Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dinner with the Donald

    A source at the Derby fundraiser for Family Counseling tells me Don Alexander bought the dinner with me at Pete's
    Mr. Alexander runs the JCIDA, is a former radio executive and was once host of the HOTLINE, which is of course his most redeeming value.
    I hope he paid a lot as it is a good cause. UPDATE:  He paid $35.....Guess I am not a sought after dinner partner.

Osama at Home....Only Slightly Better than a Cave

From what I could see of these "home movies" released today, Osama bin Laden looked pretty marginalized sitting in his ratty and dishelved home...Even the original news accounts of a million dollar villa have been debunked by local real estate agents. Worst of all, he had numerous building code violations and a deliquent water bill...The good news is they have running water.
Video shows bin Laden watching himself on TV - Yahoo! News

Dinner With Me !

Today is the Kentucky Derby Day fundraiser over at the Italian American Club...Starts at 4PM....
This is the event I donated a dinner at Pete's for their auction...The event benefits Family Counseling Service of Jefferson County..
Its for charity and I don't know who would buy such a thing....You can have dinner with me at Pete's most nights anyway, it is just this time I am paying for it. (If you don't care for me, but like the charity you can have the dinner without me)
Kentucky Derby Day Fundraiser (3)

New York University Student Maurice Harary Refunding Profits From Osama Bin Laden Death T-Shirts « CBS New York

Here's a NYU student who says he feels guilty about his quickly concocted business venture to sell t-shirts emblazoned with Osama bin Laden's birth and death years. Why feel guilty ? The President isn't missing a beat when it comes to reaping the benefits of the death of Osama...
Look, I wouldn't buy the shirt or wear it...Maybe 30 years ago, I would have. It just doesn't appeal to me now..But if there is a market for it and its legal, this guy shouldn't feel guilty...Perhaps he put his e-commerce site up quicker than he had a supplier and the means to process the orders....
If you don't want to sell them, then don't...But don't tell me about how you are returning the profits...That's the reason for doing it in the first place.
New York University Student Maurice Harary Refunding Profits From Osama Bin Laden Death T-Shirts « CBS New York

Teachers the First Union to Back BHO Reelection

Teachers are first in line to back the reelection of President Obama, with the National Education Association formally committing to the incumbent. The NEA has 3.2 million members and is the largest teachers union......Just about all of organized labor will be behind the President before its over.
The President is riding a rush of good will over the bin Laden killing, but unemployment did just bump up again, rising to 9%......Four dollar a gallon gas is also dogging the President. Once the Osama raid fades, the economy will keep the race within reach for the GOP, but the President will still be hard to beat.
N.E.A. Advances Endorsement for Obama in 2012 -

WDT: Russell Wants Utah Style Guest Worker Program

Its not often a reporter in NNY gets to make reference to the "Beehive State" which is of course the nickname for Utah.....Such is the case for WDT scribe Amaral as he got to write about a proposal by Assemblywoman Addie Russell to pattern NY immigration policy after that western state.
Ms. Russell wants a guest worker program similar to Utah where employers can use non-citizens as long as they are employed. The issue stems from the Henderson dairy farm raided by nattily attired federal agents earlier this year.....The farmer was struggling to even find people willing to do the work and the raid was widley criticised as nonsense by most of us, except for the local media that got some good video for the evening news.
It's ironic that we are finding ways to use immigrant labor because domestic labor won't take the jobs. Where is organized labor who always pulling the strings of local pols whenever someone who is not local is hired to do something ?
I say let these farmers run their businesses as they see fit and use the labor that's available. If Ron McDougal won't milk cows, use who will.
Watertown Daily Times Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York

Friday, May 6, 2011

WDT: More Lobbying for What People are Not Acquainted With

The people who represent this area in Albany continue to lobby for the saving of the Tug Hill Commission and the media continues to report dutifully on the effort....Let's take a reality check here..Most of the people have no idea what the Tug Hill Commission is....I know it's heresy to say that, but I really believe its true...
The lawmakers who say they are voting against gay marriage because they say that's what the people want will in their next breath lobby for Tug Hill....Is that too because the people want it ?
I know the director of the Commision and he's a great guy...very smart and engaging to talk to...But I gotta tell you, you could fit the people who know what this agency does in the barroom at Pete's Restaurant.....
It's like the crazy debate I remember as a young reporter about the St. Lawrence Eastern Ontario Commission...The media talked about it as if it was something real and tangible....Yet it was not...
Watertown Daily Times Legislators pen letter to SAGE on Tug Hill Commission

County Treasurer Retiring Next Week, Considering Legislature Run

The speculation is on concerning who will be the next Jefferson County Treasurer as longtime bean counter Nancy Brown is resigning the office effective next Friday. She will take retirement and according to Newzjunky may turn around and run for the County Legislature seat now held by Bobby Ferris......Republicans already angered at Brown's out the door criticism of their stewardship of county government would pull out the stops to beat her in the primarily GOP district.....
Two years ago in an open seat race, Mr. Ferris narrowly beat Democrat Paul Simmons.
Democrats have been circumspect...make that secretive about who the Governor will appoint to the vacancy and that person will run this year for a full term.
Republicans have said they are having trouble coming up with a candidate.

