Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just Finished "Rogue"

This evening I finished reading Sarah Palin's book "Going Rogue."
I didn't read the self serving and lucrative books from Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary, or any number of other people who do the obligatory book so the people who are already fans of theirs can help make them rich.
I will say I enjoyed Palin's book which provided a lot of first-person insight into her life and views. As a childhood reader of Teddy White's books, I certainly enjoyed the insider stuff on the campaign.
President Obama had the timing down much better. Give a speech that makes you a liberal icon....then write the books that make you rich and able to compete in that world of Presidential politics....then run.
Palin ran first and found herself in the fast lane without a fast enough car.
Having read what she has to say, she is a force to contend with. One need only consider the efforts to derail her as evidence how seriously the other side perceives her as someone who could be a problem for them.
Hopefully she is now rich enough to run for President.

I Guess We Have to Agree to Disagree

A comment from a reader concerning my assertion that as a small business owner I am concerned over deficits and taxes.

You small businesses want all the services, yet you promote drinking and gambling, which should be sin-taxed, and you complain about that. Your expenses are pass-alongs, so what's the big deal?

Well the products sold in my business are already "six taxed." It's the first place the Legislature goes when they have one of those pesky budget crisis.
You know what a sin tax is ?
It's the way society levies a regressive tax on lower income persons who are more likely to consume the products deemed sinful. In short it's a way for big time pols to claim to be reducing taxes for 95% of Americans when they are really hosing them with sin taxes...and other hidden taxes on the simple pleasures of life like phone service and cable TV.
And as for it being a "pass through". So are utility bills, labor costs, insurance and everything else a business pays to keep playing by the rules and keep the doors open.
And thank goodness there are bars, convenience stores, liquor stores, supermarkets, restaurants and many others who take the time to sell the products deemed sinful and thus worthy of more taxation.

Don't Talk, Don't Tell

The Tiger Woods incident obviously will attract considerable media attention. This is after all an iconic figure who has earned great wealth off the admiration and adulation of a nation. Therefore, we are entitled to know all about him right ?
Only if he chooses to give us the scoop.
Tiger should keep his mouth shut and not talk to anyone. Just take the traffic tickets, pay for the hydrant and move on to the next tournament.
It probably was an argument in which he left the house, his wife followed him with a golf club, smashed the rear window of the Escalade and he hit a hydrant and a tree. There were no charges at the time. No arrest.
Tiger owes no more explanation than to pay the fines for whatever V & T infractions there were.
Assuming his marriage is to continue, there will likely be no lasting damage from this incident.
Despite the desire to see people stumble, we need folks to look up to. His career has been an inspiration and there's no need for that to change.

Time for DeDe to Face the Nation....What Will She Say ?

What should Diedre Scozzafava want to accomplish by Sunday's appearance on Face the Nation on CBS ?
Is it just another post-election 'poor poor pitiful me' about being beat up by tea party thugs led by Dick Armey, who will be on the same show ?
Well, I hope not. Ms. Scozzafava knows politics aint bean bag and there is something for all to learn from the NY23 GOP meltdown.
In retrospect, which is a lot like hindsight, Ms. Scozzafava was not the best hope for North Country Republicans and her selection by a handful of county chairs was another example of the dangers of making big decisions in the rarified air of so called executive session.
She was not a bad choice because she was a bad person....and not because she was unqualified....
Scozzafava's views were out of touch with the current mood of enough Republicans that she would have had problems even if Doug Hoffman and Mike Long had stayed on the sidelines, as was assumed would happen.
Her support of card check, the big dollar stimulus and her dalliances with the far-left Working Families Party were issues of concern in 2009 when growth of government, deficits, and the plight of small business were big issues.
Ironically, her views were sufficiently conservative on the public option and taxes but her advisors kept her biggest attributes bottled up. That would be her conversancy with government and issues.
She got the nod because it was her "turn" and the assumption was she could mop the floor with this unknown Plattsburgh attorney who was his party's third choice for the nomination.
I admit it, I made the same flawed assumptions based on what had always been in the North Country politics.
Remember, the vacancy was created by the White House in order to take the seat. They controlled the timeline and the presence of people like kingmaker Congressman Steve Israel in the district showed they were in it to win it.
The reason Darrel Aubertine bowed out is he had a record in office with many votes that could be exploited. The GOP turned around and put up as their nominee a long time legislator with a lot of votes to explain. That was dumb.
Ms Scozzafava will tell Bob Schieffer on Sunday that moderates are being pushed aside in a Republican purge. She needs to tell us just what a moderate Republican does stand for because in this campaign it was not evident.
And if moderate means card check and the WFP....Count me as one local business person who can't affort anymore of that kind of moderate politics.
There are always those who vote based on the social issues like abortion and gay marriage, but for many....and I am one of them.....those issues are not determinative...its spending and the onerous taxation especially on small business of which I am a member.
That issue was not articulated by the Republican nominee....I might suggest that those seeking action on deficits, spending and taxes who don't find that in the GOP candidate will look elsewhere. It's not about party anymore and the automatic support John McHugh got didn't transfer to the next similarly positioned candidate.
In any event, many will be looking closely at her remarks on the national stage tomorrow. With the election a month in the past , she has had the time to craft a good response to the question, "What happened and why ?".

