Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gay Marriage Advocates March in Watertown | WWNY TV 7 Watertown, NY | Local News

A little progressive thought took to the streets of Watertown today as advocates of same sex marriage made their case.
Gay Marriage Advocates March in Watertown WWNY TV 7 Watertown, NY Local News

Go Ahead....Tape My Day

I watched the YouTube video on the Town of Cape Vincent, where town officials tried to have a citizen arrested for the crime of video taping a planning board session.
Things have gotten testy in the Cape over the wind farm issue, but such actions show a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of government.
That is why I am more committed than ever to the videotaping of City Council meetings by local videographer Steve Weed.
I have noticed more and more people watching the city proceedings and the tapes are a means of checking what actually happened at past sessions.
In the modern age local government has generally gone on without much scrutiny as the media does not have the means to cover so many political subdivisions.
Yet many of these "smaller" governments are getting much bigger and are transacting large amounts of business and spending large amounts without much public view.
If a citizen gets in hot water for trying to tape a meeting, that is only a sign of how insulated local decisionmakers have become.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Musings

-I have a dog, so the actions of Michael Vick caught my attention. Today he has been signed to a multi-million dollar contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. I know...he paid his dues, did his time. He should be able to live his life in peace without ridicule and earn a living. He should not be an NFL quarterback. Nobody is expected to be perfect, but when you are in that type of job, earning that much money, just not being in prison is not the sole criteria for hiring. He is a role model, and a poor one. The Eagles have shown little regard for the values that young fans should learn from sports.

- It was good to see Tim LaBouf today. The former councilman is in town for his sister's wedding and he stopped by the HOTLINE program.
Afterwards I showed him the deck and other improvements on the Black River. Even though only gone a year Tim was impressed at the progress and improvements in the City.
Rev. LaBouf and his family live in Abilene, TX where he is an assistant pastor at a church.

- Wow, the hard core Dems are seething over Bill Owens nomination to run for Congress. Their anger seems based on what box he checked on a voter registration form years ago. To me judging someone on such stuff is like judging based solely on race, religion, or your favorite sports team.
Fact is Mr. Owens has agreed to reregister and function in the Democratic caucus headed by Rep. Steny Hoyer.
One of the best things that ever happened in Watertown is the non-partisan government set up in 1922. At least when you come in to complain about a bum curb or late trash pickup, we don't check your registration first to see what level of service you get.
Quit judging this guy on such a superficial criteria. He was born a human being long before he checked a box that has now defined him in the eyes of too many people.

-President Obama is charming Montana residents at a town meeting in Belgrade, MT. I always wonder when they talk about small business do they mean people like me ?...and if so, how much would I have to charge for a Budweiser (now $2.75) in order to provide the insurance Mr. O thinks employers should provide. Would people pay $4.50 or $ 5 for a Bud? I don't know. I never thought they would pay $9 for a pack of cigarettes, but they do.

Addie on Deck

Assemblywoman Addie Russell has a lot on her mind what with an important job and a baby due at any time. However at yesterday's Children's Home ceremonies she took time to offer again to carry any needed legislation that would provide a permanent resolution to the DeckGate controversy.
While City Council and the future owner of the former Red Lion Building have reached an accord that will allow both retaurant and public use of the deck, a permanent resolution may still require an act of the State Legislature as did the Ultimate Goal/YMCA deal.
All of this is down the road and we fully expect this new business to open on time and be successful, but its good to see a state lawmaker offering to help and thinking ahead of the curve.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Owens Visits Watertown...But Spurns Hotline

Democratic Congressional Hopeful Bill Owens of Plattsburgh made the media rounds today with a walk-a-bout of Public Square, kicking off what had been a moribund campaign.
Word from reporters though is Mr. Owens, a retired Air Force Captain and attorney, was very smooth and personable.
All of that makes sense because there must be something that led eleven county chairs to go outside their party for a nominee. Mr Owens is a non-affiliated voter and a former employee of longtime GOP State Senator Ronald Stafford's law firm.
Mr. Owens did not contact the Hotline and did not meet with top Democratic elected officials including Assemblywoman Addie Russell.
Mr. Owens faces a daunting task becoming politically viable in the expansive district. While well known and respected in Plattsburgh, even local Democrats scratch their heads at his selection.
What is yet to be seen is whether the DCCC plays heavy in this race. So far indications are no, but polling will drive those decisions.
Owens will face GOP candidate Diedre Scozzafava and Conservative Doug Hoffman.
Welcome to Watertown....Stop and say hi and don't miss the Hotline next time.....After all, I am only one vote but I am a talking head of some note.