On another political note...I wish the lawyers running for judge would read the election law and quit asking how to get the Independence line......There is no out of party authorization needed in judicial races, meaning any candidate can run for any line....
County Treasurer Retiring Next Week, Considering Legislature Run

North Elementary Students Rally for Fitness

     Dozens of students at North Elementary School received medals today for participating in a fitness program called the Mighty Milers.
    The students are running in a program organized by Phys Ed Czar Jerry Levine who was nice enough to invite me to help present medals to the youngsters.
    My message was pay attention to fitness and nutrition as its something they will benefit from for years to come...
    The kids were enthusiastic and very well behaved....Lots of parents there too to support their children.
    A very nice event.

NYers United For Marriage: Because Your Mother Said So

Mother's Day is the latest hook for promoting the marriage equality agenda...Apparently Mom would want it approved, or so advocates for gay marriage say.....
Well, Mom never said that to me but come to think of it I don't she cares one way or the other....
Lobbying is getting intense in advance of a Senate vote on the matter.
Memo to Patty: Prisons for Marriage
NYers United For Marriage: Because Your Mother Said So

Dirty Politics Leads to Taxpayers Paying the Bill

Dirty deeds, but not dirt cheap....State taxpayers are paying $600,000 to settle a case against the man running the Fifth Judicial District of NYS Supreme Court.....The clerk for Onondaga County Family Court brought the suit against Justice James Tormey who is chief administrative judge for all the courts in six counties, including Jefferson and Lewis.
The allegation was that Tormey tried to get the clerk to dish dirt on then Family Court Judge David Klim who was running for Supreme Court as a Democrat.
One lawyer says the case was moved to federal court in Utica where it would attract less attention and the settlement indicates there is merit to the case....The settlement brushes the disturbing matter under the carpet.
A year ago the same judge was fined $2000 for "gross negligence" in a matter reported by the Post Standard. In general, the clubby world of media and lawyers have downplayed the story.
The controversy may affect this year's Supreme Court races as justices sitting in Jefferson and Lewis Counties are retiring and Justice Tormey was said to be orchestrating the placement of colleagues from Onondaga County on the ballot, thus leaving the northern counties without sitting judges.
This may boost the candidacies of Lewis County's Charles Merrell and Jefferson County's James McClusky, who are both seeking a seat.
The machinations behind Supreme Court nominations are notorious around the state for their wheeling and dealing.......Having seen the process up close, I can assure you its high stakes as unlike a local yokal office, these jobs carry substantial pay and benefits as well as influence.
Former Onondaga County family court clerk to get $600,000 in settlement of lawsuit against judge, court officials

WDT: Passage of 4% Sales Tax Bill Sought But Unlikely to Happen

Those sales tax renewal debates for amounts over 3% on the local level has prompted some lawmakers to call for a blanket bill to allow counties to go to 4% (8% overall) without seeking home-rule legislation.
It is unlikely to pass, meaning state legislators will still have to go out on a limb in supporting the local taxes and local lawmakers will have to cut the deals necessary to get state support....
This week's housing for sales tax deal...or prior deals to compel a County takeover of the Watertown Airport are examples of state lawmakers leveraging their sway over home rule.
A phenomenon we told you of here has resulted in state lawmakers being subject to a big "gotcha" as these requests can be tallied up as evidence of a candidate being a big taxer.
So a continuation of 3.75% will sunset again in two years and an arrangement will have to be made once again.
Assemblywoman Addie Russell opposes the 4% bill, saying rightly that the current process provides an additional level of contemplation before a higher tax is asked for...
The current system isn't perfect, but it does force local officials to be flushed out and justify their desire for higher sales taxes....Which means maybe they will feel the need to cut property taxes in exchange for the sales tax.
Watertown Daily Times Passage of sales tax bill unlikely

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No Name Wins First Debate of GOP Season

Its no surprise the Donald is not scoring well among Empire State Republicans...but nobody is...The GOP field continues to languish.....In a debate tonight in Greenville, SC, the most obscure of candidates named Herman Cain was the choice of a FOX News focus group after the first debate of the season....
Granted the so called upper tier candidates were not there (except Pawlenty) but Mr. Cain bowled over the crowd...He is no doubt a decent man and his showing and the reaction seems to indicate Republicans may be looking for someone other the purported front runners.
YNN/Marist Poll: NYers To Would-Be Candidate Trump, ‘You’re Fired!’

