Saturday, March 12, 2011

Irish Festival Keeps Watertown Entertained as Winter Says Its Farewell

The NNY Goes Green festival attracted the usual big crowds for the segue event from winter to spring.
Kristina Blackstock won the Miss Ireland 2011 Pageant Friday night and Congressional aide Steve Hunt of Watertown won the Donegal beard growing contest.
A parade is slated for Sunday at 1PM. Temperatures are expected in the mid 30s.
Oh and don't forget to set the clocks ahead tonight...It's Daylight Savings Time !

WDT: Taxing the Makers, Not the Takers

This piece by Brian Amarel raises one of those interesting language questions when we talk about something like the temporary tax on incomes over $200,000 being debated in Albany.....
We have indulged in the ease of calling it the "millionaire's tax" but really that phrase casts the additional tax in a certain light.....After all, now many of us hang out with people making higher incomes and if we do, likely don't care if their rate is a point or two higher than it used to be. After all, we are accustomed to our programs and if a small group of greedy people can pay for it all...hey that's great politics and public policy.
Now opponents of the tax are calling it a "success tax", as they feel it a stifling influence on the 'makers' as opposed to the 'takers' in our society. OMG...who wants to tax 'success' ?
More simply, it's class warfare as the political class scrambles for money from a source they can villify as having too much already.
Those of us writing about it should probably never have fallen prey to the phrase 'millionaire's tax', especially since it was not applied solely to million dollar income earners....Now a compromise tax may restrict the 8.97% rate to the million dollar level so it is a question taxing the 'makers and not the takers', to use a a phrase recently seen alot in these stories.
I think we need to call it the "temporary levy on the greedy and exploitative capitalist pigs who prey on working families and the children tax". Unless you are a journalist working for FOX News or the Wall Street Journal...then 'success tax' is the preferred usage.
Watertown Daily Times On language: Taxing success vs. taxing millionaires

Japan Quake Will Have Far Reaching Effects

Aside from the horrible human tragedy, the Japanese earthquake is now punctuated by a potential nuclear plant disaster that will have a ripple effect worldwide.
The effect on the nuclear power energy may be significant at a time when nukes are being looked at again by many as a power source. Of course its important to remember the situation is fluid now and may not be as dire as early news accounts suggest...We can only hope.,
Meanwhile the pictures of the event are staggering and sobering.
Japan earthquake and tsunami: Nuclear meltdown after explosion at vast power plant Mail Online

Tonights Annoyance

Here's an aggravation caused by the Internet....
It happened tonight and it did last weekend...Someone out eating and drinking on their credit card going home and checking their account and unable to understand how card companies process charges from restaurants and bars.
Here's how it works.
If your restaurant tab is $100, we run the card for $100 and the processing company approves it for $120 on the assumption the customer will write in a tip. The $120 is what is posted to your on-line statement. If you only had $110 on your credit line, it would have been rejected.
Then when you sign the slip and write in a $10 tip, the establishment does a tip adjust on the transaction which is stored in the processing device at the restaurant. At the end of the night all the transactions are uploaded to the system with the correct tip totals and the statement charge is this case to $110.
Again tonight someone with a $29 tab came back knocking on the window at 2:30 demanding to know why $34.80 was on his on-line statement.....Numerous explanations fell on deaf ears. I finally just gave him six dollars and said if he is honest he will bring it back to me when his account reconciles. Fat chance of seeing that $6.
Last week it was some lady calling me screaming about how she was on line and her statement showed a higher charge...I talked to Tommy down at Pete's and he gets the same thing from time to time.
Who goes on line at 2AM to check a credit card statement ?
These are the things they should teach somewhere since people now use a credit card to buy a pack of gum.

