Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Whither the Debate, Mr. Hanna?

GOP candidates debate in north NY Congress primary
The two Republican primary candidates in the sprawling 21st Congressional District agreed on many issues, but continued to spar over their roots in northern New York during a debate Tuesday.
But to date, no debate has been scheduled between the contenders for the 22nd Congressional District. . . . According to newscasts, Mr. Hanna refuses to schedule one.

We've seen Mr. Hanna's reluctance to debate before where it appeared that Mr. Hanna was threatening to pull campaign ads from TV stations  that intended to go forward with "debates" that he did not want to participate in. . . . but we gave Mr. Hanna the benefit of the doubt then.

Unless Mr. Hanna changes his position, there is nothing to doubt now. 

Avoidance of scrutiny by a public servant should be taken as arrogance.

More on the STEM Shortage Myth . . .

From the Florida Bizpac Review: US needs better human resources directors, not foreign workers
In a 2013 article, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers suggested the United States has all the skilled workers it needs.

“[T]here are more STEM workers than suitable jobs. One study found, for example, that wages for U.S. workers in computer and math fields have largely stagnated since 2000,” institute officials wrote in an article published in its Spectrum journal. “Even as the Great Recession slowly recedes, STEM workers at every stage of the career pipeline, from freshly minted grads to mid- and late-career Ph.D.s, still struggle to find employment as many companies, including Boeing, IBM, and Symantec, continue to lay off thousands of STEM workers.” . . .

“About 15 million U.S. residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a STEM discipline, but three-fourths of them –11.4 million — work outside of STEM,” the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers reported.

Perhaps the institute should set up a nationwide job bank to help employers find the high-tech professionals companies say don’t exist.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Will a Double Standard Be Applied?

F.X. Matt brewing official to explain expansion project to residents 

In West Utica the proposal is to change zoning from multifamily residential to industrial.

Sounds like "spot zoning"does it not?

Will the same people who opposed adding the auto overlay zone for a Stewarts in East Utica (in an area that is already commercial) now claim that the Brewery's proposal is contrary to the Master Plan and oppose it? . . . or

Will a Double Standard be applied?

Who's the Extremist?

Houma Abedin, top aide to Hillary Clinton while secretary of state, was reputed to have been the daughter and sister of members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Common Sense would tell most people that Ms. Abedin would pose a security risk, but somehow she was able to obtain a high position in this administration.

Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman questioned Ms. Abedin's status... but our own congressman called Ms. Bachman an "extremist" for doing so.

Who's the extremist here?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Will Syracuse Get It Right?

A Salina forum on rebuilding Interstate 81: Raw exchange on 'suffering' goes to core of debate
Tuesday, downtown developer Bob Doucette, a founder of Armory Square, gave a presentation on why he wants the interstate gone. He did it on the home court of Mark Nicotra, Salina supervisor and a principal in Save I-81, a group that calls for keeping the high-speed interstate more or less where it is.
This was much like the debate in Utica over the N-S Arterial remake. Neighbors of the highway in-town pushed for a boulevard while suburban interests wanted an expressway.  In Utica, the suburban interests prevailed.

Syracuse has something that Utica did not have:  a successful developer pushing for a boulevard. It will be interesting to see if the Syracuse project turns out differently. 

HR 2131: Increasing the Labor Supply to Keep STEM Wages Low?

HR 2131: SKILLS Visa Act, a/k/a Supplying Knowledge-based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act, co-sponsored by many prominent Republicans, including our local congressman, was promoted to
To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to enhance American competitiveness through the encouragement of high-skilled immigration, and for other purposes.
From its summary the Act would
set worldwide employment-based immigration levels at: (1) 140,000 through FY2013, and (2) 235,000 beginning in FY 2014 reduced by the number of returned visas resulting from the elimination of the diversity immigrant program.
It seems that American Citizens will be getting it at both ends of the STEM: Increase the domestic supply of STEM workers by government subsidies or credits, and import more from out of the country... At a time when there IS NO SHORTAGE.

That's "free market" for ya!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

STEM: Have We Been Misled?

Over a year ago our local congressman pushed a bill that he created that would provide a tax credit to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) majors.
“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.
One would get the impression that there is a national shortage of STEM majors if we have to "encourage" students to do what "we say they should be doing." We previously blogged about this bill here.

