Thursday, August 17, 2017

Here's how to lower the Oneida County sales tax 1/2 percent quickly

By now, it should be clear that I am a reform-minded candidate. Lowering the 8.75% sales tax which again and again I hammer home is the highest in NY State outside NYC is one of my main goals. To be competitive with our neighboring counties, I see it as a need, not a luxury.

I've been asked to specifically answer how to accomplish it.

It's simple: Take the $15+ million dollars a year from the Oneida Nation settlement and instead of giving it to the county executive to distribute as his personal slush fund (aka pork at election time), put it towards lowering the sales tax. If 1/4 percent in sales tax equals 7 million dollars, then 1/2 a percent is 14 million dollars. That leaves over 1 million dollars in surplus on that budget line alone.

Where, pray God, did I get these numbers? (1/4% = $7 million in revenue and $15+ million from OIN annual payments)?

Why, our District 15 representative has kindly posted these on his personal web page. Visit jimdonofrio.com and read his posts for yourself. Thanks for posting that information, Jim. It is helpful.

I see he has changed his words on the sales tax issue. He dropped the word 'eventual' and I have a glimmer of hope he is somewhat serious about lowering the sales tax because if the voters honor me, I will be looking for partners on both sides of the aisle to accomplish sales tax reduction. I don't care who they are as long as they are serious about lowering the sales tax levy.

Lowering the sales tax 1/2 percent will put us on par with Herkimer County's sales tax rate and this would be a monumental improvement.

And not eventually, either. How about ... as they say in software programming, real soon now?

Primary Day is Tuesday, September 12. Polls are open from noon to 9pm. If you are a District 16 Republican or Conservative voter, again I respectfully ask for your vote. Let's make Oneida County great again.

Thank you.

-Don

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dumb and Dumber

It's August 15 and the election rhetoric is heating up. The headline article in the Observer-Dispatch this morning was about the proposed U-district and the contention that exists between County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. and Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri.

The county executive wants to move the entertainment district idea forward. He has proposed buying the land behind the Auditorium for about $231,000. This number, by the way, is less than half of what the previous developer (Purcell) offered for it ($490k). If the Marcy nano idea hadn't fallen flat on its face, the developer planned to build housing units there and saw it as an opportunity to cash in on the Marcy Tech site. He pulled out when Marcy went from making electronic chips (The AMS exit debacle)  to packaging them. This is like being the bag boy at the grocery market checkout instead of being the grocer even though you built a nice grocery store. FYI, there is a lot of empty space there and yet county government continues to buy land and put infrastructure there even though it's clear Andrew Cuomo is steering the chip fab companies closer to the Capital district. So Tony Picente's failure in Marcy is also Utica's failure to have Purcell build housing behind the Aud ... and Tony wants to buy it for less than half of what Utica had in the hand with the housing offer. That one gets the 2017 Irony of the Year award.

It's surreal. It's kind of like watching the movie 'Field of Dreams' where they build a baseball field for non-existent baseball players. Oneida County is building big empty buildings in Marcy hoping somebody will, sooner or later, show up to use them. In Jim D'Onofrio's (he represents District 15) 2103 on-line resume he attaches the figure of $125 million dollars to Marcy. $125 million ... !

After Marcy sits empty for years, somebody will come along and offer a nickel on the dollar for rent to use as warehouse space (or similar) and the county will be forced to take it because it will probably be the only game in town at that moment. Oh, don't listen to all the hot air coming out of EDGE or Mr. DiMeo either. Tony Picente is so confident in him he wanted to hire another economic development person ... read between the lines here, folks. All is not well.

I'm reserving judgment on the U-District at the moment. But regardless of my conclusions after gathering all the facts, I'm not in favor of a downtown casino. I'm not in favor of a downtown hospital or a hospital garage either.

The Mayor is between a rock and hard place. He opposes the casino idea but would like to see the U-District built in North Utica, near the canal and thruway. He'd like the hospital but can't afford a half-million dollars a year to pay for the parking garage. And Tony calls him a burr impeding progress.

Well, Mr. Picente, add my name to Rob Palmeiri's as a burr. I don't want a downtown hospital and I darn sure don't want the county to bond for $45 million dollars or so to put a parking garage there. While I was gathering signatures to get on the ballot I stopped at hundreds of houses. In talking with District-16 voters, not one of them expressed a desire for it. 100% were opposed. My opponent just came out of a meeting where the deal was county 60% and city 40% ... So you get an idea of how her finger is on the pulse of District 16.

If this downtown hospital comes to fruition, it is going to quickly turn into the biggest urgent care facility in 2 miles. That's about it. If you haven't noticed, many people in the area are already going to Upstate Medical in Syracuse, Albany Medical Center, Bassett in Cooperstown and (for joint surgery) Hamilton Hospital. Placing this hospital here will make the number of people already leaving the area for tough medical problems exponentially larger.

My opponent is Mr. Picente's hand-picked appointment. She is not going to buck him on this ... or much of anything, for that matter. She has political debt and Tony can count on her vote. He's working to get her elected because he knows I will be objective and independent when it comes to legislation. If it's good for the people of the county, I'll be there to support it.

But if it's some of the goofy ideas like putting a hospital/garage complex downtown, or putting a casino behind the Aud next to a drug-rehab facility, then count me out.

I wouldn't vote for it with a gun put to my head.

Hey, here's an idea. Instead of keeping the highest sales tax rate in Upstate NY, why don't we put a lid on ideas like these and spend the difference on a lower sales tax rate?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: We're overtaxed and over-regulated and until we get in line with our neighboring counties, people and business are not going to locate here. The population loss will continue.

Did you notice where Tractor Supply Company chose to put their distribution center? Herkimer County!

We should do better. We can do better. You have a choice on primary day in District 16. You can vote for a voice that is not afraid to tell the Emperor he has no clothes ... or you can vote to keep machine politics doing dumb things.

I respectfully ask for your vote on Tuesday, September 12. Thank you.

-Don

Friday, August 11, 2017

Storm Water Excuses

On Tuesday, August 8, a meeting was held at the Willowvale Firehouse in Chadwicks. Here are some random photos I took at that meeting, which I confess produced nothing but hot air.






Well, now we know we have a plan. We're going to index all the problem areas and have somebody maintain them. Didn't we have a plan 6 years ago? 10 years ago? 20 years ago?

