Friday, September 21, 2018

Now Serving Number B-320

There's an interesting local race this fall: Oneida County Clerk. The 3-term incumbent is Democrat Sandy DePerno and she's being challenged by Dave Gordon, a former county legislator. What many people don't know that when she was an employee in the clerk's office decades ago, she screened before the Republican committee in New Hartford asking for their endorsement for the seat as her boss, the incumbent was dying of cancer. She did not receive the endorsement, but managed to rise to the seat years later when the Republicans screwed up and had a contentious primary in which the end result was they managed to lose the seat.

The race is really heating up and it's putting the race into the headlines. Oneida County voters are now aware that there is a race and it's got Sandy nervous; so nervous she's going on radio shows and  .... telling some pretty big whoppers about her opponent. Rather than try to defend her poor job performance and try to explain the problems that exist in the office, she has chosen to attack the character of her opponent. This approach is not working out very well for her. For example, in a recent radio interview she claimed Dave called a neighboring county clerk and posed as a representative of her office when he asked question about DMV operations in that county. Dave, of course not only denied posing as such, but went on the radio show the next day while the host phoned the other county clerk and asked him if Dave misrepresented himself.

The answer on live radio was a clear and resounding no.

It appears Ms. DePerno was being economical with the truth. Actually it is, on face value, an outrageous lie designed to impugn the character of Mr. Gordon. And it backfired. Ms. Deperno also claimed Mr. Gordon lost one of his properties for failing to pay the tax bill on it. Again. Mr. Gordon produced a bill of sale transferring title to another entity. Again, it appears as if Ms. DePerno is prevaricating, and this time she ought to know better - she is in charge of all property deeds and transfers in the county. She could have easily looked at her own records to see. Apparently, she didn't bother.

Click here for Dave Gordon's radio interview

Which bring us to the title theme of this blog: The shoddy operation of the DMV in Oneida County.

One of the responsibilities of the county clerk is the operation of the local Department of Motor Vehicles in the county. Both Utica and Rome have local DMV offices. The office in Rome is smaller; the one in Utica at 321 Main Street (also known as Union Station, the local railroad stop) is the larger one. Anybody in Oneida County that has been to the DMV at 321 Main St. knows it is a time-consuming ordeal to transact business there. Long lines are common and there is no escaping them. The Utica DMV process is a two-step one; first you stand in line to wait for an agent at the window that will process your paperwork to see that it is all in order. If it is, then you are issued a ticket stub with a number (A112, B481, C123, and so on) and have to wait until that number is called. It is grueling, to say the least. The Rome DMV seems to have a better flow, most probably because it handles less business. And our neighboring county of Herkimer is usually and in and out process, probably for the same reason as Rome.

Most Oneida County residents are aware of how painful a visit to the Utica DMV is and many drive the extra distance to Rome or Herkimer, depending on which side of the county they reside in. Every local county transaction results in revenue for the county and there has been an active media campaign to encourage people to drive to 321 Main Street to keep the additional revenue local. Most people; knowing how painful 321 Main is either transact online (if they can) or drive to one of the other DMV offices. The current system is not encouraging people to visit 321 Main. Okay. that's the polite description. In reality, the current system is a piece of crap and needs overhaul badly.

Ms. DePerno has had 3 terms. That's 3 bites at the apple and it doesn't appear she even realizes how bad the DMV operation is. If she did, you would think she would have tried different fixes. She hasn't, and it still runs painfully sluggish at 321 Main.

Dave has suggested different approaches to repairing the DMV operation locally; the most popular one is the placement of  (at least one other) satellite DMV office in a more central suburban location. Looking at rehabilitating the operation from the top-down is definitely needed and perhaps a time management study could offer good solutions to the problem.

But one thing is certain: If Ms. DePerno retains her seat, additional DMV revenue into the county coffers is wishful thinking.

Yeah. You've got number B-320 and they just called number 112. Bring a book to read, you're gonna wish you did.

