous and go against all tenets of human decency.  . . ."
Our congressman has apparently already accepted as fact that the Assad government has gassed its own people. . . . But based on what? . . . John Kerry's say so? (A lot of Vietnam Vets wouldn't trust this guy.)  Do we know for sure that rebel factions are not responsible?

Can this administration be trusted to give truthful and accurate information to Congress and the American People?  Did a "You-Tube Video" cause the Benghazi attack? . . .  I don't think so.
"The American people need to know that any potential action in Syria would help achieve clearly-defined, limited and attainable policy goals that further U.S. interests in the region."
You said a mouthful there, Mr. Congressman! What "clearly-defined . . . policy goals" will be achieved? What U. S. "interests"  will be furthered? Please identify the goals and interests to your constituents.

Can this administration be trusted to give a truthful portrayal of "policy goals"and "interests" to Congress and the American People?  What "policy goals" and "interests" have been advanced in Libya? What "policy goals" and "interests" have been advanced in Egypt?  Are they American "policy goals?" Are they American "interests?"  It seems that the only goals and interests getting advanced have been those of the Muslim Brotherhood . . . which has led to slaughter of Christians and burning of churches.  

No surprise here . . . when James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, essentially described the Muslim Brotherhood as a bunch of "good guys."

No surprise here . . . when the top aide to Fmr. Secretary of State Clinton, Huma Abedin, comes from a family steeped in Muslim Brotherhood. (How does someone with familial connections to the Muslim Brotherhood get the security clearance for a top government position?)

Mr. Congressman, you are not nearly skeptical enough!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ominous Rumblings . . .

The headlines from the Middle East are ominous. . . .

After Syria chemical allegations, Obama considering limited military strike

Syria crisis: Russia and China step up warning over strike

Syria accuses Kerry of lying, disregarding UN

It's interesting to compare this situation with the beginning of the Iraq war.  Then the Hussein regime was (again) threatening its neighbors.  It was feared that both nuclear weapons and WMD would be involved. We made a preemptive strike after 6 months of dithering (which gave time for the WMD (if any) to be smuggled over the border.

Now we are threatening to intervene in a purely civil war over the use of WMD in Syria.

President Bush was called a "liar"  when no WMD were discovered in Iraq, in spite of the best intelligence in the world saying otherwise.  Now that WMD are being used just across the border in Syria, we supposedly know who used them and are ready to make a strike?


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Boycotting "The Butler" . . .

I've received a couple e-mails requesting that I boycott the movie "The Butler." The Blaze  reports on one theater owner who is refusing to run the film. . . . there is even a The Butler Boycott Facebook Page.  What's the fuss all about?

While the inaccurate portrayal of the White house butler (no doubt to further an agenda to divide this nation along racial lines) is probably a good enough reason to boycott the movie, the big fuss is over one of its stars.

Jane Fonda stars as Nancy Reagan.

Folks of my generation need no explanation, remembering the Viet Nam War, the thousands of American soldiers killed, and Ms. Fonda's activities giving aid and comfort to those killing our men.

Ms. Fonda herself now calls her posing in a photo laughing and clapping with North Vietnamese soldiers "an unforgiveable mistake."

Ms. Fonda is absolutely correct, her actions were and are unforgiveable.

Those too young to remember those days should Google Jane Fonda, Hanoi Jane, and the Vietnam War.  (Throw in John Kerry while you're at it to understand who and what is running things in the country today).

I will not be seeing this movie.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Assuming Parental or Personal Responsibility . . .

Yesterday Congressman Hanna posted this on his Facebook Timeline:
Today I am announcing my support for bipartisan legislation which would require private and public universities and colleges to increase transparency about the costs of higher education so that families can make more informed decisions.

The Truth in Tuition Act would specify that every college provide each student admitted with a multi-year tuition and fee schedule, or a single-year tuition and fee schedule with a multi-year estimate of net costs. . . .
Mr. Hanna bemoans the skyrocketing cost of higher education . . . and then offers as a solution government-forced "accurate information" from each as a solution.

First, Mr. Hanna's proposal is maddening. We borrow 40 cents out of every federal dollar spent and now he proposes spending more money (because someone has to define and enforce these requirements)  to achieve a result that individual students and their parents can achieve by simply doing their homework and making proper inquiries.  In addition, there have long been publications that provide most of this information.

Second, his proposal does nothing to contain costs.  And perhaps it should not.

