Thursday, May 21, 2015

And the Next Raleigh-Durham is . . . Utica?

Yes, you can feel it in the air. There is a new sense of hope in Utica for a brighter future. It has been a long time coming . . . and it is a good thing!

Per the OD today, a HUD official says that Utica could be the next Raleigh-Durham!  The official, Mr. Forero out of the Albany HUD office, pointed to Utica's population statistics and noted that they were similar to Raleigh-Durham, NC, one of the country's fastest growing cities.

Comparing ourselves to our competitors to see how we measure up is a good thing. It shows us where we are strong, and where we need improvement.  The fact that Utica has a young demographic like Raleigh-Durham gives hope for the future.

But will these young people stay here?

How does Utica compare to Raleigh-Durham by other measures?  Are its taxes as low as Raleigh-Durham? Are its utility costs as low as Raleigh-Durham?  Does a "Right to Work" law prevail like in Raleigh-Durham? Are Utica's demographics the product of people flocking to Utica for employment opportunities like in Raleigh-Durham, or are they due to the importation of people from areas of strife in other parts of the world?

Utica needs to be able to answer these questions honestly, to know some of the changes it needs to make to actually become the next Raleigh-Durham.

In so far as listening to Federal HUD officials, if the Federal Government was not spreading around millions of tax dollars (OUR tax dollars), should anyone actually listen to these people?  The Federal Government is the source of the "20% Affordable Housing" requirement for new housing developments found in the Utica Master Plan . . . a requirement in a city already known for the affordability of its housing stock . . .  and in a city that desperately needs Upscale housing to bring in tax revenue to sustain city services.

Utica is turning around through private efforts . . . and does not need Big Government to mess things up!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hotel Utica: Change the Management!

The Utica OD had been asking its readers for suggestions on what to do with the Hotel Utica now that a $million in back taxes is owed and a potential sale of the facility has recently fallen through.

How about this:  Run it as an hotel!

The hotel was beautifully restored during the last decade.  But the ability to bring about a successful restoration of an hotel does not mean there is an ability to successfully run an hotel.  A different skill set is involved.

The Utica Phoenix has an article this month that makes a strong case that the Hotel Utica's problems are due to poor management -- in particular by a family member of the hotel's owner.

Most people can understand that if you have a business, you want to take care of your kids. . . .

But here, the Taxpayers have been on the hook for this facility.  The City should use its creditor status to either leverage the owner to fire current management and hire someone with expertise and success in running a large hotel . . .

Or foreclose on the facility, hire the expert, and run the facility itself until a buyer can be found.

The fact that new hotels are going up in the vicinity establishes the market for hotel rooms. The City controls the hotel's environs (which could probably use some sprucing up).  The City has the power to fix this.

Taxpayers deserve movement on this issue.

Baby Killer!!

The headline in the Syracuse paper says it all:

House passes bill banning abortions after 20 weeks: Hanna splits with GOP

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Noon Update:

There is more than just the woman here -- there is another person. There is virtually no difference in that person before and after passing through the birth canal or being removed via C-section. The person is viable. Courts have long recognized wrongful death claims for babies in utero. Because abortion at early stages in pregnancy has been found legal, someone has to draw the line as to when personhood rights under the US Constitution attach. Like the abolition of slavery, that job properly belongs to Congress. And contrary to Mr. Hanna's assertion on his Facebook page, exceptions are provided for the mother's health and in other circumstances. See Section 1532 (b)(2)(B) at .

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Politics Over People . . .

That's the thought that replayed over and over in my mind as I listened to two painful interviews with State Sen. James Seward this morning, the first on WIBX and the second on WUTQ.

What was painful was listening to the Senator's excuses for voting for Sen. Flanagan of  Long Island as the new Senate Majority leader over Sen. DeFrancisco from Syracuse. Per WIBX sources . . .
Seward’s vote was instrumental in keeping the leadership of the Republican run senate on Long Island. . .
Seward seemed to gloss over the vote when speaking with Keeler saying, “by the time the vote got to (him) it was already decided.” Keeler challenged that point and asked about inside sources who say 2 Long Island senators threatened to retire if Flanagan wasn’t elected, which would most likely lead to the Republicans losing their majority in the Senate
Mr. Seward was not the only one.  Six Upstate Republicans threw in for the Downstater over the guy from Syracuse.    Per the Syracuse paper
Some Upstate conservatives felt Monday's vote was a blow to the gut.