Please join me in voting for Dave Gordon this November. Let's fix the DMV, and let's restore the integrity of the Oneida County Clerk's office.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Political RATS in Oneida County, NY

It's mid-August (15th) as I write this blog post. And it's an election year for the Congressional seat in D-22, the district I reside in. The incumbent is Claudia Tenney, a 1-term Republican who rose from the NY Assembly to effectively oust the former Republican Congressman (Richard Hanna) and then go on to defeat multiple opponents to earn the seat. Tenney was swept into office in the same election cycle that President Trump was, and is recognized as one of his earliest supporters.

The 2016 Presidential election was a surprise to the Democrat party. They thought Hillary Robbem Clinton was a shoe-in. Not only did she lose, but she lost the electoral vote by a substantial margin that nobody could have predicted. Ever since Trump's election, Democrat politicians have been in turmoil trying to figure out what went so very wrong for them. I'm not sure they have figured it out even now, but they have become dedicated to retaking the US Congress so as to stop Trump dead in his tracks. This, of course, will serve nobody well. The country will sink into an even bigger partisan division than exists now.

The Democrats view D-22 as vulnerable and are pouring millions into their candidate, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. Brindisi is leaving his Assembly seat to run against Tenney and swears he is an independent. The record reflects otherwise; he has rubber-stamped the Democrat agenda in Albany, even going as far to cast his vote for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has been (twice!) convicted of using his office for personal monetary gains ... to the tune of millions of dollars. You know what they say .... go big or go home. Sheldon went big, and when he is sentenced in October is expected to change his mailing address to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas or Danbury, Connecticut. Or maybe he'll get Martha Stewart's cell in West Virginia. We'll see. And despite what Brindisi claims about not supporting Pelosi, he has taken a handsome sum from Nancy and this is not going to earn him many swing votes in D-22. Not to mention, Brindisi is the principal architect behind building a new hospital in downtown Utica and there is a large group (4000+) that are opposed to this and the use of eminent domain to seize property from over 40 tax-paying businesses to give to one large tax-exempt business (the hospital). In this snafu, Brindisi even called voters "idiots" in his emails (now public).

And so this brings us to the main topic of this blog, and that is (as the title reflects) political RATS in Oneida County. And as always, there are plenty of RATS in politics. What do I mean by the term RATS and why have I capitalized it?

RATS is my loving term for certain Oneida County Republicans that oppose Tenney and further go out of their way to cast stones in her path to re-election. The term RATS is an acronym.

RATS is short for Republicans Against Tenney. It is plural because there are enough of them embedded into the county Republican structure. The head RAT in my opinion is, of course, County Executive Anthony Picente. To be sure, there is no love lost between Tenney and Picente. Picente has bashed Claudia Tenney repeatedly in the media and is expected to continue to do so. Sadly, Picente is another kind of RAT and that is a party back-stabber in the last NY Gubernatorial election. He publicly endorsed Democrat Andrew Cuomo even though the Republicans had a good candidate running. The Oneida County legislative body has some (not all of them, though) RATS in it. The OC Republican committee has some RATS on it also. Even NYS Senator Joe Griffo is a RAT of sorts, but he's a special kind of slippery little RAT. He tries to burn the candle at both ends, and this is going to catch up with him at some point. Why is Griffo a RAT? He was at the wheel when the election districts were redrawn after the 2010 census and drew a gerrymandered hotdog-shaped district for (then) Assemblywoman Tenney that stretched down to Orange County (near NY City for those not familiar with NYS). Upstate NY has -zero- in common with Orange County but thanks to Joe Griffo, that's what we ended up with. It was designed to minimize her, but she successfully transitioned out of it to the Congressional seat and now Brian Miller holds the Assembly seat. In private he utters his sincerest wishes to redraw the district back to where it used to be, but the 2020 census will have to occur before that happens. We hope Senator Joe has learned his lesson, but this act alone earns him my RAT award. Another RAT worth mentioning is not only a RAT, but a real party back-stabber. This would be, of course, Tenney's predecessor in Congress, Richard Hanna. Hanna tried to be moderate but ended up often leaning left in his votes. The first time Claudia ran against him, he squeaked by with a single-digit margin (which was a shock to him). He lost his pizzazz to run another hard campaign and backed out of running against her again. I have no problem going as far as to say she assisted him out of office, because she made no bones about running for the seat again. This, of course, earned Claudia his eternal disdain, to the point of shooting off his mouth about her in the press. Oh, why does Hanna deserve such a special mention? As he was a lame duck during the 2016 Presidential election, and when Clinton's poll numbers were up ... he publicly endorsed Hillary. This move shocked and awed the Republican base in the district and as I like to fondly say, Richard Hanna couldn't be elected dog catcher after that. The rumor was that Clinton was going to take care of him politically when she was elected. So, how did that work out for you, Richard? Trump's election kind of put a dent in those plans.

