Saturday, February 5, 2011

Another faulty weather forecast....this is not the 3 to 5 they predicted !

Busy Saturday for Yours Truly Snapping Photos at a Couple Great Mid Winter Events.

Saturday was one of the winter days that seemed to reek of spring when you left the house...It was a warm 41 degrees and you could hear birds other than crows.
The Annual Chili Cook Off at the State Office Building attracted huge crowds of samplers. Given we have no groundhogs of note in Watertown, this event is our marker for winter's six week warning.
The Volunteer Transportation Center benefits from the event.
Meanwhile at Jefferson Community College it was Super Science Saturday as many exhibits were there for all and special 'for credit' activities for students.
Everybody looked like they were learning something as they gathered at the college...which by the way is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Then the beautiful Idyllic day ended abruptly as snow began falling heavily...So much for harbingers of Spring.

Adopt-a Platoon Comes to Fort Pearl

Fort Pearl Tavern is one of many local businesses and organizations participating this year in Col. (ret) Mike Plummer's Adopt-a-Platoon program.
The idea is a platoon-size unit is assigned to a business or workplace and items are collected for care packages to troops to let them know people are thinking about them while serving in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
The program is the brain child of Mr. Plummer who continues to find ways to help soldiers.
Items include non-perishable food, toiletries, magazines, DVD's, batteries and other appropriate items soldiers may get enjoy receiving from folks far away.
Those looking to contribute can stop by Fort Pearl or other participating organizations.

Cuomo the Latest Governor to Spar over Indian Cigarettes

Governor Cuomo says he will do what his precessors have not...Collect taxes on Indian cigarettes sold on reservations....It hasn't worked in the past and the latest fight in court may not end the threats to collect from various governors.
Rather than carrying on with this course, maybe the government should do something else...Like just treat the reservations like truly sovereign nations.
Don't provide the infrastructure for development or the social programs that are administered there....Don't allow alcohol on reservations like Turning Stone and set up border check points like any other country. By being treated as a truly sovereign and not a selectively sovereign state, the tribes would either focus on living their own culture or ask to be assimilated in the "Family of New York" the Governor's dad talked about.
Cuomo Vows To Collect Indian Cigarette Taxes Politics on the Hudson

WDT: Road to P-Town Rapped, as Is Guv's Map

You have to have the word "former" in front of your name to mouth this bit of truth-telling....An a former SLC planner has done that in a letter to the Governor.
An Interstate connecting Watertown to Plattsburgh makes no sense unless you accept the premise that money is water that flows like the St. Lawrence without end.
It's an expensive pipe dream with little economic justification, although elected officials and local governments routinely endorse the concept. (The City of Watertown passed on this one)
This issue dovetails into the Governor's plan for these upstate economic development regions. I agree with many that the map is bad and hooking us up with the Champlain Valley and Capital District puts us at the end of the railroad.
Our natural economic affinity is to Syracuse and Central New York... Interstate 81 has served to further that affiliation.
Jefferson County always will be important because Fort Drum is here, but when Lt. Governor Duffy if finalizing his new Economic Councils, he and the Governor should look at the map again.
Watertown Daily Times Former planner dismisses I-98 idea

WDT: Not Happy With Old Borders...Just Form a District

There is a water district number five in the Town of Hounsfield and the Village of Sackets Harbor is upgrading its water plant to supply water to this rural area near the airport....We have the same thing around the City with multiple separate taxing and bonding entities called water districts all with contracts, different rate structures and administrative overhead.
This is one of the hidden dilemmas upstate as the answer to urban sprawl has been to create new entitities to supply services to unincorporated areas.....It's a small part of the problem of having so many taxing jurisdictions.
Surely a simpler and more efficient system could be devised in which either the town or village runs the whole system.
And no I am not against Towns and I agree the hodge podge of districts the City contracts with is cumbersome as well.
Watertown Daily Times Hounsfield closing in on water agreement

