Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gas, Inflation and Double Digit Unemployment .....Is Jimmy Carter President Again ?

   With gas over $4 a gallon in NNY, what will you do to make ends meet.?..Less travel...walk to pooling....try to skimp on other expenses. Then there's the cascading effect of gas prices on delivery of merchandise and services...That will contribute to inflation which is already showing up in the CPI.
     The next milestone is $5 a gallon....Is any of this affecting your life ?

Multiple News Stories Likely Out of Monday's Council Session

     Monday's City Council meeting will feature the release of the City Manager's proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning in July. The interest as always will be on the property tax levy with the Manager being tugged between differing views on whether to seek tax relief, accumulate more fund balance or more aggresively try to reduce long term debt.
      Other issues will also have Council's eye including the deadline for applications to the City Clerk job being vacated later this year by the retirement of long time clerk Donna Dutton.   Council hires this person and will have to begin thinning the herd of the approximately two dozen applicants.   Lawmakers want an early hire to allow overlap and transition.
      Council will also consider a request from the Watertown Urban Mission for emergency assistance for its food bank due to tough times. The $17,415 request comes on the heels of a similar request from the Community Action Planning Council for additional funds. I drive by the Mission several times a day and see how many people use it, so I support the help, although I don't think we can commit to continuing funding. Others feel its the job of the County to deal with poor people.
      Council will also try to hammer out the scope of an audit of the Recreation Department which has been in the news of late after billing and accounting problems bubbled to the surface. Memos on the subject including some of the questions Councilwoman Burns and I had are due to be posted on the City website on Monday.
       More questions came to my mind last night after running into some people and getting a call from a former baseball executive.  Monday's mission will be to get the auditor focused on the key issues that can be addressed in that manner.
      Oh, and lawmakers will also consider a special use permit for a tattoo parlor on State Street, so all your daughters can get their butt caps in a timely manner.

Blankenbush Sheds Hair Net for Helmet

    Recovering nicely from his hair net PR photo at a meat packing plant, Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush' office has sent out a photo this week showing the freshman lawmaker standing with his wife in front of an Arctic Cat four wheeler after participating in a snow and dirt (SNIRT) rally.
    Much better optics, although I heard from a Dem insider that one member of the gotcha media is working on a story about the ATV not being a legal size...Come on, leave Mr. B alone.  He is out there working hard all over the massive district, and he never dressed a dog in a bun.

WDT: Longtime legislators ready to step down

Two longtime members of the Jefferson County Legislature are not seeking reelection meaning residents of Carthage and a portion of the City of Watertown will get new representation. James St. Croix and Gino Zando are retiring. County Leg races are seldom contested as few people likely understand how the system works since the olf Board of Supervisor system was abandoned nearly two decades ago. The County Legislature has 15 members representing districts of equal population. While party labels don't mean that much at this level, for the record there are now 13 Republicans and 2 Democrats, with Mr. St. Croix being one of them. Mr. St. Croix won reelection two years ago against Anthony Doldo, who is expected to run again. Mr. Zando has not faced opposition in recent years and it is unknown who may seek the post. Watertown Daily Times Longtime legislators ready to step down

Friday, April 15, 2011

WDT: Ga-Ga Under Fire Too

One of the playground games deemed unsuitable for youngsters is called "Ga-Ga". Times scribe Brian Amaral, who is far more hip than his bosses, explains. Watertown Daily Times What is Ga-ga? (and other pressing matters)

Ritchie Rips State Playground Regs

Here is the Senator Ritchie take on the SOB's at DOH trying to ruin summer for the youngin's. State Senator Patty Ritchie (7)

Is this the picture that proves Sarah Palin did give birth to baby Trig? | Mail Online

Another birther scandal is back in the news and that's the one that Sarah Palin didn't really give birth to her son Trig.....Remember when that came up in 2008 because someone produced a late term photo of the then governor not looking sufficiently pregnant....So those of you who think the President is being assailed by right wing loons, take note there are left wong loons out there too... Is this the picture that proves Sarah Palin did give birth to baby Trig? Mail Online

NY's Stealth Tax Hike--E.J. McMahon -

Darn ! The Post reports there was a tax hike this year due to changes made in the 90s.....Read all about it. NY's Stealth Tax Hike--E.J. McMahon -

Patty and Addie Fighting for Our Kids Right to Get Hurt Playing Tag ?