Make a list? Highway Superintendent Rick Sherman already listed off the problem areas. You don't need somebody to type a list into a spreadsheet, Mr. Supervisor. You need to replace the 4 people that retired from the Highway Department so as to give Rick Sherman back the manpower he has lost.

How do you expect him to not only do the normal and regular work (clean ditches, pick up green waste, run the transfer stations, do the sewer inspections and work, pick up leaves in the Fall, etc) when you've robbed him of substantial manpower?

I thought of editing in thought bubbles above each of these photographs, but opted not to. I'll just let them speak for themselves. I will comment, however, that I thought the County Executive staring at me was his version of the Vulcan mind meld. Too bad it didn't work.

I respectfully ask for your vote on Tuesday, September 12 in the Republican and Conservative primary races.

Thank you.

-Don

Lawn signs and some humor

I hate political lawn signs, but I recognize them as a necessary tool in the election process. And so it is I succumb and put them during the political season.

Sometimes they disappear. Sometimes, they reappear just when I think somebody copped one I put up. I've learned to keep a laissez-faire attitude about them whether they are mine or my opponents sign. I'm just glad that there are enough nice people out there that will put up with them because they actually are a pain to the homeowners who have to move them to mow the lawn. For this, I apologize. But when I do put up a sign, I keep a list of where they are so I can go take them down after the election. Nobody but nobody likes to see political signs up after the election.

Let me tell you about the gaffe I made recently putting up one of my signs. While I was out collecting signatures in the petition drive to get on the ballot, one person in an area I was not really intimately familiar with volunteered his lawn for a sign. Thanking him profusely, I wrote his name and address down on my sign location sheet. I told him I'd be back in August with a sign.

I kept my word. On August 1st, I started putting up signs and visited his road. Somehow, when I wrote down the house number, I forgot to close the loop on a '9' and read it as '7' ...  and I plunked down a sign at the wrong address. A day or 2 later, somebody told me my sign was in the ditch. I revisited the house and sure enough, it was down. The homeowner was in the driveway and told me he didn't like signs on his lawn. I pulled out my sheet to verify it was at the right address and asked him if he was Mr. So and So, and he said no. It was about then I realized I screwed up and took a closer look at my sheet. Realizing my mistake, I apologized profusely and he graciously accepted my apology. I told him I too would be offended if somebody came out of the blue and plunked a sign on my lawn. Luckily, he had a sense of humor about it and let me off easy. I drove to the right address and planted the sign.

Lesson learned: Make sure to put the sign at the right address. Otherwise, it can get embarrassing.

Signs serve 2 purposes: 1, they get your name out and 2, somebody in the neighborhood is telling passersby that they are supporting candidate so and so. I like to get my signs on the lawns of people that can actually vote for me because if they put up a sign for me, they are likely to vote for me. The signs that are placed in no-mans land serve to publicize your name, but nobody at that address will be voting for you. If I absolutely can't get my sign into an area I want, then I will settle for a second best. But I very much prefer to put it on a lawn with real people who vote; that's where I feel it will work better.

So when I see 3 places in a row where my opponents signs have cropped up, and look to see who the voters are at those addresses ... and discover there is only 1 voter, I know the signs could be used more effectively. That, to me is a waste.

And sometimes, you see political signs placed in front of a business. Businesses don't vote, people do. So when you see a sign in front of a business, it's there for name recognition. Also, there is a downside to putting your lawn sign in front of a business: Smart business owners know enough not to advertise their political views because it might cost them money when somebody who supports the other candidate suddenly stops patronizing them.

And then there are places that, as a candidate, I absolutely do not want to see my sign in front of. Here's an example of my opponents sign placed well outside her district ... in front of a business that I would not want to tell the world I regularly patronize:



Bottom line is, both of us are putting up plenty of signs. A wise old person once reminded me that signs don't vote, people vote. And that's what I'm counting on in this race for the Legislative seat.

Please get out and vote on Primary Day, Sept 12. Your vote might be the one that changes things. I respectfully ask for your vote.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The land of oxygen deprivation is the 10th floor of the County Office Building

The Oneida County Board of Legislators met in their regularly scheduled meeting today. As reported in the Utica Observer-Dispatch, they met in executive session and came out with a decision that they will pay 60% of the proposed cost of the parking garage (currently 43.5 million and climbing). First, decisions to spend taxpayers money are, by law done in open session, not executive session. Second, the City of Utica is in no position to pay the remaining 40% of the cost. The Mayor has been very clear on this.

And third, darn few people even want a hospital built downtown.

But the County Executive is pushing this idea and he is getting support from his Republican legislators.One of these legislators is Mrs. Pratt, who I am running against.Of course, bucking the County Executive and Board Chairman do not make you popular on the 10th floor ... so don't look for Mrs. Pratt to be a maverick on this issue. It won't happen.

Another of my campaign planks is open government and compliance with the open meeting law. Wouldn't it nice if you could read the minutes of the Legislature online like almost very town and village in the area does already? Wouldn't it be nice if you could see how your legislator voted on issues? The clerk records the minutes, now let the public read them.

Let me make my position very clear: I will not vote to spend one nickel for any cost associated with putting a new hospital downtown, regardless of how the money is designated to be spent there.

No Hospital downtown. No hospital parking garage downtown. No Casino downtown.

Period.

If you agree and reside in District 16 (Bridgewater, Paris and the southern part of New Hartford), please vote for me on September 12 in the Republican and Conservative primaries if you are an enrolled voter in either party.

Thank you.

-Don

Here is my ad from the August issue of the NH Town Crier


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Mechanics of Political Pork: Timing, Location, Media

It's August 8, a little more than 1 month away from Primary Day (September 12 this year). I'd like to shed some sunshine on the $75,000 state grant that State Senator Joe Griffo bestowed in the Town of Paris this morning. The town supervisor, Mr. Christian and 2 of the board members were present along with Mrs. Pratt, your currently appointed but not elected County Legislator. Mr. Christian and I had a nice chat and I think he is really working to better things in the township. I'll add that no Supervisor is able to accomplish anything without working Council members, something I think he'd agree with.

Mrs. Pratt is running to be elected for the first time, and of course the timing, location and media presence are all part of a carefully-constructed scene set to give her what is known in the business as earned media, which is a euphemism for free press coverage. The rumor has been going around for at least 2 months now about the grant, which is to be used for pool repairs at the town park. Getting money in the form of a grant is always a good thing and I'm glad that it ended up at the Sauquoit pool. The public presentation and timing are, however, part of a carefully staged opera designed to inform the public of how deserving your elected officials are of your vote because they're bringing home the bacon, so to speak. But there is another side to it, especially when it's designed to give somebody with no real name recognition media exposure.

