Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tops now wants to buy all of Penn Traffic stores : Business : The Buffalo News

A glimmer of hope remains for those shoppers and employees who depend on the P&C stores in the North Country. The Tops Market chain based in western New York is reportedly bidding bankruptcy court for all of the upstate stores of the troubled chain. I know there are many who depend on the Seaway Plaza store as there are no markets on Watertown's northside. A previous partial purchase of the P&C stores by Price Chopper would not have included the Seaway Plaza store.
Tops now wants to buy all of Penn Traffic stores : Business : The Buffalo News

Senate Health Bill Gets Its 60th Vote

Democrats now have the votes to pass the Senate version of national health care reform. Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson is on board after holding out for some language on abortion and likely some projects and cash to take home to Cornhuskers.
The plan provides immediate relief to children with pre-existing conditions and will do the same for adults in 2014.
All Americans are required to have insurance and there will be new taxes on existing high cost plans. Insurers will be allowed to offer products nationwide outside the realm of state regulators and insurers will be required to see that at least 80% of premiums go to patient care. Lots of panels, oversight and bureacracy to go along with the higher taxes. There is something called "market exchanges" instead of a "public option."

Two questions remain.
Can the Senate version pass in the more liberal House ? Surely the White House will push for it. Senator Nelson says if there are material changes in the conference report, he will vote against it.
Did the last minute horse trading result in a better bill or just more pork for Louisiana and Nebraska ?

Senator Nelson praised Majority Leader Harry Reid calling his work "historic."

"The lives of millions of Americans will be improved," said Senator Nelson.

Time will tell.

State: Baldwinsville shouldn't have made deal to let superintendent work and get full pension | News from The Post-Standard -

Here's another one for you.
Now I am all for folks who work their lives for the government getting a pension....What they get is based on years of service and highest years earning.
There are so many arrangements being done to get around the rules...and what I think is the intent.
One of the more popular deals is this one in Baldwinsville, where a school superintendent retires...gets a pension...then goes back to work doing the same thing. In this case, the district even agreed to delay her compensation so it wouldn't impact the pension she was getting, because the rules say if you work enough to make over $30K, your pension is affected. Obviously she didn't need the second salary, but was creating a nice next egg while living off the pension she was getting.
Lot's of times you hear people talking about working on their second or third retirement and routinely people retire but remain in the same job as a retiree. Many times it is legal...sometimes it is not....but in the case of Baldwinsville, you can bet the school board and their attorney cooked this one up in "executive session" as they likely called it a personnel matter.
It's not....but there is no oversight of these public bodies its been since the 70s that I ever saw a reporter question the use of executive session....
If you have a career...and retire you should get a pension...If you are still working in the same state system that provides the pension, you should have to wait for the pension or truly retire and make room for someone new......
State: Baldwinsville shouldn't have made deal to let superintendent work and get full pension | News from The Post-Standard -

WDT: Working Families in NNY Clean as a Hound's Tooth

The Working Families Party is getting more scrutiny but we are assured the North Country elected officials who got the party's endorsement are not involved in the Manhattan-based probe.
The WFP is alleged to be mingling the efforts of its wholly owned data and field survey arm with the party in an effort to skirt campaign finance laws.....Of course that's what they do...the WFP line designation is just a shell...much like the other minor parties but more aggressive in its tactics.
When someone came to your door last fall several times...or called you....or you saw someone unfamiliar holding a sign on election day....it's likely the WFP.
The party line provided the margin of victory for Rep. Bill Owens and was a great help to Senator Darrel Aubertine.
There is no local presence of the "party"....that's why you never see Jude quoting anybody.....there isn't anybody.
Local activists in the Conservative and Independence parties don't raise money or throw money around. They are more like political hobbyists.
Not so elsewhere in the state where the state and local legislators are routinely hit up for cash.
It's nice we get assurances the North Country WFP efforts are not part of those "probes" of downstate WFP operations. It shouldn't be reassuring as there is no North Country WFP and their efforts here are the work of the same folks being probed elsewhere.
They will be out in force again this year defending their beachhead in red state America...aka the North Country.
Watertown Daily Times | Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hudson Lane Almost Ready for a Sign

Very soon City Council will take possession of the City's newest street, Hudson Lane....named after Mayor Henry Hudson, who later became a Justice of NYS Supreme Court. Once paperwork is complete and Hudson Lane becomes a dedicate street, the road will provide the entrance to the Summit Wood housing project on the top of the Washington Street hill.
Since half of the project is in the Town of Watertown, the street that enters that portion of the project has been named Howell Street....After whom I don't know....Maybe Mr. Howell from Gilligan's Island.
I would have thought former Supervisor Dickinson would have been a good person to honor. But I am sure Lovey is glad Mr. Howell got the nod.