Talk about jumping on a band wagon...Both Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblywoman Addie Russell have now weighed in against NYS Health Department proposed regulations that label common playground games like Red Rover as being dangerous....The regs would apply to municipal summer playground programs and require the presence of medical staff if these games adn activities are played.... This is a tail wags dog story that started in Black River when a copy of the regs were given to the fringe media like talk show hosts and then the MSM hopped on board....Its the kind of story we all love...Little kids having their summers ruined by pointy head bureaucrats representing the nanny state. Assemblywoman Russell held a presser today to trumpet her disdain for safer summers for our that's not the right phrasing....How about, 'we believe the children of our working families can be safe without the heavy hand of government.' That sounds better.... Senator Ritchie is a frequent flier in fighting the DOH....She locked horns with them earlier this year protecting the right to make chili anywhere you damn well please.... Addie Russell (7)

Ladies Break Out the Wallet for Andy...Media Wags Still Snarky Towards Sandy

Everytime some pundits write about Sandra Lee, she is always referred to as NY's Semi-First Lady, or the Governor's live-in girlfriend.....Actually I think Mr. Cuomo lives in her house....Now I am not trying to out feminize anyone, but that's kind of a dismissive and judgemental way of referring to someone who is not just a human being too, but also an accomplished one.... Come on, this is 2011. Next thing will be the ladies at this Cuomo fundraiser will be called his 'political harem.' Cuomo’s Women Host ‘Women For Cuomo’ Fundraiser

New Forms Make It Tougher to Evade Sales Tax When Selling the Devil's Brew

  On this Tax Day, I was looking over the new reports that my beer and liquor vendors are required to submit to the NYS Tax Department...Its a month by month summary of total sales with that vendor...Whether its Eagle, Missert, Doldo or one of the two liquor vendors.
    The data makes it easy to determine if you are reporting sales accurately. Under reporting of sales results in lots of unpaid sales tax revenue each year. That is why government would prefer to deal only with big corporate bars and restaurants as they are automated and just slap the sales tax on the bill.
    Smaller bars and others who hold events are more fluid as so much is done in cash.
    With these new reports, the audit trail is more clear....If you bought $50,000 in product and your gross sales are $80,000 but your pricing suggests a 300% markup...Well guess what...We gotcha...Of course that assumes someone takes the time to compare the numbers, but I am sure there is a snitch line to help facilitate that..
    Now of course one can secretly buy outside the monopolistic system of distributors, but that's pretty cumbersome and against the law.
     Sales tax is an easy tax to avoid and many think that when the price for a 16oz draft is $4.00, they don't realize its really $3.71 for the beer and .29 in tax.  Many don't realize that the sales tax applies to all such sales, even those conducted by so called not-for-profit or government sanctioned entities.
       Such forms along with sales tax submissions are alsoa  reliable way to demonstrate gross sales in those instances where a % of sales have to be paid to someone else.
       On this Tax Day, we salute those who are always thinking of ways of making sure everyone pays.....

Pay Up ! It's Tax Day (Or is it )

   Today is Tax Day....April 15..No wait it's not....Because of some holiday I never heard of the deadline for submissions slips to Monday...Thanks to avid blog reader and morning anchor Jeff Cole for pointing this out..
While I suspect most of us have settled up with Uncle Sam, others are still working on their submissions.
    Some say we need more taxes. What say you ?

Poll: GOP Still Looking for Other Candidates in Slow to Start Presidential Race

   I am not saying our little straw poll is a bell weather for the nation, but the GOP field for President does seem to be failing to garner much support from rank and file...That's why Donald Trump and to a lesser extent Michelle Bachmann are breaking through and only establishment canidate Mitt Romney is scoring any numbers.
    With Governors Palin and Huckabee likely out, other governors like Barbour,Daniels and Pawlenty are not setting the world on fire. Governor Christie is not running  and up and comers like Senator Rubio of Florida are not ready to run.

WDT: Council 82 Freeze Held out as Template for Labor Deals

A Cuomo Administration labor settlement with one of the smaller unions representing state workers is being heralded as the template for deals with bigger unions like CSEA and PEF......But a three year wage freeze and eliminiation of steps is likely to get a "not so fast" from union bosses who historically would rather opt for layoffs over concessions. The reason they do that is simple.......It's politically tough to lay off public employees, so its good brinksmanship to hold out. Besides that's what unions are provide higher pay and benefits for the dues payers. The modest concessions by Council 82 workers, if ratified, would be a big win for Mr. Cuomo is he can extend the terms to other unions. Watertown Daily Times Wage freeze