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Loss of Hydrants, Security and Privacy are Topics on This Black Friday

-Best wishes for a quick recovery to everyone's favorite golfer, Tiger Woods, who was injured in an early morning car crash near his Florida home.
-Obviously, like all Americans I value the safety of the President and his family, but I have to admit chuckling at the two socialites who crashed this week's state dinner to honor the Indian prime minister. Especially seeing the always affable VP mugging with the interlopers.
-I got a long questionnaire today from the US Census Bureau. They are the agency constitutionally charged with the decennial counting of heads to be held on April 1, 2010. I am glad to be counted, but I don't feel my civic duty includes 28 pages of questions. Come see me April 1, and you can count the rooms, check for running water, see if I have difficulty hearing, categorize me by race, ask me how much my mortgage is and if I have a second mortgage, ever got food stamps, and many more questions, some of which the government already knows....after all I do file taxes every year...have been investigated for various licenses and clearances and have a lengthy google file.
-Besides, listing a few imaginary friends living there would help our Congressional representation and might entitle the city to more federal aid.

Teabagging OK with Half of Americans

In a measure of the continuing coarsening of our culture nearly 50% of our readers say the use of the phrase "tea baggers" is OK in general conversation when referring to anti deficit activists.
So kids....put on your backward baseball hat, get a tattoo over your butt and when your parents complain about rising taxes, just call mom and dad a couple of tea baggers !

Things Happening

-The declining dollar is bolstering Canadian money and we are again seeing lots of Canadian license plates in and around Watertown. That could be a mini-boost to our retail sector. Hope the Governor doesn't decide he wants to make them buy new license plates too.
-This Sunday at 1PM is the City of Watertown Christmas Parade. The procession starts at the High School and proceeds down Washington Street to Public Square.
-The tree lighting is Thursday evening at 5PM on the Square.
-Another wave of rumors about a Wegman's food store swept the area this week. It was so pervasive, one of the Wegman's commented on the Jefferson County Web Board and said there is no such store coming. I understand they run a nice store, but it's amazing how obsessed people get over a chain store they see elsewhere. Look at the fuss over an Olive Garden when we already have several great locally owned Italian restaurants.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

COPY CATS ! Hoosier Fountain a Duplicate of Ours !

This is an interesting story...Apparently the company that recast the damaged fountain in downtown Watertown is using the mold for whomever wants a similar icon.
Putting The Fountain In Fountain Square – Schools Building Communities

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dede faces the nation

Congressional candidate and Assemblywoman Diedre Scozzafava is spurning the HOTLINE for good reason....She is slated to be a guest this Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation. Ms.Scozzafava will appear along side former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey who campaigned against DeDe in the recent NY 23 race. What she says on the national stage is newsworthy...hope the local MSM give her the coverage she deserves.
Dede faces the nation - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

Thanksgiving dinner - Get it Right !

Just so you know, there has been research done on the traditional Thanksgiving dinner....Read up so you will know if you are getting the real deal.
And to all our City Employees, City Residents and Friends may you have a very Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season to come.