In the vernacular, it's called buying your votes with your own tax dollars.

Hey, again I'm glad the money is coming to the town for pool repairs and I'm glad it won't fall on town property owners in their tax bill. However, the real reason it was timed and staged today was not for the good of the town; rather, the good of those presenting the money. Let's talk about Joe Griffo first.

I like Joe, but sometimes he's a little too much of a political animal for me. Arriving with one of his aides/photographer (Rocco LaDuca, former Utica O-D reporter), he had his press releases ready along with his usual spiel about how wonderful Sauquoit is and how he is glad to help keep the quality of life good for the residents. While Rocco took pictures of him speaking, he ventured into left field with how without Mrs. Pratt asking him for the money, why, he wouldn't have known about it at all. Continuing to lay more accolades on her, he went on praising just about everything and everybody in the town... well, except me. Nothing was mentioned about the upcoming election (and at a media splash like this, it never will be mentioned, just implied) ... the message is clear because the stage was carefully set: Again, the timing, the location and of course the media presence.

In politics, no good deed goes without ... making sure the media gets the word out.

The town board was, of course happy to take the money, as would I be if I were in their shoes. But even one of the town board Councilmen who completely is in the bag for Mrs. Pratt seized the opportunity to praise her, almost as if she were pulling out her own personal checkbook and writing the check right then and there. But if you read the minutes of the Town Board this year, you find these pearls of wisdom:

At the Feb. 8, 2017 Town of Paris meeting:

Supervisor Christian welcomed all guests and extended the privilege of the floor, of those present was newly appointed County Legislator Mary Pratt to introduce herself and answer any questions.

Supervisor Christian spoke about the following topics:

 Pool repairs or abandonment to come to a vote before spending a significant amount of money. 


Fast forward to the  April 12, 2017 Town of Paris meeting:

“Town Board spoke about sending out a newsletter with information on pool repairs.  Supervisor Christian stated that County Legislator Mary Pratt never returned his phone call or email about pool repair funding.”

Oh Sweet Jesus. She never even bothered to return the Supervisor's phone call?


May 17, 2017 Town of Paris board meeting

Supervisor Christian spoke about County Legislator Mary Pratt helping to obtain funds for pool repairs.

...But let's save telling the public about it until ... Oh, August ought to be good enough.

There's another story about how Mrs. Pratt wrangled the endorsement in the Town of Paris, but I'm saving that one for personal conversations. Let's just say she didn't initially get it and a $75,000 grant might be the reason that changed. Maybe. (Ask me and I'll be glad to tell you.)

Mrs. Pratt, of course is not stupid and used the opportunity to put herself on the evening news for free. And she is learning ... She did convince the county executive to give $1000 to the Town of Bridgewater for playground equipment. The only mistake she made there was promising the money before the Republican Committee in Bridgewater met and unanimously endorsed me. All the other committees were split; there was no unanimity in New Hartford or Paris Republican Committee votes. And neither one of us garnered the Conservative endorsement either; we are in a Primary for that party line also.

But as I mentioned to the quite hard working and intelligent Supervisor in Bridgewater (Dale DeKing), I'd be a little miffed if I only got $1000 and Paris got $75000. And so far, New Hartford has not gotten a nickel. But the grapevine is rumbling pretty strong lately ...

Or wait! Tonight there is a meeting at the Willowvale Firehouse in Chadwicks about stormwater projects. Maybe there's more pre-election day pork coming. If so, I'll edit this post and add details about it tomorrow morning. For the resident's sake, I hope more money is coming in grant aid form.

Anyway, Here are a few pictures of the town park, pool and the media show this morning. And I did manage to chat with Joe Griffo as he walked out. I casually told him the pail of water he was carrying was getting rather full, which is another euphemism for doing political work aimed to help somebody else. His reply? It always is, Don. How can you not like Joe Griffo? It's hard, because I do like him. I just wish he'd not lower himself to be used like this in such a blatant political manner.




I'll update this if the meeting in Willowvale produces any real results tonight, and as always:

8/8 Update after the Willowvale meeting: There was plenty of political hot air, but no announcement of more pork money. Maybe closer to election day, if I were to guess. I urge everybody to watch the video at newhartfordonline and decide for yourself.

Please remember to vote on Tuesday, September 12 if you are a District-16 Republican or Conservative. Primaries are traditionally very low voter turnout, so if you want change please consider me. Thank you.

-Don


Monday, August 7, 2017

FYI, here is the actual Bill Keeler interview



Please, take a few minutes and view this, thanks.

-Don

Oh yeah: Please vote on Primary Day, September 12. And as always, I respectfully ask for your vote.

Friday, August 4, 2017

8-4-2017: The Keeler Show, WIBX 950AM

This morning I had the pleasure of being on the Bill Keeler Show - WIBX, 950 AM. It was a quick few minutes and Bill asked me some pointed questions: Why am I running, what do I hope to accomplish, and similar. I pointed out we are overtaxed and over-regulated, our sales tax is the highest in Upstate NY and that we are losing population (our best and brightest) on the average of 1000 people a year since the early 1970s. I added that the population loss would be much higher if we didn't have the influx of refugees and also that we now count the prison population in the census, which is roughly ~5000 people alone in the 2 Marcy prisons.

Half way or so through the interview, Bill got an email from somebody at the County Executive's office saying I was wrong and that we enjoy low property tax rates. First, I was stunned that somebody from the CE Office would be listening and respond, and second that they would respond by trying to sell the listeners that we have low taxes. What kind of Kool-Aid have they been drinking lately?

The fact that somebody from the CE's office is listening and responded raises a question all by itself: Are we, Oneida County taxpayers, paying the salary of a person paid to listen to talk radio and defend the 10th floor?

Are we paying for a PR person to defend the County Executive and his Legislators? Is this the "data analyst" that serves the Board of Legislators?  Please, come forward and identify yourself. I put my name to all of what I say and do, now it's your turn. Let's put some sunshine on what's going on in county government.

