Albany Dysfunction - government misbehavior in New York State
|Plumb Oyster Bar, Troy (Wed, 14 Dec 2016 01:23:00 +0000)
Not a post about Albany Dysfunction, but next time you're in Troy, be sure to visit my friend Heidi at her Plumb Oyster Bar!
|Museum of Political Corruption coming to Albany (Thu, 20 Oct 2016 02:12:00 +0000)
The Museum of Political Corruption is being planned in Albany, New York. If there was ever a place to educate us about political corruption, it's in Albany. This is so ironic that I initially assumed it was a hoax, but I found multiple corroborating articles. It's a real thing. Visit the museum in 2019, presumably if the rigged bids actually hire construction firms that can get it built.
|Marriott Syracuse opens (Sat, 01 Oct 2016 18:20:00 +0000)
My wife and I were pleased to be among the early guests at the remodeled Marriott Syracuse, formerly the Hotel Syracuse.
As columnist Jeff Kramer in the Syracuse New Times put it
, "... the Hotel Syracuse, which opened in 1924, occupied mythic status... All those weddings, anniversaries and other galas ... made the ornate edifice inseparable from the collective consciousness. When the place was shuttered as an operating hotel in 2004, with demolition a possibility, the sadness was palpable."
Marriott did a great job remodeling the facility. Walking down the hallway to our room, the doors appeared to be the historic doors, or at least, they looked like the 1920s. But the room itself was new and modern. We had a fairly low-end room on a wedding block rate, but it had a king sized bed and a sofa and a TV on a fully articulating wall mount.
At 8 am on Saturday, I wanted to get two coffees for the room. This took just a bit of effort. My point is, it should not take any effort to get a cup to go at 8 am. And it cost four bucks a cup. But, all in all, leaders and regular citizens have to be thrilled with the new hotel.
Back to that difficult coffee experience, we decided to find an independent diner after checkout, instead of eating at the hotel restaurant, and ended up at the New York Style Diner. That's where I found a print copy of the New Times. My relatives in "the Valley" were proud of me (a Liverpool native now living in Rochester) for tracking down a local favorite.
|Is Cuomo out of the woods? (Sun, 25 Sep 2016 03:27:00 +0000)
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that ten New York State politicians and business people, some of them close associates of Governor Andrew Cuomo, were charged with crimes related to bid rigging of public projects and other corrupt activities.
Governor Cuomo was not charged and denies all knowledge of the alleged activities, but one wonders how much pressure is being applied to the suspects to tell anything they know about the governor. The ten suspects are all big fish in the pond, but the governor would be the great white shark. I hope he's as dumb as he claims; we don't need another ousted governor.
|Historical posts from previous incarnations of this blog (Sun, 25 Sep 2016 02:58:00 +0000)
Oh Shelly, we really knew ye (Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:00:00 GMT)
Shelly Silver was arrested today on federal corruption charges of involvement in a ten year, multi-million dollar kickback scheme. Are we New Yorkers really all that surprised? Can anyone wield that much power for so long without yielding to the siren song of a million bucks, and another million, and another million, especially in this state where dysfunction and corruption are the rule rather than the exception?
Fracking frozen, gambling going gangbusters (Sat, 20 Dec 2014 12:00:00 GMT)
Citing health studies, the powers-that-be in NYS have decided fracking to be too dangerous to be allowed. I guess it doesn't matter that no widespread harm has actually occurred anywhere due to fracking, and that it is only conjecture that gas exploration diverts attention from renewable energy sources.
At the same time, three licenses were granted for new casinos in New York State. In this case, those powers-that-be ignored all the studies showing the harm to communities from gambling.
I have gambled, but only on short duration vacations and never in NYS. However, I heat my house and water with natural gas, pretty much every day. It's practically unfathomable to think that I will heat my house any other way during my lifetime. But, we get casinos instead of gas wells.