The entire federal system of grants and student loans that was intended to make higher education "more affordable" has had the opposite effect by providing a ready pot of money for educational institutions to tap into . . . encouraging them to raise raise tuition, fees and their own costs of labor for instructors and fixed costs for fancy digs.

Now we have thousands of graduates about half of whom cannot find a job requiring their degree that are in debt up to their ears that they are  unable to pay off.

More government involvement is not the way to go.  It will only muck things up more than it already is.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Uh -Oh: The Headline Says It All

From the Tennessean: Remington Arms scouts Middle TN after N.Y. bans its rifle
People familiar with Remington’s exploration of sites said the company looked around the Nashville area as recently as within the past month.
So let's see . . . New York drives industries out of state with high taxation, high utility costs, and a high regulatory burden . . . and when that doesn't work it passes laws that target the industries left behind.

Yet at the same time, it gives away the store for government-sponsored industry (nanotech).

Sounds like Soviet Russia, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Nanotech: What's the Real Cost?

Rochester's Democrat & Chronicle has an interesting article today: Nanotech: Albany's boom industry is getting traction in WNY
In Buffalo, a $250 million pharmaceutical research facility is being built. Last month, a $100 million solar-energy research and manufacturing center was announced in Rochester.

And in June, construction started on a $500 million computer chip commercialization center in Utica.

All of it is the offshoot of SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, the wildly successful research hub that has 3,000 employees and $17 billion in public and private investment. . . .
This all sounds very hopeful . . . but you have to dig deep to figure out what this is costing the taxpayers.
A half hour north of Albany, GlobalFoundries, aided by $1.3 billion in state money, has a booming semiconductor chip manufacturing plant — a spinoff from the nanocenter’s research.
According to an article this past week in The (Albany) Business Review, that plant  has created 2100 jobs.  Do the math:  That's almost $620,000 per job!

The Rochester article describes the Utica commercialization project as "a $500 million venture with the goal of 900 jobs." That's $555,000 per job!  A photovoltaic center in Rochester is described as a $100 million facility with $65 million being from the private sector. That means $35 million is from public funding for a mere 100 jobs or $350,000 per job.

To be fair, all this "investing"  may be setting the stage for future growth.  The Albany article linked above reveals that Global Foundaries is planning to install a SECOND fab in Malta.  And there are rumors about town that there is an actual company interested in our own Marcy Nanocenter to the point where an actual proposal can be incorporated into OC's wetland's permit.  These are all signs of potentially good things on the horizon that hopefully will come to fruition.

But, with the seemingly good news, we still do not know the real costs.  The ones mentioned above are only for state money.  What about local "investments?"  Oneida County taxpayers are bearing the highest sales tax outside of Manhattan apparently for "economic development" purposes.  As noted in past posts, Greater Utica sewer users are being tapped in their sewer fees to expand facilities for "economic development."  One suspects that Herkimer County residents and businesses along West Canada Creek will be paying a price in diminished creek flows (which has an economic consequence for some) for such development since the local Nanocenter was a consideration in the Water Authority - Canal Corporation settlement that was brought about WITHOUT a formal environmental impact study and statement.  Will "success" in attracting government-sponsored private sector investment become an excuse to take even more from taxpayers?

What is the cost in NON-state-subsidized-government-beholden-nano-tech jobs that are being squeezed out of NYS by the state's policies to foster nanotech? You cannot give $billions from the taxpayers to one industry sector without it harming others.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

If Not At This Time, Then When?

OD: County to vote on maintaining sales tax rate
Oneida County still has one of the highest sales tax rates in the state at 8.75 percent. On Wednesday . . . David Gordon, D-New Hartford — wants to push to reduce it. . .
But Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, as well as the Board’s Democratic and Republican leaders and Gordon’s November election opponent all disagree. A 0.25 percentage point reduction would cut $7.6 million from the budget. . . .
. . .  planned uses of the surplus include paying off some of the postponed pension costs, upping a fund for economic development and replenishing reserves . . .

Democratic Minority Leader Frank Tallarino of Rome said he doesn’t support reducing the sales tax at this time.
Well if not "at this time"  then when?
Picente said  . . . .“Let’s see where we go in the next few years, as Marcy and a few other things come into line,” he said, referring to the nanotechnology center now under construction at SUNYIT.
There is always some excuse. . . . If the nanotechnology center does go, then that will be come a convenient excuse to spend even more money: just another Griffiss "International" Airport money pit.

