Monday, April 30, 2007

Those Damn Immigrants

Another one of those horrible immigrants from Bosnia is asking for us to give him even more:

A Utica man is working to put together a benefit concert for fallen Utica Police officer Thomas Lindsey.

Nedim Mujic never met Officer Lindsey, but says after hearing the news of his death, he wanted to do something to help.

Mujic, who is originally from Bosnia, created a web site in Officer Lindsey's honor and came up with the idea of a benefit concert. He says this is his way of giving back to the community.

You can find Mr. Mujic's website, and details about the benefit concert, at

In case your sarcasm detector is broken, I think this a typical example of how much recent immigrants to our country, and our area in particular, add to our community. There's a certain subset of the local population that thinks the thousands of Bosnians that now call Utica home are a "problem". Not surprisingly, they also dislike the immigrants from Somalia, Russia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Peru, Cambodia, Pakistan, and, well, pretty much anywhere.

What most of those critics of immigration fail to grasp is that the only thing stopping our area from undergoing a massive economic collapse is the influx of legal immigrants. Without them there's a good chance our population would have fallen below the level necessary to support any kind of tax base in the last decade. Even a casual examination of the real estate transactions and business incorporation announcements in the Observer-Dispatch will demonstrate that it's the people with "funny sounding" surnames that are now building the foundation of our local economy.

They're the ones buying marginal properties in blighted areas of the city and restoring them.

They're the ones starting up the small businesses that fuel what little real economic growth we have.

They're the ones that are helping to give us a future.

It's Not The Years, It's The Mileage

Joe Politics celebrates:

Today is a monumental day for CNY Political Insider. It was on this day one year ago that I began the ill-fated journey of posting about the comings and goings of Central New York Politicians. After a near brush with shutting down, I have maintained and for better or worse, survived.

This also marks the blog's 100th post, which in the blog world is a very small accomplishment. I have tried to post 100 insightful and worthy pieces of information. I haven't always been successful, but it has been fun.

When it stops being fun it's time to quit.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Wheel Of Karma

Strikeslip has a nice write-up on the constitutional, and karmic, implications of the Department of Energy's pro-NYRI corridor ruling.

Sometimes "what goes around comes around," as someone astutely pointed out on Story Chat referring to Mr. Picente's complaint that the Federal National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor designation for Oneida County is unconstitutional. Just like Oneida County shoved a huge garbage dump onto the small (in population) Town of Ava, the Federal Government may be about to shove the NYRI power line onto politically insignificant Oneida County.

Shame, shame on us for thinking it was OK for someone else to sacrifice their environment for our needs . . . and dismissing their complaints as "NIMBY" sentiments . . . or merely standing mute while it all happened. . . NOW we will know how it feels. Maybe we will learn a lesson from the experience, and change our ways.

Sadly, the NYRI powerline, in one form or another, is going to be built. There may be some legal maneuvering over the next few years, but we simply don't have enough political power to materially impact the outcome of this particular fight.

New York City and it's environs desperately need power. Upstate has a surplus of energy that will only continue to grow because of additional generating capacity in the form of dozens of windfarms. We also have a dearth of demand, despite what you might think from your high energy bills, because dozens of manufacturers have taken their mills and factories elsewhere.

What Upstate lacks, and New York City has in ample supply, are votes. Votes that can swing every state and national election for the candidate that says he or she will keep the power flowing. And after they get the power they're going to come for the water.

Does anyone seriously think any state or national politician will do anything that could alienate the massive block of downstate voters? Sure, they'll talk a good game and put out some reassuring press releases, but if there's even a possibility that the City is threatened by brownouts or a water shortage they'll don the ritual robes and sacrifice us on the altar of expediency.

Don't think it'll happen?

"Marcy chip fab" ring any bells? How about the state Homeland Security facility at the county airport? Or the state records complex?

Our success in capturing those facilities should give you a good idea how successful the fight against NYRI is going to be.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Night + Sambuca = Photoshop Fun

Sure, it's juvenile, but even Voltaire told fart jokes.

Just as a note of explanation, I vaguely remember that Earle Reed's house has some kind of weird farmland exemption on his property tax assessment. Or something. I'm too lazy tonight to actually go over to the excellent database at New Hartford Online to check, but I'm sure there's something dodgy there. This is, after all, Earle "Christ, we actually have to let them vote on this crap?" Reed we're talking about.

I kidz! I kidz! LOLZ.

Tinfoil Hats, Ho!

Here's a conspiracy theory for you, courtesy of My Paranoid Friend(TM): Frank Meola's candidacy for Mayor of Utica is a clever scam. He and his supporters know he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, what with the criminal history and all, but that's exactly why he's running. He's so bad, so totally unsuited for high office, that when Meola drops out the real Democratic candidate will look like a godsend in comparison.

Farewell To A Giant

One of the towering figures of the music world has passed. Mstislav Rostropovich has died.

Mstislav Rostropovich, the ebullient master cellist who fought for the rights of Soviet-era dissidents and later triumphantly played Bach suites below the crumbling Berlin Wall, has died. He was 80.

Rostropovich died today in a Moscow cancer hospital, the Itar-Tass news agency reported. Rostropovich’s spokeswoman, Natalia Dollezhal, confirmed he had died but she did not provide other details.

Rostropovich, who resided in Paris after self-imposed exile, had intestinal cancer.

Rostropovich owned an estate in Jordanville in New York for several years but rarely visited. It was sold in November 2005 for $1.15 million. It featured 790 acres of woods, pastures and a large pond, along with five buildings.

I visited the Jordanville estate twice, once as a student in an advanced art seminar and again, many years later, when I was an adult. The seminar was a transformative experience in my life. I'm still amazed that I was chosen for it, since I'd been a terrible student and a constant thorn in the side of my instructors, but one teacher saw more than just a sullen, combative kid from a dirt-poor family. She took a huge risk fighting for my inclusion and I can never repay her for how much it changed my life. That seminar never would have happened if not for the sponsorship of Maestro Rostropovich, but I eventually, in a small and very personal way, ended up paying part of my debt to him.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mayor Stickyfingers?

Utica Councilman Frank "Stickyfingers" Meola has become the endorsed Democratic candidate for this year's mayoral race.

The Utica Democratic Committee has endorsed Common Councilman Frank Meola as candidate for mayor, committee Chairman Mitchell Ford said Wednesday night.

Meola, who represents the fourth ward and was elected to the council in 2003, is a hardworking, energetic candidate who has improved Utica during his time on the Common Council, Ford said.

"I'm hoping he'll bring more economic growth to the city," Ford said. "The city has been stagnant a long time."

The Democratic Party chose to endorse Meola during a closed meeting at the Sons of Italy lodge on Bleecker Street Wednesday night.

If elected Mr. Meola would have the dubious distinction of being the first convicted felon to attain the office of Mayor in New York state this decade. On the bright side, he already has a relationship with Governor Spitzer. You may remember that it was then Attorney General Spitzer that brought the hammer down on Mr. Meola for his involvement in an organized crime ring.