Friday, March 11, 2011

WDT: Vaugh Goes Rogue

Ogdensburg Councillor Nick Vaugh wants the "millionaire's tax" extended ? He says he wants the proceeds to help keep prisons open and less education and healthcare cuts....In doing so, Nick astounds his GOP friends and places himself alongside Addie Russell and Middle Class Mike....
Strange bedfellows !
Watertown Daily Times St. Lawrence Couny Republican: Trade the millionaire's tax for prisons, education and healthcare cuts

WIGS Seems to be Gaining Ground

The push is on for WIGS (wine in grocery stores). Proponents are embracing the concept of lessening restrictions on liquor stores in exchange for the deal...I think it happens.....Consumers want it and the new licenses would be an infusion of cash without raising a tax......I can't imagine Albany not going for it.
The Capitol Pressroom » Blog Archive » The Capitol Pressroom Program for March 11, 2011

Watertown Daily Times | Prohibit tobacco ads at convenience stores

To all these people who want cigarette advertising banned in stores...Here's a simple solution short of outlawing the toxic product.
How about only allowing cigarette sales in liquor stores and bars, where there are no teenagers ? Who says drug stores, convenience strores and supermarkets have to carry this product ?
Watertown Daily Times Prohibit tobacco ads at convenience stores

Gay pol's $1 mil 'bribe' out-rage -

I don't know if being gay has anything to do with this or not, but the NY Post couldn't help itself in piling on arrested Senator Carl Kruger.
Kruger's lifestyle came into play as his supposed partner was among those indicted in the pay to play scandal...the latest to sweep an already tainted and tawdry state capital.
So much of this was known and accepted by collegues and the party until Kruger got involved with the coup two years ago.
Gay pol's $1 mil 'bribe' out-rage -

WDT: Bullying Grants Ladled on NNY Schools...How About a Grant to Teach Manners ?

What is this all about ? Millions for bullying prevention in three local school districts.
How about teaching math, English, history ? Concentrate on basics and cut the feel good trendy stuff. Bullying is something principals and teachers should discourage for sure, but we need to spend money on core services.
The other day there was a White House conference on bullying and the President told us all people made fun of his ears when in school....Well, he went on to the Presidency, so it must not have been too traumatic...
I get it, the Internet provides the venue for some incredible cruelty and technology can amplify nastiness, but I just find all the talk of cutting to the bone a little hollow when there are grants for bullying.
Watertown Daily Times North school districts receive grants for bullying prevention

WDT: Millionaire Tax Affects Few Here

The proposed compromise on the"Millionaire's Tax" is perfect politics in low income NNY. Very few people make enough to be affected and the difference in rates is not enough to chase most of them out of NY.....It's just the principle of it all to some, who believe it punishes the most successful among us...For proponents, that's the point...success should be taxed..the more fortunate in society should pay more...
Pick your argument...the NNY legislative delegation is split along predictable lines.
What's funny is that the sales and sin taxes routinely approved by the libs very much target low income persons due to their lack of progressivity....
However, class warfare works and how many NNY people even know someone with a million or more in taxable income ?...Lots of people have assets of a million or more, but I betcha even my one or two well to do friends have trouble cresting the million mark...
They wouldn't be voting for Addie anyway.
Watertown Daily Times Millionaire tax's effect on business at issue

The Journal | CTC Receives $727K To Fight Teen Drinking

Its tough to fight teen drinking when so many people don't believe in the 21 year old drinking age...From college presidents to police chiefs to the rest of us, there is a widespread feeling that those 18 and above should be allowed to drink as adults...
Now that leaves those under 18, who seem to be drinking at high levels because someone is supplying them. With today's rules, no one is serving a 16 year old. I don't know how $727,000 stops drinking when apparently parents and other insitutions are ambivalent towards the practice.
The Journal CTC Receives $727K To Fight Teen Drinking

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Carl Kruger On Dirty Money: He Said It. We Didn't. | New York Daily News

Prior to his arrest, Senator Carl Kruger was busy writing legislation to tighten reporting requirements for campaign finances to prevent the"corrosive" effect of donor money in search of favors.
Everyone is quickly fleeing from Kruger and he has been stripped of committee assigments.
Senator Kruger has vowed to fight the pay to play allegations "tooth and nail."
Carl Kruger On Dirty Money: He Said It. We Didn't. New York Daily News

Times Chief Gets 'Make a Difference' Award at Italian American Club

Had a nice time tonight at the Italian American Civic Association as they awarded WDT Publisher John B Johnson, Jr their "Making a Difference Award."
Mr. Johnson joins previous recipients Joe Rich and Mary Parry.
Lots of judges there including Judge Tormey from Syracuse and Lewis County's Charles Merrill, who sounds very much like a candidate for Supreme Court this year.
I was the only politico and spoke to the crowd and presented Mr. Johnson with a First Citizen Award and City Coin.
By the way the Club looks great and their new addition is almost complete. Food was good too, but I skipped the bread and the canole's for dessert in keeping with my diet.
As they say in print, 'a good time was had by all.'