Next thing you know, NYS will tax me more to relieve me of some of my local property taxes. Oh wait, that's what STAR is! Wouldn't it be more efficient to simply reduce state taxes and fees? But, I suppose for state officials who inexplicably glorify some health research reports while ignoring others, it's too much to ask for logic.
Fracking is not as bad as... (Sat, 11 May 2013 12:00:00 GMT)
Annual US homicides by firearm: 10,000 (Wikipedia)
Annual US motor vehicle deaths: 30,000 (Wikipedia)
Annual US deaths due to adverse reactions to vaccinations: 100-ish (vaers.hhs.gov)
Total deaths for all time due to fracking: Aside from work-site accidents and heart attacks suffered during protests, the deaths that can be directly attributed to the affects of the chemicals and the process are essentially zero. Most deaths even remotely related to fracking occur in areas with other environmental problems and/or to people with other health issues. That's not to say fracking is blameless or that it has always been carried out as safely as possible. This comparison of death rates is a bit of a "gotcha", so allow me to elaborate.
Why do we put up with all those deaths? Because, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. I'm more likely to die from the diseases than the immunizations. I'm just not going to give up my car, and I'll hope the other drivers around me are careful. We could use more gun control, but much gun violence is related to other crimes, such as drugs, which I can avoid.
Give me cheap natural gas until someone comes up with a cheap alternative.
Fracking (Thu, 25 Oct 2012 12:00:00 GMT)
I used to be mildly against hydraulic fracturing. The continued exploitation of fossil fuel resources distracts us from the development of cleaner or renewable energy sources. But, then I moved from an all-electric house serviced by a cheap municipal energy provider to a house that uses both electricity and natural gas, serviced by a commercial provider that charges a LOT more for electricity. My new home's summertime energy bills were three times my previous bills. Regardless of how long New York's fracking discussions have dragged on, does anyone really believe that fracking will be outlawed in NYS forever? Opponents should be focusing on oversight rather than what I believe will be a fruitless quest for outright bans.
My take on Anthony Weiner (Sun, 12 Jun 2011 12:00:00 GMT)
Anthony Weiner, the representative from New York's 9th district caught in a scandalous use of Twitter, should just keep his mouth shut. The press keeps hounding him because he keeps talking. As Sarah Palin might say to reporters about their fancy schmancy journalism degrees, "How's that college education workin' for ya? You're stuck with covering Sarah Palin and Anthony Weiner!" In addition to that, we have blogger Andrew Breitbart and radio talkers Opie and Anthony passing around an XXX rated photo of Weiner; well, who's the goofball in that scene? (All of the above, plus Weiner and the voters who keep electing the goofballs.) Hang on, I think I hear my mother asking me what I'm doing with my college degree.
Make the decisions so citizens can plan (Tue, 5 Apr 2011 12:00:00 GMT)
One could fault the specific decisions made in order to balance and pass the state budget, but at least funded entities, such as schools and health care providers, know the numbers and can plan. Soon, parents will know where their schools are headed; maybe they'll decide to switch between private and public schools, but my point is, we have data to work with. Contrast that with the federal government. Even if we avoid a government shutdown this week, the budget changes will be trivial, on the order of one percent. Long term changes will not be made in the near future. If I know that Medicare will be cut, then maybe I can shift resources to help in my old age. But, if the mortgage interest deduction will be eliminated, then I can look for some other tax shelter. The problem is, we don't know what will happen and we don't know when it will happen. Those feds are so dysfunctional...
Against state controls on school salaries (Tue, 1 Mar 2011 12:00:00 GMT)
I am against Governor Cuomo's plan to cap school superintendents' salaries. The governor wants to exert more control over budgets that are written and approved by voters at the local district level. There will be more than enough pressure on districts to reduce expenses once the state's plan to reduce school aid kicks in. State legislation takes time and money, and this proposal is a distraction from the dysfunction that the state should actually be trying to control.