Palin, GOP Reach for Reagan

As President Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday is noted and celebrated by his legions of conservative followers, those seeking to assume his mantle continue to heap praise on the avuncular and now very popular former actor, governor and president.
It is reminiscent of the way Democrats used to talk about FDR years ago.
Sarah Palin spoke last night in Santa Barbara, near the Reagan Library and while modestly saying there is no new Reagan, she likely believes in some parallels drawn between herself and Mr. Reagan.
Charismatic, western conservative, a governor and the target of endless mocking and scorn by the liberal elites. It you go back to the run-up to the 1980 election, Mr. Reagan was routinely dismissed by that generation of talking heads as an empty suit and loose cannon not suited to Washington. Ms. Palin has certainly been savaged by today's generation of elites.
I still think she doesn't run in 2012 as an older, more seasoned Palin may find the open seat race in 2016 a better shot....Although, there is the Obama model which says being audacious and getting on the train now can work...but I continue to think it will be difficult to defeat Mr. Obama, who is to liberals what Mr. Reagan was to conservatives. In 1984, Ronald Reagan was reelected with 49 states, losing only Minnesota and DC.
Palin, GOP reach for Reagan again - Jonathan Martin and James Hohmann - POLITICO.com

Friday, February 4, 2011

Toll Takers, Noise, Good Comebacks, and More on a Friday Night

-The top paid toll taker on the Massachusetts Turpike made over $122,000 last year. You have to figure the same thing is happening on the Thruway.
-There's a call for blood among those anxious to move the crows. Continued complaints is leading to calls for more lethality...
-The cringe line last night at the Chamber dinner was when one lawmaker lauding Terry Roche made a special point of noting that Mr. Roche is not a native. It was
like a birther thing...
-The Shapiro Award winner quoted a line...."I didn't come from here, but I got here as fast as I could."
-With all the talk of the O-burg prison on the block, I have heard more than one insider say the one on Dry Hill is a more likely closure prospect.
-The draft version of Councilman Butler's noise law is on the street with a public hearing slated for February 22.
-Sheriff Burns has stepped up and is now providing court transport to county inmates going to city and county courts. The law says inmates
post-arraignment are a county responsibility and pre-arraignment are the duty of the arresting jurisdiction. There is still a dispute over past practices and the cost.
-There is resentment among some in the County building that Treasurer Nancy Brown threw them under the bus, while Democrats are said to have
decided who to recommend to the Governor for appointment to the soon to be vacant post. Word is, it is not County Dem Chair Hennessey as some had
speculated.
-Potsdam native and NHL stalward Craig Conroy has announced his retirement in Calgary. Craig is a class guy and a fan favorite.
-I heard on the radio that speed dating is coming to Maggie's on the River courtesy of the local JAYCEES.
-I paid Glenn Curry $75 for my share of the streaming audio for the first quarter of 2011. The things I do for Mom and Larry from Prague.
Some toll takers raking in $100G - BostonHerald.com

Gabby's Hubby to Fly Shuttle

Astronaut Mark Kelly will be headed to outer space this spring in the last shuttle flight. Kelly is the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head last month.
This is an encouraging sign as the Congresswoman continues her rehabilitation near Houston.
NASA - Space Shuttle

Paterson Pays

Former Governor Paterson has paid his $62,000 fine to the state's Public Integrity Czar for the infraction of taking free World Series tickets to Yankee Stadium in order for the Governor to sense a game.
The Daily Politics New York Daily News

TV 7: Brown Resignation Not Political...So Say Dems...

Democrats say the resignation of Treasurer Nancy Brown was not political, but of course it was...Realize, I am one who does not believe politics is evil.
The statement in this TV 7 story that resigning now will allow a successor to get accustomed to the office before the election is clearly an effort to put someone in the post through gubernatorial appointment in hopes incumbency will give that person a head start on the election.
This is not a case of someone wanting an accounting job getting it through the electoral process. It should be someone who feels they have the skill set and political skills to operate the office of the Treasurer as an independent watchdog, much like the state Comptroller is autonomous. We all realize there are practicle interactions that must occur, but the lesson of late is the person we elect needs to understand fully the role of an elected official.
The current treasurer is a decent, conscientious person who never warmed to the role of being a political figure. That involves being outspoken and not being content to be part of the "team."
I have to think this would not have come down as it did if there was not someone being considered for the post.....It will be a Democrat who gets the appointment for the remainder of the year. It will be interesting to see if anyone wants this post enough to actually compete, or do they want to have it handed to them by Governor Cuomo.
Dems Say Brown Retirement Wasn't Politically Pre-Meditated WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY North Country Politics

WDT: County IDA Wants New Corporation for Tax-Free Bonds for Health Care Facilities

Jefferson County's IDA wants to create a new corporation its lawyers say will get around a current prohibition on those agencies issuing tax free bonds for civic facilities like hospitals and nursing homes. The statutory authorization for such financing expired in 2008.
In recent years around the state, new local development corporations have been formed frequently as a way to expand the authority and activities of IDA's outside existing laws governing those agencies.
It is billed by advocates as another arrow in the quiver for economic development, but it also involves more public debt as does anything that is tax-free.
Watertown Daily Times Bonding agency could aid county