In closing, I'd like to thank Bill Keeler for having me on and I'm sure he will afford Mrs. Pratt the same opportunity. And yes, since you asked, Bill, as I answered: I will be glad to debate Mrs. Pratt at any time and any place with advance notice, of course. Your show is probably the best forum and again, I thank you.

I would be remiss if I didn't close by asking for your vote if you are a Republican or Conservative on Primary Day, September 12. It's only a little over 1 month away.

Thank you.

-Don

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Business as usual: Let's talk about our pay raises ....after election day

Pay raises for elected officials has always been a touchy subject. During my 12 years on the town board, I refused to vote for a raise for myself, and I was successful in convincing the other Councilmen to agree with me. To me, it was an honor to be allowed to serve on the board; I wasn't there for the money. The small salary was a way of compensating for gas and mileage and other small outlays when driving in and around the town to gather information in the decision making process. (Since I've left, the board thinks differently and gives themselves an annual pay increase. Whatever.)

But the elected leadership of Oneida County thinks differently.

In his annual budget proposal last November, County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. included a slew of raises for elected leaders. He was not ashamed to ask for an over $20,000 increase in his salary, about 18.4% when calculated. This would have taken his $114,869 salary to $135,000, not including perks like expenses and getting a white Cadillac Escalade to drive complete with a county gas card to keep it filled up. To be honest, I don't know if he still has the Escalade; maybe he's driving another county car now. But he drove the Caddy and you, John Q. Public paid for it.

To make it sale-able to the Board of Legislators, he proposed they get an increase also. Everything looked like it was going to pass until one Marcy Legislator balked. Apparently, the deal was that everybody was supposed to vote for it. Mr. Flisnik threw a wrench in the works and the idea was withdrawn ... for the moment, anyway.

But make no mistake about it; like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator movies, this will be back... with a vengeance.

To add insult to injury, the chairman of the board apologized not to the public, but to the Legislators themselves, telling them "they deserved it."

Maybe he's right, maybe they did deserve a pay raise. Or maybe not. But in any event, raises for elected officials should never be more than any rank and file employee is given (usually 1 to 2 percent). If 1 or 2 percent is good enough for the workers, then it's good enough for their bosses also.

Also, there is at least one Union that has not had a settled contract for quite a while now. The Corrections Officers have been working without a contract (and I hear the Road Patrol might also be in the same boat); these need to be settled. Until they have a new contract, they don't get a pay raise. For the Board to even consider pay raises for themselves while these work units get none is just wrong. Further, it's a slap in their face, not to mention hurting their retirement income.

One of the planks of my campaign is that raises for elected officials should never be more percentage-wise than what the rank and file workers get. Personally, I'm comfortable with no pay raises for officials and think of the salary in the same way I did as Councilman: Use it to drive through your district while working on solutions to problems.

I'm just wondering how many Oneida County taxpayers got an 18.4% (or better) raise in their salary last year. Please, if you did, let me know so I can congratulate you on your work credentials. I'm guessing nobody rang that bell, but again, if you are in private industry and did it, then you have my sincerest applause.

Until the sales tax rate is dropped from it's obscene 8.75% to match at least one of our neighboring counties tax rate, I'm opposed to any salary increase for elected officials.

Or maybe let's take it a step further: Let's start lowering Legislators salary until this goal is met. That ought to provide some motivation to work on it. If we don't, we're going to continue to bleed. Our best and youngest talents are not going to stay here. Many retirees will continue to flee, and they will take their lifetime of accumulated wealth with them.

If you don't elect new representation that recognizes the problem, then nothing will change. We will continue our 40+ year population loss (~1000 people a year) and those of us left will be faced with higher and higher taxes. This exodus has to stop. To stop it, we have to abandon the idea of borrowing and spending hundreds of millions of dollars for empty buildings in Marcy, box-suites in the Auditorium and a downtown hospital (that nobody wants) with a parking garage that will never realize a return on investment for the people that paid for it.... and pass a budget that contains real tax breaks.

I'm respectfully asking for your vote on Primary Day, September 12. Let's make Oneida County great again.

-Don

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

This is what you get with an inexperienced Legislator.

In a previous blog, I talked about the proposed 195' communications tower that Mrs. Pratt did not vote against. I titled it "Profiles in Cowardice." (Scroll backwards on my blog to read it.)

It's no longer proposed. It's there, and it did not pass site plan review from the town. They stuck it there anyway, and now I'm naming it the official Mary Pratt Memorial Tower. This is what you get with an inexperienced Legislator who didn't know better than to ask questions (can it be co-located, can it be lower, can it be placed somewhere well off the road, etc) or at least ask for a delay while nearby residents are informed and allowed to publicly comment on it.

The first picture is taken from the intersection of Higby and Sessions Road, and the second is taken directly across the street. Notice the tower is placed just off the road, perhaps 20' back.



During my last term on the town board, we enacted legislation to regulate wind powered turbines. We were very careful to regulate height, placement from the road and also added that there had to be a fall zone at least as big in diameter as the tower height. This was to ensure that no building, road or adjacent property could be damaged if Mother Nature decided to take the tower down suddenly.

This, of course was completely disregarded in the construction of this tower. The black you see at the bottom of picture #2 is Higby Road. What I'm not showing you is the house directly across the street about 100' back from the road. If this tower comes down in a storm, not only could somebody driving on Higby Road be killed, but anybody in the house could be killed also. This is planning at it's worst, and how did Mrs. Pratt cast her vote when it came to the floor?

She abstained, along with her co-legislator Jim D'Onofrio.

That is poor representation, pure and simple.

We can do better. Projects like these, if absolutely needed, can usually find an alternate site farther off the beaten path. At the very least, basic decency tells anybody with common sense that the residents should have been allowed to comment and make suggestions, not to mention the county completely disregarded Town of New Hartford law and built it there anyway.

You have a choice on Primary Day, September 12. I'm respectfully asking for your vote so mistakes like this doosy won't be repeated.

Thank you.

-Don

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

It's a well-oiled political machine that takes care of its elite members

If you read my last blog, you noticed I highlighted that 4 taxpayer-paid employees of the county legislature got involved in the political process of putting their latest (appointed, not elected) Legislator on the ballot this fall. I finished that post by pointing out the ethical dilemma of having the person they spent considerable time on outside of their jobs having to vote on their salaries, raises and let's add possible promotions to the list also.

