Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pattie Plate to Legislature- YOU LIED !

St. Lawrence County Clerk and likely State Senate candidate Patty Ritchie is grousing again about the proposed license plate fee....Patty says those rascals in Albany reneged on their pledge to drop the requirement everyone buy a new set of license plates. The alleged betrayal was included in the recently enacted deficit reduction package, according to Ritchie.
Ritchie's latest protests are again distributed by Senate Republicans on their "News of Note" emails blasting Senator Darrel Aubertine. Furthur evidence of a possible Ritchi candidacy against Aubertine.
While a small issue in the scheme of things, Ms. Ritchie has achieved some political miles by protesting the plate tax....using it as a metaphor for all that's wrong in the capital.
Ritchie and Jefferson County Legislator Barry Ormsby are the two most talked about GOP Senate hopefulls.
Aubertine's 48th District is one of the state's swing districts, or so the GOP believes.
New York State News on the Net!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Watertown Daily Times | Fort Drum says murder suspect's unit saw no combat

Are they just setting up a defense....This WDT report would seem to suggest accused killer Joshua Hunter experienced nothing in Iraq to change mild-mannered fellow into a raging killer of two men. In any event, this is the kind of follow up, continuing coverage we need of stories like this.
Watertown Daily Times | Fort Drum says murder suspect's unit saw no combat

Heroine Alert: Diane Savino, NY State Senator - Gay Marriage - Jezebel

Sometimes an issue creates a new celebrity...The unsuccessful effort to legalize same sex marriage brought gave a 40-something unmarrried Senator from Staten Island some notoriety as Sen. Diane Savino save a spirited speech in favor of the proposal......Sen. Savino actually stood there and confessed her own failure to achieve the America dream of a happy marriage. It's good rhetoric and makes an argument for universal marriage rights.
The marriage bill failed as all the Republicans and 8 Democrats voted against it. I like these campy Liz Benjamin, alternative culture links.
Heroine Alert: Diane Savino, NY State Senator - Gay Marriage - Jezebel

Robocalls.....Did They Hurt Hoffman ?

Had a conversation tonight with a female attorney who is a politically aware Republcan and she told me why she voted for Bill Owens last month....
The reason was.....robocalls....especially the ones with recorded messages from famous national figures like Sarah Palin and others.
This person would have voted for Diedre Scozzafava, but of course she quit the race on Halloween.
Now I dont have an answering machine at home and only keep a land line because I am of a generation who believes its a measure of shame not to have a copper wire into your house....I never use the phone...but by God, it's there !
So, I didn't hear all the robocalls...but I have heard that Team Hoffman overdid it in the final days...Probably a result of having all that extra money from conservative activists and deciding to throw it all into the race in the final hours.
Much has been written about why Hoffman lost...his own shortcomings...the DeDe endorsement of Owens....the media efforts in the western end of the district....
There are likely many reasons....But from what I heard tonight from someone I respect...Those robocalls may have been more a hinderance than help.

No Jail Time For Monserrate In Assault Case -

Have to keep him in there....He's the one vote that provides Dems the majority. Monserrate gets probation, community service and a fine.
As a state senator isn't he already a community servant ?

No Jail Time For Monserrate In Assault Case -

Fort Drum Commander Comments on Deaths of Two Soldiers in Town of LeRay

Fort Drum's top brass speaks out on the tragic killings of two soldiers.......
Fort Drum Commander Comments on Deaths of Two Soldiers in Town of LeRay

Jefferson County Man Launches 2010 Congressional Bid

Hey-I broke a story...Hooray for me !

