Saturday, November 5, 2011

We Had the Gall to Go See Voters Today

     Some people are just natural people persons and so it is with Supreme Court candidate Erin Gall who visited Mo's Diner, a downtown beauty salon and the Historical Society today trying to make the case for Fifth Judicial District voters to choose her.
     Ms. Gall was part of my pre election walking tour in which Councilwomen Burns and Macaluso took part. We went from Fort Pearl to Public Square where we saw the "occupy" guy and then on to the Historical Society and Karen and Jasper's.
    It was a great time...great weather and left me feeling good about the race on Tuesday.
    Some of the media covered it and you can catch highlights on WWWY TV 7 who did a great job.
    The best part of a campaign is the final weekend, when you just connect with voters.....Today was fun.

WDT: Book Sale Raises Thousands

Kudos to all those at the Flower Library, including the "Friends of the Library" who have been busy raising money through the annual sale of used books.
This facility is a cornerstone of Watertown and deserves the support of everyone.
Watertown Daily Times Book sale rakes in $8,000 so far

Volunteers Brave the Chill to Plant Trees

   It was a brisk walk up to Starbuck Elementary today to greet volunteers and students who braved the chill to plant 14 trees at the school. It was another event organized by Tree Watertown and its about the best of all that goes on in Watertown.
    I shot a picture and posted it here.
    This is one of these events all of you would not know about as its not at the level of importance we ascribe to "news"....That's OK, but its still worth noting and I have made a point the past couple of years to shoot photos at lots ot these types of events..
        Through technology with a little marketing, some great people get some attention for their good deeds.
     I am proud to do that and package it up using my news background. Hey, my folks paid good money for that education, I might as well use it !

Andy Rooney dead at 92 - CBS News

Only a month after retiring, Andy Rooney is dead. A sad day for all who enjoyed who commentary and writing over the years.
Andy Rooney dead at 92 - CBS News

WDT: Short Agenda for Pre Election Council Meeting

Monday night's City Council meeting has a pretty light agenda as is the tradition on the night before an election. With 40 percent of the body running for mayor, monds will be elsewhere for sure.
One item on the agenda is a long term contract to sell water to DANC. Its hoped the deal will provide rate stability in the City for years to come.
Other than that, there are a series of more or less perfunctory resolution on appointments to boards and commissions.
Watertown Daily Times Watertown City Council to vote on DANC water contract

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Day in Potsdam

     Today's Regional Council meeting was , well, it was , let's just say it was special. A good chunk of it was a closed meeting so I will leave that for others.
     The public comment section featured rambling missives about I-98 and one professor who wants....well he never really said...
     I had some cold cuts for lunch and that was the highlight of the day.

WDT: On Line and Print Not the Same

Sometimes it pays to read the on-line version of news stories in the WDT as they are not always the same as the newstand version...I was reading the profile of my opponent today and in the on-line version he was called a "hothead" and mention was made of a 15 year old DWI.
The print version had those references scrubbed clean, probably just to shorten the copy to fit the news hole. Yesterday there was a profile about me...The reference to a comb over and allusions to my bar culture lifestyle and drinking four shots of Jagermeister were in both versions, while a nice endorsement from a prominent retired Colonel was left out of just the print edition. I suppose the measure of good journalism is whether it annoyed both of us...and I suspect the pieces did. I already dubbed Brian as F. Scott Amaral...but he prefers Hemingway. He has to sharpen it a bit to be Watertown's Hunter Thompson.