North Country Unemployment Rises In November | WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY | Local News

As the national economy has struggled the past year, we in Watertown have been able to take solace in a jobless rate below the national average and an economic climate still somewhat robust......Well, the recession may be catching up to us. Unemployment in November jumped to 8.8% and a meeting of bankers I was at today, it was pointed out that there are signs of people and businesses increasingly having difficulty paying bills.
There is reason to believe that caution is the order of the day and some difficulty may lie ahead.
North Country Unemployment Rises In November | WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY | Local News

NNY Community Foundation Mourns the Loss of Longtime Executive Director Alex C. Velto

A sad note....NNY Community Foundation Director Alex Velto, 68, died today after a bout with cancer. Alex did a great job and fortunately for the foundation, Rande Richardson was brought in last year to begin a transition and Rande will keep the Foundation doing great work.
NNY Community Foundation Mourns the Loss of Longtime Executive Director Alex C. Velto

Banned snakehead fish Rocky dies a year after being targeted by state officials (video) | News from The Post-Standard -

The State of New York got its way. Rocky is dead.
The 28 inch long snakehead fish kept as a pet by a Syracuse area man has died of natural causes at age 11. The fish had been the subject of a year long effort by the state DEC to execute the fish which they consider a dangerous and invasive species.
The fish's owner fought them and public outcry forced th bureaucracy to relent and allow the man to keep his fish, which lived in an aquarium. The DEC required the aquarium be locked and that Rocky not be given the key.
Banned snakehead fish Rocky dies a year after being targeted by state officials (video) | News from The Post-Standard -

Budget Showdown...Paterson's Line in the Sand...Could it Put Him Back in the Race ?

The Governor tries to underscore his dire budget predictions by not spending what the state doesn't have.....So what happens...school districts and the teachers union sue. Actually Governor David Paterson is gaining a bit in popularity for his tough stance against a Legislature that refuses to make real cuts.
The next political question is does Paterson's stance make him popular enough among Democratic voters to scare off Andrew Cuomo ? It's hard to believe Cuomo cuts and runs that quickly. He is still the overwhelming favorite for the nomination and the governorship.
One problem that has prevented an overt candidacy by Cuomo is identity politics...a staple in the DEM party.
In 2002, Cuomo tried to challenge then comptroller Carl McCall for the gubernatorial nod. McCall was trynig to be the state's first black governor and in the DP challenging him was viewed through a racial prism. Cuomo was criticised for thwarting history and backed away from the race to run for attorney general.
Running against the man who actually became the state's first black governor is again a hard thing to do, as a raucus primary could estrange one of the party's largest and most loyal consituencies. That is why the push came to convince Paterson to step aside. He didn't and if he continues to rebound in the polls, Paterson's stature could make a Cuomo candidacy a risky affair.....He may think so too and that is why the AG remains coy in hopes Governor Paterson's resurrection fizzles.
The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chuck Likes to Talk...What's the News in That ?

Was Schumer Talking to the Stewardess ?
The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

New Yorkers Love Mediocrity !