The election is six weeks in the rear view mirror and I get my first piece of campaign mail for 2010.
Watertown and Alex Bay businessman Matt Doheny is holding a December 15 event at the Italian America Club on Bellew Avenue in Watertown.
At $20 a head, it's more about getting known than raising money. In a Congressional race $20 is chump change, but becoming known and liked is priceless.
Doheny was runner up in last year's ill-fated "open", "transparent" and disastrous candidate selection process that sent forth a nominee who garnered 6% in November as Democrat Bill Owens won the race.
This year its about petitions and primaries and there may be one with last years Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman already in the hunt.
Mr. Doheny says he is seeking the GOP, Conservative and Independence Party nods and in his invitation cites a work ethic, growing up in the Bay and a range of business and finance experience with Deutesche Bank and other current duties as a portfolio manager for Fintech.
The scramble on the GOP side will be to lock down the early money and support and gain the blessing of NYS Conservative Chair Mike Long to prevent the kind of bruising battle that punctuated the 2009 campaign.
Obviously its already "game on !" for 2010.

Tiger Woods offers wife Elin Nordegren $80M to stay for seven years in revised prenup: report

Time to start rooting for Phil for many golf fans as the Tiger Woods sex tales become more swarmy.....Hush money, party girls and now an offer to pay a ton of money to his Swedish wife just to stay married to Tiger. Of course there is always the argument that as long as he wins, this is just a bump in the road....
Tiger Woods offers wife Elin Nordegren $80M to stay for seven years in revised prenup: report

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Friends, family stunned by charges - The Herald Dispatch

Crazy stuff....The hometown media gives a perspective we can't get from this end....Internet is a great thing on these type of stories.
Anyway, this is worth a read as well.
Friends, family stunned by charges - The Herald Dispatch

He Got a Lot Done Before I Would Ever Have the Chance to Have Met Him

As a tavern owner I certainly have the chance to talk to many soldiers who have returned from the war zones. I like hearing what they have to say as it is first-hand testimony to what we otherwise only see on TV...And maybe it's helpful to them to talk about their experiences.
Of course the only ones I would encounter are the ones over 21 as that is the drinking age. In my line of work 21 is the line of demarcation between childhood and being an adult. Hey the kid didn't have ID. That's what we call those under 21. Kids.
But for 20 year old Joshua Hunter of Ona, WV....well he had done a lot in life before he would have been able to plop himself on a stool at Fort Pearl and tell me his war stories.
Specialist Hunter...grew up I guess more or less normal...left home...joined the married....went to Iraq...saw his friends blown to bits....came home rattled....posted all sorts of ominous things on the Web as is the custom these days...then he stabbed two men to arrested in Ohio and now faces life in prison...a wife in the past tense no doubt and a family devastated at the demise of their son (not to mention the families of his victims).
All that before he would be allowed to socialize with adults and perhaps be better able to put life in perspective.
I hear lots of stories from other club owners about how wound up and wired some of these guys are upon their return from the SW Asia meat grinder. Frankly, most people are not going to do what Joshua Hunter did....And indeed there is no real excuse for what he did to those two young men......But....
When I read about this and looked at the picture from his Facebook page.....It just struck me as something is amiss....Can't put my finger on it....Just strange that you can do so much before we back home call you an adult.
Watertown Daily Times | Mom says her son 'snapped' after deployment

Let's Write About Owens...Haven't Done That in a While

We haven't talked about the new Congressman lately. He has had a lot to do getting settled in.
Two moves were pratically and politically shrewd. Keeping the Watertown district office in the office building (HSBC) owned by Jefferson County GOP Chair Don Coon is a great example of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. Surely the Chairman will find it a little tougher to work up a lather against a man who decided to rent space in his building.
The other move was the appointment of former Gubernatorial field rep Steve Hunt as the guy in charge of district offices. Steve is known and both he and his family are neighbors and friends of mine, so how could I, for instance, say Bill Owens is out of touch with Watertown. Steve also has relationships with other local pols that will serve to defuse opposition based on party label.
Enough with the compliments. Congressman Owens statement to the WDT about President Obama's Afghan speech and troop deployment decision was baffling. Here's the text from Jude Seymour's article.
Mr. Owens did not say whether or not he agreed with President Barack Obama's decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, but called the decision "difficult" to make.
During the campaign, the Plattsburgh Democrat repeatedly said the decision to send more troops was the president's to make.