Both of us took some ribbing, although frankly my life of no arrests, no DWIs, no bankruptcies, no liens, no divorces and no back child support I assume would inocculate me from most of the usual political attacks. My crime is ribaldry, but I am at an age where I don't pose too much of a threat to piety......Therefore, its safe to vote for me.
Watertown Daily Times Smith's vision for Watertown's future

Choosing Between Events and I Choose Pursuing Jobs for NNY at Regional Council Meeting

While I would like to be at Fort Drum for the change of command to MG Mark Milley, even a "mayor who's there" can't be in two places at once, so I am readying for a trip to Potsdam to participate in the meeting of the North Country Regional Council, the Governor's new method of handling economic development programs.
The regional councils include participation from mayors of major cities in each region. In NNY, that means the mayors of Watertown and Plattsburgh.
Today the Regional Council will get its first look at proposed projects of regional importance.
At my suggestion the City of Watertown is pursuing $5.5 million dollars in improvements to the Fairgrounds Arena, which has become a regional resource for sports and entertainment.
Participation in the Council has become a demanding addition to the duties of mayor, but there is much riding on it and Watertown needs someone willing to make the effort and spend the time.
Meanwhile the City Manager will attend the change of command ceremonies today at Fort Drum as we welcome General Milley and say farewell to MG James Terry who is giving up command.
Fort Drum's Incoming Commander No Stranger To Local Post WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rochester Mayor Says No Sleepovers

Rochester Mayor Tom Richards says occupation protestors are welcome at city parks during regular hours...They just can't live there...Hizzoner is not allowing protestors to camp out in city parks
Tom Richards on Occupy Rochester - News Blog - Rochester City Newspaper

WDT: In All the Fuss, Sciorra Proposes a Popular Budget

Ogdensburg City Manager Art Sciorra has proposed a budget with less spending and a slightly lower tax rate...Hardly something to get you fired...
I was talking to someone who knows Mr. Sciorra who speaks very highly of him as a stand up guy...Who know, with all you hear about him.
Since he has survived the pre election bid to can him, Mr. Sciorra seems in a position to survive for a while....Although the new Mayor...whoever it is is committed to getting rid of him...
I say he gets his severance package because he deserves it....There is no way to sustain a firing for cause without spending a lot on lawyers and even that may not work...
So its either keep him...which doesn't seem likely...or pull the plug and pay him.
Watertown Daily Times Proposed Ogdensburg budget hikes levy, lowers tax rate

WDT: Letter Writer Says It All

Someone who I don't think always supported me in elections gave a boost to my campaign today with his letter to the editor on the "vision" issue.
Thanks to Paul Higgins for the analysis. I used to work with Paul's late brother Jim at TV 50 and worked for Jim Higgins when he was GM at the Times. I always found Jim a straight up guy who was kind to me at a time I needed some compassion early in my TV career.
I am honored to have his brother's support.
Watertown Daily Times Smith’s ‘visions’ for Watertown troubling

WDT: It's Called Open Government Boys

In Ogdensburg they are arguing over who leaked the Knox Report. They should be giving the person a medal. The Councillor who released it should not have to hide in shame.
The report on the conduct of the City Manager should have been public last week.
KUDOS to whoever was the leaker.
Watertown Daily Times Ogdensburg council unhappy over release of Knox Street investigation

The Fun This Year's Campaign Has Been

       The last eight weeks have been hard work...but so much fun and gratification as its been a chance to connect with so many residents in the City I have had the distinct honor to serve for many years.
       Recently I canvassed Maywood Terrace and was swarmed by kids just thrilled to meet their mayor. They ask for autographs, although I am not really a celebrity.
       It's all part of being the "Mayor Who's There".....too ubiquitous to some, but always accessible, always willing to talk with anyone, anywhere.
       The remainder of this week includes a day in Potsdam away from the campaign trail, but doing what I like best...representing all of you on the Regional Economic Council...trying to make the City a little better one step at a time.
       I have come to learn that despite the snarky nature of politics, its all about people and community and with your support we can continue to make "this old town" (as the late Alex Duffy called it) a better place.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pavillion Construction Gets Underway....Debunking Claims

   One of the really bad canards of the campaign for mayor is the slam at me that I supported spending three million dollars on a parking lot with a bathroom in the middle of it.
   Well, it's not three million...and it's a covered pavillion that is now being erected next to the bathroom which was first put in. The pavillion or covered walkway will host special events downtown now that the lot is accessible from three directions.
   It's a shame such a misleading statement was put out by someone involved in the planning of what is being built.
   Keep tabs on the JB Wise lot the next couple of weeks to see the progress on this final phase of the Downtown streetscape.