Sources: Bin Laden Acted 'Cowardly,' Confused in Final Moments -

We feel the need to pile on...Asserting that bin Laden was "cowardly" when confronted in the middle of the night by two dozen Navy Seals who had just landed in his back yard....Fact is, he is dead...Killed in retaliation for an outrageous and brutal attack on America...
If those same two dozen Seals had landed at Fort Pearl in the middle of the night, I am sure I would have been wobbly and could call that cowardly...
We have no way of knowing what his mindset was or anything else for that matter....There is too much time being spent trying to characterize what happened...The mission was to kill Osama...That's what happened...End of story...
The alleged mannerisms of a criminal standing in his PJs in the middle of the night is of no consequence....
Sources: Bin Laden Acted 'Cowardly,' Confused in Final Moments -

Thursday in the Life of Your Humble Public Servant

    What a busy day...Ted Ford called me early for some lobbying on baseball...I spent the better part of an hour explaining I am not opposed to the national pasttime....
    Went out to Robbe Sales on Rt. 283 to order some shirts and a jacket. I lost the one I just got with the City seal on it...Looking at some new shirts for staff this summer...Nothing as racy as the Kilt but I can't keep up with Doreen on fashion....
     Then I was at City Hall this afternoon doing some prep work for Monday's meeting...and did an interview with the WDT's Craig Fox.  
    Now I am at Pete's where the new bartender, Callie is working...I liked the old one, Krista....But she left for greener pastures.

Like It or Not the Heat is Building on Gay Marriage Lobbying

Same sex marriage commercials are showing up on television as a vote nears on the controversial bill that failed two years ago in the Senate by a 38-24 margin...To pass this time, some minds will have to change including the minds of some Republicans...So far everyone says they are voting the wishes of their district by supporting marriage as only being between a man and a woman...
As more people (today President Clinton) make pleas for its passage , its no longer clear there is an overwhelming sentiment one way or the other.
I think the heat (see preceding post) from the Governor will be intense.
NY Legislature to vote on gay marriage; Cuomo optimistic - NewsChannel 9 WSYR

With Andy's Agenda On the Line, Our Senator Will Be Popular

   Had a well placed gadfly call today and we were chatting about various things including the pressures that will be brought to bear on Senator Ritchie as a couple of key issues float through Albany this spring.
   Governor Cuomo wants a tax cap, gay marriage and ethics reform...The Governor doesn't enjoy losing, especially after his much heralded budget performance...Marriage equality is the tough issue as the Governor needs three or four GOP votes to make it happen and he has assured the LGBT coalition he will do so.
   Senator Ritchie needs to keep five prisons open in her district.
    Is that the beginning of  a beautiful relationship ?
    Linkages are what lawmaking is all about...Always been that way..
    The tax cap is being linked to NYC rent control...Upstaters want the cap...a limited but influential downstate crowd wants rent control.
     Who knows what will happen, but I can foresee the freshman Senator being summoned to the Second Floor for some "frank" discussions about those five prisons.
       That would be a little more stressful than her meeting with County Legislators, but then again its nice to be in a position where people need you.

Nuancing the Gay Marriage Issue Isn't Easy

Is "marriage" the same as a "civil union" ? With a vote on "marriage equality" likely this year, Senator Patty Ritchie has come down on the side of voting against it, but she says she would support a bill to allow civil unions....I guess that means all the legal trappings of marriage without the word "marriage" being ascribed to the couple.
There are a handful of states that allow same sex marriage,
Marriage is a sacrament and is an aspect of just about every religion. But to be really "married" and get the benefits of the institution you have to have the imprimatur of the state.Civil unions are like the state denying you a driver's license, but instead granting you a "transportation facilitiation permit." Its the same thing, isn't it ?
Maybe the state shouldn't do marriages at all, since government's role is just about benefits and who gets to go to family court.
Let the churches bestow the title of marriage and let the Legislature spend a little time this summer on mandate relief and the tax cap.
You may kiss the civil partner.
Ritchie Explains Her "No" On Gay Marriage WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY North Country Politics

Cuomo Calls Obama Ground Zero Trip "Appropriate"....Sounds Like He Doesn't Mean It