Let's get serious about "economic development."  Mr. Picente and the leaders of both parties want  to shift money out of your wallet into government sponsored economic development.  Meanwhile, mom-and-pop businesses all around the region -- like the aquarium business mentioned in the OD article -- are dying, the high sales tax being an additional stress on small retailers, restaurateurs, and others.

It's time to start doing more with less.  Make the climate right for private enterprise by taxing and spending less.  We'll be better off in the long run.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Solving the Immigration "Problem" . . .

We've all heard how congress has to pass a new immigration law because there are too many illegal immigrants hiding in the shadows, that these immigrants need a "path to citizenship" so we don't "divide families."


The problem isn't that we need a new law.  The problem is that we need the will to enforce the existing laws on the books that we already have --- and that when states try to do this on their own, that they be supported by their national government instead of being prosecuted by it (like Arizona).

If enforcement of existing laws is lacking, why should anyone expect enforcement of a new one?

And if the illegals don't respect our laws upon entry, why should they be expected to be law-abiding while they are here?

If immigration "reform" is passed, it will merely be the institutionalization of existing policy that benefits certain constituencies: The Republicans will get laborers for their mansions, farms, and factories.  The Democrats will get legions of supporters controlled by government handouts... But the American public, as usual, will get the shaft!

Contrast the behavior of our government with our friends, the Brits, across the pond. ‘Go home or face arrest’: UK anti-illegal immigrant ads face stiff criticism .

The British solution is simple:  Make it uncomfortable for people illegally present to stay ... and make it easy for them to leave.  

We can do this! If we need a "path to citizenship" so as to not "divide families," it should be "Go out the back door the way you came (we won't hold it against you) and come in the front door LEGALLY."


Friday, July 26, 2013

By What Constitutional Authority ...

Can Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords ?

This is your private information between you and your provider ... enabling you to do business through your provider in a safe and secure manner. Government taking this information makes you personally less secure.

Do we tolerate this?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Party of No Mail Delivery?

You really have to wonder who is leading the Republicans these days?  First they authorize seizure of all private phone conversations .... Now they want to force everyone to walk to clusters of mailboxes ... making it easier for mail to be stolen and more difficult for seniors to get their mail. No wonder there is such a lack of enthusiasm for them ... even with all the horrors coming out of the current administration.  They obviously are not thinking of the needs of the average citizen.

Recently I had a certified mailing for delivery two towns away take one week ... to go a mere 8 miles! The mail went all the way to Rochester before making its way back thru Syracuse then to its destination!

 FedEx and UPS don't seem to have problems making timely deliveries right to the receivers.

Instead of trying to dictate how the Postal Service should save money, perhaps these Republicans should propose contracting the service out to professionals who know what they are doing ... including letting them set the rates that cover the cost of delivery.

The Party of Limited Government???

House rejects bid to curb spy agency data collection
A U.S. spy program that sweeps up vast amounts of electronic communications survived a legislative challenge in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the first attempt to curb the data gathering since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed details of its scope.
Amash Amendment On NSA Data Collection: House Roll Call Vote
The 217-205 roll call Wednesday by which the House rejected a challenge to the National Security Agency's secret collection of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records. A "yes" vote was a vote to halt the NSA program; a "no" vote was a vote to allow the program to continue. 
Voting yes were 111 Democrats and 94 Republicans. 
Voting no were 83 Democrats and 134 Republicans. . . . 
Democrats – Bishop, N; Clarke, Y; Crowley, Y; Engel, N; Higgins, N; Israel, N; Jeffries, Y; Lowey, N; Maffei, Y; Maloney, Carolyn, Y; Maloney, Sean, N; McCarthy, X; Meeks, N; Meng, N; Nadler, Y; Owens, Y; Rangel, Y; Serrano, Y; Slaughter, N; Tonko, Y; Velazquez, Y. 
Republicans – Collins, N; Gibson, Y; Grimm, N; Hanna, N; King, N; Reed, N.
This was:

  • A Vote against our 4th Amendment privacy rights 
  • A Vote against our 1st Amendment right of free speech (It's chilling to know that everything you say is being recorded)
  • A Vote against the concept of Limited Government

The Republicans allowed the spying to continue!

Big Brother (and Big Government) is alive and well in the Republican Party

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Only In Utica . . .

I thought that the City did a pretty good job with this video . . . Something to show your out-of-town friends why we like it here.

Kicking the Can Down the Road?