Thanksgiving dinner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Should Have Done the HOTLINE

GOP County Chair Don Coon says his party's candidate for county legislature in district 15 likely made a mistake by not appearing on the HOTLINE program prior to the election.
Republican Anthony Doldo ran a spirited campaign against incumbent Jim St. Croix, but lost by a scant eight votes.
The HOTLINE is a listening staple for many including those in the senior citizen complexes like Midtown, Hilltop, Curtis and LeRay Apartments, all of which are in District 15 and two of which host polling places.
Mr. St. Croix accepted the offer to be on and shared the mike with Jessica Renzi in a light hearted and cordial discussion of life and issues.
While I invited Mr. Doldo personally, I am told he was advised not to appear there.
I fully expect Mr. Doldo will run again and likely will become a county legislator. I hope he avails himself of the chance to talk to many district residents, just like his ownership of the General Store on Bradley Street hooks him up with many voters.
In a race that close there are many little things that could make a difference.

More After Action Chatter on NY23...MacDougall's View

Had a visit last night from Ron MacDougall....He is of course the husband of Assemblywoman Diedre Scozzafava. I renewed my invitation for Ms. Scozzafava to appear on the HOTLINE to talk about the fallout from the wild campaign in NY-23. Some items we talked about last night and what he told me:

-When the White House created the pending vacancy by nominating John McHugh as Army Secretary, the Democrat's first choice was Senator Darrel Aubertine, but Ms. Scozzafava was their second choice, with the ultimate winner, Bill Owens, their last choice. Ron says Democrats are still trying to get his wife to join their flock. When the Republican and Independence Parties made early choices of Scozzafava, the Democrat option apparently faded away.
-The Working Families Party would have endorsed Scozzafava, according to MacDougall, but the controversies swirling around the group scared the Republican nominee away and the party's nod, money and organization went to Owens. The GOP candidatd feared the WFP nod would have made the right wing insurrection even worse. You think ?
-Polling, he says, shows Scozzafava could still be elected in her Assembly District, but no decision has been made whether to run..which party to run in...and he would not say if an appointment is pending in the Cuomo administration.
-And Scozzafava's withdrawal did indeed channel votes to Owens. In the Village of Gouverneur, Bill Owens took 58% to Doug Hoffman's 27%....And Gouverneur is a Republican leaning town. Overall Owens beat Hoffman 48%-46%. "They followed orders," Ron said about his wife's last minute endorsement of Owens.
-In the end, Ron seemed to have a que sera sera attitude towards the loss and said he will not be moving to Florida as some press accounts have suggested.

There were a couple of tid bits he told me on condition I would not repeat and of course I respect those wishes. He is a regular caller on AM-1240s HOTLINE Program

Some of this is not new and was printed in various out of town media but it is interesting to hear the inside story first hand. And again the invitation stands for the candidate to speak unfettered on the HOTLINE.

Doug Hoffman: 'Full speed ahead to 2010' - On Politics - USATODAY.com

With his defeat now official, Doug Hoffman is in the hunt for 2010 and plans a bid to take the seat back for the GOP in NY23. So reports USA TODAY.
It may seem a bit brash to announce on the day you conceded the race to Rep. Bill Owens....but the balloting is only eleven months away and already Owens is doing fundraisins for next year. Others, including Jefferson County's Matt Doheny are looking very much like they are setting the table for a political feast next year as well.
Normally, a Congressman elected under this year's circumstances would get a pass on his bid for a full two year term. However, if predictions of a Repubalican revival prove true on a national level, this seat will remain in play.
Advice for Mr. Hoffman. Establish residency in the district. A local media baron has already pledged to pound the issue hard this time. It's too easy an issue to hand your opponents.
Doug Hoffman: 'Full speed ahead to 2010' - On Politics - USATODAY.com

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Economics 101, or Just Being an A-Hole ?

