Friday, December 26, 2014

"Festivus" at the Firehouse . . .

A humble little sign saying "Happy Birthday Jesus. We love you" at the Shepherd Place firehouse in Utica, NY, received a lot of national attention last week when the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained about it and threatened legal action.  For the most part, FFRF's complaint and threats went over like a lead balloon judging from the on-line comments posted on the multiple renditions of the story that could be found --  a public relations nightmare for those who wish to remove religion from the public square -- both nationally, but especially in Utica .

Utica, after all, has a long tradition of being a "melting pot" -- a place where people of different races, ethnicities, and  religions are welcomed -- a place where the stirring incantation of the call to prayer each Friday from the new mosque next to City Hall  has become as familiar as the noontime chiming of traditional Christian hymns from Grace Episcopal Church or the noontime factory whistle.

The  "melting pot" works in Utica because its diverse groups of people tolerate and respect each others' sensibilities and traditions  -- including respect for the dominant culture.  How could it be a "melting pot" otherwise?   Respect for the dominant culture -- or lack of it -- explains why a new mosque in Utica raised nary an eyebrow while one proposed for New York City created a firestorm of controversy.  

Context is the key to understanding everything.

Now, a new tactic is being tried per this story out of the O-D: Festivus group celebrates outside fire station.  The corner of Shepherd Place and Sunset Avenue would seem to be an unlikely place to "celebrate" "feats of strength" and "airing of grievances" unless the celebration is not really a celebration, but, rather, a protest against that humble little "Happy Birthday Jesus" sign.

This was no spontaneous "celebration." It was advertised in the local paper the day before, and in the Syracuse paper on the day of.  The organizer is a Utica College adjunct who has political connections and has mobilized activists.

There is nothing wrong with organization and mobilization.  Free speech is valued. . .   But what are they promoting? 

Although these folks speak in inclusive terms about Utica's amazing diversity and not "bringing any one group down, but it’s about bringing everybody up," if they get what they ask for what will be achieved?
The Festivus group, meanwhile, is calling for other local religions to request the fire department post signs representing their faiths to foster feelings of unity and togetherness in the city during the holiday season.
If the fire department received such calls, what would be the response?  Post other signs? Remove the original sign? Ignore the calls?

Posting other signs would dilute and confuse the firefighters' simple message about the meaning of Christmas. . . . A victory for anti-Christians.

Removing the sign would be a victory for those who would remove religion from the public square altogether.

Ignoring calls would make other groups feel slighted or discriminated against. . . . A victory for those who would exploit our differences.

Utica,  the "Town that Loves Refugees," needs no group of activists to "foster feelings of unity and togetherness."  Far from "bringing everybody up,"  the "Festivus"  group's tactics would undo Utica by shutting off or confusing certain messages while setting groups of people against each other.

True to their "live and let live" nature,  Uticans ignored the Festivus' call -- this time.  But those who would divide us for political gain, though few in number, are strategically located, highly organized, and know how to use the media.    

Perhaps this is what political 'science' is all about . . .  right, professor?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Celebrating Nonsense . . .

Oneida County "celebrates" the One Millionth Gallon of jet fuel sold at Griffiss "International" Airport with a big press release.

Does this mean that the Airport is finally self-sustaining?  . . . . I didn't think so.

The number of "operations" at the airport continues to fall.  The only reason O.C. did so "well" in the fuel department is due to military -- i.e., government -- flights.

But how "well" did we do?  As of 12/11/14 OC took in $84,473.46 . . . just about what we are paying the new airport commissioner.

Perhaps O. C.  celebrates this "non-event" to distract from the fact that O. C. has to chase down Mid-Air to collect $700,000 it is owed.

What nonsense!

Monday, December 08, 2014

NYS Single Payer: No Choice, No Jobs . . .

From the Rochester D&C: Supporters call for universal healthcare plan in NY .

The proposal is to replace private health insurance with New York State Health Insurance -- insurance without premiums, deductibles, co-pays, etc.

No one likes dealing with premiums, deductibles and co-pays!  Health care should be Free!!  It is a "Basic Human Right" -- No?

It is easy to make promises that sound good . . . it is quite something else to deliver on them.

For some politicians, the fact that insurance companies make a "profit" on providing a "basic human right" is downright wrong . . . and they intend to fix the situation by replacing the health insurance companies with government. [Never mind the fact that NYS heavily taxes this "basic human right" in hidden ways.]

"Free" health care ultimately has to be paid for.  With a "single payer" system in New York, the "government" becomes the payer . . . You can surmise where the government will get the money from.  Who pays ultimately will be determined by  . . . politics. Do you trust NYS politics?

If it is "free" healthcare,  you will pretty much have to settle for the health care you are given. "Beggers can't be choosers" we used to say . . . If the government is doing the paying then the government will determine what health care you are allowed.  What you get will ultimately be determined by . . . politics. Again, do you trust NYS politics?

And if the government is the sole payer, the pay of the people working in the health care system will ultimately be determined by . . . WHAT?  And if the healthcare workers don't like their pay, then what happens?

Frankly, I do not want politics -- especially NYS politics -- determining who pays for my health care, what my health care provider is paid, and what health care I will be allowed to receive.

But there are a couple other issues here, perhaps even bigger . . .

Insurance companies compete with each other for your business.  If you do not like the service you get from one, you can choose to do business with another.  If NYS politics makes the government your insurance company, if you don't like the service, where will you go?  YOU WILL HAVE NO CHOICE to go elsewhere for your insurance unless you move elsewhere.   

But why stop with health insurance?  Why not Workers' Comp. insurance? It's not that different.  Or auto insurance?  Or life insurance? Or homeowners?  Etc. Etc. If NYS politicians can go after health insurers, they can go after the whole insurance sector.

Insurance companies are big employers in New York,  including ones employing many in this area. We've seen what NYS politicians have done to the arms businesses in New York because they don't like guns.

It looks like the insurance sector is next.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Their Piece of the Pie . . .

A couple months ago Oneida County Executive Picente complained about a proposed casino in Tyre, Seneca County, and announced a coalition to fight it. Seneca County Chairman Hayssen shot back
“Picente and Halbritter know we have the best model for our casino in our zone, and it will rival theirs someday,” he said. “They just don’t want it to happen.”
But Mr. Picente said
that the placement of a casino in Tyre goes against the intent of the Oneidas’ exclusivity agreement with the state, even though Tyre is just outside the Nation’s exclusivity zone.
The agreement is the agreement. If Tyre is outside the Oneida Nation exclusivity zone, then it is a legal location. Is Mr. Picente afraid of a little competition?

Now these same top officials in two counties battle over Turning Stone's planned luxury retail center.

Is Mr. Hayssen afraid of a little competition?

You have to love the spectacle of Government types (both Hayssen and Picente) battling over "their" piece of the "pie." 

But the problem is neither Turning Stone nor Tyre. Rather, the problem is with how Government (State, Federal and Local) allows certain entities (such as Turning Stone) to operate free from the rules that everyone else has to live by.

It is cronyism that WE THE PEOPLE wind up paying for  . . . sometimes in subtle ways  . . . like Utica area sewer users funding sewers for uncommitted nanotech companies . . . and Utica area water users funding a pipeline to Verona for Turning Stone.

WE THE PEOPLE need to put a stop to cronyism by getting rid of the government officials who engage in it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Oneida County Is Coming for Your Wallets!!!

"Sewer rates could increase 10% in Oneida County."  This headline is misleading. The sewer rates are not increasing for everyone in Oneida County -- just for those users of the Oneida County Part County Sewer District . . . which is centered on Utica.
About $442,000 of the money generated will go to pay debt service on the $11.6 million project to accommodate increased sewer use expected from nanotechnology enterprises in Marcy.
The population of the sewer district is down.  The current users do not need to "accommodate increased sewer use." 