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Burns: Mayor Stumbles on Snow Query

At the risk of pandering to the MSM, I must say at tonight's Chamber of Commerce dinner in Watertown, I was amazed at the number of people who saw me interviewed last night on Capital Tonight. I mean, really, a cable news talking head show and a lot of people saw it.
My colleague, Councilwoman Roxanne Burns pointed out that while I answered the questions well, I was flummoxed by Liz' final weather related questions...in which she suggested I bring my shovel down to her neck of the woods...
I mumbled some incoherent answer and ended the interview on a weak note.
I didn't think Liz could get me with a 'gotcha' question, but she did. That'll never happen again.
On other matters, the Chamber dinner was well attended and Shapiro Citizenship Award winner Terry Roche gave a moving acceptance speech. Mr. Roche talked of the value of volunteerism in a way seldom heard. Terry and his wife Maria deserve credit for all they have done.

News People Become the News...

Nobody wants to see Anderson Cooper get beat up....and its important to have veteran correspondents covering events like those unfolding in Egypt.
Efforts to stymie or intimidate the press speak volumes of those doing it.
However, these events with their live streaming video of people milling around 24/7 and celebrity anchors venturing forth from Five Star hotels to anchor the news back home....Well, that kind of juxtaposition of wealth and privilege against a society with rampant poverty and 40% unemployment...Well, guess what...Some people get testy.
This is not Ernie Pyle style journalism...Its show biz and the Egyptian upheaval is the backdrop for pretty people making millions of dollars to stand in the Cairo square and preach to us about the importance of their understanding of this momentous, and coincidentally live, event.
I don't believe much of what I see reported from there.
Gangs Hunt Journalists and Rights Workers - NYTimes.com

Terrible Towel Hoisted in NYC

I thought wearing the Steelers jersey for a day was bad enough. Today Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to hoist one of those Terrible Towels as part of a bet with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl...
It's tough making good on a bet, but when you are a JETS fan you get used to it !
State of Politics Blog

Report: WIGS Bottled Up

Governor Cuomo surprised many by not including WIGS (wine in grocery stores) in his proposed budget. It was thought to be a quick one-shot infusion of license revenues that lawmakers could claim was not a new tax.
Members of the "Wegman's Caucus" in the Legislature are apparently clamoring for its inclusion as a sop to the grocery stores and drug stores anxious to expand their sale of sin at the expense of small liquor store owners who now sell wine.
Maybe the Governor wants lawmakers to bring it up so he can make it look like they are coming up with funds to restore their favorite programs.
I really don't care one way or the other, but I think liquor store owners should be able to sell any product a drug or grocery store can if this passes...Why can't a liquor store with a 21 and older customer base sell cigarettes ?
Wine sales at grocers bottled up - Times Union

WDT: County Grants First Same-Sex Divorce

Divorces get little news coverage as they are awkward to write about in many cases..Especially so here when the two people are of the same sex and their split is the first of its kind locally...The pair were married out of state but got their divorce here, proving that the advent of marriage equality will be a boon for lawyers specializing in matrimonial law.
Watertown Daily Times County grants first same-sex divorce

TV 7: Brown Resignation a Big Deal, But I Am Not Sure What to Make of It

It's probably just a one or two day story...but the abrupt resignation of Jefferson County Treasurer Nancy Brown and her out-the-door blast at the county's fiscal practices raises questions.
I can't say I know Ms. Brown that well, but she has always been a rather quiet person politically, not given to hyperbole. I suspect she does have heartfelt heartburn over the situation.
However, she is an elected official...it is a constitutional office. She works for the people directly and really is not part of the county administrator's management team. Her statements that she didn't like to air the county's laundry in public are wrong. Now, maybe she did speak out over time,but I never heard about it and I tend to pay at least some attention to the affairs of the County Legislature.
The jobs of Treasurer and County Clerk were originally very important jobs, but years of growth in unelected management jobs, have left these posts diminished. However, these are the only two "electeds" working full time directly for the people. In the case of treasurer, there is some oversight of the fiscal affairs of a $150 million dollar operation. We were definately owed a heads up on her concerns before this.
I also was puzzled by the sudden departure from office before her term ended. When I suggested to a key Democrat her move was "Palinesque" I got the cold shoulder.
As a citizen, I don't know what to think of all this. I don't want to dismiss Ms. Brown's actions as "political theater" as I have never known her to be that way. On the other hand, I think when we elect another treasurer (the Governor will appoint one to finish her term), we need someone who feels the need and is able to communicate to the public and not think of themselves as someone else's "team".
Wednesday Night: The Brown Fallout WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mayor Graham: Pain? What Pain?