I am told this year's "it" toy is the Zhu Zhu....a battery powered hamster selling for about eight dollars if you can find one....I am told they are in short supply as parents seek to satisfy the wants of youngins....And if the kids are happy with an $8 toy, all the better....Of course there are lots of accessories with the Zhu Zhu so you can spend more.
Sadly, even in Watertown, there are reports of entrepreneurs (aka Scrooges), hoarding the furry friends and selling them on E-Bay for many times the list price. Supply and demand, I guess. But even for a free market guy like me, this seems an exploitation of kids at Christmas.
Wonder who these people are ?
Maybe they wlll call the HOTLINE and talk about why they enjoy ruining the spirit of the Holidays. 755-1240 between noon and one tomorrow. You can have as much air time as you need.

Economics 101, by way of toy hamster

4000 Upstate Jobs to Vanish

Over 4000 people will lose their jobs soon at Penn Traffic Company closes 53 P&C Food Stores and two warehouses. The closings include the Seaway Plaza store in Watertown. Watertown's North Side would seem to need a supermarket and hopefully this location will be filled.


News 10 Now | 24 Hour Local News | TOP STORIES | Penn Traffic to close P&C stores

10th Mountain Division Daily Roundup

Here is a new blog with information about the military at Fort Drum. Give it a look.
10th Mountain Division Daily Roundup

Will the Indy Party Become the Anti-Christ for the WFP ?

Here is an excerpt from an article in New York Magazine about a pending effort by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others to acquire the Independence Party Line for their use as a foil to what they see as the anti-business, Working Families Party.
The WFP has been an organizational success and has contributed to the election of Democrats all over the state, including here in the North Country with Senator Darrel Aubertine and Representitive Bill Owens.
This is another example of New York's unique system of "fusion" voting allowing minor party lines to be used as niche or boutique parties for the small group who control them.
Mayor Bloomberg has been generous in throwing cash to some downstate activists. After all he spent over $100 million of his own money on reelection this year.
For the record, Independence Party members who are active in Jefferson County have never received support from Mr. Bloomberg. In fact, Jefferson County Chair John Rice has been dubbed a running a "rogue" county for advocating candidates other the the state chair's choice.

With the pro-labor Working Families Party on the rise, a coalition of New York business elites is laying the foundation to counteract its influence with a political operation of their own. The plan is to collaborate with the Independence Party, which just backed Republican Mike Bloomberg, to push what they see as fiscally responsible positions. They want to help elect Bloomberg-like candidates statewide. The problem is going to be convincing voters that what’s good for the capitalists is good for them too. Their tentative slogan? “It’s Your New York.”
“The business community has never attempted to involve the general public,” says Matt Crosson, who heads the Long Island Association and is one of the group’s organizers. Voters, he theorizes, “have a general disdain for Albany, but they don’t realize how bad it is.”
The movement began taking shape after lawmakers in Albany passed a $133 billion budget in April, increasing taxes and fees by $7 billion and raising spending by 9 percent. Deficit projections have risen to nearly $30 billion over the next three years. While Governor Paterson has warned lawmakers that the state may not be able to pay its bills by the end of the year, the Legislature has spurned his attempts to slash education and health care.
It’s being advised by Jay Kriegel, a longtime Democrat and member of the city’s Establishment who started his career as a hotshot 25-year-old aide to Mayor Lindsay. Most recently, he was executive director of Bloomberg’s failed 2012 Olympics bid. (Today, he works as an adviser to developer Stephen Ross.) The new group wants to wage an assault against the WFP, which has become an increasingly decisive force in city and state races, and the power of labor unions. WFP, the major health-care union SEIU 1199, teachers unions, and hospitals spent about $15 million on campaigns and lobbying in 2008. New York State United Teachers and 1199 have a combined membership of nearly 1 million.
The idea is to use the Independence Party, which was founded by billionaire governor-aspirant Tom Golisano in the nineties and is today controlled by Bloomberg allies, to back favored candidates. This is also how the WFP works. It gives these candidates a second ballot line.
Challenging the WFP, which is allied with a sophisticated army of operatives, canvassers, and pressure groups, is not going to be easy. The Independence Party lacks the same boots-on-the-ground infrastructure. Crosson says his new coalition knows what it’s up against: “They’re very effective and entrenched. The business community will be playing a game of catch-up for a long time.”