You may remember I pointed out that the county executive was making phone calls looking for people than can actually vote for my opponent to help her also. Reading further backwards, you may notice that another long-time Legislator has been stumping for her also, via his "Hi, I'm Jim and this is Mary" article that was so blatantly political that it caused the Town Crier to offer me space to introduce myself also. This will be published in the August Town Crier, and I'd like to thank the management of that publication for being fair and offering to print my press release along with my forthcoming ad. This, btw, is not something they usually do, but did this one time to preserve their integrity.

So it is obvious: I am running against the established Picente-run political machine. They don't want somebody to come in and explore what's really going on, and they most certainly don't want anybody telling the voters what's really going on.

And believe me, there is plenty "going on."

Don't you find it somewhat ironic that the county can bond for tens and hundreds of millions of dollars for such things as:

  • Marcy Nano (It will take more than 1000 years for the current rent structure to pay for what was borrowed, and as the old Wendy's ad said, Where's the beef?)
  • Utica Aud renovations, with box suites (Whoopee) for the 6 people left in the area than can afford them (Hello, you're paying for this regardless of where you live)
  • $50,000 per parking space for an additional 80 parking places next to the county office building (do the math, I'm probably falling short of the real price)
  • A $45 to $50 million dollar proposed parking garage at the new downtown hospital (which I oppose both the location placement and having residents pay one nickel for at all)

And yet, for some unknown reason, the county executive has refused to propose a budget that lowers the sales tax. Again, you -do- realize we are paying the highest sales tax (8.75%) in NYS outside of NYC? You -do- realize that our immediate bordering counties are at least 1/2 percent lower and as much as 1 percent lower? (3 of them are 3/4 of a percent  lower).

You -do- realize this is obscene, don't you? You -do- realize the end result will be higher and higher taxes coupled with more people leaving Oneida County for greener pastures? The downward spiral will continue and this time, counting the prison population in the census won't help one iota.

Well, I'm not finished yet. As I've already said, But wait! There's more!

Purely by accident I stumbled across something that probably 99% of Oneida County residents don't realize even exists: The Republican Oneida County Legislators Election Committee. This appears to be a political committee dedicated to keeping their own in office. Go ahead, google it as it appears above and read their financials as found on the NYS Board of Elections website. While most of the contributors appear to be the Legislators themselves, there are outside donations. Usually these are vendors and entities looking to get or keep county business.

But I also noticed something peculiar in their expenditures. Go ahead, take a look and see if you notice what I did from previous year filings: They only drop contributions on themselves and it looks like they only do it if it's a contested race. In uncontested races, they don't bother to spend on themselves.

Oh, it's certainly legal. But it's also a practice that needs some sunshine put on it. These people are invested in taking care of themselves and keeping the elite country-club just the way it is. They don't want outside eyes taking too close of a look inside to see how things are really run.

So you have a choice this time for who you want to represent you in District 16: You can vote for the Machine rubber-stamp candidate (Mrs. Pratt) or you can vote for open government, term limits and real ethics reform (what a coincidence, that would be me) along with voting to zero out the line that has the additional 3/4% sales tax in the annual county budget. (Yes, the additional 3/4% has it's own line in the budget!)

I am asking for common sense. I'm asking to stop borrowing money to spend on pie-in-the-sky ventures (seriously, a CASINO downtown?) while our infrastructure crumbles. Please consider voting for real change on Primary Day, September 12. I promise you I will not be assimilated into the machine.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Oh, thanks for helping my campaign, now let's look at your raise again

Quiz time:


Question: Who are the following people?

Cynthia A. DelPiano of Beech St, Rome
Pietra Yozzo  of Evalon Rd, New Hartford
Genevieve D. Messa of Maynard Dr, Marcy
Mikale D. Billard of Imperial Dr, New Hartford

Answer: They are all people who have taxpayer-funded jobs at Oneida County. Taxpayer, as in both you and I fund their salary via the taxes we pay. As easily found on Google all four of them work in the same arena: They work for the Legislative Board. Ms. DelPiano appears as the deputy clerk of the Board, Ms. Yozzo is an analyst, Ms. Messa is the secretary and Mr. Billard is the clerk. Notice only 2 of them reside in New Hartford; and of the 2 only one (Billard) resides in District 16 where the race for the Legislative seat is really heating up. Mr. Billard is also a member of the New Hartford Republican Committee and as such, gets a pass because he is supposed to carry the petition of the endorsed candidate - Mrs. Pratt. As I told him during the screening process for the endorsement, I did not expect him to vote for me because if he did, it would cost him his job and he would be the next Brian Scala (see the other question below in the quiz for details).

I don't normally put the names or area locations of people in my blog, but since they voluntarily put their names and signatures to public documents (Mrs. Pratt's political petitions as filed at the Board of Elections), now the airing of their names is fair use and legal. I'll also add that I presume they are all good and decent citizens.

Oh, the other answer you are looking for: All of them also either carried political petitions for Mrs. Pratt or in the case of Ms. DelPiano, as a Notary Public put her signature to some of her petitions as a witness. Witnessing a petition means you were present when every citizen's signature was put on each page. This process takes considerable time; usually it means driving to each person's house and asking them to sign. And they're not the only politically-connected names that appear as witnesses on Mrs. Pratt's petitions, but since the others are not paid by Oneida County taxpayers, I won't bother to list their names. One works for a neighboring county and others are related to Mrs. Pratt, which is fine and dandy with me.

I'm going to guess they did this on their own personal time, a fair assumption. But the bigger question looms: Why did people from Marcy and Rome sign or carry Mrs. Pratt's petitions? And what burning political issues are so important in District 16 to these people that they will drive 20, 30 or 40 miles to help her gather signatures on her petitions?

Perhaps they got some other form of encouragement. Maybe somebody asked them to do it. Maybe they volunteered. Or use your imagination as to why, an answer will come to you sooner or later.

In either event, a question of ethics has now surfaced: At budget time when salaries and raises are discussed by the Legislature, how will Mrs. Pratt view their "job" performance? Is she going to recommend that they get raises because they actually earned them, or has her vote now been influenced because they went outside of the scope of their job duties to help her get elected?

I don't know the answer to that question, but it needs to be asked. While it's nice to have friends in politics, and it's nice to do favors for people who seem to need help, sometimes doing something to help one of your bosses can lead to a conflict. About now, the conflict is beginning to smell pretty tangy.