To vote against all incumbents, or not? (Sat, 15 May 2010 12:00:00 GMT)
I am struggling with the desire to vote against all incumbents in the upcoming election. If it "can't get any worse", then let's not reward the legislators who have given us our tax burden but still can't balance the budget. A Senate full of freshmen might have trouble accomplishing anything, but it's not like previous accomplishments have been satisfactory. Still, all workers in all jobs benefit from experience. However, my experience as a voter has left me unprepared to decide how to vote in order to fix a political environment that is so very dysfunctional.
Cutbacks in NYS services are not fair to me (Sat, 15 May 2010 12:00:00 GMT)
Yeah, I understand that New York State is in tough shape, financially. And to some extent, taxpayers and voters share the blame for electing the lawmakers who legislated us into this mess. But, blaming ourselves only goes so far. Rightly or wrongly, our legislators sent us a tax bill for which we expected to receive certain services. Now, Governor David Paterson wants to cut back on state park services, and wants to cut a day per week from the work schedules of state workers. That would have an impact on daily life in NYS, if the courts allow it. If you think the wait for service at a state office is slow now, wait until there are 20 percent fewer people to serve you.
We already paid for, and continue to pay for those services! I don't hear the governor talking about rolling back services and taxes. The only thing he wants to cut are services. So, don't get caught up in union bashing. I agree that a few four-day paychecks won't kill most of the workers, but even though the rest of us non-public workers are suffering through this recession, I don't wish that suffering on anyone. So, I say, these cutbacks in services are not a heroic attempt by Paterson to be "responsible". They're simply unfair to taxpayers.
Comment from democratic on Sat, 07 Aug 2010 19:28:37 GMT:
Here is an interesting forum for a local politician in Rochester, NY who is currently reworking his image in order to reform our local and state political scene:
NY budget (Sat, 06 Feb 2010 12:00:00 GMT)
Governor David Paterson has done a good job of sounding like a conscientious executive who just wants to get state finances under control, but is hampered by that darn, dysfunctional legislature. But that seems simplistic. If the governor is really that powerless, then why do we need an elected governor? Maybe the legislature should just appoint some former beauty queen to preside over public events, instead of dealing with the interruptions of an elected official who pretends to have a true voice. And if he does have a true voice, then fix the problems and stop whining. I'm all for checks and balances, but all we have right now are checks. Nothing positive is getting done.
NYS Fair fun (Sun, 30 Aug 2009 12:00:00 GMT)
Not everything in New York State is dysfunctional. We attended the Great New York State Fair, which runs through Labor Day. As usual, there is a butter sculpture!
NYS Senate remains at impasse (Thu, 2 Jul 2009 12:00:00 GMT)
The NYS Senate has not been able to pass a bill for a few weeks now. At the goading of billionaire Tom Golisano, two Democrats changed their leadership votes to support Republicans, giving the Republicans a 32-30 leadership edge. But then, one of those Dems flipped back, leaving a 31-31 tie, and the two sides can't agree on who the president of the Senate should be. So, they meet day after day in special sessions called by Governor Paterson, but the two sides won't meet together, and a quorum of 32 is never reached. Aside from blogging and emailing my senator, I'm at a loss for what to do. The senators already know that everyone hates this situation and is considering voting for someone, anyone else. So now, it's all about them, and it's a year and a half before we get to vote them out. But, I encourage you to find your senator and complain. Finally, claims of, "At least they're not raising taxes," are misplaced. Albany non-function really is worse than Albany dysfunction.
Same sex marriage, again (200904181200 12:00:00 GMT)
A week or so ago, three teens were being rowdy on a suburban street in a town near my home at 3 am. A "Mr. Scott" walked out of a nearby house with a handgun and crossed the street to confront the teens. Two teens ran away, but Mr. Scott killed the third, claiming self defense. The courts will sort it out, but Mr. Scott has received some support from the public as a sort-of protector of the neighborhood.