Cuomo Calls for 2.5% Gov’t Spending Cut

Governor Cuomo is not giving up....he wants more spending restraint as pesky budget deficits continue in NY....
Cuomo Calls for 2.5% Gov’t Spending Cut

Brosk Ends 27-Year Radio Career to Join Cross-Town Rival

Joe Brosk and I had some great times in radio We crashed the ratings at WTOJ in the mid 80s....alienated the then Fort Drum commander with something Joe said on the air............and pursued an intellectually stimulating dialogue at work as we both feel we are the most well informed, although I specialize more in pop culture than the more acetic Brosk.
Joe was a great "ego control officer" over the years, preventing many a misstep on my part...He obviously didn't catch all of them. I am sorry to see him leave Wealtha Avenue, but 27 years is enough and new surroundings on Mullin Street will be good for him. The pious Joe can spar with the hedonist Jay to the delight of both.
Good Luck Joe !
Brosk Ends 27-Year Radio Career to Join Cross-Town Rival

New Yorkers: Tax The Rich !

A clear majority of New Yorkers want the surcharge kept on those with incomes of over $250,000. It's set to expire at year's end and the Left along with Occupy Wall Street have made extension of the "millionaire's tax" a signature issue.
Marist finds 61% of New Yorkers want the tax to live on and 44% of New Yorkers sympathize with the Occupation Wall Street viewpoint.
NY1/YNN Marist College Poll: Mixed Support For OWS, Strong Backing On Taxing Wealthy

WDT: Soothsayers Say 'nuf Said

I took some time to quote Ronald Reagan at the debate, so I should adopt another Reagan trait and consult the horoscope for today is
"take it that things will fall into place without added input from you. Pushing to close a deal now could create unwanted tensions."
The debate on WATN AM 1240 featured some interesting exchanges and statements not featured in the MSM coverage....but I won't point those out as to do so contradicts the stars.
Watertown Daily Times Watertown mayoral candidates engage in final debate

WTNY Hosts Yours Truly

        Had a great time on the WTNY morning show today talking about the race, our city and of course the institution of marriage.
        I told the morning crew about my campaign walk this Saturday and that Supreme Court candidate Erin Gall  and possibly other candidates will be joining me.
       We talked about the tax cap which I support, although there is a need for concurrent mandate relief.
       We talked about how well the City is doing and how well the current Council has worked together.
       It's a fast paced show and it was over with quickly. I enjoyed the opportunity and think a well done interview is a joy to behold.

WDT: Can the Village

The Times opines in favor of the dissolution of the Village of Potsdam on the basis it will start the ball rolling to more efficient local government. It's not clear whether the dissolution will lead to that but it's also unlikely village residents will approve the measure. The premise is that the Town of Potsdam will become like a giant village, absorbing the functions of the Village, in particular the police department.
This may actually be the most telling vote of 2011 as it will indicate the appetite the public has for change for the better....or just change for the sake of change...or leaving life as it is.
Watertown Daily Times Potsdam vote

WDT: Trouble in This River City

The effort to can the city manager in Ogdensburg appears to have fizzled for now as resolutions to do so were not acted on. The report on manager Art Sciorra's actions is sort of in the public domain as part of it was leaked.
Now they want an investigation on who leaked it.
The report should have been released when it was delivered last week and with the election on Tuesday, the process is so hopelessly politicized, voters will attempt to sort it out.
Both the incumbent mayor and the challenger have said they want the manager gone, but by trying to fire Mr. Sciorra for cause, the current mayor hopes to avoid paying $50K in severance, per the terms of the manager's contract. That process caused the city attorney to scamper for the tall grass.
So it appears Mr. Sciorra goes to work today, but apparently not on speaking terms with most of the city fathers.
Yikes, we have some differences from time to time in Watertown, but nothing like this.
Watertown Daily Times Ogdensburg council will seek attorney to deal with city manager situation

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

MG Terry Gets Send Off as Post Prepares for New CG

   Fort Drum Banquet Queen Cindy Romig did her usual marvelous job tonight at the Commons. The dinner was to honor departing 10th Mountain Division commander MG and Mrs. James Terry.
    I rushed out to the Commons after the debate, although I obeyed all posted speed limits.
    The food was great and so was the program.