In any event, if Mr.s Pratt now votes on their salaries or raises before her appointment expires at the end of this year, she has put herself in a position where her vote can be ethically questioned. And as any Legislator knows, you should never allow yourself to be put in a compromising position. No matter what you say after the fact, it does nothing to erase the blot.

Next question: (Multiple choice)

Who are the following people:

Pamela Mandryck
Vernon Grey
Brian Scala

1: Members of the "We Love Tony Picente" fan club
2: Have-been forgotten members of defunct 1980s rock band "Devo"
3: Famous authors who co-wrote "Sheisse Eins Zwei Drei"
4: Millionaire Bruce Wayne's gardeners

The answer is,of course, none of the above. They are all former Oneida County employees who found themselves out of a job due to ... unusual circumstances. No, they did not break any law or do anything dishonest. They fell out of favor of the County Executive. In Ms. Mandrycks case, she was the Republican Election Commissioner. In Mr. Grey's case, he was the former Airport Commissioner and in Mr. Scala's case, he was the deputy highway commissioner. In the interest of finishing this blog post, if you really want the juicy details, I encourage you to look up each individual and ask them to tell you their particular story. But as the stories were told to me, each one is ... very interesting, to say the least.

The point of this quiz is, of course to point out how heavy handed the County Executive runs the insane asylum on Park Avenue from the 10th floor. He demands loyalty, which is not usually a bad thing, but if in any way, shape or form look like you disagree with him, it's Sayonara baby. You're history.

So when people with political jobs on the 10th floor of the Oneida County Office Building suddenly take an interest in carrying petitions for Mr. Picente's candidate of choice, you get the idea. I promise you if elected, I will not ask Oneida County employees for any favors outside the official scope of their daily job duties. Nor will I accept any favors if offered so as to keep clean hands when it comes to fairly evaluating their salaries and raises.

As always, I respectfully ask for your vote on both Primary Day (Sept 12) and in the general election on November 7. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Profiles in Cowardice

John F. Kennedy is credited with writing Profiles in Courage shortly before his election in 1960. It is with a modicum of chagrin that I borrow the title to his book, modify it somewhat and use it to highlight some things many 21st century politicians resort to lately: Taking the cowards way out when the political decisions get tough.

I could tell a few stories from my 12 years on the town board, but that's for another time and place. This time, I'm going to tell you the 2017 story of political cowardice that recently took place on the 10th floor of the Oneida County Office Building during a regularly scheduled meeting. Some background first:

County services decided there was a need for a communications tower up on Higby Road in New Hartford a mile or so before the Herkimer County line. After some engineering, it was decided a 195' tower would solve whatever problem (or future problem) was needed to communicate with ... whomever. Apparently, this project went through proper channels and came to a vote on the floor of the legislature. It passed, but not unanimously. Your 2 New Hartford legislators abstained: Jim D-15 D'Onofrio and Mrs. D-16 Pratt both abstained from the vote. Why?

These towers are not popular in the area they are placed and the people that live there day in and day out don't want them in their 'backyard.' It's commonly called NIMBY which means Not in my Back Yard.

So, to be able to look their constituents in the eye and honestly tell them they did not vote for it, they abstained. Since they both represent the area bordering the location of the new tower, rather than take the heat for voting for it, they simply refused to vote.

However, that is what I call a half-truth because they didn't vote against it either. It is 100% political cowardice.

But wait, there's more!

When I served on the town board for 12 years, there were plenty of contentious votes that would have been convenient to hide behind by refusing to vote via the abstention. But I didn't, and there's a few reasons why:

1, You are put there to make decisions. Sometimes, the decisions are tough - either you vote for bad, or you vote for worse than bad. Some decisions have no upside, they are necessary to keeping government operating smoothly and since you ran for the job, now do it. Make the tough decisions.

2: Abstentions are supposed to be way out of avoiding a personal involvement in what is being voted on, such as a financial tie or familial connections that could potentially benefit from your vote. THEN it is perfectly acceptable to abstain so as to keep clean hands.

3: If you do choose to abstain, you are duty-bound to explain to your fellow board members what your conflict of interest is. It is not merely deciding not to vote on something that is politically unpopular; if that were so, legislators would be abstaining all the time on any contentious matter.

No explanation was asked for or tendered to the public. They chose the cowards way out, and that is why I am calling them out for the political cowardice they displayed on the floor.

But wait, there's even more!

Mrs. Pratt has only a few months of appointed experience whereas I have 12 years of elected experience. Experience would have told me to handle the issue in a completely different fashion.
I would have asked to delay the vote so that I could notify the residents in the area and hold a public informational meeting about it. While I was setting the time and place for the meeting, I would have been investigating whether or not the need for the tower was real and dire and whether it could be co-located on an existing tower or in the worst case, lowered. 195 feet is tall and as an experienced Commercial Pilot, I can tell you towers can cause aviation accidents, especially tall towers on a hilltop.

And yes, if I was not afforded the opportunity to delay and hold the meeting, I would have voted AGAINST it. I would not have abstained.

I'm thinking of making this an annual award and expanding it to other local governments. From my years watching political units act, I can tell you there is no shortage of cowardice in politics and most likely never will be.

Next blog post: How Mrs. Pratt already took more money out of your wallet in her short 6 months.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I respectfully ask for your vote on Primary Day (Sept 12) and in the general election in November.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

How many people am I running against again?

It's July 2017. Every month the New Hartford Town Crier shows up in my mailbox around the first of the month. It arrived 3 days early and I scanned it for political ads. To my surprise, the current Legislator from New Hartford (Jim D'Onofrio, D-15) has written a nice little script entitled I'm Jim, and this is Mary. Ah, I'm betting he didn't actually write it; rather, it was written by a ghost writeress. In any event, there it was in black and white for everybody to see.

Instead of promoting himself as a candidate seeking re-election (which he is), most of the essay is a blatant political endorsement of Mrs. Pratt. She's smart, she's learning... good gosh, I was left wondering if she can leap tall buildings in a single leap or is more powerful than a steam locomotive. Of  course, what Mr. D'Onofrio is saying is codswallop. As somebody on the Board of Legislators for ... 26 or 27 years now and counting, I was surprised at his naivety. Jim, what happens if she loses? Are you going to be sitting next to me and suddenly be my best friend? Perhaps you haven't noticed that this race is heating up and I'm campaigning non-stop to get my message out - and my message is being well-received in the district.

It's no secret that Mr. Picente has been busy making phone calls on Mrs. Pratt's behalf. Political grapevines often rumble and the word gets back to me one way or another.