A Quinnipiac poll shows 17 percent of New Yorkers approve of the job the state legislature is doing. Coincidentally another survey by the American Psychiatric Association reveals that the same percentage of New Yorkers are morons. (just kidding) ....What is fascinating is that the negative "Q" ratings will not dissuade New York voters from reelecting the incumbents 98% of the time. (not kidding)
The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

Ritchie Candidacy Seems as Certain as Flowers in the Spring

While a crowd of Matt Doheny supporters munched on Italian food and sipped their holiday cocktails, Patty Ritchie did neither, since a good candidate doesn't want to be seen with ziti being stuffed in their pie hole when a camera could be nearby. Certainly you don't want to have a cocktail either.....
A chat with the St. Lawrence County clerk revealed a more informed and politically sophisticated woman than the one who was devastated after her 2002 Assembly race at the hands of now Senator Darrel Aubertine. Aubertine aides claim she locked her self in a rest room to avoid reporters.
That race saw the popular and affable clerk thrust into a race where she was indeed a deer in the headlights....Her opponent was a bit deer-like as well so no harm done.
In the years since, Darrel Aubertine has certainly become more polished, but so has Ritchie.
Her coy suggestions of candidacy were peppered with assurances her portfolio goes beyond the license plate issue she has used to get her op/ed piece published in the NY Post.
Ritchie would still find the rigors of a race for the 48th daunting...but I see her as being willing to give as good as she gets in exchanges with her former and future foe.
While she needs the money and logistical help of state GOP leaders, they are also her biggest potential pitfall. This is a race against the dysfunction of Albany.....not a race against a popular and charismatic, down to earth State Senator.
The right race in a year when Albany is despised could pan out....Its still an uphill fight, but the new and improved candidate Ritchie seems ready to give it whirl.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Doheny in the Hunt for NY 23....Addresses Crowd in Watertown

With his crisply starched white shirt and Wall Street power tie, GOP Congressional hopeful Matt Doheny stood astride two dining room chairs at the Italian American Club on Breen Avenue and told a crowd of 100 supporters he will promote a "culture of growth" in the coming debate over who should win the 2010 race in NY 23.
The Alex Bay native acknowledged his mom and sent a shout out to the Purple Ghosts of Alex Bay Central. Doheny is the lawyer turned financier who has returned to the North Country to run. He sought the GOP nod last year and was runner up to Diedre Scozzafava.
The crowd included County Legislators....local business people....River residents.....former State Senators and a Clerk from a nearby county who looked like she had her own aspirations for 2010. Her nice navy blue suit was a clear contrast to the pink suit donned by DeDe Scozzafava last year. When I complimented Patty she quickly informed me she knows how to shop.
In a speech covered by no one other than this humble blogger, Doheny cited the stimulus package....cap and trade....health care reform....and the over taxation and regulation of America as issues he is interested in.
Doheny made no reference to Congressman Bill Owens who won last year's frantic special election in NY23. Instead Doheny talked of the need to bind up the wounds left by last year's GOP schism that left their nominee with less than 6% of the vote.
The large crowd....only a week before Christmas....sent a message that Doheny is a favorite of Jefferson County Republicans. Among those present was former Senator Wright Chief of Staff Graham Wise, who appears to be the central figure in the Doheny campaign.
Doheny pledged to begin fleshing out the issues come January...This race is already close-at-hand and Doheny needs to lock down key support to ward off a primary.
Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman has already said he is likely to run, so tonights early start for Doheny was a necessary move strategically.
Lots of people said they were anxiously awaiting my blog, so I had to run home and grab my laptop so I could sit here at Pete's and bang out this tome.

Northern New York Community Foundation Approves $250,000 in Year-End Grants

Good deeds continue to be the order of the day at the Northern New York Community Foundation....A quarter million dollars will help several projects as incoming director Rande Richardson helps keep up the tradition of this venerable institution. And Rande reads this blog !
Northern New York Community Foundation Approves $250,000 in Year-End Grants

The Death of a Salesman Who Votes for Obama

The working stiff small businessmen like Steve Duffany thought they had found a friend in Barack Obama last year....and many of them voted for him...
This morning the Duff wasn't so high on BHO as the conversation at Steve Weeds Arcade office turned to national health care policy.
Now the Duff sells health policies...many of them those Medicare Part B supplementals.......Suddenly Steve is tiring of the guy he voted for going on television day after day talking about the evil insurance industry and how they are ripping off the public.
Steve thinks he is selling products that supplement or replace Medicare for older Americans. He just figures he is filling a need in the market place.....
Little did he know his President thinks he is lower than dirt....and now half the Congress thinks that too....and a good chunk of the media.
I wonder if the Duff man would have voted the way he says he did had he known how little his candidate....now his President....thinks of him.