This is a major story....not in the sense that pols get cushy jobs for supporters, but that it is so egregious and is part of a trend of cashin' in by the Senate Majority Leader. Senator Espada is just not fit for office yet both parties have played footsie with him as he leveraged an evenly divided Senate into a personal pay day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What About Those Crazies at the Town Meetings ?

I am tired of Town Hall meetings. Tired of the fact that if anyone gets feisty or animated, they are called a threat to the Nation....Tired of ones where the crowds are so screened and scripted its just a show. Tired of the media outrage over the fact average Americans hold these base views about liberty, family and economic survival.
The worst one of late was last year's presidential town hall debate......these Washington types of both parties really believe these affairs allow them to claim an affinity for average folk. More and more people have had enough of rules, deficits, bailouts and being hectored about how government is going to be their salvation.
I am tired of a "broke" NYS sending $200 checks to kids and hiring Pedro Espada's son at $120 K to a do nothing job....I guess some outrage did stop that atrocity.
I am tired of hearing about multi-trillion dollar deficits and with a straight face being told 95% of Americans are getting a "tax cut"...Guess they must think some of us never mastered math.
Before he writes in, let me tell Mr W, people who checked the Republican box are just as guilty.....During the Pataki era a lot of Pedro wannabes also hired their relatives to some of those high pay, no show jobs.
There is an ugliness in the land....not borne of Obama.....but borne of a sense that destinies are no longer under the control of individuals.
Those frustrated people screaming at Senator Spector may not be able to reach his DC marinated psyche.....but they reach mine...People are frustrated at their fate and it will take more than cash for clunkers to change that.

Even Ted Ford Cannot Believe What His Party Did

I am running this headline again as some readers were suggesting I took it down earlier because of fear of offending somebody.

Actually, I try to keep the page fresh so a headline may only stay a few hours....depending on what else I am doing.

In the case of this headline it is a tongue in cheek, metaphorical use of the name "Ted Ford". Ted is my symbol of the most ardent Democrat. So when he shakes his head at the party nomination of a non-Dem, in this case Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, I consider that a metaphor for party disdain for the choice.

I suspect most hard core Dems will stay with the line and for the Dems to run such a conservative candidate is fine with me.

However, I stand with my position that some Dems have a problem with the nomination.

Scozzafava Campaign on Hold Due to Ailing Dad

In a difficult time our prayers and best wishes to Assemblywoman Scozzafava and her family.
Citing Family Emergency, Scozzafava Puts Campaign On Hold

At Least It Wasn't Ashley Dupre on the Phone

A pretty good source told me kind of a funny story today when we were talking about why Darrel Aubertine did not run for Congress.
Apparently the guy the Democratic Party had call Darrel to urge him on was not the President....or Rahm....or the Speaker.
It was Eliot Spitzer.....New York's defrocked Luv Guv.
The irony is obvious.
The man caught with a chronic hooker problem pitching the guy who epitomizes family values.
I am told Mr Spitzer's appeal was not well received.

