Monday, May 5, 2008

The Real Truth About Economic Development is No Mystery

Two weeks ago, a mystery company (Code name Avalon) came to town dangling 500 new jobs in exchange for a shovel-ready site, planning and zoning approvals (for what no one knows), water and sewer services (good luck!) and did I mention our virgin women! This has become the way of economic development in America’s rustbelt Hoovervilles.

Karl Marx once wrote about how the capitalist pits groups of workers against each other, relying on a reserve army of unemployed workers to keep wages down and benefits non-existent. Today, capitalists are still doing that, but they’re also relying on a reserve army of depressed rustbelt communities just like Cobleskill. It has been called the ‘race to the bottom’. The playing field has become so obscenely tilted in favor of big business, that it is now possible for companies to demand an endless string of concessions from job-desperate regions, pitting one county, city, or state against another, as they go subsidy shopping. Companies claim that they need tax breaks and other goodies, but the truth is, places like Cobleskill need jobs and economic development a hell of a lot more. Companies won’t get very far in America if they don’t exploit an advantage like that to the fullest degree. But don’t worry, they do.

This company will probably demand (and get) some kind of obscenely favorable tax deal where the County economic development agency actually owns the land on paper so the business doesn’t have to pay taxes. Instead, they’ll pay a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for a much lesser amount and we will all find the pathetic number acceptable because they will tell us the amount spread out over something like 20 years.

Sick of lazy, shiftless welfare recipients sucking away your tax dollars? If so, I would point you not to the poor people sitting on porches along Main Street that you normally like to bitch about. Instead, look at the Wal-Mart distribution center in Sharon. The county “owns” that facility for which Wal-Mart pays no taxes. Instead Wal-Mart pays a small PILOT. Over the 20 year life of the agreement, it will save Wal-Mart almost $50 million!
Source:http://www.walmartsubsidywatch.org/subsidy_report.html?sub=U2FsdGVkX1/CTiGQpJnM9UFqAgVmH1Tc

Does this make any sense to you? The Waltons are among the top ten richest people in the world. Now you know how they got that way.

Lancaster Development has a similar deal for its facility in Richmondville on Podpadic Rd. Lancaster president Mark Galasso serves on the Cobleskill Village Board, before which he served as Chair of the Village planning board. Hey, it pays to know people.

Hopefully Cobleskill Village officials can stop their petty infighting and get with the program so they can join in the heaping of obscene amounts of subsidies on a company that hasn’t even revealed itself. By this of course, I mean extending water & sewer lines all the way out to Shad Point, conveniently out to the same area where every little local developer would like to get his grubby hands on a water/sewer hook-up for another strip mall or McMansion development, including Lowe’s. Won’t someone tell the “do-nothing” Village Board to stop their bickering and get that water pumping? Haven’t they been listening to the chamberpot of commerce and the four partners? Don’t they know how easy it is for this mystery company to simply go to another community and demand shovel-ready land, zoning approvals, water/sewer hook-ups, tax abatements and first-born children? I guess they are simply blind to the suffering of wealthy developers and multinational corporations as they pull the rug out from underneath our communities and dictate the terms of our economic future.

Karl Marx was right.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let me guess. Avalon-- alias Sean and Kevin is 23-25 years old. Went to a Suny College. Got kicked out in junior year for possession. Hangs out at Natural Foods and more during the day. Winter Weekends are spent at the Golding Cafe.During the summer he is a roadie for Cobleskill's heartthrob Tom Wadsworth's gigs at Centre Park. Can be seen at Farmer's Market on weekend's with fellow narcissist Niles McGiver. Bob Strothers , Sandy Mckay and Larry Mazza are his idea of the (Karl) Marx Brothers. Did I miss something.

Code Name Avalon said...

Not bad, but here are the facts:

I'm 26

I went to an ivy league college

I don't do drugs

I hate health food

And my GRANDMOTHER goes to Golding Cafe

I've never heard of Tom Wadsworth

You will not see me at a Farmer's Market. I completely support them and think they are wonderful, just not for me.