Contrast that with the claims that same-sex marriage and same-sex couples destroy the institution of marriage and the sanctity of family neighborhoods. You've all heard those claims, but they're silly claims. My marriage will not be affected by NY Governor Paterson's plan to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
It is a concern to me that while traditional marriage rights have been based for centuries on spiritual and family values, same-sex marriage rights are being based on fairness. That seems a bit different. Fairness may be sufficient, but is it a slippery slope? We're already hearing noise from polygamists now that many same-sex hurdles have been crossed.
But even if polygamy were to be legalized, that's less of a threat to me than some whack-job "Mr. Scott" with a gun, blowing me away because I make too much noise when I take out the garbage late at night. It's a stretch to claim New Testament justification for prohibiting same-sex marriage. Popular support for prohibiting same-sex marriage is as meaningless as popular support for slavery in the 19th century. I just don't see the downfall of society in all this. Let's be fair. Pass the same-sex marriage legislation.
Gay marriage comments (Mon, 03 Nov 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
Obama won, yippee, now it will all be better. That's the second time in a row I've used "yippee". In my previous post, I made a glib comment about gay marriage. It's one thing to think that BHO is the savior of the world, but who would have guessed that Californians would approve a state constitution amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman? Supporters of the amendment claim that voters "care about marriage," but I am of the mind that only a small percentage care either way. Most don't see how they are affected by gay marriage or the lack thereof. In New York, gay marriage supporters are heartened over election results that will change the majority of the state Senate from Republican to Democrat. I suspect that change was related to the dismal performance of state legislators and spillover from the popular Democratic presidential ticket, more than it was to gay marriage. A side-effect, but I guess they'll take it.
Yeah, Gary is cynical (Mon, 03 Nov 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
I was out with some friends the weekend before election day. As a group, we remain pretty liberal, but with our middle-aged maturity you'd hope that we are not naive. I was surprised, though, at the extent to which my friends believe that Barack Obama can actually accomplish "change". I am more cynical. My friends expressed a belief that over time Obama and a presumably Democrat-led Congress will work together to solve the big problems of war and terrorism, the economy, immigration, energy, health care, taxation, Social Security, etc. Obama will balance the budget, achieve world peace, reduce taxes, and, "we'll all just get along". His obscene campaign spending, closing in on a half billion dollars, is simply a means to an end. I hope my cynicism is proven wrong, but we watched the Republicans squander their control of the White House and Congress from 2001-2006, leading us into war, economic stagnation and widespread dissatisfaction with the American government. W's only claim to success is that the approval ratings of Congress are even more dismal than his own. (I recognize that there have been no notable terrorist attacks on the homeland since 9/11, but I remain unconvinced that history will recognize Iraq, Guantanamo and warrantless wiretaps as positive achievements.) I was asked by my friends what more I needed to hear to decide that Obama is worthy of my vote. I wondered what more they needed to see to doubt that any politician can have any positive effect. Republicans screwed up during their time of one-party control; the Democratic majority since 2006 has failed to reduce troop levels in Iraq, failed to avoid total economic meltdown and voted to socialize the financial system. Well, at least gays can get married, yippee. Apparently, many voters really believe a Democratic president will make it all better. Good luck with that.
Vote against incumbents (Mon, 29 Sep 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
The economy is in the toilet at all levels. The federal, state and local governments have screwed it up, and the financial institutions have screwed it up. New York State suffers because Wall Street profits provide state tax revenue, and every billion helps. Do you really believe that your own elected officials are the only shining beacons of hope, and that it's everyone else's fault? I do not recommend moving your money to other institutions, not even from mutual funds, but it's pretty clear to me that a completely new set of elected officials can't make things worse. Time to kick the bums out.