So, not only am I running against Mr. Picente's poor ideas via his rubber-stamp appointed proxy - a Casino downtown sandwiched between a proposed new hospital and a drug rehabilitation facility (not to mention the Aud, Police/Court buildings and a new indoors shooting range), now I'm running against Jim D'Onofrio also.

No problem, Jim. I've always considered you a nice guy. But one of the things I'm running on is introducing terms limits, and you are Exhibit A.

After watching our county decline over the last 4 decades, and considering the vast majority of it has happened on your watch, I'm kind of left wondering why the idea of term limits hasn't been addressed on the Legislative floor already. Perhaps it's because the idea of it would have kicked you out of office years ago, and of course the idea of that doesn't really sit well with you.

There's an anecdote about baby's diapers and politicians... and why they both need to be changed on a regular basis. Considering how well the county is doing right now (significant loss of population, highest sales tax in the state outside NY City, etc) I want to thank you for removing any trepidation I might have had about bringing this idea forth. And so it is with pride I say:

If elected, I promise I will not run for or serve more than 3 terms. And I applaud any other candidate who promises the same.

The time to pass the torch to the next generation is sooner than you think. If we don't, we will continue to live with the same old stale ideas which will result in the continuation of the decline we've been in for over 4 decades now. With 23 members of the County Legislature, staggering the terms will insure that the entire board will not be swept out in 1 election, and the continuity of running the county will safely continue.

Or, as Einstein famously said, The definition of insanity is doing things the same way and expecting different results.

Let's at least talk about the ideas on the floor. I suspect the idea of term limits will not be well-received, but the discussion has to start at some point.

I respectfully ask for your vote on both Primary Day (Sept 12) and Election Day (Nov 7).

Thank you.

-Don

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

We're Number One, but This Time We Lose

As I've already mentioned, we're tied with Erie County (outside NYC) for the highest sales tax rate in the state: A whopping 8.75%

Oh, we're used to it by now. Sales tax is taken for granted. We pay it when we buy gas, we pay it when we eat out at a restaurant and we pay it when we buy a large ticket item such as a car or similar.

That's when you really notice how much the sales tax adds up to be - when you buy something big. If you buy $20,000 car, you will pay $1750 in sales tax. That's a good chunk of money.

But if you lived in one of our neighboring counties, you might keep $150 of that ... or more. Here's a list of the sales tax rates in our immediate neighboring counties:

Herkimer is 8.25%
Madison is  8.00%
Lewis is      7.75%
Otsego is     8.00%, and so is Onondaga County.

Quite a difference!

The disparity among sales tax rates in the region only means one thing: On large ticket items (except for cars, they are taxed where you live) the counties with the lowest sales tax rate will attract more shoppers. This, of course, hurts the Buy Oneida County philosophy, which I do subscribe to. I do like to buy locally as much as I am able to. (Harden furniture and Meyda lamps are 2 of my favorite O/C manufacturers.)

When Mr. Picente was appointed about 10 years ago, I liked his comments in the press about seeing what he could do to lower the sales tax rate. Seeing as 10 years have passed and now I am seeing him try to keep a bigger share of it by changing the deal that was made 35 or so years ago, now I'm concerned. Not only has he abandoned his ideas of lowering the sales tax rate, he has shifted gears into hurting the villages and towns in the county by grabbing back lawfully owed sales tax dollars to the local governments.

Ironically, I found Jim D'Onofrio's 2013 resume online (time to update that one?) and in it he mentions "eventual reduction of the sales tax rate" (page 3, Jim). So tell us, how has that worked out so far? Eventual is such a vague word. Is that next week, next year or next century?

To top it off, there appears to be some extreme fat hidden in the almost $394 million dollar county budget. So much so, that at election time Mr. Picente can find some money (at election time, what a coincidence!) to spread in a hotly contested district. This time, it's the one I'm running in against his long-time friend and ally (I would hate to use the term rubber stamp, it might be premature).

So, when one town suddenly gets thousands of dollars for new playground equipment and when one town has been told election-year pork might appear in the form of some pool repair money, don't be surprised. Roughly translated, it's called buying your votes with your own tax dollars. It is particularly odious at election time.

As I'm going door to door in the 3 towns that make up D-16, I'm hearing 2 recurring themes: One, is there anything you can do about the sales tax rate, and two: Nobody, but nobody is in favor of a Casino downtown.

After 12 years on the NH Town Board, I'm fully aware that government needs money to pay for services. I'm fully aware that much of these services are state mandated.

But I'm also aware of regional competition to attract spending, and the highest sales tax rate in the Mohawk Valley region is doing nothing to help attract spending here.

We have to do something. Let's start small by eliminating the county portion of sales tax on clothing. The state already did away with it, so now you are only paying for the county portion. But still, clothes are not luxuries, they are necessities and by removing the county's portion on that, at least we can say we've started somewhere.

And then we can keep looking to see how much better we can do. When we get to a rate that matches our neighboring counties, then there will be no reason to shop outside Oneida County anymore.

This can only result in more being spent here, which will help the county revenue all by itself.

So which do you prefer? The highest sales tax rate in the area coupled with election year pork, or would you rather have a lower sales tax rate and forgo the vote-getting pork money?

I thought so.

I respectfully ask for your vote on Primary Day (Sept 12) and in the general election. Thank you.

Make Oneida County Great Again

So finally I'm getting to why I have decided to run for County Legislator representing the 16th district in Oneida County. D-16, for those of you not familiar with Oneida County, is the bottom of New Hartford south of Chapman and Kellogg Roads and all of the towns of Paris and Bridgewater. (Kindly view the map of D-16 on the right side of the page for a more graphical description.)


First, a little background about me: I had the high honor and pleasure of representing the 1st Ward (the southern part of New Hartford) for 3 terms/12 years. I worked hard to keep services going at the lowest cost I could. I voted (repeatedly) against tax increases and I voted (repeatedly) for tax decreases. I deplore waste in government and worked hard to make sure New Hartford taxpayers got a fair return for their tax dollars. During my tenure, every town-owned bridge in the 1st Ward was replaced, along with many large box culverts. Storm water projects, both large and small were engineered and constructed during my watch. Working with the Town Board, many good things happened. We built another town park (Oneida St, Washington Mills). We solved a problem with our Police department not having enough space by converting the old Kellogg Road Community Center for their internal use. Roads were paved on a schedule and after I even managed to shame Oneida County into re-engineering and rebuilding Chapman Road complete with curbs, storm water collectors and a sidewalk. This happened only after I gathered the residents together along with county and state leaders (many times) so they could hear first-hand how bad it was and could no longer ignore the situation.

