Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Sorry State of Local Media . . .

Quad-C was announced in 2009.  In 2012 when the lack of action had become apparent, we were told that was because the scope of the project had increased. In 2013 we were told that a consortium of 6 companies would spend $1.5 Billion on chip R&D at Quad-C. In 2014 rumors that a key player in the 6 member consortium at Quad-C had backed out were quickly pooh-poohed by local media, but by 2015 we were told that GE would be the "anchor tenant." No mention -- much less an inquiry -- was made of what happened to the 6 member consortium. In July, 2016, a report out of Albany surfaced that work had stopped on a GE facility there that would manufacture components to be used at the GE facility here.  Again, little mention and no inquiry were made by local media as to where that would leave the Utica facility. More than 7 years after Quad-C was announced, here we sit with an empty white elephant and no clear path to occupancy in sight.  Worse, taxpayers and water and sewer rate-payers are on the hook to at least partially pay for and maintain the additional infrastructure to support both Marcy Nano and Quad-C -- infrastructure that our declining population does not need for itself.

The process is playing out again with the Downtown Hospital, where excuses for ignoring every site other than Downtown are readily accepted (e.g. the "wetlands" at the St. Luke's site are minuscule and have already been partially built upon), while questions about Downtown are side-stepped.  We still do not know the name of the person who originated the idea of placing the hospital downtown. We do not know who told MV EDGE it was OK to offer MVHS a site that was already occupied by going businesses, taxpayers, and public thoroughfares. How can a Downtown site have been chosen without even a Draft Environmental Impact Statement to aid in the choice between sites?

The Utica-area public is not composed of snowflakes incapable of bearing bad news.  We have been hardened by years of public corruption (hopefully in the past), disappointment and being misled. But we are bearing costs, financial as well as emotional, that are attached to these large government efforts being allegedly made on our behalf but so far showing no return.  We are entitled to the facts so that if the costs become too burdensome to bear we will know where to make changes.

While our suspicions have been confirmed that local officials have been holding bad news back from us, that does not excuse the lack of reporting on these issues by the media -- unless they have ceased being journalists and become propagandists for our elected officials and Chambers of Commerce. Lacking the facts, how are voters supposed to made informed decisions when these officials seek reelection?

Monday, December 19, 2016

No Nano . . . Now What?

The bottom dropped out of our economic development efforts on Friday as ams AG withdrew from the Marcy Nanocenter project.   And according to the Rome Sentinel headline, area officials place blame at the state level for no chip plant.

The finger pointing is sadly funny, because the Marcy project never even got to first base until the "state level" got the site's federal wetlands permit.   

So currently the Mohawk Valley is a two time loser on this venture, 2006 and now. Maybe the third time will be the charm . . .

In the mean time, what have we done as an area to make ourselves competitive with other parts of the country that have taken our jobs over the years?  How do our taxes compare?  How do our water, sewer, electric costs compare? How do our transportation costs compare? How does our regulatory complexity compare?

Hint: The burdens have not been lessened.

Until the fundamental issues affecting business' bottom line are remedied, our "economic development" efforts will always result in limited return.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The End of an Era . . .

Per WIBX, after 120 years, the Utica School of Commerce will close December 23rd due to sinking enrollment.

No surprise.  Literally around the corner Utica College recently established a business school in the old Woolworth's building.  And UC recently reduced its tuition.

Competition can be difficult, but good in the long run for the consumer.

Still, after 120 years and so many graduates in this area, it is sad to see USC go.
For Downtown, two steps forward, one step back.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

"Green 20" Schneiderman - A Win for the Public . . .

Per yesterday's National Review:
Last week, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and “Green 20” — an attorney-general-led coalition seeking to limit climate change — received yet another blow to their ongoing legal crusade against ExxonMobil when New York acting supreme court justice Henry Zwack ruled in favor of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free-market think tank that has received funding from ExxonMobil. 
As a result of the ruling, Schneiderman must comply with CEI’s FOIA request for the common-interest agreements made between his office and other state attorneys general, as well as his agreements with environmental activists. CEI believes that its FOIA request will reveal evidence that the lawsuit is politically motivated.
Good!  The New York public has a right to know whether its Attorney General is going after real lawbreakers or has weaponized his governmental office at the behest of special interests to harass those who disagree with them.

This is not the first time we've noticed that AG Schneiderman's actions have seemed politically motivated.

More on the Green 20 effort may be found in Investors Business Daily from August, and The Federalist Society from May.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Strange Stein Action. . .

By now you know about Jill Stein's request for a recount of the presidential votes in MI, WI, and PA.

Ms. Stein claims that she is calling for recounts because "we deserve election results that we can trust," and cites the potential for certain types of voting machines to be hacked.

The B.S. meter just went off scale.

First, and foremost, if Ms. Stein was seriously concerned about the hack-ability of voting machines, Stein and her "scientist"/ activist friends should have raised the issue long BEFORE the election at a time when it could have been fixed.

Second, until now, no one really questioned the election results, so Stein's reason for requesting the recount is a lie. Mrs. Clinton already conceded the election without requesting a recount, and there has been no evidence found whatsoever that any hacking had taken place. 

Third, Ms. Stein has no chance of winning (the usual reason for requesting a recount) and does not represent the public (she is not an election official).  And . . .

Fourth, it is strange that someone who did not garner more than 2% of the vote and admits to engaging in vandalism could gather the millions of dollars needed for a recount in such a short period of time. Who is supplying the cash?

Add on to all this, the stories floating out there about George Soros' connection to election machines in use in the US, his donations to Mrs. Clinton's campaign, and his upsetting the politics in overseas countries and then financially profiting from it, one really has to wonder what is going on.

Rather than give us "results that we can trust" Ms. Stein appears to be searching for reasons for us to distrust our election system. That serves our enemies well. If the results are upset, the turmoil would serve our enemies even better. 

