Saturday, January 31, 2009

"Economic Development" - A Tale from the Mid-West

This story from the Mid-West, found via the Regional Communities blog, could have been set in the Mohawk Valley: Billions of dollars blown in regional development subsidies.
Since 1990, the St. Louis region's crazy quilt of taxing authorities has dedicated more than $2 billion in public money to subsidize private "economic development" projects. And there's almost nothing to show for it.

At best, the subsidies have created a handful of jobs, few of them long-term or high-paying. The subsidies have created no increase in retail sales nor have they sparked any other economic activity.

The primary beneficiaries of the public investment have been national retail chains, real estate developers, lobbyists and public finance lawyers.

These are some of the findings of the first comprehensive study on the impact of local development incentives in the St. Louis region . . .
The report is titled "An Assessment of the Effectiveness and Fiscal Impacts of the Use of Local Development Incentives in the St. Louis Region"

From the Executive Summary:
Local governments in the St. Louis region have made extensive use of public financial incentives to compete for tax-generating businesses. In some areas, most new development is, in effect, publicly subsidized through foregone taxes in the form of abatements, tax increment financing, and related mechanisms. . . . While the short-term effects of these incentives are usually positive for the local government or private sponsor, the overall impact on regional growth and the financial viability of local governments is less clear.
Sounds like the New Hartford Business Park, no?

Among the conclusions:
Broad measures of regional economic outcomes strongly suggest that massive tax
expenditures to promote development have not resulted in real growth. While there are certainly short-term localized benefits in the use of incentives, regional effects are more elusive. Development incentives have primarily acted to redistribute spending and taxes. While distribution effects might yield broader economic benefits when used to redevelop economically distressed communities, when incentives are used in healthy and prosperous communities the regional effect may be to destabilize the fiscal health of neighboring areas.
That, my friends, is exactly what is happening here . . . the rich communities benefit themselves, neighboring areas become destabilized, and the whole region suffers.

The key to making sense of all this is found in the first story's phrase: the "region's crazy quilt of taxing authorities . . . "

It is the "crazy quilt of taxing authorities" that makes it possible for one community to negatively impact its neighbor fiscally. If the communities were part of the same tax jurisdiction, governed by a common body of elected representatives, one community could not take advantage of another, and solutions benefiting the region would emerge.

The implications of this should be obvious. . . .

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vote "Yes" . . . or Take a Hike?

This was a stunning headline: New Hartford residents' choice: Vote 'yes' or face tax hike.
A special election set for Tuesday, Feb. 10, will give town residents their first chance to vote on funding for roadway improvements at and around the New Hartford Business Park. . . .
Last April, the Town Board committed Town residents to fund road improvements for a private developer at the NHBP, using short-term borrowing to get around the requirement of putting the matter up for a vote before making the commitment. But that will result in a steep tax hike in 5 years if the voters do not approve long term financing before then. The public, apparently, will be repeatedly subjected to vote on this matter until it either approves the funding, or the tax hike goes into effect.
Certified public accountant Frank Basile, whose firm FJ Basile, CPAs, PC, acts as a financial consultant for the town, said a bond anticipation note was used because it provides greater flexibility during the planning and construction phase of a new development. . .

As far as deciding whether money is spent, voters choose a town supervisor and board members to make decisions on their behalf, Basile said. Without the PILOT agreement, The Hartford would have moved elsewhere, he said.

“That is why it is so important for the taxpayers to fully understand the concept of the PILOT agreement and that the bond debt service will not be a burden or a cost to the town taxpayers,” Basile said. “If the taxpayers vote in favor of the 15-year serial bond, the payment of the related debt service will cost the taxpayers nothing as originally designed.”
We, the taxpayers, fully understand what is going on, Mr. Basile, and don't need you, our overpaid consultant who is part of the problem, to lecture us on what we should approve or not approve.

Private interests, including accountants and realtors and developers and their EDGE enablers, have hijacked local government to suck money from the taxpayers' pockets and put it into their own. It is irrelevant that there may be no net cost to taxpayers if they go along with the scheme (and everything works out as planned) -- although there will be increased costs related to the "sprawl" that is being created.

The real issue, the one that will be voted upon (although the proposition will be couched in terms of "funding") is whether
Government should be used to further private interests.