Leave it to the Oneida County Legislature and the County Executive to find a way to tap Utica-area citizens for County-sponsored development.  We should all be so lucky to find a way to pass the costs of our pet projects on to someone else!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gotta Hand It To These Guys !!!

 Turning Stone Resort Casino announces $100 million luxury retail outlet, entertainment complex . While MV EDGE is running around like a bunch of losers spending Oneida County taxpayers' money trying to stifle potential competition for Turning Stone from Seneca County,  Turning Stone has moved on to beat any potential competition.

Love 'em or hate 'em, you have to admire Turning Stone's entrepreneurial spirit playing their fair or unfair advantages for all their worth.

Let's face it.  There is no way the Utica/Syracuse market alone could support such an outlet center. Now the well-heeled of the region won't have to travel to Manhattan for luxury items.

This is a PLUS for US.  

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Should Upstate Split from NYC?

This was a question someone posted on Topix, generating the "we can get along without them" vs "we need them" type of discussion.  One person posted that both regions need each other.  I agree with the last view.  (I remember in the 1970s when NYC was in an incredible amount of debt, but the Upstate economy was fine and kept things afloat for all).

The problem now is that the needs of these different regions are no longer reflected in state policies. The Downstate majority runs everything to its favor. The Upstate perspective is inadequately represented.

Before the NYS Senate was reapportioned in the late 1960s to reflect a "one man one vote" US Supreme Court interpretation of the "equal protection" clause of the US Constitution, State policies had to be good for both Upstate and Downstate to get past the NYS Senate. A bit like the US Constitution's giving each state 2 senators regardless of population, the NYS Constitution gave Upstate regions more representatives to ensure that differing regional perspectives had a voice in policy making. The result was state policy that was good for the entire state. Compared to now, Upstate was booming back then.

This balance was done away with by the US Supreme Court. You can point to that event as marking the beginning of Upstate's descent both financially and in population, and the entire state's loss of representatives and importance in Washington. Now it is the "tyrrany of the majority" found in a pure democracy that rules us ... something that the framers of both the US and NYS Constitutions sought to avoid.

Restoring the Balance would resolve the issue, but how to get there is a big question. Getting the US Supreme Court to revisit and reverse its past decision -- and then NYS restoring the old Senate representation formula -- would be one approach. Splitting the state administratively into Upstate and Downstate regions with laws having to be approved by the representatives of both regions to become effective might be another approach.

But if the balance cannot be restored, then the only hope for Upstate survival is to break away and make its own policies.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Year, Another Rate Increase for MVWA . . .

Water rates rising for fifth time in five years. Will it ever end?

Probably not.

The board controlling the Water Authority is appointed rather than elected by the public.  They answer to politicians.  Therefore, decisions are likely to advance the local (read County) political agenda (formerly New Hartford expansion, now Nano Utica/Marcy, but always crony favoritism) rather than the interests of the consumers. Take a look at the rate structure . . . it heavily favors the high volume industrial users rather than the typical stay-at-home consumer, yet the cost to treat each gallon of water is the same for all.

The board also depends upon Water Authority officials for their information -- officials whose expertise is limited.

Since the paying-public has already lost control of the system, perhaps now is the time to consider selling the water system to a large waterworks corporation such as American Waterworks or Aqua America. These corporations serve many regions rather than one, have developed an expertise that cannot be matched by our local utility, and, most importantly, would be answerable to the  NYS Public Services Commission when they try to increase local water rates.

Will you ever see persons that think this way appointed to the board?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The McDermott Surprise . . .

I don't know about you, but after watching the NY Governor debate last night the Libertarian candidate, Mr. McDermott, was  the big surprise! 

Mr. Astorino came across as being plastic... He presented nothing that we haven't heard before. While he is against Common Core, he would "replace" CC standards with New York State standards . . . but we've already had NYS standards that didn't help.  He would, at best, be another Pataki . . . appealing to more conservative voters, but not fundamentally transformative.

Mr. Hawkins was the big disappointment. Based on the last debate I expected a more intelligent discourse from him, even though I disagree with him on almost everything .... But all I heard was his Utopian wish list . . . and his accent!  . . . Where did that come from?

As for Mr. Cuomo ... The state is a mess.  The targeted corporate welfare on steroids only spends taxpayer money.  It will not create a sustainable economic revival because the structural problems that created NYS' malaise are never addressed (high taxes, over regulation, high utility costs, etc.).
Mr. McDermott nailed both the Common Core and the Charter Schools issues for me. I know some of my conservative leaning friends will disagree on the Charter Schools issue because Charter Schools create choices for parents.  But Charter Schools are still Government Schools.  They may create choices for now, but they are tuition-free competition for the truly independent private parochial schools. After the parochial schools get killed off, there will only be government schools -- and they all will be promoting the government's agenda rather than a diversity of thought.

Mr. McDermott is really a long-shot to actually win because he is not of a "major" party.  But in this era of three Republican County Executives (including our own) endorsing Democrat Governor Cuomo, are the Republicans really a viable party in New York State anymore?  The People have no real choices any more. . . . 

Unless they seize power for themselves.

That was Mr. McDermott's overall message last night:  Give power back to the People, and they will fix things themselves.

That Idea, is truly something new

Friday, October 10, 2014

"Trophy Project" . . .

A healthy dose of pure skepticism was on display last week in Buffalo's ArtVoice over Gov. Cuomo's deal with Solar City (the subject of a post here) and whether it would be a "game changer." Using local economic statistics, writer Jim Heany demonstrates that while the project might be nice for Buffalo to have, it really doesn't change anything.
Deals like SolarCity provide Cuomo with the kind of trophy project that politicians pine for. 
But they also underscore how uncompetitive the business climate in Western New York and New York State remains. What’s more, these deals are a stark reminder that Cuomo and the rest of the Albany crowd have failed to enact reforms that would give us a fighting chance to improve our economic plight without having to ply companies with corporate welfare.
While taxpayers are being forced to pay to manufacture solar panels in Buffalo, the governor is working dutifully to expand the customer base for solar panels, also at taxpayer expense, right here in Oneida County.

Our money is being spent to create an unsustainable false economy . . . unsustainable because these projects do absolutely nothing to change the conditions that have caused NY's economic decline.

Mr. Heany is correct.  Trophy projects change nothing until state policy is reformed.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Pied Piper of Green . . .

God bless Howie Hawkins . . . I always enjoy listening to an intelligent conversation about current issues and politics, and you can count on that from Mr. Hawkins, rather than the public-relations focus-group-tested  rhetoric you get from mainstream politicians.  Mr. Hawkins elevates the grade-level of the discourse, and for that you have to welcome him and thank him.