When Brian Miller was elected to the Assembly, the seat opened up. Many expressed interest in the position and I held back to watch. After it was clear nobody else wanted the job, I expressed interest. Lo and behold, about 1 week before the screening, Mrs. Pratt jumped in desiring to be appointed. Unsurprisingly, (after some high-power phone calls were made), she ended up being appointed to the position by the County Executive. He, of course, got what he wanted: Somebody with heavy political debt in the position. When the chips are down, those markers are going to be called in and the end loser will be you and I when the tax bill comes due.

In the short few months Mrs. Pratt has been appointed, she has already voted to take more money out of your pocket. (Read the newspapers for further details, or ask me when I knock on your door this campaign season.)

I refuse to put myself in a situation where the County Executive can tell me how to vote by cashing his political capital. Ideas such as an Indian-run Casino downtown and taking back sales tax revenue from the towns and villages are but 2 examples of of Mr. Picente's flawed vision for Oneida County.

So here it is: I am in the race. I am, along with others, collecting signatures to enable me to get on the ballot. So is Mrs. Pratt.

As registered Republicans or Conservatives, you will have an opportunity to choose at the ballot box whom you wish to represent you this year ... First, on Tuesday September 12 (a week and a day after Labor Day) and then in the general election in November.

I respectfully ask for your vote in both the Primary and General election.

Thank you for you consideration.

Monday, June 26, 2017

What we have lost, and some reasons why

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to look at the numbers and figure out we have lost significantly in the last 4 decades. We used to be home to one of the largest regional airlines in the world that flew 50 flights a day. We had a good manufacturing base (General Electric in 2 large locations, Chicago Pneumatic, cloth industry mills to name a few) ... We had a large military airbase that injected over a billion dollars a year into the area. The population in Utica peaked in the 1960s.



Then things changed. Small changes at first, but each took their toll. NY State introduced a sales tax in the mid-1960s. Oneida County thought it was such a good idea that it followed suit in 1980. Coincidentally, that is when our population started dropping and it also marked the beginning of big business exiting the area.



And things have been on the decline ever since. We have suffered both business and population loss that have turned our area from one of the most economical places to live to one of the most expensive in 4 or so decades. Why?



The area suffers from very high taxes compared to income, that's why. We're also over regulated and our utility costs are higher when compared to other areas of the country.

Take a good look at the pictures in this post and ask yourself where they are now. The answer is of course, not here anymore. Oh, GE and CP are still in business, just not here. Mohawk Airlines was gobbled up by bigger airlines and then they left the area. So when you think of why the Mohawk Valley region hasn't flourished in the last 4 decades, it's because business has fled. When business leaves an area, so do people.

4 decades. 40 years of decline. We're being told all is well and we're on the rebound, but realistically folks, you're being fed tall tales. Business has fled taking people with it, and the last decade has not been a era that we will remember as flourishing. Coincidentally, we have had the same County Executive for the last 10 years. Have things gotten better on his watch?

Some of the County Legislators have been there over 25 years. Have things gotten better?

Next: Why the same old same old country-club go-along-to-get-along style of government is not working and why I am running to inject a breath of fresh air onto the 10th floor of the County Office building. Stay tuned ...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Oneida County: Past and Present, Some Basic History

Before we get to some of the meatier issues, I thought an overview of the last 4 or so decades of Oneida County might let you know how far we've slipped. Let start with some easy numbers to find on the internet: Oneida County, according to Wiki, contains 26 towns, 17 villages and 3 cities. The current population is a tad under 233,000... which is down from a high of about 275,000 in 1972.


The trend is obvious: We are losing population. In rough numbers, we have lost about 10,000 every decade, or about 1,000 people every year since ... 1972. People are voting with their feet and leaving Oneida County in real numbers. Remember, this number would be much higher, perhaps twice as bad if we did not have a constant influx of refugees into Utica since the 1980s. How do I know? I had the pleasure of teaching ESL to some Vietnamese refugees 25 or so years ago. Immigrants and refugees usually end up as good citizens contributing to the area and if it were not for them, the inner cities would suffer from abandoned housing much more than they already do. Their presence here mitigates what would be a much worse picture population-wise if they were not here.

So the question begs: Why are so many people leaving the area? Why do we pour so much into our children's education, only to have them leave? Why are we not attracting or keeping our best and brightest?

The answer is clear: Money.

The combination of a lack of good jobs combined with high property taxes has turned Oneida County from one of the most economically affordable areas into one of the most expensive areas in NY State to live. We are one of two counties in the state with the highest sales tax rate (8.75%) outside of NY City. Our property taxes are high. The cost of utilities in the area is also high. Simply put, the area has been on the decline since the 1970s, and those of us left are paying more for the privilege of living here.

Oh, I don't entirely blame Oneida County leadership for all of our problems. There is plenty of blame to go around, and much of it stems from the policies and laws coming out of Albany.

In my next post, I plan to post more details of what we used to have and what we have lost. I have a brochure compiled by the Utica Chamber of Commerce from about the era when our population peaked, and what we have lost in 4 or so short decades is quite a long list.

Stay tuned.

-Don

Opening Post

Hello and welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

I will try to keep things fresh by posting at least once a week; probably more. If you don't know, I was fortunate enough to have been elected 3 times to the New Hartford Town Board. I've been off the board for almost 4 years now; somehow I still look at local government and often wince at what I see.

So I have decided to become active in politics again. This time, I'm running for Oneida County Legislator to represent the 16th district, which is the southern part of New Hartford and all of the towns of Paris and Bridgewater.

I hope to use this blog for 2 purposes: One, to get my message out with my positions on local governmental decisions and the real impact they may have upon all of us, and two, to tell some of the stories (some humorous, some sad) that I've encountered along the way.

Feel free to leave comments agreeing or disagreeing with my positions. I will make all of them public, except for those that don't meet with normal standards of decorum.

-Don


Here's how to lower the Oneida County sales tax 1/2 percent quickly

By now, it should be clear that I am a reform-minded candidate. Lowering the 8.75% sales tax which again and again I hammer home is the high...