Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fort Pearl: Let's Clear Up a Few Misconceptions

   The recent campaign (as has happened before) may have left some with the impression my Pearl Street business is a den of iniquity and intemperance.
     There are many photos and prints on the walls, collected over 26 years in the business. There are movie stills like John Wayne and George C Scott...There is a standup of Sarah Palin and Danica Patrick. There are various point of sale tins provided by beer companies...There are neon lights, and yes newly remodeled rest rooms as their age and wear was something I did feel bad about.
     There is a mannequin....not in anyway dressed like those in the Mall, but instead wearing one of the Fort Pearl baseball shirts available for sale here. The mannequin's arms are raised in the air as that's the way it came when I purchased it off the front porch of a Black River resident some years ago.
      Everyday you will see people of all ages stop in for a social experience. Don't get me wrong, it is still a bar, and people do consume the "Devil's brew" and sometimes utter a curse word. By and large, life here is played in bounds.
      Many of you are not bar people, but I think if you stopped in you would enjoy the experience and would in no way feel awkward. But if you do, rest assured what happens on Pearl Street stays on Pearl Street.
      Its tough to live down the imagery shopped as part of the moral posturing in politics.
With the election over, I would be remiss not setting the record straight.
     Now here's the self serving part...Stop over and see for yourself.

WDT: My Letter to Editor Gets Printed

I wrote a thank you letter to voters and laid out my desire to be the "happy warrior" these next four years, making the system work and keeping the Council and staff focused on the future. Thank you again to all of you.
Watertown Daily Times Mayor: voters happy, room for improvement

Polls: Gingrich Grows on GOP Voters - Washington Wire - WSJ

Not long ago, Newt Gingrich' campaign for President was in disarray and most thought he was going nowhere.....Since then, Mr. Gingrich has performed well at debates and come off as the smartest guy in the room....Now one poll has him second among the GOP field and right behind frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Mr. Gingrich may become the anyone but Mitt candidate for conservatives. Whether he plays among the general election audience is yet to be seen, but the former Speaker has made friends and may continue to do so.
Polls: Gingrich Grows on GOP Voters - Washington Wire - WSJ

WDT: Lawyers and Bureaucrats Steal the Vote of 164 in Lewis County

The political class cost 164 residents in Lewis County their most precious right in a free society.....Their vote..
Due to haggling over nominations for judge for the Independence Party line and then due to a printing error by the Board of Elections, voters inadvertantly were marking their votes for Supreme Court justice on the Indy line although a court earlier had ruled there are no valid candidates nominated by that minor party on Line E of the ballot.
The error was discovered during the day Tuesday and a notice was placed at each polling place.
The reaction will be "oops, so what" but the impression voters get is "does my vote matter ?"
What if this had happened in Onondaga County, where the number of lost votes might have mattered ?
Voters are told 'too bad Charley'.
Watertown Daily Times Error cost Lewis judge candidate 164 votes, but not election

Friday, November 11, 2011

I Bought Three Toilets I Didn't Anticipate Buying a Week Ago

       Has there ever been a project involving a bathroom or kitchen that didn't balloon into a Leviathan ?
        The rest room rehabilitation project at Fort Pearl seemed done...Tuesday the flooring people told me one of the ladies room toilets was cracked so I decided to get two new ones...Kohlers no less. Today the mens room toilet was leaking around the tank, so I figured, lets make them all new....
       Since I am not a frequent toilet buyer, I was intrigued at the new mechanisms inside which eliminate the flapper in favor of a cylinder that lifts up.
        Anyway, its all good and the rest rooms are a joy to behold...When you are in business, there is always something to fix and a project like this is a big deal.
        People who are in business and who survive for 26+ years are proud of what they have done. That's why the recent MSM slams at my business didn't sit well with me....
        So my advice, is don't believe all that you hear or read...Stop by Fort Pearl this weekend and enjoy the ambiance...and the rest rooms.

Veterans Day Brings Out Big Crowd to VFW

    Today I had the honor to stand with our Veterans at ceremonies at the VFW and the Memorial Wall downtown.  While it was chilly, there were lots of people there and many veterans groups were represented.
    As the son of a WW II vet, I grew up knowing the value of service and sacrifice, and standing with vets on these holidays is not just an act of "schmoozing".  It's representing a grateful public who live free thanks to those who served.
    While only about one percent of Americans actually serve in the Armed Forces, their impact is huge. On day's like this we need to remember

Veterans Day 11-11-11

This Veteran's Day, we gather at the VFW on Bellew Avenue at 10 this morning to honor those who serve....A chilly November moment just days after the Election Day...a day those who have served have helped preserve.
Join me at VFW today.
Fort Drum holds Veterans Day ceremony - YNN, Your News Now