I was a guest on Capital Tonight to discuss whether or not the Governor's budget is really "pain" or a relief from the pain of previous spending sprees.
Among the non-issue highlights of the interview was Liz asking me to shovel her walk. She needs to know with someone my age, it's best to have EMT's on hand.
It's always a pleasure to be on the state's premier political gabfest.
Mayor Graham: Pain? What Pain?

TV 7: Russell Predicts School Cuts Will Stand

Is Addie Russell becoming a Chris Christie type ? Intead of pledging to fight for the restoration of aid to schools, she is saying the Cuomo numbers will stand.....Must be all those episodes of 'Sarah Palin's Alaska' that Addie has been watching.
Wednesday: Russell Predicts School Cuts Will Stand WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

Mayor Bloomberg Details Pension Tier Reforms; NYC Union Leaders Not Happy | New York Daily News

Ten year vesting and no chance to retire till age 65 ! Mayor Bloomberg's plan for the NYC pension plan is not a hit with the unions.
Mayor Bloomberg Details Pension Tier Reforms; NYC Union Leaders Not Happy New York Daily News

Cuomo Takes on School Superintendent Salaries

Once they started naming things after superintendents, we should have got the message....There are too many and there is too much spent on them. I hate saying that because I have know some and I respect them in many cases....We just don't need so many.....
Governor Cuomo joked yesterday that he the state's top pay for a superintendent is $380 K...Cuomo said he didn't get the job and settled for Governor at 170K.
It's really not personal...It's not about a Fargo or a Fralich...We just cannot affort a superintendent every five miles.
I was in Kingston recently chatting with the city attorney about the provincial mandated amalgamation 12 years ago between the City and two adjacent townships...Big deal at the time....now everyone has adjusted and seems happy, healthy and prosperous. Change can work, and that's why the Governor's initiatives need to be supported, realizing as we all do, that the devil is in the details.
It's tough to put a price on a human being....But it's done all the time.
Cuomo Takes on School Superintendent Salaries - Rochester, News, Weather, Sports, and Events - 13WHAM.com

Cuomo: ‘I Will Not Be Intimidated’ and Liz Calls Me on the Carpet

Folks in high places bristled at my suggestion that there is too much being made of the "pain" in Governor Cuomo's budget....Albany's High Priestess of Politics summoned me to her nightly gabfest to answer for my sins.
So I just recorded an interview with Liz in which I took the contrarian stance that the Governor is doing the right thing and that the MSM is mistaken in framing everything in terms of pain and suffering.....This is a budget of opportunity where we begin the trek away from being the nation's tax Mecca.
As I told Liz, too many companies have folded without the official media and politician sanctioned pining that happens when there is a hint of layoffs or concessions in the public sector.
It's not that I want to see people suffer...but a "functionally bankrupt" state cannot continue on the present course.
Liz asked me about the weather and suggested she needed someone to shovel her walk today...Come on...maybe one of those Albany Insiders could lend her a hand when they are not bloviating about pain.
At the end Liz gave me her signature "be well."
Cuomo: ‘I Will Not Be Intimidated’

WDT: School Lobby Launches Pain Offensive

All reporters who have spouses who are teachers should not be writing stories about the state budget impact on school districts....They are too marinated in the nomenclature of "pain" and "dread" and "hurting the children."
This brigade of 700 plus school superintendents so bamboozle the chattering class....If there are no reserves, who's fault is that ? This latest budget issue has been percolating since 2008 and districts have done business as usual based on phony stimulus money that cannot last.
I would like to see one...just one superintendent hold a press conference and say its time to change the status quo....reorganize...seek changes in state law that allow more efficiencies and fewer mandated curriculums on bullying, realize that six- figure people taking 2.5% raises instead of 4% is not "pain." Can one superintendent today proclaim that he or she welcomes the opportunity to do a better job even though the old ways may have to go ?
No it won't happen...Instead we get the predictable narrative of self preservation.
We are blessed with tremendous school facilities...modern...well equipped...They are staffed with generally well trained and dedicated teachers.
Can we say there is a lot of good happening, but that we just cannot afford the way its being done ?
No we cannot say that....We must use the kids as human shields and berate the lawmakers into restoring our school aid, without any rationalization about whether the current system is sustainable.
If that one superintendent wants to profess support for the spirit of the Governor's efforts, please call the HOTLINE today...315-755-1240 between 12:06 and 1:00 PM.
Watertown Daily Times School districts dreading Cuomo cuts