Nevertheless, Mr. Hawkins, in the report of his presentation to the OD Editorial Board, really offers nothing more to the voters of New York State than promises of what many would like to see . . . a Utopian vision if you will . . . of things that have already been tried but would end up causing more harm than good in the long run.
Employment assurance: People who are unemployed will be able to find full employment by doing community service or public work.
Roosevelt's WPA may have put people to work, but it prolonged the Depression by distorting market forces... keeping people in "public" make-work jobs rather than jobs in the private sector doing things for which there is a demand. This has been done before (Soviet Russia) and does not work. When the government puts people to work, it builds things that bureaucrats want rather than things that people (i.e., the "market") want . . . Remember the Yugo? I wonder how Mr. Hawkins feels about "workfare?"
Affordable housing . . .it matters in New York City and other larger areas...
Not necessarily . . . There is plenty of "affordable housing" in Detroit . . . and there will be in New York City, too, once the green ideas take hold.
. . . increasing the minimum wage - possibly to $15 per hour
This is the "living wage" shibboleth: That everyone, whatever their job, should be paid enough to support themselves and their families. While "living wage" is a nice outcome . . . and has actually been achieved in some places without government mandate (like North Dakota where fracking is allowed, or Switzerland which has no minimum wage) it is a distortion of the "market" and ultimately must fail unless the entire economy is government rather than "market" controlled (which again, like Soviet Russia, ultimately will fail). YOU pay someone wages based on the perceived value of services YOU receive in return. If a minimum wage is set, that means that people earning the minimum are most likely NOT providing a commensurate value of services in return . . . YOU are "overpaying" them. Of course, value is relative to the local economy. If it is humming with near zero unemployment, then you will likely pay a "living wage" to others to get menial tasks done.
Clean energy . . . “To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Hawkins said. “Lower electric costs, full employment, clean energy. That’s the way to go.”
No-brains is more like it! Wishing does not make these things so. It's time that we learn from others.  As already noted in der Spiegel, the German "green energy" policies have turned electricity into a luxury item -- busting the "lower electric bills" myth. In Spain the promise of "green energy" lead to a 26% unemployment rate! So much for "full employment."  And Clean?  How clean is it with windmills chewing up and solar reflectors frying birds?  With entire landscapes covered with windmills or solar panels?  And with landscapes festooned with powerlines?  What happens when these "large footprint" projects fail . . . or just get old and wear out?

Mr. Hawkins says things that a lot of people like to hear . . . like children enjoying a fairy tale.  And the more plausible-sounding the tale, the greater the enjoyment. . . . But it is still a tale.

Mr. Hawkins is the Pied Piper of Green.    

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Is It Communism?

Last week I commented on Oneida County's solar projects, noting that one of the companies involved had just entered a huge deal with New York State to build a panel manufacturing facility in Buffalo. Something about the deal in the Sentinel article referenced caught my eye . . .
Under the deal with SolarCity, the state will spend $350 million to build the sprawling factory on South Park Avenue and provide $400 million in funding for equipment, with the state following the economic development model that it used to build up the semiconductor industry in the Albany area. 
Under that model, the state invests in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment that typically are too costly for companies to acquire on their own and then signs agreements with companies, like SolarCity, that want to access it. . . . [emphasis supplied]
The "economic development model" is State ownership of the factory and State ownership of the equipment. . . .  i.e., "public" ownership of the means of production -- a hallmark of Communism.  Although one or two factories may not mean NY has gone communist ...
SUNY Poly has also sought to use this same model in Marcy where it owns a site that is being developed in hopes of attracting up to three computer chip manufacturing plants.
We certainly have not had armed revolutionaries taking over factories like in Russia a century ago . . . But we have had over-regulation, taxation, and trade laws shut down factories here sending the jobs overseas  to the benefit of large transnational corporations that are cozy with the government. . . . and now we are trying to "lure" jobs back and reopen factories with taxpayer financed incentives like the deal discussed here plus a loose immigration policy that drives wages down.

Whether by armed revolution or by laws and regulations, isn't the end result the same?  Elites (rather than the public) will control the means of production . . .  and the people working in the factories will be nothing more than serfs.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lower That Sales Tax!

The OD gave us a "sneak peak" at the County's 2015 Budget a couple days ago, but we didn't see what we were looking for.

Before another dime is spent on "economic development" projects, the County's Number One Priority should be cutting our total sales tax rate from 8.75% to 8.00% -- the rate that is paid in Syracuse, Rochester, Schenectady, Albany, and Binghamton.

Oneida County needs to bench mark its costs of doing business against those of other places and to bring them in line with other areas .

This region cannot continue to stand head and shoulders above its peers in taxation and expect to be taken seriously as a place to do business.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Make Milk When the Sun Shines . . .

Let's pretend that you own 5 acres of vacant land near Oriskany.  A dairy farmer approaches you and asks if he can graze some cows on your land for free for 20 years. In return, you promise to buy milk from the farmer for 20 years. . . You are told that at current prices you could save $12,000 a year.  (You really love dairy products!) Is this a good deal?  or bad deal?

A reader wrote that something unusual was going on over some land in Oriskany near the old County Airport. . . but instead of grazing cows, it was solar panels.

A February Rome Sentinel article revealed that Oneida County made a deal with a company called Solar City -- to allow Solar City to install almost 7,000 solar panels that it owns on 5 acres of county land and keep them there for 20 years to make electricity.  In return the county agrees to buy power from Solar City for 20 years. . . . Under current market conditions the county expects to save $12,000 a year.   Is this a good deal?  or bad deal?

Per the Sentinel: "in exchange, the county agrees to buy power from SolarCity, usually at a lower rate than they would pay a conventional utility."


The milk deal is pretend -- the solar deal is real.  If you were considering the milk deal what questions would you ask?  If you were considering the solar deal, wouldn't you ask similar questions?

The deal with Solar City was approved by the O.C. Legislature back on February 12 by a unanimous vote. Per the website, the legislators were presented with an "expedited communication" outlining the agreement that had been sent to the County Executive only a few days earlier.  Although the letter to the C.E. says that the service agreement is attached, what was attached to the communication given to the legislators via the website was only an outline.

If you were asked to give up 5 acres of land for 20 years wouldn't you want to read the contract yourself before going forward?  Wouldn't you want time to research the company and think about what could change in the next 20 years before signing on the dotted line?

The Better Business Bureau has rated the company A+, though an article on regarding homeowner project horror stories would make me at least want to review the fine print of any contract.

Perhaps more concerning is the fact that there seems to be a "bandwagon" for this and similar "green" projects that is driven by Federal and State incentives.   How likely will this continue? Should it continue?

Some people point to Germany as a model for green energy.  The Germans have been at this for a long time. However the headline of a recent article in der Spiegel says it all: Germany's Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good.

The German consumers are waking up to the fact that they've been sold a bill of goods with "green energy" and now must reduce their standard of living.  Are we next?

Yesterday's Sentinel had an update on the solar panel project ... It also notes that Solar City will be building a solar manufacturing facility in Buffalo.  Read the deal the state is giving to Solar City  . . .

There is something a lot bigger than "green energy" going on here.  Can you figure it out? Stay tuned . . . 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Don't Forget to Vote

Today is primary day and in this area there are primaries for both major parties.

For the Republicans in the 101st Assembly District, the choice is clear:  Vote for the person willing to engage in a public debate. 

For the Democrats in the Governor's race, the choice is clear:  Vote for the person willing to engage in a public debate.   

For both parties for Family Court Judge:  The voters are lucky! Each candidate has something a bit different to offer . . .  but I don't remember the last time I saw such a well qualified bunch at once!

No matter who you vote for, the important thing is to vote.  

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Empire Building in Herkimer County?

Herkimer County has been looking into building a new jail since 2006 when the State's Commission of Corrections placed a limit on the existing jail's capacity.  A site was picked but the Village of Herkimer did not like it and denied a sewer connection.  Rather than look for an alternative site or consider an alternative arrangement, the County fought back with a lawsuit that has been going on for years.

Per TWC News: Lawsuit Continues to Stall New Herkimer County Jail
 "The Commission of Corrections in 2006 told us we were going to have to cut our maximum facility capacity to four inmates, per day,” said Herkimer County Sheriff, Christopher Farber. 
Today, most inmates are boarded elsewhere including Oneida, Otsego, Montgomery, Fulton and Rensselaer Counties. . . . 
Sheriff Farber says it is their duty to run a correctional facility in the county and says they won't know the real costs until it opens. [emphasis added]
Duty? A county legislator, Mr. Korce, apparently does not think so and wants to look into a cooperative effort with Oneida County.

 . . . And why not? Herkimer County has roughly the same population as the City of Utica.  It has been generations since Utica got rid of its jail on Bleecker Street in favor of sending inmates to the Oneida County Correctional Facility.  Cooperating with Oneida County would seem to give Herkimer County taxpayers not only the cost effectiveness of a larger facility, but the expertise of the O. C. managing staff.  
In the meantime, the expenses are adding up. Korce says the price of architects and lawyers has already totaled more than a million dollars.
The lawsuit, which is still churning along, does not put bricks on the ground, house inmates, avoid the costs and hassles of locating and boarding inmates elsewhere, or bring Herkimer County into compliance with the State's directives.