I don't know Bob Strother or Sandy MacKay. I've met Niles once or twice and he seems like a pretty nice guy. Larry taught me how to play guitar.

But since its easier for you to dismiss the ideas of a caricature rather than an actual person, go ahead and stereotype me however you like.

Anonymous said...

Interesting you never commented about not being a narcissist. Yet you revealed so much. For a guy (or gal)who keeps changing his nom de guerre it would appear as though you are the one who is confused about stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty easy to throw stones, and that seems to be the general mode of operation here. I'd strongly recommend someone coming up with a new idea for sustainable growth, job creation, town/village reconsilliation and revitalization, alternative energy, and I guess I might as well throw in a solution to world hunger, peace in Iraq, oh..hell, as long as I'm dreaming, how about peace in the World?
Can't someone say something without ragging on anyone else?

Code Name Avalon said...

"It's pretty easy to throw stones, and that seems to be the general mode of operation here. I'd strongly recommend someone coming up with a new idea for sustainable growth, job creation, town/village reconsilliation and revitalization, alternative energy"

Who is this directed at? Certainly you're not referring to moi, your fearless blog writer.
For here are some examples of the solutions I've proposed for the problems you've mentioned.

Sustainable Growth and Job creation

See post entitled Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Nevermind the Hyett-Palma Study, here’s the “Slums Along the Mohawk Downtown Enhancement Study” for Cobleskill

where I discuss various potential ways the Village could take an active lead in promoting Downtown growth, vibrant street life, etc.

Town/Village reconciliation

Actually, I have not proposed reconciliation. I have proposed that the two governments move further apart by having the Village incorporate as a City, a position which I still stand by. In the meantime, the Village should uphold its policy of not selling water to town parcels unless they apply for annexation.

Alternative Energy

I believe that a wind farm or two in Schoharie County would be an appropriate contribution to alternative energy as would non-centralized forms of alternative energy such as solar panels and efficiency improvements.

See the link I put up to the Sun Tattler which has some information on a PV user in Schoharie County and what the potential is.

Yes, some people have no interest in discussing actual solutions, and would rather just engage in personal insults. What can I do? This is an open forum and people can say whatever they want. That's the price of freedom of speech.

Geoffrey of Monmouth said...

Anonymous said:It's pretty easy to throw stones, and that seems to be the general mode of operation here.

This guy deserves rockets launched at him. He is so far left. I am sick and tired of idealogues right or left hijacking the dialogue. That is why we have vacant buildings with plywood on them. Whack job liberals and communist ranting right wingers dominate the discussion. Everyone on the Village Board is privilged. They all either have tons of money or come from families with tons of money. Where are the common sensed hard working pragmatic folks that make up most of this community? How the hell can you come across as an elitist when your 26 years old? My God give us some balance here will you.

Anonymous said...

Well....am neither a liberal or a priviledged person. I'm just a poor slob who travels far and wide every week so that I can live in Cobleskill, pay my taxes, and send by kids to school.
The idea of a 40-thousand dollar grant funded study for downtown Cobleskill, or another 40-thousand dollar grant for the study of a possible Dairy Processing plant hits very close to home as grant money is not free, and the 40,000 figure is just about what I paid in taxes last year.
I guess what I'm suggesting is that rather than throw stones, we should be looking at what we can build together, where we have symbionic relationships, how we can actually have commerce with one other that is more meaningful than simply selling products that we've brought from elsewhere, etc.
When the largest employers ae all tax-supported, and I don't mean empire zone or such, but Government, schools, health care, etc, and when we don't support our very few producers (i.e. try to buy local milk), and when such a large portion of our incomes go right out of Cobleskill via the gasoline pumps.....well?
Cobleskill needs jobs, it needs business, it needs a break on fuel and energy costs, it needs something for our kids to do, it needs lower taxes, it needs vision.
I'd really like to see someone offer good suggestions, and then back them up with more than verbiage...i.e. let's get some actual skin into the game.
Money talks and BS walks, as they used to say "back in the day".

