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.