Friday, December 28, 2012

An EDGEy Land Proposal . . .

Buried in the 12/26/12 Co-Leg communications packet was this letter from EDGE, proposing to purchase almost 83 acres from Oneida County at a "minimum" $10K/acre for use as a Business Park Extension at the old County Airport site in Whitestown. EDGE proposes to subdivide and resell the property, remit on resale an additional $5K/acre to the County (less sales expenses), and keep any difference in price (i.e., between the resale price and the $15K/acre total paid to the County) for use in building roads and other infrastructure needed at the Business Park extension. The letter indicates that EDGE has a prospective buyer for a portion of the property.

I'm not sure how "good" a deal this is for the County, but I am troubled that publicly owned property is being sold by an entity (EDGE) that is controlled by its "members" rather than the government itself.

More troubling is the statement that "additional economic development funding is required to meet the requirements for extension of water and sewer lines, construction of an access road and, because of the Consent Order, the purchase of sewer credits to enable the company to locate here."

Sounds to me like the taxpayers (or water and sewer ratepayers) are going to be soaked again to finance more sprawl.

What's your take?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sewer District Sleight of Hand!

While eyes watch Oneida County's Right Hand shift suburban sprawl's sewer compliance costs on to all Sewer District Users (over half of whom are Utica residents), is the Left Hand shifting County NanoCenter sewer costs on to all Sewer District Users (over half of whom are Utica residents)?

The documents embedded at left are preparatory to an almost $12 million "North Utica Parallel Interceptor" project (Cap. Proj. "HG-479") which will cost the "typical" Sewer District property owner $6.70 per year to finance almost $7 million in borrowing ($5 million allegedly will come from a grant secured by EDGE -- which hints at the purpose of the project).  Interestingly, the draft resolution provides neither a project description nor an explanation why this project is needed.

Embedded at right is the Short Environmental Assessment form for "HG-479" that indicates that the project involves  upgrading of 9,300 feet of 30" sanitary sewer with 42" sanitary sewer from Rt 12 at 790 to the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) on Leland Ave. Again, no description of the need for this project is provided, but our legislators will be voting their approval in January.

Interestingly, just before Christmas the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council's 11/2011 Strategic Plan was in the news, which plan seems to place undue emphasis on the Marcy Nanocenter considering that the "Mohawk Valley" region here is truly "Mohawk Valley" -- at least the portion stretching from Rome to Amsterdam. (This will be the subject of a separate blog post).  It is mentioned here because stated at pages 161-2 (reproduced at left) is a "Priority Project: Marcy Nanocenter at SUNYIT Upgrade County Interceptor" which will replace 9,350 feet of 24" and 30" sewer pipe with new 36" pipe from Edic and River Roads to the STP on Leland Ave.   Sounds similar to the N Utica Interceptor project, n'est-ce pas?

It certainly looks like all Sewer District Users (over half of whom are Utica residents), such as the Shmoes of New Hartford with 10 kids and lots of laundry, will not only be paying to have their sewage transported and treated, they will also be paying for the sewer infrastructure at the NanoCenter site.  Awfully nice of the OC Legislators from Rome, Camden, Boonville, Ava, Westmoreland, etc., to foist the cost of their NanoCenter "economic development" dreams onto the backs of all Sewer District Users (over half of whom are Utica residents), rather than County taxpayers,  but it should be no surprise because the same MO was attempted (and probably will be used) to extend water service to Verona.

Read the pages beyond the Short Environmental Assessment form above.  There seems to be more "sleight of hand" going on with another, much more expensive, sewer district proposal also on tap for January just to add to the (intentional?) confusion. More on that later.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

They Might As Well Be From Camden . . .

The Utica representatives on the Oneida County Board of Legislators, that is. Oneida County legislators approve hike in sewer rates
 If you are connected to the Oneida County Sewer District system, your bill is going to go up 13 percent in 2013. . . . 
The Oneida County Board of Legislators approved the new rates Wednesday at its regular meeting. . . 
The legislation passed the full Board unanimously.
Why do I single out Utica legislators?
The change is linked to the 2007 state Department of Conservation consent order that threatened to block development along the Sauquoit Creek line if certain repairs were not made.
The Consent Order was the end result of all the "growth" in New Hartford.  So now UTICA residents are forced to pay to improve County facilities to foster more surburban "growth." But where is the County allowing its facilities to be used to help Utica solve its storm water problem?

When will Mr. Trevisani, Mr. Paparella, Mr. Welsh, Ms. Speciale, Ms. Convertino, Mr. Caruso, Mr. Davis, and Mr. Furgol start representing Utica's interests?  

They might as well be from Camden!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Effluent of the Affluent - Part 2

Two weeks ago it was pointed out that the residents of Utica were about to have it stuck to them again by Oneida County tapping them to pay to increase the size of the County's sewage treatment facilities to accommodate suburban storm water flows while being left to take care of Utica's storm water problem without county help.

As can be seen from the two pieces of legislation embedded at left, the County Legislature "rubber stamp" is alive and well, approving the legislation almost unanimously.  Of course, NONE of this was reported in the Observer-Dispatch.

The OD did report on Utica's sewer repairs a few days ago in the story "First phase of Utica's sewer project is complete." No mention here of any help from Oneida County.  The only mention of Oneida County's sewer work is the statement that "Oneida County is under a state order to do the exact same thing." This leaves the impression of two separate units of government working independently to solve their problems -- leaving out the part that residents of Utica are being forced to pay for both.


This blogger attempted to engage legislators Ms. Speciale, Mr. Davis, Mr. D'Onofrio and Mr. Gordon -- as well as certain "big mouths" on the City Council -- on this issue days before the vote, but only Ms. Speciale had the courtesy to respond -- after the legislation was voted upon.

Typical!  And we wonder why the region declines.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Excuses, Excuses . . .

Clinton won't testify on Benghazi due to illness

First wine-tasting in Australia -- and now this.

For someone who should have been on the first plane home to testify after Gen. Petraeus regarding the death of 4 Americans on her watch, this is looking more and more like a delaying tactic and a cover-up.

What did she know and when did she know it? 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Obamacare: Killing Local Jobs?

Washington Examiner: Democrats urge delay for ‘job-killing’ Obamacare tax

Sixteen Democratic senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act are asking that one of its fundraising mechanisms, a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices scheduled to take effect January 1, be delayed. . . . The senators, who made the request in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, are . . . Charles Schumer, . . . Kirsten Gillibrand . . . All voted for Obamacare


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hidden in Plain Sight . . .

My Pet Peeve!!!

The Greater Utica-Rome Board of Realtors announces name change to . . .  what else? . . . the "Mohawk Valley Association of Realtors"

Google "Mohawk Valley, NY" on Google Maps and it takes you to "Mohawk Valley Airport" in Scotia.  
Search "Mohawk Valley, NY" on Bing Maps and you are taken to "Mohawk Valley Estate" in Fultonville.  
Search for a zip or area code in "Mohawk Valley, NY" on Switchboard and you get taken to Mojave Valley, AZ!

The best results come from Mapquest. Search "Mohawk Valley, NY" there and you are taken to a map with 9 bubbles in places stretching from Rome to Albany.

The Greater Utica-Rome Board of Realtors website dropdowns do not list St. Johnsville, Canajoharie, Fonda or Fultonville, Florida, Tribes Hill, Amsterdam, Scotia or Schenectady -- all of which are in the Mohawk Valley.

People can find Utica.  People can find Rome. "Greater" Utica-Rome means places near by.  And the Utica-Rome Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area is defined as Oneida and Herkimer Counties. I don't understand the problem some people have with identifying our region by the names of its two principal cities.