Debate, Dinner and Yes Blogging

    The MSM never noticed it, but a decidely "Palinesque" move helped me keep my cool in the mayoral debate on WATN AM 1240.
    Using a Sharpie I drew a smiley face on my right hand and glanced at it repeatedly during the one hour gabfest, reminding me not to get mad and take the bait..Keep it professional and dignified, as the election is only a week away.
   It worked....Observers say I deflected the barbs including an assertion that in a week I would be returned to the "private sector."
    The debate moderator also again tried to make an issue of me having a blog...There are these things called new media, and people and politicians use them to communicate their activities and their message. Facebook and Twitter come to mind.
    Moderator Brian Amaral later revealed the consternation over the blog stems from coverage months ago of Alex Bay's Polar Bear Dip and the antics of Internet sensation Brittnee Kriner.
     Take it up with the Alex Bay Chamber of Commerce....and as I said, I continuously revise the format to reflect prevailing community standards and think the product you read every day is pretty mainstream.
     I also took some more grief over not being married and then I went home and watched a fascinating interview on Hannity with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
     In between I squeezed in a farewell dinner for Fort Drum Commander MG James Terry.  Had to do it, as I am the "Mayor who's there."

WDT: Hey Here's Our Two Cents

If you rely on newspapers to know who to vote for, its tough to pick from nine candidates running for four seats on NYS Supreme Court. The Post Standard and the WDT disagree on three of four choices with the Watertown paper adhering to the home judge deal and the P/S arguing that's old thinking.
Its good to see Erin Gall get a little love from the WDT...Last night somebody kicked her photo sign in front of my place.
Watertown Daily Times WDT endorses locals: 'Keep justice close to home'

Mayor Graham Media Advisory-Saturday Walk

Feel free to join me Saturday for a walk across town starting at 11:30AM at Fort Pearl Tavern. I know other candidates are planning similar walks and hope to join up with them along the way to encourage turnout just days before the election.
Mayor Graham Media Advisory 1112011

The Journal: Nelson to Pull the Trigger on Sciorra

Ogdensburg Mayor Bill Nelson, with only days till election, will propose in open session the suspension and firing of City Manager Art Sciorra....It will come down tonight and I am told there are the four votes needed to pass the measures.
My understanding of the Maple City's charter is that dismissal of a manager for cause has to include a five day notice to allow for a response to charges, but that the mayor is coupling that action to an immediate suspension so that Mr. Sciorra will be out the door tonight.
Ogdensburg has a seven person Council, but one seat is vacant; one is held by Nelson foe Nick Vaugh and another by a Councilman who is a leader in the local Democratic Party which has wanted Sciorra kept in office in hopes public dislike for the manager will swing the mayoral election to independent candidate Jack McGrath.
Mr. Sciorra is said to be not well liked by residents, but dismissing him without cause triggers a six month severance payment. However, the current situation is untenable with open accusations the manager lied and misrepresented facts.
Mayor Nelson is proposing the city comptroller temporarily fill the managers seat.
It is high drama in the 'burg tonight.
The Journal Nelson Offers Sciorra Issue Resolution

WDT: Jefferson County to raise tax levy, rate in proposed budget

A not so election-friendly budget is being proposed for Jefferson County government with a proposed tax increase. Citing the lack of mandate relief from Albany, the county administator is sending the spending plan to lawmakers, who have until the first of the year to amend it.
The massive size of the budget at over 230 million defies easy explanation, and a pending pension explosion poses a ripple effect in the coming five years. However, the County still maintains a healthy fund balance due to strong sales tax revenues.
Those couple of incumbents on the County Leg who have opposition certain don't like the headline and it will be interesting to see lawmaker responses.
Watertown Daily Times Jefferson County to raise tax levy, rate in proposed budget