OD: Spring's federal budget cuts now having impact
The sequestration cuts are part of a 2011 deal to raise the national debt ceiling. The compromise also required spending cuts of $1.2 trillion over the next decade. . . . 
U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, is not happy with the sequestration cuts and wants to see Congress move to reverse them. “It’s a pretty ham-fisted way to reduce the budget and I don’t support it,” he said. “It needs to be dealt with, or we will have to face this every year for 10 years. We need to fix it.”
OK, so what's the solution, Mr. Hanna?  More debt ceiling increases and borrowing (which you have supported in the past)? Or will you and your fellow Republicans finally get serious about shrinking the size of the federal government to something sustainable? (Which may mean that some of your favorite causes like Planned Parenthood and STEM education will have to be supported elsewhere).

Every society going back to the ancient Romans that increased benefits to itself which it could not pay for eventually collapsed.  That ancient history is our future unless changes are made now.

Please do the job we sent you to Washington to do.      

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why Is the City Applying for a Grant . . .

. . . When the project is already being built by the State?

 Per the OD: Region pitches economic development projects
More money for Genesee Street improvements. An extension of the Rayhill Trail to the Utica Memorial Auditorium. And a push to continue development in Bagg’s Square. Those are among the 10 applications for funding under this year’s statewide regional economic development competition from groups across the city.
But the extension of the Rayhill Trail to the Utica Aud is already part of the State's North South Arterial Project.  So why the "economic development" project? What "group" from across the city is seeking this?  Or is there something we are not being told?

Monday, June 17, 2013

We Are On the Wrong Side ....

Democrats and progressive Republicans like John McCain who want to supply arms to Syrian rebels had better wake up.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

As Expected . . .

Oneida County approves deal with Oneida Indian Nation

The County Leg has again allowed itself to be bullied and high-pressured into taking action without having time to run the numbers or to consider the down side of this "agreement." . . . and there IS another perspective:  A rotten deal with 'casino Oneidas'

This is why people and businesses leave New York.  Government here fails to protect the average person's interests. Money and power are everything.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Little Competition . . . from the State!

It's awfully nice to see the governor recognize that New York's high level of taxation is a detriment to business ... such a detriment that he proposes tax free zones associated with State University campuses.

Yes, the governor said today as he repeated the plan in Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse: 100 percent tax free. 
"I mean tax free," he said at the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. "That's why I said tax free."

Wow! What a deal!  But is it a good one?  And for Whom?

New Hartford has a nice Business Park.  So does Utica.  So does Oneida County at the old Airport in Whitestown.  So does Rome at Griffiss "International" Airport.  So does Frankfort in the "pumpkin patch."  These won't qualify for this special tax treatment.  So, local governments (and don't even think of private developers) now have to worry about competing with State facilities for new businesses.
Under the proposal, a business's tax-free status would last a decade. Workers would go five years without paying income taxes. After that, their first $200,000 of income would be tax free, under the governor's plan.
That's a heck of a deal if you are one of the lucky workers in one of the state-annointed businesses . . . but what about the rest of us?  When it comes to competition for employees, these state-annointed businesses will have a leg up.  How can you as a small business employer compete with this? So the State tips the scales in the competition for employees in favor of the businesses in their tow.

These workers will be no different from everyone else --- except that they get special tax treatment.  To the extent that we all "benefit" from the operations of our State government, why should the State create a special class for them?  Why shouldn't they pay their fair share?  That means that the rest of us will be paying their share.

Frankly, all this is is a recipe for more State control of the economy and more power for those in government.  Certain businesses that curry favor with the party in power will get (1) special financial benefits and (2) get a government created advantage over their competition. The the root causes of the State's economic malaise will remain unresolved: over taxation, over regulation and, in general, too much government.

I guess it is too much to expect the State to lower taxes for everyone ...

If everyone were treated alike no one would feel beholden to the politicians.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Who Owns the N.H. "Public" Library?

Seems like a silly question who owns a "public" library . . . but there are indications that all in New Hartford is not what it seems. . . .

At the end of April in an OD article about New Hartford's handling of FOIL appeals was this teaser:
Wiatr’s request for a legal opinion from town Attorney Herbert Cully regarding the New Hartford Public Library and its ownership was the most controversial.
The relationship between attorney and client, in this case the Town Board, is a main reason why Cully said he was uncomfortable in allowing his opinion to be released. Also, in potential future litigations, his opinion could be construed as the town’s view.
Certainly the "client" the Town Board could authorize release of this opinion. Why did it not? Don't Town taxpayers have a right to this information?

The plot thickened yesterday by an OD letter to the editor "New Hartford Library owes public an explanation" (scroll down) which called the owners "a mystery."