President Obama is in NYC today if not to spike the football, to at least spend a little time in the end zone savoring the moment. The President will travel to Ground Zero for a wreath laying to mark Sunday's killing of Osama bin Laden by US commandos who stormed his Pakistan home.
This September is the tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, so there will no doubt be heavy duty ceremonies then.
Today's ceremony was passed up on by Presidents Bush and Clinton who were invited. Maybe Jimmy Carter would have come.
The President has also taped an interview for 60 Minutes which will air Sunday.
On the one hand the White House won't release photos of the raid as it would inflame Muslim sensitivities, but then the President is on a media tour to keep attention from...the pesky deficit...
Today's trip to NYC is unnecessary and gratuitous.
Cuomo Calls Obama Ground Zero Trip "Appropriate" New York Daily News

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is It Wrong to Air Opinions ?...I Don't Think So

    I had a comment tonight suggesting that I am less popular because I am being too opinionated in my blogging. (I assume its because I came to an informed opinion about the sales tax for housing trade off.)
    It always amazes me that some get so upset at a blog...
    Fifty years ago, one tried to air views by letting the MSM brass overhear you in the bar at the Black River Valley Club.
    Ten years ago, maybe you hoped the news czar on the next Stairmaster at the "Y" would hear your musings to your friend on the other side of you.
    Nowadays, maybe your audience is a blog where anywhere from a handfull to a couple hundred people can hear your opinions. Hardly mass media.
    There have always been opinions and I think there are some people who enjoy an interpretive look at politics and the news.
     While its true you may read things here you haven't heard elsewhere, but there are a lot of things I know about you don't get to read...That's the job of the MSM.
     Like any product, what's on here is edited although most of the comments go through...It is my blog and my opinions, so is it self serving ? Yes, of course it is.....
     Now here's a good opinion for you...It was publicly stated at the Council meeting. City staff told the Council the parcel of land being used for the new nursing home on Washington Street is the most difficult and expensive land in the city to develop because of terrain, rock, access and difficulty in delivering utilities....The issues are adding millions of dollars in development costs to this publicly funded project.....
    Now if I expressed that opinion I would be quickly reminded that the County is putting money in the City and that this is a popular project among the movers and shakers...All of that is true, but what's so wrong with people knowing the whole story ?
     But I promise, no more opinion today.

Inside bin Laden's Compound//Gruesome Scenes

For those who want to see pictures of the dead, Reuter's has them...Taken of the other men killed in the shoot out at Osama's house.....Should have scooped up these bodies too if the Admnistration doesn't want to offend by showing pictures of dead Al Quaeda members.....
As Dan Francis aptly said on the HOTLINE today, when you have seen dead people up close, you don't need to see more.
Inside bin Laden's Compound

Indians Balk at Code Name for Osama Operation

Political correctness has reared its head again after the US military assigned the code name "Geronimo" to  last weekends mission to take our terror icon Osama bin Laden. Seems the Oneidas and other tribes didn't take a liking to this most senstive of President's choice of monikers for the 9/11 mastermind.
The Oneidas want the President to renounced use of the phrase....
I am sure it was just a playful choice of a word often used for things like skydiving...If President Bush had used it, yes that would have been racist...but not in the context of the Obama Administration.
Time for the Oneidas to lighten up ?
State of Politics Blog

Obama Nixes Gruesome Photo

We didn't really need to see it, did we ? - Why Obama Nixed the Photo Release - Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aubertine: Gay Marriage Not An Issue For Me

The great thing about being AG Commissioner instead of a Senator is you don't have to take a stand on things marriage. When your job is to go to county fairs, nobody cares what you have to say about marriage equality...I am sure that is one part of being a Senator, Mr. Aubertine does not miss. There are probably a lot of things he doesn't miss come to think of it.
Aubertine: Gay Marriage Not An Issue For Me

Evanston rejects Tilted Kilt...Too Sexy for the Heartland

I guess I missed a chance to huff and puff about family values and the relationship between attractive ladies and selling beer...Officials in Evanston IL have successfully blocked the opening of a Tilted Kilt Restaurant like the one on Arsenal Street in Watertown.
Evanston officials, including the mayor, said the chain attempts to promote the sale of beer through waitresses clad in sexy attire...Another example of a public official grasping the obvious....
The Tilted Kilt in Watertown is owned by a prominent local businesswoman and faced no opposition upon opening. One of the waitresses is competing for a national calendar competition.
I have been there a couple of times including the other night after a City Council meeting when I discovered to my dismay the kitchen closed at 10 and the bar at 11. Pretty tame if you ask me.
The mayor of Evanston will have a lot of businesses and beaches to close if the atmosphere at the Kilt is judged as over the top.
Evanston rejects Tilted Kilt sexy uniforms -