Metro school excused from Regents requirements? (Sun, 20 Sep 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
Bill Cala, the former superintendent of schools in my home's district, is a smart guy and I usually like his ideas. A few years ago, he and high school principal Dave Paddock interpreted federal rules to mean that high school students' families had to opt in to a program that provided information to the military, and they took some heat because the feds' interpretation was that families should be automatically included unless they opted out. Now, Bill is working on an idea for a publicly funded "metropolitan" school that would include students from across the region. Bill says that he has found Regents regulations, "not to be very helpful." I presume then that "metro" students would receive what public schools typically call "local" diplomas, with the stigma now attached to students who don't earn Regents diplomas. I'm not sure I see how Cala's "holistic" curriculum solves the problem of US companies that feel the need to provide remedial instruction to new employees who have diplomas but inadequate skills. Cala has had some great ideas, but this seems like a one-off.
Mainstream media join the club of the harassed at RNC (Fri, 12 Sep 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
As an independent blogger, I need to step outside of the NYS box for a bit. I'm a pretty mainstream guy, but I occasionally check out alternative news sources such as IndyMedia. Usually, I get little more than a laugh. Some local yokel with a camcorder will cover an anti-war protest at some park in Dorktown, and write an article about how shocking it was that no mainstream journalists were present. But reports continue to leak out, even from the mainstream media, about widespread, violent police harassment of generally peaceful protesters and credentialed journalists outside the Republican National Convention, earlier this month in St. Paul, MN. See the September 4 and 5 reports from Ted Johnson of Variety. I am usually very skeptical of the indy journalists who claim to have been arrested while doing "nothing". But this is the real deal. The government uses warrantless wiretaps, has taken over huge chunks of the previously private financial sector, and arrests anyone at any time. And they call Obama a socialist, yeesh. I don't mean to give Obama any credit, since I am not aware of BHO or JMc commenting on this problem.
NYS Fair (Mon, 25 Aug 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
My wife and I visited the New York State Fair this past Saturday. My wife loves the Fair, and she knows I don't get too excited about it. We saw the guys who build circus models - there's a club for everything. We saw New York native Joan Jett (on the free stage), who was introduced by US Senator Chuck Schumer. Joan and her Blackhearts played a version of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song, You're Gonna Make It After All. Mary's show took place in Minneapolis, oh well. The day was warm and sunny, so fairgoers were showing off a lot of skin. I saw a lot of tattoos that had aged to the point of becoming, shall we say, past their prime? The Center of Progress building seemed less packed with exhibitors than in the past. I guess all the great mop innovations are behind us...
A break from politics (Fri, 8 Aug 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
I maintain several bloggish pages on this site, but none are sports related. If I occasionally have an opinion on some sports topic, I usually just let it pass. But the signing of Brett Favre by the Jets seems like a sign for me. I mean, this blog is about New York State, and they're the New York Jets, right? So, here goes. I admired Favre during his career, and it was OK with me when his retirement got a lot of press. His crying at the press conference was well covered, but that's just the way the press is these days. But, Favre's coming out of retirement has been a painful, drawn out saga. I would never wish for an injury, but I hope Brett Favre gets his flip-flopping butt kicked. He went out on top and he had it all. His comeback is greedy; not for money, but for attention. He was great; now he's a whore. If Favre doesn't perform up to his previous standards, it will destroy his legacy, and it would serve him right.
Oh the ironies of calling for a property tax cap (Tue, 5 Aug 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
State legislators and everyone else continue to rant vitriolically (is that a word?) about tax caps. For once, the education lobby is right; they say that the increases have generally been within the proposed four percent anyway. Billionaire Tom Golisano rants that the caps should be two percent. While I understand that Tom's taxes are substantial, it's always hard to listen to the guy who has the most to benefit from some new thing, and Tom would benefit more than me from a tax decrease. Mandate relief is the other buzzword. But I still say, the problem is that New York State wants to relieve us taxpayers from our property tax burden, but NYS doesn't levy property taxes (local entities levy property taxes). So, the state's ravings serve to distract us from the state's own problems.