The mystery deepens when you consider that the 1993 land sale agreement uses the language "the Seller agrees to sell to the Town of New Hartford" but the deed to the property is made out to the "Board of Trustees of the New Hartford Public Library of the Town of New Hartford, New York" . . . Shortly thereafter the Town Board approved bonding $600,000.00 for construction of the library . . . on property that was not deeded to the Town, apparently.

So, just who does own the New Hartford "Public" Library?

Saturday, May 04, 2013

OC: Overtaxing . . .

From the Rome Sentinel: County ends 2012 with $8.4M surplus.
Record sales tax receipts and lower than projected spending left Oneida County with an $8.4 million budget surplus for 2012 . . .
Nice . . . but Oneida County is also one of the most heavily taxed counties in the NATION when it comes to property taxes as a percentage of property value ...

ADD TO THAT the 8.75% sales tax we pay here -- also one of the highest sales taxes in the country. Anyone who travels to other parts of the country immediately realizes the difference when shopping. We have become too used to being nickled-and-dimed to death.

The County plans to use some of its surplus money for "economic development." The County already has a policy of exempting certain politically connected developers from the sales tax . . . meaning that (1) YOU are subsidizing the profits of  these developers and (2) the sales tax revenue could be even higher.

The county is in the process of obtaining the necessary state permission to extend its 1 percent and 0.75 percent sales taxes. The county’s 3 percent sales tax is permanent and does not have to be renewed every two like the other two levies.
The 8.75% sales tax -- originally implemented to close a financial gap in OC providing mandated medical care -- is a blot on the county's reputation, a disincentive for both people and businesses to do business here.

Now is the time for NYS to DENY Oneida County the permission to extend at least the 0.75% tax.  Leaving a little money in our pockets will help ALL local businesses instead of just the politically connected ones.

Monday, April 29, 2013


'Rome Sentinel: County executive, mayor back missle system.

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. and Rome Mayor Joseph R. Fusco have sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel requesting that Griffiss International Airport be considered for a new multi-billion dollar missile defense system on the East Coast.
That's nice, but does Griffiss "International" qualify?

According to the Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) program site
... would contain launch stations (silos), Interceptor Receiving and Processing Building, Interceptor Storage Facilities, and additional support facilities. Approximately 243 hectares (600 acres) would be required to support the GBI missile field and associated technical facilities. When the GBI site and associated technical facilities become fully operational, total site related employment would be approximately 150 to 200 personnel. Explosive Safety Quantity-Distance (ESQD) criteria would be used to establish safe distances from explosive hazard areas, such as solid propellants, to nonrelated facilities and roadways. These regulations are established by the Department of Defense. For the GBI silos, there would be a minimum 380-meter (1,250-foot) ESQD from inhabited buildings. In addition, the Interceptor Receiving and Processing Building and the Interceptor Storage Facilities would also have a 380-meter (1,250-foot) ESQD from inhabited buildings.
Six hundred acres is almost a square mile, which is a lot of space. Perhaps more restrictive is the 1,250 minimum distance required from inhabited buildings for each silo. Just what can be fit into Griffiss "International" Airport?

When you get down to it, is it really worth taking up all this space -- and (again) making us a prime target for intercontentinental missiles -- for a mere 150 to 200 jobs? That's only 1/4 to 1/3 of a job per acre!

Ball-istic . . . or Un-Real-istic?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Taking on the Army . . .

Army Corps of Engineers, that is! There's more in the Observer-Dispatch.

THIS needed to be done years ago by a former Republican Congressman who was on the House Armed Services Committee . . . when we had a Republican President and a Republican Governor . . . The odds would have seemed to have been in favor at that time for the Marcy Nanocenter site to get a federal wetlands permit.  . . . But then, again, perhaps it was the last mentioned Republican and his former Republican NYS Senate Majority leader that kept the former Republican Congressman from saying what had to be said (if he said anything, we did not hear of it).

Nevertheless, hats are off to Mr. Hanna for doing a great job in putting the heat on the A.C.E.!

Things really have gotten out of control with both ACE and the EPA, with the Federal Government's reach extending far beyond what our Founding Fathers had planned for the Federal system.

A.C.E. also is overreaching even within the context of its own regulations.  I already blogged about that last summer, so refer to the article for the legal context : Marcy NanoCenter in the Balance Pt. 1.
In a nutshell, ACE is trying to change the purpose of the NanoCenter Project without the statutory authority to do so.