Code Name Avalon said...

Elitist? People keep using this word, but I'm not sure it means what they think it means.

When people accuse say Barack Obama of being an elitist, they don't mean elitist in the proper sociological sense (C Wright Mills and the "Power Elite" for example). Instead they're refering to elitism in a much more stylistic sense. That's why this country thinks George W. Bush is a down-home earthy rancher/cowboy and someone like Barack Obama is an elitist pig.

Why is this? My guess would be that it appeals to a (healthy) populist instinct deep down in all of us. Unfortunately, we have pushed this instinct down into our subconsciousness where logic and reason can not operate. Therefore, when we see or hear something we're afraid of (because its different from what we've been told) we have an understandable intuitive need to distance ourselves from it. Only it feels better and closes off any need for self-reflection if we just slap a nasty label like "elitist" on it.

As for the Village Board being "privileged", well, we are all privileged in some sense. But I take your point. But then you go and mince words by saying we need "common sensed" (sic) people. Why not just say we need poor or working class or lower-income people?

I would agree that we need for diversity in local government at all levels.

I'm not sure why you call me "elitist", but then again, I have no idea what that word could possibly mean to you, because it's been abused to the point of meaningless in American culture.

Perhaps because you've heard Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly conflate "liberal" and "elitist" so many times, you think that liberal or left wing really is synonymous with elitist.

You wouldn't be alone in your misunderstanding if that were the case.

Anonymous said...

Actually elitist in this sense refers to someone who knows more than most, is better educated than most, always has the right answers when others are "misinformed" and their concerns are “petty”, can clearly see the errors that local municipalities constantly make, no matter what the situation, and is not afraid to point out the obvious superiority of his thinking whenever the opportunity arises, even to the point of using sarcasm to support his point;… now to whom around here do you suppose this definition would most closely apply?
--The Mayor--

Anonymous said...

Hey Avalon sweetheart, as a new comer to this blog I am beginning to see a pattern of very interesting events. Coincidently, I left you a response at a different page and I too used the term elitist without knowing its use here, funny how this trait of your personality resonates elsewhere as well.
But seriously, you must make the leap from theory to reality, although some of your ideals are good, they fall short on application.
But keep responding, I find you very entertaining.
Oh, and I like that one comment where you state that you attended an Ivy League school, why would you throw that in there, are you presenting your CV or making an elitist remark.

Geoffrey of monmouth said...

now to whom around here do you suppose this definition would most closely apply?

Spot on Mr. Mayor

Anonymous said...

"I went to an ivy league college"....hopefully, not that "Skull and Crossbones" place...'cuz they apparently aren't too, ya know, fussy 'bout who they admit. NLLB

Code Name Avalon said...

"American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source - Share This e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism Audio Help (ĭ-lē'tĭz'əm, ā-lē'-) Pronunciation Key
n.
The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.

The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class. "

Not really sure how this applies to anything I've said. But then again, maybe the dictionary is elitist too?

"Actually elitist in this sense refers to someone who knows more than most, is better educated than most, always has the right answers when others are "misinformed" and their concerns are “petty”, can clearly see the errors that local municipalities constantly make, no matter what the situation, and is not afraid to point out the obvious superiority of his thinking whenever the opportunity arises, even to the point of using sarcasm to support his point;… now to whom around here do you suppose this definition would most closely apply?"

That's really funny because this could probably apply to about 80% of the population.

But the best part is that it doesn't even really apply to me. You've reduced me to a convenient little straw man to represent something that you as individual feel is threat to you. Just buy a punching bag for chrissakes!

"funny how this trait of your personality resonates elsewhere as well."

It's also funny how you can't turn on a cable news show without hearing all the pundits bandying the word (elitist) around reducing it to meaninglessness. It's just a meaningless epithet, symbolic of the dumbing down of our political discourse.