WDT: Apartments are Eyed for Woolworth Building

Efforts to see the historic Woolworth Building remodeled into a new use are moving slowly ahead. Plans for a hotel have yielded to a   plan for up to 60 apartments...The building is owned by developer Michael Treanor who says he can do the apartment scenario for $4million.
Some at a meeting Thursday of Advantage Watertown thought the price was low, but we will wait for a detailed presentation on that and other issues related to the project. . While the Woolworth project is in the planning stages, other projects downtown continue incuding several upper floor apartment projects.....a new Asian restaurant that brought about three quarter of a million private dollars to downtown and another cheesesteak restaurant to open later this month. The Woolworth Building will take time to make happen, but meanwhile other good things are happening in downtown. On another front, a residential development eyed for the former Ogilvie property on North Pleasant Street may be scaled back due to higher than expected costs of cleaning up the property. Debris from the former cheese factory may be too expensive to clean up in order to create a road thru the site. Watertown Daily Times Apartments are eyed for Woolworth Building

New York School Districts Challenge State Mandates -

A little 2% cut in aid has some school districts doing something positive in identifying and fighting back against a myriad of rules and laws that cost money and don't necessarily enhance anyone's education. It's mandates like a requirement to calculate each student's body mass index or providing bussing capacity that far exceeds actual use. Change only happens when it has to and these mandates are numerous and onerous and all of them have a constituency. It's a fight worth having and school districts should get our support in fighting mandates that have nothing to do with education's core mission. New York School Districts Challenge State Mandates -

Cuomo: D.C. made us look good

Governor Cuomo is pretty pleased with himself in light of an on-time budget and no new taxes. In fact he is comparing himself and Albany to Washington where rancor continues and last weeks shutdown showdown pales compared to the fights ahead over debt limits and the next fiscal year. The Kumbaya moments in Albany are not likely to continue as competing interests in NY will not likely remain submerged under the weight of Mr. Cuomo's strong will and high poll numbers.... Mandate reform, restructuring of government, elimination of 20% of state agencies, ethics reform, redistricting and lots more will give Mr. Cuomo ample opportunity to lose his luster. Cuomo: D.C. made us look good New York Daily News

Thursday, April 14, 2011

WDT: Council Correct in Seeking Third Party Bid

The WDT agrees with City Council's decision to secure an independent audit of years of fiscal dealings at one City department where some unsettling business practices recently bubbled up. The issues are serious, but the goal must remain to set up systems that ensure accountability of public funds. I have identified the questions I have and have asked Council to do the same so the auditor will come up with answers to everyone's questions. Watertown Daily Times Billing mess

Why Work If You Dont Have To ?

About 45% of Americans are working a new survey shows.....That's the lowest since women started entering the work force decades ago....While there are surely some who want to work, it's clear increasing numbers of people are just as happy not to work....The social safety net can be very cumfy.... It's clear those who are working will have to work harder to keep supplying the programs to those who don't work. Only 45% of Americans Are Working — Lowest Since 1983! The Blaze

Gadfly Blogger Wants a Piece of Someone Else's Pie

Activist and perennial candidate Jonathan Tasini is suing Arriana Huffington because he thinks those bloggers that contributed to the Huffington Post so increased the value of the publication that they deserve a piece of the sale price now that Arianna has sold her influential left wing paperless paper. Most of them were like me...glad to have the extra traffic for their pearls of dubious wisdom..... Its like my blog being on Liz' blog roll....It gives extra exposure being associated with such a prestigious product..... If Liz sells her product, there is no way I expect a piece of the action. Mr. Tasini needs to get a life. Organize--Don't Be Distracted by The Unhinged - Working Life

Crowd Swarms to See Return of Tammy to Croghan

     I scooted up to Croghan today....that's a healthy drive...but it was worth it to be there for opening night at the Wicked Ways Saloon, owned by Tammy Bramhall and her daughter Emily.
     It's a nice place and a bar full greeted visitors...It's one of those old places with lots of wood and metal ceilings. Tammy was busy trying out the kitchen and Emily was working the bar....
     The Wicked Ways is the sister bar to the Wicked Wench in West Carthage. Be sure to visit it when you are in Croghan to see the Mple Museum.

Good Food.....and Good Company

     Wow...this will be a test of my fragile ego....At the upcoming Kentuckly Derby Day fundraiser for Family Counseling Services there are auctions of  a variety of trips and dinners with alleged celebrities.
    One is dinner with me at Pete's and another is dinner with Brian Ashley and Anne Richter from TV 7.
    The obvious question is which one will bring the higher price ?......A thoughtful and charming public servant....or do you want to chow down with these pillars of the mainstream, liberal, elite media....
    We decide...