"The individuals involved in this ring set out to plunder upstate stores on a daily basis," said Spitzer. "The extent of this crime and the frequency with which it occurred is shocking. Thanks to a cooperative effort by my office, the State Police and local retailers, this ring of criminals, which plagued area businesses for so long and at such enormous cost, is now out of business -- permanently."

"This type of organized crime is among the many challenges facing legitimate New York business enterprises today," Superintendent McMahon said. "Unfortunately, large scale thefts such as these add to the overhead expenses that must be borne by retailers. Ultimately, these costs are passed along to the consumer. I am pleased that the teamwork between the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the New York State Police has put this organization out of business.’

That incident brought Mr. Meola to the attention of the State Insurance Department, which fined him for his "untrustworthiness".

Frankly, with a track record like that I can't imagine a more perfect candidate for Mayor of Utica. It's been far too long since someone associated with organized crime was at the helm of the city.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fear The Fur

CNY Circus has a look at Ithaca College's use of the virtual reality world of Second Life as a classroom.

No dull old talking head hook-ups by computer or satellite for guest lecturers at Ithaca College. They’ve started making virtual trips to campus by sending their avatars from the online alternate universe of Second Life.

What the linked Ithaca Journal article fails to mention is that Second Life is populated with the most ridiculed, hated, and marginal group on the internet: Furries.

If you've seen the infamous CSI episode featuring the Furry community you've seen but a glimpse of their horrific nature. Gaze upon the abomination, if you dare!

I firmly believe that nothing is beyond Furries. Some will sink to any level to gratify their sexual urges. A lot of furries assure me that not ALL Furries like looking at poorly drawn pictures of cartoon characters having sex, not ALL Furries like reading Rescue Rangers erotic fiction, not ALL Furries have sex in Fursuits, not ALL Furries own a collection of specially modified 'yiffable' soft toys, not ALL Furries do these things - it's just the 'Furverts' it's just some bad 'Fursons' that are into those things.

Note: Do not click on the the link to the above site if you value your sanity. The author describes the activities of the Furry subculture in detail and it's not pretty. Seriously, this is the kind of stuff that would make Larry Flynt blush.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Are Floaty's Days Numbered?

Oneida County has spewed over half a billion gallons of sewage into the Mohawk River in the last two years. The state has set this week as the deadline for fixing the problem.

The county needs to either sign the state's proposed consent order or request further discussions, said Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Stephen Litwhiler.

The order was issued by the environmental agency so the county would stop pumping untreated waste from a Yorkville pump station into the Mohawk River. The estimate for repair work is $66 million.

"We're going to continue negotiations until we get a consent that works in a manner to our satisfaction," Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said.

The county's response will be given to the department by Monday and will have three major amendments to the state's order, Picente said. They are:

•More time to conduct a study of the problem and an extension of the state's 2011 deadline to complete necessary repairs.

•Getting rid of the $200,000 in fines the department imposed on the county.

•Lifting the moratorium barring sewer extension permits to the affected areas.

To boil that down to it's essence, Mr. Picente's response is to do a study. Worse, he wants to continue allowing development that will only put even more feces and sewage into the river. In much of the state projects like that are forced to construct their own water treatment facilities so the net load on the sewage system doesn't increase, but Oneida County seemingly can't agree to even that token effort to keep our surface water uncontaminated.

The Hunt Goes On

WKTV has posted the video of today's press conference on the Lindsey investigation. After watching how both Chief Pylman and DA McNamara have handled themselves over the course of the investigation I've been impressed by the professionalism of both men. I've had almost the exact opposite reaction to the local media.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Larry Tanoury Lays It Down

Larry Tanoury has risen to the challenge:

UPDATE: This blogger continues to question this "MySpace" account. As if there aren't any real issues to discuss. They have asked "what song was on the profile." What does it matter? As I stated, I deleted the account in order to avoid dirty tactics like these.

Well, no, you didn't say that, at least until now. And your account wasn't deleted, it was switched from public to private three hours after the cognitive dissonance between your public and private persona was pointed out on an internet message board.

I don't remember exactly what song they are looking for, as I would often change songs. I believe the last song was "Cake" by 50 Cent. You say you have it archived, I say release it so that everyone can see how rediculous this whole conversation is.

See, that wasn't hard, was it? People like politicians that are open and honest. After all, what could possibly be offensive about a song? It's just words and music, right? The very idea that your theme song could be "embarrassing" is laughable on it's face, which is why this whole brouhaha is, as you point out, so trivial.

Really, people are so thin skinned these days.

I would like to point out, in the interest of fairness, that Mr. Cent is merely a featured artist. The credit for the song itself belongs to the talented Lloyd Banks, who deserves all the credit for lyrics that flow off the tongue like fine poetry:

I need the cake nigga!
The Unit dont play, we rap but we strapped
Buck got the shotgun, 50 got the Mac
Spider got the sweeper and he dyin to hear it clap
you wont have another birthday (cake) after that
cuz Yayo got a temper and he dont know how to act
and Ive been gone a winter, but now a nigga back
to get the (money)all the (money)all the(money)all the(money)all the (cake!)

[Verse- LLoyd Banks]
And you mutherfuckas looking like steak
food on the plate, for the wolves, follow moves,
dont get moved by the tools, blood'll ooze on ya shoes
Wait!, control ya hate, you aint ridin in them sixes
(Why?), cuz you spendin all ya (cake) on them bitches
I need the bread, lil niggas need christmas
Banks dont rap with a backpack, im in it for the
(money)all the (money)all the(money)all the(money)all the (cake!)

[Verse-50 Cent]
haha, you heard Banks say it so you know i got the Mac
I'll pull up pull out spray hollows at ya back
i dont give a fuck its goin down like that
i dun been thru everyhood that niggas gonna rat
in the heart of a victim, murder is monumental
i dont complicate shit kid, i keep it simple
my bullet wounds will tell you a story bout what i been through
Southside trauma, drama with the llamas
i converstate with killers its usually bout life
politic with lawness its usually bout white
im da posterchild of violence im the boy on the poster
when the shots start to ring out im the boy with the toaster
yea listen up clicko, i hustle i get dough
you fuckin with a sicko, i spaz let a clip go
cannon out the rental, beam to ya temple
i squeez blow ya mental, all over ya friends

[Verse-Lloyd Banks]
me im from the street, we aint nothin sweet
the home of the homi's, theres a body everyweek
now i dont hear the sirens but they probably on a creep
plottin to pull me over, plant the (cake) in my jeep
so i'll be skippin cities, 7 states in a week
cant a mutherfucka breathin and tell me i cant eat
show me the (money)of the (money)of the(money)of the(money)of the (cake!)
nigga slowdown pump ya brakes
no mistakes cuz them jakes run the plates
then ya headed upstate for rollin round with a steak
nigga start up a beef, and run straight to the cops
you a bitch ass nigga the cup(cake) of the block
any nigga disrespect the clique gettin shot
round here niggas get found upside down over the
(money)all the (money)all the(money)all the(money)all the (cake!)

Well. That was uplifting.

Since Mr. Tanoury has pointed out my cultural ignorance several times, I'd like to defend myself by listing the lessons I've learned from his theme song.

1. "Nigga" isn't really an offensive word.