'Special Interests' and 'Stakeholders' in Albany -

The term "special interest" has taken on political value of late as everyone is against the special interests....but are we ?
'Special Interests' and 'Stakeholders' in Albany -

Kruger is Latest Albany Pol to Don Bracelets

Just when you though the scandal in Albany was over, Senator Carl Kruger is slated to turn himself in today and be arraigned on corruption charges. The Brooklyn Democrat has been the subject of probes for some time and was one of four senators who threatened to bolt the caucus in 2008 as part of the "coup" that eventually led to just Senators Espada and Montserrate joining the GOP in an unholy alliance.
Three of the four coup members have found themselves in trouble with the law......a not so subtle message that indescretions will not be tolerated if you are disloyal to the party...It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.
Kruger headed to turn self in -

Newt: Love of Country Led Me to Stray

So Newt Gingrich says love of country and hard work were the reasons for his infidelities while serving as a Congressman and Speaker. Wow.
Sometimes its better to say 'look at me now' or 'that was then and this is now.'
Newt tells the Christian Broadcast Network he found a forgiving God to let him off the hook. While an interesting conservative talking head, Newt Gingrich just doesn't have the likeability factor needed to be President. He also is way too judgmental of others while coming up with lame excuses for his own shortcomings.
His two failed marriages are his business and its great he is happy now....He should stick to being a talking head conservative icon. He will not by the GOP nominee in 2012.
Newt Gingrich says his passion for his country contributed to his marital infidelity -

Julianne Moore To Play Sarah Palin In HBO Movie About 2008 Presidential Election –

Oscar nominated actress Julianne Moore gets the nod to portray Sarah Palin in the movie version of "Game Change" a book about the 2008 Presidential Race.
Ms.Moore is no doubt talented, but in Hollywood, Ms. Palin is reviled, so there will surely be pressure on Moore to portray her in a negative light. We will see how it turns out.
Julianne Moore To Play Sarah Palin In HBO Movie About 2008 Presidential Election –

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

McMillan: Hannity is Too Damn Smart

Jimmy McMillan (Rent's Too DAMN High) wants to pardon Americans of all personal debt...want's government to lower your rent and feed your childred. He promises to get rid of the deficit by spending more money.
From the sounds of it, except for the gloves and the beard, Mr. McMillan is in the mainstream of current political discourse.
McMillan: Hannity is too damn smart - KARIN TANABE POLITICO CLICK

NY Post: Spitzer for Mayor

Eliot Spitzer Mayor of New York ? Hard to imagine he could come back from what he did to win elected office....Being a commentator does not require a moral pedigree, but Mayor ? Too much would be dragged up...Too many people would get the chance to recount their experiences with Client #9....And besides,Mr. Spitzer is not personally popular...He had no friends when his problems surfaced.
I don't think he could win in the complicated politics of NYC.
Gunning for Eliot -

Modifying The Millionaire’s Tax? OK With Addie

UPDATE: Assemblywoman Addie Russell now says she supports the compromise.

The Millionaire's Tax is looking more and more like something that will happen...With current high income surcharges expiring, lawmakers are looking at changing the thresholds at which the higher tax rates occur. Right now it is $200,000.
It is likely this tax will be there when its over as it politicallly allows rich people to pay more and that's good politics.
Modifying The Millionaire’s Tax?

Mayor Mike's Money Well Placed Given the Final Numbers

The ongoing flap over money Mayor Bloomber gave to the NYS Independence Party may seem shocking that a man would write a check for $1.2M to a minor party. However in many swing races around the state, the Indy line has made the difference as it did for the Mayor in 2009 when the 13% on Line C pushed him past the Democratic candidate.
It's the phenomenon of New York's system of "fusion voting" where totals from different party lines can be added together.