Calling the Utica-Rome area "Mohawk Valley" makes as much sense as calling Binghamton-Endicott-Johnson City (a/k/a "Greater Binghamton") the "Susquehanna Valley." If you were looking for a house in the Binghamton area, would you look to do business with a "Susquehanna Valley"  realty company?  In Binghamton they have common sense . . . but not here.

One would think that REALTORS, of all people, would know better than to hide themselves on a map.      

Monday, December 10, 2012

LibraryGate . . .

The OD has an editorial today: Our view: New Hartford library board must try again

It made me wonder what New Hartford Online has been up to.

Looks like Cathy has been up to her eyeballs in e-mails from New Hartford Town Library Trustees ... FOILed e-mails that is ... and many are the kind that certain trustees and officials won't be too happy to have meet the public's eye.  New Hartford Online is posting some of the juicier ones, some juxtaposed with what was coming out contemporaneously in the newspaper.

Probably most shocking was : "He was not aware that he was on camera and being videoed..." Where the library director acknowledges videotaping a library trustee (who came to review records) without his knowledge.

There's more of the Library Board e-mail expose posted at New Hartford Online and it's my understanding that a LOT more is coming.

The shenanigans of our elite running a small town library makes some pretty interesting reading ... and makes one wonder how long will town residents put up with it?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Eyes Wide Open

I thought this was an interesting video. I've always enjoyed Ms. Gabriel on Fox, but this is the first time I've heard her speak free of the question-answer-comment constraints. For balance here is an article about her from the NY Times.

Interestingly, here's an article published yesterday on the same topic from another prominent American writer of Lebanese-Christian heritage, Joseph Farah, of WorldNetDaily: What Muslim-Americans really believe.

Recently The Blaze TV covered the subject in a documentary called "The Project" (use the free trial to watch if you are not a subscriber).

As American products of the great "Melting Pot" we must not allow ourselves to become xenophobic -- but we cannot afford to be be naive, either... The stakes are too high.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Public Hearing Sham . . . .

Palmieri's downtown Utica plan raises concerns about median, parking

The plan would go a long way toward revitalizing downtown and bringing more businesses to the area, but there still are details to be worked out, Palmieri said.“We’re taking an opportunity to move the city forward,” he said. “Nothing is carved in stone.” . . . 
Paul Balzano, owner of Nicolas Jewelers on Genesee Street, asked if the median was an absolute necessity.“Do we have to do this?” he asked.  If the city gets the federal grant it will have to proceed with the median because it was written into the application, Palmieri said.
"Nothing is carved in stone,"  but  Utica " will have to proceed with the median because it was written into the application."  So. either the median is "nothing" or the mayor was trying to deceive the public when he said "Nothing" is carved in stone.  

What's the purpose of public hearings if the application is already written?

I'm in favor of the city getting as many grants as possible -- but not for the "pet projects" of some obviously "connected"  individuals who feel that they know more than everyone else and devise plans for spending taxpayer money and changing the city environment out of the public's view and without genuine public input.

Here's a novel idea:  Get public input BEFORE applying for the grant!

Frankly, as much as Genesee needs a remake and the sewers need work, I hope the City loses this grant.  It is poorly conceived, will make downtown difficult to navigate, and is being shoved down the throats of those with the most to lose - the people with businesses on Genny. 

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Effluent of the Affluent . . .

... Becomes the responsibility of the indigent -- at least in Oneida County!

According to the notice of public hearing at left, the County Legislature is considering an
"increase and improvement of the facilities of the Oneida County Sewer District in said County . . . to fix various problems concerned with the wet weather overflows from the Sauquoit Creek Pumping Station . . ." 
The "problems" to be fixed were caused when sanitary sewer lines from massive new suburban developments were connected to the County's combined sewer overflow at the pumping station. The suburban officials who approved the developments, and the county officials who approved the connections, either knew or should have known that the connections were illegal -- but they allowed them anyway, making suburban growth possible.  Now that they got "caught" and have to fix the problem, because facilities "of the Oneida County Sewer District" are being improved, all customers of the sewer district -- roughly half of whom are Utica residents -- are being forced to pay the cost.

While seemingly "small potatoes" at only a $3 annual cost per family, this is only the most recent example of how residents of Utica are being required to support suburban "growth" while the tax base of their own City shrivels and their taxes soar.

Suburban jurisdictions get Sewer District help in taking care of their wet-weather overflows, but, as indicated in an 11/15/2006 letter from the County Water Pollution Control Commissioner to the DEC, Utica will not be permitted to send its wet-weather overflows to the County treatment plant. As pointed out here five years ago, Utica is being left on its own.

County Legislators from New Hartford (and other places where the illegal hookups were made)  might be forgiven for approving this plan because their constituents benefit.  Those from Utica, however, need to take notice of this cost-shift and either speak out and vote against it, or demand that as part of the deal the Sewer District provide similar aid to Utica in solving the city's overflow problem (as recommended years ago by the DEC).

Owing to the way the Sewer District was set up, almost half of the County Legislators who will vote on this proposal represent areas that are unaffected. Rather than merely "rubber stamp" what county administrators have proposed, I ask that they take a serious look at the results of such policies: more "growth" in suburban areas (because it is subsidized) and decline in Utica (because that is where the subsidy comes from).  More suburban growth is planned, making solution of the problem even more pressing.  Increasing the County's urbanized acreage while its population declines means that the average costs of all local services must go up.  This helps to explain why Oneida County is one of the most heavily taxed counties in the nation when calculated as a percentage of real property value. Continuing such policies can only lead to more regional decline.

The Mayor and City Officials should not ignore this as a "County" or "Sewer District" issue because the costs of living and doing business within the City, and the City's ability to pay its bills, are directly impacted.        

Change the plan so that only the areas receiving the benefits pay for them


12/04/12 Update:  There is apparently an impression among some legislators that (1) the County is under a Consent Order to increase the amount of water that the County Facility can take in and treat and (2)   that the Towns of New Hartford and Whitestown will bear the costs of the plan.  

With regard to No. (1), expansion of the sewage treatment plant capacity is an option that the County has chosen to stop spilling raw sewage into the river and bring itself to compliance with the Consent Order, but it is not the only option.  DEC is only interested in stopping the spillage and not a plant expansion.  So to imply that the county is under an order to expand the plant is deceiving the public. Now that the big storm water leaks have been plugged, it is probably cheaper to increase the size of the county's treatment plant in Utica to accommodate the remaining suburban storm water in the system rather than remove it.  But make no mistake, any plant expansion is strictly to solve the suburban problem because, as noted above, the county has already stated it would not accommodate such flows from Utica.    

Which brings us to No. (2):  If the costs are going to be borne solely by New Hartford and Whitestown, why does the Legal Notice (above) and the proposed legislation (left on page 2)  talk about annual costs to families "in said Sewer District" or "in said District"?  And why does the Bond resolution (left at p.6)  state that "There shall be annually apportioned and assessed upon the several lots and parcels of land within said District, in the manner provided by law, an amount sufficient to pay the principal and interest on said bonds as the same become due . . . " (bold supplied)? There is nothing to qualify that the responsible parties will be limited to New Hartford and Whitestown.  If the County intends for the costs to be born solely by New Hartford and Whitestown, the legislation and legal notice have not been drafted that way.  As written now, Utica residents will be made to pay for this.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crazy Idea??

From yesterdays Crain's New York Business: Liu calls for ending tax subsidies for business
New York City Comptroller John Liu proposed a self-described "crazy idea" on Wednesday: get rid of all taxpayer-funded subsidies for private businesses and lower taxes for all businesses across-the-board. "That way we don't create unlevel playing fields even within our own city, where completely unsubsidized businesses have to continuously compete with their neighbors, some of them down the street, some of them a couple miles away, that are getting significant subsidies from taxpayers," Mr. Liu said. "Let's level the playing field for everybody."
The article identifies Mr. Liu as one of the Democratic contenders for Mayor.  And THAT's really the ONLY thing that seems crazy about this idea:  that it comes from a New York City Democrat!  