Sadly, the local newspaper is in the bag for Brindisi. Their "reporting" is anything but fair and they spin it so badly that the bias seeps out almost every line they write about this race. For example, 2 days ago President Trump came to Utica to fundraise for Congresswoman Tenney and unsurprisingly, the local RATS didn't get comp invitations or were flat out not invited. This morning, the Observer Dispatch (locals have others terms for it) published an editorial about certain local politicians being snubbed and how that marred the event. They know darn well they are RATS and this was their Wednesday morning stab at Claudia Tenney for their not being there. I'm sure if the RATS paid the price of admission, they could have attended. But since they're RATS and have no intention of supporting Claudia, they refused to. Ironically, had they attended, it wouldn't even be their own money buying the admission - they would simply order their campaign treasurer to write the check from funds given to them by their own fan clubs.

So, we have RATS in the local Republican structure. So be it, and let me be the first to say that when the RATS are up for re-election in Oneida County, I'll be the first one to change the term RATS to RAPS. Use your imagination to figure out what it means.

See you next year, fellas.

-Don


Sunday, July 22, 2018

You're being lied to...

Every day. From every possible angle. Every Day.

Yeah, you are. Every day, the news you are being spoon-fed is laced with half-truths and whole lies. Some lies are obvious and some are really pretty sneaky. The news industry is feeding you lies wholesale banking on the fact that human nature makes us readily susceptible to believing what we hear. Oh, the airplane crashes, erupting volcanoes and such are pretty much ordinary news, but anything to do with politics is laced with descriptive adjectives and misleading headlines meant to influence your thinking.  And the reason why they do it is clear: The liberal mass media hates Donald Trump and will stoop to any depth to lower your opinion of him. The continued onslaught of manufactured crisises by the liberal media is the preferred method of delivery.

It's almost like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. One week it's about the children of illegal immigrants being separated from their parents (a regular Obama-era practice), the next it's the Supreme Court candidate, and then back to Russia, Putin, and whatever sort of darkness they can cast on their take of the events. It's their ink, their paper, their broadcasting equipment and they get to choose the words. Never mind that they get it wrong. Never mind that the cover of Time magazine with Trump and the small child is a compete and utter 100% lie and fabrication, one that resulted in Time's apologetic retraction. They will cherry-pick what fits their agenda first and foremost and they will seek out comments from individuals friendly to their cause.

Take for example when I see President Trump is meeting with Vladimir Putin and it's presented as Trump's fondness for the Russian leader, I immediately know I've been lobbied by Trump-hating liberal news media to believe Trump actually has a fondness for Putin. Does he? Who determined that? It's an opinion, not  factual news.  It is a deliberate attempt to make you suspect that Trump is up to no good, and further sway your opinion against a President that the liberal media detests.

The other night, I watched Lester Holt open NBC News with the story that Trump attacked our allies. Good Lord, how awful. Did he use airplanes and bombs? But when the story got to the meat of it, we found out the President is telling these allies they are going to have to start paying more for their own military defense. This is an attack? No, it's another example of network news that hates Trump and is going to carefully and continually choose words to deliver the message that no matter what he does, they are going to do everything in their power to present it in a bad light. Let's take a careful look at how the information you base your opinions on is presented to you.