Report: More Woes for New York State Independence Party

New York's Independence Party....relegated to Line E on the ballot...continues to be the subject of bad press over a $1.1 million dollar stipend given the party by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and allegedly swiped by an operative now on trial in Manhattan.
While founded on high hopes and idealism, the tiny party now clearly stands for little and is toxic due to the bad press. Candidates will still seek the "line" as that is how it is done in NY politics. Most of the controversy is inside baseball, so the public likely doesn't follow it....However the insiders do and this party doesn't seem headed for great things.
New York State Independence Party

TV 7: Planned Parenthood's Truth Tour to Intersect With Anti-Abortion Group in Watertown

It sounds like a good square off in the making but Watertown is not a town for public passions in the form of demonstrations. Nonethless dueling protest between and anti-abortion group and Planned Parenthood could attract some attention to the HSBC Building, home of the district office for Rep. Bill Owens.
Defunding Planned Parenthood is being talked about in Washington as part of deficit reduction negotiations.
Don't look for any local pols to show up...Nobody wants a part of this fight.
Planned Parenthood's Truth Tour to Intersect With Anti-Abortion Group in Watertown WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY North Country Politics

TV7: $1 Million Lottery Ticket Sold In Watertown

HOTLINE news hounds broke the story. A million dollar scratch-off Lottery ticket was sold in Watertown, apparently at a Nice n Easy Store on Bradley Street.
While this is not journalism per se, it is part of the way information spreads these days thorough websites, blogs, talk shows and the MSM.
We will be anxious to hear the remaining details on this lucky person.
$1 Million Lottery Ticket Sold In Watertown WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

WDT: Mayors, School Superintendents, and Today It's Bishops in Albany to Lobby

If they were in Albany to hear confession it was a long day for Catholic Bishops from around the state. Bishop Terry LaValley of Ogdensburg was in the capital and met with among others Senator Patty Ritchie, who Democrats felt didn't have a prayer of beating Darrel Aubertine.
And Governor Cuomo met with the Archbishop of New York, but not to talk about Mr. Cuomo's personal life after a Vatican official recently rapped the Governor for living in sin, which is apparently in Westchester County.
Originally the Governor had said he would not be able to meet with the clerics but apparently thought better of the optics of leaving the church hierarchy in the cold just days before St. Patrick's Day.
Mr. Cuomo was criticised for taking Holy Communion the day he was sworn in, even though he is living with a woman he is not married to. All of that is clearly the Governor's own business but you shouldn't take Communion unless you have been to Confession of late...At least that's how it was when I was growing up.

Watertown Daily Times Region's Catholic head in Albany today

Story of Million Dollar Winner Sweeps City

I had been hearing for the past day or so that someone won big on a Lottery ticket in Watertown...
The chatter went viral after callers to the HOTLINE identified the million dollar winner as an employee of Knowlton Technologies on Factory Street...The place of purchase of the ticket has varied between the Franklin Street Market and the Nice n Easy.
No name available yet but it was said to be a $5 ticket that delivered the million over 20 years.
Meanwhile a group of retirees having coffee at Topps Market said a Grant Street man also won big of late by grabbing $100K in the South Dakota Lottery.
It's great how coffee shop chatter can go worldwide so fast....Hope the story is right !

Census Estimate: We Are Up But Upstate is Flagging

The first round of Census numbers show Jefferson County up by 5751 souls in the past decade, while neighboring St. Lawrence and Lewis Counties showed slight decreases. More complete numbers will be out later this month.
Jefferson is now tops of the three counties in the Watertown media market.
The state is up to 19.5 million, up from 2000. Much of the increase occured in the City of New York meaning a slight shift in Assembly and Senate districts headed that way. In the Senate now controlled narrowly by the GOP redistricting may be a bridge too far if the number of city seats goes up as these numbers suggest they will
Census Estimate: Jefferson County Grew Fastest Between 2009 & 2010 WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

WDT: Addie Signs Up for Millionaire's Tax

Let me say I have accepted the fact I will never have to pay this tax, so on the surface I shouldn't care about a continuation of the "Millionaire's Tax" that 69 Members of the NYS Assembly (including Addie Russell) have endorsed.
The tax was put into effect last year to bridge a budget deficit and lawmakers want it to continue as they see little political downside and a chance to be seen as restoring spending.
Of course, those proposing this don't understand the consequences in terms of dissuading the well-to-do from wanting to do business in NYS just like they didn't understand that last year's cigarette taxes only served to fuel a beneath the radar trade in butts.
Maybe the millionaire's don't mind the tax...They could see it as part of their social contract that allows them to live well while so many can't. I will ask Dave Mance , next time I see him.
Watertown Daily Times Russell signs millionaire tax letter