Pain is a Relative Term

One of the more interesting aspects of the Governor's proposed budget is the frequency that those reporting on it refer to all the "pain" it will inflict. Last night I was watching Capital Tonight and the narrative was along the lines of "we knew the numbers would be bad and they were."
Well to Liz and others, the numbers are neither good or bad...They are just numbers and should to the extent possible be reported as just that.....
The argument could be made that the state's budget process has been inflicting "pain" for years and that Mr. Cuomo's efforts are a much needed effort to make life in the Empire State less painful.
The Governor has not even made layoffs a certainty, saying labor concession (which won't occur) could mitigate job losses.
The budget proposed yesterday is still lacking many specifics, so the impacts are not known. What is known is the state is still spending a lot of money and that what may come out of this are some real changes, but for the most part things will remain the same...
Governing is an incremental process full of checks and balances. The Governor may have hyperbolized when he called his moves "radical". All this talk of "pain" only serves to characterize the process in such a way to make sure things stay largely as they are.
Watertown Daily Times Cuomo unveils lean budget

Newzjunky - Nancy Brown Will Not Seek Another Term as Treasurer

Its race on for elected countywide office as three term treasurer Nancy Brown announces she will not seek a fourth term..In fact she will resign the post early, leaving office the end of this month
..In a curious retirement announcement she chose to attack the current Jefferson County administration. She said she has long had misgivings about the handling of finances, but chose till now to work within the system. In particular she criticised the awarding of a contract for 911 service.
Au contraire Nancy....As an "elected" we count on folks like you to be the watchdog. Nonetheless, you have seemed to be conscientious over the years, so we will focus on who runs for the office.
In today's world of local governments there are few positions that the voters get to pick.....So let's see who steps up this year.
Newzjunky - Nancy Brown to Retire as Jefferson County Treasurer

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bloomberg: Cuomo Budget Unfair To NYC

Meanwhile NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg says his city is shortchanged in the budget...The mayor spent $109 million of his own money on a third term reelection bid....He shouldn't ever complain about a lack of money.
Bloomberg: Cuomo Budget Unfair To NYC

An Old Friend Heard From....and Some Needed Heat

Got a note from an old friend yesterday, so I gave Chuck Plumpton a call...In a throwback to his childhood, he is working at East Syracuse Chevrolet....His dad Kenyon ran the Chevy Dealership in Watertown decades ago.
Like many in the Syracuse media market, Chuck has seen the news jobs evaporate so he is taking a stab at sales....He is a great guy and if you are buying a Chevy in the 'cuse, look him up !
We had some great times working together at Public TV in the 70s, cohosting the Public Eye before Jeff Cole was born. I also helped him in the production of Rod 'n Reel which he hosted.
Lot of debauchery in those days of media...not like the more gentrified media of today. (We didn't drink Mojito's back then)

On another note, I got some great service today from a longtime Watertown business. My furnace wasn't working on this cold morning and I had a very chilly tavern...It was an old Lennox bought from Burkhard's. I called Derouin's and they were there promptly and got the part to fixit and we are warm again for the "Storm of the Century" tomorrow. It's nice not to be told..'that's back ordered.'

Reduction to Cities is Reasonable

The 2% cut in aid to cities amounts to about $96,000 for the City of Watertown, a manageable amount especially in these times. I have no problems with the Governor's budget as far as what I have seen....
There are more shoes to drop, but any city, town or village that has been managing their affairs properly in recent years, should not object to this reduction.
State of Politics Blog