"But seriously, you must make the leap from theory to reality, although some of your ideals are good, they fall short on application."

That's funny, I love your tone here. If I wanted, I suppose I could call it "elitist". However, it would more appropriately be considered condescending or patronizing. In any event, it's nothing but an empty platitude.

"But keep responding, I find you very entertaining"

(To all of you) The feeling's mutual.

"Oh, and I like that one comment where you state that you attended an Ivy League school, why would you throw that in there, are you presenting your CV or making an elitist remark."

Well if you actually read the above posts, you'll see that I was simply clarifying some personal information. I'm not the one who brought it up, in fact, I never make these little debates about me personally. Everyone else does.

Anonymous said...

Cornell College is not Ivy League

Anonymous said...

"Lancaster Development has a similar deal for its facility in Richmondville on Podpadic Rd. Lancaster president Mark Galasso serves on the Cobleskill Village Board, before which he served as Chair of the Village planning board. Hey, it pays to know people."

Hey it pays to be a shrewd businessman. That is why he is a successful entrepeneur and you are not. It is the government that provides for the PILOT program. Shame on him if he didn't take advantage of it. Try not looking at life from behind your Moss Lipow sunglasses. You wouldn't last a half hour in Mark Galasso's
world.

Code Name Avalon said...

"You wouldn't last a half hour in Mark Galasso's world."

Ha, at least not without wanting to puke.

Code Name Avalon said...

"That is why he is a successful entrepeneur and you are not"

By the way, you do know that Mark Galasso inherited his business from his parents, right?

It's easy to be a successful entrepreneur (I don't what an "entrepeneur" is) when you get a successful business handed to you.

The guy goes around preaching about the free market and how bad big government is. The fact is, he wouldn't last a half hour in a real "free market" that didn't involve giving hand-outs to wealthy spoiled brats like him.

You're not one of the Galasso's little ass barnicles are you?

Anonymous said...

entrepeneur vs entrepreneur

Simple answer from a simpleton:


So here's the thing, I occasionally like to misuse or mispell a few words when I'm dealing with you simple folk. I just don't want to intimidate with my fancy Ivy League language. Otherwise, people might accuse of seeming elitist, and we don't want that now do we?

I can't believe I am responding to this it is 10 pm.

Code Name Avalon said...

Even simpler still...

we can all agree that harping on typos and accidental misspellings is a childish waste of time,

as is resorting to name-calling when unable to articulate a meaningful reply.

As always, thanks for contributing nothing to this dialogue.

You know what, if my views are so repulsive to you, why not try and specifically address what you find disagreeable.

Otherwise, I'm probably going to just start ignoring your posts.

Anonymous said...

Usually I take the point of antithesis to whatever Avalon claims or states as rhetoric, but in the case of his evaluation of Galasso, he may be dead on. Let’s face it the guy got everything from the old man, he just does not come of as a hard nosed entrepreneur. It’s easy to build on a given foundation with available capital, unless of course you are a total moron.
The guy looks too polished, almost fake. But he is doing what he’s doing only because others let him get away with it. Hey he’s got a family to feed, we do what we have to in life.

Anonymous said...

The ying and yang govern most facets of our lives and events, in this case, the one major benefit of this recession/inflation will be a slow down in development. Sure there will be some leftover construction, but very minor. Although Coby may suffer, it will bring the sprawl to a screeching halt.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think that Route 7 Cobleskill will ever look like South Side Oneonta? Now that is my idea of sprawl. Surely there is a middle of the road that would be acceptable . Saying no to all box stores can't be good. One or two coupled with some mom and pops also can't be bad. Interesting article in Gazette were a Mom and Pop outlasted a Home Depot in Brattleboro. Hang in there Kelley and Vince. Speaking of Kelley---- what economic chrystal ball is he looking into. Major expansion during a recession? What could he be thinking ---especially with the potential of Lowes arriving. Sorry for the ramble.