Elise Stefanik Tours Fair in Gouverneur

Elise Stefanik Tours Fair in Gouverneur
The Big County is a Battleground This Year

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Is Bachmann Eclipsing Palin ?

With Sarah Palin nestled comfortably in her well paid job at FOX, its looking like Rep. Michele Bachmann is more and more stealing the mantra of female, Tea Party candidate for President.
Rep. Bachmann is making lots of campaign style appearances and is on the Sunday shows this weekend.
Like Gov. Palin, Bachmann is a spirited and unpredictable candidate and she makes liberals foam at the mouth just like Palin. (watch the comments posted by Danny and MCM)
Bachmann's Presidential prospects are beyond long shot, but with President Obama likely to be reelected, she would be an interesting foil to the incumbent.
NationalJournal.com - Tea Party 2012: Will Michele Bachmann Steal Sarah Palin's Thunder? - Saturday, March 5, 2011

Report: ‘Ice Diet’ May Turn Cold To Your Advantage

I heard this from Duffany the other day and thought it an old wives' tale, but if you want to lose wait, your best friend may be ice. Drinking ice water and taking ice baths lowers body temperature and the body burns fat quickly to get back to 98.6.
Seems logical, Maybe that's why our friend Brittnee spends so much time in cold water when it's clear her looks could end her up in hot water.
‘Ice Diet’ May Turn Cold To Your Advantage « CBS Chicago

WDT: Close Call at the Pines Should Spark Action Now

The Times raises an excellent point about the Whispering Pines Adult Home the county has been wanting to close for years...County lawmakers largely want out for budgetary reasons, but the problem with the Pines is it's old and not up to today's standards. Fire trap may be too strong a word, but its not the best from a codes viewpoint.
Perhaps the County should consider moving residents to Mercy which is still viable...Even though there are plans for a new nursing home, I suspect that will not fill the need and will quickly be filled by others. Portions of the Mercy complex are very usable, particuarly the now vacant Madonna Home. I continue to think a total abandonment of the facility is a bad idea.
This idea deserves consideration, even though it flies in the face of the deal already cut.
Watertown Daily Times Close call

WDT: IHC Ladies Win Hoop Title

Congrats to the Lady Cavs on their sectional win in basketball...IHC bested Cooperstown for the title at a game last night in Utica.
Watertown Daily Times Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York#2011110309883

Former Trust President Killed in Highway Accident

Some truly disheartening news this evening as a motor vehicle accident in the Town of Champion claims the live of Doug Schelleng who is a former President of the Watertown Local Development Corporation, and was active in many aspects of planning and economic development in Jefferson County.
Doug has been a Saratoga Springs resident and was travelling to Watertown for the ribbon cutting of the Franklin Building. Doug had led the charge for rehabilitating the building while LDC President. The agency financed the initial stabilization of the building.
Doug had coined the name 'Advantage Watertown' for the local advisory group in the City of Watertown and was a bright and cheery advisor on a variety of matters when with the LDC and other local organizations.
We mourn his passing and offer our sympathies to his family.
Newzjunky - One Dead in Crash on Route 12

Federal prosecutor charged with drunk-driving and wrong-way driving | syracuse.com

A not your usual DWI Tuesday night on I-81 in Pamelia as a federal prosecutor based in Syracuse was picked up going the wrong way with a open bottle of booze in the car. Gregory West blew a .17, according to Troopers who described Mr. West as "cooperative and a complete gentleman."
Makes you wonder how many times Mr. West has been drinking AND driving with impunity, but stayed on the proper side of the Interstate.
Mr. West, 59, prosecuted former Syracuse Mayor Lee Alexander.
Federal prosecutor charged with drunk-driving and wrong-way driving syracuse.com

Friday, March 4, 2011

$200 To Hang out With a Beauty Queen and Assemblyman ? That's What I Hear

I am really hurt my friends the Renzi's didn't invite me to their $200 a head fundraiser for Assemblyman Blankenbush.....I did have two county legislators ask me if I was going to the soire.
While I do donate to races every year, it's so much easier to do what most voters do and let the parties, lobbyists and various paving companies from around the state spontaneously send in money so that those being represented don't have to.
Footnote: a commentor says its $100 a person. If so, that's too low for an evening with an assemblyman AND a beauty queen.

Gadfly: June Out as Party Honcho

One of the area's premier political gadflies called me today claiming word in the Democratic Party is that our old friend June O'Neill is no longer a party poobah.
An email is said to have announced she is no longer head of the State Party's executive committee.
I haven't heard this elsewhere, so I invite June to call me with the story.

Cuomo's Prison Panel Given Absolute Decision Making...So Why Have Legislators ?