First, let's identify the majority of news presenters and how they feed you their lies. For convenience and simplicity, I've broken the news groups into subsets and I've grouped them together. I've even assigned them a weight, but let me be the first to say my numbers are just an estimate and probably vary greatly. They may be close for some and far off for others; but in any event the news we hear and how we hear it adds up to 100%. Feel free to ignore my percentages if you think they are inaccurate.

Average people get their news from major TV and radio networks. These include (but are not limited to) ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN and MS-NBC. I've assigned 40% as a number to start from realizing that this is an arbitrary number, but I have to start somewhere. These major network news channels do dominate the airwaves.

The next three groups are Local news, Internet/Social media and Print media. By these I mean your local newspaper/TV/Radio/subscription news magazines and what you read on social media such as Facebook (or other internet sites). Beware of what you read on the internet! A good deal of it is completely made up foolishness, and what is actually real is often mixed or slanted so as to make you believe it all because some of it is true.

The last two groups are entertainment and other. Entertainment would be late-night TV such as the two Jimmy's, Colbert, SNL and daytime feeds such as The View and Rush Limbaugh. I assign these such a low number because most of us are smart enough to recognize these people are bobble-heads that take news and twist it into jokes we might find funny. In the case of SNL and the View, these are off-the-chart left wingnut shows that play the same broken record over and over again, so much that many of us won't bother with them because we know they're played out by left-wingers doing the bidding of other left-wingers. Remember, when you see people clap on these shows, it's because their bosses turned on the applause sign to emphasize a point; more often than not, a liberal viewpoint.

And there are some wild cards in the mix: News sources that sell their stories (AP, Reuters) ... Off the wall liberal college campuses that brainwash students and then send them out into the world ... and some radical far-left and far-right groups that pose as legitimate news sources, but are pretty transparent. These news sources will do everything to paint themselves out as reliable and untainted, but don't be so easily fooled. They are selling the same soap with a different label. Add to this mix the opinion pages and political cartoons that have a left-bias; pretty soon you begin to see how tilted the tables are in what is called news. Let's look at another example of media bias and use the coverage of President Trump when he travels to a location to give a speech. Fox News covered it extensively, giving the President hours of prime-time TV coverage. MS-NBC covered eight minutes of his location-based speeches since April. CNN didn't give it any prime-time coverage whatsoever.

The point here is that if there is a chance that airing the President will make him look good, the liberal media will give it little or no coverage.

Have you watched any of the White House press conferences in the last year? When reporters (and I use the term loosely) ask a question, often they put an opinionated narrative into their comments before they actually ask a question. When did this begin? Just ask the questions, please. We already know what you think politically;

So, looking at 100% of where you get your news ... Based on the chart above, how would you break them down on the political spectrum? Conservative or Liberal?

Overwhelmingly, Liberal. Fox may lean Conservative, Rush Limbaugh may be a right winger, but after that, it doesn't take much to conclude the vast majority of your daily news feed is being carefully crafted to deliver a left-leaning bias in what you hear. CNN and MS-NBC are pretty much liberal organs that often can't even get their corrections right. People like Chris Mathews and Rachael Madcow are nothing more than snake-oil salespeople. They prey on weak minds that want to believe the Kool-Aid these people hash out on a regular basis. Sadly, my siblings and their families drink this Kool-Aid readily and worse, believe it. I'm the lone Republican left standing.

Is all of the Liberal viewpoint wrong? No. Is all of the Conservative viewpoint wrong? Again, no. But the sources aren't even close to being balanced. If the world were flat, many of them would have fallen off the left edge by now.

I'm going to leave you with some sage advice: Be suspicious of what you hear from the mass media organizations. Learn to question what they say. Cast a jaundiced eye on the adjectives they use and ask yourself why they would choose, out of thousands of possible words, to have carefully chosen those. Don't readily accept what you read or hear no matter how reliable you deem the source. Consider every picture as photoshopped until proven otherwise. Disregard memes posted on social media for the most part.

Or, just keep drinking the Kool-Aid. It comes in many flavors nowadays.