Other contenders quickly dismissed this idea, and the City administration jumped in to claim how its use of taxpayers dollars "leveraged" billions in private investments to create "tens of thousands" of jobs, and that "independent watchdog" groups held its IDA up as a "model" of "transparency" and "robust efforts to protect taxpayer dollars."  (The buzzwords and rhetoric from the economic development types gets tiring).

It's funny how the others totally missed or intentionally ignored the "create unlevel playing fields" argument.   But that's not unexpected because eliminating crony capitalism would eliminate the source of political power for many of these people.

Mr. Liu's position sharply contrasts with that of Governor Cuomo who toured the area yesterday Per the Governor (via WIBX)
“I want to make sure that we’re using taxpayer money wisely and we’re investing in the best plans that have a high likelihood of success,” Cuomo said. “This is about creating jobs, and I support taxpayer investment to create jobs. But, I want to make sure that we’re actually creating the jobs. That’s what the competition helps us do.”
Right! The "competition" between New York's regions can do no such thing because it is phony -- set up by Mr. Cuomo himself, rather than the marketplace.

Mr. Liu is on the right track.

The question for us Upstaters:  Can we get Mr. Liu to set his sights a hundred miles north of Gracie Mansion?   

Monday, November 26, 2012

Airport: How Much is "a Lot?" - a Sequel

City Journal has an article by Steve Malanga that makes a good sequel to last Friday's post on the wasteful spending at the County Airport.

Titled Airfields of Dreams, the subtitle, "If you build it, they won't come" explains why this should be made required reading for our County Executive and every County Legislator.
Public officials and local business leaders in areas looking to stimulate growth argue that they need to invest in airports, just as Atlanta and Dallas have. These officials are willing to risk millions of taxpayer dollars on a bet that it’s an airport that drives a local economy, not an energized economy that drives airport expansion. The results are empty terminals and gates, unused runways, and even flight-free airports. In China, the government has swiftly constructed entire new cities that so far remain eerily without residents. America is building a network of ghost airports every bit as strange.

It Takes One to Know One?

From the pages of that perpetual propaganda organ, Pravda, in praise of Putin: Obama's Soviet Mistake
. . . Bye, bye Miss American Pie. The Communists have won in America . . .  Obama has been re-elected for a 2nd term by an illiterate society . . .He is a Communist without question promoting the Communist Manifesto without calling it so. How shrewd he is in America. His cult of personality mesmerizes those who cannot go beyond their ignorance. . . They read history in America don't they? Alas, the schools in the U.S. were conquered by the Communists long ago and history was revised thus paving the way for their Communist presidents.  
Russia lost its' civil war with the Reds and millions suffered torture and death for almost 75 years under the tyranny of the United Soviet Socialist Republic. Russians survived with a new and stronger faith in God and ever growing Christian Church. The question is how long will the once "Land of the Free" remain the United Socialist States of America? Their suffering has only begun.
There's a lot more in this rambling article. I only posted portions to give you a flavor. While not inclined to pay attention to Pravda or believe it, there is a lot in this article that rings true to those who grew up in the Soviet era. If we don't learn from history, we will repeat it.

The Russians seemed to have learned . . . and they are warning us.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Airport: How Much is "a Lot?"

Per the OD: U.S. Customs office at Griffiss 'will help a lot,' official says
Now that the Oneida County Board of Legislators has passed the plan to borrow $1.5 million to construct a U.S. Customs office at the airport, planes coming from other countries will be able to land there more conveniently. . . .
Great!  Another airport building taxpayers are forced to pay for! Another $1.5 million in debt! But wait . . . Didn't the last airport commissioner propose a pre-fab facility built to Customs' specs for only $800,000 in the 2012 budget?  Why has the cost doubled?  If there really is a need, why build more than the minimum? Who is making $$$ from the excess?

But it does not stop there . . .
The Griffiss office will have one officer at a cost of about $120,000 per year. The customs officer will not be a county employee. Instead, the county will pay the fee to the federal agency. 
Great again! We not only have a questionable real estate investment, but will also incur ongoing staffing costs. The article makes a point that two businesses, MidAir USA and Premier Aviation fly to/from Russia or Canada and that customs agents either have to come here from Syracuse to meet the planes or the planes have to go there to deal with them.

So why is that an issue for Oneida County taxpayers?

Can't the agents simply continue to come from Syracuse (32 miles away) as needed? Or  can't the planes continue to stop there?  MidAir and Premier had no problem locating facilities here without this service. Why is this an issue now? While this may make things convenient for these two companies, why should taxpayers foot the bill? The taxpayers already subsidize these companies in various ways but, unlike shareholders, get NO part of company profits. Why should taxpayers pay more?

And where is the evidence that this service is or will be needed in the foreseeable future? There was no demand for customs agents when the market was thriving and had regularly scheduled air flights.  There has to be less of a demand now that our population and business base has shrunk. Now add the national economic malaise on top of our long-standing local malaise. One suspects that we'll build another Taj Mahal facility that will be mostly empty -- and have Customs Agent "Tatoo" sitting around most of the time waiting for "the plane, the plane." 

I've given up trying to figure out the "plan" for the county airport because there is no "plan" -- at least nothing that is backed by solid market analysis and business data...  Just the musings of  a bunch of country bumpkins who make themselves feel smart and important simply because they can spend lots of our money. Here's a series I did in August, 2008:  "How Bad Can It Get?" "How Bad Can it Get 2?" "How Bad Can it Get 3?" "How Bad Can it Get 4?""How Bad Can it Get 5?""How Bad Can it Get 6?" --- Has anything really improved?

So how much is "a lot?"  It depends.  If it is the cost of this project: TOO MUCH!  If it is the anticipated economic improvement from it: NOT MUCH! 

As a percent of the value of our real estate, taxes in Oneida County are among the highest in the nation.  Oneida County needs to spend less time catering to the needs of particular businesses or persons, and more time reducing the general level of taxation for everyone.   Only then will we finally begin to see some real, sustainable economic development. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012


It's interesting how a story can develop! A few days ago Gov. Cuomo was busy deflecting potential criticism of the state's response to Hurricane Sandy by bullying the utility companies with threats of public hearings and loss of state franchises because he felt that they were not moving fast enough.

Now it turns out that the worst problems with restoring power are found in the area served by the Long Island Power Authority --  a quasi-government agency formed by Mr. Cuomo's father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, to purchase the Shoreham, Long Island, nuclear power plant, shut it down, and pass the costs on to Long Island rate-payers. (Upstaters became saddled with increased electric bills when Mr. Cuomo, Sr., pushed for the Marcy-South power-line to deliver relatively "cheap" Upstate hydropower downstate to make up for decommissioning the nuke plant).

Current problems can be blamed on more than the usual ineffectiveness/inefficiency found in a government authority.  Per Celeste-Katz' post on the NY Daily News website Friday, the current Mr. Cuomo bears some responsibility.
. . .  some longtime politicos say Cuomo needs to look in the mirror when it comes to LIPA, a state authority that has been without a permanent chief executive officer since before he took office in 2011.Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey has been serving as acting CEO since September 2010 when former LIPA head Kevin Law left to head a business trade group.“An organization needs leadership,” said a longtime top state official. “For the governor to talk about the bureaucracy — it’s a bureaucracy he’s supposed to oversee.”
In addition, three of the LIPA board’s six gubernatorial appointments, including chairman Howard Steinberg, are serving with expired terms. Cuomo has appointed just one new board member since taking office.
The NY Post details more of LIPA's long time failings.

Maybe Mr. Cuomo is right.  Revoke LIPA's franchise. Take control from the government, put it back in private hands, and make them earn a profit.  Government bureaucrats, particularly political appointees, have little incentive to perform well.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Half-Way to Oblivion . . .