Governor Cuomo has made it clear his prison advisory board will decide which facilities close and North Country lawmakers are scurrying to say they are hopeful of "saving" NNY prisons. That means close someone else's. To suggest our tiny delegation has that much power seems naive. The only leverage we might have is that in the 32-30 Senate, one vote matters and the Governor may not be able to drive Senator Ritchie away from votes he may need her on.
Other than that, if the prison board is deciding and not the commissioner the theory is that board can be influenced by more pedestrian, political considerations.
The fact the Legislature seems willing to abdicate its duty by passing a budget that grants veto-proof closure authority to an un-elected ad hoc panel is a bad thing....But it does provide political cover for lawmakers with a targeted prison in their district.
Cuomo's Prison Language Change Obscures Legislators' Real Work WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY North Country Politics

Report: CT Town Has to Buy Coffee for Union Workers

Here is a Connecticut town that used to have a "dress down Friday" with free coffee for employees. The town ended the practice and the union representing workers went to the state labor board...The board ruled the town has to pay for the back coffee and then there's the money spent on lawyers and hearing officers.
This is what people are mad about folks....And 'dress down' Friday is a dumb idea anyway.....You are supposed to dress for work whatever day it is.
We have a similar state agency in NY called the Public Employee's Relations Board.
Connecticut Town Ordered to Pay for Union Workers’ Coffee - FoxNews.com

After a Decade of Challenge the Franklin Building is Open for Business

Ooodles of officials were there for the finale as the Franklin Building was dedicated in downtown Watertown. Rep. Owens...My favorite State Senator...and my liberal alter ego Assemblywoman...All there along with City and County leaders.
The joint project between the City and Neighbors of Watertown represented a pricy but very attractive $10million dollar improvement to the south side of Public Square.
There are 16 apartments and half a dozen commercial spaces in what is the former YWCA building.
The challenging ten year endeavor is another cog in the rahabilitation of Downtown. Next stop...Woolworth Building ?

Education Big Eig: System Needs Overhaul

The NYS Education Commissioner says the nation's schools are based on a hundred year old model and need restructuring....Glad he is in this high position to tell us the obvious.
The State Ed department presides over an incredibly bloated, top-down system of hundreds of school districts, thousands of administrators and countless union contracts for teachers who are all doing the same job but under purportedly different local entities.
The first step to redemption is admitting you have a problem, so in that sense the Commissioners comments are welcome.
Education needs major overhaul » Local News » Press-Republican

OJ: City Hall To House Ritchie's Office

The Ogdensburg City Council has decided to approve a lease with Senator Patty Ritchie's office to have the Senator's local office in City Hall..
The Maple City's most august deliberative body met in executive session to talk about the deal. That seems on the surface a bit of a stretch of the Open Meetings Law, as there is nothing very sensitive or proprietary about the matter, other than the politics of it all by plancing the GOP Senator's office smack dab in City Hall during an election cycle for the mayor.
The Journal City Hall To House Ritchie's Office

No More Palin on Maple City School Board

Sarah Palin look alike Angela Rufa will not seek a second term on the Ogdensburg School Board. Dr. Rufa stunned GOP officials last year when she attended a party event dressed as the former Alaska governor and was a dead ringer.
Whether Ms. Palin's anemic poll numbers were a factor in Dr. Rufa's decision is unknown.
The Journal Angela Rufa Not Seeking 2nd Term

WDT: Kumbaya as Management and Union Head to Denver

In an unusual action, the Sackets Harbor superintendent, school board vice president and teachers union head all went to a conference in Denver a couple of weeks ago to attend a conference on management-labor negotiations in school districts.
Sackets is seeking ways to realign its operations to prevent layoffs.
Watertown Daily Times District attacks budget shortfall

Congressman Has Spate of Appearances Planned for Today

Rep. Bill Owens is making no less than five appearances in the Watertown-Fort Drum area today. That's efficient use of time in a sprawling district, and a sign he is aware next year's election will again be a challenge with the certainties of a redrawn district and the likely candidacy of the man who came within one percentage point of beating him last year.
Look for a 2012 rematch between Mr. Owens and the GOP's Matt Doheny, who is clearly planning for another race. The district is expected to remain largely intact even though NY is losing two seats due to the census numbers.
Surviving the Republican sweep of 2010 was an accomplishment for Mr. Owens, but his name continues to come up on lists of the seats most vulnerable. A lot will depend on the overall popularity of President Barack Obama who unlike 2010, will be on the ballot in 2012. The other wild card is Doug Hoffman.
Congressman To Visit Watertown Friday WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY North Country Politics

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Franklin Buildling is Dedicated

It took a while and there were disputes and funding problems but the Franklin Building in Downtown Watertown is done.
The combination of residential and commercial space is dedicate Friday at Noon at the building on the south side of Public Square. The Franklin is the former YWCA building and orginally was an arcade connecting Public Square and Franklin Street.
The project was part of an effort by the Watertown Local Development Corporation and Neighbors of Watertown.