Thursday, November 10, 2011

State College streets quiet after late night riot by students

These days, among the soft and spoiled college crowd, anything passes as an excuse for lawless behavior.....The firing of an 84 year old football coach is the rationale for rioting at Penn State....Granted Joe Paterno is a football legend....but please...
Sports is often overdone in terms of its importance....These Penn State students should be in their dorms doing homework or at least killing off a keg or two...
They don't need to devalue the art of rioting over this issue.
Paterno should have retired a decade ago.
State College streets quiet after late night riot by students

Palin Ends Her Overview of Pearl Street

   The Palin 2012 sign also came down off of Fort Pearl today...while it dressed up the building nicely, her withdrawal from the Presidential race meant her photo was no longer considered protected political speech under the First Amendment, therefore it violated the City's sign ordinance. (no one complained, I just complied.)
    I understand it annoyed some people as well, and in my desire to start anew with the new term, I certainly don't want to do that.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says 'I am the government'  - NY Daily News

Governor Cuomo has great poll numbers and got so caught up in the moment this week declared, "I am the government". It was in the context of higher public view of NYS government and Mr. Cuomo likely meant he is the beneficiary as far as poll numbers.
Hey, things are going well in Watertown too...Imagine if I declared "I am the government." Instead I would say I am a piece of a larger, smooth running machine.....
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says 'I am the government' - NY Daily News

Campaign Loose Ends

   Campaign wrap up activities continue...Signs trickle in, calls and cards come in, my mini bill board on the side of Fort Pearl is down....and the latest finance update is
a negative balance of $500...Better by $225 since last week.
    That's not too bad, but in all previous campaigns we have raised what is needed to cover the campaign.  Graham for Mayor, Box 673, Watertown.
     The helium balloons are still afloat at Fort Pearl, so not too much time has passed.

Patty's Legions Sink Dems in St. Lawrence County

The volunteer network that has always served Senator Patty Ritchie well came into play this week as Patty protege Mary Lou Rupp crushed County Clerk Gavin Regan in St. Lawrence County.
Ms. Rupp had been deputy clerk when Ms. Ritchie held the clerk's job, before becoming Senator. She was fired when Governor Cuomo appointed Mr. Regan to serve in the vacant post.
It was an overwhelming win for Ms. Rupp, but it was the Senator's neighbor to neighbor political machine that got the job done.
Don't mess with Texas ? In St. Lawrence County, don't mess with Patty !
NCPR News - Rupp is new St. Lawrence County clerk

Republican debate: Rick Perry's presidential hopes go down in flames as memory fails him | Mail Online

Governor Rick Perry distinguished himself again at one of those debates....but again it wasn't for his debating skill. The Texas governor running for President stumbled badly on one question and appears unable to eclipse the increasinly inevitable Mitt Romney.
Even Herman Cain had a better night, brushing off the harassment allegations and getting cheered by the crowd at the CNBC sponsored event.
It's hard to imagine Governor Perry pulling out of his debate death spiral, but I did see a one on one interview last week in which he looked and sounded good.....Mr. Perry will get judged soon by real voters with the caucus and primary season less than two months away.
Republican debate: Rick Perry's presidential hopes go down in flames as memory fails him Mail Online

County Pares Tax Rate Increase to Zero

For Jefferson County taxpayers, at least the rate will not go up as lawmakers did a little adjusting to a proposed spending plan that called for a rate increase....The tax levy will still rise,but increased valuation is covering that.....As is a continued above expectations performance in sales tax which will continue in 2012 as more troops come home from deployments.
Wednesday: Jefferson County's Tax Increase? '0' WWNY TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports for Watertown, NY Local News

Cuomo's "Wake Up Call" Needs to Become a Call to Action

The property tax cap is in many ways more symbolic than anything as communities can override it. However, it sets a marker...a line in the sand...and Governor Cuomo is calling the cap a "wake up call" for local government.
In essence he is saying "doctor, heal thyself."
While local governments do need to change, the cap provides little real incentive to restructure local government. It will not reduce the blubbery network of school districts or 10,000plus taxing jurisdictions.
The state must still enact mandate relief and changes to things like the pension system as these also drive local taxes up.
Albany need not look far to see why structural changes (see Province of Ontario) are needed.....The Governor should take the Legislature to nearby Green Island where the Village of Green Island and the Town of Green Island sit happily with concurrent boundaries and two separate governments doing the same thing.
This Governor has made a start, but needs to use his popularity to produce structural changes in local government.
NCPR News - Cuomo calls 2% tax cap a "wake up call" for local governments