WDT: Library Panel Ponders Its Role

We have an activist group on the Flower Library Board and that's a good thing. We need people to take the initiative and take the measures necessary to keep the facility viable, interesting and hopefully open seven days a week.
City Hall is the primary funding source and the City owns the building, so there is a relationship to be acknowledged. The employees are part of the City's system of civil service, health care and retirement. Despite that relationship that doesn't mean the Library Board should just be holding book sales and teas.
The Flower Board is populated with talented people headed by Board Czar Maxine Quigg. It's actually Board President, but since its the Library a little literary license is allowed.
Watertown Daily Times Library panel will look further into funds issue

WDT: | DiNapoli eyes LDC reform;Abuse in Town of Watertown Cited

Local development agencies, like anything created with good intentions, can be both good and bad at the same time....They need clear guildelines to prohibit mission creep and outright fraud. As President of one such entity, the Watertown Local Development Corporation, I welcome Comptroller DiNapoli's interest in the matter and think his concerns and proposed solutions are reasonable and called for.
Watertown Daily Times DiNapoli eyes LDC reform; abuse in Watertown cited

Newzjunky - Wicked Ways Saloon Opens Today in Croghan

I remember when my friend Tammy Bramhall came to work for me on Pearl Street in 1994. She was a farm girl with a work ethic but I don't think had ever served a drink. Today she is opening her second bar, the Wicked Ways Saloon in her native Croghan....She also owns the Wicked Wench in West Carthage.
Tammy is a hard worker who manages her money, staff and customers with enormous skill and is to be congratulated on her expansion into Lewis County.
Newzjunky - Wicked Ways Saloon Opens Today in Croghan

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wal Mart Inching Towards Big Apple Store

Its hard to imagine not having WalMart...the ubiquitous general merchandise chain dots the nation....but not in NYC..WalMart is trying to open one and seems on track, clearing hurdle after hurdle as well as the absurd efforts by City lawmakers to exclude the business. Big is not always better, but this is the type of store many choose to shop at....It is not the job of City officials, elected or otherwise, to try and block an otherwise legal enterprise... The Daily Politics New York Daily News


And what is the School Board at Madrid Waddington going to do since their high school principal was charged by State Police with blowing a .08...? Just let the system deal with him...Let him pay the court costs...the counseling...the lawyers and the fines...He was nabbed at a roadblock, so he wasn't even doing anything to attract attention... If he is otherwise clean, let it go and please don't try to make it a "teachable moment." Speaking of principals...and principles too for that matter...A school board candidate today told me there is a six figure principal in the City of Watertown District who supervises just seven teachers at the small school he oversees...That's the kind of administration-teacher ratio only MCM could love. High School Principal Charged With DWI WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

Sales Tax Growth Continues But Slows

Reconcilled sales tax figures for the first quarter of 2011 show a 1.29% increase over a year ago and that's a slowing of the larger percentage increases seen throughout 2010..... Recent surges in gas prices and local car sales may drive numbers up, but the influx of Canadian shoppers may have ebbed in the most recent quarter. In any event, less robust increases will lessen the ability to merely absorb decreases in other revenue streams. A close look at the current quarter will be needed to better guage the trend for 2011......Since sales tax is our largest local revenue stream, its meanderings plan a large part in decisions on cuts and property tax rates.

Bill Would Create A Hydrofracking Commission

Why do I think this idea has more to do with shaking down a new industry and providing a means to employ Legislator spouses and children than it does whether or not hydrofracking is a good thing ? New York will dither so long it will not develop as an industry anyway. Bill Would Create A Hydrofracking Commission

Hey Mayor....Don't You Be Challenging Conventional Wisdom

   Wow that didn't take long...I got off the reservation a little and Jude called me with all sorts of facts and figures to suggest I was wrong about living with a tax cap....
   Like Sarah Palin, I can't stand those uppity reporters armed with their facts, trying to play gotcha....
    I repeat...the tax cap is simplistic and will only result in municipal attornies being tasked to find ways around it.....However, if it forces the issue of mandate relief, it's an acceptable move.
    But it was amazing how quickly Jude called to restore order to the group-thinking and conventional wisdom that have replaced free thought........
     I do appreciate the readership.