WDT: Don't Punish Our Blessed Superintendents

The WDT has come down on the side of superintendents...no salary caps they say...an intrusion on the marketplace.
This editorial is consistent with the tenor of coverage of education issues so its no surprise.
Some say the cap will prevent the filling of the 700plus superintendent jobs statewide....Hello, that's the idea...We don't need that many.
Superintendents are not the only issue in the school spending mess, but they are the easiest to quickly quantify and identify. That's why they are on the griddle.
Watertown Daily Times No salary caps

Williams would leave if salary cap is imposed - Schools - The Buffalo News

Good...That's the idea
Williams would leave if salary cap is imposed - Schools - The Buffalo News

Wench Bringing Her Wicked Ways to Lewis County

Wicked Wench owner Tammy Bramhall says she is branching out...and will open the Wicked Ways Tavern in Croghan. She has acquired the former Stumps Tavern in the sleepy Lewis County village. She expects to be open by May 1st.
Tammy's Wicked Wench Tavern in West Carthage is a rousing success and she should be just as successful in her native Croghan.
Tammy has proven herself a successful business person and will operate the Wicked Ways with her daughter Emily.
Tammy began her career in hospitality at the Speakeasy in Watertown.

Cuomo Wants To Extend Unemployment Benefits

Notice how we call them unemployment benefits now...Its not unemployment insurance...That's because it no longer is insurance...Used to be the premiums paid by employers funded the benefits, but with endless extensions paid for by Washington, it is not really an insurance program anymore....
Nobody wants to hear it, but it really is just another public assistance program.
Employers pay a percentage against the first $7000 of annual earnings on any employee. The rate is based on a claims record, so those with little or no turnover and layoffs pay less.
These extensions have come into vogue, but they have really just turned it into another assistance program since there is no tolerance for going back to 13 or 26 weeks..
Cuomo Wants To Extend Unemployment Benefits
No Newzjunky in Libyan capital ! Khaddafy blocks Internet to Tripoli....Thats harsh punishment !

NYCOM Exec Still Hopeful On ‘Real’ Mandate Relief

The head of the mayoral section of Albany's mid-winter tin cup brigade says he is hopeful some change will come out of Governor Cuomo's mandate relief panel, even though most everyone has panned the report as much ado about nothing.
NYCOM Executive Director Peter Baynes is a bright guy who has worked hard on presenting proposals for change in the climate for municipal executives who are battling unfunded mandates and union rules skewed very much in labor's favor.
Mr. Baynes tells Liz he is hoping the report is a first step....Yeah...a first step to doing nothing...
NYCOM Exec Still Hopeful On ‘Real’ Mandate Relief

NY First Lady*: 25 Things You Don't Know About Me

Her favorite color is white...and she likes to vacation in Saranac Lake...her favorite flower is the daffodil...and favorite movie is 'Born Free.'
Those are among the revelations in an US Magazine list of likes and dislikes of Sandra Lee, the lady who lives with Governor Andrew Cuomo. Some wags refer to her as"almost First Lady".
The Food Network star is effectively First Lady, so let's call her that. Although if the MSM wants to put an asterisk next to the title a la Roger Maris, that's OK with me.
And she takes her own stuff to the dry cleaners....That's good to know.
Oh, and to say its 25 things we didn't know...I think everyone knew Ms. Lee's favorite color.
25 Things You Don't Know About Me: Sandra Lee - Movies, TV & Music - UsMagazine.com

Redistricting On Minds of Lawmakers Looking Ahead to 2012

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush says he is supporting a different version of redistricting reform that achieves the goals of Mayor Ed Koch but also addresses issues the Governor's proposed law does not...In particular, Mr. Blankenbush wants to see that prison inmates are counted where they live, not where they committed their crime.
Democrats, led by then Senator and now AG Eric Schneiderman have changed the rules so those inmates would be tallied in their home residence..a move that increases representation primarily for NYC.
This is a perversion of census data. Fact is on April 1 of the decennial year "X" number of people were living in these facilities, two of which are in Blankenbush' district. While arguing over drawing legislative boundaries is very much 'inside baseball', Mr. Blankenbush is correct on this matter.
Legislative districts purport to represent people....Not certain types of people, and they are represented based on geographic distribution.
That's why we end up with a couple of county legislative districts where virtually no one votes, but people live. Politicians are always trying to decide who to count for political reasons. Some don't want to count students, soldiers, inmates and many years ago it was prevailing wisdom that some people only count as three-fifths of a person.
Just count people where they live on April 1 of the decennial year. That's the standard.
As for redistricting reform, don't look for anything to happen as everyone is trying to game the system through a variety of means ranging from who to count to using court allowed deviations to shade the results.



Watertown Daily Times Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York

HOTLINE: Did I Mess Up Brittnee's Summer ?

Polar bear dipper and Internet sensation Brittnee may have a tougher social life this summer after revealing her age on the HOTLINE (rebroadcast on Newzjunky). At age 20, she legally cannot be served, but no doubt has frequented the club scene as her striking appearance transcends age.
Now that everyone knows her birthday isn't until September 4, it will be tougher to look the other way.
Now I play it according to the rules since I don't want the hassle and besides I am open to far more scrutiny than similar businesses. Frankly most places are diligent about proofing...But it's no secret in society that pretty girls are wanted in the club scene and surely some either get cut some slack or have convincing ID.
Let's face it, if a Brittnee-like person was on the arm of a 30 year old captain or doctor or other clearly older person, no one would question her....Its life.
So the notoriety of our self proclaimed Crown Royal girl could impede her social life a bit...but likely not much.
I probably shouldn't have broken the cardinal rule when talking to a woman....and that's asking her age...I was being more the newsman than the gentleman.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

EX-MADAM TO CNN: "I'M AVAILABLE."