The fact that voters will be going to the polls with a financial gun to their heads means that, quite simply, New Hartford Town government has become corrupt.

Big Numbers, Big Problems . . . What Solutions?

An excellent article appears in today's OD: "How much to fix region's infrastructure?" We are told that:

  • The Oneida County Sewer District needs $158 million
  • The City of Utica Sewer System needs $152 million
  • The Mohawk Valley Water Authority needs $140 million

These three things alone are $450 million worth of work! "We the People" seem to have lost all ability to control the expenses we will be subject to.

So how does the Mohawk Valley pay for all this work so that it can compete economically in the 21st century?

Some of it means changing approaches to growth, according to Puentes of the Brookings Institution and another expert, Rolf Pendall of Cornell University.

The existing problem stems in part from policies that encouraged growth, and even sprawl, outside old city centers, they said.

Even as their population departs, Upstate New York cities remain administrative centers for their regions, Pendall said.

“This means they need infrastructure that supports a much larger area – not just sewers, but also roads, sidewalks and courthouses, and social infrastructure like affordable housing,” he said in an e-mail. “But often the cities -- meaning their citizens -- have to build and replace this infrastructure with little or no financial help from those living in newly built areas.”
Our policies encouraging "growth" and "sprawl" outside city centers have created the problem . . . And the way we perceive ourselves and organize local government stands in the way of effective solutions.

The three biggest problems ticked off above are GREATER UTICA problems. They are not "Mohawk Valley" problems, or even Oneida County problems because most of the Valley and the County are not served by these interrelated systems of pipes . . . Calling these Mohawk Valley or Oneida County problems hides their true nature. We got the County involved because that was easier to do than doing what really needed to be done.

Only when we finally see ourselves as "Greater Utica" and govern ourselves as "Greater Utica" will we be able to deal with these issues . . . Reaching those milestones, however, may be an even bigger challenge than finding the money.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Teamwork" . . . or Hiding Passing Costs to Others?

More nice-sounding yammering from our powers-that-be - “Think regionally” “Think teamwork" "Think positive” . . .
Those were the messages conveyed Thursday by signs flanking the dais at The Genesis Group’s annual Community Forum, and by the officials who spoke there.

The need for consolidation and cooperation, especially in the current economy, was a common theme . . .

Several officials gave examples during the forum of ways in which they already consolidate services, or plan to do so in the future.
The problem with all the warm fuzzy happy talk about "cooperation" and "consolidation" and "sharing" services becomes evident when one thinks about the reality of Mr. Reed's example:
Reed said the Town of New Hartford has taken responsibility for plowing and sanding the school district’s parking lots, for example.
While this sounds nice, the untold part of the story is that the Town of New Hartford contains parts of the New York Mills, Sauquoit Valley, and Clinton School Districts in addition to the NH School District. This means that New Hartfordians who live outside the wealthy NHCSD are subsidizing the operation of the NHCSD with their Town taxes . . . all while having to pay more in school taxes to get the parking lots of their own schools plowed and sanded.

This deal only benefits people living in the NHCSD, who are apparently better connected with the Town leaders than those in the other districts. . . A "freebie" at the expense of others.

This has been the problem with local government "regionalization" efforts in the Mohawk Valley for the last 40 years. Whenever a "regional" solution is pounced upon, somehow the jurisdictions receiving the most benefits get them by increasing expenses of people living elsewhere: "freebies" distributed through "deals" among "leaders" as though it was their own money they were spending -- but paid for through their power to tax others.

While the Water Authority, and the Sewer District are obvious examples, expansions of the functions of Town Government are also a form of "regionalization" because they "socialize costs" over a broader area.

New York Mills is a prime example of a victim of such "regionalization." Half of the people pay New Hartford Town Taxes, but what do they get for NH Taxes that they do not already get more efficiently and more cheaply from their Village? Nada, Rien, Niente, Nothing! But because half of the Village of NYM is in NH, those people get tagged to provide similar services elsewhere in the town. . . . "freebies" at NYM's expense. While some may want the village to go away to eliminate the duplication, the people living in the densely populated village areas would still be subsidizing the services that are more expensive to provide in places where the population is more spread out. . . "Sprawl" results: an inefficient distribution of population across the landscape for the purposes of providing services. County level consolidations will result in more of the same.