It seems that some Herkimer County officials appear more interested in empire building than in doing what is best for the taxpayers.  

Friday, September 05, 2014

Bad Ideas in Washington . . .

Instinct is part of the self-preservation process of being human. Instinctively people view others different from themselves with suspicion. But over time with interactions they learn behaviors to get along. The behaviors can be "good" or "bad" from society's perspective depending upon how the interactions turned out for the participants.

Political Correctness (PC) is taught (either directly in school or the rhetoric of social and political leaders) rather than learned by personal interaction.  Under PC, one is taught to suppress one's instincts and embrace certain groups and ideas deemed worthy of special deference by social and political leaders . . . and shun those groups and ideas deemed unworthy.

PC's suppression of the self-preservation instinct inherently makes us more vulnerable to those among the "worthy" groups who would do us harm . . . and less likely to affiliate with the "unworthy" groups with whom we may have common interests.

Simply, PC is a method of "divide and conquer"  . . . . and we are being divided today by the politicians in Washington like never before.

Race, gender, sexual-orientation, affluency, political affiliation have all become the subject of strident rhetoric to divide us into squabbling groups . . . while the distraction allows groups who would do us harm escape notice while attending to their nefarious tasks.

The entertaining Brigitte Gabriel hits the nail on the head when she explains the harm of PC in the clip below: In a nutshell, evil can exist and take root in ANY group. . . . The Germans, Japanese, Russians, Chinese are all called out as having spawned evil at one time or another. (I would add the Italians as well -- I'm sure you can think of others). PC was not an issue before, and evil among these groups was recognized, confronted and dealt with.

Evil needs to be confronted wherever it is.  Today it is the Muslims where evil is taking root. Brigitte reminds us that treating this group differently due to PC from the way we dealt with the others in the past threatens our existence.

Great Idea in Rome . . .

They are breaking ground for 128 luxury apartments in Rome.  Fantastic!  For too long high-end construction has been left to suburban areas.

It's good to see that some of this is going on in Utica, too, with the Pezzolanella's project at the re-christened Landmarc building.  It certainly is exciting to see those steel beams flying through the air! And the County seems to be on the right track, too, by creating incentives for in-city projects.

We all benefit from in-city projects because they more-intensely use the valuable infrastructure already in place: the roads, sewers, and water lines which were originally designed for intense use.  This avoids taxpayers having to build and maintain new infrastructure.  But more needs to be done.

One of the biggest flaws in the Utica Master Plan is its emphasis on "affordable housing" (a/k/a public or publicly subsidized housing) with total ignorance of high-end development. One gets the impression that the Plan was consciously designed to concentrate the region's poor in Utica.  The Plan defers to the Federal HUD ideas of social engineering rather than what Utica really needs:  a shot of taxpayers who can pay to keep the city running.

Utica leaders . . . wake up!  By fixing the Plan to encourage people with money to come to town, other problems will solve themselves.


Great Ideas in Syracuse . . .

Regarding the I-81 remake, Mayor Miner in Syracuse says that neighborhoods and economic vitality are more important than commute times.

A group of architects there are proposing a revitalized street grid as the means of moving heavy traffic through Syracuse.

It's too bad that we did not have such leadership and creative thinking in Utica a few years ago when the North-South Arterial remake was planned.  The West Utica Wall is now rising . . . leaving it to the 22nd Century and a future generation to correct the mistake.

But all is not gloom in Utica. . . . The State is catching on that maybe a better street grid is the way to go and has implemented some notable projects.

  • The Oneida Square Roundabout has increased connectivity among the feeding streets, shortened commute time through the intersection, and made Park Ave.-Oneida St. an alternate to Genesee.
  • The new Lincoln Ave. - Burrstone Rd. intersection allows Lincoln Ave to function as an alternate to Genesee St. or the Arterial and has eased access to the south end of Lincoln Ave.
  • The new Champlin Ave. - Oriskany Blvd. intersection allows Champlin Ave. to function as an alternate to the Arterial.
  • And from the construction it looks like we are getting a new Cornelia St. - Oriskany Blvd. intersection at the Aud which will increase access to all that developable land  behind the Aud!

Parallel through streets can substitute for add lanes to an expressway when heavy traffic needs to be moved. . . . but offer the advantages of (1) increasing access to developable parcels of land  and (2) provide alternate routes when the unforseen traffic jam happens.

City leaders now need to catch on to the advantages of improving the street grid and look for opportunities to do so.

Making Utica easier to navigate will not only make it more pleasant to be here, but will lead to increased economic vitality in the city.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Utica Harbor: Haven for the Regional Elite?

According to the O-D, Harbor Point's future might lie in the past.  We are reminded that during Utica's halcyon days the Harbor Point area housed McConnell baseball field, where pro ball was played.  The suggestion is that the plan to move our baseball field from Murnane on Burrstone Road to the harbor in North Utica might bring the good old days back.

Of course, EDGE somehow is involved.
“Its part of the master plan,” said Steven DiMeo, a member of the committee and president of Mohawk Valley EDGE economic development group. “There’s a recreation component built into it (the plan). We’re just trying to line up all the prerequisite options that have to be looked at before that’s something to be considered.”
You are reminded that movement of Donovan Stadium - as well as the Greenman Estates ball fields - to the Harbor somehow magically appeared in the Utica Master Plan even thought the topic never came up before the committee considering plans for the Harbor . . . apparently dictated to be part of the plan by those with connections rather than an idea coming from the people who allegedly were given the task of designing the plan.

. . . and the people with connections work through EDGE.

EDGE is the same group tasked with marketing Griffiss "International" Airport even though they have no expertise in the field.

Those connected elites made a lot of money moving the Old Oneida County Airport to Griffiss . . . and now the old airport is in ruins.

EDGE proposes the same MO.  More money will be made moving ball fields from their current locations which are central to the region's population to the Harbor.

The region merely moves its assets around instead of  moving forward.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

More NY "Business Friendly" Arm Twisting?

Times-Union: Lam Research does 180 on Nano Utica comments

Opportunity in an Outage . . .

I was annoyed yesterday when the internet went down for a bit yesterday morning . . . but it is something that one comes to expect from Time Warner.

What I didn't expect was how it soon became national news . . . and seized upon as a political opportunity by the Governor!

No expert here, but with cable remaining on it seemed like TW's Domain Name Servers might have gone out.  There are public DNSs that can be used in place of Time-Warners. For example, OpenDNS, and Google have servers available. I just switched my router to query a different DNS server.  Check out the links for instructions on how to set it up.

Is a No-Debate Trend Starting?

First was Richard Hanna's refusal to debate Claudia Tenney.  Then there was the Herkimer County Sheriff's refusal to debate Claudia Tenney.

Now Andrew Cuomo refuses to debate Zephyr Teachout . . . From the Politics on the Hudson Blog Teachout: Cuomo has an “ethical obligation” to debate.
“This really isn’t about me. It’s about voters having the right to hear the governor explain his record, answer questions over what he’s done over the last four years,” Teachout said. “I mean there’s no law requiring a debate, but every voter expects it.”

Monday, August 25, 2014

Nano Clouds on the Horizon . . .

First there was the Times-Union blog entry "Is Global Foundries becoming part of Nano Utica chip lab?
"Word in Tech Valley is that GlobalFoundries has been asked to play a part in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion Nano Utica initiative after one of the main players back out. . . .
The Times Union has learned that GlobalFoundries has been asked by the state to move into Quad-C and help with the project."
This was quickly poo-poohed in an O-D Article Suny PI denies report that it lost a partner.