After Eliot Spitzer chased off co-host Kathleen Parker, I agree with Kristin Davis who this week offered to fill Ms. Parker's slot and really give the former Governor a challenge.
Mr. Spitzer is a career know-it-all on finance from his days as the self-appointed Sheriff of Wall Street. Ms Davis is a former hedge fund manager with a strong knowledge of the financial industry. Eliot Spitzer knows a lot about hookers and so does Ms. Davis, who is the former Manhattan Madame.
If CNN wants some ratings, these two could provide the fireworks...Nobody wants to just watch the defrocked governor bloviate and pontificate unchallenged.
Kristin has moved on from her days as the madame but is still a very sharp and agile foe for Mr. Spitzer...Let's hope he takes her up on the offer.
EX-MADAM TO CNN: "I'M AVAILABLE."

Addie: Extend the Millionaire's Tax

Assemblywoman Addie Russell is fleeing her party's governor as she is calling for an extension of the so-called "Millionaire's Tax". Ms Russell says a three month extension of the 2009 "temporary" would raise an extra billion dollars to be used for education and health care.
Governor Cuomo wants the tax to expire as he argues the state's high taxes are scaring people away from New York...Just like mandate relief, the Governor is finding it hard to herd the cats in his own party.
Feedback: Should The 'Millionaire Tax' Be Extended? WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

A Mayor of Two Cities (Well a City and a Village)

I was surprised to see an old hand at NNY politics at the NYCOM meeting, but I knew Clyde Rabideau was no longer the mayor of the City of Plattsburgh. He was for ten years and even took a stab at lieutenant governor. Mr. Rabideau owns a construction firm and some convenience stores and has now reinvented himself politically as mayor...This time Mayor of the Village of Saranac Lake.....
I suspect there are few people who have been mayor of two places...Congratulations Clyde.
Mayor Rabideau - Village of Saranac Lake, New York

ALL CAPS? Not OK on road signs..Feds Demand Cities Replace Signs by 2015

Talk about unfunded mandates....and we are already complying....Washington wants street signs repainted to replace all caps with just the first letter in caps.
Its suppose to make the signs more readable at night...Not an advisory saying 'research shows....' , that's one thing...This is a do it or else edict.
In Watertown, some of the new signs are already in place with a deadline of 2015 looming...
What do they do if you just say 'enough's enough !'......Probably Mr. Obama will send you to GITMO, as to him challenging the pinheads in DC is an act of terrorism.
Crazy stuff...
ALL CAPS? Not OK on road signs, federal government says - USATODAY.com

Brittnee Speaks Out

The sleepy village of Alexandria Bay has given us some material of late...what with BikerGate and now Watertown's famous for being famous girl, Brittnee the Polar Dipper.
While discussing tattoos with Glenn Curry, who calls but Brittnee to discuss her newfound Internet stardom. Brittnee is the 20 year old General Brown grad who says she was not popular in high school but has blossomed since.....She is a partier and a self-described Crown Royal girl....
It was an eye opening discussion about life as the closest thing Jefferson County has to Marilyn Monroe seems content with being the center of attention.

Survey:Tattoo popularity booming since the 1970s

Oh, enough about unfunded mandates, taxes and deficits....A survey shows one in four Americans age 18 to 50 now have at least one tattoo...That compares to less than ten percent in 1936......I guess they don't do such surveys very often.
The photos from Alex Bay of Polar Dipper Extraordinaire Brittnee reveals numerous tattoos. As the summer approaches, it seems just about every young lady has a "butt cap"...also called a "tramp stamp". Thats the body art at the base of the back...hence the term butt cap which is the official term...Dr. Strange told me so.
I swim against the tide on this one...I understand the artistry and really good work is interesting, but mostly its a call for attention and detracts from the human body. I can imagine how galling many parents find it to have their 17 year old daughter come home with a butt cap...especially when they hear it referred to as a tramp stamp...
Of course with so many getting tattoos, body art may not rightly be associated with loose morals, as it once was....On the other hand, it could be there are looser morals as well.
In any event, tattoos are in and show no sign of fading soon..Although as you get older they may droop a little.
Tattoo popularity booming since the 1970s - The Pace Press - Features