Poll: Thompson tops Gillibrand in Senate race - NYPOST.com

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand continues to struggle in the polls in this decidely blue state of New York. The Paterson-appointed US Senator runs next year for the final two years of Hillary Clinton's term. The latest polls show defeated NYC mayoral candidate and city comptroller Bill Thompson could take her out in a Democratic primary. Senator Gillibrand also is in trouble in a hypothetical general election race against Rudy Giuliani.
The national wobbly numbers for the Administration in DC and the residual festering over the Caroline Kennedy snub and Gilly's former blue dog views could make the NY race a possible GOP target. The other Senate seat is also up next year, but Senator Charles Schumer is considered a shoo-in.
My read is the Dem machine in NY and DC has cast their lot with Gillibrand and will pull out all the stops to keep the seat..there will be no primary.....If Giuliani wins, it will only be because of the national trend away from the Dem majorities in Congress.....but in this state....this race is the only statewide contest the Republicans have a chance in...so they will go all out as well.
Broadcasters...look for this to be your money maker for the 2010 cycle.
Poll: Thompson tops Gillibrand in Senate race - NYPOST.com

Boldly into the fray: Godspeed to 10th Mountain Division on Afghan mission

Great NY Daily News editorial praising our Tenth Mountain Division soldiers headed off to the surge in Afghanistan.
Boldly into the fray: Godspeed to 10th Mountain Division on Afghan mission

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sarah Palin Medallions

Just in time for Christmas....The Alaska Mint offers solid gold Palin medallions for only $1650.....Great hedge against the hyper inflation on the horizon !
Sarah Palin Medallions

News 10 Now Covers Menorah Ceremony

Nice job by our friends at News 10 Now on the Menorah ceremony Sunday on Public Square.
News 10 Now | 24 Hour Local News | TOP STORIES | New menorah lit in public square

Council Hilites

- City Council tonight gave the thumbs up to an offer from Watertown physician Dr. Jon Emerton to be the City's health officer.
When the contract is approved next Monday, Dr. Emerton will get a $1200 a year retainer, the minimum under state law. If needed, which is not often, he will be paid $250 an hour.
The health officer had been paid a flat $6,000 a year of late even though there were seldom occasions when his services were required. The arrangement with Dr. Emerton will save dollars and his willingness to take the designation is appreciated.
- Council also got a briefing on crow moving from the USDA. It was interesting.
-Council also again debated proposed changes in the city health plan and discussed what type of vehicle to buy to replace trucks that pick up green waste.

The Fat Cat on Your Street

President Obama went on 60 Minutes last night to against blast away at the "fat cats." who "just don't get it."
I need to start putting a face on the those fat cats whom Mr. Obama says are ripping us off.
Now I assume there are some of those fat cats lurking in Watertown....People we should shout insults at....give a glaring stare to on the street....or throw a snowball at their passing Lexus.
It's just I don't know who the local fat cats are.....I know there are the bank presidents like Beth and Brad....Does the President want me mad at them ?
How about those Wall Street rascals...you know 'em...Couch, Foster the whole gang of them who work in local brokerage houses.
Then there are the evil insurance people...Too many fat cats there to even mention....I'll start small by giving Duffany the evil eye while he is wandering around the Arcade.
How about Dave (three house) Mance....Is he one of those fat cat's.....Or those $400K a year execs at the hospital.
Is anybody who is more successful than I ....makes or has more money....do they need to be villified ?
Washington dogma is everybody is getting ripped off and the President would suggest that government and only government can step in to stop the injustice.
More czars, bigger deficits, higher taxes, more regulation.....Yeah....that will keep those fat cats in check.
Take that Dave Mance !