Oneida Square halfway house proposal upsets residents

A Frankfort woman who works with paroled women wants to open a halfway house near Oneida Square. Some neighbors are outraged by the plan, claiming it will drag down property values and bring criminals to a residential neighborhood. . . . 
Luther must receive a special-use permit from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals
This proposal comes just a week after someone else proposed a 51 unit apartment complex for people with behavioral problems.  Utica residents -- barely able to make ends meet for the the City while simultaneously subsidizing suburban growth through water and sewer services and a network of county highways -- are being asked , again, to accept more of society's problems in their midst.

If Utica leaders are serious about turning the City around economically, they are going to have to say no to such projects. Utica will not be regarded as a place to live or do business until City leaders start paying attention to the sensibilities, needs, and pocketbooks of those paying Utica's bills. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

"Revocation of Franchise" . . .

From the AP: Cuomo says he’s angry at pace of power recovery
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that utility companies have done an unacceptable job of getting service back to customers and that he’s ready to take away their rights to operate in the state. “The progress is unacceptable,” Cuomo said. “To say that I am angry ... would be the understatement of the decade.”
Tough talk certainly plays to the emotions of those frustrated with the pace of Sandy recovery. While it makes no sense to think that the utilities are dragging their feet because power lost is revenue lost to the company, the quality of the state's own response may be the issue. Perhaps Mr. Cuomo thinks that "a good offense is a good defense."

So what would Mr. Cuomo do differently? We don't know.

"I am a reasonable person and I want to give utilities the time to explain their side,” Cuomo said. “But I believe the service was inadequate.” He said he will force utilities into public forums to defend their effort. . . . . Cuomo said Monday that state action could range from “sanctions to revocation of franchise.”
Unless some performance standard applies to hurricane response, there is no basis for sanctioning a company.  And revocation of franchise?  The utilities own all the power lines.  Does Mr. Cuomo have some foreign company ready to come in and buy these at fire sale prices after he revokes their franchise?   Or is this all prelude to something bigger on the horizon that has not been revealed to us?

Popular rhetoric to stir up the masses.  Anger.  Government threats. Excuses for taking radical action.

It's starting to look like New York is the vanguard of the New World Order.

Keep that in mind as you vote today.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Reviving Utica with People with Problems?

51-unit apartment complex proposed for West Utica

A Syracuse-based nonprofit organization is proposing a 51-unit apartment complex on Lincoln Avenue, but its funding is dependent on a series of grants.Central New York Services Inc., a behavioral health organization, wants to build a $12 million complex on two vacant lots between Roberts Avenue and Warren Street. . . .The proposed apartment complex would have 51 units, with 25 set aside for individuals with mental-health or substance-abuse issues. The other units would be open individuals who qualify for low-income housing.CNY Services Executive Director John Warren said the area is underserved and would benefit from a project like this.
This seems to be the regional plan. Make Utica the place to concentrate the region's poor and troubled. Better yet: concentrate them all in West Utica!

Any wonder why Utica cannot pay its bills? and why West Utica is in the condition it is in?

Who Loses Their Voice?

Back-of-ballot issue: Size of Oneida County Board of Legislators
Oneida County voters will get to decide whether to reduce the size of the Board of Legislators from 29 to 23.
The move would save taxpayers about $50,000 a year. It also would mean each remaining legislator will represent more area and people.
It's interesting how the voters are being asked to approve this reduction BEFORE district lines are redrawn.  Is this another power grab by you-know-who? $50K doesn't seem like a big price to pay to keep what we know.

Who Pays?

They're up to their old mischief again: Officials begin discussions on best way to utilize region’s water supply
Officials from Oneida County, Utica and Rome gathered Wednesday at the State Office Building for the beginning of a series of discussions about regional economic development and water resources. 
Poor Herkimer County (the place with the water). Left out again! Gotta wonder what the Utica representative was saying?
“The focus of the meeting was to begin a conversation with the water producers on how do we get water to parts of the region that are currently underserved or using well water,” said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica.
"Underserved?" In who's estimation? "Well water?" Isn't that what you get when you choose to locate yourself away from cities or developed suburbs that have the population density to support municipal water service?

Sounds like someone has some "empire building" in mind -- and they plan on using water-rate payers' money to subsidize it.

Special Legislation

OD's View: Special legislation for merger vote should be passed (to allow Mohawk and Illion School Districts to merge):

A proposed three-district merger that included the two districts and Herkimer was rejected Oct. 18, and while Mohawk and Ilion want to press forward, they’re handcuffed by the law.Last week, the two districts passed a resolution asking for special state legislation that would allow another vote to take place sooner than permitted under current law. 
Why is it that when the local elites don't get their way, they go to Albany for "special state legislation?"

We saw this a few years ago when Mrs. Destito sponsored legislation to give the Mohawk Valley Water Authority special rights that it did not have under state law.  We saw this more recently  with Mr. Brindisi's "successful" sponsorship of legislation to exempt the City of Utica from state rules that required a showing of "public necessity" before the city could establish an ambulance service that would compete with a private company.  Now we're seeing another request to shorten the waiting time on school district merger votes.

There is a purpose to every state law that "handcuffs" local authorities. In every instance of special legislation, the purpose of the "handcuff" is being thwarted.  At least some of the people who would be affected by  special legislation are being denied the protection of state laws afforded to persons elsewhere in the state.

In the case of the original 4-way school district merger, Frankfort dropped out in one vote, Herkimer dropped out in a second.  Ilion and Mohawk want to press forward anyway, but are now forced to wait a year under state law before they can vote again.

Isn't repeated voting on an issue a tool that elites in government use to coerce voters into approving a pre-ordained outcome? Isn't the state law there to prevent coercion?     

While the overwhelming majority in Ilion and Mohawk voted for 4 and 3-way mergers and probably will settle for a 2-way merger, you do not really know the outcome of such a vote until it is taken.  One thing you do know is that at least a minority of voters prefer separate districts.  Those people are probably feeling coerced right now by the proposal for another vote.  Mob rule?

When you hear that "special legislation" is being proposed, think of who may be losing the rights held by others elsewhere.

Next time maybe YOU will be the one receiving "special treatment."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dealing with the Devil?

WKTV: Remington Arms to manufacture rifles for the country of Oman
Congressman Richard Hanna (R-24) confirmed the announcement to NEWSChannel 2 Thursday evening...
Hanna said, "The expertise and quality of Remington and their centuries of experience are clearly recognized not only by our own men and women in uniform who depend on their products to keep them safe on the front lines, but also nations around the world."
Oman?? What is the likelihood that at some point these arms will be used against our own people?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

TWC: Dissing Customers! and Catholics!

Not Getting What You Paid For?  Stations missing from that fancy 55" flat screen digital TV that you recently bought?  You are not alone!

It is really disturbing that in the middle of a presidential campaign ... and just as two local saints are being canonized ... Time Warner Cable chooses to futz with C-Span and EWTN (along with several other channels) to make them unavailable to customers who are paying for them unless they go to Time Warner to get an additional piece of equipment!  (To add insult to injury, you have to install the equipment yourself.)

I cannot say that I was not warned that something was going to change on 10/10.  I got a letter dated 9/4/12 from Mike Munley, President of Residential Services, indicating that if I wanted to continue viewing these channels "on additional direct-connect analog TVs (and similar devices)" I could request, for a limited time, a Digital Adapter -- free of charge through November, 2013, and then 99 cents/mo. thereafter. But I do not have an analog TV... and my flat screen technological marvel is not similar. Why should I need a digital adapter for a digital set?  Well it's been 10 days and several digital channel scans and still no C-Span and no EWTN ... but now I get several heretofore undelivered Syracuse stations (which carry the same networks as Utica stations) and a duplication of stations found elsewhere on the dial.