With Us Or Against Us...Let the Fester Begin

Governor Andrew Cuomo skillfully deferred potential flashpoints in proposing his $132.9 million budget. The spending plan talks about laying off up to 9800 workers if no concessions are forthcoming and calls for only minor cuts in aid to cities....Prison cuts loom but specifics have been laid off an a task force to make the politically tough closure recommendations.
In NNY, the Tug Hill Commission was recommended for closure.
The same is true on the specifics of Medicaid, as a gubernatorial panel is studying the particulars. School aid is cut.
Specifics on local government mandate relief are also awaiting a task force report.
State agencies are being cut ten percent and commissioners are being told to get on board or resign.
No word on wine in grocery stores and there are a variety of other minor changes that are not taxes but may affect revenues.
The way it was presented left enough specifics out that the plan may garner the political support to clear the Legislative hurdles in the coming weeks.
Lots of chatter to come and I recommend tuning into Capital Tonight at 8pm on YNN....And I am not saying that just to be solicitous to Liz....Also read two or three different newspaper accounts as different localities will stress different aspects of the budget.
As they say...there is a lot of meat on this bone.
With Us Or Against Us
Budget cuts aid to cities by 2% and eliminates the Tug Hill Commission....Prison cuts to come from a task force...

Cuomo Budget is said to Cut Actual Dollars

Late this morning, Lt Governor Duffy will hold a conference call to brief mayors on the Governor's proposed budget, so I should know more later....But as details come out it looks like there will be an actual decrease in spending and a reduction of thousands of positions.
There is this so called property tax cap, but watch out for the details...like exempting legal settlements and capital costs (a new school) from the levy. Also school district voters can override the cap with a 60% vote and that's not hard to achieve in the context of a school board election.
As I have said before, all the details may not be apparent as some gubernatorial commissions are yet to report on their recommendations for mandate relief, medicaid reform and the like.
The overall cut to the general fund budget is likely to be under three percent....but that's in real dollars ....not a "cut" superimposed on a larger automatic increase.
Cuomo budget cuts spending for first time since mid-1990s - Albany - The Buffalo News

Making Money Off Snow in New York Area

Harsh weather is due our way in the next day or so as a major winter storm barrels through the Midwest....Whether it's the "storm of the century" trumpeted by the media, I will leave to posterity to judge.
Travel on Wednesday is supposed to be difficult and extreme caution is advised...Take extra time, go slow or just stay put.....
But if you can make a buck off the storm...have at it !
Making Money Off Snow in New York Area - NYTimes.com

Layoffs, Cuts in Aid, and Streamlining Expected in Cuomo Budget Out Today

With little leaked so far, it's hard to advance Governor Cuomo's budget message to be delivered today at 1pm in the Egg at Empire State Plaza in Albany.
Locally there has been chatter about prisons, particularly ones in Ogdensburg and Watertown. There are always the single purpose agencies like Tug Hill Commission that attract attention in tight times.
School aid will be a big deal that's easily found in the spending plan.
Much is still unknown with three separate gubernatorial commissions studying ways to cut and reform. Those bodies don't report till March.
There will be some shock and awe...or at least feigned shock and awe...All with an eye towards getting the Legislature to restore, restore, restore....
The presentation is on YNN.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Is Huntsman the President's Manchurian Candidate ?

Is Ambassador Jon Huntsman the fresh face, well qualified Republican the party will look to in 2012 ?
Could be. The former GOP governor from Utah represents the US in Beijing and has announced his departure from the post, while friends begin setting up the apparatus for a Presidential bid.
Ambassador Huntsman has the most foreign policy experience of any potential GOP candidate and has executive experience as a governor. He speaks Mandarin and was picked by Barack Obama to fill this most important embassy post.
With so man of the GOP retread canididates looking like yesterday's news, Jon Huntsman may find an opening. Time will tell.
Jon Huntsman resigns; may run - Mike Allen - POLITICO.com

TV 7:Scozzafava's New State Job Pays Better Than Old One

Former Assemblywoman Diedre Scozzafava will be taking a six figure income into her final years in the state system...but the $100,000 post in the Department of State is only slightly higher than what she was making in the Assembly. In 2009, Scozzafava made roughly $98K but that dropped in 2010 after the former Gouverneur mayor started endorsing Democrats following her unsuccessful 2009 bid for Congress.
She still would be better off being an MTA cop for her final years...or maybe one of those high overtime jobs handing out Xanax at a state psychiatric center.
But she did make lemonaid out of the lemons of her crash and burn campaign for Congress.
Scozzafava's New State Job Pays Better Than Old One WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY North Country Politics

Latest Dietary Guidelines Reinforce Suspected Link Between Eating Less and Weighing Less !