WDT: Former Mayor Joins Treasurer in Rapping County

Integrity and decency are the traits I would most often associate with Mayor TomWalker, the city's chief elected official in office before I was first elected. So when Mayor Walker takes the time to ask the State Comptroller to probe Jefferson County's purchasing practices, its not just the demands of a gadfly or rabblerouser.
I certainly am not intimate with the facts in the case in question, but from a PR standpoint, Mayor Walker's request is not good for the image of the County Legislature. That may not translate into electoral problems, but it does have a corrosive effect on public perception of all involved.
Watertown Daily Times Ex-mayor wants Jefferson phone bid probed

Monday, March 7, 2011

Council Wobbly on Noise Law...Tables Measure for Now

City Council tonight tabled the proposed noise law after questions about its constitutionality and effectiveness dogged lawmakers.
The measure proposed by Councilman Joe Butler Jr was viewed as laudable but flawed and there was a feeling it was best to table it and work on an acceptable version.
Lawmakers also nixed changes to the entrance road into the JB Wise lot through the Woodruff site.
Council also agreed to host a presentation on cave exploration from a western NY group interested in the caves under the city.

When Lady Gaga Knows Your Name -

Don't get on the bad side of Lady Gaga !
During a concert last Friday in Buffalo, the pop diva told fans to email Senator Mark Grisanti on the issue of same sex marriage...Guess he has been deluged....
Wonder if she wants to weigh in on the noise ordinance ?
When Lady Gaga Knows Your Name -

Gray Rights Flower Faux Pas

The other night at Pete's I saw Scott Gray and used the occasion to place an annual order for flowers for my Mom's birthday which is March 24. I like using Gray's because Scott can use his PDA to place the order right there....Makes you feel like an important client.
They were supposed to be delivered the 22nd, but I got a call today from Mom thanking me for the beautiful flowers. I told Scott and he immediately told me another bouquet would be dispatched at the right time.
Then when I called Mom to say another bouquet was coming, she told me the NC florist had already come back to apologize and offer more flowers on the right date...Clearly the Wrath of Gray had spread to the Tarheel State. In any event, she gets flowers for the whole month and that's the value you get at Gray's Flowers !

Why Did This Take So Long ?...Jay Donovan Discovers Brittnee !

Internet sensation and veteran Polar Bear Dipper Brittnee Kriner took her self promotion tour to the Old Gray Lady of NNY radio today with a two hour appearance on the Jay and Mel Show on T-93. Oops....I was just told its now called CIZ...I don't listen to music stations anymore, so I apologize. I am a talking head type of listener.
Brittnee is the Tilted Kilt server and General Brown graduate who attracted large crowds to the recent hospital fundraiser in Alexandria Bay as she jumped into the icy St. Lawrence in an Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Bikini.
I didn't hear the show but maybe Junky will post the highlights.

TU: Bigger Classes Loom....And Things That "Loom" are Scary

Oh stop trying to scare us all you MSM press agents for the status quo. When I grew up there were about 30 or so kids in a class and we didn't have all the high tech educational tools as we do now. Quit trying to make it sound like people are being punished by a little austerity.
I was quite satisfied with the education I got years ago, and if anything there are more resources now than back then....'in the day' as this year's most used cliche goes.
Math quiz: teacher cuts = bigger classes - Times Union

WDT: Town of Watertown Fire Building to be Voted On, But by Who ?