WDT: Mandate Relief a Hollow Phrase

The words "unfunded mandates" have been a part of sound bites by politicians for as long as I can remember....Yet this week's gubernatorial mandate relief panel enthused no one. The reason is most of the relief being asked for relates to the state's historical pro-public union laws and procedures.
Under the 1982 Triborough Amendment, pay increases via step increases continue even after a contract expires...That's a virtually unheard of disincentive to serious negotiation. The Wick's law requires expensive separate contracts for various aspects of construction projects in order to benefit contractors and trade unions. The cost of public building projects goes up as a result. The Taylor law ands its enforcement arm called PERB, is consistantly pro union in its slant.
The pension plan invites gaming the system and lawmakers eliminated employee contributions at ten years service, meaning even more of the cost of the plan falls on municipalities and tax bases.
The repeal of 'last in, first out' hiring of teachers seems dead in the water and on a broad front, official Albany is backing off proposals to change much of anything.
Now I don't blame the unions for protecting their turf...That's their role. They succeed because they know how hesitant lawmakers are to impose staff cuts as the first rule of politics is to be popular. Also there is this strange belief that more government jobs are a cure for recession when in fact excess government spending may be a contributor.
There is skepticism over mandate relief for good reason...Its been talked about for years and nothing is done...The reason its not done is the duly elected representitives of the people want the mandates to continue despite their sound bites to the contrary.
Being against mandates is a great thing to say when speaking to a chamber dinner or a Rotary breakfast.....More often than not, there are people in the audience who have a stake in one or more of the mandates.
Even the most ardent free enterprise type (aka Dave Mance) knows the smartest move an entrpreneur can make is to marry a teacher.
Watertown Daily Times Task force: ban unfunded mandates

Tax Set to End Gets New Life - WSJ.com

If only we had more millionaires, we could tax them....The so called 'millionaires tax' slated for expiration this year is getting new life as Democrats seek to extend it so they can keep more pet programs. Governor Cuomo views it as a disincentive to live in New York and he is right...But for the WFP crowd, taxing millionaires to help working families is the perfect rhetoric.
Of course a lot of those WFP types are millionaires too.
Tax Set to End Gets New Life - WSJ.com

WDT:County Chooses American Eagle for Air Service

Years ago the federal government got into the business of subsidizing air service to non viable airports through the Essential Air Service program. That continues today and Jefferson County is looking to get another carrier into Watertown with the help of Uncle Sam.
This time its American Eagle, with connections to Chicago....Ever since Mohawk left, its been hard to keep track of just what flights there are in an out of the airport. The county has done an able job of manageing the airport since they took it over, but I have always wondered when Washington will abandon subsidized air service given the size of the federal deficit.
Remember Cape Air...or Big Sky....All were rolled out with much fanfare, and now we may have another.
Watertown Daily Times County picks American Eagle

Politics on a Tuesday Night

In politics on a Tuesday evening...Lewis County Sheriff Mike Tabolt is retiring the end of the year after 37 years in law enforcement...Nice guy..Best wishes to him.
The WDT dusted off their biannual editorial against extending the extra .75% sales tax, but county lawmakers are unimpressed with the argument and have requested an extension.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy says the Governor's mandate relief report is 74 pages of nothing....The document was released with little fanfare as it fails to address any of the concerns raised in the area of labor negotiations. The shadow of Wisconsin is casting a long shadow over Albany.
Senate Republicans passed a watered down teacher "last in first out" repeal...So fearful of NYSUT, they made their version of the bill only apply to NYC...Mayor Bloomberg will have to lean on Speaker Silver to even allow a vote in the lower house, but the Speaker already say he opposes use of merit over seniority in teacher layoffs.
Ed Koch is being diplomatic and giving Senate Republicans some time to honor their redistricting pledge before he starts labeling them enemies of reform.
And in watching Capital Tonight, we note a new hair style for Liz.
Lewis County Sheriff Plans To Retire WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

Skittish About Bikers, the Bay Embraces Brittnee

Come on Mayor....you let Brittnee jump into the icy St. Lawrence clad in near nakedness....risking a riot as well as the gasps of the blue bloods...And yet you were concerned over motorcyclists.....
I know the issue has been settled and the bikers and the Pirates will be able to drink on select streets.....
But really......edgy and fun events are what the Bay should be all about...It used to be when the Swinger was rocking and the Crazy Horse was all the rage...I remember the bed races, but somebody nixed those....The wild nightlife before everyone wanted to Claytonize the Bay. (not meant as an insult to Clayton...it has its own charms)
We would be dipping Brittnee in the Black River, but its not part of our LWRP.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tea Partiers Rally in Watertown

A Jefferson County chapter of the Tea Party movement has been formed...At an organizational meeting tonight at the Italian American Club, about 60 to 70 people elected Chuck Ruggiero as interim chair and pledge to make the movement a force in NNY politics.
Mr. Ruggiero ran for sheriff last year and while that didn't pan out, has remained active in marshalling the nation's newest political activists to rally for constitutional and accountable government.
It's always good to see folks take a stand and besides me, an operative for Senator Ritchie was there, surely with an eye towards courting the movement for 2012.