Home Rule...And Why Its Important in Matters Like Sales Tax

   New York is what is called a home rule state.....Local governments derive their authority to govern based on actions of the State Legislature.
   For instance, a city can regulate taxi cabs because the Legislature said so.  Regulating the sale of alcohol is not something local governments are authorized to do.
    So, in many cases, for a local government to impose say, a sales tax, there is a requirement for home rule legislation. Sometimes that legislation is written with sunsets, such as the .75% issue being considered now.
   Sunsets are put in to create the illusion of the tax being temporary, and they allow the state legislator sponsoring the bill to have leverage over local decisions.
   Due to etiquette, you pretty much have to have your local Senators or Members of Assembly carry the bill or it will not pass.
   Many home rule bills are perfunctory, but ones that carry taxes are sensitive. While passing a home rule bill may seem a harmless way to help a local government, a political foe can easily add up all those home rule bills and declare that lawmaker to be a chronic taxer.
   That is what was done when Assemblywoman Scozzafava ran for Congress, although her campaign suffered from other woes as well.
    One example would be legislation that would allow the City of Watertown to increase fees for death certificates...It required home rule and normally a legislator would get this approved. Not so this year as no one wants their fingerprints on any tax or fee.  In this case its no big deal, but in the case of sales tax it is a big deal for local governments.
    That is why in exchange for carrying the water on this tax, Senator Patty Ritchie was able to extract from the County certain promises her office felt important.
     "Yes I raised taxes, but in doing so I ensured economic growth by helping meet the critical housing needs of our brave soldiers and their families,"  the press release should read.
     That's not Reaganesque, but it is Reagenesque.

WDT: County Legislators Angered at Me ?

Angered at me ? The WDT reports county legislators were angered at my "conjecture" that lawmakers and Senator Ritchie reached a "quid pro quo" linking sales tax extension to the County ponying up $2million for housing construction.
It's nothing to be angry over...That's the horse trading that is politics.
Frankly, my ability to recognize the obvious shouldn't anger anyone..
I felt the connections quite obvious and actually commend Chairperson Fitzpatrick for getting the deal done. That's what you are supposed to do..
For the record, I don't use the blog to release things indiscriminately, but I will continue to use this venue to state the obvious and keep the public informed on my take on the workings of government.

Watertown Daily Times Ritchie backs continuing sales tax

Bush declines Obama invitation to ground zero - Yahoo! News

President Obama's victory lap at Ground Zero tomorrow was not of interest to his predecessor who had spent so much time pursuing Osama bin Laden....President Bush declined an offer to appear. That's a smart move.
The well executed plan to eliminate the terror czar was an important win for the US and a catharsis for those still grieving....I don't see the need to go to Manhattan, unless Mr. Obama is squeezing in a few more fundraisers in his favorite money town.
Bush declines Obama invitation to ground zero - Yahoo! News

Assembly bill cuts Styrofoam cups

More Assembly bill would require a system be set up to recycle mercury thermometers...ban the use of Styrofoam cups....and require packing "peanuts" to be made of recyclable materials...State purchases would also be geared to "envirnmentally sensitive" products.
More cost..more a state that can afford neither...
Assembly bill cuts Styrofoam cups - Times Union

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

WDT: Ritchie is a "no" on gay marriage

My new favorite State Senator says she is against same sex marriage, but the WDT suggests Patty Ritchie says she personally is OK with it but will vote against it later this year because her constituents are against it. Who knows if they are ?
The Senator's office says the news accounts on her position are confusing and that she is indeed personally against gay marriage.
One can argue the constituents are for or against a lot of things but that a representitives vote doesn't always go that way...But the safe choice is likely to stay against it..Let the downstaters muster the votes to pass it.....There are no LGBT groups up here to pander to for support or money...
Senator Ritchie' s predecessor, Darrel Aubertine also opposed marriage equality so her position doesn't change the gay marriage balance of power.
Watertown Daily Times Ritchie is a "no" on gay marriage

IDC Proposes Hospital Ban On ‘Deadly Ties’

When in the hospital, beware ties...long sleeve lab coats and jewelry...They all harbor germs and a group of Senate Democrats wants them banned....This is what happens when you get the budget done before summer recess.
IDC Proposes Hospital Ban On ‘Deadly Ties’