Then this article followed a few days later in the T-U: "One of Cuomo's Nano Utica companies says it was never involved."
Cuomo visited SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica in October 2013 to announce that six technology companies would partner with the state to create the Nano Utica consortium.

The group included an Austin, Tex.-based company called Advanced Nanotechnology Solutions; Berlin-based Atotech; IBM; Tokyo Electron; Albany-based Sematech, and Lam Research of Fremont, Calif. . . .

Lam Research — told the Times Union this week that it is not part of the Nano Utica consortium.

"Lam has never had any involvement in the Nano Utica project," said Bob Climo, director of media relations for Lam Research, which makes computer chip equipment.
Not sure what to make of these revelations . . . but they suggest that no company ever backed out . . . but rather a company that was thought to be a participant never was . . . and now Global Foundries is being asked to step into the void.

While we should be glad that politics seems to be strong-arming a company (which received tons of NY taxpayer assistance) into coming to Utica . . . that this seem to be happening confirms New York's "last place" among the states for business friendliness.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"2020": A Myopic Vision . . .

The "Vision 2020" Full Report for Oneida County, which calls itself "A Path to Prosperity" and "an action plan to address the needs of a community preparing for a new economy" has been released by the County Executive. Its three parts (representing separate drafting committees) focus on "Education and Training," "Access and Opportunity," and "Housing."  The Observer-Dispatch has called it "a solid success plan."

Is it "a solid success plan?"  . . . or is it something else?

The Education and Training section contains goals that all Oneida County K-12 students "are competitively prepared to enter the workforce," that everyone be aware of employment opportunities, that colleges prepare men and women to take leadership roles, that we create a "culture of optimism," "economic sustainability," and "unique training" to meet business and industry demands.  Strategies include form a committee, "develop a unified plan," "develop a strategic plan," "establish a communication network,"   create "partnerships," and collaboration.  If you are numbed by all this you might miss the "cradle to career framework to ensure that program revision, development and articulation meet the emerging needs of business, industry and overall community." You might also miss the implementation of "Alignment USA" whose "focus is on a cradle-to-career approach which is holistic and serves the whole child."

  • Why does the plan assume that "leaders" must be college educated?
  • Why should the goal of K-12 be training for specific business types?  
  • Does this plan serve the child, or business . . .  or government?

If you think Soviet-style central planning was a good idea, then this is your cup of tea.  One gets a sense that K-12 students are going to be sorted into Huxleyesque "career" groups based on the needs of local business "clusters" (with a special emphasis on "Nano") with the "cream" (as judged by government standards) being trained at university to be society's "leaders." Individual interests and aspirations take a back seat in the education process with the students becoming merely another resource to be used by the local economy. With student populations being specially trained rather than broadly educated, they will be ill equipped to adapt to changing circumstances.


The Access and Opportunity section focuses on the County's "diverse" demographics, with "diversity" defined to mean "underrepresented" populations who "are not afforded access to tangibles and intangibles, the net effect of which is an unequal opportunity to avail themselves of the existing resources intended to enhance their overall success and/or quality of life." The report contends that "systemic inequities" have resulted in "marginalization" that can be addressed by shifting focus from a national to a local or regional one.  Goals include promoting and supporting entrepreneurship, business, and job creation in the "immigrant, refugee, and the underrepresented populations" in Oneida County, with an emphasis on "nano;" having a "showcase" for all the County's ethnic, social and faith groups; increasing English as a Second Language (ESL) opportunities; and increasing access to translation services.

  • Why does the plan focus on certain groups that are, allegedly, being denied access to resources?
  • Why are the alleged  "systemic inequities" never expressly identified?  Should not they be identified to ensure that they are going to be addressed?
  • Instead of promoting the region's "diversity," why not promote the region's "melting pot?" 

Although our region's diversity gives all its citizens access to cultural experiences not commonly available in other communities  -- experiences that could be "showcased" as a resource to outside business interests -- the report totally ignores our region's long-standing tradition as a welcoming "melting pot" for blending foreign cultures into our own American culture. Belying the "access and opportunity" label, the 2020 plan treats the "underrepresented" populations more as commodities to be marketed and customers for specialized services as part of a regional economic plan --  rather than provide a plan to integrate these groups into society so they may achieve for themselves their piece of the American dream.  The only proposal this section makes that is consistent with our "melting pot" tradition is the provision of ESL opportunities (which, presumably, includes an indoctrination into American core values, as embodied by our laws and system of government, and culture).  

The Greater Utica area's diversity is not nearly as important as the area's proven ability to accept and integrate persons of diverse cultures into the whole -- to make "underrepresented populations" American.  It is the latter that should be emphasized.


The Housing section sets goals to create a housing inventory in the County that would be attractive to nanotechnology employees, and to "identify existing and develop new opportunities for introducing alternative housing types" that meet the needs of the nanotech workforce.  Strategies include revising policies for PILOTS and tax exemptions, creating new financing vehicles for private developers of housing for the nanotech workforce, and an "informational campaign" that educates about alternative housing types.

  • Are nanotech workers demonstrably different from other people that their housing needs are different?
  • Why does the plan seem to presume that developers are not astute enough to determine the types of housing (including alternatives) and the locations desired by the market?
  • Why does the County see a need to second guess the market?

One gets a sense that this plan is more a pretext for continuing the cozy relationships certain developers have with government -- and the ongoing flow of taxpayer financed breaks and benefits -- than about assuring the existence of a good housing stock.

* * *
It is unclear why the three sections critiqued above were chosen for inclusion in Vision 2020 as opposed to a universe of other topics.  The only thing Vision 2020 seems to focus on is Nanotech, but if that is presumed to be our "path to prosperity," then Vision 2020 is myopic.

Based on published projections, if Quad C and the proposed 3 Fabs are fully developed (big "ifs" considering that the Albany area is 10 years ahead of us and only has 1 fab in operation with another under consideration)  that will create 5,000 jobs. These jobs will be essentially in one business sector, making the region vulnerable to the ups and downs of that sector.

While 5,000 jobs may sound like a lot, it pales in comparison with the number of good-paying jobs the region has lost over the last 40 years -- jobs in diversified businesses.  The departure of Univac during the 1970s alone took almost 5,000 jobs.  Now add to that thousands more with the departures of GE, Bendix, C-P, etc., etc. over the years.  Most of these jobs were lost to other parts of the country rather than overseas. Now add to that the probable loss of 2,000 Remington jobs over the next few years.

The biggest fault with Vision 2020 is that it fails to identify and address the causes of these 40 years of job loss. 

Looking through rose-colored glasses to plan for a Nano future while failing to learn lessons from past experiences dooms us to the same forces that created job loss.

Vision 2020 misses more than it sees.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Airport Politics . . .

Excellent Editorial in the OD Today by former Airport Commissioner Vernon Gray refuting with specific examples the County Executive's claim that "No one is stifled in terms of their ideas and their ability to manage."  Especially troubling . . .
"I was directed to refer all airport business inquiries to Mohawk Valley EDGE for its exclusive consideration and action, despite its lack of aeronautical expertise and conflicts of interest."
While we might not be privy to the details of airport actions, EDGE's seeming involvement in everything "airport" and the public machinations of county-level politicians over many years make clear that all decisions are being made by a clique of local insiders. . . . the 21st century Oneida County re-incarnation of the early 20th century clique of Utica mill owners.

This blogger critiqued Mr. Gray's remarks back in 2008 when he first came aboard: "New Commissioner, Old Vision" . . . and, to his credit, he responded (see the comments to the post). This was someone who took his status as a public servant seriously!  Unfortunately, Oneida County does not want public servants in management, only "yes men" who do as they are told.

And unfortunately Oneida County taxpayers have been deprived the benefits of the expertise that they hired.