People expect their Member of Congress to have an opinion on such a profound move. Heck I am no where near Congress and I have an opinion. I am sure you do to.
This is reminiscient of the fuzzy positions during the campaign.
In a nation capivated by Tiger's tales and a couple of White House party crashers why bother getting too specific on the issues anyway.
With gentle rumblings of opposition being heard alreay for 2010, I am sure Mr. Owens will stay in campaign mode, and that doesn't lend itself to specificity either.

Local Native Woman Announces CNY Senate Bid

Dexter area native Jessica Crawford officially opens bid for State Senate in the 49th District against Democrat David Valesky. The 49th is considered one of those upstate seats the GOP could take in the wake of the less than stellar performance of the Senate this year under Democratic stewardship.
Crawford: Bring Business Back | Madison County Courier-Madison County News

What do cats do home alone? Cat cams have answers -

This is one of those things you always wonder is the refrigerator light on when the door is closed ?.....Cats have a lot of time on their hands but they seem to keep busy.
What do cats do home alone? Cat cams have answers -

Matthews apologizes for `enemy camp' remark - Yahoo! News

The lingering tingle in Matthews leg sometimes causes him to say things.....Its not his fault.

Matthews apologizes for `enemy camp' remark - Yahoo! News

NYDN: Drum Troops Ready for New Duties

Fort Drum soldiers who spoke to the Daily News seem resigned to their expanded duties in Afghanistan and may actually be pleased the President has a more focused role for US forces in the war torn country.
You have to admire the devotion to duty, even though its easy to just say 'well that's what they signed up for.'
I don't think anyone who signed on the dotted line ever anticipated this long and arduous series of deployments which are taking their toll on individuals and families. Nonetheless, 10th Division soldiers, like others throughout the armed forces, will soon suit up and travel a world away to carry out the President's orders. That must surely be difficult as the rest of us settle in for the holiday season.
Hopefully it will wrap up by 2011.
President Obama

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

America's Least Patriotic Network Doesn't Disappoint

Chris Mathews calls West Point "the enemy camp."
MSNBC - Kathryn Jean Lopez - The Corner on National Review Online

Aubertine and Senate Nix Gay Marriage 38-24

Gay marriage is a no go in New York State as the Senate finally, after weeks of posturing, fussing and musing, voted 38-24 against the measure which three times passed in the Assembly.
Senator Darrel Aubertine was among eight democrats and 30 Republicans opposing the measure to make NY the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage. Here is the aftermath from Liz.......
Normally I would think such a measure would have a chance at approval, but the presence of gay marriage as an issue in NY23 could have spooked some lawmakers worried about a conservative backlash.
The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

No Public Tears...Tiger Apologizes on his Website

After three years of torrid sex, Tiger comes home. Golf legend apologizes on his website for expanding tabloid tale of infidelity. Tiger comments on current events

Reaction to President's Speech

Watching the Senate hearings on the Afghan ramp-up (watching in the tavern while I do some cleaning).....Trying to listen to reaction....
The central question is what happens in July 2011 when the draw-down of troops is due to begin and Afghan forces take over the security of what is not now a country as we know it.
The shorter term questions are, should we do it ?....and how do we pay for it ? Current estimates are that it will cost one million dollars per soldier per year to keep troops there. That means the City budget could maintain a company of troops for less than six months.
Among those in Congress opposing the escalation are Senators Spector and Boxer who argue the Afghan move is not in the nation's interest.
Among those endorseing the President's action ironically is Senator McCain and his former running mate, Sarah Palin.
Strange bedfellows indeed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fort Pearl Patrons Watch the President

At Fort Pearl tonight the patrons listened to President Obama's address to West Point Cadets....We were joined by a TV crew from Reuters who were here to guage the mood of locals and soldiers towards the President's plan to commit another 30,000 troops to the eight year old Afghan War.
The President says America is there to prevent the spread of a cancer in the region and he pledged a quick deployment and a quick withdrawal of troops in 2011.
Obama: “We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region”
Midway through the speech no one was paying much attention.
Lot of skepticism towards the policy, but certainly support for those who will venture into harm's way.
My read is we had best hope it works as intended, as the nation's desire for perpetual war is waning.