Silver To Introduce His Own Tax Cap

No matter how much the 'great unwashed' wants it, the libs like Speaker Silver just can't bring themselves to embrace the Governor's modest plan for a 2% tax cap. Feeling the heat the Speaker is going to propose his own version of a cap that includes exemptions....Probably an opt-out with a note from the local NYSUT chief....
The fact he is talking compromise is something for Mr. Silver, whose caucus is generally unopposed and well insulated from concerns over property taxes.
Silver To Introduce His Own Tax Cap

Natural Bridge Woman Wins Big In Lottery

The most sought after woman in Natural Bridge is no doubt Barb Furney...winner of $3 Million on a Lottery scratch off ticket.....As we told you over the weekend, it was sold at the Carthage market...I didn't run the name them as my only source was a local florist.....Good journalism requires you have at least one florist and a gadfly before going with the story.
Feedback: Natural Bridge Woman Wins Big In Lottery WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

Gax Tax Holiday: Its a Gimmick

I am not a big fan of gimmick tax exemptions, even though I have supported them in the past...I was wrong...The better policy is to seek property or income tax relief or lower the the overall sales tax rate. These gasoline or clothing exemptions are pure politics.....
Anyway, the 7.75% sales tax rate is being preserved and that ironically will mean more revenue for local government as these gas prices rise and people visit our area this summer....The clarion call is for property tax relief...I know what the "play it safe" crowd says, but I can add....The gas run up allows local government to profiteer (yes, their price for gas is higher too). Skip the exemptions and go right to property tax relief.
Gax Tax Holiday: It Would Be So Nice? WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY North Country Politics

Osama Bin Laden Gave a Neighborhood Boy 2 Bunnies

With the world's MSM descending on the Abbottabad home of Osama bin Laden, the interesting stories are unfolding, especially the 12 year old who visited children in the compound and was given two pet rabbits by the slain Al Quaeda leader.
While most neighbors claim not to know who their famous neighbor was, the living in plain sight story is revealing. Also interesting are the changing stories about the confrontation leading to the death of bin Laden. Administration officials now say the 54 year old terrorist was not armed and the woman shielding him was not his wife.....Initial statements were contrary to that...Must be the fog of war enveloping Washington.
Meanwhile some reports claim the Obama Administration is releasing a death photo but other reports say not so fast....And for the President some welcome news...A poll is out pegging his approval number at 56%.
Osama Bin Laden dead: Pakistan spy agency's failures over Abbottabad hideout Mail Online

Adams: Security Funds Should Go To Protection, Not Smoke Alarms

The death of Osama bin Laden has refocused some on the issue of homeland security and how we spend the large amounts of money dedicated to the cause...One State Senator from Brooklyn says the money is being misdirected into pet projects like buying smoke alarms...or we might add...buying all sorts of different police vehicles and gadgets...We have all sorts of people on NNY highways and even some who stand in Sackets Harbor and look at the water all day.
Senator Adams is probably right...But as long as everyone is adicted to grants in local government, this stuff will happen.
Adams: Security Funds Should Go To Protection, Not Smoke Alarms

Japan the Winner in NYC Taxi Contest

We don't have medallions, taxi commissions or even meters....and we certainly don't choose what kind of car to drive...But in NYC, its not America First as Nissan gets the nod for the preferred cab on city streets and Ford has to take a back seat....
I still like the old Checker cabs...They were big and sturdy...But finally went out of business years ago.
It would have been nice to see Fords on the streets of the Big Apple. There was a time a mayor of NYC wouldnt' dare buy fleet vehicles from Japan...Times have changed,
New York picks new taxi: Nissan cab is the big winner

Beyonce, Michelle Obama Today Urge Kids to Get Off Their Butts

Today perhaps in a school near you students will be encoraged to dance...gyrate if you an effort to promote fitness and less obesity. The kids will be led by a stylishly dressed Beyonce. The program is also being promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Nobody disputes the need for youngsters to be more active in an era of video games and bad nutrition and the salty dacing by this pop star will perhaps get some movin' and shakin' going on....Wonder if any NNY schools are participating in what looks to be a very urban appeal event.
Beyonce, Michelle Obama urge kids to dance - KARIN TANABE POLITICO CLICK

City Council Hires Firm for Parks & Recreation Audit

City Council has hired a firm to do the audit of finances at the Fairgrounds and make recommendations for corrective action, It is important to find out not just what happened and why, and make changes to ensure the recreation facilities are run as an enterprise operation so that revenues can help support the important activities. The Council's swift action in putting an audit in place was the right move.
Council also agreed to move gingerly in making arrangement to lease the ball field for collegiate baseball, with all Council members agreeable to playing the game but very cautious about the issue of concessions. Nonetheless the City Manager was instructed to begin fleshing out new parameters for the Wizards contract.
City Council Hires Firm for Parks & Recreation Audit