I can understand TWC wanting to conserve bandwidth so it can deliver even more trashy channels that I won't watch, but with all the duplication, this is obviously not about conserving bandwidth. And since all new TVs are digital but still require the adapter, it's not about going digital.   It's about forcing you to use a box, for which you will eventually pay a monthly fee, on every set in your house.

I thought we ditched set-top boxes back in the 1980s!

If I have to use a box/adapter/whatever, and waste the digital tuning technology in my new TV -- or pay for stations that I cannot receive --  then I might as well look at alternatives like Dish, DirecTV, or FIOS which require a box for everything.   In the meantime, I intend to complain to the authorities:  each local municipality from which TWC must receive a franchise before doing business ... state agencies ... Why stop there? This could go even higher: to  the Bishop ... or the Pope!

Mr. Munley claims TWC is "committed to bringing you ... high-quality entertainment" and that "We appreciate your business ..." but TWC just made 2 high-quality stations inaccessible without special equipment ... and I do not feel appreciated.  Frankly, I'm disgusted. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Remaking Genesee Street . . .

I couldn't let this topic go without a comment since I touched upon it a couple years ago . . .

While Genesee Street is in bad need of a make-over, and FREE (not the proposed- pay-station) parking is needed near business places, preferably right on the street, for them to compete with their suburban peers, the idea of a median down the middle seems wrong-headed.

A median will destroy Genesee Street's special character. That street's width, combined with it cutting diagonally across other streets and the long view-shed from Smith Hill to Oneida Square creates a unique urban environment that is beautiful and prominently displays iconic pieces of architecture.  The wide views give a feeling that one is in a place of importance. Indeed, it is our place for parades and important events.

A median would make Genesee St. feel more intimate -- more like a suburb. But people look to downtowns for excitement! The median will destroy the unique niche that only Genesee can fill.

That said, I like the idea of remaking Genesee St. without a median. Look at the Champs Elysée as a model. Reduction of traffic lanes should be done only if supported by a traffic study based on current traffic PLUS that which would be generated by full occupancy of existing buildings.  Pedestrians should be given the right of way in designated crosswalks between Franklin Sq. and Court St. On street parking should be increased with diagonal parking on at least one side if the lanes can be narrowed or both sides if lanes are eliminated.

But whatever is done a traffic study must support any proposed changes to lanes.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Fear, Smugness, Arrogance? ... or Dirty Trick?

From the Binghamton PressConnects: Email: Hanna threatened to end ads if station didn't drop debate plan.
Rep. Richard Hanna told WUTR-TV in Utica he would stop running campaign ads with the station unless it dropped plans to co-host a debate in which Hanna refused to participate, according to an e-mail written by the station’s general manager. WUTR’s Stephen Merren said Thursday he accidentally sent the e-mail recounting the conversation to the spokesman for Democratic candidate Dan Lamb.
From the Journal News' "Politics on the Hudson" blog:
WUTR, an ABC affiliate, had planned to co-host a debate with WSYR, also an ABC affiliate, that would be taped Friday and broadcast later in the month. The new district covers three TV media markets—Binghamton, Utica and Syracuse. Hanna declined to participate in the one-hour event, which the stations then shortened to a half-hour session with Lamb only. WUTR pulled out of the debate after Hanna’s phone call to Merren on Tuesday. On Thursday, WSYR also canceled plans for the debate. “We are going to have to back out of this taping on Friday and deal with our relationship with Congressman Hanna on our own,” Merren said in his Wednesday email, which described Hanna as “angry.”
Initial reaction to these stories may be outrage.  This certainly will give some pause for pulling the lever for Mr. Hanna.  Debates have become an American tradition.  Not participating in them could signal fear of not doing well . . . or smugness that one doesn't have to be bothered because polling suggests one is ahead. Whatever the interpretation, non-participation deprives voters of a side-by-side comparison. Avoidance of scrutiny by a public servant will be taken by many as arrogance.

But something else may be afoot here . . . 

WKTV is already hosting a debate (10/23/12 @ 5:30p). WUTR recently established a news organization that directly competes with WKTV.  It would be natural for WUTR to want to be able to offer its viewers a debate like its competitor.  But the Hanna-Lamb debate schedule is rather intensive (see the Lo-Hud article).  How many debates can the candidates be expected to engage in?  Could some of them have been combined? Did the new guy on the block, WUTR, simply insist on a debate that Mr. Hanna had no time for ... and then threaten to give Mr. Lamb an "empty chair" to debate with when WUTR didn't get its way -- to bully Mr. Hanna into acquiescing?  If you are a candidate and were pressured like that, wouldn't you threaten to pull yours ads? The media where these stories are running would not be aware of the media competition going on in Utica -- and would be sympathetic to local-candidate Mr. Lamb.

The Binghamton article leaves out the fact that the contestants are already scheduled to do a debate in the same market on WKTV.

Mr. Lamb seems awfully quick to accuse Mr. Hanna (in both articles) of "using his money to influence the journalistic decisions of a local news station."

We can only speculate on what really happened, but the "accidental" nature of the e-mail from Mr. Merren of WUTR to Mr. Lamb's campaign seems suspicious -- as does Mr. Lamb's quickly jumping on the situation.

Regardless, these stories require Mr. Hanna to clarify what happened . . . otherwise his constituents will speculate whether his actions represent fear, smugness, arrogance ... or the product of a dirty trick.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Limits of Tolerance . . .

Diversity is America's strength. Tolerance makes it work.
But tolerance has its limits...

Three stories from The Blaze this past week illustrate how this worked for one New York State Senator:
Where does one draw the line between tolerance and political correctness? 
What should one do when that line is crossed?

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold 
is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
..........    Thomas Jefferson 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

OMH Disses West Utica . . .

... while Being its Most Prominent Slumlord!

Per WUTR last Friday: MVPC Brigham Building tour sparks controversy; some say public is being shut out
Some of the Utica City Council members were told they would be getting a tour of the facility this afternoon. Upon their arrival, they were told the tour was cancelled and they'd have to leave the premises immediately, otherwise we'd be forcibly removed.
Per an exchange of e-mails secured by Fault Lines, Councilman Vescera arranged with Gov. Cuomo's Regional Representative, Charles "Sonny" Greco, for a tour by three parties of the Brigham Building on the Office of Mental Health's MVPC campus on Friday, September 21st at 4PM. Mr. Greco made it very clear that a head count was needed, and that all tour participants were to "come prepared with hard hats, steel toed boots, and flashlights or he/she will not be permitted on the tour."

It's not clear from the story above what went wrong, but the prospective tourists were denied access in rather blunt terms. Did the tourists follow the rules? Did too many people show up?  No explanation is apparent.

Formerly a cornerstone of West Utica with a lot of good-paying jobs, the MV Psych Center has shed almost all of its employees over the years, recently closing its last ward. The hulking abandoned buildings, boarded up and with broken windows are unsightly. Additionally many former residents on the margins of the bell-curve of social behavior have taken up residence near by. The triple whammy of job-removal, slum-like buildings, and significant numbers of people with behavioral problems has contributed to the decline of the West Utica neighborhood.

The City of Utica, for the most part, has allowed all this to occur for years with nary a wimper of complaint.

However, as defective as the City's new Master Plan is, the Plan recognizes the importance of the Psych Center both to the neighborhood's current state as well as to it's potential renaissance. The Master Plan calls for the City and State to come up with a redevelopment plan where the campus could host private facilities as well as ones owned by the state ... much like the Harriman Campus in the western part of Albany.

The fact that developers are showing an interest in the Brigham Building is a good sign for Utica, and the planned tour was to be an aid in potentially redeveloping the site.

The State needs to do its part.  While it won't acknowledge its role in West Utica's decline, it could at least cooperate with those who are trying to build the area up.

