Saturday, December 26, 2009

City Hall Wedding Beamed to Brazil

Another first for City Clerk Donna Dutton....A wedding ceremony beamed live via the Internet to family of the bride in Brazil.
With over 500 weddings done at City Hall each year, it's a challenge to make everyone feel special, but Mrs. Dutton and her staff do a a great job of making sure the special day is special.
The City maintains indoor and outdoor wedding venues to make the backdrop less institutional.
Watertown Daily Times | Wedding beamed to Brazil

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Posts

- Looks like a quiet holiday in Watertown, but excitement should be out in force on the day after Christmas as 300 Tenth Mountain Division troops return from overseas.
-Heard today from Jefferson County Independence Party Vice-Chair Tammy Bramhall, who says she is doing well after neck surgery. All you politicos.....send Tammy a card at her home at 5 Oxford St. Carthage, 13619.....The district 13 Legislator should send flowers !
-Thanks that Pope Benedict wasn't seriously hurt when that lady tackled him during Mass. Lot of nutty people out there.
-Twitter followers of Sarah Palin got the following messager this AM:
Merry Christmas morning from the Palins! Joy, peace, rest and increased faith for your & your family this season. Jesus is the reason for the season !
-It's a long way over the meadow and through the woods, but the Obama family is enjoying Chirstmas in the state of the President's birth, Hawaii. This could reignite the media lovefest as reporters get to do stand-ups in front of Diamond Head instead of the more austere countryside surrounding Crawford, TX.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chuck and Ben go hunting - Ben Smith -

Senator Chuck Schumer is now one of us.....After a recent pheasant hunting expedition in Nebraska with Senator Ben Nelson......

Nelson on Schumer’s first shot: “He didn’t get the safety off, so he couldn’t shoot…. You have to push the safety off to shoot. He figured that out.”
Schumer on the dogs: “They were just amazing … I always thought hunting dogs were just for companionship.”
Schumer bagged three birds, but he says he not so sure Nelson’s team didn’t help him out somehow.

And to think Senator Gillibrand was told not to keep guns under her bed anymore because the left wing of the party was threatening a primary.

Read more:
Chuck and Ben go hunting - Ben Smith -

Health Care Changes a Step Closer to Reality

The Senate has passed its version of the health insurance reform bill and now that measure must be reconciled with a much different House version before a signature can come from the President.
President Obama praised the move today and used the occasion to again rail against insurance companies.....He injected a bit of partisanship by noting that seven Presidents have worked on health care reform system Teddy Roosevelt first raised the issue in 1912. A count of the Presidents since indicates he is only counting the Democrats as being interested in health care reform.
Not surprising since the Senate measure passed with all 60 Democrats voting aye and all Republicans voting nay.
In any event, we will see what the legislation brings....Since I don't go tanning, I won't have to pay that tax.
After the vote, lawmakers fled the Capital and the President and his family flew to Hawaii for a holiday vacation.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pre-Christmas Stuff

-Dems name June O'Neill as Democrat of the Year for 2009....June masterminded the Bill Owens win for Congress including the DeDe gambit on the final weekend of the race. June is the ultimate operative and deserves the honor.
-Actor Viggo Mortensen spotted at the Salmon Run Mall.
-Stopped at Sam's Club today to get some food items for the bar and who do I see putting her cart in the rack but Assemblywoman Addie Russell....She said she was doing some last minute shopping......Ezra is tough to shop for......
-Scheduled a special meeting next week for the Watertown Local Development to consider a new employment agreement with the IDA for the Trust workers and a lease for the Franklin Building which is coming along nicely....finally....
-Took my 14 year old dachsund Zeppelin to City Hall today to offer some Christmas greetings...Everyone loved him.....
-Fort Pearl is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for those out and about.....
-Signed the PBA three year labor agreement today.
-In his farewell remarks at this week's last Council session of the year, Councilman Jason Burto hinted at a future run. He was appointed in August to fill out the term of Peter Clough.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Doheny Says Response is fine in NY23

Republican Congressional candidate Matt Doheny says heis getting a good response from GOP regulars during visits to the eleven counties in NY23. Doheny has been quietly building relationships since November's election of Democrat Bill Owens.
Doheny says Mr. Owens is vulnerable on the unpopular positions of the Obama Administration.