Washington has upped the ante on the nation's eating habits (which are bad) and advanced the premise that if you eat less, you will weigh less....The federal government also wants everyone eating less salt....
I haven't picked up a salt shaker in years, but I know there's plenty in the food already...And the eat less, weigh less thing...I get that too...easier said than done, but I have been trying lately.
I did make it through the holiday culinary minefield pretty well.
So if that fat person in the mirror doesn't make it clear enough, the Obama administration is trying to make the point clear to the more obtuse.
Good luck.
Latest Dietary Guidelines Reinforce Need to Restrict Salt - NYTimes.com

Caputo Crusades For Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo has built such expectations for his pledge to shake up New York's budget process, he now has strange bedfellows like Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo who is urging his Tea Party followers to support the new Governor.
Mr. Cuomo's budget director says people will "howl" at tomorrow's budget proposal...
Many are saying "can't wait."
The Governor has so built up his once in a century change agenda...calling it "radical"....the danger nowis that the usual namby pampy Draconian budget measures in which increases are called cuts...will not cut it with the mad as Hell crowd.
Today the Governor exposed the chicanery of the budget process where statutory increases in expenditures are not allowed to prevail and then any reduction of the increase is called a cut.
Governor, expectations are high for you. Don't disappoint.
Caputo Crusades For Cuomo

A Return to Higher Electric Rates so Corporate Welfare Can Resume

The little break I have been getting on my electric bill is being phased out due to the reopening of the ALCOA plant in Massena....Cheap power allocated to the plant had been credited to small business electric users over the past year or so...
That bit of economic democracy is ending according to a letter today from National Grid and NY Power Authority Chairman Richard Kessel.
Nice while it lasted but now the power must go back to the big corporations.
Have you ever heard the political class talk about the importance of small business to the American economy ?
For a few months I was actually believing that.
(By the way, small business owners already pay more for juice than homeowners including a sales tax twice that of residential

Brooklyn state Sen. Eric Adams' YouTube Video Gives Parents Advice on How to Spy on Their Kids

Why can't Patty do this ? State Senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn has produced a video explaining to parents how to search their kid's room, book bag and belongings to find contraband...."There are no First Amendment protections in your house," as the Senator explains how your daughter may be hiding a small caliber handgun in her jewelry box.
Keep an eye out for those crack pipes in the book bag, the Senator says.
There is no doubt a good parent keeps an eye on the youngin's, but do we need members of America's most dysfunctional legislative body explaining in a video how kids may be hiding drugs in their Cabagge Patch doll.
Senator, get a life.
Oh, and Patty, I am only kidding...I really don't want to see you doing this stuff.
Brooklyn state Sen. Eric Adams' YouTube video gives parents advice on how to spy on their kids

NYP: State Lawmakers Will Ponder Merit over Seniority for Teacher Firing

Mayor Bloomberg says if cuts in state aid force him to fire teachers, then he should choose who is let go based on merit and not seniority. The mayor wants the rules changed to give management that flexibility, something not now available. Meanwhile the Senate is teed up today to pass Governor Cuomo's property tax cap proposal, just a day before the budget message.
The Cuomo message tomorrow is worth following, but expect the unions to bitterly oppose much of what is proposed and the Governor is already walking back proposals on prison closures.
The Governor has been the one to use the word "radical" in describing what is needed...I have my own definition of what 'radical' means...Let's see if that coincides with Mr. Cuomo's definition.
State lawmakers looking to allow Bloomberg to fire bad teachers - NYPOST.com

The Journal: Teacher Brings Video Games To School

A teacher is competing in a national video game contest to try and win a$50,000 prize. Its's happening in Gouverneur.
Will the 50K be the property of the district as this was done as part of the curriculum designed to enhance student hand-eye coordination ?
The Journal Teacher Brings Video Games To School

Hospital worker Robert Henry Wins Academy Award for Gaming the Pension System

Remember the story about NY's OT king...Robert Henry....Turns out the $60,000 he is paid to hand out meds at Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center will net him a $96,000 a year pension because of the million dollars in OT racked up in the past decade.
Wow..and we wonder why the pension plan is teetering.
It won't happen, but the two changes that would help are to not be able to collect until you are actually no longer working for the state and not allowing multiple public jobs or OT to be used in the computation of a pension.
That million dollars in OT should have allowed Mr. Henry to set aside money to enhance his pension if he thought it necessary...Because he is tier four or better he contributed nothing to the enhancement, during the years he padded his wages.
Hospital worker Robert Henry racks up $1M in overtime, padding his taxpayer-funded pension