-Don

Friday, July 13, 2018

Dear ABC Television:

To: Ms. Channing Dungey, somewhere in ABC TV Lala-land

Dear Ms. Dungey:

I see you canceled your highly-watched and successful TV remake of the Roseanne show after she shot her mouth off. What she said was not very PC, but you see, those of us end-consumers of the crap you put on TV really don't care what TV stars say in their own time. We're numbed with the endless stream of political diarrhea from other brain-dead Tinseltown personalities and we notice the industry hasn't really addressed their potty mouth. It came as a shock when you canned one of the TV shows that we would actually pencil in time to watch. Rebooting Roseanne was a stroke of pure genius. Americans are nostalgic and we really liked the idea of catching up with the Connor family 25 years later. You didn't hurt Roseanne Barr anywhere near as much as you hurt your viewing audience ... You know, the ones you shove the ads to that end up paying for it all. You were worried about losing advertisers? Tut tut. The ones that are stupid enough to publicize they are leaving over what she said are the ones many of us are going to go out of our way to avoid anyway. The blacklist works both ways, Ms. Dungey. If you don't believe me, just ask a few million NRA members where they stopped spending their money recently.

I have to ask in all earnest, Ms. Dungey why you and your ilk have turned a blind eye to what others have said and either never apologized for, or took their sweet time for a half-baked insincere apology later on ... Let's start with one of your own, Channing. May I call you Channing?

Your network runs a daytime show called 'The View' and may I say it is one of the worst pieces of excrement on the air... ever. Simply put, it is a veritable toilet that one Joy Behar seems to dominate. When she shot her mouth off about the Vice-President and his religion, she offended TENS OF MILLIONS with her comments when she intimated Pence was a mental case for how he addressed deity regularly. Her apology not only came late, but only after an uproar which, as you know, may affect ratings and cost you some advertisers. Why didn't you fire Joy Behar  then, Channing? Why don't you fire her now? Why the double standard? If there is any one person that rises to the top of my list of people I'd like to shove a fluffy cream pie in their face, she's the winner. Considering the people who have earned place and show slots on my list, the fact that she's number one speaks volumes on how average people like me rate your network.

You're not alone; many other channels boil the liberal cauldron also. When Bill Maher dropped the N-bomb on his show, he found out quickly it was not well received. He ran for cover, hid for a while and now he's back blowing his liberal horn. When the feckless runt Samantha Bee used a gutter slang word to describe the President's daughter, her apology was also nowhere as immediate as Roseanne Barrs was, yet Barr is the only one that paid the price. I'm beginning to notice a pattern here, Channing. Liberals get a wink and a nod and Conservatives get the guillotine immediately. We're not stupid, Channing. We can tell the difference. Actually, some of us think your canning her had more to do with delivering a pro-Trump message than what she said. Perhaps the danger of Roseanne delivering an explanation of why Trump got elected was dangerous to you. So you waited for the former stand-up comedienne to shoot off her mouth as she always does, and that was that. She may have handed you the rope, but you pulled the lever on the trap-door just as quick as you could. In your haste, tens of millions viewers like me were hit in the crossfire. It's not as if your channel lineup is anything to write home about, Channing.

I notice one of your divisions (ABC News) is not doing all that well, so much so to the point of having to sell your prime location in Manhattan and move some distance away. I notice your network is not getting top ratings. Yet you shot from the hip without taking time to ruminate over things. You screwed up, Channing and we're pissed. We're taking notice of the rumors that you plan to reboot the Roseanne show, sans Roseanne.. Let me save you some time: Most of us won't watch it. Sara Gilbert without Roseanne to prop her up is a nobody. It didn't take her long to verbally stab Roseanne in the back after you canned the show, and considering how Gilbert owes her career to Roseanne, we found that distasteful. Here's a heads-up, Channing: Don't bother.

Thanks for nothing, Channing. You over-reacted and we're the ones suffering for it. If it's any consolation, you didn't make my pie-in-the-face list, though. Try harder, maybe next time.