Tuesday Pre-Holiday Musings

-So who walks into Fort Pearl tonight....prominent local attorney and bon vivant Lee Hector. After ranting a bit about the failings of our court system, Lee gave a lengthy dissertation on his $350 cat litter box that is so automated you'd think it was made by NASA. Lee left for home turf in Chaumont where he is the most revered customer at the Blue Heron.
-Got to waste $5.56 on nothing today....Couple weeks ago I sent in my intent-to-renew my liquor license to the city clerk as required.....that's so an interested public can known where spirits are being sold....Well I mailed it because it said to on the form and I ask for a time-stamped copy....Then I got talking with Phil Bajjaly who told me to be careful....The bureaucrats gave him problems because he dropped it off in person...seems they want a postal return receipt...So I went cross town to the PO and stood in line to mail it certified even though I am in City Hall every day. I called the SLA and they said the same thing.....
Here's a hint to the Empire State....If that's what you want...say so on the form. Oh, and I re-upped to sell cigarettes for another year....hope it helps keep that school aid coming.
-Spent the better part of the last two days dealing with this payroll imbroglio in the economic development community...Got another meeting with the lawyer in the AM.....Glad to do the job, but just hate wasting time on a dispute that just shouldn't be. Course, I never enjoyed the benefits of billable hours.
-Met with local financier Jeff Weldon today and I intend to nominate him to the Library board. Jeff's the guy skipping those rocks on the water in his TV commercial. I guess doing that ensures your fiscal future.....Anyway, he's a dedicated fan of the Library from a great family. I appreciate his interest in the most important part of City government.

Icons Defamed...But Good People Come Forward

The theft of the entrance sign to Auschwitz is only the latest in a long and sorry saga of defaming icons important to Judaism. Fortunately the culprits were caught and the eerily ironic signage was recovered. There was real outrage over the act and authorities moved quickly.
Good people do come forward when such things happen as have the many who contributed to the replacement of the Menorah on public square destroyed last month. Councilwoman Burns and emplyees at the City Clerks office are among the latest to donate.
You can make a similar statement by sending a donation to the City Comptroller at 245 Washington Street. Mark holiday decorations on the check.
Stolen Auschwitz sign Arbeit macht frei turns up hundreds of miles away cut into three pieces | Mail Online

It's federal prison for Spargo -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY

One of the most sought after, go-to guys in the area of NYS election law used to be attorney Thomas Spargo....Later Supreme Court Judge Spargo.
Now Spargo is going to jail.
This was the guy who could get anyone thrown off the ballot and was a key player in the 1980 North Country Congressional election of Rep. David Martin. He was also an advisor to the Gubernatorial quests of Tom Golisano.
Now he is deemed a crook, after so many years of being the ultimate Albany insider and power player.
It's federal prison for Spargo -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY

WDT: St. Lawrence County Rejects Tax Hike

The Big County has said no to a larger tax burden during a recession. St. Lawrence County lawmakers have narrowly rejected a hike in sales tax and thus the county remains at 7%.
Neighboring Jefferson County is at 7.75% and many upstate counties are at 8%.
Raising this kind of tax certainly would flood county and local government coffers with cash and like in Jefferson County such a hike would provide a two to three year hiatus in property tax hikes....But in the absence of systemic changes, there would be no lasting impact other than to increase dependence on this most regressive of taxes.
"I think there may be a time when it's necessary, but not now," said Legislator Peter W. FitzRandolph, D-Canton. "You can bet that if we raise it, we will spend it. We will not only spend it, we will squander it."
Such candor is rare.
Watertown Daily Times | County rejects sales tax increase

Tax that Tan

One of the little things tucked away in the Senate version of the health care bill is a tax on tanning....That's right, the world's greatest deliberative body wants a federal tax on tanning sessions.
How is that a federal issue and how did Albany let that taxing idea slip by ?
The rationale is that tanning has been linked to skin cancer......OK, if its harmful then ban we do other things people want but are deemed bad for you.
What I always think of in these cases is how ridiculous the implementation will be. How much bureacrat time will be spent deigning the methodology for collecting this portion of the solution to the nation's health care. Will there be special agents to enforce the scheme ?
This kind of tax....while small in the larger scheme.....puts the federal government further into the kind of silly Bloomberg-style niche taxes. Since I don't use tanning salons, I guess I don't care about this tax...and isn't that the point ?...impose new taxes that individually only affect a small, voiceless constiuency.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pre-Christmas Council Meeting Takes Less than an Hour

City council tonight approved the special use permit for a car lot on State Street....No conditions other than it will expire in two years.
Council also learned of the latest sales tax numbers, which contniue to lag behind last year....Lawmakers approved a three year contract with police officers and OK's the hiring of Dr. Jon Emerton as city health officer.
Monthly $40 unlimited bus ride passes were approved as was a fee for snow dumping in the Black River.
Oh yes, lawmakers unanimously backed a new tattoo and body piercing salon in the Cheney Tire building on State Street. Will Tom Cheney get the first tattoo ?