Sunday, January 30, 2011

More than 2,100 State Workers Collect a Salary and a Pension

The Governor made a fuss over his cutting his own $170,ooo salary...How about the $247,000 SUNY Albany President who also collects a $267,000 a year pension as a former official working for the teachers retirement system.
More than 2,100 state workers cash in on pensions and salary theithacajournal.com The Ithaca Journal

VIOLENT TALK AT THE TIMES:For Governors, Medicaid Looks Ripe for Slashing - NYTimes.com

Civility is gone again...The NY Times is talking about Slashing and how governors are "targeting" Medicaid for "bone-deep" cuts.....
This is all very unsettling and may lead the less stable among us to grab a knife and take after a doctor or hospital administrator....
For Governors, Medicaid Looks Ripe for Slashing - NYTimes.com

Palin retreat ? She is Doing What Others Won't and Tones if Down

Don't retreat, reload.....has become 'dont retreat, stand tall' in Sarah Palin speeches in an apparent move to reduce military and weapon imagery in Ms. Palin's remarks in the wake of the Tuscon shooting...
Palin retreat? She's reloading - Andy Barr - POLITICO.com

Schools Ready Be the Joan of Arc of the Budget Process

As the so called "shock and awe" budget is readied, I had an interesting chat with a long time teacher friend of mine...One who always thought my ideas were too radical, but now says she agrees we don't need a superintendent every five miles....we don't need different collective bargaining agreements in eleven districts in a county where the standard of living is uniform. Administration can be done regionally through a BOCES type model and teachers should be able to move to jobs in another district at will without changing employers...Even the idea of students being able to choose their school is in vogue with my liberal NYSUT friend...
While the superintendents, the unions and their pep rally MSM collegues will talk of "pain" and "draconian" measures, this so called crisis has great opportunity to engender real and meaningful change we can believe in.
Schools brace for budget by Cuomo - City & Region - The Buffalo News

Insider Says Tug Hill Commission Facing Budget Scrutiny

With the Governor's proposed budget coming Tuesday and Mr. Cuomo's promise to cut and consolidate agencies, a favorite parlor game at the Dulles State Office Building is guessing who will be on the block.
Year's ago it was an annual budget battle to save the now defunct St. Lawrence Eastern Ontario Commission, which was a favorite of then State Senator H. Douglas Barclay.
SLEOC was supposed to facilitate local governments in the areas east of the Lake...in particular Barclay's home turf around Pulaski.....Years of fighting eventually led to the demise of the agency.
Speculation centers now around the 39 year old Tug Hill Commission...a body charged with a similar mission in the Tug Hill area....Someone close to the process says the body has been mentioned and efforts to lobby for it have started.
There may be other agencies under scrutiny and answers will come on Tuesday.
Organization & Approach

Bristol Palin Appearance at Washington University Nixed Due to Liberal Outrage

The cancellation of an appearance by Bristol Palin on a panel discussion on abstinence certainly shows liberal intolerance...but it also exposes a nasty secret...She was due to be paid $20K for the appearance...That's hefty..whatever happened to just expenses for taking part in a college panel ?
The dumb argument that she can't speak on the subject because she was a teen mom is ludicrous..That act may have been an accident but it is what gives her more of a right to speak on the subject...So her being on the panel is fine...But that fee leads me to ask what others are getting for similar college appearances.
Obviously who her mom is led the Washington University elite to cancel her because to allow a Palin on campus violates the Left's orthodoxy of intolerance.
I have to say Bristol is making lemonaide out lemons and you have to admire her entrepreneurial spirit !
Bristol Palin appearance at Washington University in St. Louis canceled amid student outrage

Ex-Chancellor Joel Klein: It's Easier to Execute a Killer than Fire a Teacher - NYPOST.com

With the possibility of cuts in education staffing even a remote possibility, its good to remember it will be done on a last in, first out basis....
The most recent hires go first and that may take some of the more ambitious of a new generation of teachers and result in keeping those the former NYC Education Commissioner calls not even remotely capable....The NY Post reports today on a veteran social studies teachers who makes $100K a year sitting in the "rubber room" awaiting discipinary action for alleged sexual advances on students.
Recently departed NYC Education czar Joel Klein said this week it's easier to prosecute a death penalty case than it is to fire a teacher.
As long as there is a system that keeps people sitting in "rubber rooms" at a 100K, the cannot take seriously any talk of education being victimized by budget cuts....Sorry, I just can't.
Ex-Chancellor Joel Klein: It's easier to execute a killer than fire a teacher - NYPOST.com