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Griffiss "International's" Why, What, How . . . and Who?

According to the Rome Sentinel, flight traffic is down 12% at Griffiss "International" Airport so far this year.

This raises a lot of Questions (from a reliable source):
  1. Why have itinerant commercial Air Taxi aircraft operations at Griffiss decreased 36% from 806 in 2011 to 516 in 2013?
  2. Why have itinerant General Aviation aircraft operations at Griffiss decreased 52% from 18,905 in 2011 to 9,081 in 2013?
  3. Why have local General Aviation aircraft operations at Griffiss decreased 51% from 35,426 in 2011 to 17,499 in 2013?
  4. Why has the total of itinerant and local aircraft operations at Griffiss decreased 44% from 60,265 in 2011 to 33,503 in 2013?
  5. Why has the number of passengers reported departing from Griffiss decreased from 1,146 in 2011 to 744 in 2013?
  6. How many additional itinerant aircraft operations, both military and civil, are expected to be generated by the presence of a Customs Office?
  7. Why are annual aircraft operations expected to increase to only 54,000 over the next 20 years, not even equaling or exceeding previous levels at Griffiss or at the Old Oneida Co. Airport in Whitestown?
  8. What marketing of the airport is being conducted by Million Air to attract itinerant non-military aircraft?
  9. What marketing of the airport is being conducted by EDGE to attract new commercial enterprises?
  10. How do Million Air’s aviation fuel prices compare to other General Aviation airports within a 50 mile radius?
Considering that we continue to pour millions of Taxpayer dollars into the Griffiss "International" Albatross with decreasing airport use . . .

Who benefits from all the taxpayers' largess?

We, the Taxpayers, certainly aren't getting anything!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Easy as PI . . . Or Is IT?

SUNY PI  (for Polytechnic Institute)!

Thank goodness they picked out a cool name for the merged SUNY IT and SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE).  The Times Union's Buzz has a rather humorous take on the name change called "Tom Selleck's 3.14 degrees of separation."  But between the humorous lines about Alain Kaloyeros growing a mustache was a kernel of concern over institutional identity.
"SPI is awfully close to RPI and some people may wonder which institute is being talked about when the names come up."
The article makes obvious the Albany institution's strong association with Dr. Kaloyeros.  Rightly so! He made it what it is.  The institution's mission is associated with nanotechnology.  Again, rightly so. That has been CNSE's focus... And in the Capital District's sea of institutions of higher learning, the niche focus of CNSE works to distinguish the institution from others.

In Utica there are different concerns over institutional identity and mission.

Time seems to have cured the association of SUNYIT with Utica (see the 2008 post What's (Not) In a Name) as people became familiar with its location.  But now we are not only back to square one, but behind it,  with "SUNY PI" being located in two different metro areas!  The institution may be unified, but the campuses are separated by 90 miles.

More important is that SUNYIT has had its own genesis . . . not associated with one person and not associated with a niche field. In the rush to create "SUNY PI" it seems that the tradition and mission of Utica's institution are being forgotten and traded for those of the more glamorous CNSE. . . . particularly by our own local officials.

Let's embrace the changes . . . but, at the same time, work to maintain the local identity and preserve the original mission.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Another Dirty Campaign on the Horizon?

I received a political survey call this evening. At first the questions were about general Republican issues . . . but then the questions zeroed in on the 101st Assembly District primary between incumbent Claudia Tenney and her Herkimer County challenger.

Many of the questions were almost verbatim from the negative campaign ads used against Ms. Tenney during her congressional primary . . . misconstruing Ms. Tenney's record by taking her votes out of context . . . which suggests that the same people behind the negative congressional campaign against her are at it again.

Happy to set her record straight, Ms. Tenney, in a switch for an incumbent, has offered her challenger four debates -- which not only exposes her record to criticism where warranted, but also gives valuable name-exposure to her challenger -- something he needs outside of Herkimer County.

Whether you agree on the issues with Ms. Tenney or not, isn't this what a candidate does who is really interested in being a public servant?

After more than two weeks, the debate-offer has yet to be accepted.

Rather than getting an issues-oriented race, voters need to get ready for another round of negative mudslinging by our local republican elite . . .  the best that money can buy!

American Culture . . .

There was a "letter to the editor" in the OD recently, "United States was designed to be a diverse nation,"  that argued that Hobby Lobby was doing a "disservice" to various religious groups by claiming that the United States was a Christian country. This letter bothered me.

Although the writer correctly points out that the Constitution prevents our government from establishing an official religion or prohibiting people from practicing their religion, the writer ignores the facts (1) that the nation's founders were primarily Christian, (2) that their religious beliefs shaped their view of human rights, and (3) that our founding documents must be viewed from the perspective of those beliefs to be properly understood.

In that sense, while carrying no official religion, America IS a Christian nation because Judeo-Christian values are woven throughout our system of laws. 

Contrary to the title of the letter-to-the-editor, the United States was not "designed to be a diverse nation" as the Constitution is neutral on the subject.  To accept such a premise opens us up to accepting things (such as Sharia Law) under the guise of "religious freedom" that go against our laws and our culture as an American people.  Great Britain and France have already gone down that road by embracing "diversity" to the extreme,  and now are not only in danger of losing their own cultures, but the safety and tranquility of their citizenry.

Hobby Lobby is trying to remind us of the Christian underpinnings of our system of government, which are the underpinnings of our culture.   That is a great service to the American public.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Moreland Commission . . .

The New York Times has a lengthy -- but well worth reading -- article about the life and death of Governor Cuomo's "Moreland Commission."

After you read it, you may come to the conclusion that the Commission was created to be nothing more than a "tool" to be used, not to root out governmental corruption as advertised, but, rather, to intimidate opponents of the administration in power.

Gee . . . Where have we heard that before?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's a . . . . Permit!

Finally, after more than 10 years the Army Corps of Engineers has issued a permit for the Marcy Chip-Fab . . . or should I say Marcy Nanocenter . . . site. Per the OD . . .
Cuomo said the news is an important step forward in his plans to make the Utica area a hub for nanoscale science research and manufacturing. 
“This new hub will recreate in Utica the success we have seen in Albany, with international investors taking note of innovation and development in Upstate New York,” he said in a release, referring to the successful nanotechnology sector that has developed in the Capitol Region. 

Let's hope so!

While we should be skeptical whether NY's venture into "state capitalism" a/k/a "public-private partnership" a/k/a "crony capitalism" will pan out into sustainable economic recovery, we can at least celebrate the end of a ridiculously convoluted process (thanks to the Federal Government) and, hopefully, the beginning of some accomplishment.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Not the Immigration of Old . . .

Mayor Stephanie Miner has opened Syracuse's doors to accept immigrant children from Central America who have illegally entered the country.  The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse is standing by, ready to help. While they may be commended for wanting to help children, is their compassion -- indeed, is America's compassion for helping the downtrodden -- being used against US?

In the decade following the 9/11/01 attacks -- during the alleged "War on Terror" -- it made no sense that our southern border was never sealed. It made no sense that Mexico, the US' supposed ally and trading partner, would facilitate illegal immigration by publishing a pamphlet in comic book style on "how to" best do it. It made no sense that the US tolerated actions by the Mexican government and Mexican government officials that would undermine US interests and sovereignty.

The nonsense has only gotten worse.

We are told that "coyotes" are paid $8,000 to $12,000 a head to smuggle people in. A person with a good job in Mexico, such as an auto worker, makes $20 A DAY. $10,000 would represent about 2 years' work.  It would be more difficult for people in the poorer countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to amass this sum.

Where is the money coming from?

Why should it be so expensive to go, perhaps, 1,500 miles, when airline tickets (not to mention bus tickets) are cheap?

Why are parents willing to let their children go on such a journey?  Or are they?