Mandate Relief Report Released, Accepted (Updated)

It doesn't look like a lot of meat is on the bone of the Governor's mandate relief plan...The panel findings out today don't tackle the collective bargaining issues considered off limits in the wake of Wisconsin. Those communities not wanting to raise taxes will have to make real cuts or restructure...which may be the goal of the Governor all along.
Mandate Relief Report Released, Accepted (Updated)

Hoot Resumes Political Blog

The WDT has finally rebounded from the loss of Jude Seymour to resume its political blog. Congrats to scribe Brian Amarel on his debut of The Public Interest.
Watertown Daily Times Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York

Silver Says Teacher Seniority Must Prevail Over Merit

Case closed....No more need to talk about scrapping seniority as the means of laying off teachers....Speaker Silver says the change to the last in, first out law is not needed....
If it can't pass the Assembly, there is no point musing about it anymore.
Do what needs to be done...keep the rubber rooms open....and forget about merit as the coin of the realm.
Albany has backed off all reforms, so the only avenue left is to just cut...not realign.
Except one thing I heard loud and clear at NYCOM is nobody wants to do that....because in elected office you like to be liked....
Thank you Mr. Speaker for putting a quick end to this talk of changing the way we do business.
Silver says changes to teacher seniority law aren't needed - Albany - The Buffalo News

I Prefer Paper Thank You

Those of you in business know the State of NY has been trying to herd everyone to filing tax forms and the like on line.
I have resisted and would download the old paper forms for sales tax each quarter...They had stopped sending them automatically in a bid to pitch their on-line service....
After veiled threats in the State of the State Address about compliance, I registered with the site...Had a pass word and was ready to fill out my quarterly sales tax form on line...
So I sat down and logged in and was told I had to call a techinical help line...I called but it was after 4:30 and they had gone home....
So then I went to the Tax and Finance website and downloaded the old ST-100 paper form and filled it out...I will mail it on Monday the 21st....
It will be at least a year before I will attempt anything on-line with the state again...
I should have known there would be trouble last month when my friend John Rice got an email response to his complaint to Governor Cuomo.....The response was signed by Governor David Paterson.

Superintendents Say Cuomo Sandbagged Them...Well, Yes He Did

Great timing Governor....On the day school superintendents are in Albany for their section of the Tin Cup Brigade, along comes the Governor's proposed salary cap law for superintendents.
The supers say they feel sandbagged, even though the Governor has been making them a poster child for waste for some time.
The issue is far more complicated than just a cap....What has to happen is fundamental realignment of how schools are administered....We don't need a superintendent every five miles and separate sets of everything replicated a dozen times in even the smaller counties.
Superintendents are always able to get face time in the MSM, so you'll see a lot of pushback from them this week.
State of Politics Blog

GOP Senators Getting Razzing from Hizzoner Over Redistricting Renege

No matter what ails state government, nothing can dominate the interest of lawmakers more than the decennial fight over redistricting....Senate Republicans are hedging, hemming and hawing about their support last year for Ed Koch' plan for an independent redistricting committee. In a body they control 32-30, anything less than blatant manipulation of boundaries will likely cost a seat or two...
Majority Leader Dean Skelos is trying to make it sound like he supports independent redistricting, but he really doesn't....Meanwhile Koch and company have a blunt instrument issue to hammer away on.
It keeps their minds off budgets and taxes for a while.
Gianaris Likens Senate GOP To Bush I (Updatedx2)

WIGS Supporters Launch New Effort

Grocery Stores are making a run again at getting wine on their shelves......
WIGS Supporters Launch New Effort (Updated)

AFL-CIO Deems LIFO Bill ‘Wisconsin Model Of Politics’

It's no surprise NY union big wigs are waiving the bloody flag of Wisconsin in front of NY lawmakers who may be considering an end to "last in , first out" for teachers.
Even though the Badger State is just as or perhaps more "progressive" in its laws as NY, the Albany pols elected with support of the WFP will easily be cowed by the prospect of union muscle flexing such has happened in Madison.
Another group pushing back against change are school superintendents upset over proposed legislation to cap their salaries. They say that's the job of school boards...Governor Cuomo points to the state aid the districts receive and has made superintendent salaries a cornerstone of his campaign to reign in spending.
Under Mr. Cuomo's proposal, superintendents would be capped at about the same salary as the governor. What's wrong with that ?
AFL-CIO Deems LIFO Bill ‘Wisconsin Model Of Politics’

WDT: Official Touts I-98 Benefits at Hearing

I guess I ran into an actual news story when I saw Ron McDougall working the halls of the LOB in Albany yesterday pushing Interstate 98.....Proponents of the "rooftop highway" were out in force and one I-98 supporter spoke at an Assembly hearing.
While this idea has been discussed for years, it's hard to imagine how it would ever be paid for, although the assumption is the federal government would write the check. That's the same government over 14 trillion dollars in debt.
A superhighway from Watertown to Plattsburgh could have unintended consequences beyond cost. It would by necessity bypass many communities and there is the lingering question about whether the number of people living in the corridor justify the expense, and the final question about how much potential traffic there is on the route.
A lobbying effort continues and they have some spiffy lapel pins with the I-98 logo.
Watertown Daily Times Official touts I-98 benefits at hearing

Monday, February 28, 2011

Qaddafi's 'Voluptuous Blonde' Nurse Returns to Ukraine - Monday, February 28, 2011

Even his long time nurse from the Ukraine is cutting him loose...Muammar el Qaddafy is known for his all female coterie of bodyguards headed up by the 38 year old from Kiev....She's had enough and went home...That's not a good sign for the regime.
NationalJournal.com - Qaddafi's 'Voluptuous Blonde' Nurse Returns to Ukraine - Monday, February 28, 2011

Blankenbush Moves His Office Next to Keddy's

Gouverneur is no longer the center of the Universe in the 122nd Assembly District. Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush is moving his district office to 15 Bridge Street in West Carthage, home of Democrat Mayor Scott Burto.
The Gouverneur office was the home for DeDe Scozzafava, but West Carthage is closer to the Black River home of the new Assemblyman.....The office is right next to Keddy's, which is clearly Mr. B's favorite tavern in the Twin Villages.
A spokesperson for the Wicked Wench had no comment.
Newzjunky - Assemblyman Blankenbush to Move District Office to West Carthage

Ritchie and Russell Welcome Me to their Offices...