The babble about "teamwork" needs to stop . . . Instead, our leaders need to start the conversation about what is really needed: MERGER . . . of the jurisdictions receiving the benefits with those paying the costs.

They don't because some of them know they will be "merged" out of a job.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Overwhelmed . . . By the Numbers . . .

Utica sewer repairs to cost $152 million

Oneida County Part County Sewer fix cost rises to $158 million

And back in the 1970's when the treatment plant and county interceptors were built, we thought we had the pollution problem licked!  

With numbers like these (and just for sewers, not including water supply and other public necessities) can government (and, for many, personal) bankruptcy be far behind? 

This is what happens when government does not know what it is doing. . . . and we are entering an era where government will be expected to do more!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why People Don't Come Here . . . By The Numbers

If you want proof as to why people are leaving Upstate NY in droves, look no farther than our property taxes as a percentage of our home values, calculated for about 1,800 counties, courtesy of the Tax Foundation.

Oneida County, at 2.4%, comes in at #24 in the country for the highest taxes as a percentage of home value (#186 for taxes as a % of income). With the exception of two counties in Texas and one in New Jersey, all of the higher-ranked counties for taxes as a % of home value are in Upstate New York.  In fact Upstate New York dominates the upper end of this list.

Herkimer County, at 2.2%, comes in at 43 (#265 for taxes as a % of income).

Interestingly, NY counties where people complain the loudest about property taxes (and they DO pay big $$$ in taxes in absolute terms), Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester, are ranked at 237, 292, and 354 respectively for taxes as a percentage of home value (but they are ##3, 8 and 7 when taxes are calculated as a % of income!).

Surprisingly, the counties in New York State with the lowest % of value paid in property taxes are Kings (aka Brooklyn) ranked 1553 nationally, and New York (aka Manhattan) ranked 1547.  These are among the lowest in the nation.  They are ## 281 and 572, respectively, when taxes are figured as a % of income.

Why are we taxed so much?  Per the Rochester D&C

"The reason upstate New York is so high," explains Tax Foundation economist Gerald Prante, "is they spend a lot on local government, especially on education, but they don't have high home values like the rest of the state."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

OD's Nanotech Nonsense . . .

The OD editors are up to their usual blame-shifting when the performance of their friends is in question: Our view: Army Corps must act now on Marcy site. The OD is wrong.

There is no wetlands permit for the Marcy "Nano" site because Local Leaders chose that route.

Back on 12/11/2002, a "Concerned Citizen" wrote to local officials on this very issue:

A few days ago I wrote to you to express my concern that Oneida County might be losing an opportunity to land a chip-fab plant at the site in Marcy. Today an article in the Utica O-D revealed that Mohawk Valley EDGE's permit application for the site faced rejection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), that EDGE officials applied for the permit Oct. 29, 2001, and that EDGE will now wait until it finds a developer before it resubmits the application.

Oneida County for months has represented the Marcy site as "shovel-ready" for computer chip fabrication. "Shovel-ready" (according to the "Semi-NY" website, one place where the Marcy site is advertised) means that "no permitting obstacles stand in a company 's way" and that the site will be "available for groundbreaking within 60-90 days."

Today's article begs the question: Is our site "shovel-ready" or not? The fact that EDGE's application to ACOE has been pending for over a year with still no approval suggests that it is not.

In light of the County's advertisements on the "Semi-NY" and MVEdge websites, today's OD article makes it
appear that the County has been distributing misleading information. Why is the County indicating that its site is "shovel ready" when it has no permit from ACOE and has known for well over a year that it needed a permit? Can Oneida County assure prospective tenants that the site will be available for groundbreaking within 60-90 days? Should prospective businesses rely on the information that Oneida County provides?

Putting aside the issue of the County's credibility, why is the County giving up pursuing the ACOE permit
NOW? Is ACOE saying that the County has no right to provide a "shovel-ready" site? I doubt it: ACOE cannot forbid without qualification any encroachment on the wetlands without effectively condemning the property. Given that we have a Republican County Executive, a Republican Congressman (one of the most senior members in the House), a Republican President, and, perhaps most important, a Republican Governor who has been pushing the Semi-NY "shovel-ready" concept, it is incredible that Oneida County does not have the "clout" to cut through the federal red-tape. Did the County bother to ask for help?