Seward responded, "I would say, I'm more concerned with the agenda that's pursued rather than with where a leader is from."   
Well what agenda is that, Mr. Seward?

In both interviews Seward in sickening fashion rattled on and on about his "agenda" dealing with some of the intricacies of the SAFE Act and the Common Core rollout. . . . things that would be of interest to Republicans in Westchester and Long Island.

But these problems are symptoms of a much bigger issue for everyone North and West of Poughkeepsie: Upstate's borderline Third World economy caused by The Tyranny of the Downstate Majority.

Simply put, for our region the difference between Republican and Democrat is not as significant as the difference between Upstate and Downstate.  Here was the opportunity, via the Majority Leader position, for Upstate to strongly influence the "agenda" -- to advance an Upstate Agenda -- but the 6 Upstate Republicans including Mr. Seward who voted for Mr. Flanagan blew it. 

They were more concerned about their party than their constituents. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Indian Point: Our Problem, Too . . .

Local residents need to keep an eye on the aftermath of the recent explosion at the Indian Point nuclear plant near Poughkeepsie, NY.  No, there was no meltdown.  Systems properly shut down when the explosion occurred.  However, there was an oil spill. . . . You can be sure that there will be more calls for the plant to be shut down, even though it supplies 25% of the power for New York City and Westchester County. People have been calling for shutdown of this plant for years.

In addition, coal fired plants in the Downstate region are in the process of being shut down.  Protection of the environment is cited as the reason.

While to some Indian Point and the closure of coal plants may be a Downstate problem, and to others it may be an Environmental problem, for us locally it represents an Economic Problem. Because from where will the power to replace that of the shut down plants come from?

Indian Point needs to be kept open. If it is closed...which is Cuomo's goal...history will repeat itself. Cuomo's father shut down the Shoreham LI nuke plant due to popular pressure ...and Upstaters -- inspite of having an abundance of cheap hydro power -- now pay some of the highest electrical rates in the nation because our power was sent Downstate. The high rates contributed to Upstate's loss of jobs. Solar and wind have not proven economical compared to fossil fuels...

Sure a meltdown is a scary possibility, and coal-fired plants may be obnoxious. But we Upstaters are living in almost a third world economic reality now to keep the City and environs lit. 

If we have to give up more to help Downstate, what would we get in return?

For past Fault Lines commentary concerning Indian Point check out these posts.
2006: Environmental Justice
2008: NYRI/Marcy-South;  Indian Point Progress ; Not Fighting NYRI on All Fronts
2011: Cuomo, Jr.'s Shoreham

Friday, May 08, 2015

Buffalo Billion: The Secrecy Continues . . .

The Buffalo Billion Solar City project, its Utica connection, and the secrecy from NYS was discussed here in January, largely based upon a December article in the Investigative Post.

Today, several months later, the "main stream media" has picked up on the secrecy problem on the Buffalo News' editorial page: Transparency needed at Solar City construction site.
For those unfamiliar with the project, the construction of this facility is being financed entirely through the state of New York. New York will own the facility and all equipment within it, with SolarCity promising to provide 3,000 employees to utilize it. . . .

As frequently happens when dealing with projects involving the government, the devil is in the details. As Associated Builders and Contractors and our members began inquiring as to how to get work on this massive $750 million dollar-plus project, we ran into a brick wall.

The more research we did on this issue for our members, the more frustrated we became. In fact, it came to a point where our staff was actually submitting Freedom of Information Act requests to find out more information on the bidding, who was getting the work that was being done, etc. These requests for information have gone unanswered.
Back in December, the State was stonewalling an investigative reporter on how taxpayers' money was being spent. Now the State is stonewalling a construction trade association on who is performing all the site work...

 We The People are taxed to the yazoo in NYS but are not entitled to see how money is spent or who is benefiting. Seems like nothing ever changes in New York State.