Swearing In: A New Venue

I've been to a lot of swearing in ceremonies for city officials, mostly held on New Year's Day in the stately Rotunda at the Flower Memorial Library.
Tuesday's mid-summer oath for Councilman Jason Burto was held on a pathway along the shores of the Black River at what is to be called Whitewater Park. It looked a little like a wedding with an attractive young couple standing before City Clerk Donna Dutton, but it was a bit of a generational thing as well with a new generation of leaders taking their place in positions of responsibility.
I don't want to make too much of it, because his term ends December 31 and his replacement chosen in the coming election will be about twice Mr. Burto's age.
What was nice was to get the council out of chambers and hash out a contentious issue on site where the theoretical became tangible.
Councilman Burto fit right in at an event that was as close to a media scrum as you can find north of Syracuse.
All in all, a good meeting...Sometimes a little fresh air does a legislative body a world of good.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

DeckGate On Its Way to Resolution

It proved to be just the strategy needed.
A first hand look at the Newell Street deck and an on-site discussion brought the matter of DeckGate to an apparent conclusion.
After a month long fester, lawmakers met with developer Reginald Schweitzer and agree to keep the deck a public place with tables open to all, including patrons of the restaurant that will replace the Red Lion Brew Pub.
Meanwhile the City will explore with state officials whether the property the deck is on can be transferred to the restaurant owners.
The vexing matter was solved in large part to being on site where lawmakers could see the deck and its environs.
Mr. Schweitzer will be able to pursue licensing of his facility and meanwhile the city will place tables in public areas for everyones use including patrons of the restaurant.
I also raised concerns about some of the safety concerns at Whitewater Park.
The concerns were pooh poohed.
I am glad we were able to resolve to support the restaurant...The potential for riverfront development is now a reality.....

A Guy From Where Running for Our Seat ?

For some time, I have been a critic of the geography of the 23rd Congressional District, and the reason became evident last night as Democrats chose Plattsburgh attorney Bill Owens as their candidate to succeed Rep. John McHugh.
For years, with Mr. McHugh, we had a Watertown native as our Member of Congress. Priot to that, residents of Canton and Ogdensburg represented us.
I am sure that was a source of political consternation to our friends in the eastern end of the district, especially during those dark days when Plattsburgh AFB was closing while Fort Drum was exploding with money and jobs.
Folks in the eastern end, despite the best efforts of Mr. McHugh, were not represented in the way we were. Good for us, but the nightmare for the Fort Drum region is a Congressman who fishes in Lake Champlain instead of Ontario.
Now the East vs. West battle is on with Plattsburgh attorney Bill Owens picked to lead the Dems against girl next door, Gouverneur resident Diedre Scozzafava.
The district is too large for its own good, and this race is now not about party, person, issues, Obama or anything else other than geography.
Ms. Scozzafava is my choice. I already said that. She will run up big margins in the western counties and since there are more people living there, this race is over.
Mr. Owens is very likely a fine man....We hear he has money and Rahm and a blueing electorate across the state.
But in the end, he is from the other side of the mountains....a place few in Watertown have ever been to...
It's a simple as looking at a map.
The Press Republican - Article: Bill Owens chosen to run for Congress

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Busy Week Ahead

-Rescheduling of a NASCAR rainout looks like it will preempt the Hotline today on AM-1240. I had the fellow from Unshackle Upstate due to call in on behalf of the Chamber. We will have to reschedule.
-Have a late afternoon meeting with Sen. Schumer's representitives on city legislative priorities. Then a quick trip to the Historical Society to see what they are up to.
-At City Hall now finalizing the order for interviews tonight for city council applicants. Meeting starts at 7 PM with a session with the Development Authority, affectionately known at DANC. At 8PM, we will begin the ten minute interviews with applicants.
-Another council meeting tomorrow night down on the Black River to discuss the now infamous deck.
-Later in the week, there is a flag raising Thursday at the Children's Home and on Saturday my chance to don the robes as a judge in the Miss Thousands Island Pageant.
-In between I look forward to hosting America's favorite noontime talk show the HOTLINE on WATN-AM-1240.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Another Albany Scheme

It takes a while for the pernicious nature of the recently adopted state budget to come to our attention.
The four month old spending plan now calls for all of us to buy new license plates at a cost of $25.......That's more than the previous $15 fee.....That doesn't bother me, if I needed new plates.
I don't need them but will have to get them anyway. If I want to keep the same number I get to pay more.
I don't care what my plates say..... At moments like this its bad enough they say "New York".
Just make me pay $25 bucks and skip making me a new plate.