2. When you're confronted by armed men, one with a pump shotgun, one with a MAC-10, and one with a cut-down fully-automatic shotgun, the one to watch out for is the one with the fully-automatic shotgun.

3. Good financial planning is ruined when you use an excessive amount of your income to impress "bitches".

4. The MAC-10 machine pistol is particularly effective when firing hollow-point bullets.

5. When a gunfight erupts, aim for the head.

6. Police want to pull you over and plant "cake" in your car. From the word usage I'm beginning to think the "cake" in question isn't from Sarah Lee.

7. If you start a confrontation and then go to the police for protection you're a "bitch ass nigga".

I'd like to thank Mr. Tanoury for providing me with this educational experience. I think we all owe him a big debt of gratitude for what we've learned today.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Still Life, With Meltdown

The dancers have left the floor, the wait staff are clearing the plates from the tables, but the band plays on.

Common Council President Patrick Donovan on Friday called for the council to end its investigation of police Chief C. Allen Pylman, but an O-D poll of council members showed division over whether to shut down the inquiry.

Donovan, a Republican who's also chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said Pylman was an effective leader and the council needed to move on.

But three council members — two Democrats and one Republican — said it's inappropriate and poor timing for Donovan to be discussing the issue eight days after a Utica police officer was shot and killed.

Here's the reaction from council members reached Friday afternoon:

•Majority Leader Bill Phillips, D-5, Councilman Rocco Giruzzi, R-at-large, and Councilman James Zecca, D-2, said it's not the time to argue about the council investigation. City leaders need to focus on one goal: apprehending police Officer Thomas Lindsey's killer, they said.

Unless Mr. Phillips, Mr. Giruzzi, and Mr. Zecca are personally gathering evidence and working the phones it's hard to imagine what, exactly, they're doing to find Officer Lindsey's killer. Over a hundred officers from multiple law enforcement agencies have been doing the actual work of trying to capture a murderer. The Utica Common Council hasn't, and can't, do much more than offer their well-wishes to the investigation.

•But Councilman David Roefaro, D-at-large, and Councilman Frank Meola, D-4, want to complete what the council started. Transcripts of witness testimony need to be filed and forwarded to Mayor Tim Julian and possibly the Attorney General's Office, they said.

It's been two months since the last witness offered testimony before the council. Are they seriously suggesting there hasn't been enough time for the simple transcription of oral testimony? If that's the case, the Common Council needs to look into getting some new office staff.

"I think it is a political move and in light of what has happened to our community this week, I think his timing is deplorable," Roefaro said. "It is his opinion that the chief exhibits good leadership because there are many things in this investigation that will come to light. This will go to the Attorney General's Office."

Well, there you have it. Mr. Roefaro believes he's uncovered criminal actions that warrant action by the Attorney General. Charges so serious, so devastating, that the chief law enforcement officer of the state needs to be brought on board...but Mr. Roefaro can't really say what those charges are. Considering the dire nature of the situation isn't it vital that the transcripts be completed as soon as possible? From the inexplicable foot dragging of the council it would appear the real answer is somewhat in doubt.

Update: A kind bystander pointed out that criminal charges should have been filed for Officer Franco's assault on a suspect. While I'm not totally sure that's true, it's undeniable that the entire incident was covered up by Chief Pylman and then District Attorney Michael Arcuri. Oddly enough, while Mr. Roefaro has been questioning witnesses and gathering evidence during the investigation into the Franco incident he's also been serving as a member of now Congressman Arcuri's staff.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Your Guns Need To Go

It appears that Utica's Democratic Party is pushing the idea of a gun ban in the aftermath of the Lindsey shooting. This should be interesting.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Larry Tanoury Is Down With That

Larry Tanoury has called me out.

A certain blogger has posted some troubling information about my MySpace profile. The post is offensively titled "What do Larry Tanoury Jr. and Don Imus have in common?".

I have known about these naive allegations for some time, however, I thought they were so immature and childish that they didn't warrant a reply. However, I have now heard that certain Democrats are actually questioning what this is all about.

It's simple. I had a MySpace account for several years. MySpace is a social network which allows me to keep in touch with my friends across the country. The so-called "embarrassing material" was a simple RAP SONG.

Okay, I'll bite. What was the song?

Update: In addition to this post I've left a comment on Mr. Tanoury's blog asking the same question. If he chooses not to respond via email or his own blog within a reasonable time I'll assume he doesn't wish to answer it. I hope he doesn't do that, because I think this is a great opportunity for him to dispell my "lack of understanding of other cultures." Considering his extensive experience with racial inequality and human rights issues I think there's a lot we could all learn from such a discussion.

Update: I've been told there is indeed an archival copy of Mr. Tanoury's Myspace page from the time in question, as well as a way to access his current page. Since Mr. Tanoury may well be away from internet access I'll give him some more time to respond before exploring those options.

Update: A helpful reader writes:

"...ol' 3.9 must use spell check a bit better on his term papers than he does his blog.

I currently have a cummulative GPA of 3.9 and am planning on transfering to Utica College to major in Political Science with a minor in Human Rights Actavism.

If someone was going to Actavate on my behalf I'd hope he could spell."

Bad spelling does have a negative "cumulative" effect on reader perceptions.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

You Can Have My Gamepad When You Pry It From My Cold, Dead Fingers

Now that all of New Yorks major problems have been solved, Gov. Spitzer has decided to crack down on the insidious pixellated threat that lurks in our living rooms.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer will take a shot at violent videos and video games as part his remaining 2007 legislative agenda that includes campaign finance reform, streamlining the courts, and energy development.

Spitzer said he will soon provide a bill that would target the ratings of video movies and video games "'that are often violent and degrading"' and can hurt children who repeatedly use and view them.

Spitzer said he wants to restrict access to these videos and games by children, similar to motion picture regulations which prohibit youths under 17 from being admitted to R-rated movies without a parent or adult guardian.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the ultimate expression of the "For the children!" mentality.

I won't dwell on the fact that the system Spitzer proposes already exists. I won't mention that every major game publisher already uses a rating system nearly identical to the one used by the Motion Picture Association of America. I'll avoid pointing out that every game retailer already has policies in place that prevent children from getting games with an inappropriate age rating.

Instead, I'd like to take a moment to ask Gov. Spitzer, in all seriousness, if he's out of his mind. This is what you're worried about? This is the major crisis the state is facing? Are you kidding me?

Remember the whole "Appalachia" thing? Yeah? Well, guess what. We're still here. Call me crazy, but I don't think a bunch a pre-teens getting their hands on a copy of "Halo" comes close to the huge chunk of your state that's suffering double-digit population losses in importance. Before you start worrying about Mario's repeated unprovoked attacks on innocent mushrooms you might want to consider taking a look upstate. We have a few teensy, tiny little problems that could use some attention.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

America's Most Wanted Is On The Case

Which is good, because otherwise we wouldn't have a clue about what's going on with the Lindsey investigation. The Rome Sentinel reports:

"America’s Most Wanted" has joined the hunt for the black male in the white hoodie sought for questioning by Utica police, and the syndicated national television program’s web site is carrying new details about the murder of Utica Police Officer Thomas M. Lindsey. According to a case profile posted today at, the black male "walked down the street and ambushed" Officer Lindsey during the traffic stop in the 1100 block of Neilson Street Thursday night. This is based on a statement from the male driver, who told police "he was scared for his life, and for the life of a young child in the car, so he pulled away," according to the AMW web site.