-Excerpt from New York Magazine

Hunt Appointment a Tip of the Hat to Western End of NY23

Watertown native Steve Hunt's appointment as head field rep for the new Congressman is a shrewd move to solidify support in the populous western end of NY23.
Hunt is a 29 year old Watertown native who grew up on Lindoln Street, just a couple of blocks from where I am penning this post.
As Governor Paterson's local rep for two years and one who was active in politics at the local and state level, Hunt's appointment provides the local face on Owen's fledgling office.
Next year Owens will face a spirited battle for reelection. Much of that battle will focus on the national idealogical debate we are all familiar with. The appointment of Hunt and the anchoring of district office operations in Watertown is a strategic move aimed at the premise that all politics is local and that constituent work will equal if not trump ideology.
Time will tell as it seems the national mood will play a big part in next years balloting in all 435 districts.

Tug of War Over Sick and Injured Veterans

The fight over veterans healthcare continues in a war of words between the brass at Carthage Area Hospital and Valor Healthcare, which was awarded the bid to provide services in the Watertown area. Carthage has been providing the service for six years after winning the contract from Mercy. This time the Veterans Administration awarded the bid to Valor, sparking an ugly exchange at a press conference with accusations that Valor is not suitable and that an insider deal resulted in the award.
Valor plans to operate the clinic in the Town of Watertown, although Carthage will likely extend their services beyond the contract end to prevent a lapse in service.
Nasty spat....
Watertown Daily Times | Valor Healthcare defends itself over allegations of wrongdoing

FACT CHECK: The Election is Over

The attached article is the latest salvo in the running feud between media titans over the counting of votes in NY23 race....The Gouverneur Times "fact check" is in response to a purported WDT "debunking" of GT claims about technical snafus in the new voting technology.
Missed in all the feuding is that News 10 reports today that there will be no formal challenge of the race. Absentee counting is complete and the margin of victory for Rep. Bill Owens is about 3500 votes. There were reporting discrepancies that initially changed the margin by 2000 votes by no further problems cropped up.
FACT CHECK: Gouverneur Times vs. NYS Board of Elections

Monday, November 23, 2009

Council Highlights

-Approved an agreement for bulk sale of ice time to the Hockey Association. The vote was four to one. I didn't think it appropriate to carve out a separate rate structure for one group.
-Council gave an OK for the Wizards to build a viewing stand at their expense.
-Agreed to a per truck charge for use of the city snow dump, instead of a flat fee for all haulers.
-Discussed labor negotiations in executive session.

Monday Stuff

-Congrats to Steve Hunt....North Side native and now the Director of District Offices for Rep. Bill Owens. Steve was most recently Governor Paterson's field rep in Watertown.

-Looks like Jim St. Croix won that County Leg race in District 15 after all.

-The electoral tit for tat continues between the Gouverneur Times and the Watertown Times over the integrity of the voting in NY 23......At issue are ghosts and viruses in the new optical scanners. Can we have our good old mechanical booths back instead of a bunch of bureaucrats and journalists debating the nuances of software viruses and glitches not understood by them or me for that matter.
Gouverneur Times Article

-I went to Price Chopper today for some limes and on the way home stopped at Fairgrounds Inn for a grilled roast beef and swiss on rye. Figured the bar would be empty and I could peruse a few pages of Rogue. So I walk in and there sits a prominent investment banker and a longtime GOP operative with whom I share a name. I spurned a comfortable seat at the bar and joined them as I could tell they wanted some political gossip or insight, I don't know which. I gave them a bit of both and must have been entertaining as the banker picked up the lunch tab.
Just proves that even among Republicans there is a such thing as a free lunch !

-City Council meeting tonight....Adjourned one from last week to talk about ice rental arrangements with the Hockey Association. Also a briefing on PBA negotiations on tap. The excitement all gets underway at 7PM.