Sincerely,

A former ABC watcher.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Lesson in Incivility

It started out innocuously; a phone call from an out-of-town relative asking how I was and the usuals, what was new, etc. And as our conversations often do, it moved into politics. As usual, we disagreed. I am rather conservative and this relative is pretty liberal. Not quite a left wing-nut, but active enough to have worked arduously to elect Barack Obama 10 years ago. First we talked about the immigration problem. I was told we need immigrants and replied we had a system to address that need called 'legal immigration.' We ventured into the problem of the immigrant's children. I was lectured how inhumane Trump is and asked where the outrage was when Obama did the same thing years ago. The reply was a lame excuse that the pictures from the Obama era were children sent here without parents. Oh, I see. Only during Trump's Presidency did parents start arriving with their children. How convenient. The response was how poorly we were treating people seeking asylum. Of course, my reply that these people are being coached on what to say when they get here fell on deaf ears. And then the bazinga happened: I mentioned the Sarah Huckabee Sanders dining incident in Virginia and the line that divided us just got wider. I heard laughter, and that's when I lost it. I knew logical and civil debate was all but impossible, and I hung up.

I've ignored the phone calls (deleted the voice messages without listening to them) and emails. One email contained a veiled threat; that's how I perceived it anyway.

We were cut from the same cloth, but I'd have to say it was from opposite ends of the rag at this point. Not only do we disagree on politics, but we vehemently disagree. This relative gets news from such reliable sources as Morning Joe, Rachael Madcow and some liberal wingnut named O'Brien on the known fake-news liberal channels (which is most of them, by the way).

In mid-conversation before I hung up, I posed this scenario and asked what the proper response is:

It's April 1912 and you have booked a trans-Atlantic trip on a brand new ocean liner. You leave Southhampton, England bound for New York City. Everything seems normal and everybody is having a good time. The entertainment and meals are excellent. A couple of days goes by, and then you are awakened early in the morning by alarms. The boat is listing and it is obvious it is going to sink shortly. You make your way to the deck and are lucky enough to get a seat in one of the 20 lifeboats. Some hold 40, some hold 47 and most of them hold 65. You end up in one of the boats holding 65, but notice there are a couple of empty seats as the boat hits the water. The boat is oared away from the sinking ship and you notice many people jumping in the water to flee the sinking boat. You cry to the boatsman to oar over and pick some of them up, and he complies. You pick up two people and are now at full capacity. Still, there are many people in the water waving their arms and they are swimming towards you as they noticed you pulled some people in. You pick up another, and then another. You notice the boat is overloaded and getting lower in the water. You realize you cannot pick up any more people, but they are trying to climb into your boat anyway. Their hands are clinging over the edge.

What do you do?

There are two choices here. Either you can take your oars and hit the hands of the people trying to climb into your boat off the hull, or you can keep letting more in until the entire lifeboat sinks and all are lost.

So, what do you do? Come on, it's not pretty. Either answer can be described as inhumane. Do you save some or do you choose to lose everybody, including yourself?

I can predict one of the answers. Liberals will say it's not a fair analogy, which was the first response I heard. Ah, but it is. The US cannot keep on letting people in unchecked. We simply cannot hold everybody. Make a choice and live with it. Survival is a basic instinct.

But I digress. The title of this essay is about a lesson in incivility. The country is divided. I was stupid enough to think the left would come to their senses and work with the President. I was wrong. Watching Huckabee-Sanders not only get ejected from a restaurant but also get accosted and lectured while she and her dining party were walking across the street to another eatery educated me. I now know the era of civil debate is over. The dividing line just got wider, and it is the Democratic-Liberal left that moved it. Watching vermin like Maxine Waters throw gas on the fire only drives the point home.

So it's the left versus the right, and it's heating up. As I fondly tell my liberal relatives and friends, I notice they are very liberal with other people's money, but not so much with their own money. Some of them are misers and penny pinchers. One of them likes to put up anti-Trump memes on Facebook and when a meme criticizing Trump for his charity was posted, I asked how much this relative gave to charity ... which, of course, is -ZERO-. Hey, I admit I live a frugal life well below my means, but that's native to my conservatism. And I do give to carefully-selected charities, especially ones that I have personally witnessed do good works. Probably not often enough as I should, but giving is a personal choice. Ridiculing somebody else's level of giving when you don't give at all is, of course, hypocrisy and I was quick to point that out.