The mislead of Dean Skelos (Sat, 5 Jul 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
Dean Skelos, the new NYS Senate (Republican) majority leader, issued a press release that uses the phrase, "...the most important issue facing New Yorkers - skyrocketing property taxes." But this is misleading. Property taxes are piled on top of state income taxes, state and local sales taxes, and many other taxes and fees. No one element is the worst problem. I acknowledge that certain elements, such as the state income tax, are not individually onerous, but for Skelos to focus on property taxes is to redirect the attention of New Yorkers away from state-level problems. Local taxes are a real problem, but no more so than the problem of a dysfunctional state legislature that claims success by increasing aid to schools, thereby increasing state taxes and, ironically, deflecting criticism from school boards that then claim low increases in the local tax rate.
So long, Joe (Mon, 30 Jun 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
Joe Bruno, Republican majority leader of the state Senate, is retiring. At the age of 79, he didn't want to retain his seat but lose his leadership position if the next election shifts the Senate majority to the Democrats, so, he's getting out. In defense of the district voters who kept reelecting him, he brought home their bacon, that's for sure. But he led all his colleagues to spend recklessly, resulting in the heaviest tax burden in the nation. Even if former governor Eliot Spitzer's secretive investigation of Joe's taxpayer funded trips didn't prove any corruption, and even if the FBI's investigation of Joe's business dealings haven't proven any corruption, one is left to wonder if all that smoke indicates a fire. They'll probably name a building after Joe, and I'm sure it will be an expensive one.
Property tax caps and such (Wed, 4 Jun 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
The appointed Commission on Property Tax Relief has recommended a 4% cap on property tax growth, and Governor Paterson agrees, but CoPTR apparently did not predict the future of funding and costs. So, if the state were to reduce aid to education or if large new programs were to be lumped onto districts' backs, it's unclear how they could conform to the cap. On the other hand, state aid increased substantially this year and districts are still inexplicably convulsing over "unfunded mandates", which no one ever seems to itemize. CoPTR also recommended reduced taxes for lower income owners, but if that comes in the form of rebate checks, many will be tempted to run out to the store for a bigger TV. School officials complain that caps reduce local autonomy. The whole problem with STAR and other state programs is that the state wants to impact local tax levels, but the state does not write local budgets. The districts don't seem to mind state meddling when the state gives away money, but the districts whine when the state wants to exert control. For my own part, I wish the state would simply fund useful universal mandates like special ed and school lunches, reduce my state income taxes by reducing overall funding to schools, and let the districts set tax rates according to local needs. Then, homeowners will see what their districts are really up to. Today's situation is too complicated to fix, and CoPTR tries to help by making it more complicated.
I Love NY campaign to focus on Upstate (Wed, 7 May 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
The long-running "I Love NY" tourism campaign is to expand its promotion of upstate New York attractions, and that's a good thing. It's typical for us home-based amateur pundits and bloggers to focus on negative stories, because the fact is, our state government really is dysfunctional and our legislators really are the problem. On the other hand, Jersey girls have an annoying accent, California babes are conceited, southern belles are spoiled, and Texas cowgirls are, well, cowgirls. Give me a Riesling from Watkins Glen, an apple from Geneva, a really (really) big waterfall, a camera from Rochester, a coney from Liverpool, a gold medal from Lake Placid, and, oh yeah, a woman from the North Coast.
Governor thinking of changing my STAR rebate? (Wed, 23 Apr 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
Like most NYS single-family property owners, I benefit from the New York State School Tax Relief (STAR) program. Essentially, NYS collects tax dollars so that I can receive money to help pay my local (non-NYS) property taxes. The program was intended to attack the NYS reputation for high taxes, but over time, the reduced local bills resulted in heavy increases in local (primarily school) budgets, because the local budget planners could get away with it. Taxpayers ended up paying the same amount locally, and presumably more to the state in order to fund STAR. Now our new governor, David Paterson, wants to nip our many state budget problems in the bud. To do this, he wants to "revisit" STAR. I'll admit, I think STAR is stupid. If the state wants me to pay less, they should reduce my state taxes, rather than dorking around at the local level, which inevitably leads to different locales arguing over fairness. But now that STAR is here, and that local authorities have cranked up my local taxes, and that the state has cranked up my state taxes, one can only presume that "revisiting" STAR means higher taxes. If I thought that the state would suddenly emerge into a golden age of responsible spending, I could grudgingly see the point. But that won't happen.