Watertown Daily Times | Hoffman to decide on filing challenge

I can't imagine Doug Hoffman really insists on a recount of the paper ballots, but if he does he does.
I can believe he will use real or perceived slights to garner publicity for next year's run and continue to raise money via conservative media outlets willing to cast a different light on the race than what the local MSM does.
Posturing and fundraising are OK and are as American as a cloture vote on a Saturday night.
However, this posturing runs Hoffman the risk of making him look irrationally paranoid or just a poor loser. It's tough to lose a race and there no doubt was lots of wheelin' and dealin' in the final days of the race. That is just politics. The withdrawal of Scozzafava was just politics...A race is an organic battle that you make changes in, just like a general does on a battlefield.
The assertion that ACORN urged the withdrawal of Scozzafava may be true, but it does not invalidate the results.
Mr. Hoffman and his staff know this and I really think his protests are not really meant to argue the actual votes cast November 3rd were somehow invalid.
His best way out is to say what Dick Nixon had to say in 1960....They stole it fair and square....Let's move on.
Watertown Daily Times | Hoffman to decide on filing challenge

Sunday, November 22, 2009

St. Croix...He's Leading..He's Trailing...He's Leading Again....Now We Need a Recount !

Much has been made of the changing numbers in NY-23 and the allegations of hanky-panky made by GOP candidate Doug Hoffman.
While this race has been followed, there have suddenly been changes in a much smaller race for Jefferson County Legislature District 15.
The day after the election it was reported incumbent Jim St. Croix was leading 524 to 445 over Anthony Doldo. Absentees were yet to be counted.
Currently the Jefferson County BOE tote board on line now lists Doldo leading 537 to 524 in unofficial results.
Then there is another total that shows St. Croix ahead by eight votes. That's what candidate St. Croix was told Friday night. He had assumed the originally reported 55%-45% was still in place.
For the political chattering class, this information only came out via a posting on the county GOP web page that was posted on Newzjunky.com.
Rumor now is that with the margin of eight votes being less than one percent of the total, there has to be a recount of the paper ballots cast on election day. Presumably the optical scanner may not have registered all the ballots.
Now the question is why these changes in numbers occured ? I am told it was the result of election workers at St. Anthony's Church polling place not properly reporting machine totals on election night. That discrepancy was caught in the recanvass and then the absentees were added to that.
Why candidate St. Croix only learned of this on Friday is perplexing. Now a race he thought he had won may be lost. For Mr. Doldo, he thought he lost and now has a shot.
In a pool of 1100 or so voters, the eight vote margin is by no means certain. Mr. St. Croix says the recount will occur early this week.
Given his stature on the board, a possible defeat of St. Croix is quite newsworthy

Palin's book tour whips up populist fervor: Former Gov. Sarah Palin | adn.com

This is actually a pretty good account of the Palin book tours courtesy of the ADN, not always a fan of hers, but spot on in this story about populism. The thing about populists like William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long, Robert La Follette,George Wallace,and Ross Perot is that while they make some points that influence the debate, they are seldom the ones to win election.
Palin's book tour whips up populist fervor: Former Gov. Sarah Palin | adn.com

Press Spoils Plans for a Pretty Good Party

Looks like Fred Dicker of the NY Post may have ruined a perfectly good college pool party complete with Jell-O shots and beer....Seems Governor Paterson's 21 year old daughter put out an e-mail touting the blast at the Governor's Mansion in Albany. The press found out and Dicker's inquiry is said to have nixed the Animal House party. Does that make Fred a party pooper ?Mystery of the gov's pool party

Down South, Some Good Old Fashioned, Horse Trading Style of Politics Taints Health Care Win

It is now being dubbed the Louisiana Purchase...not the one in 1803 in which the fledgling USA bought a huge swath of the heartland from France for $15,000,000. The new purchase is an estimated $300 million in aid to the Bayou State that was included in the health bill to secure the cloture vote last night by Senator Mary Landrieu.
Dana Milbank - Sweeteners for the South

Three Weeks Later, St. Croix in a Squeaker Over Doldo

A post went up this weekend that in the race for County Legislator in Jefferson County's District 15, the margin of victory for Democrat Jim St. Croix is now just 8 votes and a recount of the paper ballots may be held.
This was a 55%-45% race after election night and while Mr. Doldo did well against the incumbent, just when did my legislative race become such a squeaker. ?
Saturday, 21 November 2009 16:51
In the Jefferson County Legislator District 15 race Anthony Doldo has pulled within 8 votes as absentees have come in and placed Mr. Doldo in a good position for a possible victory. It is expected that there will be a recount with such a close margin.
-Jefferson County GOP website