No wonder why the Green Party is called the "Watermelon Party": Green on the outside but Red on the inside."  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The "Fourth Term" of Richard Hanna? - A 2nd Try ...

Well THIS seems to say it all. You judge a man by the company he keeps, and Mr. Babinec looks right at home with Our Local Republican Elite. 

You know Our Local Republican Elite ... The Ones always looking for that next big grant for that next "big project" that will solve our woes -- but never does . . . . The Ones who claim to work for you and me but have no problem giving us the highest taxes in the nation, putting us further into debt, and increasing water and sewer fees. . . . The Ones who constantly build more stuff for "economic development" that we do not need but have to maintain ... The Ones who won't hesitate to take your property to keep their schemes going . . . The Ones who will happily back a Democrat over a Republican (or split a Republican vote to elect a Democrat) if it keeps the money moving . . . The Ones who refuse to accept the decision of the Republican rank-and-file to support Ms. Tenney as their candidate, because they do not want their apple carts upset.

For all the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been brought into our area supposedly for us, only the connected are better off. 

It's time we stopped being used by Our Local Republican Elite! 

Vote Claudia Tenney for Congress.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Who is Exploiting the "Digital Divide?"

Per the ADK Daily Enterprise, U. S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is touting a new program to bring high speed internet access to rural areas. Bi-partisan support is expected. Congressional Candidate Martin Babinec also promotes the idea.

Using Democrat/RINO Republican-style identity politics that divides us into groups, Mr. Babinec cites a "digital-divide" between urban and rural areas where 74% of urban households have access to high-speed internet as compared with 64% in rural areas, raising fears of stunted educational and business development outcomes. (Somehow 74% to 64% does not sound like much of a divide, but if it makes some people jealous or envious and gets their vote, it works politically).

Obviously someone has to pay for these schemes.

Left on its own, the market will extend broadband to rural areas when there are sufficient customers willing to pay the necessary costs to put it there.

Gillibrand and Babinec propose to give a few people something for nothing. These proposals encourage waste, requiring the subsidy of service where it is not self-sustaining. (This is no different than "regionalizing" the water system in Utica, a topic exhaustively covered by this blog over many years).

To the extent the rural broadband proposals are intended to "promote economic growth," they contravene "smart growth" principles by encouraging "growth" (or urban sprawl) on locations where where additional services (such as water, sewer, roads, police and fire protection) will be demanded. Most likely the taxpayers will contribute to construct the system,  and existing broadband customers will have their monthly bills increased to maintain it.

The proposals of Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Babinec are socialist, redistributionist solutions that will increase all our costs to benefit a few users, but, important for the politicians, benefit politically-connected contractors.  If you want to know who these contractors might be, read the two links above and read in between the lines.  Several technology companies have signed onto Ms. Gillibrand's proposal. Mr. Babinec is pushing a "digital curriculum" that would seem to appeal to the same technology and education companies who are behind Common Core.

If high speed internet is important to your family or your business, then look for a city that has it!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lackluster Performance . . . and Expectations.

Per the headline in the Sentinel: County’s household income trails state, national averages, Census Bureau figures show.
The household median income in the county — with a population of 232,500 — was $48,023, according to the 2015 American Community Survey. The statewide average was $60,850 while it the national figure was $55,775.
Clearly OC's income is lackluster compared with the rest of the state and country. But won't the State and County's "chip" related "investments" completely transform the regional economy?

The article tells us that Saratoga County's median income is over $75K, that Saratoga County is the center of Capital Region chip manufacturing, that local officials look forward to the impact of our chip fab, and that the average pay of all fab employees will be about $60K. The article suggests the chips will turn things around, but . . .


Assuming for the sake of argument that chip manufacturing will bring in 5,000 new jobs (instead of the 750-1000 seen in various prior press reports) that pay the $60,000 noted above, add same to the current labor force of about 132,000 for Utica-Rome (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) with the current average  pay for OC households of $48,023, the average pay for the region will ZOOM from $48,023 to . . . . $48,460! OR ABOUT a 0.8% increase.

In other words, 5,000 new $60K chip-fab jobs will hardly be a ripple in the local labor pond.  And that is assuming there will be takers for those jobs.


Based on the article, OC incomes are 14% below the national averages. But the cost of living in Utica-Rome is about 21% higher than the national average, with childcare, taxes and healthcare being the main culprits.  With these extra costs, why would people come here? Government subsidized childcare and healthcare (a temptation of politicians) would be no answer because they would only make the level of taxation all the more onerous.

Simply put, our local economy has passed the point of being able to sustain itself while people and businesses are free to go elsewhere.  Expensive "economic development" projects paid for by taxpayers only exacerbate the situation.

It is time to shrink the role of government in our regional economy.  Only then may we free up enough private capital to make it worthwhile for individuals to invest in the local economy.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Why So Fast?

The ink was barely dry on the charges against Alain Kaloyeros when, within 24 hours, Senator Griffo and Assemblyman Brindisi called upon SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher to fire him as president and CEO of SUNY Poly.
“It is extremely important that the primary mission of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute—the education of students—continue unimpeded."
Thank goodness they care about the institution's mission! What a change from two years ago when they precipitously ignored any concern over the Utica campus' identity, tradition, and mission to cheer the merger of SUNYIT with the glamorous (but niche oriented) College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Control of a Utica-centered institution was transferred to one more focused on Albany. Mr. Griffo and Mr. Brindisi need to own that... and perhaps they do, since they are now calling for the new president to be stationed at the Utica campus.

However, calling for Kaloyeros' ouster seems equally precipitous now.