To think we were worried about traffic light cameras, ha! (Fri, 14 Mar 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
Oh my gosh, my dream about Spitzer and a prostitute was, like, psychic! (Mon, 10 Mar 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
Holy cow, my dream of a month ago foretold of Eliot Spitzer's announcement today that he is the subject of a federal prostitution investigation! Really! Would I lie?
Strange dream about NY Governor Eliot Spitzer and prostitutes (Sun, 10 Feb 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
I had the strangest dream before waking today. Eliot Spitzer was caught up in some sort of prostitution sting. How silly, it must have been the anchovies.
Traffic light cameras are evil (Fri, 01 Feb 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
I hate people who run red lights as much as anyone, but not enough to accept cameras on traffic lights. The safety concerns are important, and I can even handle the government's desire for more funding, but there is a privacy issue at stake. If someone calls 9-1-1 to report a gunshot, you can bet big bro will check all the traffic cameras in the area. And there you are, a Perinton guy driving in Greece, and the cops wonder, "What's that east side license plate doing on the west side?" Your activities have been recorded and saved for no just cause, and if you pick your nose, it will be on one of those cable TV shows that feature law enforcement video.
And another thing ... we don't have container deposits so that the poor can dig through garbage cans to get enough money to buy groceries. So, when a suburban guy like me says that I'd rather use curbside recycling than drag my cans back to the store, I'm not taking money out of anyone's pocket except the government's. I pay lots and lots of tax dollars so that no one starves in America. Eliminate container deposit laws.
A lousy watchdog am I (Tue, 15 Jan 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
Aside from blogging and voting against incumbents, I figure there is not much I can actually do to reduce my property tax burden, so it was no great surprise last week when I received my town/county tax bill and noticed an increase. In my defense, even the local daily newspaper was clueless until a few citizens wondered aloud how the highly touted county tax-rate decrease led to a tax-levy increase. From what I can tell, the overall increase is due to fees for services that are itemized outside of the tax rate. Yes, dear reader, that is underhanded. The Democrats are just as much at fault for this as the Republicans who lead the county government, because the Democrats failed to run candidates in all races last November. Lousy watchdogs are the opposition party members, too.
Pollsters and big media wrongly claim upsets (Wed, 9 Jan 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
Allow me to leave NYS for a moment and switch to the New Hampshire presidential primaries, because the issue is relevant to all politics. Hillary beat Barack, and that's being called an "upset" and a "resurrection". But those explanations are self-serving for the media and the pollsters, and for the conservative talk-show guys who were gloating over Hillary's demise for days. Maybe the pre-primary polls and the media outlets and talkers simply screwed up, but oh no, they can't admit that. Maybe the negative reporting brought out Hillary's supporters, but it's more likely her earlier crying on camera, and Iowa results, had an effect. The polls are terrible these days because regular citizens no longer care to take part. We screen our calls and spam-check our email. Heck, I'd rather write a blog entry than participate in a poll.
Yes, there are too many public employees in NYS (Thu, 27 Dec 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
I keep seeing statements from labor leaders about how overworked and underpaid are our NYS public employees. It is true that the US Census Bureau reports that the number of state employees per capita in NYS is lower than in most other states. But labor leaders stop there, failing to mention that local government employment is far higher in NYS than in most other states. Overall, public employment in NYS is high and costly. No one gets rich being the grumpy clerk at the DMV, but they do get good benefits, good job security, good working conditions and good pensions. If state employment is low, it's because NYS has pushed work onto local entities. State workers have nothing to complain about.