Media Assumes Group-Think Among Mayors

Whoa Jude....When you say you have never met a mayor who cannot live within the confines of a 2% tax cap, you must have forget you met me...How can you forget your favorite blogger when it comes to extrapolating Mayor Burto's comments into conventional wisdom.... I do agree with my friend from West Carthage when he says a cap needs to be concurrent with these much talked about mandate reliefs....but since that will never happen, the tax cap will be the only control available. Earlier this year, I chastised even the high and mighty in journalism (Liz) for repeating the bromides about "pain" that will be caused by a little restraint in spending. Now I must chastise you for indulging in the conventional wisdom resulting from the intellectually incestuous relationship between the MSM and Big Government. There is no universal feeling among mayors about any issue. Routinely I read those NYCOM newsletters and while I agree with much....there are some things I wonder how much Kool Aid were they drinking. There are a lot of issues that make simplistic solutions like the tax cap a bit dubious...Those communities that have significant alternative streams of revenue may not care about property tax caps....And then there are crazy proposals like allowing local governments to hike the utility gross receipts tax (NYCOM Supports that)..... There is no group-think among municipal officials, although its easier to write about the topic if you assume there is. The Real Property Tax Link WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY North Country Politics

Cuomo Out-Polls Q Poll’s Govs

Governor Cuomo came out of the recent budget battle more popular and a new survey shows Mr. Cuomo the most popular of many governors around the country also struggling with fiscal issues. Governor Cuomo pushed through his budget by railing against the notion of new taxes. That might be something President Obama may want to take note of as he prepares to deliver a speech today outlining his plans to deal with deficits. Many on the left have resorted to tax the rich rhetoric as a quick and easy political solution. Governor Cuomo fought the notion of a millionaire's tax and came out very popular. Cuomo Out-Polls Q Poll’s Govs

Stonewalling Didn't Stop the Radiation...

One of the tenets of the Catholic Church is the infallibility of the Pope. It's a matter of faith and that's OK for a religion but when governments start thinking that way....Watch Out ! Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant is now upgraded to a Chernobyl type disaster after weeks of Tokyo telling people the problem was contained and everything was OK.... Its not uncommon for government to not admit there's a problem....that the people in charge need help dealing with it....or that a screw up happened. It is said the Japanese government has a history of not being candid when its better to just let it all hang out. They said its an internal matter and the professionals will handle it....Now its a mess and valuable time and public confidence is lost...Not to mention the danger to those perhaps needlessly exposed to radiation. Pride usually does go before the fall. My Way News - Japan ups nuke crisis severity to match Chernobyl

New Urban Mission Czar Introduced at Church Breakfast

       A wide variety of programs to help the needy were outlined in a presentation this morning by Watertown Urban Mission Director Erika Flint during a breakfast at First Presbyterian Church.
     Ms. Flint recently took over the reigns at the Mission which is located on Factory Street and is supported primarily through area churches and private contributions.
      The Mission runs a used clothing store and a food bank among other things.

New Yorkers Offer Mixed Reviews To Government Consolidation | Politics on the Hudson

While there is always talk of consolidation of local government, a poll shows New Yorkers are somewhat ambivalent about it and cannot really focus on what is meant by the concept....Perhaps thats because most people really know little about how local government is structured other than they are told at some point they live in a certain town or school district.... There is certainly not a general knowledge about the thousands of special use districts that dot the state. Regionalism....also known as One Nation Under not the panacea some see...but reasonable mergers and shared service on a local level can help....What people do not want is to lose their identity. New Yorkers Offer Mixed Reviews To Government Consolidation Politics on the Hudson

Gov vows veto for pension fatteners -

At a time when there is talk of cuts, there continues efforts in the Legislature to actually increase pension benefits....all of which will continue to cascade costs down on local governments which fund the system. The NYS Retirement System is funded only in the sense that the governments that contribute have to pay in this year whatever it takes to meet the payout obligations....In the case of uniformed workers in the City of Watertown that means the City sends in a check for about 21% of the pay of each cop or fireman.... The Governor wants a Tier Six plan, but really the better solution is to drop the unsustainable defined benefit plan for new hires and transition to a defined contribution plan...That would be an expensive transition, but likely a necessary one. Gov vows veto for pension fatteners -

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Silver: I'm staying

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver plans on being one of the three men in a room for years to come....At 67, he says he wants to see how it felt for Joe Bruno to be a legislative leader at 78.....While the Speaker is much villified Upstate, he is a shrewd hoarder of his power and authority.....Despite a role in the shadow of Governor Cuomo this year, don't count the Speaker out in the years to come...After all Governors come and go. Silver: I'm staying New York Daily News