These questions need to be answered.

As I indicated in my last letter, Oneida County's big advantage in seeking a chip-fab is having a site ready
NOW. When other sites closer to Albany come on line, it will be difficult for us to compete.

The County needs to resolve the ACOE permit issue, and pursue chip-fab companies, NOW.
[Prior and followup e-mails are here and here]

Amazingly, among the multitude of recipients of the above e-mail, only Mrs. Destito had the courtesy to respond
regarding the concern over the lack of an ACOE permit. After acknowledging that the points raised in the e-mail were valid, she stated:
However, I do agree with the decision of the Mohawk Valley EDGE officials to wait until a specific business expresses an interest in the area to apply for the Army Corps of Engineers site permit. . .
Mrs. Destito's letter confirms that shelving the permit application was "the decision of the Mohawk Valley EDGE officials."

There is no wetlands permit for the Marcy "Nano" site because Local Leaders chose that route.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The 'Education' Black Hole . . .

I like Sen. Chuck Schumer. He looks out for us up here in Upstate. Philosophically, however, I disagree with a lot of the things he pushes. . . . like more federal money for education as he proposed this week.
Governor Paterson and Senator Schumer say, if they get their way, billions of dollars in federal help will prevent massive teacher lay-offs in New York and keep local property taxes from increasing. . . .

New York's senior senator wants one-third of that money to be used for tax cuts, another third to pay for infrastructure, and another third to go to the states with a special focus on helping Medicaid and education.

Schumer explains, "If you add our state and local budgets, education is the largest expenditure in New York State with good reason: it's our future."

We can speculate on what education means to "our future," but what ever-increasing education spending has meant to our present requires no speculation: Excessive school taxes have driven all the good jobs away ... We are broke ... and our children seem to know increasingly less of what matters than they did in the past.

The problem is that we are spending too much on education . . . The money has been so easy for self-serving bureaucrats to extract from taxpayers (because it's allegedly for "our future") that it goes toward a lot of distractions. Almost any kind of experience that our children can be exposed to is sold as "education." The latest technological gadgetry is 'education.' Artificial turf is 'education.'
Even eating is sold as 'education' . . .

Today we read that Utica elementary students may receive free breakfast.
The district is considering applying for a program to offer free breakfast to all elementary school students beginning as soon as the next school year. . . .

Kernan Magnet Elementary School Principal Henry Frasca said the program is a tremendous idea.

“There is a lot of research out there on how proper nutrition and having a breakfast can make you ready to learn,” he said.
Ah yes . . . those Krazy Kernan Kidz . . . (and I'm talking about the Kernan administrators, not the students). . . It's anything BUT the "3Rs" in that school.

Let's cut the money available to education. . . . Some overdue pruning of our so-called "education" programs just might produce the real "education" growth that we seek.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nothing New with Nanotech

Nothing is new at the Marcy "Nanotech" site . . . just more finger pointing (away from our local leaders, of course) as an excuse why we've seen no results.

I've harped on EDGE's "too little too late actions" for years. The foolishness of EDGE's decision to shelve its wetlands permit application in 2002 was pointed out to local officials, but either they thought they knew better or they were told what to do.  Now the lack of progress is somehow the Army Corps of Engineers' fault?  This story comes conveniently on the heels of the story about the IBM packing plant . . . which suggested that we might not land that facility either.   Tonight's story is nothing more than a transparent attempt to shift blame from the responsible parties.

The Army Corps of Engineers is being used as a scapegoat for another failure of local leadership.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Outrage . . .

That is the only word I could think of to sum up my feelings over Governor Patterson's State of the State speech . . . and the clear LACK of outrage among our elected officials . . . who are too busy contemplating their navels (what they themselves hope to get out of state government: nanotech in Marcy or alternative energy tech in Syracuse) to point out that the Emperor Has No Clothes. The Governor is simply continuing the State's failed policies from prior governors of both political stripes, but now to an extreme.
". . . we must strengthen our health care system; improve our schools; create jobs; rebuild our infrastructure; clean up our environment; and begin a clean energy revolution."
I see more expansion of benefits and services, more dependency on government, more catering to the big unions, more picking "winners" and "losers," more spending, more taxation, more government control over our lives . . . and more jobs and people leaving the state because they cannot take it any more.
"We can reduce childhood obesity — and we will. Today, First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson and I are unveiling a comprehensive strategy to address this challenge."
The state is in financial collapse, manufacturing has all but left Upstate New York, but this guy thinks the state should focus effort on overweight children? Only a Downstater would think this is a priority.
This current crisis should teach us that the only way to restore our long-term economic competitiveness is to build the world’s best system of education.
Here we go again . . . The never satisfied education lobby is at work. New York is already close to the top in education spending, and should already have the "best system," but what do we have to show for it? Not much in terms of standardized test results. . . . but a loss of people and jobs in response to the cost. And this guy wants us to spend more!