Housing Shortage In Fort Drum Area Expected To Worsen | WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for | Watertown, NY | Local News

Unusually low vacancy rates and many deployed troops coming home will exacerbate a housing shortage in the immediate area around Fort Drum...this is despite a spate of construction and units in the pipeline. However the pending deployment of nearly the entire 10th Mountain Division in 2013 makes it difficult to get developers to commit to more building.
That 'come and go' demand has been a challenge but the number of units on the planning board should even things out over time. For now renting or selling decent properties should be easy and hopefully the strong market will encourage responsible landlords to improve their properties. Not all will and there remain some anxious to turn a quick dollar off the Army and locals caught up in a rent spiral.
Housing Shortage In Fort Drum Area Expected To Worsen WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween on Paddock Street

     I was in the midst of Trick or Treat Central tonight on Paddock Street as I stopped by Matt Doheny's Paddock Street home to take in the Halloween experience....
     Hundreds of well costumed and well behaved youngsters paraded up the steps for candy....This neighborhood attracts trick or treaters from all over for sure. The candy flowed like water and I even ran into my opponent and we chatted a bit about the campaign and the debate we have coming up tomorrow.  I suspect Jeff shares my desire to put this campaign behind us, although its been a great experience.
     In tomorrow's debate, we will be asked to pose a question to each other as well as answer the queries of moderator Brian Amarel of the WDT.
     Brian has been peppering Councilman Smith and I for days with questions for a profile piece running this Sunday...Given the number of questions asked and people interviewed, they may have to add another section or two.
      Come to think of it was that really Mr. Smith I ran into or someone wearing a mask ? There was a person spotted out tonight dressed as Barack Obama.

Oh My ! Another Green Energy Disaster for Us Taxpayers

Today a company called Beacon Energy went bankrupt joining the ranks of firms subsidized by us for products that don't pass muster in the market place......When will we learn ?
Another Energy Company Goes Bankrupt, $39 Million Borrowed From Taxpayers Fox News

WDT: Patty on the Mend Sans Gallbladder

Get well soon Senator !
Watertown Daily Times Ritchie recovering from surgery

Controversy Swirls...But Not Here

    There was a sharp exchange today in the race for County Legislator, District 11, when the Sheriff put out a release rapping lawmaker Bobby Ferris....The District 11 race between Mr. Ferris and former Rutland Supervisor Ron Cole is considered to be one of only two competitive races on the County Leg.
     Meanwhile up North, Mayor Bill Nelson puts it all on the line tomorrow night as Maple City lawmakers fish or cut bait on the matter of firing City Manager Art Sciorra.
     If the manager is sitting in his office Wednesday morning, Mayor Nelson can take the weekend off from campaigning...It's become so toxic in Ogdensburg for the manager of late and worrying about escaping severance pay should least be on the minds of lawmakers...a majority of whom I hear want Mr. Sciorra gone.
      While there is controversy in Watertown, it's just more getting the job done...Today I helped break ground on a Stone Street project that will replace a blighted property with three more units of housing. Earlier in the day I taped an interview to air on channel 7 later this week...They will  sum up both mayoral candidates in under two minutes.

Owens to Host Watertown Town Hall

Rep. Bill Owens will host a constituent meeting Saturday at 4PM at Case Junior High School on Washington Street. Mr. Owens has now represented the NNY district for two years and faces a spirted challenge next year from Republican Matt Doheny.
Owens to Host Watertown Town Hall U.S. Congressman Bill Owens