It is understandable to want to remove the cloud that now hangs over the Utica campus. However, CNSE and SUNY Poly would not have existed but for Kaloyeros. There had not been this much excitement in the SUNY system since the 1960s when tons of money were spent on buildings and talent to make Stony Brook the "Cal Tech of the East." Kaloyeros brought that same kind of excitement to Albany, and made a piece of U. Albany so distinctive and important that it could stand on its own.

Let's not be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Courses and personnel are already in place at SUNY Poly, so the inertia is there to carry the institution forward on its current trajectory for awhile.  Kaloyeros is innocent until proven guilty, and he is fighting the charges. The fact that AG Schneiderman is also going after him suggests that the State charges may be politics.  Kaloyeros is neither a politician, developer, nor a "hanger-on" like the rest of the defendants seem to be, but he undoubtedly knows where all the bodies are buried. My suspicion is that he got sucked into whatever the ones with the political power were doing, and they are now throwing him under the bus to take the fall.

The record of Ms. Zimpher and the rest of the SUNY system has been rather lackluster, with a focus that seems geared to "economic development" rather than academic achievement.  If Kaloyeros is permanently replaced, it will likely be just another college administrator like we've had over the years, only now it will be one responsible for two campuses.  Kaloyeros, however, is more than an administrator.  He is a brilliant scientist in his own right, as well as a visionary.  He will be hard to replace.

Let the justice system's processes play out for awhile before throwing Dr. Kaloyeros overboard.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Running Out of Shoes to Drop . . .

Well it has happened. Per the headline in the Times Union this morning: Kaloyeros to be arraigned Friday morning in Albany. Mr. Kaloyeros, head of SUNY Poly here in Utica, and others are accused of bid-rigging on various high profile state-sponsored economic development projects across upstate New York -- projects that are the centerpiece of the governor's economic development efforts.

Local officials have been quick to point out neither of the two large projects in the Utica area, the AMS chip fab and Quad-C, have been implicated in the wrong-doing, and that progress on same is still expected.

Don't bet on it.

First, there has been no visible progress at Quad-C for months.  As noted in this blog on July 28 (a) the six-member "consortium" that was expected to occupy the building seemed to have vanished, replaced by GE without explanation; and (b) work had stopped on the GE facility in Albany that was to make the chips designated for packaging at Quad-C.  Although covered in Albany media, local media has been largely silent.  Until officials "come clean" on what has happened with Quad-C, we can speculate that there was never a commitment from the "consortium's" members, and that the governor strong-armed GE to step into the breech, using the state's supervision of a very expensive GE clean-up project in the Hudson River as leverage. If that is indeed what happened, GE would be a reluctant player in Quad-C, and will pull out at the first opportunity.

Second, control over the AMS project is now being transferred from SUNY Poly to Empire State Development.  While some local officials claim that ESD is where the project should have been all along, they are ignoring the fact that it was SUNY-Poly -- and probably Kaloyeros' expertise -- that got the project out of federal wetland limbo by obtaining the permit that allowed construction to go forward.  It is unknown whether this savvy will be required again to keep construction on track, but if so, it was SUNY Poly and Kaloyeros that had it, not ESD.    

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pay Raises for Everyone!

It must be the change of seasons. First there was a proposal to give raises to State legislators. Then to Utica officials. And Now to the County Executive and County Legislators!

And the pay raises are in the double digit percentages... About 60% for county legislators!

The money we pay them now certainly has not bought good government. We have some of the highest taxes in the country. Our area continues to bleed population and jobs. What reason is there to believe that better pay will produce better results?

In Saratoga County, which is increasing in population and doing well economically, they do not pay legislators ... Because they have no "legislators." Rather they have a Board of Supervisors who are paid by Town taxpayers ... Supervisors: people with direct responsibilities for day to day town operations, rather than people who merely vote and can point to their collective actions and executive recommendations as cover for poor results. A Board of Supervisors is the kind of government Oneida County had when it was booming.

Enough is enough.

Perhaps the solution to our poor local government, which seems to operate on behalf of a local elite rather than the average citizen and taxpayer, is to CUT LEGISLATOR PAY TO ZERO!

Simply put, paying legislators is a way to control their votes.

Maybe if legislator pay is cut to zero we will at least see government acting on behalf of the average citizen and taxpayer instead of special interests.

P.S. Our State legislators could use a "haircut" too! Texas, which is larger than NY geographically and in population, only pays its legislators about $33,000, and most of that is for expenses. New York pays 3-4 times as much. In Texas the legislators apparently see their job in the nature of doing the public good, rather than a career for themselves. The result: State policies that for years have made Texas a haven for people and businesses. Cut the pay of New York legislators and you cut the people acting in their own self interests.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New MVWA Transmission Line: 3 Things to Know . . .

Once the Mohawk Valley Water Authority received its state permit to expand throughout several towns surrounding Utica, you knew that the headline posted yesterday on the WKTV website would follow: New, larger water transmission line to help feed development, Nano Utica.  The story is spun as positive -- that the line would protect us from drought and provide water for "development."

Here are 3 things to know that you are not being told:

1) Current MVWA customers and the planned Quad-C and AMS projects do not need a larger transmission line, as there is already enough capacity to serve them.

Both the population and number of industries served by MVWA have declined from their peak several decades ago, resulting in a decrease in water demand from about 23 MGD to just under 19 MGD.   The current system is capable of producing up to 32 MGD with about 8 MGD lost to leaks.

2) Current MVWA customers are being forced to pay for someone else's water infrastructure needs. 

Since we customers do not need the larger transmission line for our own needs, and since MVWA's primary source of income is our water bills, we are being forced to pay for the infrastructure needs of the local elite who run the MVWA and their friends, including the speculative "build it and they will come" dreams of our local politicians.

3)  People in Herkimer County will pay in lost recreation and associated business income, lost power generation, and infringement of common law water rights.