Why has Mexico entered into an agreement with Guatemala giving Guatemalans 72 hours in Mexico to facilitate travel to the US?                                                                                                                          
Utilizing a law designed to oppose human trafficking, the taxpayer now, somehow, is required to afford these children a hearing.  A hearing on what?

Somehow the taxpayer is now expected to pay to "reunite" these children with loved ones.  With who? The family that placed them in harm's way?

US citizens have to show all sorts of ID to be allowed on a plane, but these illegals merely have to show a copy of their letter to appear in court?

There is so much here that makes no sense . . . unless you open yourself to the possibility that this has all been planned.

Allen West has posted a disturbing interview with a former Border Patrol agent Zack Taylor who says that the immigrant surge bears the hallmarks of "asymetrical warfare" -- which seeks to destroy the infrastructure of a nation from within. It is well worth the 15 minutes watch time.

Whether you agree with Mr. Taylor or not, one thing is clear . . .

The immigration we see now across our southern border is not the immigration of old.



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Now It Makes Sense!

OD: State: Extended school day mandatory.  Now the 90% participation rate grant requirement for the schools proposed for extended hours makes sense. Attendance will be compulsory. A 90% participation rate could never be achieved on a voluntary basis.

Students need unstructured time to explore their own interests, and non-school time for various activities like sports or scouts, a part-time job (eg. delivering papers or in the family business), or volunteer activities.  Parents need time to develop their own relationships with their children and inculcate their values.

More time in compulsory education means less time for families and individuals.

This is a step toward longer school days for everyone. . . more government dependency (school breakfast, lunch and now dinner?  School health clinics.  School babysitting.)  In short: more government control over the population.  

Enough already! 

EFC & Tappan Zee Update

Following up on Sunday's post, the Public Authorities Board has decided to give the Thruway Authority half a loaf (a $255M loan) -- this year -- and Thruway will be allowed to apply for the remainder in 2016.

This sets the unfortunate precedent that a funding source intended to aid communities in dealing with wastewater issues can be used to construct a new bridge .

. . . Just more of the same old same old in the "new" New York.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Biting Off More Than It Can Chew?

Per the OD Utica Schools are asking for a year before implementing a longer school day at select schools. Originally this was going to be started this fall on a voluntary basis.  What happened?
The hope is that longer days might lead to higher test scores. But in order to receive the full $4.1 million, the district must have 90 percent student participation in the voluntary program.
90% student participation?  Is there 90% student participation in the compulsory (regular school) program as opposed to a "voluntary" program?

Let's face it, the students who need "extra help" the most are probably the same ones who think school is a waste of time because they get little out of it.  Why would they volunteer for more of the same?

A compulsory extended-day program would only "trap" such students, lead to behavior problems, and, perhaps, deprive them of time for other (non-school) activities, such as a part-time job, that might be of bigger benefit to them in the long run.

Rather than extended time, the school district should explore how it can make better use of the time that it already has. There is more to education than going after grant money.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

EFC & Tappan Zee: A Misuse of Funds

In a story little noticed west of Albany, but which involves two Syracuse-area politicians, the state's arm for financing municipal waste water and drinking water projects, the State Environmental Facilities Corp., approved on June 16th a $ 511 Million loan to the Thruway Authority toward the Authority's $4 Billion re-do of the Tappan Zee Bridge ("The New New York Bridge").

Per the Times Union, EFC President (and former Syracuse Mayor) "Matthew Driscoll said $511.4 million from the state Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund will be loaned to the Thruway Authority to pay for work including disassembly and removal of the existing 59-year-old bridge and dredging of the river bottom at the new bridge site."

But the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CWSRLF) "provides low-interest rate financing to municipalities to construct water quality protection projects such as sewers and wastewater treatment facilities" . . . which sure does not sound like "disassembly and removal"of a bridge!

Environmentalists are blasting the proposal. Water quality experts are up-in-arms and filing objections. Riverkeeper has posted a letter from the US EPA's regional office raising several questions about the proposal.

While some may dismiss this as a "downstate" issue, WE should be concerned.  

Both Oneida County and the City of Utica are relying upon CWSRLF funding in carrying out their obligations to clean up the Mohawk River under a Consent Order and Long Term Control Plan -- over $300 million-worth of projects!  This is an extreme burden on local sewer users who need every penny of relief that the loan fund can provide.

Years ago older municipalities with combined sanitary-storm water sewers (such as Utica) were given a reprieve from the stringent requirements of the Clean Water Act because, if imposed at once, they would have caused financial ruin. However, the plan was that over time, these communities would be brought into compliance.  Low cost loans were part of that plan.  Most older communities (both upstate and downstate) have infrastructure that needs to be upgraded under the law.

This loan is not for a wastewater system upgrade.  Rather, it is being used to keep tolls low... which only benefits the downstate region.    

The money needs to be reserved and kept available for its intended purpose, to relieve municipalities all over the state of some of the burden of complying with the Clean Water Act.

The 3-member Public Authorities Control Board still must approve of this loan by a unanimous vote before it can be implemented. Only one member, State Senator John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, has publicly raised questions about the loan. 

The loan comes up for a vote this Wednesday.  Stay tuned!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Griffiss Albatross . . .

Per the Rome Daily Sentinel, MidAir USA, one of the aircraft maintenance companies at Griffiss "International" Airport, owes Oneida County almost $450,000 in back rent and other charges! With a base rent of about $50,000/month, the tenant is roughly 9 months behind.  While O.C. legal counsel sent a letter demanding payment, neither a deadline nor consequences were mentioned.

Of course not.  Having sunk well over $100 million of taxpayers' funds into the Airport, the County doesn't dare risk MidAir's 210 jobs by taking specific action. . . So taxpayers are held hostage. 

$450,000 spread over 210 employees means that the taxpayer has loaned the company (in violation of the State Constitution, B.T.W, but no one pays attention to that anymore) almost $2150 per job!

Add to this the value of the money spent constructing and maintaining the County Owned facilities being occupied, one has to wonder just what the taxpayer is getting for all this spending?  The last we heard, the airport was losing over a $million a year (which undoubtedly did not include the time-value of the millions already spent on facilities).

Do the County Taxes paid by the holders of taxpayer-subsidized jobs make up for the costs? When will taxpayers be provided with the true costs and returns on their airport "investments?"

If I'm wrong, please correct me, but Griffiss "International" Airport seems to have become an over-sized albatross hung around O.C. taxpayers' necks.  I'm tired of paying and waiting for the next "big thing" (drones?) that supposedly will make the spending all worthwhile.


In another vein but related, it is disappointing to constantly have to turn to the Sentinel for County news.  I like the Sentinel --  it is a good newspaper -- but because I live in the Utica area rather than Rome, I tend to check the Utica news more often and sometimes miss County news in the Sentinel.

The Utica paper just got a  new publisher who is interested in listening to people's suggestions for improvements.  Here is mine:  We need more County news, particularly the activities (shenanigans?) of the County Legislature.  Utica is the County Seat, and Greater Utica pays the bulk of the taxes that keeps the County -- including Griffiss "International"Airport  -- going.  Greater Uticans want to know how their County tax dollars are spent, and what they are getting in return.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Threats to Freedom . . .

Seemingly escaping the mainstream media (except FOX of course) comes the story: EPA claims it has the power to garnish wages without court approval. The process is called "Administrative Wage Garnishment" -- because it is being done by an administrative agency.

This is only the latest step is what has been brewing for a long time (decades)  . . . indirectly abolishing the three branches of government under the guise of administrative agencies.

Another recent phenomenon is the militarization of government agencies with SWAT teams, as written about in the National Review.

Big problems are in store for us when government agencies can act as lawmakers, judges, juries, and executioners.

If you have not been a long time reader of Fault Lines, please read  this post from 2009 where it is all explained: The Ominous 4th Branch of Government.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Time to Impeach?