Per the OD:
After Hanna’s description of the situation, Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick said he would “be happy to take a look at it and follow up with you on whether from a legal perspective we have any ability to work outside the bounds in this case.” 
Undoubtedly, the General will return to his legal team and get justification for the overreaching that has been done in the past, and will likely continue in the future, until some white knight takes up the gauntlet and takes ACE to court.  That is unlikely to be done by Oneida County, and perhaps shouldn't be done given the money the region has already wasted on legal maneuvering in the past (MVWA v Canal Corp, The NYRI proposal come immediately to mind).

We can only hope that with continued political pressure, A.C.E will come to understand that it is really pushing the envelope where the law is concerned, and that if it pushes too far, at some point a decision will come down somewhere that will severely undercut Federal Authority everywhere.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Strange NH Public Library . . .

Per the OD: Negatives outweigh positives during library board meeting

But don't expect to figure out the headline by reading the rambling article with snippets of conversations thrown in.  Frankly, the article reads like it was either highly massaged to make certain people look good, or it was written by a committee.

If you want the straight scoop on the New Hartford Public Library shenanigans, always visit New Hartford Online Blog.  Here is the LATEST.... about poo poo.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pie In The Sky . . .

More pie in the sky from our Oneida County leadership:  Griffiss Vying for FAA's New Traffic Control Center . But the OD article on this story has  this important bit of information:
"The FAA's background information also said the site must be within 150 miles of New York City . . ." 
Read the specs guys! Griffiss does not qualify. Wonder how much $$$ the taxpayers will be expected to cough up to "lure" this non-starter to O.C.? It's sorta like trying to put a nanocenter in a federal wetland!

In the "Good Idea" department, Dave Gorden Proposes Name Change to Griffiss International Airport
Gordon says he wants to see Griffiss’ name changed to the Utica-Rome Metropolitan Airport at Griffiss International, in an effort to “tie the two major cites together.”
Gordon seems to have learned something our Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce has not:  The "Utica" name places the facility on a map, which is important for marketing, particularly in a geographic-sensitive industry like transportation.

Strikeslip, however, has an even more appropriate non-geographic name for Griffiss International:

White Elephant!

Look it up on the link provided.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

County Competence . . .

Oneida County 911 center seeks help with budget.
As Oneida County searches for ways to help fund its 911 emergency dispatch system, local officials have pointed the finger squarely at the state 
New York collects $1.20 per month on cellphone bills, and local officials say the roughly $190 million collected is supposed to be distributed to the many local 911 centers in the state.
But as explained in the article, the local officials got it wrong.  There was never a guarantee that the money from that $1.20 charge would go to the county's 911 center.  In fact, it can be argued that the county has already benefited from the $1.20 charge because it "won" the Homeland Security training center occupying the old OC Airport since Homeland Security is partially supported by that charge. Sounds like the County expanded 911 without knowing how to pay for it . . . and now it is the State's fault?

 County claims unfair treatment in business bid
Oneida County was not treated fairly by the state when it went up against Onondaga County in hopes of landing a fruit processing plant, say local officials ...
But as indicated by the article, the local officials appear not to have been aware of the advantage that the competing site had because it was a state-owned facility.  So now it is the State's fault that OC lost?  (Isn't government-created "unfairness" pretty much the norm in New York -- and hasn't Oneida County raked in $millions from state and federal programs for economic development that other areas might regard as "unfair" to them?  There seems to be never enough -- money or excuses.)

 From last August: NanoCenter project denied wetland permit
Work has already been completed on roads and water and sewer lines, but without the wetlands permit, the site can't be made shovel-ready. . . . EDGE is consulting with legal counsel and federal, state, and local officials to find out where to go from here.
Meanwhile the County has doubled down committing more money to infrastructure using the non-permitted nano-center as justification, including hitting up the State for a cool $5 million and hitting up sewer users for another $7 mil. This money is just piled on top of millions more spent while they've known of the permit problem for 8 years!  Is it smart to prepare a site that might never get a permit?

Airport, county seek operator for tower
Griffis International Airport is taking steps to line up its own air traffic control tower operator should the Federal Aviation Administration make good on its plan ot end tower funding June 15 . . . 
More taxpayer money thrown at an "International" airport with no scheduled flights -- on top of $10s of millions already spent on this white elephant.  It seems every 3 months there is a new need to tap the taxpayers.

At some point you just have to scratch your head and ask:  Does anyone in County government do more than a half-[baked] analysis before getting us deeper into these schemes?

But wait,  it gets much much worse . . .