Hinckley Reservoir was built to serve Canal purposes, not be MVWA's reservoir. Of all the non-Canal uses, only MVWA removes water from the Hinckley Reservoir - West Canada Creek system. Formerly MVWA was required to replace what it removed from Hinckley during dry weather with water from its own reservoir-- a reservoir that was required to be expanded to almost 1/4 the size of Hinckley itself as MVWA increased its water withdrawals. Since the State has eliminated this requirement, as MVWA ramps up its water withdrawals, water levels on Hinckley Reservoir will be low more frequently than they are now interfering with recreation, water uses and related business income on the West Canada Creek likely will be curtailed, hydropower generation will be reduced, and landowners along the creek will not have the amount of water flowing by their properties to which they are entitled by common law.

In sum, the politicians and elites who control the MVWA are using it to prey upon individuals and businesses to benefit themselves and their friends.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Shoe-Drop at Quad-C?

Back in 2012 we were concerned over the lack of action on the 2009-announced Quad-C project but were assured the delay was for a good reason: the scope of the project had grown.

In 2013 we were told that a consortium of 6 companies would spend $1.5 Billion on chip R&D at the Utica SUNY campus in a new facility then under construction (Quad-C).

In 2014 rumors that a key player in the 6 member consortium at Quad-C had backed out were quickly pooh-poohed by our local media.

In 2015 when we got the news that the Marcy chip-fab site had finally landed AMS as a tenant, we were also told that GE would now be the "anchor tenant" at Quad-C. There was no mention -- much less an inquiry -- in the local media of what happened to the 6 member consortium.

We have waited seven years and, yes, a gleaming new building was constructed ... but that building is still unoccupied.

In 2016? The word out of Albany today is not good.  Headline on the Albany Business Review website this afternoon: Work stopped at SUNY Poly, GE project.
The construction company building a manufacturing pilot facility at SUNY Polytechnic Institute's Albany campus has halted work after not being paid by the state since January...

Pike is building a $25 million pilot manufacturing line for new technology from General Electric (NYSE: GE) to make silicon carbide wafers. Tehan said the company started work in the fall and was paid for four months of work, until January...

The manufacturing pilot in Albany is part of the New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium, a $500 million public-private partnership. GE anchors the group...

The second phase of the partnership between GE and SUNY Poly is a packaging center in Utica. Chips made at the Albany manufacturing site would then be placed into modules and power blocks for use in electronics there.
Soooo ... if the Albany facility that will make the chips intended to be used in Utica at Quad-C is on hold, what does that mean for Quad-C?

Seven years and an empty building: Is there a word that combines  the meanings of "slow-motion train-wreck" with "white elephant?"  

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

FBI & HRC: An Indictment of Systemic Corruption

It was painful to watch FBI Director James Comey deliver his decision yesterday to not prosecute Hillary Clinton for federal law violations related to her mis-handling of e-mail -- especially after detailing all the evidence against her. Of all the federal agencies, the FBI seemed to be one that the public could count upon to be above political influence. That reputation is now a thing of the past.

But to not prosecute was the only reasonable decision that could have been made under the circumstances. 

Comey would have had to work within a corrupted Dept. of Justice and administration as evidenced by AG Lynch's unprecedented meeting with Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama having endorsed HRC. Comey could not count upon a DOJ staff under Ms. Lynch's supervision. He could not count upon government witnesses ultimately answerable to Mr. Obama.  Furthermore, the administration's reputation for destroying those speaking out against it is well known. Comey's agents could become administration targets. And then could he depend upon impartial treatment in a DC Circuit populated by Obama-appointed judges? 

The deck is stacked against a successful prosecution by systemic corruption.

Comey would know that only the voters could fix this. That is why he presented his case against HRC to the court of public opinion yesterday instead of a court of law, even though it made him look foolish. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The "Fourth Term" of Richard Hanna?

An invitation crossed my desk today … an invitation to a fundraising cocktail reception at the Yahnundasis for Steve Wells. Nothing usual about that. Fundraisers are held for candidates all the time.

But a $150 minimum? Isn’t this a bit exclusive? Exclusive of the rank-and-file Republicans who have been financially harmed by Local, State, and National economic policies?

More telling, however, is the list of sponsors for this event, a Who’s Who of our local Republican Elite.

You know "Our Elite:”
  • the ones who have no problem with a Sales Tax that is head and shoulders above surrounding counties …
  • the ones who have no problem with some of the highest property taxes in the nation …
  • the ones who had no problem closing down a perfectly-sized and well-maintained airport in return for a boatload of Federal funds, an oversized behemoth, and multiple opportunities for well-connected contractors to profit …
  • the ones constantly dumping County taxpayer money into an “International” airport with no scheduled flights …
  • the ones who used County tax money to build a passenger terminal that can only be used by those fortunate enough to fly private planes …
  • the ones who have no problem taking water from Herkimer County and the residents of Greater Utica and sending it, at the people’s expense, to the Oneida Indian Nation and western Oneida County …
  • the ones who support removing hundreds of acres from the local tax rolls and placing it into Federal Trust for the benefit of the Oneida Indian Nation …
  • the ones who favor taking properties permanently off Utica’s taxrolls and closing city streets to grab $300 million in state funds for a new hospital, which can be built on sites nearby without the negative impacts …
  • the ones who have presided over a drop in regional population of Biblical proportion …
  • the ones who stood silent while the Republican County Executive appeared in television and radio advertisements against the Republican Gubernatorial candidate and actually endorsed Democrat Governor Cuomo …
  • the ones who stood by while the voters of several Oneida and Herkimer County towns had their representation diluted by Suburban New York City voters in a Gerrymandered, string-bean shaped Assembly District in a blatant, but unsuccessful, attempt to depose the local Assemblywoman who had become a thorn in their side and a threat to "business as usual" …
  • the ones who must have had a bad case of agita when that same Assemblywoman almost beat the incumbent Congressman in the last primary for the position.
Ahh, Our Elite . . . the ones who supported Congressman Hanna through two re-elections even though he:
  • told Republicans to donate to Democrats to advance women’s issues …
  • campaigned as a “fiscal conservative” yet opened the door to more spending by voting to increase the Federal debt ceiling every time it came up …
  • campaigned as a “fiscal conservative” yet proposed new big-spending programs of his own …
  • pushed for a larger role of the Federal government in education …
  • voted tens of times in “show votes” to “repeal Obamacare,” yet shrank from using the power of the purse to neutralize Obamacare by voting to fund it …
  • encouraged illegal immigration by voting against cutting off Section 8 housing subsidies for illegals …
  • advocated for more visas for foreign workers with technical degrees at a time when the number of American technical graduates far exceeded the job supply and when companies have used foreign workers to displace Americans …
  • approved of several "free trade" agreements that caused the loss of local jobs to foreign countries …
  • aided the potential infiltration of our government by Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers when he attacked Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann’s call for an investigation of how Huma Abedin (a top aide of Hillary Clinton) was able to get a security clearance …
  • routinely mocked conservatives who disagreed with him, including a 4th grader!
Ahh, Our Elite . . . the ones desperately conducting a smear campaign against Claudia Tenney, mischaracterizing her record.