I have tasked the Empire State Development Corporation with identifying transformational projects in our upstate communities, from enhancing the tourism infrastructure around Niagara Falls to investing in biosciences in Buffalo. . . .

The future of America’s energy and transportation policies rest on the development of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. . . . we will create an upstate research consortium on hybrid electric batteries and energy storage technologies. This will help reshape the upstate economy and create a clean corridor that includes cities in the Erie Canal corridor built some two hundred years ago.
Frankly, I'd rather do my own investing with my money than give it to the government to do. . . And if electric batteries are the future of the automotive industry, why are the TAXPAYERS expected to fund the research? The last I checked, Toyota and Kia are building their new automobile plants in the South while auto-related plants are closing in Upstate. Perhaps the fact that New York taxes movement along the "clean corridor" (Thruway tolls) has something to do with that.
It is time to control the cost of energy and how much of it we use. It is time to make New York more energy independent and more energy efficient, to develop our own sources of clean and renewable energy, and to build new statewide systems for energy generation, transmission, and distribution. . . .

Today, I announce one of the most ambitious clean energy goals in America. By 2015, New York will meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and clean renewable energy
And just where is all this "clean" electricity going to come from? Upstate NY already has plenty of hydropower and nuclear power to satisfy its own needs . . . Are Upstaters going to have to put up with windmills, more nuke plants, and power lines because Downstaters don't want them in their backyards, and are moving to shut down the existing plants they have?
. . . we must revitalize every part of New York State. We are one state with one future.

The governor speaks of the past. The state has turned into two: the "haves" Downstate vs. the "have nots" Upstate. The "one state," which truly was a great state, ended when Upstate lost its voice in the 1960s Senate reapportionment . . . Since then, state policies have been executed from a Downstate perspective, allowing Downstate to continue to grow while Upstate has withered. Upstate has been conscripted in service of Downstate, but Upstaters accept it because all the good manufacturing jobs have been driven out. Downstate uses power, Upstate gets to produce it. Downstate creates the garbage, Upstate gets to bury it. Downstate rids itself of criminals, Upstate gets to house them.

Downstate has been getting the benefits, Upstate has been getting the burdens.

New York State is now getting what it "earned": No strong manufacturing base Upstate to rescue New York State from the collapse of Downstate's financial sector.

Maybe it's time for Upstate to secede!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

NYRI: Manipulating “Public Need”

[This article was originally published in the December 2008 "Utica Phoenix":]

Our state legislature has delegated responsibility to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to determine whether projects such as New York Regional Interconnect’s (NYRI) power line can be allowed. NYRI cannot commence construction without PSC certifying the project's "environmental compatibility and public need."

"Need," however, is one of those words that mean different things to different people depending upon one's perspective. Amazingly, neither the Legislature, in the Public Service Law, nor the PSC, in its rules, bothered to define what "public need" is.

The cynical view is that the Legislature purposely dodged the issue, giving PSC the "dirty work" of determining what "public need" is. That makes the unelected body a lightening rod for unpopular decisions and allows legislators to run for re-election without having to justify to constituents as to why a power line may have to run through their backyards. Meanwhile, the PSC appears to be determining public need on a case-by-case basis, perhaps because it had little guidance from the Legislature upon which to base a rule. Arguably the Legislature has unconstitutionally delegated too much of its legislative authority to the PSC. However, that argument would have to be made in court, and it is doubtful that anyone would have the interest and wherewithal to mount such a challenge, especially given court deference to acts of the legislature and administrative agencies.

Another view is that the Legislature felt "public need" would be obvious and needed no definition. However, to avoid usurping the role of our duly elected representatives, the PSC cannot simply make up a yardstick for determining “public need” without some reference to legislative guidance, as unclear as that guidance may be.