So it looks like my paranoid buddy's theory about an execution style murder might be correct after all. Which raises the extremely troubling question of why someone targeted Officer Lindsey in particular. His involvement in a drug raid as a member of the tac squad? A case he worked on in the past? Something outside of his professional work?

District Attorney Scott D. McNamara declined to comment on the contents of the web site. Capt. Mark W. Williams, the UPD’s media liaison, expressed surprise when told about the posting and said this morning "I don’t think that’s accurate." Williams said he spoke with Chief Pylman on the matter, but cannot personally comment on the veracity of AMW’s report.

If it's not correct it's the kind of information release that calls for a corrective press conference. Because, you know, idiots on the internet could interpret it the wrong way and think something sinister was going on.

John Leiberman, the case agent for America’s Most Wanted, said today that he has been in contact with officials on every level of the investigation. "We’ve been in constant touch with them about the case," Leiberman said, adding that more new information will be released on the web site today. "Our hope is that the driver of the car will be forthcoming with police...they believe he was not completely forthcoming" after questioning.

Read the rest of the article. It puts a new, and rather troubling, spin on the events the night of the shooting.

In Search Of...

No, not the old syndicated TV show narrated by Leonard Nimoy. I'm talking about whoever keeps ending up here after doing searches for "larry tanoury jr myspace". If you're really that worried about it you probably shouldn't be doing the search from a machine with a fixed address.

Just sayin'.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hey, These Aren't Gucci Handcuffs!

Too bad they don't have video of the arrests.

Owners at three local clothing stores have been arrested for allegedly selling counterfeit merchandise, worth over $14,000.

Here are the people arrested:

>> Leeann Casaletta, 27 - Chic Boutique
>> Joette Mancuso, 52 - Joette's Gifts
>> Wei "Danny" Chen, 30 Glimmer Glamour

The counterfeit merchandise sold by these three owners included brands like Coach, Burberry, Chanel, and Tiffany & Company.

State Police also seized $14,500 worth of merchandise and $1,500 in cash.

All three were taken without incident and are being charged with trademark counterfeiting in the second degree. All will be back in court at a later date.

I wonder what kind of fake handbag goes with prison jumpsuit orange?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

And So It Begins

The Syracuse Post-Standard has a story on the biggest issue facing farmers in Central New York. Skyrocketing land prices? Out of control erosion? Water shortages? Agricultural runoff management?

No, labor.

There's a growing shortage of laborers to work on Central New York farms, a panel of farmers and agriculture experts told U.S. Rep. Michael A. Arcuri.

From that sentence alone you can guess where the discussion is headed.

Increased enforcement of immigration laws hit grape growers hard in 2006, said Tom Macinski, of Standing Stone Vineyards in Seneca County. The enforcement crackdown not only eliminated undocumented workers from the labor pool, he said, but also affected legal migrant workers.

"They heard rumors about upcoming arrests," Macinski said. "They stayed away out of fear, even though their paperwork was entirely proper. . . . That made getting the grape crop in in 2006 much more difficult and also made it more expensive."

Macinski said wages doubled and added about $5,000 to the cost of harvesting grapes at his Lodi vineyard.

The demand for workers exceeded the supply, driving up wages? Say it ain't so!

To steal a metaphor from the programming world, this isn't a bug. It's a feature. A feature that, sadly, isn't having an impact on more of Central New York. As Mr. Macinski points out, totally inadvertently, there isn't a shortage of labor. As soon as he increased the amount of money he was willing to pay workers the magical labor fairy sprinkled his pixie dust and..TADA!...he had the people he needed to harvest his crop.

The one part of the supply/demand dynamic Mr. Macinski does seem to understand is the negative impact on wages created by a flood of workers. And, to him, that's a good thing, because his vineyard is just struggling to stay afloat because of high labor costs.

Hah! Just kidding. From all accounts, his vineyard is wildly successful. An achievement made all the more amazing because Mr. Macinski works full-time for IBM while his wife concentrates on her thriving legal practice. I can only speculate that they aren't working the fields of their own vineyard because they can make more money doing something else.

Funny how that works.

Peter Saltonstall, owner of King Ferry Vineyards, south of Aurora in Cayuga County, said vineyard work is very labor- intensive. Grape vines need to be pruned, grafted, tied up and otherwise maintained.

"All of these jobs require lots of hands for a very short window," he said.

Macinski, Saltonstall and others called for immigration reform, including the H2A guest worker program, which allows farmworkers to enter the country for a specific time.

"One of the factors holding back advancement in our industry is the ability to plant more grapes to get a bigger market share," Macinski said. "You can't plant more grapes unless you have labor.

"What we need is a labor source," he continued. "We need a labor source we can rely upon. We need a legal process which makes it not too difficult for us to apply for it."

Let me translate that last part: "We need a labor source that doesn't cost too much. If only we had huge pool of people willing to work for little or nothing we'd be able to do all kinds of cool things. As it is, we're forced to pay people way too much. Sure, there are enough workers if we jack up the wages, but that isn't very fair to us, is it?"

Surprisingly, an article about the same meeting in the Auburn Citizen has a different take on the situation:

But not all in the audience at the college were sympathetic to the cases made to Arcuri.

“The main issue is the big farmers don't want to do the cost of business, so they want the public to pick up the tab,” said Jeff Polhamus, who owns a small dairy farm in Aurora.

“They should figure that cost into their operation, and if they can't, they should be out of business like the other small farms,” Polhamus added.

Barbara King, of Aurora, said that easing the expense of migrant labor for farmers would burden local taxpayers with the bill for their housing and health care.

“You have to ensure that more people benefit than just special interests,” King said.

That's what the immigration issue really comes down to: helping special interests.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Officer Down

The shooting death of Utica police officer Thomas Lindsey is a tragedy. My heart goes out to his family and I sincerely hope his killer is brought to justice quickly.

That said, I can't be the only one that feels like there's more to this shooting than has been made public. Doesn't it seem odd that all the occupants of the car stopped by Officer Lindsey have been questioned and released? One of my more paranoid friends, the same one that came up with the serial killer theory I mentioned last week, floated the idea last night that the shooter might not have been in the car. He also suggested that the police are being intentionally vague about where Officer Lindsey was shot because his attacker did it from behind, execution style.

That would elevate his shooting from a tragic incident to something far more sinister.

I know this is pure morbid speculation, but it does seem like there are some important details missing from the current narrative.

Update: Just to correct myself, the driver of the car is still being questioned according to Saturday's press conference.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Floaty Fan Club Grows

It looks as though Floaty's fan club is growing!

At least they were doing it during their lunch hour.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Is It Just Me?

Please tell me I'm not the only one that finds this letter to the editor in the Rome Sentinel appalling.

I was in Rome on the evening of April 3, when my dog got a three-prong fish hook in her mouth. It went through her tongue and upper lip.