No one can seriously question Ms. Tenney’s bona fides as a Conservative, although in the dysfunction that is Albany, votes can be misconstrued any way you want. The trumpeted “missed votes” is a distortion: She DID vote – on paper – as was her right while attending to personal family matters. When that should have been the end of the story, those intent on making a smear discussed that she may have been campaigning while she was away from Albany to care for her mother . . . So What? Her constituents were already served by her written votes. Simply, she did not have to be present.

Ms. Tenney is well known, even in the national media, as a person guided by conservative, Constitutional, small-government principles that is not beholden to special interests -- especially Our Elite.

Mr. Wells claims to have supported the Republican candidate in the last gubernatorial election, yet admits that his company, which has contracts with the state, made a large donation to Andrew Cuomo. Isn't that duplicitous? Isn't that more of what we currently have representing us in Washington?

Since Mr. Wells has no record in the public eye, he can only be judged by the company he keeps – which is the same company kept by Mr. Hanna: Our Elite.

If you like the job Our Elite have done, and if you like the job done by Richard Hanna, then by all means vote for Mr. Wells. They, and he, give us no reason to believe they will do anything different.

Even though Mr. Phillips comes across as a knowledgeable candidate above the frey, he has not been under constant attack and lacks the legislative experience of Ms. Tenney.

If you are tired of “business as usual” politics and tired of Republicans promising to do one thing and then doing the opposite, then consider CLAUDIA TENNEY as your choice this Congressional primary on Tuesday, June 28th.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Summit is Nice . . . a New Reservoir is Better!

Per today's OD Editorial:  Our View: Summit is needed to discuss Hinckley's future 

Absolutely!  A "summit" is needed! 

Among "players" seemingly left out of discussions thus far and who should be invited to the "summit" are the many with actual legal rights to the water. 

At common law landowners along the West Canada Creek below the Hinckley dam, such as Brookfield Power, are entitled to the Full Natural Flow of that Creek subject only to the State's superior right to divert water for navigation purposes. Diversions for other purposes, such as MVWA's use as a drinking water supply, are NOT protected at common law and potentially expose the State to liabilities for damages unless the water removed is replaced with "excess" water taken out of storage. 

To that end, prior to 2012, the MVWA was required to hold approximately 120 days of its water use in a storage reservoir upstream of Hinckley, and to use that water during drier weather to replace the water MVWA removed from Hinckley. In 2012 the State excused MVWA from this requirement. 

To maintain uses of the West Canada Creek below the dam, Hinckley must now perform the function of MVWA's storage reservoir in addition to its usual function of feeding the Canal. This "double duty" increases the likelihood that water levels on Hinckley Lake will be lower during drier weather than if Hinckley were just used to feel the canal. 

The situation for lake recreation will worsen as MVWA draws increasing amounts of water to serve the nanotech industry, and to serve western portions of Oneida County. 

If current uses of West Canada Creek water are to be maintained and new ones added, the only solution appears to be an engineering one: a new storage reservoir upstream of Hinckley capable of holding 120 days of MVWA's water useage. 

Given the terms of its 2012 agreement with MVWA, the State would seem to be responsible for this

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Federal Transgender Bathroom Mandate. . . .

The Federal government has issued "guidance" (backed by threats of lawsuits and loss of Federal education aid) to local school districts that requires them to allow students to use whichever bathroom (locker room, showers, etc.) matches the gender with which they "identify."  Liberals view this as another "civil rights" frontier in their war against "discrimination." They mock anyone who objects, dismissing objections as homophobic, bigoted, and provincial.

Objections have primarily focused on the sexual predator risk: that predators will use the Federal directive (or similar local laws) as "cover" to commit crimes in restrooms. But parents know their objections run deeper in ways they may not be able to articulate.

The American College of Pediatricians recently placed into words what most parents intuitively know: "Gender Ideology Harms Children."  In a nutshell, policies that support "gender confusion" behavior in children inhibit the mental development process that normally leads to acceptance of one's own biological sex, and leads to a host of mental problems as adults, including a significantly greater risk of suicide.  

Far from advancing "civil rights," those running the Federal government (most Democrats and a significant number of Republicans) are advancing a political agenda to further divide the nation against itself, to break down all institutions that could potentially challenge Federal authority: families, churches, bodies of religious beliefs, school systems, lower levels of government, and social groups and customs. Even persons who are self-sufficient can pose a threat (thus the need to "tax the rich").

This is only the latest of a multi-generational effort to condition the population to accept Federal control of all aspects of life without question . . . and without resistance. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Utica Will Be A-Maze-ing!