Governor Paterson Says We Are Broke

The withholding of state aid to cities is further evidence the State Legislature is unwilling to address the budget woes and for the City of Watertown that means a level of uncertainty as we head towards out own budget cycle.
If it were just a case of the money being delayed a couple months, that would not be a major issue.....but what is there to suggest the money will reappear in a deteriorating fiscal climate ? This is an opportunity for the state to make needed reforms in many aspects of local government....but don't hold your breath as lawmakers are unlikely to buck the unions and other interests who continue to prosper despite tough times.
On the federal level, the number of six figure employees is exploding and a check of on-line registries of state payroll, the same is happening here. Look for still higher taxes hidden in your medical bills, your phone bills, license fees....you name it.
Oh...and this is a banner day for attornies as the Governor's unilateral action will be litigated.
If there really was a party tied to fiscal reform, it might elect some Members of Assembly and Senators...but there is no such party, so next November all the incumbents will be elected again and then Governor Cuomo can peruse the wreckage he will preside over.
Gov. Paterson says state is out of money, cuts aid : Home: The Buffalo News

GOP Claims Patty Won Plate Fracas

St. Lawrence County Clerk Patty Ritchie says she has won the plate battle and that Governor Paterson has pulled the plug on the controversial plan to force New Yorkers to buy new license plates. Ritchie and Senate Republicans say the Governor backed down because of the tenacity of county clerks including Ritchie who had outlined her objections in a recent New York Post OP/ED.
While largely symbolic, the plate campaign did garner Ritchie publicity and showed a desire to take on entrenched interests.
Ritchie is widely thought to be a potential State Senate candidate and the effort by GOP leaders to help her push the plate agenda indicates she is likely the party's first choice.
The GOP has recently conducted polling on the race to see who is the best opponent for Senator Darrel Aubertine.
Verizon Webmail - Ritchie scores again!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tee It Up.....2010 Kicks Off Tuesday

Tuesday night at Watertown's Italian American Club, the 2010 race for Congress in NY23 gets it start.....Republican Matt Doheny will hold a fundraiser, but it really could be a measure of whether anyone is interested in seeing a challenge to Rep. Bill Owens just weeks after his special election win.
It will be interesting to see if the MSM covers the event since there was no press release put out announcing it. I told you about it when an invitation came in the mail.
If the media skips it and the crowd is sparse, that's a bad start for Doheny....Of course its being held days before Christmas when cocktail parties are hardly in short supply so I am not sure what the event will be a measure of.
I would say he needs a strong speech and a clear message. Not that anybody had either last year, but I am conventional enought to really believe content matters...

Welcome Canadian Shoppers !

Just sitting around at Fort Pearl watching Meet the Press and drinking coffee and a lady comes in asking for directions to the Salmon Run Mall.....She was from Ontario.
Its hard to end up on Pearl Street when looking for the Mall, but once in a while it happens so I gave her my well rehearsed instructions back to Arsenal Street.
I guess this adds to the anecdotal evidence that lots of Canadians are shopping in Jefferson County once again and that's the good side of a collapsing dollar.
With the retail sector struggling.....new car sales way down....and local lawmakers and bureaucrats anxious to exempt Big Wind from sales tax, we welcome Canadian shoppers in hopes they will help staunch the bleeding of revenue to local governments, and help our local stores which employ so many.
To all our Canadian friends...If you find yourself lost on Pearl Street...I am glad to help !

Commercials Air In Effort to Stop Big Wind

With the Jefferson County Legislature continually kicking the can down the road on the Wind Pilot for Galloo Island, a group opposed to wind towers is on the air with commmercials.
www.PreservetheGoldenCrescent.com has a commercial claiming the ruination of our bucolic St. Lawrence River lifestyle if Big Wind is allowed to continue with plans for large publicly subsidized wind farms on Galloo Island and on areas near Cape Vincent.
Because these projects have been proceeding so far on the backs of other taxpayers in the county, there is leverage to halt the County Legislature from approving massive giveaways of sales and property tax revenues. Among those on the griddle are District 9 Legislator Barry Ormsby in whose district the Galloo Island project lies. Ormsby also is being vetted by the GOP as a possible State Senate candidate.
If approved the PILOT has its beneficiaries, including a handful of local towns and school districts as well as $1.2million to the JCIDA to "administer" the PILOT over the next 20 years.
With their next election two years away and the fact that nobody ever runs in most districts, County Legislators likely need not worry about their political future....Nonetheless the wind issue pits many in politics against many of their friends who own summer homes on the Lake and River and who oppose wind turbines in their field of view.
A recent local election in Cape Vincent which elected an anti-wind resident as supervisor is the shot across the bow to nervous lawmakers.