I was on the phone for 45 minutes trying to get a veterinarian to help her. She was bleeding and trying to get it out with her paws. I made six calls to animal hospitals and veterinarians and the only one that would see her was Oneida Animal Hospital. I came for overnight, so I did not have that much money with me, and they wanted it paid in full that night. So my friend had to call relatives to get the money. The dog had to be put out, so it was not cheap. But at least they would see her.

I was in the Westernville area, so I didn’t know anything about Oneida, but I got there.
Other area veterinarians would not see my dog, because I was not a client. What do you do in the area if your loving pet needs immediate medical attention?

Wirecutters, to snip barbs from fish hook - $4
Mouthwash, to rinse dog's mouth- $3
Clove Oil, to sterilize wound and alleviate pain- $5
12 days worth of Cephalexin antibiotic (sold as "Fish Flex")- $12

Maybe it comes from growing up on a farm, but I'd use the same treatment if I ever snagged my own tongue with a fish hook. Not that I have, because that would be really stupid. And I'm not stupid.

Almost forgot- you'll probably want some cotton balls as well.

I bled like a stuck pig both times it happened.

What Do Larry Tanoury Jr. And Don Imus Have In Common?

He's back! Larry Tanoury Jr. has launched his campaign Web site.

Democrat Larry Tanoury Jr., a candidate for the 25th District seat on the Oneida County Board of Legislators, has launched a campaign Web site.

Tanoury said the site,, will allow residents in the 25th District to keep current on the events of his campaign.

The seat is held by William Hendricks, a Republican.

Mr. Tanoury actually launched the website quite some time ago. In fact, he's been amazingly active on the internet over the past year or so. Just not in ways that will help his campaign.

From what I understand, before Mr. Tanoury shut off public access to his Myspace page there was some rather embarrassing material posted, particularly for someone who's campaigning as the savior of Cornhill. Worse, it was archived before he was able to sanitize it.

I wonder if it will pop up during the campaign.

Flash! Using Mohawk River As Open Sewer Isn't Healthy

Yesterday an Oneida County official quoted in the O-D stated that the sewage flowing into the Mohawk River wasn't a "health risk". It appears that opinion has been revised.

The hundreds of gallons of sewage that have been pumped into the Mohawk River from a Yorkville pump station during the last several years could affect humans, animals and the environment, state and local officials said.

"There isn't any question health risks are involved," said county Health Director Nick DeRosa. "In short, any discharge from the municipal sewers is raw sewage before treatment and any discharge into the streets or body of water is naturally a health concern."

I guess someone realized how ridiculous the "feces in the water really isn't dangerous" spin sounded in print. Oh, and it's not "hundreds of gallons" of sewage. It's hundreds of millions of gallons annually, according to yesterday's story. If the figures in there are correct over half a billion gallons of sewage have been dumped into the Mohawk River and it's connecting waterways, including the Erie Canal, in just the past two years.

County officials are hoping to negotiate an agreement with the state DEC, allowing them to conduct a three-year study to see how bad the sewage problem is and how much it will cost to fix.

The estimated price of the study: $3 million to $5 million, said Steven Devan, county commissioner of Water Quality and Water Pollution Control.

Unless I missed something, we already have a good idea how bad the sewage problem is- 266 million gallons in 2005 alone- and how much it's going to cost to fix it. There doesn't appear to be much debate on that at all. Waiting another three years will just mean another billion gallons of sewage dumped into the river. Billion. With a "b".

Are Oneida County officials seriously suggesting they're comfortable with that?

If they are, I can pretty much guarantee there are going to be some political consequences. I'm not a public relations expert, but I'm not seeing how anyone can defend not doing everything in their power to fix this problem now. The political ads practically write themselves:

VOICEOVER: When millions of gallons of sewage were flowing into our water, Generic Politician didn't think it was a problem. They wanted to study the problem instead of fixing it.

VIDEO: Montage, cute kids splashing in the water, families fishing, couples paddling their canoes down the river...and they're all surrounded by rafts of toilet paper and feces.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said if the state allows the time to conduct the study, the county will figure out a way to obtain the $66 million in funding, if that's what is necessary.

That funding could come from places including state and federal grants, bonding and water users, he said.

Ah, it appears we have our first test case. I know Mr. Picente isn't responsible for this problem, but if he actually wants to win this fall's election he has to forget trying to foist off this "study" as an adequate response. I can guarantee with 100% certainty that he will be pounded on this issue until he just throws in the towel. It wouldn't take all that much effort to establish him as Tony "Toilet Paper" Picente. Heck, I'm not the only blog that would work to make sure every internet search on his name would bring up reams of writing about his love for sewage and dirty, nasty, disease infested water.

On the other hand, if he asserts his leadership now he could come out of this as the hero instead of the villain. Get everyone at the table, from the public works guys at every municipality using the defective pumping station to Mike Arcuri in Washington, and solve the problem. It's not only the right thing to do, but a huge political coup for everyone involved. Everyone gets to run as the savior that gave us clean water, everyone gets reelected, and everyone's happy! Huzzah!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oneida County Introduces New Mascot: "Floaty"

"Floaty", Oneida County's new mascot, entertains the crowd at FecalFest(TM) 2007 on the shores of the Mohawk River.

Along The Mighty Mohawk A Fearsome Fecal Fountain Flows

It appears Mr. Hanky and his friends are having a group swim in the Mohawk River, courtesy of Oneida County.

The problem: An Oneida County sewage pumping station in Yorkville has been spilling untreated waste into the Mohawk River. How much? About 266 million gallons in 2005 alone.

While county officials say there are no worries about health risks, the Department of Environmental Conservation is clamping down on future development until Oneida County makes the costly fix of an outdated sewage system.

Since I happen to live downstream from Yorkville I'm curious how 266 million gallons of untreated waste don't constitute "health risks". I'm even more interested in finding out how much human waste is in the river I canoe in, and by extension the Erie Canal. 'Cause, you know, we just spent a couple of hundred million dollars worth of tax money developing those waterways as tourist attractions. Call me crazy, but I don't think fecal flotillas are something tourists like to see.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente's reaction: Extreme disappointment and many questions.

In an interview Tuesday night, Picente said he's not prepared to sign the state Department of Environmental Conservation's consent order and might seek revisions. While he said he wants to fix the sewage problem, he said he's concerned about the scope of the state's remedy, its cost and the tight timetable.

"We're trying to resolve the problem, but I'm not going to bankrupt the county in the process," Picente said.

He expressed concern that the order prohibits new sewer hookups in a region seeking to grow its economy.

"Why would I sign an order that does that?" Picente asked.

The county executive said he is going to meet with the town and village leaders affected next Wednesday to discuss a course of action.

I hope that course of action is "How can we fix this as quickly as possible?", because anything else is simply unacceptable. Forgive my bluntness, but my right to paddle down the Mohawk without having to dodge your "brown trout" trumps any right you might have to yet another big box store.

The decision is another obstacle to economic growth in a region that was among the nation's leaders in population and job loss during the 1990s.

Besides the sewer problem, a protracted dispute between the Mohawk Valley Water Authority and the state Canal Corporation has prevented extension of water districts to locations in central and western Oneida County.