What might a combo sports facility/apartment complex on Whitesboro St. look like? The Catalyst's Facebook page contained the rendering below.  It looks great! The rendering serves its purpose to demonstrate that a sports and apartment complex can co-exist on the same site. BUT there are some troubling aspects to the rendering that, if not fixed, could spell more trouble for the future City of Utica.

The rendering shows more street closures that will make getting in and out of the proposed sports/apartment complex and Baggs Square West difficult. 

The project site can currently be accessed from the heart of Downtown via both Cornelia St. and Broadway. These streets run south all the way to Court St., which is part of a major East-West thoroughfare across town.  Cornelia and Broadway also provide an important visual connection between the project site and Downtown, helpful to both drivers and walkers making their way.  The site can also be reached via Washington and Seneca Sts; however, these streets, which formerly ran to Genesee, have been blocked by the Radisson and Ellen Hanna Park, and now only provide limited connectivity.

The rendering shows that the segment of Cornelia north of Oriskany Blvd will be eliminated, cutting off access to the west end of Whitesboro Street  and the west end of the project site. (Cornelia may also be cut off by the proposed hospital according to renderings of that project).  The north ends of Broadway and Seneca Sts. are being cut off by medians or a park from those streets to the south making access to these areas from the southern direction more difficult. This will reduce access to both the project site and Baggs Square West (which is already difficult to reach because of the N. Genny bridge).

It looks as though planners are depending on Washington St for site access to the south, but it's connectivity only runs to Lafayette -- and the value of that connection gets threatened if the proposed Hospital blocks Lafayette!

Whether the street closures are proposed by the developers, the city, the State DOT, or all of them, they spell trouble. It is as if they are deliberately creating a maze for people to navigate through! 

Utica should be re-connecting its streets, not cutting them off into small isolated segments, if it wants them to be accessible for economic activity.

Will the new Utica be Amazing . . . . or just a maze?

P.S.  Some afterthoughts . . . The connectivity problems on this rendering appear to be easily solvable by closing one block of Charles St., which has limited connectivity, switching buildings "a" with "e" and "f," re-configuring the existing connection between Cornelia and Whitesboro Sts. to give access to the proposed parking garage, and maintaining the existing connections of Broadway and Seneca.

The connectivity problem with the proposed hospital can be similarly improved by designing  the buildings to maintain the current street grid. (This is NOT an endorsement of that project, but it will at least reduce some of its off-site impacts.)

The city should be applauded for trying to make this work -- but wouldn't it have been better to simply lay down some general principles in the Master Plan (like: "maintain the street grid
") and let the developers use THEIR creativity, instead of the government involving itself with the intricacies of a design? The less government needs to be involved, the more developers will be encouraged to come to town. "Freedom" (within an ordered structure) sells!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Is It Time to Abolish the Board of Regents Yet?

The headline in The Journal News today:  NY to let undocumented workers become teachers.
Undocumented immigrants in New York will be able to apply for teacher certifications and professional licenses, the state Board of Regents said.

The board that oversee education policies in New York voted Wednesday to allow people who can't get legal residency because of their parents' immigration status to seek teacher certifications. They will also be able to apply for a license from among the 53 professions overseen by the state Education Department, including a variety of medical professions.
Today those who cannot get legal residence because of their parents' illegal immigration status will be allowed to teach (or become pharmacists, or any other profession licensed by State Ed Dept.) . . . Tomorrow it will be anyone who is illegally present because the rationale presented can be applied to them as well (see the legal memorandum linked in the article that justifies the Board's action).

The will of the people has been codified in our laws that have been duly enacted by Congress and the State Legislature. Both State and Federal laws prohibit this . . . but "caselaw is evolving" that seems to justify whatever those in power want to do.

Only legislative bodies can enact laws. Courts may strike down laws for one reason or another, but the act of striking down a law does not automatically make the opposite action an authorized one. The Board of Regents cannot, on its own, override existing law because its powers are limited by the state laws AS WRITTEN.

"We the People" are suffering another assault at the hands of the Board of Regents. 

No wonder there is so much anger at government and disrespect for law these days. 

The very institutions we have created to administer our laws are, themselves, lawless.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Apple Controversy: Involuntary Servitude?

It is amazing that in all the discussions over the government forcing Apple to create software to unlock a terrorist's cell phone, no one raises the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution.

Amendment XIII Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Per Wikipedia:
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution makes involuntary servitude illegal under any U.S. jurisdiction whether at the hands of the U.S. government or in the private sphere, except as punishment for a crime: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

While usually thought of in terms of slavery, per the "usegal.com" website . . .
Involuntary servitude refers to being forced through coercion to work for another.
Is this not what is happening to Apple? Apple is being forced through coercion (a court order) to work for another (the US Government).

Yes there are certain duties that have been held to be not included within the prohibition of the 13th Amendment, but they do not seem to apply here.

If Apple can be directed to aid the US Government, where is the limit to what the government can force anyone to do? 

I would be interested if any of my attorney friends could shed light on why the 13th Amendment seems to be left out of the discussion.  What am I missing?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Settling the Refugee Lawsuit: Politics of the Worst Kind. . .

Both the OD and the Syracuse newspapers have reported that The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees' Newcomer Program and the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Alignment of Pathways and Programs for Learners of English will be shut down at the end of this school year. As discussed previously on this blog, these programs were the subject of federal lawsuits filed against the Utica City School District by the NY Civil Liberties Union, and by the NY State Attorney General because certain 17-20 year old refugee students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) complained that they were placed in the programs instead of being allowed to attend Proctor High School.  [Note that the UCSD Superintendent's response to the latter suit echos my question of why the AG was bringing suit against an entity regulated by the State Education Dept.]