State officials need to remember what is stated at the bottom of each of Mr.  Greco's e-mails: 

Monday, September 24, 2012

DOT Ignores West Utica

... While Bulldozing its way through it!

Per YNN: Stakeholders give feedback about Arterial
Utica and the Department of Transportation are in the final stages of planning the $62 million North-South Arterial project. ... And to help them decide on the finishing touches, the D.O.T has pulled together a stake holders committee. . . .
It's a committee of 17 people who represent numerous organizations throughout the city, including the police and fire departments, Holy Trinity Church, the Chamber of Commerce and even the historical society. Their responsibility is to give feedback, specifically about the aesthetics.
But just who does DOT think are the real stakeholders? Check out DOT's list at left. Where are the people who live within a couple of blocks of the arterial who will have to walk out of their way to see their neighbors? Where are the businesses along the arterial (the ones not getting special treatment such as a parking lot) whose customers may get lost trying to find their shops after the arterial is finished?

DOT ignores the people and businesses most affected, while giving a seat at the table to "regional" groups such as the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce and Genesis.

And where is the City on this?  It's with the regional groups rather than its own residents!

Until government starts paying attention to how its actions affect individual people and businesses, economic activity will continue to be taken elsewhere.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

More Public-Private "Partnerships" ? ...

. . . or more Giveaways of Public (Taxpayer) Money to Private Parties?

SUNYIT organization would help local manufacturers 
The new Center for Global Advanced Manufacturing will provide computer programs and other tools such manufacturers might not be able to afford on their own, so the businesses can better develop new products.
“Many small manufacturers here say low access to newer tools and processes keep them from being even greater,” said College President Bjong Wolf Yeigh at the Friday announcement. “Our aim is to provide the resource.”
In New York, we have about the highest tax burden in the country . . . but the taxpayer can still be tapped to subsidize private companies.  

 I would argue that this violates the NYS Constitution, but the Court of Appeals does not seem to care (too bad the judges are no longer elected). Regardless, some people will get help and others will not.  Those who do not get help -- including those who do not seek it -- are placed at a competitive disadvantage to their peers that get the help.  The government, essentially, picks winners and losers.  

This moves us in the direction of state-capitalism ... sort of like the old Soviet Union. . . . and we all should remember how well that turned out.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Saga of the New Hartford Town Library Continues . . .

. . . as does the attitude problem of some employees and trustees.

The impression is that they do not care about those who are paying for their "private club."

Read about it on New Hartford Online Blog: New Hartford Public Library Trustee Meeting on Sept. 19, 2012

Underperforming Upstate . . .

An article was published in Business Insider this past week listing "The 11 Worst-Performing Cities in America."

Isn't it odd that the author chose to list 11 instead of 10?  Perhaps it was to avoid having the article over-emphasize New York since Upstate New York cities comprise four out of the "top"  (or should I say "bottom") worst-performing cities.  Those cities are Albany #4, Buffalo #5, Syracuse #9, and Poughkeepsie #10.

Albany is rather interesting being the worst in  NY considering the literally 100s of Millions of taxpayer dollars spent promoting nano-tech there.  I guess pouring tons of tax dollars into supporting private businesses just doesn't raise everyone's boat.

And before popping champagne corks over Utica not being listed, Utica-Rome Metro was not even considered because this area is no longer among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in population.

Considering that other "old" metro areas in the Northeast such as Boston and Worscester, MA are doing quite well should strongly suggest that the problem is rooted in NYS policies.

For detailed information on which areas are doing well and which are not check the interactive map on Brookings Metro Monitor September 2012.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Local jerky, country store to expand, relocate
Mohawk Valley EDGE presented Jodi-Lynn Patla, owner of Joe’s Jerky and Nonnie’s Country Store, a check for $32,500 last week to assist in the manufacturing expansion and retail relocation of her businesses.
Dependency  on government ... and government competing with local banks.  That's what's going on here . . . NOT economic development.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Suspicion Confirmed!

A week ago it was interesting to see a photo of Oneida County Executive Tony Picente standing with Oneida County majority leader George Joseph tagged "Friends of" the Orange County Candidate who is running against Claudia Tenney, the Assemblywoman from New Hartford in Thursday's Primary (9/13/12).

Well now it has been confirmed by the campaign flyer at left that Tony Picente has actually endorsed Ms. Tenney's opponent.

I don't know what axe Mr. Picente has to grind with Ms. Tenney, but his endorsement of someone from entirely out of the area requires some explaining.

Undoubtedly there are deep philosophical differences between Mr. Picente and Ms. Tenney with the former being a big government/spender type (Airport, NanoCenter), and the latter a conservative.  But to say through his endorsement that someone from over 100 miles away from New Hartford can better represent that Town (and the Town of Paris next door) than someone who actually resides in New Hartford is plain nonsense.  It appears that Mr. Picente cannot put his personal agenda aside for what is best for the area.

And we wonder why we have no clout?

Perhaps a comparison of the two candidates better explains Mr. Picente's endorsement.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Could Not Have Said It Better Myself . . .

So I will simply post a link to Bobby Sullivan's post about Vescera, The Common Council, and Freedom in City Hall!

Buying STEM Majors?

Hanna proposes college tax credit
 U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna was at SUNYIT Thursday promoting a bill he crafted that would provide a tax credit for students in science, technology, engineering and math.
“We have to acknowledge that this country has to step up and formally encourage people to do the things we say they should be doing,” Hanna said.
The last I checked it costs the same to get a degree in biology as it does in art. And we make up for our lack of STEM majors in the workplace by importing them from usually poorer countries such as India. Therefore, a lack of money does not seem to be the cause of so few people going into STEM majors ... so why should this solve the problem?

If this program does, somehow, encourage more to go into STEM areas, are they the type of students who really have the interest and aptitude for it?  Or are they just going for the money?  How effective will they be in the workplace?  Will they be happy?

I think this whole approach is wrong and, in an era when the Federal Government borrows 40 cents out of every dollar, incredibly wasteful.  This only benefits the higher education lobby and not the population at large.

Why are other countries more successful at recruiting STEM students?

Answer that question and you will know whether this program is appropriate or not. I suspect that you will find curriculum differences in K-12 education that have created the problem.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Marcy NanoCenter in the Balance - Part 2

. . . or "Why government shouldn't play entrepreneur" . . .

Yesterday's OD had an article The Marcy nano site: what now? That's a good question!

While this blogger  believes that EDGE is correct in that its site should be permitted, EDGE is dealing with administrative agencies (Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency) whose missions, protecting the environment, produce natural inclinations to expand their jurisdictions, prohibit everyone from doing anything, and force all who disagree to go through litigation where the deck is stacked against them. Even when a victory limiting an agency is won, as in the 2006 Rapanos Decision, it is often after a great toll, and what the victory actually means on the ground may still be unclear. These inclinations have only increased under the current administration in Washington where Executive Orders and guidance documents have pushed the limits of the law.

Prudent investors simply avoid getting involved with such situations.

But we are not dealing with prudent investors.  We are dealing with EDGE and Oneida County involving tax dollars, governmental power, and strong personalities. The wetlands issue has been known since 2001. Where private investors would long ago have insisted upon a permit before spending another dime, we continued to send our people around the world, build infrastructure, confiscate private farmland, and make plans for a chip-fab that may never come.

Of course we could always get lucky and have a manufacturer come here that is willing to deal with the ACE issue, but what is the chance of that when they can go anywhere in the world?

Surprising for an administrative decision, the Army Corps of Engineers described Marcy NanoCenter as a "build it and they will come"  project. That was derisive. If past is prologue, and consistent with other County-led efforts such as the Airport, the Sewer District and the Water Authority, we'll continue to dig in our heels, make things even "bigger" and "better," marginalize those who disagree with us as naysayers, and create a "too big to fail"  situation that requires another level of government to step in.