Federal lawsuit against NYS voting procedures (Sun, 16 Dec 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
I guess the federal government figured their lawyers, and New York State's lawyers, just don't have enough to do. I can't imagine how keeping all those people so busy in the courts will hasten NYS compliance with the Help America Vote Act. Lawsuit or not, I'm not holding my breath until NYS gets new voting machines (not that we need new machines).
Text messaging in cars (Fri, 16 Nov 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
I live in Perinton and was as horrified as anyone after last summer's accident that killed five local HS grads. But it's still disconcerting to hear Jim Alesi's glee as he announced his bill for prohibiting text messaging while driving in NYS. You'd think it would be a big-government Democrat who would place yet another restriction on our behavior, rather than a Republican, the party of traditional, individual responsibility. But the Republican party of the 21st century has rewritten all those traditions. Now, I don't read text messages to my cell phone even when I'm not driving, so I don't care. Just don't take my coffee away.
Comment from gary on Fri, 23 Nov 2007 12:53:30 GMT:
Today's Rochester Democrat and Chronicle refers to another blog with a similar viewpoint. You saw it here first.
School budgets and the rate of inflation (Sun, 11 Nov 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
Recent news reports document the intuitive belief that public school spending (the largest portion of our upstate NY property taxes) has long been rising faster than the rate of inflation. One may also intuit that our tax burden increases faster than middle class incomes. What with predatory lenders and rising taxes, it is becoming harder for Americans to maintain the dream of home ownership. As much as we love our hardworking teachers, they need to pay more for their benefits, and capital improvements need to be spaced out over longer periods than indicated by the monstrous plans we have seen over the last couple years.
Old stuff (Tue, 07 Nov 2006 12:01:00 GMT)
This page previously contained an elaborate selection of jabs at various state and local agencies and companies. Here's a summary of this page's previous items.
Taxation and government services are necessary, but I don't see why my overall tax burden (federal, state, local, licenses and fees, sales taxes, etc.) has to be higher than the burden on Americans in other regions, especially when the upstate NY economy is weaker that most other regions. Regardless of a few minor improvements during 2005 and 2006, the New York State legislature and governor's office are terribly gridlocked, and we continue to decry our Albany Dysfunction. Most elected officials can point to positive achievements, but there remain big problems that have existed for years. I am against statutory term limits because voters already have that power and because it's hard to find qualified candidates. I am against contingency budgets and constitutional budgeting limits because they encourage half-hearted or irresponsible action. In Rochester, as long as we're publicly supporting stadiums and entertainment districts, we should build an arts center.
Additional items (Tue, 07 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
Following a reportedly large and widespread increase in assessed property values, the Fairport, NY school tax rate didn't change substantially in 2006, so I assume the result was an unreportedly large increase in the tax levy. Still, it's annoying that a vehement anti-spending lobby has developed in the district that equates support for children with voting against school budgets. Spending-per-pupil is a better way to compare districts than tax rates or tax levies because large districts with high and rising home values can spend proportionately more money even if the tax rate is lower than smaller districts with smaller homes.
It's annoying that no two customers pay the same amount for telephone, television, and internet services.
Frontier's voice mail service melted down during 2006 and I recommend that you do not attempt to use this service. Following recurring electrical service problems, and following two suprise appearances of a backhoe in my front yard to repair underground utility equipment in October of 2005, the Fairport Municipal Commission finally seems to have improved reliability. Power failures occurred on: 1/19/06, 4/7/06, 4/21/06, 4/25/06, 7/10/06 (big storm).
I have been a subscriber of XM Satellite Radio since 9/19/02. I support allowing Satellite radio services to provide local content through ground-based repeaters. I'm against the merger of XM and Sirius, although that appears to be a done deal.