Online Gambling Coming to the District | NBC Washington

Anything goes in the Nation's capital.....Internet gambling is legal there and the District's 800,000 or so residents can gamble on their computers...I don't know how they limit it to the city's boundaries, but this technology is the latest government step into vice......But remember, it's for the children..... Online Gambling Coming to the District NBC Washington

Glenn Beck: Sarah Palin is not running, damaged her brand - Andy Barr -

Like him or not, Glenn Beck has it right on this....Sarah Palin is likely not going to run for President and her brand is damaged in part by her decision to give up elective office in favor of other pursuits. This explains the clear lack of pre candidacy moves by Palin and her willingness to cede the Tea Party mantra to Rep. Michelle Bachmann who might very well run. Governor Palin may be a star on FOX, but has not moved beyond that and seems content to help shape the debate from the sidelines but not from the arena of a campaign. Glenn Beck: Sarah Palin is not running, damaged her brand - Andy Barr -

WDT: Patty and Company Named Enemies of Reform.

Last year Democrat Addie Russell was an enemy of reform....Must be she since graduated from reform school....Now her NNY collegues, Senators Ritchie and Griffo and Assemblyman Blankenbush are on the Ed Koch enemies list...That gets them some nasty robocalls. I have yet to see the general public take to the streets in protest over redistricting...It is very much an insiders game and the public knows it..... I don't see Hizzoner's crusade having an effect on our crew. It is good to see a retired fellow like Mayor Koch so active and able to still dish it out. Watertown Daily Times North country delegation named "enemies of reform"

City Entre-manure Picking Up Steam (is that the best headline or what ?)

      I was at a State Street business today and saw a business card on the counter for a new business called the "Poo Picker".....Its for a Gill Street man specializing in pet waste removal from laws....After a long winter, many are apparently finding the need...It says the tools are disinfected after each stop.
      There is still an entrpreneurial spirit among many although most people would prefer staying home rather than making money picking up dog crap.

Hizzoner: How Am I Doin' ?

Mayor Ed Koch is continuing his efforts to be a thorn in the side of Albany as he has launched robocalls aimed at Senate Republcans who won't back the Governor's plan for redistricting reform. State of Politics Blog

Larry to Don: What Part of "No" Don't You Understand

The conventional wisdom met Larry Longway last night and Mr. Longway told them he would teach them the meaning of the word "no".....The Pamelia Town Board rejected an effort to grant a PILOT to a housing developer despite pleas from the JCIDA and FDRLO..... Now there are a couple of schools of thought on this....There is Mr. Longway who adhere's to the old school, use your own money, get your own loan, keep the nanny state out of my life attitude (except when you need a water and sewer line to your otherwise useless property.) Then there is the collegial crowd of economic developers and Fort Drum advocates who see subsidy as the means to an end. The Donald vs The Larry. It must have been a good show. Watertown Daily Times Pamelia council rejects deal on PILOT

WDT: Just When I Thought I Had Heard It All

Am I the only one who is perplexed and troubled when I read about a public body voting on a budget and tax levy without ever revealing what it is ? Is this story true? Did the General Brown School Board actually vote on a budget without revealing what they are voting on, instead telling taxpayers they could have the numbers the next day ? OK, I get it....let the professionals handle the spending on education of our youth...don't subject volunteer board members to the "gotcha" media with their fancy questions and their high and mighty people's "right to know." Maybe the WDT shouldn't even print that this happened..... Watertown Daily Times District is mum on plan figures

Teacher Uses Her Facebook Page to Announce School Board Candidacy

  A former Watertown School Board Member says she plans on running to get back on the Board this year....Elizabeth Slack-Joles teaches math in Carthage but lives in Watertown. Good Luck Liz !

Council Scratches Its Head Over Billing Issues at Fairgrounds

   City Council has decided to hire an outside auditor to take a look at billiing and accounting issues that have surfaced at the Fairgrounds Arena and Recreation Department.
    Uncollected bills and other issues have trickled out and lawmakers want a fresh set of eyes and recommendations for better bookkeeping.
     Council also gave a tentative OK to a group of cave explorers who want to take a look-see at the caves under Watertown.
     The Council also reaffirmed a three to two vote to drop plans for a sewer pump station and there was no consensus on moving ahead with geo thermal power at the Library and City Hall.
     There was also a lengthy presentation on new civil service job descriptions for city workers and there is a proposal to reinstate step pay for management that was eliminated in 1992.
      There was no decision on funding requests for two local food banks.
       Next Monday, the City Manager's proposed budget is released.