Eliminating Sales Tax for Some...Does it Benefit All ?

The debate is getting hotter over deals brokered by the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency to obviate property and sales tax for developers of projects like the Galloo Island wind farm and local hotel contruction.
The argument is that without the abatement these projects would not occur and jobs would not be created.
County Legislator Scott Gray is among those questioning the elimination of sales tax on building materials for local hotels. Gray says these are retail outlets that locate here because of market conditions and are not the same as a factory that could go elsewhere.
Of the 3.75% locally imposed sales tax, a portion goes to the City of Watertown and an even larger portion is set aside to be divided among the towns and villages.
Sales tax revenue is what allows towns like Watertown or Pamelia to not impose a local property tax.
Restricting that tax flow restricts money to local governments and may force cuts in service or higher property tax.
On the Galloo Island project there is likely a massive amount of sales tax possibly being sacrificed.
According to Gray, the winners in these deals include the IDA which is set to receive a $1.2million fee for pushing through the PILOT deal.
All of this is similar to the sales tax giveaway on the ACTUS housing project on Fort Drum. The county and one or two local taxing jurisdictions get some cash, but the region gets none as is anticipated by the sales tax distribution deal that was enacted in the 1960s and was revised just a few years ago.
The other side comes from an IDA board member who says Gray is firing shots across the bow, that may endanger everyone on the ship.
The County Legislature is due to consider a PILOT and sales tax deal soon.

Menorah Update

The replacement for the Public Square Menorah destroyed by vandals over the holiday weekend should be here soon and will be placed at the far east end of the Public Square island to discourage further tampering.
The Menorah that was destroyed was in the middle of the Square near the manger scene.
While there are no arrests, police are working on leads including a witness to the heinous act.
It is not known what motivated the vandals but it was more than just knocking the aluminum candelabrum off its base. Once broken off its concrete pad, the Menorah was torn apart and left in pieces.
Prior to the rebuilding of the Square the Menorah had been at the end of the island.

Tuesday Morning Tidbits

-A farewell party was held Monday morning at City Hall for planner Christine Hoffman who left after nearly six years of work on projects related to downtown and the Black River.
-City water superintendent Gary Pilon says replacing a fire hydrant would cost about $2,000 if it were struck by a vehicle.
-The Patriots loss to New Orleans means the Jets are only two games out of first place. You gotta be an optimist !
-The general consensus of using Washington Street for parades is that turnout is much higher than when they were held on State Street.
-The President travels to upstate NY to announce his plans for an expansion of the US war effort in Afghanistan. One has to believe the move will continue to tax the Army's most deployed division, the 10th at Fort Drum.
-We made it to December without dropping a plow on city streets or firing up the snowblower. Great job Mother Nature !

Monday, November 30, 2009

NY-23, Sequoia and the Private Corporate Takeover of Your Once-Public Democracy

It's hard to discern truth when it comes to the integrity of the systems used to register and tally votes. The Gouverneur Times has run a series of articles analyzing optical scan voting on machines marketed by a firm named Sequoia. There seems to be a schism between the GT and other local media who gush over how well the voting went.
Ironically, the GT stories are not part of an effort to claim Doug Hoffman won the NY23 race. Sources at the on-line paper say they know he lost and this linked article actually is quite critical of Hoffman.
These stories are worth a look, for nothing else than to reaffirm that technology alone cannot assure fair and accurate elections.
NY-23, Sequoia and the Private Corporate Takeover of Your Once-Public Democracy