I propose skipping all the local taxpayer-sapping interim steps and bring in another level of government now.

EDGE and the County need to turn this problem over to Big Guns who are better equipped to deal with the Federal government and have as much, if not more, at stake:  the State of New York.  The State, after all, certainly talks a good game of being "open for business," has big plans for SUNYIT, and hangs its hat on a high tech future.  SEMI-NY was a State initiative. The State designated Marcy NanoCenter as one of its key development sites.  The State supposedly has economic development expertise.  The State has environmental expertise, has working relationships with the Federal environmental agencies, and even has a potential to assume some of the federal authority in certain circumstances.   Marcy NanoCenter is beyond local capabilities to pull off.

That done,  the county needs to discontinue its "entrepreneur" approach to "economic development." That is the responsibility of the private sector.  Instead, the county needs to focus on its job of governing in a manner that  ensures taxpayers get value for their dollars.

Well-run, competent, and efficient government will be the region's best economic development incentive.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Interesting . . .

The Oneida County Executive and the Oneida County Majority Leader are pictured at left with the Orange County challenger to the local candidate for State Assembly.

Interesting ...

Also interesting is the story of the Oneida County candidate that was published recently in the Colgate University newspaper.

Maybe it's just my imagination, but . . .

doesn't it seem that our local leaders fear those who may know more than they . . . and will even throw the region under the bus to shut those with different ideas up to protect their own turf?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Marcy NanoCenter in the Balance - Part 1

In case you missed them, there were two excellent interviews on WUTQ this week concerning Army Corps of Engineers' recent denial of a wetlands permit for the Marcy NanoCenter project pending that project signing up a tenant.

Jeff Hawk of Army Corps of Engineers vs Steve DiMeo of MV EDGE  

Administrative balancing . . . 

ACE is an administrative agency charged with carrying out the provisions of Clean Water Act Section 404.  It can only act within the authority found in its governing statute and regulations. Its decisions must be based upon substantive evidence.  It cannot act arbitrarily or capriciously. It also has an obligation to act and not avoid its responsibilities. ACE must balance each proposal against what is required by law. 

ACE is concerned that EDGE will never find a tenant, and that, per ACE's decision, the wetland “will be filled without purpose.

"Purpose" is key to understanding this controversy . . .

As understood by the public, the  purpose of this project is to have an Oneida County site prepared where the semi-conductor industry can simply come in and break ground on a plant without delay, with the ultimate goal of producing local jobs. 
There is nothing in the Part 230 regulations that allows ACE to evaluate the purpose of the project beyond determining whether or not it is a water-dependent activity and whether it might be more appropriately conducted elsewhere with less adverse impact. ACE feels that it needs the tenant because it hopes to work with the tenant to get the tenant to modify its requirements to further reduce the impact to the wetland -- but that defeats the entire purpose of the project by injecting delay and uncertainty. Simply put, ACE does not have the legal authority to change the purpose of the project but its position is an attempt to do so.

Previously ACE had issued a permit to EDGE with the condition that no work be performed on the site without a written contract securing a tenant.   "In the District’s view, issuing a conditioned permit achieved the goal of identifying a site that was “pre-approved” or “pre-permitted” in order to attract a semiconductor facility . . . "  Mr. Hawk admitted during his interview on WUTQ that ACE has no expertise in the semi-conductor industry.  ACE's determination that its previously-issued permit was sufficient "to attract a semiconductor facility," thus, was a determination that was both outside its expertise and not based upon substantive evidence.   

As pointed out by Mr. DiMeo during his interview, ACE has issued similar permits for shopping centers without requiring the developer to have signed commitments from tenants. Why did not ACE require commitments in those situations to ensure that the wetland is not filled "without purpose" or to work with those tenants to get them to reduce their impacts by, perhaps, reducing the sizes of their stores?  What regulation allows ACE to make the tenant a requirement for EDGE's proposed shovel-ready site but not for shopping centers?  ACE is acting arbitrarily and capriciously when it requires tenants in one situation and not the other.

Simply put, ACE, without authority, without evidence, and without the proper expertise has arbitrarily imposed a tenant requirement to avoid conducting the review it is commanded by law to perform. We can only guess why it has done this.

This situation can only be rectified by ACE's recognition of its errors and doing its job, or by litigation.

Whether or not Oneida County should proceed to litigation involves another type of balancing ... but that will be discussed in Part 2.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

County to Kill Businesses ...

... for a parking lot!

Under the proposal, the county would buy three businesses on the south side of Elizabeth Street, raze them and build a parking lot with around 160 spaces
1) Who makes up the lost property tax to Utica?
2) Who makes up the lost sales tax to Utica?
3) Who makes up the lost jobs to Utica?
4) What makes up for the three fewer reasons to come to downtown Utica?

Add this to lost businesses for the Arterial remake ... and the new bus transfer station...

And this city and county wonder why Utica can't make ends meet!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cheap Transportation and Cheap Power . . .

... built Upstate New York and made it thrive.

Our elected leaders have already trashed the cheap transportation part by not eliminating the Thruway Authority and its Tolls after all our competitors got free interstate highways.

Are they doing it again with power?  It sure looks like it:

 GOP senators say Canada to NYC power line will cost jobs . 

The proposed project does not seem to have the environmental/aesthetic disadvantages of the NYRI proposal.  So far, I do not hear that the proposal will raise Upstate power rates as NYRI was projected to do.  So what is the problem?

Sounds like Upstate power producers will have too much power on their hands if NYC stops purchasing it. They will have to lower the rates to get rid of it.  They will have to become more efficient.

Perhaps Upstate power rates will finally be brought into line what that of our competitors for jobs.

These senators seem to be more interested in protecting private business interests than bringing about an economic revival in Upstate NY.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Marcy Nano: Time to Move On . . .

In the OD's VIEW: Leaders must keep Marcy site on priority list
It’s time to stop the chicken-and-egg game between Mohawk Valley EDGE and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding development of the nanotechnology site in Marcy. And it’s up to our elected leaders to get that job done.
Agreed . . . But it's not going to happen.

Simply put, there is a matter of federal vs state jurisdiction involved and our elected leaders are not up to tackling that issue. The once Empire State is now a welfare queen, economically dependent upon the handouts of the federal government. Our leaders do not dare to bite the hand that feeds them.  

Marcy Nano is not going to happen either.

Federal wetland permit not withstanding, unless the State is ready to throw a $Billion or more into the local project like it did in Malta, it's not going anywhere. Our window of opportunity shut in 2006 when Malta was chosen by Advanced Micro Devices for its chip fab. We (supposedly) had the advantage of a shovel ready site because Malta had water supply and public relations problems back then. But Malta was chosen in spite of those issues. Anyway, that is the past.

Now that other areas with greater educational resources have sites of their own,  including Malta which was designed to accommodate 4 plants, what do we have to offer chip fabrication and distribution that cannot be found elsewhere .... and probably at a lower cost?

Even the Malta "success" must be recognized for what it is:  concentrated taxpayer spending on a particular business.  What happens when that business runs into trouble? Are we going to give them a bailout, too? Will the force of government be used to crush the competition? Developing the infrastructure and raising capital for particular businesses is the responsibility of the businesses, not the government and not the taxpayer.

It's time to move on . . .

We have wasted time trying to bribe, cajole, and trick businesses into coming here at taxpayer expense while failing to address the reasons why businesses already here continue to leave, i.e., We are too expensive and too complicated compared to other places.  The extra costs for taxes, tolls, fees, utilities, and regulatory compliance cut into potential profits and produce nothing of value for either the producers or the consumers. If we really want jobs, we have to identify what the costs are and bring them into line with our competition.   We may find that, to paraphrase Mies van der Rohe . . .

Less [government] is more [jobs].

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No No Nano ...