Conservatives Grab Majority in Ottawa

The Conservatives have won a majority government in the Canadian Parliament, giving Prime Minister Stephen Harper the grip on Ottawa which so far has eluded him...The rival Liberals were crushed, finishing third behind the new opposition party, the New Democrats. ....Its the first time the NDP formed the loyal opposition and the first time the Liberals were not either first or second.
Unofficial returns gave the Conservatives 166 seats out of 308 in Parliament...The NDP had 104.
Conservatives soar to majority with NDP forming historic opposition -

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ritchie Coos Over County Lawmakers Trading $2M for Extender

In exchange for a $ 2million contribution to the regional housing effort, Jefferson County lawmakers have secured extension of the 7.75% sales tax.....Senator Patty Ritchie signaled support of the deal which requires she support home rule legislation that allows the tax to continue.
The Legislature and Ms. Ritchie put out concurrent press releases this evening praising each other. The quid pro quo is not the first time the Legislature has done something unrelated in order to get the sales tax authorization they want.
That level of sales tax has contributed to all local governments through a formula agreed to in 2004 when Kent Burto was Legislature chair and James Wright was State Senator. Senator Ritchie's use of horse trading is not new, but does show she understands politics better than one would think for a freshman...Sounds like something a career pol like me would dream up..

Progress is a Good Thing, Even If the Wags Don't Call It "Progressive"

        This is a good time to reflect on some of the aspects of what I guess for want of a better term would call a "progress agenda" in City government.
        This is the first year ever the value of taxable property in the City has exceeded one billion dollars...Growth provides the means to share the tax burden.
        It's also worth noting the average City property tax in real dollars has declined 16% in the past eight years from about $950 to about $825. 
        In a further positive development, the amount of general fund debt has declined by some six million dollars...That's real dollars and the percentage of general fund committed to debt service is dropping.
        The City fund balance is healthy, to the point we can increase the number of projects paid for in cash and I would encourage a reduction in the property tax levy as well.
        City Council is able to consider this year some one time assistance for a pair of community help agencies in the CAPC and the Urban Mission, and there is a committment to rebuild the aging Aviary in the Thompson Park Zoo, ensuring that attraction will remain popular. We are considering ways to expand hours at the Flower Memorial Library.
       Essential City services are also preserved, even though a tremendous spike in pension costs does cause some reason to pause when looking at five year projections.
      Water and sewer rates are either stable or falling slightly.
       This spring, City Council is focused on the budget, the hiring of a City Clerk and initiating an audit to help correct some things we could be doing better.
      The City is making progress on key fiscal matters, and that's a legacy worth leaving...Oh, and did I tell you our population increased in the most recent census...How many Upstate cities can claim that ?

Business Council Launches Ad For Prop Tax Cap

The excitement over the bin Laden killing will sooner or later give way to real public policy issues back home including Governor Cuomo's proposal for a property tax cap...The tax cap has its own issues and limitations, but it needs to be passed.
It is the only way I see a sense of urgency can be achieved for concurrent issues like mandate reform. Ironically the tax cap threat is the primary argument being used against me when I argue for a reduction in the tax levy to give back the overcollection of taxes that has resulted in a growing fund balance.
The argurment is that if you cut the levy 20%, then you can't get it back up again fast enough....Yes, that's true and that's also the keep the levy low...Besides, most cap proposals I have seen also have language to allow larger than 2% hikes with a super-majority referendum vote from the people.
Business Council Launches Ad For Prop Tax Cap

BHO Opted for Up Close and Personal Demise of bin Laden

Rather than opt for bombing the compound where Osama Bin Laden lived, President Obama is said to have said no to that plan in favor of a daring boots on the ground assault that would provide proof of the demise of Osama bin Laden. While more daring and dangerous, the special forces raid was far more effective and sent a more powerful message than another attack from 30,000 feet.
Instead of just suddenly being vaporized, bin Laden got to see his foe before taking a bullet to the head. Thanks to the bravery and skill of those two dozen on the ground, we got a measure of justice that is certain and appropriate.
President Obama Had Authorized Bombing of Compound in March but Wanting Evidence of OBL’s Death, Canceled It - Political Punch

No Cave for Osama After All

As the incredible tale of a US raid that claimed the life of Osama Bin Laden, his son, and three others unfolds, there are so many questions about what led to the successful raid. Over the years, many have opined Osama was living in a cave or had died from a kdney ailment.
Turns out he was living in an upscale suburb of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
An amazing story to be sure.
Osama bin Laden, world's most wanted terrorist, killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan Mail Online

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Dead

   Terrorist mastermind and originator of the 9-11 attacks Osama Bin Laden is dead....Reports surfaced late Sunday evening with President  scheduling a national address to announce the news.
    The most wanted criminal was killed in a US operation the President said took place today and was carried out by troops on the ground as a result of a tip received eight months ago.. The United States is said to be in possession of his remains.
    Comments ?