The complaining students came to Utica in their late teens, spoke little English, and appear to have been virtually uneducated having spent most of their lives in refugee camps.  Yet, somehow, they knew enough to contact an NYCLU lawyer, demand to attend the local high school as a matter of right, and complain that UCSD was denying them the opportunity to become doctors, nurses, engineers, etc.

Obviously a bit of "mentoring" was going on.

With the closure of the programs and sending the students to Proctor, the AG and NYCLU lawyers are getting their wish, the students are getting what they were told is best for them, and the UCSD will hopefully get these costly bogus lawsuits dismissed.  Everyone will be happy...BUT...

Are the refugee students really better off? 

If, like the complainants, you were 8, 10, or 12 years behind your peers in education achievement and did not speak the language of your fellow students, you would likely waste your time attending regular school because you would be unprepared for it. Without preparation, encouraging you to attend regular school would be educational malpractice!

It was my understanding that the courses complained of concentrated on teaching as much English and American customs and culture as possible to these students in their limited time left in the school system.  Because of the actions of the AG and the NYCLU, the students will lose access to programs designed to position them to assimilate into American society.

A political connection was mentioned in my NYCLU post and political motivation suggested in my AG post. Now the political objective comes into focus:

Preventing assimilation would create a permanent underclass that will always be dependent upon its political mentors. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

An "Award-Winning" Racket!

According to today's OD,
Companies throughout the Mohawk Valley are being rewarded for their positive impact on the local economy.  
(Don't 'cha love the positive spin the OD puts on things? You would think that the "MoVa" was positively booming!)
ReCharge NY, a program through the state Power Authority, awards low-cost power to state businesses and nonprofit organizations.
(In other words, this program "awards" special deals for special businesses . . . needed because NY State policies have required that cheap-to-produce Upstate-created hydropower must subsidize NYC-metro area electric rates . . . an area that insisted on closing one power facility just before it was turned on (the Shoreham, LI nuke plant), is insisting on closing another (the Indian Point nuke plant) and is closing down a myriad of fossil-fuel based plants.)
Some of this year’s big recipients include Revere Copper Products in Rome (6,600 kilowatts), Special Metals Corp. in New Hartford (4,900 kilowatts) and GUSC Energy in Rome (6,730 kilowatts).
GUSC should catch your eye.  GUSC Energy "is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Griffiss Utility Services Corporation (GUSC)." "Griffiss Utility Services Corporation (GUSC) distributes steam heat and electricity to the tenants of Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, New York."

So GUSC Energy and GUSC (the parent corp.) are really "middlemen" in getting electricity from the producer to the end users, the captive tenants of the Griffiss Business and Technology Park, that the other recipients of ReCharge NY's largess do not have to go through.  GUSC Energy and GUSC are part of the "alphabet soup" of Mohawk Valley EDGE-related corporations operating with 'complete transparency' (an attempt at humor here) up at the "International" airport . . . and people running these 'middleman' organizations are obviously being paid.  

Have you heard people raving about the good deal they get on utilities at Griffiss Park?  I didn't think so.

Only in the Mohawk Valley would forcing people to go through a middleman to purchase their electricity be considered a "positive impact on the local economy."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Regional Hospital (or "Transformational Opportunity District"): Lacking an Environmental Review?

Yesterday it was noted here that the MVREDC, in its application for funding of various economic development projects, proposed the creation of a 34-acre "Downtown Utica Transformational Opportunity District." The application showed a large sprawling building covering portions of Lafayette, Cornelia, Carton, and Pine Streets and Sayer Alley; two parking garages; and other buildings. The site depicted is the same as that picked for the proposed Regional Hospital.

Environmental Conservation Law 8-0109(2) states:
2. All agencies (or applicant as hereinafter provided) shall prepare, or cause to be prepared by contract or otherwise an environmental impact statement on any action they propose or approve which may have a significant effect on the environment. . . . 

6 NYCRR 617.3 (a) states:
No agency involved in an action may undertake, fund or approve the action until it has complied with the provisions of SEQR. . . [Note: SEQR means State Environmental Quality Review]
6 NYCRR 617.4 "Type I actions" lists those actions that are more likely to require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement if they are to be directly undertaken, funded or approved by an agency. Among those are:
a project or action that involves the physical alteration of 10 acres
6 NYCRR 617.7 "Determining significance" lists illustrative criteria for determining whether an action may have a significant adverse impact on the environment. Among those are:
(iv) the creation of a material conflict with a community's current plans or goals as officially approved or adopted;

Here we have MVREDC applying for funding of a project (a) that will involve the physical alteration of more than 10 acres and (b), as previously noted here, that will be in material conflict with the Utica Master Plan -- " a community's current plans or goals as officially approved or adopted."

There is nothing in MVREDC's submission to indicate that an environmental review of the proposed "Downtown Utica Transformational Opportunity District" was ever performed. Since the State would be prohibited from funding such a project without the requisite environmental review, is that the reason why the funds for the hospital no longer seem to be available?

It would not be the first time that our region lost out because it ignored its environmental compliance obligations.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

People With Vision!

A couple stories this past week reveal that our area has people with vision, able to take ideas and turn them into plans and renderings instantaneously!

Per the OD "Talk of a new town hall came up again at a recent Town Board meeting" in New Hartford.  But it was more than just talk.  The talk came complete with conceptual drawings of what the new town hall would look like and a description that it would be "about 28,000 square feet and located partially on town-owned land behind the New Hartford Public Library on Oxford Road."  New Hartford Online Blog has a video of the meeting where the plans were presented.  With the plans seeming to have come out of nowhere, one might wonder WHO authorized them?