Oh, the lesson in incivility: I have decided to extend this lesson in incivility to my liberal relative for a while to impart the lesson that it comes in different shapes and forms, and that I can be just as easily offended as the other side can. I'm pretty intractable when it comes to educational discipline. When I think the lesson has been fully imparted, I'll probably ease up to what another relative lovingly calls a 'cordial distance.' And that's how it will go from there on.

About national politics: I'd like to think things will get better, but I'm not sure they will. Another Democrat will, sooner or later be elected to the White House. I smile thinking how just it would be to treat that person -EXACTLY-  the way the left has treated Trump, but then again I know it will just produce more gridlock and we will all suffer for it.

We're all in the lifeboats, if you can't figure it out already. Keep rowing. And let's not consider the possibility of sinking, even though we have to make some unsavory decisions to stay afloat.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That

It's the Christmas season, so let's take a look at who has been naughty and who has been nice in Upstate NY.

This year, I confess I was stupid. I decided to run against, as it turned out, a machine politician for the Oneida County Board of Legislators. With the help of the machine (a State Senator who turned out to be her $75,000 bagman and the County Executive who worked for her behind the scenes), she won. As I have always believed, people deserve whomever they elect. Let's take a look at Oneida County and see what the people are going to get in their gift bag (aka the tax bill that will arrive in your mail shortly before next year):

Your first present is the salary increase of 91% that the Board of Legislators gave themselves. Timing being important, they somehow managed to vote on it after the election. Gee, I wonder why. One of the best reforms that could ever happen would be moving election day to a week or two before taxes are due. $16,000 per annum (more for plum positions) for 12 official meetings a year is ludicrous. Knowing that there are people in the district I ran in that live at or near poverty wages (take a walk through Chadwicks; it's not 90210) that live (in some cases) at or below that $16k a year, I'm embarrassed to live here. As I learned after 12 years on New Hartford Town Board, there are quite a few people living one paycheck away from disaster. Every elected official should experience what it's like to live on a shoestring at some point in their life so as to know the impacts their decisions may have on those they govern. Sadly, when I ran I addressed this by promising  I would not vote for any increase larger than what the rank and file workers got. It's a pretty safe bet nobody else got 91%... and if I'm not mistaken, there are 2 unions at an impasse with county government and they have not had any pay increase for quite a while ... years, if what I'm told is true. But, ain't nobody got time for that.

Your second present is the big increase the County Executive wants, and most likely will get considering how the dog and pony show is run. He thinks he's worth a raise of 22%, which in real dollars is over $25,000. $114k to $140k? Ain't nobody got time for that, Mr. Picente. You're not doing a great job even though you think you are. (Humbleness is not your forte.) Looking at your (yes, YOUR) Marcy-Nano failure, your refusal to submit a budget that lowers the sales tax (I'll get to that in the next present), your blowing the OC budget up ~ $15 million in one budget year ... And other idiotic ideas, like touting how you're trying to get Amazon here .. As if we're in the running! FWIW, Amazon has been courted by better than us. Chicago has offered to let Amazon pocket $1.3 billion dollars in income taxes paid by it's employees to do whatever it wants to with the money. Chula Vista has discussed giving Amazon $100 million in free land along with a 30 year exemption on property taxes (worth $300 million). Boston is willing to get in bed with Amazon with a task force of city-paid employees. Fresno has pledged to set aside 85% of all taxes and fees generated by Amazon into a fund partly overseen by company executives. And you think Oneida County is in the running? What can you offer them that even begins to compare with these things? And the real question is, if we have to bribe companies by giving away everything, why would we even want them here? Employment is nice and all, but infrastructure load and support costs could easily put us in the red. But yet, we (the taxpayers) still pour money into your going-nowhere projects. Look how your AMS deal in the Marcy project went bad: A nice big, new building with a big lighted sign that proudly said 'AMS' was constructed ... and after it was built, they pulled out. What, you built the building and put the sign there with no inked commitment? No good faith money? Please correct me if I'm wrong because we're going to pay for these boneheaded ideas for decades to come regardless if what happens.