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

McClusky, Gall, Merrell and MacRae take state Supreme Court seats |

While other races get the attention and the MSM is more concerned about how much I spent on post cards or how much Jeff spent on a billboard.... the real money races on the Tuesday ballot were for the four spots on NYS Supreme Court in the Fifth District.
The four essentially won the lottery....Salary, fringes, and paid office expenses add up to $3Million over the 14 year term of office...That's quite a prize and many of these candidates go tens or hundreds of thousands in debt to win the seats.
For Jefferson County's Jim McClusky it was a big night as he was top vote getter. Lewis County's Michael Young spent freely but finished just out of the money in fifth place.
It would be an interesting analysis to tell what is spent and where it came from.
McClusky, Gall, Merrell and MacRae take state Supreme Court seats

Back to Normal

   Today I was catching up on errands...I picked up my tux for Saturday's Mayor's Ball, at which I have to present a flag.
   Got over to Avon Shoes to pick up some shoes I had ordered..
    And made it over to Verizon to get my I-Phone fixed.
    This was a crazy eight weeks, talking to lots of people.....most of which were mildly interested in the Mayor's race but likely not planning to vote.
    We are getting the work schedule back to normal at Fort Pearl and with some rest, I will be ready for the Holiday season.

Local Man Redeems 110 Signs

   A young man named William Wilson made $55 today by collecting 110 Graham for Mayor signs and returning them to Fort Pearl.  That helped clean up yards and streets as part of our sign redemption program.
   Signs for other candidates are welcome to....not for a price, but we will dispose of them for free.
    I was out picking up signs too. By late today, the city's yards were largely clear of signage.
    The public was not all worked up about the mayoral race, although my opponent's well done GOTV effort late in the campaign helped make the race close.
   There's nothing worse than running and having everyone tell you with certainty how you are going to win easily.
    Life isn't that easy and is wasn't this year....Nonetheless, our side hustled too and we got our peeps out.
     And with signs disappearing, we can put the race behind up. Interesting as it was at times.

Redemption Offered for Return of Graham Signs...Free Disposal for Others

         In a bid for a cleaner City, and to recycle the metal hangars, property owners with political signs from city races can drop them off at Fort Pearl and I will dispose of them for free.
Those with Graham for Mayor signs, I will pay 50 cents each for your effort.
         We will do that through Saturday of this week.

Thank You Voters

       The election is finally over and I thank voters for electing me to another term as Mayor and and look forward to another four years making the system work on behalf of people.
        It was a close 52-48 margin over City Councilman Jeff Smith. In the end, both candidates had their base of supporters.  There are also about 300 absentee ballots, which are not expected to change the 173 vote margin.
        Meanwhile, in the Maple City, Mayor Bill Nelson is hoping to pull a rabbit out of a hat.  Mr. Nelson holds a 9 vote lead with about 150 absentees.  Challenger Jack McGrath was trying to topple the three term mayor in a race that centered on the city manager.
        Erin Gall and Jim McClusky won Supreme Court seats, and GOP Legislators Robert Ferris and Carolyn Fitzpatrick were returned to office.
        As for me, I am back on the HOTLINE Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Candidates on a Roller Coaster on the Big Day

     It's the three hour drill...the final time before the polls close and the results are known.
     You wonder about turnout....what does it mean ?   Is there something we didn't detect earlier that's happening ? Did all my friends vote ?  Lots and lots of things go through the mind of the erstwhile candidate.
     Unless you've been there you don't know. You realize the magnitude when a satellite truck appears in your driveway.
     It's a gut check, but it will be over soon. 

WDT: An Open Note To Mr Amaral

I guess its youthful idealism...but in the case of the WDT political reporter who claims he does not vote, I would say the idealism is misplaced.
The quest for fair and balanced is an abstraction but the duties of a citizen are real.
People should vote...they can cast a blank ballot if they don't like candidates in a race, but really, one candidate will win and its best when many weigh in.
Plus, a reporter is exposed to the issues and candidates and is probably better informed.
The discipline is to be accurate and fair....abstaining from voting doesn't guarantee that.
It's easy to conclude both candidates are "deeply flawed." By whose standards ? And why aren't the virtuous and visionary people running ? These are the questions worth exploring.
We all have to make choices in all facets of life. Sometimes the alternatives are not the ideal...Whether its taking a job....deciding on a mate or picking a college. We compromise on what we have for dinner and we cannot always afford the car we want.
Life is about choices and compromises.
Perhaps the reporter choosing not to vote will read this before 9 PM. I hope so.