Per the "No Hospital Downtown" website we find out that last fall's Mohawk Valley REDC submission to Gov. Cuomo's "Hunger Games" economic development contest (the one we just lost) on page 137 contained a graphic and description of a 34-acre "Downtown Utica Transformational Opportunity District" which showed a large sprawling building covering portions of Lafayette, Cornelia, Carton, and Pine Streets and Sayer Alley; two parking garages; and other buildings -- all located in an area with existing businesses and uses. The submission claims that
"... the City of Utica in concert with other government, business and community partners is looking to transform approximately 34 acres of a largely vacant, underutilized and functionally obsolete area in downtown Utica and transform this area into a technology oriented development that is linked with nano-bio opportunities emerging at SUNY Poly and Masonic Medical Research Laboratory, healthcare, offices, medical education, recreation and entertainment opportunities at the nearby auditorium, gateway site and nearby Harbor Point."
WHO on behalf of the "City of Utica" determined that these 34 acres were a "functionally obsolete area" and WHO on behalf of the "City of Utica" authorized a "transform"ation of it? WHO said it was OK to broach a proposal that requires closing streets? Utica's only official planning document, the Utica Master Plan, says nothing about these things.

Just WHO's vision do the New Hartford and Utica plans implement?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Auditorium Authority "Competition" for the Whitesboro St. Property ...

Per the OD: The Aud authority offers $500,000 for Whitesboro St. property.  The article reports that Utica now has two bidders vying for the same property with bids separated by a mere $10,000. While this competition for a piece of property in Downtown Utica suggests that Utica has turned a corner, the picture is not that simple.  Something about that dollar amount rang a bell . . .

$500,000 . . . Wasn't that the amount that the Aud Authority received every year from the Mohawk Valley Water Authority -- an amount which came out of our water billsCould the Aud Authority be using some of the money that we pay for water to bid on this piece of property?  

Such is the crazy world of New York State Public Authorities and Utica/Oneida County politics. When the City of Utica spun off its water system to the "regional" MVWA (actually TWO entities: a finance authority and a water board), as part of the same deal the ownership and control of the Aud was also spun off to a public authority, the Upper Mohawk Valley Memorial Auditorium Authority. Because the City of Utica had previously been using revenue from the water system to offset losses at the Aud, the practice was institutionalized as part of the law that created the water authority.  What was once $500,000/year paid to the Aud out of water revenue is now $665,500/year. See MVWA Report at page 107.  If you look at the Aud Authority's most recent Budget Report filed with the Public Authorities Reporting Information System, you will note that after state subsidies and grants and proceeds from the issuance of debt are excluded, the revenue from the water system is the Aud Authority's primary source of income, such revenue being substantially more than three times what the Aud Authority actually earns from its operations. (A more in-depth look at the Aud Authority's budget is available on their website).

At this point, the loss of control by the people actually footing the bills -- the captive customers of the MVWA -- should be noted.  Unlike the City Council which once ran both the water system and the Aud, members of these authorities are not subject to voter approval but, rather, are chosen through political connections.  Of the 7-member Auditorium Authority board, three are appointed by the Oneida County Executive (CE) and four are appointed by the Oneida County Board of Legislators -- of which most rubber stamp the recommendations of the CE and almost half "have no skin in the game" because they represent areas that have no MVWA customers. Is it any wonder that the OD quotes the CE stating that "we would look at that entire area as a possible sports and entertainment district . . .”  Why is the CE looking at this? When was planning for the City of Utica turned over to Oneida County? Just like the proposed Downtown hospital that came out of a politically-inspired and funded nowhere, the city's Master Plan saw no need to designate this area as a possible sports and entertainment district.  But I digress . . . Back to the "competition" for that piece of property on Whitesboro St.

The Aud Authority is unfair competition for potential private developers of the Whitesboro St. property.  
  •  Private developers will not be subsidized out of people's water bills.
  •  Private developers cannot issue tax-exempt bonds to raise money like the Aud Authority can.
  •  Private developers would have to pay property taxes or PILOTs.
  •  Private developers are unlikely to have the "inside track" with local decision-makers that the politically connected Aud board has.
For the same reasons, the Aud Authority and the entities associated with it are also unfair competition for nearby private businesses.

When Utica was in its heyday there were few publicly-owned entertainment venues.  Theaters, opera houses, etc., were privately owned. Large gatherings took place at the Armory on Culver Avenue -- a structure built for a military purpose. It was not until the late 1950s, when the Utica population was at its peak and industry was booming, that we thought we could afford to build the Aud for large events. . . And we did. But then the region went into decline.  Both Utica and Oneida County have each lost about 40,000 people from their peak populations.  We have also lost an air force base, most of our large industry, and the money that came from those operations.  While there is now hope for recovery, re-attainment of the population, wealth, and disposable income that we once had is many years off.   The public also now has the newly renovated and financially struggling Stanley to support.  Also, there is now competition for disposable income from Turning Stone (which operates free from many of the constraints applicable to private businesses). So while "hats are off" to the Aud management for making the beautiful new and nationally acclaimed changes to that venue, expansion of those facilities beyond the current footprint will likely come at the cost of private businesses that currently subsist on the region's limited disposable income. 

Lastly, an expansion of the Aud Authority's footprint is competition with City of Utica taxpayers.

Utica was gutted of hundreds of parcels of taxable property in the last half of the 20th Century by highway, government building, and urban renewal projects, supposedly to meet public needs.  That trend has continued into this century with 70+ parcels taken for the Arterial remake, parcels for the public bus terminal, and parcels for new county parking lots.  Waiting in the wings is another taking of up to 34 acres for the proposed Downtown hospital.  And now this sports/entertainment proposal?

How much tax exempt property should Utica taxpayers have to bear? 

Utica is already overburdened with almost a third of its properties tax-exempt, which leaves a tax rate for the remainder that discourages private investment in the city. Utica needs to "get to work" and put property back on the tax rolls to lower tax rates for everyone.  Exempting the Whitesboro St. property for more "bread and circuses" only makes it harder for Utica to do this, and undermines, rather than contributes to, Utica's long-term fiscal sustainability.