After attending morning sessions at NYCOM, I ventured over to the Legislative Office Building for meetings with Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblywoman Addie Russell.
Both our lawmakers were very interested to talk local issues as they relate to the state. From Mercy to prisons to sales tax to WIGS and many more topics.
I was pleased at the interest both take in the City of Watertown and appreciate their time.
I ran into, of all people, Ron McDougall working the LOB on behalf of Interstate 98...He and a friend were handing out lapel pins with the Interstate logo on them.
I met a couple of the rebel Democrat senators, Klein and Valesky. I stop by Assemblyman Blankenbush' office. He was out, but I see him all the time at Petes anyway.
I was able to call into the HOTLINE for a couple minutes before returning to the Crown to post this.

Duffy Demures on Talk of Mandate Relief

Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy say he gets it...his boss gets it...and that despite protests and commercials run against him, Andrew Cuomo will do the right thing.
Mr. Duffy spoke to the state's mayors this morning at the NY Conference of Mayors session at Albany's Crowne Plaza Hotel.
When pressed on whether pending mandate relief proposals will meet the expectations of the mayors, the LG was vague and said the governor is beginning a process.
Mayors had been getting bad vibes this week about their proposals for relief in the area of collective bargaining laws and its clear the major NYCOM planks are not in the first round of proposals due out tomorrow.
Mr. Duffy restated the Governor's budget plan and called for an on time passage.
Pension related costs have driven a thousand fold increase in annual expenses in some communities like Scarsdale, whose mayor pleaded with Mr. Duffy for relief.
Absent from the morning sessions were the Legislative leaders which I though curious as they are usually here.
Maybe they know they have little to say other than boilerplate about how mayors are where the rubber meets the road.

It's the Same All Over as Crows Challenge Other Mayors

I did have a nice chat with Mayor Michael Quill and some folks from Auburn last night about an old topic of mutual interest....Crows.
Auburn has been ground zero for crow hazing in recent years and the Mayor tells me it's just something you try your best to mitigate each year...He has trained his DPW in the federal USDA hazing techniques and says city employees do their best to keep the pesky birds on the move.
The situation was so dire, Mayor Quill says a local pastor would have to carry an umbrella when walking from the church to the rectory.
He says he has gotten calls from Syracuse, where crows have begun to light....You'd think the gunfire there would scare them away.

Lack of Number One Guy May Be Sending Message to Mayors....Sorry Charlie

The state's mayors appear on the verge of being like Charlie Brown teed up to miss kicking the football again...
This morning, LG Bob Duffy will venture to the Crowne Plaza to backslap with mayors clamoring extra hard this year for mandate reform...Mostly they want relief from collective bargaining laws that place local taxpayers at a severe disadvantage in their employment agreement with workers.
Unsustainable is the word often used in this group and last night there was a strange combination in the room of resolve and resignation that Tuesday's mandate relief panel will again be like Lucy pulling the football at the last moment.
The Governor himself isn't making the short walk from Eagle Street. Instead he is sending the former mayor of Rochester who presumably will bond with mayors, but knows the local elected officials will not get what they want.
While the Governor is talking tough with unions, he also knows he can only go so far in a state where expanding the public workforce is considered 'economic development.'
Now, getting rid of the so called Triborough Amendment wouldn't be that big a deal, but even the slightest of roll backs will not be possible in light of the blow back in Wisconsin and the rhetoric from NY pols about that mean Governor in Madison.
Andrew Cuomo knows the limits of the state he governs.

Cutting Back on the Links a Metaphor for Us All

The golf course in Adams is cutting from 18 to 9 holes...Talk about tough times. This is what is called a private sector business decision that I am sure went against the grain of veteran duffers. Cutting is what you have to do sometimes...Cost containment...the dreaded bottom line.
Surely the symbolism is not lost on us all...A nation aspiring for more...the expansion from 9 to 18 was always a sign of progress...A sign we had arrived....
A society reducing the number of holes on its golf courses may need to think twice about the way it does business....
Watertown Daily Times Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York

Lawmakers Want Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients....But Not for Other Recipients of State Money

Drug tests for welfare recipients is a great sound bite issue and that's why lawmakers clamor for it, especially in so called tough times.
Maybe its the libertarian side of me, but there's a slippery slope quality to this. One can make an argument for anyone getting a check or benefit from the government being subject to tests, strip searches, and home searches.
Maybe the people who get corporate welfare could be tested too.
Speaking of NY State largesse for those not on welfare...
Last year's highest paid state employee was the former head basketball coach at SUNY Binghamton who with a separation deal clocked just over a million dollars...a doc at Downstate Medical in Brooklyn got $974,605...pretty good amounts for figuring final year earnings for pension.
The nead of the College of Nanoscale Engineering at SUNY Albany was paid $763K....In all the number of six figure earners has quadrupled in the past decade.
Makes the $300K school superintendents look like paupers. And to run it all, we pay the Governor $170K.....Andy should go coach hoop at a SUNY school.
Drug test the people who have set up this crazy system.