Since the law requires public hearings, perhaps the legislature intended for public opinion to be the measure of need. If that is the case, then the NYRI project must be rejected as unneeded. Opinions expressed during the recent hearing in Utica were almost unanimous against it. Other hearings produced similar results, even in areas that supposedly would benefit from the project. Different people may have had different motivations (preservation of scenery, concern over health effects, declining property values, impacts to rates or economic development efforts, etc.), but they came to the same conclusion: the project was not needed when weighed against these other concerns.

Perhaps the legislature felt that its Transportation Corporation Law adequately covered the subject. NYRI styles itself as being organized under this law in order to use its power of eminent domain. However, the same law says, "electricity must be supplied on application" to any building within 100 feet of a line. This suggests that the legislature intended for power lines to bring the benefits of electricity all along their routes. If that is the measure of "public need," then NYRI fails again because the project is technically incapable of supplying power to users along its route. Power can only go in at Marcy and exit in Orange County.

NYRI has indicated significant reductions in power costs Downstate as justification for its project – as satisfying a “public need” -- while increases in cost Upstate are claimed to be modest. However, like the concept of “need” itself, what is expensive or cheap power is relative, depending on one's perspective.

Upstate's manufacturing economy was built on readily available cheap hydropower. That made the economy here much more sensitive to the price of power than the financial-services based Downstate economy. For Upstate to be competitive, costs of power must be kept at least as low as costs in competitor states with the same climate and similar manufacturing economies, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. In fact, there is no logical reason why Upstate power rates, if we were treated as a separate region, could not be lower than our competitors because we have an advantage in hydropower resources. The fact that our rates are, instead, among the highest in the nation is purely the product of state government decisions that have not accounted for Upstate’s “needs.” Our high electric rates have exceeded a tipping point, driving jobs and population away. That has reduced demand for electricity Upstate.

Meanwhile, Downstate has even higher electric rates in absolute terms. However, the tipping point there has not been reached. Downstate population, and demand for power, is still growing. Even though people Downstate complain about high costs, costs have not been high enough to drive people out. That is because Downstate’s economy is not as sensitive to high rates, and the people there have higher incomes and are better able to pay them. State-pricing policy, not accounting for the differences between the Upstate and Downstate economies, has resulted in decreasing demand for power Upstate, and continued growth in demand for power Downstate.

The elephant, the Federal Government, now enters the room. It has determined that the free-flow of electrons from regions of lower demand to regions of higher demand is in the “national interest” and adopted a policy to make this happen regardless of the wishes of individual states. The NYRI project, because it would facilitate electron flow from lower-demand Upstate to higher-demand Downstate, will have Washington on its side. If New York does not permit the NYRI project to go through, as long as an imbalance in demand between the regions exists, Washington will use its policy to overrule New York and shove the project down Upstaters’ throats.

New York, however, does have options to defeat NYRI beyond playing legal games. It could use its regulatory power over electric rates to eliminate the imbalance in demand between the regions. It already uses pricing in some places to reduce power use during peak demand periods. As we are now all painfully aware from last summer’s $4+ per gallon gasoline, behavior will change and demand will drop when the price of a commodity goes high enough. If prices were to be sufficiently raised Downstate (and, perhaps, lowered Upstate) a point would be reached where the demand between the two regions would balance out. Then there would be no need for NYRI. Upstate might actually start attracting manufacturing jobs again, and Downstate might become more self-sufficient in power with nuclear, offshore wind, and tidal power projects.

But if the NYRI power line goes through, a cruel negative feedback loop will result. The line will encourage the siting of more power plants Upstate and shutting down plants Downstate. This will only increase the imbalance in demand between the regions, and justify more NYRIs in the future.

In sum, “public need” for a power line is a matter of perspective, but ultimately the Federal view will prevail. By that measure, New York has created the “public need” for NYRI through past decisions. Instead, New York should now use its rate-making authority to even out the demand for electricity between Upstate and Downstate. That would not only encourage jobs to return Upstate and development of more power generation Downstate, it would eliminate the justification for NYRI altogether. NYRI would be rendered useless.

[Be sure to pick up the January 2009 "Utica Phoenix" to read "Maintaining Identity, Advancing a Region"]