Before Oneida County worries about extending it's water pipes I would suggest it pay more attention to it's sewage pipes. I know there are quite a few campaign that want access to that cheap water from Herkimer County, but this sewage issue is totally separate and far more important. After all, why would the residents of Herkimer County divert millions of gallons of clean water to the west when you're just going to send it back down the Mohawk River contaminated with sewage?

Let The Countdown Begin

Looks like a virulent illness is wreaking havoc in the Utica school system.

More than 100 city school teachers called in sick today, said representatives from Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES.

Today is the first day back to school for Utica students after a shortened spring break. Three days were shaved from the vacation to make up for an excess of snow days.

Usually, about 40 teachers call in on an average day, said Mary Sainsbury, supervisor of the substitute calling service at BOCES

BOCES, which runs a substitute service for its component school districts, was able to find substitutes for all but a few teachers who are out, said Jean Palmer, a BOCES spokeswoman.

Cue the "You don't understand, they work all year round, they grade papers at home, they don't really get all summer off, they're underpaid, they had to go to school for four years, blah, blah, blah..." soundtrack in 3...2...1....

Incompetent Or Corrupt? Discuss.

The FUBAR Express just keeps chuggin' along, as the Town of New Hartford holds yet another recount of the bonding ballots.

A second recount likely will be held soon on a storm-water management bond passed in the March 29 special election so that the public this time can witness the tally of ballots, town officials said Tuesday.

According to officials from the state Board of Elections, Town Clerk Gail Wolanin Young likely violated state election law by holding a private recount April 2 without informing the public. Because of that recount, the $2 million storm-water management bond, which was voted down by six votes in the previous count, was approved by at least 75 votes, she said last week.

Deputy Town Clerk Margaret M. Jones said she was not sure when the second recount will happen. Town officials and Young are expected to inform residents about the recount at tonight's town board meeting, Jones said.

Seriously, it's time for heads to roll. Town officials have now bungled this matter so thoroughly that, given the available evidence, it's starting to look like the only possible explanations for how badly it's been handled are incompetence or corruption. Neither of which inspires any great confidence in the administration's continued ability to govern.

As usual, Fault Lines and New Hartford N.Y. Online have far more thorough coverage of the matter, including documentation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New Bonding Proposal In New Hartford

It appears there's going to be yet another recount in New Hartford. I'm no expert, but I'm thinkin' that if you can't handle addition at the fifth grade level you probably shouldn't be handling money.

This Should Turn Out Well

I'm sure we'll all be hearing quite a bit of informed, reasoned debate about this incident.

Oswego County Sheriff’s Deputies are just releasing details about a mother who tried to kill her unborn child.

Katrina Pierce, 24, of West Monroe was arrested at 1:20 Monday afternoon, and charged with self abortion. Deputies say she attempted to kill her 13-week-old fetus by ingesting several over-the-counter and prescription medications. The alleged overdose took place on Wednesday, April 4th.

From the rather sparse details it would appear her attempt was successful.

We're Number One!

Another big win for the area!

U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, toured the Fermer Precision plant Monday afternoon in Ilion and said he liked what he saw.

The high-tech machine shop employs more than 65 people and was started by people willing to take some risks, Arcuri said.

"Businesses such as this are the cornerstone for our economy and our ability to create jobs in this area," he said.

Workers with strong work ethics, the ability to learn quickly and the willingness to show up on time and perform multiple tasks remain reasons for optimism about the area's economic future, Arcuri said.

"Our workers are willing to show up on time." It's tough to find a more ringing endorsement than that.

Sweet Jesus.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Superthunderstingcar Is Go!

If you're of a certain age, you probably remember the slew of SuperMarionation shows like "Thunderbirds" and "Stingray" produced by Gerry Anderson. But you may have missed Superthunderstingcar!

Via Boing Boing.

(There isn't much going on and I'm lazing away the day after a phenomenal Easter dinner. The Rage(TM) will return tomorrow.)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Is There A Serial Killer In Utica?

I spent some time out with friends last night, and during a discussion of the Pylman investigation one of the guys brought up the idea that a serial killer may be operating in and around the Utica area.

This isn't exactly a new idea, but he suggested there may be more victims involved than Jennifer Bennet and Michelle Hutchings. I have my doubts, since it appears both Bennet and Hutchings knew the same group of people and weren't just similar in terms of sharing a victim profile (slim, white female, mid 20's, brunette, liked to party), but he did offer up some vague details of a woman that matched their description who was found dead in a hot tub. Based on that I couldn't find anything about the case through Google, but if anyone has a clue what he was talking about I'd appreciate an email. You can get the address through the profile link to the left.

WKTV Rolls Over, Plays Dead

It appears WKTV has given up any pretense of having an online presence. A year ago the site was filled with regular video updates throughout the day, but as of last week they're down to one clip a day and some brief, poorly written text versions of their on-air stories.

I'm sure they've informed their advertisers and adjusted their package rates accordingly.


Mysterious Machinations Mystify Many In New Hartford

The already contentious New Hartford bonding vote has achieved what many thought impossible: it's actually become even more FUBAR.

Three days after a town resident requested to impound ballots from the March 29 special election, officials are staying silent about what will happen next.

On Monday, Town Clerk Gail Wolanin Young did a recount and found errors in the tally sheets, she said earlier this week. Because of that, the $2 million stormwater management bond, which was voted down by six votes in the previous count, was approved by at least 75 votes, she said.

All eight bonds failed in the first count, and some residents are wondering why the recount was done.

"Who authorized the recount?" said Ed Wiatr of New Hartford, who has petitioned the Oneida County Board of Elections to impound the ballots.

Young has said the recount was done after she suspected there could be mistakes because the storm-water bond failed by just a small margin.

Let me recreate what apparently happened:

SCENE: Interior. Nighttime. GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG, Town Clerk, sits behind a desk illuminated by the only pool of light in a small office. A wall of voting machines fills the background. We hear a faint sound, the soft opening and closing of an ancient door with un-oiled hinges.


GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: Hello? Is anyone there?

MEDIUM SHOT, OVER GWY SHOULDER. We see a vague shadow moving on the other side of the office door's glass. The silhouette of a man in robes becomes clearer as he approaches.


GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: Hello? Earle? Is that you?

MEDIUM SHOT, OVER GWY SHOULDER. The door slowly opens, but we can see that the figure it reveals isn't touching it. The figure steps into the room, still only a back-lit silhouette until the overhead light lets us see some details of his face. It is EMPEROR PALPATINE. Inside the pool of shadow created by the hood of his robe we can only see a pair of gleaming, bloodshot eyes and a faint smile. His skin is cracked and leathery, wrinkled by the ravages of age and the corruption of the Dark Side of the Force.

EMPEROR PALPATINE: No, I'm afraid it's not. Not tonight.


GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: I...I'm sorry, but the office is closed. If you're here for the bond results we'll have the official tally tomorrow morning. I..thought I'd locked the door.


EMPEROR PALPATINE: So you did. Your puny locks are no match for the power of the Dark Side!

EMPEROR PALPATINE gestures behind him. The door slams shut.