New York legislators: Make people on public assistance undergo drug testing syracuse.com

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mayors Not Optimistic About Cuomo Plans for Mandate Relief...But Say It Has to Happen at Some Point

Municipal officials are girding themselves for disappointment on Tuesday when the Governor's panel on mandate relief reports.....The feeling at the Conference of Mayor meeting in Albany is that at best it will be the start of a process of reform as the Governor is unlikely to take on the unions on too many fronts...especially in view of labor pushback in Wisconsin.
Keynote speaker E.J. Mahon (a frequent Liz guest) said Governor Andrew Cuomo picks his fights carefully...and while he will take on teachers on last in, first out, he is unlikely to seek to correct items like the Triborough Amendment or the Taylor Law.
NYCOM Chief Mayor Sam Tersesi of Jamestown said current employee benefit costs are unsustainable and that he hopes out of crisis can come reform.
Also tonight I had the pleasure of dining with Ogdensburg Mayor Bill Nelson and City Manager Art Sciorra. Also Mayor and Mr. Carolyn Peterson were at our table...
We talked the usual things like sales tax and I told Mayor Peterson to be wary of local Chamber calls for a reopening of their sales tax agreement.....
Mayor Nelson is slated to be NYCOM's president in January if he is reelected...That led to the question, is he seeking a fourth term and the answer is yes....
One Mayor who won't be here in a year is Diana Smith of Seneca Falls...That village dissolved and is out of business on December 31.
Lieutenant Governor Duffy will address the group in the morning as local governments seek relief they are unlikely to get on Tuesday.
Having dinner with Ogdensburg Mayor Nelson who is slated to be NYCOM president next year if reelected

Dispatches from Liz Country

Here I am in your state capital and the hotel has Wi-Fi, so I needn't fail in my duty to post.
Just checked in and program starts at 5PM....
Since the Governor is proposing a 2% cut in aid to cities and everyone was expecting 10, I can't imagine must festering about that. What will be interesting is what is proposed this week in the way of mandate relief and reorganization of local government.
Governor Cuomo has the momentum to get things done in this, his first year...It gets tougher once they get to know you.
Despite the talk of the Governor taking on the public employee unions and other interests, don't look for a headlong assault on the Taylor Law or the Triborough Amendment. NY is way too union dominated. The unions are in many ways like a fourth branch of government in Albany, with effective veto control over changes.
I will be interesting to see the mood of local officials and what their agendas are in these times.
Will keep you posted.
UPDATE- Just ran into West Carthage Mayor Scott Burto. He's a Democrat now, but is very issue oriented and follows all the stuff that goes on here.

NYP: 1500 City Teachers Paid to do Union Work Instead of Teach

Most rational people want quality schools and quality teachers...That's why when the NY Post runs these stories, many get mad at teachers...
Here we have $100K teachers not in the classroom, but instead doing union business for which the United Federation of Teachers pays then another $50K.
There are said to be 1500 NYC doing this ! Add to that the ones in the rubbers rooms for discipline also getting a 100K and you see why people blame unions for government's budget woes. Of course , its not as simple as villifying unions, as these deals were all enacted by management and duly elected legislatures and city councils. Regardless, people who work in some less lucrative environments are resentful...
Would a MCM understand why ?
None of this is anything new...Been going on for years....But in the context of today's budget and deficit debate, it sure does get your Irish up....
1,500 teachers paid to do union business instead of teach - NYPOST.com

NYT: Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers

This article in today's NY Times identifies the issues and reasons Councilwoman Burns and I opposed the treatment of hydrofracking waste water in the city sewage plant. A majority of the City Council favored the treatment of water from NY's Southern Tier where underground rock formations favor use of hydrofracking to mine for natural gas. The techinique involves pumping water with certain chemicals into the ground forcing release of the gas.
The technique may be a valuable source of energy, but the questions about the by-product and why drillers were seeking to ship the water long distances raised my concerns.
I am by no means an environmental extremist and have been critical of those who are, but in this case the risk/reward ratio still favors caution as it is obvious a vigorous debate on the topic continues.
Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers - NYTimes.com

I Will Bring a Shovel....But Am Hoping a Bag of Salt Will Suffice

As winter weather continues to linger, my trip to Albany this week may require a snow shovel, although I am hoping I don't have to use it......Shoveling a walk requires more stamina than I may have at this age....
This year's NYCOM meeting is important to attend I think...because there is so much happening in state government, it's important to have an ear to the ground....
But if it snows in the capital.....I will be ready !