In a Breitbart exclusive: Sarah Palin: It's time to impeach President Obama
Without borders, there is no nation. Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. This is his fundamental transformation of America. It’s the only promise he has kept. . . . 
Palin powerfully summarizes why the border crisis is the tipping-point of this presidency.

Do people care?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Getting Closer . . .

A few days ago, we noted that the Federal Government was looking at sites in Buffalo and Rochester to house illegal immigrants.   Now Capitol Confidential reports that a location in Albany is being considered as a "potential refugee relocation" site for housing some of the thousands of children from Central America illegally pouring over our southern border.

Breitbart posts a video revealing that many illegal immigrants are given, at OUR cost,  bus tickets to the interior of our country.

How is this not ENCOURAGING more to come?

This is a crisis that has been created by our own government for the purpose of justifying congressional or executive action to somehow legalize what is happening for political reasons.

We don't need "immigration reform," we need enforcement of our existing laws!

Ultimately we will bear the cost of all this.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Fracking: Bad News and Good News -- At the Same Time!

The New York State Court of Appeals has upheld Home Rule when it comes to municipalities being able to ban hydrofracking.

The bad news is that it becomes more difficult for companies to hydrofrack in NYS . . . more difficult for NYS to obtain the economic benefits of same . . . and more difficult for the country to achieve energy independence from some not-so-nice countries in the Middle East.

The good news is that the governments closest to the people, local municipalities, can act to protect the interests of their citizens.  And isn't that why we have government, to protect our well being?

Read the complete decision here.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Running Gov't Like a Business??

New York Workers Get Extended Lunch Break to Watch Team USA 

Not sure that many of our NYS civil servants actually took advantage of this "perk" -- but it is troubling how it was handed out.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

NY-22: A Post Mortem: 47% are Not Extremists . . .

The results in the NY-22 Republican primary are in and Mr. Hanna has won the right to continue to call himself a Republican.  Mr. Hanna's views, thus, represent the direction that the majority of Republicans want to move their party in.

The Republican machine was out there in full force for the incumbent. The barrage of negative ads, and the lack of a one-on-one debate, were calculated to keep the focus on the personalities and avoid the issues.  The calculations and hate speech worked -- and the majority of Republicans were OK with it. 

One would like to say that as Republicans we should now all come together for the good of the party and the good of the country.  But after a campaign such as this one, how is that possible?

47% is almost half --  a number of voters that cannot rationally be regarded as "extremist" - but that is what Mr. Hanna has called us ... and listening to Mr. Hanna's declaration of victory last night, I heard no reaching out to us. 

Mr. Hanna can no longer be called RINO. He represents the direction of the party.  Given the general failure of "Tea Party" candidates nationally (excluding Texas and excluding the aberration of Cantor's loss caused by Democrats voting in the primary) , and Mitch McConnell's declared war on the Tea Party,  constitutional conservatives apparently are no longer welcome in the Republican "Big Tent."

So what are constitutional conservatives to do?  The Tea Party needs to think long and hard about what is next.  Tea Party issues are not seriously considered, and Tea Partiers are dismissed as [racists, extremists, fringe -- you fill in the blank].  

Organization is the key to getting our issues discussed -- and to countering the negative stereotyping propagated by the mainstream media.
The time has come for Tea Party oriented individuals to seriously consider forming a Third Party to get that organization. 

While this will likely ensure that Democrats will be elected for a time, to quote Hillary Clinton, "What difference does it make?" when the difference between Republicans and Democrats has become harder and harder to discern?   

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bretbart: Hanna, in Primary Battle, Supports Amnesty

On Bretbart: Hanna, in Primary Battle, Supports Amnesty
"Why would we want to make criminals out of dairy farmers simply because they want to run their business, when we know there are people available to do the work," he said. "It's important that New Yorkers find a legal way to help people come here, do the work they want to do, know who they are, where they are how they contribute, what they cost, have a way to find those people and if necessary send them back," said Hanna. "But our process today is out of control." 
The New York Republican believes that foreign immigrants do not take American jobs. 
"Much immigrant labor is highly skilled and thus presumably not differentiated," he told The Washington Post. "Why would wage competition not incur in the labor market?" 
Utica, which serves as a large chunk of Hanna’s district is among the top ten cities in the state with a current unemployment rate of 6.4 percent or above. That number once skyrocketed to 10.5 percent in 2012.
Mr. Hanna fails to see why immigrant labor is needed on local dairy farms while the region has a sustained high unemployment rate:  It is easier to sit home and collect welfare than work on a farm.

There is a lot more in the Breitbart article about Mr. Hanna and our local area.  Please read.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Refugee Camps . . . Coming to Facilities Near US?

If you think that we won't be affected by the border crisis, better think again.  The Blaze and the Buffalo News report that the Feds have been scouting hotels in Grand Island (near Buffalo) and Rochester to house the overwhelming number of children from Central America that crossed the border illegally without their parents.

Why New York State? The word is out that NY wants illegals.  Per news reports last week New York State is considering one-upping the Federal Government and rolling out the "Welcome Mat"  with a "New York is Home Act" that would grant all sorts of State Benefits to illegals.

If the Feds are looking at Buffalo and Rochester, how long will it be before the Feds cast their eyes a mere 150 miles east to Utica-Rome with its "International"Airport that is hardly used, shuttered prisons and other empty state facilities, reputation for welcoming (legal) immigrants, and a bevy of politically connected cronies who will jump at the chance to make a quick buck on the backs of the taxpayers?

Our immigration policy is in shambles BECAUSE THE LAW IS NOT ENFORCED. The Federal Government has failed us and both political parties have failed us.  They are all acting on behalf of special interests and not for the benefit of individual citizens and taxpayers.

Keep that in mind the next time you vote.

My Take on NY 22 ...

We are hearing lots of radio ads and TV ads, and our mailboxes are inundated with campaign literature -- mostly negative material on behalf of the incumbent with little substance on his record.

Mr. Hanna's claims of being fiscally conservative and wanting to reign in federal spending are belied by his votes to raise the debt ceiling several times and his proposal of an expensive new Federal Pre-K program. But it gets much worse.

Last Tuesday he voted against an amendment that would have cut off Section 8 housing for those in the country illegally -- perpetuating federal benefits that have attracted illegal immigrants and contributed to the humanitarian crisis now on our southern border.

Mr. Hanna advocated for more visas for foreign workers with technical degrees at a time when the number of our technical graduates far exceeds the job supply.  This deprives Americans of jobs.

Mr. Hanna approved of several "free trade" agreements that caused the loss of local jobs to foreign countries (see Revere's Mr. O'Shaughnessy's Paid Ad on p 5A of Sunday's OD).

Although Mr. Hanna claimed in yesterday's OD  that he is "not negative to people" he routinely mocks those that disagree with him.   Just last year Oneida Dispatch documented how Mr. Hanna behaved condescendingly to a 4th Grader who expressed concern over the National Debt. A 4th Grader!

Mr. Hanna's negative mindset becomes dangerous when he lets his ideology impede communication with colleagues. Mr. Hanna called fellow Republican Rep. Michele Bachman an "extremist" for questioning how the daughter and sister of Muslim Brotherhood operatives (Houma Abedin) became the top assistant to our Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton).  Not only did Mr. Hanna disrespect a fellow Member of Congress, he displayed a naivete that risks our national security.

With such a record is it any wonder why Mr. Hanna smears his opponent with lies while denying the public a debate that would allow the voters to discern who the real liar is.

Ms. Tenney has earned in the Assembly a reputation as a tenacious, no-nonsense conservative who stands for smaller, limited government and lower taxes.  Ms. Tenney articulates with passion the founding principles of our nation that guide her.

I believe it is time we get our government "back to the basics" that our Founders intended, and get it out of trying to run our everyday lives.  That is why I am supporting Claudia Tenney for NY-22.