Results of Senator Ritchie's 2011 Legislative Community Survey | New York State Senate

Most of the results in the Patty Ritchie poll are predictable...People want on time budgets and lower taxes and more jobs....But only 54% want wine in grocery stores...Is there a religious streak in the Patty flock that doesn't want us to come in such close contact alcohol while we are buying our Twinkies and Ovaltine. Results of Senator Ritchie's 2011 Legislative Community Survey New York State Senate

Monday, April 11, 2011

Libous: Sorry, But They Aren’t Linked

With the budget done, what is going on in Albany...Well they are talking about the tax cap and rent control and the apparent linkage between the two.... One issue I haven't heard much about is WIGS (wine in grocery stores.) JR keeps asking me about it, but I can't believe they have not taken a swipe at this apparent low hanging fruit..... I don't know what else will surface this spring, but with no budget to worry about, lawmakers might be tempted to pass even more inane laws regulating our lives.... Libous: Sorry, But They Aren’t Linked

Hey, We Do Our Part for Education

    Getting all sorts of comments that I don't like education....Well I do...I got good grades and think I learned a lot back in the day. I pay my taxes and at Fort Pearl we generate revenue for education through the Lottery.
    I know its heresy to some to question the $40K spend on the Warren Fargo sign in front of WHS...I know its a problem to question the proliferation of districts all with replicated sets of admnistrators, bus fleets and collective barganing agreements crafted by fleets of lawyers...
   But since I was given the skills to write and think independently I will continue...Sorry MCM.


       BOCES Superintendent Jay Boak wrote me a nice letter and if I knew how to post it here I would...Basicly he defends his recently proposed budget saying the bulk of the 11% hike in administrative costs is to fund the health benefits of retirees.
        This week both NYSUT and BOCES have written letters...Must be I am speaking truth to power.

Azaleas....Not Evident to the Trained Eye

I was watching the Masters on Saturday while working at the bar and chatting with customers about the event, especially the great scenery and grounds at Augusta National.....The flowers were beautiful and I ask one of the customers who happens to be a local florist if those were azaleas. I figured it would be a chance to demonstrate knowledge of his trade.....but when asked the Florist said, "I don't know." A few minutes later he proclaimed them to be azaleas claiming he needed a closer look...Its a 46 inch high def TV...How close a look do you need ? Good thing I didn't ask what's blooming at the Cherry Blossom Festival. Azalea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

WDT: Executive Sessions Used as Shield Against Public Hearing What's Happening

Kudos to Perry White for pointing out the contempt there is for open government in some quarters.....It's the use of so called "executive sessions" to discussion public policy issues. It's not a new issue, but the betrayal of public trust is being taken to new levels by, guess who ? districts... Watertown Daily Times Betraying the public

WDT: Superintendents Shoot At Albany Again

Never have so many been paid so much to do so much complaining....Superintendents from St. Lawrence County's 17...that's right districts are whining about how the state does business and insist that's the reason they had to cut positions.... No, the reason is there isn't enough money to continue as things are now and that means making cuts. That's what Albany, in its convoluted dysfunctional way, was trying to say....Its not about formulas and pitting regions of the state against one another. In a small way....with a two percent cut....the superintendents are being told to get their job done. They and their posse of fellow administrators are among the economic elite in this relatively poor region of NYS.... If schools are "squeezed" so be it....Necessity is the mother of invention and lavishing more money on a situation is not the answer. Watertown Daily Times Albany is faulted for squeeze on schools

Ex-senator Hiram Monserratte, once accused of slicing his girlfriend, is now serving up slices at a Queens pizzeria -

One of the former Democratic state senators who caused New York and his party considerable grief over his activities in and out of office may have taken a new course in's called the private sector... Retired cop and Senator Hiram Montserrate is working at a pizza shop in Queens he apparently owns....I am sure it will be a character builder for him. As a Senator, Mr. Montserrate was a part of the now famous coup that gave power to the GOP and then back to the Democrats....He also slashed his girlfriends face and later was expelled from the Senate. Since then the GOP gained control of the body the old fashioned way, through an election. Ex-senator Hiram Monserratte, once accused of slicing his girlfriend, is now serving up slices at a Queens pizzeria -

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Plouffe: Obama still wants tax hikes for wealthy - POLITICO Live -

President Obama's version of Karl Rove says the POTUS still wants higher taxes for the wealthy...Funny, as here in liberal NY an effort to impose a millionaire's tax was rolled back.....One must guess the President believes we can keep spending and those pesky rich people will foot the bill.....The rich are going to have to work a lot harder to cover the current deficit. Plouffe: Obama still wants tax hikes for wealthy - POLITICO Live -