When will SUNYIT nanocenter materialize in Marcy?
Since the respective announcements in 2008 and 2009 of $27.5 million for a Center for Advanced Technology, or CAT, and $45 million Computer Chip Commercialization Center, or Quad-C, projected starts to the project regularly have been pushed back. A source close to the project, however, said the delays were for a good reason: The scope of the project has grown, and the construction group, which is expected to be named soon, had to go back and alter the plans. That announcement is expected this fall, according to the source.
This is starting to sound like Destiny USA.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Guess that Explains the Ammo 2 ...

We've got too many agencies with armed-agents

As quoted on Fox in 2009:
THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BARACK OBAMA: We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.
Can these dots be connected?

Onondaga County Gets It

Onondaga County Executive proposes new plan to stop suburban sprawl
Onondaga County lost 5,785 acres of farmland between 2002 and 2007, and 1,300 acres of forests were lost to development between 1992 and 2006. All the while, the county’s population growth has remained flat, so the same number of people have to pay to maintain a growing amount of public infrastructure such as roads, sewers and water lines.
Same population + more infrastructure = higher taxes and fees

What is so difficult to understand?

Onondaga County has recognized this problem since the late 90's and at least tried to deal with it, albeit not effectively.

Oneida County government does not even know that it has a problem. It not only has done zilch to control sprawl -- it subsidizes it with PILOTS, allowing illegal sewer hookups, expanding the traffic capacity of county roads in suburban towns, giving tax breaks for suburban development, etc. etc. And property taxes and fees in general go up and up.

I'm not sure that Ms. Mahoney's proposal for Onondaga County is right for Oneida County.... but can Oneida County at least stop the things it does which support sprawl?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Compassion Aside ...

CBS: Window opens on Obama deportation delay program

Although this program seems to be the compassionate thing to do, there is a much bigger issue here:  the Breakdown of our government's system of checks and balances.

Simply put, the President is ignoring the law.

This seems to be a problem throughout government these days. The legislative branch makes the laws, the executive branch carrys out the laws, and the judicial branch resolves disputes in application of the laws.  Constitutions, Federal and State, set the parameters of what government can and cannot do. 

But for government to work properly, there must be mutual respect of one branch for the others, and all branchs must respect the constitution.

The respect is gone.  And when that happens, the logical end result is anarchy or dictatorship.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Please Vote YES on the New Hartford Library . . .

... so I won't have to pay for it any more!

That is because I live in part of the Town of New Hartford that is not in the New Hartford School District.  If voters approve rechartering the NH Library from a town to a school district library, only the taxpayers in the New Hartford Central School District will be taxed to support the library . . .

And, apparently, what a tax it will be!

The library budget is proposed to increase 67% to $893,675!  And from the tone of the recently published statements of some of the incumbent trustees who are running to be elected to the new library board, further increases are to be expected to serve the increased demands of library "patrons."

But who are the "patrons" who are making such demands?

Since this is "New Hartford," it is likely that the current board of trustees reflects the makeup of the "patrons," i.e., they are fairly well-heeled persons who have the means to access information independently on their own dime without having to tap fellow taxpayers to pay for it.   As with any library, in all likelihood the "patrons" are an insignificant percentage of the population that is being asked to pay for the facility. Most taxpayers will seldom, if ever, actually use the library.  Given the library's physical location on the edge of New Hartford Village, it would appear that most patrons drive to the library rather than walk to it.  This begs the question: 

If most patrons drive to the NH library, why not drive to -- and fund -- the Utica Public Library instead? 

Libraries are important for giving the disadvantaged of a community regular access to information that the non-disadvantaged can obtain by other means. That gives the disadvantaged an opportunity to elevate their status through education -- which benefits the entire community.  But how may disadvantaged people reside in the New Hartford School District --  and also have a car to be able to use the NH Library?

Libraries are also important for giving the non-disadvantaged occasional access to hard-to-find information that they might not ordinarily be able to obtain.  How much of such information could or should a school district of only 2600 students be expected to accumulate?

The Utica Public Library is only a few miles from the New Hartford Library.  It may actually be more convenient to some parts of the NH School District than the current Town Library. 

The Utica Public Library is the region's public library.  It is the one that is located closest to the region's disadvantaged who need it the most.  It is also the most centrally located to the region's population who need the library for occasional use. It's collection is already fairly large and it is professionally staffed.  But through urban sprawl the population the Utica Public Library still serves no longer contributes to its maintenance. 

I believe that the hearts of the library trustees pushing this rechartering are in the right place -- but their execution is wrong.  The region can afford only one regional library.  If the trustees are serious about improving the community, they will explore ways to improve and fund the Utica library, and not continue with something that competes with it. If the region could pool its resources in Utica, just think of what a great library we all could have.

In the meantime, I selfishly hope that voters approve rechartering the New Hartford  Library as a School District Library so I no longer have to pay for something that does me and my community little good.

More information about this proposal, including a lot of statistics, is available on New Hartford Online.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Taking Power From the People

It's odd that this aspect of the Coroner/Medical Examiner controversy is not being discussed.

What the public is made to believe is that one of the County's ELECTED Coroners has not been doing his job properly, has caused problems because of it, and that this is why we need to go to a Medical Examiner system.


Is it not odd that for all the controversy we, the voters, do not know who this person is? That we, the voters, are being denied the opportunity to throw this person out of office ourselves?  Usually no one pays attention to the coroner's election because there is no controversy.  Well now there is.

We can debate the merits of  Coroner vs Medical examiner all day. What we should not be debating is giving the public a say in this process .... but there is no debate.  The decision which has been THE PUBLIC'S for generations is simply being taken from us by the Board of Legislators and the County Executive.

This needs to go to a referendum.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Upstate Transportation Tax

Nice to see Assemblywoman Tenney speaking out against the new Thruway toll hike on trucks.  More of .... no ... ALL of our upstate legislators should be raising hell over this outrageous selective tax on transportation between most major upstate New York cities.  All the talk from the governor about wanting to help the Upstate economy is just that ... Talk.  Same goes for the state legislature.

The Thruway needs to be treated like other Interstate Highways in New York State.  I-81 from the PA to the Canadian border, I-87 from Albany to Canada, I-88 from Binghamton to Albany, I-86 across the Southern Tier, I-390 south of Rochester, I-84 in the lower Hudson Valley, I-495 from NYC to Riverhead, Long Island -- They are All FREE.

Why should the Thruway have its own separate bureaucracy at this point in time?  The Federal government at former US Senator Moynihan's urging gave NYS the money to pay for the Thruway in the late 1980s -- It should have been made free then.  The original bonds for the Thruway were paid off in 1996 -- The Thruway should have been made free then.  What has happened since is that because this was a separate stream of revenue --- and provided a nice place to put patronage jobs -- the no-longer-needed structure of the Thruway Authority was maintained.  So main-line Upstate cities are stuck with the transportation tax that is not imposed elsewhere in NYS.

It is a drag on our economy.

The time to dismantle the Thruway Authority and fold its responsibilities into the Department of Transportation is NOW.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Thinking Beyond the 911 Grant? Of Course Not!

From the OD: Oneida County's 911 system in financial bind 
The 911 center, which fields emergency calls from Utica and New Hartford and all the other municipalities in the county, is seeing $1 million drop out of its budget in 2013 as a pair of state grants run out.
And a hoped-for infusion of new funds related to surcharges on cellphones failed to make it through the state Legislature before its session ended in late June.
Now, county officials are trying to figure out a way to pay for the center, which costs the county almost $1.8 million even with the help of the expiring grants.
The only reason the 911 system was solvent all these years was because people in Utica and New Hartford were paying for the system like other county residents but they were not getting the service.   Now that both municipalities have joined County 911 the County cannot make ends meet!

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialists is that they eventually run out of spending other people's money. Oneida County just did . . .

And you thought Republicans were running Oneida County!