A Reminder to Vote

   I noticed the polls are still open for the Tilted Kilt calendar contest, and you are reminded to include among your 12 selections our local candidate, Danielle.
   Visit  and go to the 2012 calendar section to vote. You have to vote for 12 ladies.
    Oh, and speaking of elections, there is a contested race for Watertown School Board, but it must be a secret, so I am telling you here. The election is May 17.

New York City prices up by 14% since last year -

There is no reason to think this price survey is not generally applicable to those of us in NNY as well...Prices are going up and its not just gasoline...It doesn't seem to be part of the CPI numbers we are told about...
Of course the prices have to go as our inflationary monetary policy and addiction to "stimulus" is going to chase prices up.
But that's the old style economics...It's all different now..or so we are led to believe.
New York City prices up by 14% since last year -

‘Real American’ Zings Trump

The Donald didn't smile much as he took a ribbing from the President and others at the White House Correspondents Dinner held last night....Mr. Trump surely expected the onslaught when he decided to attend the black tie affair that has become as much a Hollywood affair as it is about journalism...Sort of a "We Love Us" festival headed up by a President still beloved by those present.
Mr. Trump had a mixed week. He brought the White House to its knees, forcing the release of the birth certificate, but he also absorbed charges of racism from Obama loyalists. Mr. Trump delivered an unfortunate, obscenity-laden speech in Las Vegas and has now become a punch line with the charismatic President himself willing to engage the Donald in battle.
Last night's round went to the President who is always at ease with this friendly audience....But for Mr. Trump it was still a chance to be seen as the big dog while other GOP contenders fade into the background.
‘Real American’ Zings Trump

A Wistful Morning on Pearl Street

   A lingering winter...a wet April and news of weather calamity elsewhere hasn't led to a love of Mother Nature, but today was the day to change all that...
    Putting the dog out today showed quickly he could stay out all day (although at 15 he doesn't want to) and there was no need for a jacket with temperatures near 70.....I decided to walk to the convenience store for papers and coffee (on Sundays I buy a WDT and a NYP) and was able to pause on the Pearl Street Bridge to enjoy the roaring waters and how much I wouldn't want to fall in.. I could see the ruins of a hydro plant at the Black Clawson sight and thought about how great it would be to capture the energy going by...
     I walked by Black River Paper and thought about the ordinance we are passing on Monday to help out Homer Perkins with parking in front of his home on Thompson Blvd.  A letter to the editor in todays Times actually ripped Homer...That's low rent.
     It was nice not to use any gasoline or pay the taxes that go with it...Felt like I was getting away with something...My walk was healthy, enjoyable and totally of no benefit to government or Big Oil.
     I got back to Fort Pearl in time for my talking heads and a read of the papers before the selling of the devil's brew begins at noon.
     Enjoy your day !

WDT: Loo-Loo of a Complaint Coming Monday

Here's the restroom story.
There is no answer to the man's question as the purchase of the prefabricated restrooms was a part of the design of an entire project that does involve a lot of on site work for contractors. The fact restrooms can be purchased from a company in Nevada and transported to distant places is evidence of a global economy...
Watertown Daily Times Pre-fab restrooms anger union leader

WDT: Pearl Street a Breeding Ground for Small Business

Another former employee of mine on Pearl Street is going on to bigger and better things in the hospitality industry. Lisa Reed is co owner of the Cafe Mira in Adams, a charming gourmet restaurant that has had to be rebuilt after a fire and is now recipient of an award for small business.
Ms. Reed did a splendid job working at Fort Pearl in the early 90's. She was professional, efficient and well liked.
Along with other Pearl Street alumni, Tammy Bramhall, Lori has succeeded in a tough and demanding field.
Kudos to them both.
Watertown Daily Times Café Mira honored with business award

Tiny Adirondack School Districts Scours the Globe for Students

In the vast stretches of scenic beauty that is the Adirondacks, on e school district is trying to remain viable by recruiting overseas students...The Newcomb district in Essex County had fallen to a total enrollment of 55 students a few years back in an area where 30% of the jobs are working for the school district. Now there are 86 students, many of them from distant lands.
This is an interesting story about the dilemmas of rural education where student-teacher ratios are not the issue, but economies of scale are.
Tiny Adirondack district boosts its student body by recruiting teens from abroad