UPDATE: in an earlier version I misidentified the polling place. Supervisor Bartlett tells me it will be at the primary fire station near Brookside Cemetery. I regret the error.
This will be an interesting vote. A public referendum on bonding for money is not something people are assustomed to doing on a Tuesday in March, so I doubt too many people will vote on the Town of Watertown Fire Department borrowing $1.5M to build a new fire station in the section of the Town near the Salmon Run Mall. The balloting occurs from 6pm to 9pm at the main fire station next to the Town offices on Brookside Drive.
Like most such votes, most people in the Town don't know its happening and have not been part of the debate over the issue. While the economic center of gravity for the township is located on the Route 3 corridor, the bulk of the residents are in areas miles away to the south of the City.
This will also be an interesting test of whether when given the chance, people really want to restrain government spending or not. It will also likely expose how few people identify enough with a local government entity to take the time to vote on something they know nothing about.
Watertown Daily Times Watertown fire station to be voted on Tuesday

Sunday, March 6, 2011

TURN IT UP ! Proposed Noise Ordinance Public Hearing on Monday Night

City Council Monday night will hold a public hearing on Councilman Butler's proposed law on noise. The measure is based on a Syracuse statute and is in response to complaints the Councilman has received about loud car stereos.
Lawmakers will also consider a proposal to alter at a cost of $40K the proposed entrance road from Public Square into JB Wise Parking Lot. Councilman Butler is proposing Council embrace the altered route to accommodate a medical group unhappy with the exit point of the road into the parking lot.
Council will also formally review the recently completed financial audit for the year ended last June. There will likely be a focus on fund balance. A couple weeks ago I had proposed using $1.8M of the balance for tax levy reduction. The general fund's fund balance is in excess of $13M and may have increased further since last summer.
Other proposals involve holding the funds as a hedge against future expenses; doing less bonding of capital projects; or doing additional public works projects, or some combination of the above.

TU: Cuomo Calms Unions With Retreats

Despite talk that the public employee unions are at odds with the Governor, recent actions suggest a more obsequious approach to the unions than Governor Cuomo's rhetoric suggests.
Mr. Cuomo left Mayor Bloomberg in the cold by killing the repeal of seniority based layoffs among teachers and his Medicaid plan has a key concession to SEIU that ensures higher salaries for health care workers.
This past week the state's political class was put on notice by the AFL-CIO that there will be no Wisconsin style run on pay, benefits or bagaining rights in the Empire State.
There is really no one in New York now talking about any roll back of union rights under NY law and its clear labor has cracked the whip effectively.
Since concessions or reforms are pretty much off the table, the pressure will ramp up to keep the millionaire's tax or institute some other tax disguised as something else....Of course there could be real cuts actually implemented, but there is too much political rhetoric linked to the notion that all jobs must be retained.
I think the year of reform in Albany is fading fast as the April 1st budget deadline nears...But I betcha we do get WIGS.
Cuomo silences union critics - Times Union

NYP: You Go Girl...Long Island Woman Tops Superintendents

Meet Carole Hankin, tops in pay and benefits of New York's 700plus school superintendents. Her over half million dollars in compensation comes in the Syosset School District on Long Island. Her deputy makes in the 300s...A gym teacher, over $140K. To keep it in perspective, an English teacher clocks in at $120K
Yes the school board gave it to her. It's the marketplace. How dare our governor criticise the mandarins of education. And I betcha this is one of those districts where the school board is kept arguing over a few thousand dollars for library books.
Syosset school superintendent gets $500,000 pay package -

Lady Gaga Calls Out Sen. Grisanti On Gay Marriage

While Wisconsin and Ohio lawmakers battle over budgets and bargaining, it's clear the signature issue in Albany this year may be same sex marriage. The battleground is the Senate which last year nixed 'marriage equality' with several Democrats joining the GOP in voting no.
There are lots of lobbying efforts by celebrities, and pop phenom, Lady Gaga added her name to the debate by using her concert in Buffalo this weekend to lobby a WNY Senator deemed a swing vote in the debate.
Senator Grisanti issued a carefully worded statement that didn't attack Gaga, who is enourmously popular. I don't think Gaga is planning on doing a shout out to any North Country lawmakers, but Jim Reagen is surely working on a response just in case.
Lady Gaga Calls Out Sen. Grisanti On Gay Marriage

WDT: Canadian Doing Well, Thank You

The Canadian economy continues to perform well and the Loonie is now at $1.02 US. Since we already know the strong Canadian dollar has a spinoff effect in NNY, the latest GNP numbers from our northern neighbors is good news.
So much of our tourism and retail trade is linked, the strength is welcome, at a time when the US side of the border is looking for a boost. While things like exchange rates go up and down, the weak dollar is not such a bad thing in the aggregate for us, although long term it probably is not.
Watertown Daily Times Northern prosperity