Watertown Daily Times Why I don't vote

It's Your Time to Take the Stage....Please Vote

   Everything that could be said....has been said....Now the voters speak.
    I was the first to do so at 6AM at Midtown Towers on Mechanic Street, now home to three election districts.
    Polls are open til 9PM as voters choose Supreme Court justices, a City Judge, a Mayor and Members of City Council.
    There are also Jefferson County offices like DA, Treasurer and Legislator.
    Many voters will head to new locations.
    Of particular note is the State Office Building is NO LONGER a polling place. There are other changes as well.
    Call me at 486-0879 if you are having issues.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Final Hours in the Campaign of 2011

   Made a few stops around town today.... At the Washington Street Plaza, Tiny's Market, the Arcade and a few houses here and there just to use up the handful of flyers I had left.
   One gentleman who had declined a lawn sign a month ago came up to me out of the blue today and wanted one...So I obliged.
    That always make you feel good.
     This was a hard fought campaign...A lot of hours...a lot of doorsteps....A lot of respect for my opponent and for the voters.
     6AM comes early, but I will be at Midtown Tower on Mechanic Street to cast my ballot......TV will be there so check out the news on WWNY in the AM.
      Then its some GOTV effort and maybe a haircut at Autumn's. The forecast is for a high of 61...that's Graham weather !
       Please join us Tuesday night at Fort Pearl.
       Oops I forgot....And I ask for your vote !

Twas the Day Before Balloting.........

   Lots of noise and hubbub today at Fort Pearl as the Omnibus Restroom Replacement Act of 2011 continues. Abbey Carpet is here to rip up old flooring and put new in....They say it will be all done by Election Night...Just in case, I had a portable john dropped off today.
    Other than all that excitement, I have a mid morning meeting at BOCES on the local housing situation and of course a Council meeting tonight...Its expected to be a short one.
     I might squeeze in a little handshaking along the way...but mostly its plain old work today.

Local Bank Poised to Piggy Back on Bank Transfer Day

A Watertown bank trying to lure customers by appealing to a "bank local" sentiment may have chosen a good time for the campaign. Fed up consumers are being urged to abandon the large "chain" banks in favor of credit unions and smaller banks.
It's an outgrowth of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement against everything big and against the monolithic hegemony and high fees of the big banks. Against that backdrop, Watertown Savings Bank is making its pitch.
It may have started out as just a bid at customers worried over the pending departure of HSBC or just a bid at expanding market share in NNY.....But the battle of the 99% against the 1% may actually give an unintended but welcome boost to the smaller banks.
Fed-up consumers planning for ‘Bank Transfer Day’ - Taiwan News Online

GOP Looks to Last Year's Best Performing Loser to Tackle Gilly

Voting has yet to happen this year and the political class is looking ahead to next year with the GOP trying to find someone to run against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who last year won the right to fill out the final two years of Hillary Clinton's term.
2010 comptroller candidate Harry Wilson is being mentioned. He almost won a statewide race against Tom DiNapoli.
Senator Gillibrand is the former Albany area Member of Congress picked from relative obscurity to fill the vacant seat.
Since then she has become a formidable political force and GOP prospects for beating her are long, but not competing seriously for the seat could affect other Republican candidates down ballot.
Its tough to find someone credible to stand in front of the train for love of party.
Former auto task force member Harry Wilson eyed as a challenger to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand -

Sunday, November 6, 2011

All Tied Up as JETS Surge

For the past several Sundays I have had to gather football scores by listening for the television audio as I visited front doors....This weekend, I decided to enjoy football the way God intended it...With others in a public gathering spot...
My JETS beat the Bills 27-11 and just as important the Giants beat the Pats 24-20....
That makes the JETS, Bills and Pats all 5-3 and tied for the AFC East.
That makes for a great Sunday.
Giants shock Patriots with late drive -

We Are Family....Sense of Community and Kinship is What Watertown Is to Me

A festive and fun day on the trail yesterday as Councilwomen Burns and Macaluso joined me in a walk across town and we were joined by a new friend met this fall, Supreme Court candidate Erin Gall who was nice enough to come up from Oneida County for the event.
The issue of family has come up and with my usual sense of history, I have been musing about the awesome sense of community and family in Pittsburgh during the 1979 Pirates Championship season. It was epitomized by the Sister Sledge song, "We Are Family." You could say the people and the City are my extended family and the chance to campaign so vigoursly this fall has made that bond stronger.
As the door to door gives way today to a more typical fall afternoon and I get ready to watch the JETS and Bills play. I want to thank all the kind people I have seen along the way. Those who donated their time and dollars...Those who gave advice and encouragement. And those who realize that the City benefits from a Mayor who shows an interest in its people and takes the time to make things better.
There is a joy to be had in representing the people and the campaign has for me been a chance to remember that.
Councilwomen Burns, Macaluso Join Graham on Campaign Trail