EMPEROR PALPATINE: But I am here to discuss the results, my dear, dear friend.

CLOSE UP, GWY. A flash of fear crosses her face.

WIDE SHOT, GWY ON THE RIGHT, EMPEROR PALPATINE ON THE LEFT. He gestures towards GWY and her muscles suddenly relax. Her eyes are glassy and unfocused.

EMPEROR PALPATINE: It appears there were some mistakes with the initial counting of the ballots.

CLOSE UP, GWY. She looks vaguely surprised.

GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: Mistakes? (softly)

CLOSE UP, EMPEROR PALPATINE. A sly grin crosses his face as he focuses his will on GWY, bringing her totally under his domination.

EMPEROR PALPATINE: Yes. Some rather trivial errors that we will now correct.


EMPEROR PALPATINE: The vote was very, very close.

GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: The vote was very, very close. (under a trance, repeating EMPEROR PALPATINE's inflections)

EMPEROR PALPATINE: You should do a recount now, just to be sure.

GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: I should do a recount now, just to be sure.

CLOSE UP, GWY. The vague look of surprise crosses GWY's face again.



GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: But...I can't do a recount on my own. (she smiles and speaks the next line as though she was a schoolgirl, proudly quoting a line from an election manual she's struggled to memorize). Democracy relies on the voting process being fair and open to scrutiny! Every part of the tallying process should have observers present!

SLOW ZOOM IN TO MEDIUM SHOT AS EMPEROR PALPATINE MOVES CLOSER TO GWY. Their faces fill the frame. EMPEROR PALPATINE is engraged. He focuses his will on GWY and crushes any hint of resistance.

EMPEROR PALPATINE: I am the only observer you need to worry about! You will do as I command and you will do it now... or I will squeeze your mind until it bursts like an over-ripe melon!

GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG winces in pain.

EMPEROR PALPATINE: (calming) You will do as I command.

GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: I..will do as you command.

EMPEROR PALPATINE: The vote was very, very close and you need to do a recount.

GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: The vote was very, very close and I need to do a recount.


EMPEROR PALPATINE: It would be easier to make sure the results are accurate if..there are no distractions. That is why you decided to do it this weekend, when no one was in the office. You just want to double check the results.

GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: I just want to double check the results.

EMPEROR PALPATINE: You just want to do what's best for the town.

GAIL WOLANIN YOUNG: I just want to do what's best for the town.


Strikeslip and New Hartford Online have more about this fiasco here and here.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Case Of The Imploding Investigation

It's looking more and more like the Utica Common Council's investigation of C. Allen Pylman won't end with a bang, but with a whimper.

The Common Council could end its investigation of police Chief C. Allen Pylman by putting Public Safety Commissioner Philip Taurisano in charge of the Utica Police Department, Majority Leader Bill Phillips said.

Phillips Wednesday presented legislation that outlined what Taurisano's responsibilities would be, but it was moved to committee. The Public Safety Committee will meet Monday, April 16 to discuss that and other issues.

If the legislation passes, Taurisano would be in command of the police department, investigate complaints and oversee disciplinary matters.

How..anticlimactic. After all the drama and posturing by both the Council and the Mayor it looks like nothing much will change after all. What a shock! All we need now is Snidely Whiplash scurrying offstage while twirling his mustache and crying "Curses! Foiled again."

The full council, made up of both Republicans and Democrats, voted Jan. 31 to form the committee. It is looking into allegations that Pylman violated the Utica Police Department's General Order, a set of guidelines and rules by which officers must abide.

But the Investigatory Committee has made little progress since its last hearing on Feb. 22. That night, Anthony Garramone, who was the council's attorney, resigned. The council has unsuccessfully looked for a new attorney since then, Phillips said.

At least $8,000 has been spent on the investigation and the council is reluctant to spend any more to hire an attorney, which could cost about $100,000, Phillips said.

Without a legal adviser, the council can't move forward with the investigation, he said. It is unclear whether a report will be issued, Phillips said.

No report? Surely you jest! After three months of theatrics I expect the citizens of Utica will demand a report, if only to answer the slew of questions the Council's cryptic comments have spawned. What, exactly, were they investigating? What specific rules of the General Order were alleged to have been violated? When did the Council become aware of these violations? Who came up with the idea to offer witnesses immunity from prosecution in return for their testimony? How and why was that decision made? All of those questions, and many more, deserve to be answered.

Above and beyond those answers the Council needs to release the full transcripts of every witness, particularly those that testified about Anthony Franco's assault on a suspect and the resulting decision not to prosecute him. There was clearly a cover-up of the incident and all the details of how it happened, and who was involved, need to be brought out into the open.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Blog Fight!

Joe politics is embroiled in controversy!!11!!

I am not quite sure how my previous post on the New Hartford Bond situation went from an unbiased analysis of the situation to direct criticism of the the Concerned Citizens for Honest and Open Government. At no time did I applaud the New Hartford Town Officials or even suggest that the bonds should be passed. I believe I did say that New Hartford Online "deserves credit" and they were directly responsible for the bonds going down. I will not apologize for asking that now everyone comes to the table to find a solution. For that matter, I am impressed that their blog actually does have some common sense suggestions. I don't know how an honest assessment of the situation now makes me an arm of the Republican Machine.

As a disinterested third party, one who rather likes everyone involved, I think this boils down to a classic case of mis-communication. Joe's post here could be construed as being dismissive of the efforts of New Hartford Online. The "pages and pages of boring minutia" line caught my attention as being a tad over the top the first time I read it, but I happen to like minutia. I can understand why the people that invested a huge amount of work putting it all together would be offended by a comment that trivializes their efforts.

On the other hand, I think it's short sighted to ignore Joe's larger point about having a "Plan B" now that the town government's endorsed plan has gone down in flames. (Or maybe it hasn't, depending on how this whole "recount" thing plays out, but that's a whole other issue.) I haven't been impressed by Mr. Reed's governance, but even if he's a raging baboon the town still needs to come up with an effective plan for dealing with the runoff issues. I don't think Joe pointing that out should be taken as an attack, anymore than me pointing it out should. It's just the way things are.

Hopefully we can all move on from this and concentrate on what's really important- bitching and moaning about what a gang of crooks our local politicians are.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Mike Arcuri's Short Memory

Mike Arcuri speaks out on September 29, 2006:

We need to make sure that emergency spending is for emergencies: things like the war in Iraq and natural disasters are truly emergency items. The Republicans in the Senate recently passed an emergency supplemental spending bill that included such "Eemergencies" as for the Mississippi Children’s Museum ($500,000) and farm and rancher subsidies ($3.9 million).

Mike Arcuri speaks out on March 15, 2007:

Today, U.S. Representative Michael A. Arcuri (D-Utica) outlined his strong support for The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act which would provide our troops with the equipment they need, require Iraqis to take control of their own country, establish benchmarks for withdrawal from Iraq, and help fight the war on terror in Afghanistan. The bill will provide $2.8 billion for veterans’ and troops’ health care.