NYT: Mario Cuomo, Still A Liberal

The NYT Magazine reports Mario Cuomo is still a liberal, even though his son has been a little more restrained in his leftward tendencies.....Of course, Andrew has to be more restrained by necessity, since the state was careening off a fiscal cliff and could still do so. The current Cuomo in the Mansion chose not to comment for the Times story, suggesting he may not want to harm his dad's legacy, which along with George Pataki helped get us where we are. Mario Cuomo, Still A Liberal

Newzjunky - McGrath: It's Too Early to Think About Running Again

My guess is he doesn't run against freshman Assembly Ken Blankenbush......Democrat Brian McGrath is holding a political event in June that looks like a prelude to running, but I figure McGrath stays visible, but has to concentrate on earning a living, which for him has mostly been his lucrative legal work in NYC...... Assemblyman Blankenbush stumbled with release of the hairnet photo yesterday, but generally has been working hard and keeping a high profile. In this generally GOP district, Mr. B looks in good shape unless there is a radical change in redistricting. Mr. McGrath ran strong in the open seat race last year getting 45%. Newzjunky - McGrath: It's Too Early to Think About Running Again

Post: Brett Favre scandal derailed TV gal's dream

JETS hostess and former swimsuit model Jenn Sterger has detailed how now retired and once great Brett Favre ruined her live with those nasty sext messages....Come on, she was 25 and he was 38..they were all adults...perhaps behaving poorly but still able to deal with life... Nonetheless its a resurfacing of some of the bad press that dogged Favre as his careet wound down in Minnesota last year..... With Mark Sanchez at the helm, the JETS have since been to a pair of AFC Championship games and hopefully get their again this year. Brett Favre scandal derailed TV gal's dream, ex-manager says -

WDT:No PILOTS in Pamelia

Pamelia Supervisor Larry Longway is speaking heresy to the powerful when he forbids payment in lieu of tax deals on housing in his town....Mr. Longway says he himself is building housing without subsidy and doesn't think others should get it....The Supervisor says he remembers a day when developers reached into their own...and not the public's pocket....for money to do things. Larry, those were the good old days... Watertown Daily Times Pamelia balks at tax-deal proposal

Post: Errant Teachers Pay Fines to Get Back in Classroom

NYC Teachers confined for years to a rubber room for discipline are being set loose with some just paying a monetary fine to head back to the classroom...Others agree to counseling or substance abuse testing...while others agree to be let go in exchange for a satisfactory recommendation so they can get a teaching job elsewhere..... The rubber rooms have come under criticism for allowing six figure teachers to just hang out doing nothing because it is too difficult to fire them. Something needed to be done for sure. Teachers removed from class do U-turns after paying DOE fines -

WDT: Another Stab at Accreditation Possible ?

With a new director at the Thompson Park Zoo and some new board members, everyone hopes the facility can once again be accredited and after a kerfuffle last year over the Aviary, City Hall is certainly supportive of this facility....As we always have been. While the Thompson Park Conservancy has done wonders in raising money and running the Zoo, the City has been there too with an annual stipend, electricity and maintenance of the buildings owned by the City. Council has unified behind a new proposal to renovate the flagging Aviary into a useful building. In fact the RFP's have gone out for engineering work on the Aviary and when those are returned in early May, City Hall can move ahead with awarding that phase of the project. By any standards, a City our size shouldn't expect to have jewels like Thompson Park or the Zoo, but we do and that's the result of hard work and support from many people. The Park is a better place than 20 years ago and we all hope improvements can continue for many years to come. Watertown Daily Times Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York

WDT: Owens on the Bubble on Debt Expansion

Rep. Bill Owens says he may support an increase in the nation's debt load, even though he opposed such a measure in the past....Mr. Owens tells the WDT he thinks the recently agreed to series of spending cuts may provide the rationale for allowing debt to rise. In fact, if Congress does not allow debt to rise above the current $14.3 trillion current spending could not continue. That's the dichotomy Mr. Owens and others find themselves in as the practicle and political realities are there will be more debt. Only if there are sufficient other votes on a debt deal, will Mr. Owens or others be in a position to vote no. Deficits will be the issue du jour in 2012 as fiscal hawk Matt Doheny likely challenges Mr. Owens who is in his first full term in Congress since being elected in a special election in 2009. Watertown Daily Times Owens sticks to intent to limit spending