Herman Cain Sports a Lead and Gets His Turn in the Barrell

Welcome to politics, Mr. Cain.
Now that he is among the GOP frontrunners for President, we will see and hear a "This Is Your Life" as opponents and the media cull whatever they can for a little dirt. The revelation du jour is a mid 1990s settlement over alleged sexual harassment while Mr. Cain was head of the National Restaurant Association.
The incident is said to have involved inappropriate language and resulted in a five figure settlement and a no-discussion clause. The story was broken by and does not name names.
Politics is all about digging for dirt and in many cases this is part of allowing voters to vet a candidate and assess competance and character. That's why some look at an old DWI or some tax liens now paid as a big deal. Some like to look at messy divorces and a late child support payment.
The whole area of "inappropriate" behavior is hard to judge, but certainly one would like to see something that amounts to a pattern before making a judgment.
However when a man like Mr. Cain...or for that matter the current President...comes on the scene with little previous national vetting, the race is on to find stuff.
Exclusive: 2 women accused Herman Cain of inappropriate behavior - Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman and Anna Palmer and Kenneth P. Vogel -

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: The Snow Day [Update] -- Daily Intel

Protesting against the "man" got a little harder over the weekend with cold, snow conditions at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan.....Suddenly speaking truth to power was uncomfortable. It will be interesting to see how these protests fare in the winter...Perhaps they will have to shift to Florida...
Occupy Wall Street: The Snow Day [Update] -- Daily Intel

Historic October Snowstorm Still Crushing New England

As I campaigned today, I reveled in the wonderful Fall weather.....but a tad to our east it was a different story with wet snow over two feet blanketing New England.
We like to tell newcomers how bad it is here...But it's not that bad.
Historic October Snowstorm Still Crushing New England

WDT: Vote for Renzi

Watertown Daily Times City judge

Post Standard Hearts Lewis County

Two Lewis County lawyers got a boost today fromt the largest circulation newspaper in the six county Fifth Judicial District. Michael Young and Charles Merrell of Lowville were among four picked by the Post Standard to serve as justices of the NYS Supreme Court. Conservative John Stone got the nod and so did Democrat Patrick MacRae.
The Post Standard rejects the so called "gentleman's agreement" keeping a local resident judge in each of the six counties.
State Supreme Court: Four seats in Fifth District should go to Merrell, Stone, MacRae, Young

Paying the Bills as Project at the Fort Wraps Up

       As I was paying the bills to contractors for work done on the Fort Pearl rest room rehab project, I take back the old Dave Mance bromide about marrying a teacher....Marry a plumber.
       However, I must compliment our friends at PSG, including Pat Fields who was affable and entertaining while doing his work and did a real quality job.
        I am still waiting for the flooring and this is the most expensive portion. In a nation with "just in time" shipping and an alleged recession, its hard to get the material you want in a timely manner.
        Its better to pick the one color in stock rather than the pretty color on the sample swatches.
        I have been assured by Abbey Carpet that the job will be done by the election and Joyce Bradley has been a joy to deal with as she knows how to handle anxious customers.
        In over 26 years as a local businessman, I have always tried to make incremental improvements to my property as I could afford them. The recent passing of old friend and resident handy man Paul Dean, left a void but I found another fellow who does good work reasonably, and he shows up.
        2012 will bring an appointment with the awning folks and if past is prologue, I am sure there will be a couple of refrigeration nightmares to deal with.

WDT: Concert Plans Afoot for 2012

One of the canards of 2011 politics has been the notion that the city manager and I are against concerts, against rock and roll and somehow picking on certain people, even to the point of filing a notice of claim alleging "discrimination" and other things. One Internet posting depicting the manager with a swastika was among the more juvenile and hurtful aspects of this discussion.
2011 was a year when issues related to events on city property were front and center. Throughout the entire process, events in the pipeline were held and a lot of effort has been put into straightening out problems.
The formulation of a coherent policy on alcohol; the restructuring of parks and recreation; the hiring of a new management team; an audit to uncover systemic problems; continuous discussions to assure past users we are open for business, and moving ahead to seek state funding for a series of improvements at the Arena needed if we are to be serious about hosting such events.
It has become a political wedge, but despite the outlandish, we have kept the goal in sight and are adding to the mix the possibility of other sites for these events when appropriate.
All such events are underwritten in part by the taxpayers on the basis that they provide cultural events and draw people to the area. They are all held on public property. That is why there is a public need to effectively manage these events in the public interest.
Watertown Daily Times Watertown officials meet with promoters about fairgrounds concerts