Monday TidBits

-City Council tonight will tackle the infamous abandoned gas station on State Street....Lawmakers are being asked to OK a special use permit to allow a car lot there.
-Governor Paterson has blasted the Senate health care bill as being punishment for New York....They gotta love him in the White House.
-Insiders say the leading GOP challengers to Assemblywoman Russell are Ogdensburg Councilman Nick Vaugh and Jefferson County Legislator Phil Reed

When Its About Numbers, There is Little Room for Discretion

Among the dozen or so DWI's listed by Newzjunky and others was the arrest of a Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy by State Police. There was no accident involved and no apparent prior problems with the individual, so it is being scene by cops and the public as interesting the arrest happened and then the SP was in no hurry to publicize it...Note the post on Newzjunky:
Travis F. Alcombrack, 28, Sackets Harbor, was halted by state police at 11:24 p.m. Thursday on County Route 62 in Sackets Harbor for speeding 45 mph in a 30-mph zone and was also charged with driving while intoxicated. His blood alcohol content was 0.11 percent, troopers said. Mr. Alcombrack is a Jefferson County deputy sheriff. He is summoned to appear in Hounsfield Town Court.
Editor's note: A tipster informed late Friday of a possible DWI arrest involving a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy. For an unknown reason, the arrest has not been reported on the New York State Police web site for media which lists daily arrests and other activity. The arrest was confirmed Sunday afternoon by a state police sergeant.

In the police community more than one person is wondering whatever happened to the professional courtesy extended a fellow officer. One retired officer told me the pressure for numbers of this and all types of arrests is so high that discretion is out the window.
Now I know the debate over giving an officer a pass most people won't get...but the broader point is that the state is so interested in numbers to the point where ticket writing is like an assembly line. I was told the current quota (performance objective) for road patrol is a ticket every 90 minutes or six per shift. Given the increasing fines for even the most minor of charges, well you get the point.
Remember the old days when a case like this might involve calling the person's boss (in this case the Sheriff) and letting him read the riot act. Or there's making you leave the car and get another ride home....or just an escort home...
There's lots of ways to make a point with responsible people short of thrusting them into the criminal justice grist mill.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Last Council Meeting of 2009 is Monday..;

Monday is the last City Council meeting for Councilman Jason Burto who was appointed over the summer to fill out the unexpired term of Peter Clough.
The time of the vacancy precluded filing petitions to run this year so for Mr. Burto it was lame duch status from the beginning. Councilwoman-elect Teresa Macaluso fills the seat on January 1.
Councilman Burto showed a keen interest in the job...showed up for the meetings...and fulfilled the mission of representing the people of his adopted community.
Burto grew up in Carthage as part of a political family that includes his brother who is mayor of West Carthage and an uncle who is on the County Legislature.
At age 26, Jason Burto and his wife Ashleigh will have many more opportunities to get involved and serve. They are both very bright and civic minded.
Councilman Burto...thank you for stepping up and best wishes in your future political endeavors !

'No evidence' Rudy Giuliani will run vs. Kirsten Gillibrand for Senate seat

If it's true that Rudy Giuliani is not making any moves to suggest a US Senate run, then the election of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand seems much more certain.
Despite his prickly personality and troubles in his presidential run, Giuliani does have the conversancy on issues and stature to have mounted a challenge to the unelected Gillibrand, who was appointed to the post by Governor David Paterson.
The NY Daily News reports there is no evidence of a Giuliani run being planned and he would have to have started moving by now if he is to mount a statewide effort.
The only other marquis name being mentioned on the GOP side is former Governor George Pataki, who also has not lit the world on fire of late.
The Gillibrand Senate seat is likely the only statewide race the GOP has a shot at in 2010. Also, the Republican hopes of retaking the Senate next year rest on winning a couple of blue state races like Gillibrand's or that of California's Barbara Boxer. If Giuliani is indeed out....and the NYDN is speculative.....then Majority Leader Harry Reid's majority seems firm even if it is diminished.
'No evidence' Rudy Giuliani will run vs. Kirsten Gillibrand for Senate seat

How deputies work lots of overtime to legally boost pensions; some get more in retirement than their bosses | News from The Post-Standard -

Here's another Post Standard story on pensions....This time the practice of running up the score with overtime to increase final year earnings. In the cases cited here, the Onondaga County deputies were making more than the County Executive and others in key posts. 32 consecutive 16 hour days ? That's stamina.
How deputies work lots of overtime to legally boost pensions; some get more in retirement than their bosses | News from The Post-Standard -