Sadly, Mr. Arcuri's strongly held conviction about keeping emergency spending for emergencies didn't last past his election. His "strong support" included an endorsement of epic amounts of pork barrel spending, including:

$500 million for emergency wildfires suppression; the Forest Service currently has $831 million for this purpose;

$400 million for rural schools

$283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract program

$120 million to compensate for the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the shrimp and menhaden fishing industries

$100 million for citrus assistance

$74 million for peanut storage costs

$60.4 million for salmon fisheries in the Klamath River region in California and Oregon

$50 million for asbestos mitigation at the U.S. Capitol Plant

$48 million in salaries and expenses for the Farm Service Agency

$35 million for NASA risk mitigation projects in Gulf Coast

$25 million for spinach growers

$25 million for livestock

$20 million for Emergency Conservation Program for farmland damaged by freezing temperatures

$16 million for security upgrades to House of Representatives office buildings

$10 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission for the Rio Grande Flood Control System Rehabilitation project

$6.4 million for House of Representative’s Salaries and Expenses Account for business continuity and disaster recovery expenses

$5 million for losses suffered by aquaculture businesses including breeding, rearing, or transporting live fish as a result of viral hemorrhagic septicemia

And on, and on, and on. None of which, by Mr. Arcuri's own admission, should have been included in this funding. Quite an accomplishment for a self-described "fiscal conservative".

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Certifying The Ballots...

Wouldn't ya know, it looks like one of the New Hartford bond proposals passed after all!

The storm-water management proposition that seeks to address flooding issues in the town passed by at least 60 votes last week, Town Clerk Gail Wolanin Young said Monday after a recount.

After Thursday's vote, the $2 million bond originally failed 843 to 837. The other seven propositions also were defeated.

"It bothered me over the weekend that it was such a close defeat," Young said. "We added the figures again, and we discovered errors in the tally sheets."

The tally sheets from Ward 3 and Ward 4 reported the counts in the wrong order. After the recount, the outcome for at least two bonds changed, she said.

Proposition No. 5, which proposed moving the police department to 1 Oxford Crossing and releasing space at the Kellogg Road facility for the town court use, had failed by just six votes. But after the recount, Young said it was defeated by about 150.

The final vote totals will be available Tuesday, she said.

Strikeslip says pretty much everything that needs to be said over here.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Self-Interest Is The Sincerest Kind

Strikeslip brings up some curious facts about Assemblywoman Roanne Destito's concerns about bad well water.

It's rather interesting that Mrs. Destito is worried about contaminated wells in Kirkland when her district is Utica, Rome, Whitestown, Floyd, and Marcy. It's also rather interesting that certain elected officials in western Oneida County think that they should just be able to tap into "city" water that comes from Herkimer County, when alternative supplies are readily available from other sources.

The engineering study conducted to determine the best source of supply for Verona (as part of Verona's permit application) concluded that among 3 alternatives (the City of Rome, the Onondaga County Water Authority, and the MVWA), the MVWA was the least cost effective solution.

Why, it's not as if Mrs. Destito's family has any kind of monetary interest in the expansion of the MVWA. She just wants people to have good, pure water. The kind of crystal clear water that flows from the foothills of the Adirondacks, down into Herkimer County, and then westward, ever westward, into Oneida County. Taking that water even further west just happens to have the happy side-effect of sending the value of certain existing properties through the roof, albeit at the expense of the system's current customers.

Of course, as Mrs. Destito will point out, it's not about real estate values. It's about the kids. Don't the children of Kirkland deserve pure water? Do we really want them drinking well water that could be filled with...uh...bad stuff? No! They deserve better, no matter what the cost.

Do it for the children!

The Looming Tax Showdown

Who will blink first? New York State or the Oneida Indian Nation?

This year, the Oneida Nation and other tribes will pay taxes. The state plans to collect $200 million in sales and other taxes on goods sold by Indian-owned businesses in 2007-08. If Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer doesn’t enforce the law, his brand new budget will be revenue-short. Gov. Spitzer included sales and excise taxes on cigarettes and motor fuel in his budget plan back in January, and the state Legislature left the revenue line intact in its version of the budget that was adopted Sunday. The bid to collect sales and excise taxes is a turnaround in policy from that of former George E. Pataki, who broke with state legislators by rebuffing their efforts in recent years to force the collection of the levies through legislation.

In the past our state government has always backed down on it's repeated empty threats to collect taxes on the Nation, but Spitzer's inclusion of tax revenue from Indian-owned businesses in the budget and the Department of the Interior's re-evaluation of the gaming compact makes it look like things will finally come to a head this month. This issue has dragged on for years, to the detriment of all parties, and it's time that it finally gets resolved, one way or the other.

Oh, and I think Spitzer will blink first. The Nation is more than willing to stand up against both the state and the federal government and, realistically, there's little either can do to punish the tribe without setting off a public relations disaster.

Two More Years!

This is depressing. The GOP might not even bother running a candidate against Congressman Mike Arcuri next year.

Missing from the both lists is Rep. Michael Arcuri ☼, the freshman Democrat from New York who defeated Republican Ray Meier, 54%-45%, last November. Arcuri represents a district where Republicans have a 30,000 edge in registration and President Bush carried in both 2000 and 2004.

Does this mean Republicans will give Arcuri a free pass in 2008?

Last week when I asked Rep. Tom Reynolds about New York’s 24th District, the former NRCC chairman acted as though he didn’t hear my question. When I repeated it, he avoided giving me an answer. He first talked about New York’s 19th and 20th districts, where Democrats also prevailed last November. Finally, Reynolds wrapped up his answer by saying that he’d spoken to some Republicans who might be interested in running against Arcuri, but he also wouldn’t rule out another run by Meier.

One of the reasons Mr. Arcuri won is that Mr. Meier wouldn't effectively campaign against him because of their friendship, a problem exacerbated by the NRCC's inane mistargeting of the "phone sex" ad. I like Mr. Meier, but I don't think his campaign was run with any sense of urgency or aggressiveness. The taint of that failed campaign is, unfortunately, exactly why Mr. Meier shouldn't run again.

Who should run against him? At this point I don't know, but whoever it ends up being needs to pound Mr. Arcuri on the issues he's already flip-flopped on like single-issue emergency appropriations, earmark reform, pork spending, and the Oneida Nation. Anyone that doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to get into the race to win doesn't deserve to be in the race to begin with.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Secret Agent Man

In the words of Verbal Kint, "And like that.. he's gone."

Oneida County Independence Party Chairman John Dote recently resigned from his part-time position with the Frankfort Police Department due to responsibilities involved with a state position.

Dote would not say what position he acquired with the state. At the Observer-Dispatch's request, the state Department of Civil Service's public information office is checking its records to see if they have Dote's position on file.

Dote had recently returned to his position as a Frankfort police officer after resigning when he was the subject of an Oneida County investigation last year.

In 2006, Dote, 54, of Utica, pleaded guilty in Oneida County Court to working as a private investigator without a license, a misdemeanor, and a felony charge of fourth-degree grand larceny was dismissed as part of the agreement with prosecutors.

I'm sure the "state job" story is just a cover. I wouldn't be surprised if a man of Dote's unique talents was recruited by the CIA or NSA. What else could possibly explain the extravagant lifestyle of a man with no visible means of support?