Your third present is the 8.75% sales tax (highest in Upstate NY) that could have been reduced by half a percent so easily in this budget. Watching a $15 million dollar increase in any one years budget tells me that the money was there to reduce the sales tax levy and the County Execcutive refused to do it. He chose to spend it. According to one legislators website, a quarter of a percent equals about $7 million dollars in revenue; this means $15 million is easily able to wipe out half a percent. Considering our immediate bordering counties can run their governments with a sales tax rate ranging from 7.75% to 8.25%, the question is obvious: Knowing we are over-taxed and over-regulated and it is the most identifiable cause of our population loss (10,000 people every 10 years since the mid-1970s), the question begs: What course of corrective action should government be taking to stem that loss? The answer is obvious, of course. But again ... Ain't nobody got time for that.

Your fourth present is the bill you are going to pay for a downtown hospital that is going to come in (after everything is totaled up) at about the billion-dollar mark. I can understand why the Utica Mayor wants it, but looking at it from outside, I ask myself why county leadership is pushing for it also. It is obvious most people in the county do not want to go into the inner city for healthcare. It is clearly unpopular considering that if we really, really need a new hospital, the existing St. Lukes Hospital complex can easily accommodate it. St. Luke's is already tax-exempt which would save the city from removing four or so city blocks of taxable property via the eminent domain process, there is already a separate power plant at St Luke's and traffic wise, it is more centrally located. But the county and the city are already moving ahead by approving the construction of a parking garage there ($45 million before change orders and cost upgrades) ... I really don't want to pay for this and most certainly I will go to Cooperstown, Syracuse or Albany before I will consider going to downtown's new hospital. And I'm not alone. This new hospital is going to be such an issue of contention that it will take a generation or two to get comfortable with. In the meanwhile, it will have to be paid for and we all know where that money is coming from. I feel sorry for Uticans who own property because they will get to pay for it twice: Once in their city taxes and again in their county tax. Why county leadership turns a deaf ear to vox populi is beyond me and I just add it to the raw stupidity of those who are better at running political campaigns than they are at governing. Lastly, a very smart person told me long ago not to put all of your eggs into one basket. Currently, we have three hospitals serving the region. If there is a major catastrophe and it impacts one of the hospitals to the point of closing, we still have two others to rely on. Do we really need a new hospital, and is it wise to have only one hospital in the area? If for any reason it is forced to close (use your imagination, bad things have happened to hospitals before) ... are we protected? Uticans, again your future is being mortgaged: They have eyes on the Police Station and Court Building, and if they get what they want, you are going to get to pay for a new multi-million dollar facility to replace these. The rumblings are already there; last week the newspaper ran an article about how the police station is old and has problems. You're being softened up, do you see it coming? Ain't nobody got time for that.

Your last present is that this area is going to continue to suffer and that is directly a result of the decisions of those you have elected over the last three or so decades. A look at the political personalities almost guarantees it. You have a County Executive who loathes our (same party) Congresswoman and has gone out of his way to throw every stone possible in her path, you have a State Senator who has hurt her in the past by helping redistrict her previous Assembly district into oblivion (how did that turn out, Joe), and you have both of them seemingly putting her almost-guaranteed opponent into the limelight lately. How these people will function together is a mystery to me. Meanwhile, about 1,000 people a year are voting with their feet and leaving for greener pastures. Some head to states with no income tax and (much) lower sales tax rates, some head to states with much lower property taxes and some just look at the bleak employment picture and head out. All of this is happening, btw, while thousands (estimated over 25,000 so far) of refugee immigrants are moved into the area. No, I'm not against this resettling. Filling the empty inner city housing and getting people here is a better solution than continued atrophy. We need better leadership. But, as somebody once said ... Ain't nobody got time for that.

Merry Christmas.

Now Serving Number B-320

There's an interesting local race this fall: Oneida County Clerk. The 3-term incumbent is Democrat Sandy DePerno and she's being cha...