The problem is, there ISN'T a STEM shortage after all: What STEM Shortage? (Steven Camarota in National Review Online)
The idea that we need to allow in more workers with science, technology, engineering, and math (“STEM”) background is an article of faith among American business and political elite.
. . . The country has well more than twice as many workers with STEM degrees as there are STEM jobs. Also consistent with other research, we find only modest levels of wage growth for such workers for more than a decade. Both employment and wage data indicate that such workers are not in short supply.
So why the push to increase STEM majors and why the push to allow easy immigration of foreign workers with STEM degrees?
The answer, put simply, is greed and politics. 
The businesses that want more immigration would get more workers to choose from, holding wages in check and increasing their bargaining power over their employees.
Read the entire article for an explanation why both political parties have colluded to perpetrate the STEM myth. And ask yourself afterward:

 "Who still represents the interests of the everyday ordinary citizen in Congress?"

Monday, May 19, 2014

School Election 2014 - A Turning Point

School elections are tomorrow.  Unless you have children in school -- or your school taxes have become unaffordable --  the motivation to vote is often not there.

But this year is different.  This is the first election since implementation of the Common Core, giving a national-issue dimension to your local school election.

Ask your candidates how they feel about Common Core.  Ask what they think they can do about implementation of Common Core.  If you get something back like "higher standards are always a good thing," ask them how they know the standards are "higher?"  If you get something back like "I have taken an oath of office to uphold the law" ask them how do they know what the law is?

If you are told that the problem is in the "implementation of the standards,"  run the other way.  You are facing someone who believes that the Common Core standards (which are a vehicle for political indoctrination) are a good thing.

The students of today will be running the government of the future.  What you choose tomorrow may define that future.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Symptoms of NY's "Malaise?" . . . or the Cause?

Per the OD today "1 Year Later, Oneida's deal showing results."  However, the problem with the OIN agreement, like the MVWA-Canal Corp. agreement, like the "StartUpNY" approach to economic development, is that they are all examples of "Crony Capitalism." In all three, the State government gives a special "deal" to a particular party while the impacts to/rights of non-participants get ignored. 

At some point, the people and businesses not on-the-take figure out that NY discounts their value, and they go elsewhere -- further undermining NY's economy.  

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Utica Planning: Ripe for a New Beginning . . .

The recent coming together of ordinary citizens from West Utica and East Utica to debate the location of a Stewart's Shop is both a symptom of the Utica Master Plan's unfinished nature and a demonstration of what is needed to complete the job.  The Master Plan should have already informed prospective developers of what is wanted or not wanted in each neighborhood.  The citizens' meeting demonstrates that the public still needs and desires to be engaged with planning on a site-specific level.

The Master Plan calls for a Citizens' Committee that as yet does not exist. There is now this group of citizens ready willing and able to get involved.  Give them maps . . . give them some professional guidance (like that in the recent Rust-to-Green planning meetings for Genesee Street), and have them map their vision for their neighborhoods.

The Utica Master Plan needs a Proposed Land Use Map for each neighborhood.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Federal Overreach . . .

From CNYCentral out of Syracuse: 55 colleges, including 4 from NY, facing sex assault investigations
55 colleges are facing Title IX sexual assault investigations, and four of them are in New York, according to the Education Department.

This, just two days after the White House task force promised government transparency on sexual assault in higher education. . . . “We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said. . . .
The four NY institutions are Hunter, Hobart & William Smith, Sarah Lawrence, and SUNY Binghamton. . . . But don't let that distract you from the real issue here . . .

While people talk about what it is about these institutions that gives cause to the investigations, no one seems to be asking how sexual assault -- a crime in probably every locality and state where the institutions are located -- became a FEDERAL ISSUE?

The Washington Post version of the story fills in the missing detail . . .
The [US Department of Education]’s Office for Civil Rights is examining complaints it received from individuals on campuses and those it discovered as part of its regular efforts to see if schools are in compliance with the federal law known as Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender at schools that receive federal funding.
So if a student gets sexually assaulted at a school that is NOT receiving federal funding, there is NO Title IX violation!

We have here a bureaucracy, the Dept. of Education, that is alleged to be focused on education injecting itself into what are local and/or state crime prevention/enforcement matters. No doubt there are lawyers, investigators, administrative proceedings, etc that goes with this.   Compounding this overlap with state penal authority, the US Dept. of Education is, itself, an unnecessary and Constitutionally unauthorized involvement with State's matters, because education was never made the responsibility of the Federal Government.

What allows the Federal Government to inject itself into state and local matters?  Federal Dollars!  With the taxpayers going into hock 40 cents for each dollar spent.

The Constitution gives the Federal Government specific responsibilities:  defense, border security, international trade regulation, etc. Remaining matters were reserved to the States and the People. Cutting the Federal government out of the non-essential matters will result in less debt, better focus on Federal responsibilities, non-duplication with lower levels of government, and decisions being made closer to the people affected (which hopefully will be better ones).

As Mies van der Rohe once said, "Less is more."