NYDN: Paterson Pledges Unilateral Cuts in Aid to Localities

With school districts politically exempt from cuts, it will be municipalities that see the reductions in state aid rolling down very soon, either throught executive fiat or legislative action. That means for cities like Watertown there needs to be a very careful approach to spending.
So far this year the City of Watertown has been leaving selected positions open as they vacate. That money not spent will help make up for the lagging revenues from sales tax and state aid. So far this policy has avoided major disruptions to staff and programs.
Recent labor deals like the 0% fireman contract this year and three percent the following year have helped contain costs in the short term.
That's the kind of restraint, along with leaving positions open and delaying capital projects that can help keep us out of big trouble. Again, we also have an adequate cash reserve to get through short term bumps.
So much in the public sector seems to go on unabated in times like this. Those well marinated in the system seem to think the status quo can go on forever. Maybe it can.....I don't think so...the Governor doesn't think so....but the Legislature and public unions seem to think it can.
Guess we will find out who is right.
The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

Fiends Demolish Public Square Menorah

Vandals early Thursday demolished the Menorah affixed to the refurbished Public Square. The symbol of Judaism was located just yards from the Manger scene and other holiday decorations.
The Menorah was snapped off its concrete base and the arms of the 8-branch candelabrum were snapped off leaving sticks of aluminum tubing, wires and switches arrayed on a picnic table at a public works building in Thompson Park.
Officials say the $1600 Menorah could not be easily repaired and a new one will be in place for the start of Hanukkah on December 12.
The matter is under investigation and there is no immediate way of telling if the act was merely random vandalism against property or a hate crime.
In any event, the action is stupid, wasteful and offensive.
With many web cams on the square the perpetrators may be caught...Anyone with information on this heinous act of vandalism should call city police.

Paterson Takes $1.6 Billion In Emergency Action -

Governor Paterson is shuffling dollars to make sure the state pays its bills....but am I the only one who wonders whether this is really a "crisis." ? In the private sector this kind of revenue/spending formula would result in people and services being cut....but for the state is there anything that won't be business as usual a month from now ?
I went to the Mall yesterday and on the entrance road, and there was the usual gaggle of Troopers looking for seat belts.....Is there any agency at the State Office Building that is not ocurring today ?.....Legislators in Albany don't feel any urgency and routinely tell constituents that 55% of the budget is off limits to cuts.
I am not trying to be irreverent, but I really don't know if I should lose sleep over all this or not.
Paterson Takes $1.6 Billion In Emergency Action -

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Salahis may have met Obama before - Patrick Gavin

Seems last weeks State Dinner was not the first time Tareq Salahi met the President.....Check out this story...
Salahis may have met Obama before - Patrick Gavin

Crowds Line Washington Street for Christmas Parade

-Once again an excellent Christmas Parade as crowds lined Washington for the procession of floats, fire trucks, scout troops, and of course Santa.
Kudos to Stan Zaremba for organizing the event again and thank you for the mild weather that allowed young and old alike to usher in the Holiday Season.

-Thursday at 5PM is the tree lighting on Public Square.

-The media vigil continues at the home of Tiger Woods with everyone acting shocked the golfer doesn't want to sit down with the Florida Highway Patrol to discuss having an argument with his wife. He would be crazy to do that.

-I hear Jefferson County Legislators are narrowly in favor of the PILOT deal for a wind farm on Galloo Island. They are nervous though....especially District 9 lawmaker Barry Ormsby in whose district the farm is. Ormsby is pondering a run for Darrel Aubertine's Senate seat and Barry doesn't want to upset the media elite who are very much against wind.

-Looks like we will make it to December with no plowing, snow blowing, shoveling or slippin' 'n slidin'.

Scozzafava Spars with Armey on CBS

DeDe Scozzafava says she would have been able to agree with seven of ten criteria the GOP is considering to use when deciding whether to support candidates for Congress.
Meanwhile rival Dick Armey said Scozzafava was going to lose anyway and he says Scozzafava burned a bridge that can't be rebuilt when she dropped out of the NY23 race and endorsed Democrat Bill Owens.
Armey and Scozzafava appeared this morning on CBS' Face the Nation.
The topic was whether moderates can survive and prosper in the GOP in 2010, now that the party has lost all its New England seats and all but two in NY.
Scozzafava insisted she is a fiscal conservative citing an analysis she says was done by the Syracuse Post Standard. Armey says Scozzafava was a candidate out of touch with her district.