Monday, February 9, 2009

Porkers!

When not actually in government, Republicans like to blast away at the reckless spending of big government liberals who, as the old saying goes, will spend taxpayers money like drunken sailors. But when in government, and/or when in a position to benefit, Republicans can spend like the best of them. In Schoharie County, Obama’s stimulus package has local Republicans lining up with their hands out like kids in a candy store, or should I say pork store.

In fact, if you listen closely you can already here Schoharie County’s fattest piggies lined up at the trough squealing for treats. Schoharie County’s Board of Supervisors settled on a list of 17 projects costing over $153 million dollars. Make no mistake, Schoharie County is in desperate need of a few hundred million dollars or so of stimulus money. But many of the proposed projects leave me scratching my head as expensive and for the most part unnecessary, and worst of all, they take away resources from more worthy projects.

For example, the county proposes to spend $90 million on three new I-88 exits, one for the proposed water park by Howe Caverns, one for Guilford Mills in Cobleskill and another for Schoharie. Not only is this is a colossal and unjustified waste of money, but the fat highway contracts will be manna from Heaven for the Galasso's. Here’s an idea, why don’t they just put in a separate exit ramp leading straight to the home of the Galasso’s so they can just drive right up and drop the money off by the truck load?

The pork list just goes on. The Board is proposing replacing a small bridge on Podpadic Road in order to access a proposed industrial site. Pay attention because this one’s a gem. Mill Services, who already have a factory in the Village of Cobleskill are being courted by Town of Richmondville officials, including Planning Board Chair Harold Loder, who incidentally, owns the piece of land that the bridge replacement would provide access to. Let me get this straight. We waste millions of dollars in federal money for a new bridge for Podpadic Road and the Village of Cobleskill gets another empty factory, all so Harold Loder gets a buyer for his land. And to think, these people probably didn't even vote for Obama!

Then there’s $11.8 million dollars for water and sewer extensions out to Shad Point, and everything in between. Interesting strategy by local developers. Tell the water hoarders in the Village of Cobleskill that they’re costing the county nearly 12 million dollars in federal aid by not playing along.

Of course, buried in all this pork there are some worthy projects like the $25.8 million dollars for broadband service, a truly critical piece of the infrastructure puzzle. There’s a modest $3 million dollars in there for SUNY Cobleskill which will be used in the development of a waste-to-energy project. More projects along these lines could push us further toward developing a green energy/technology economy that has the best chance of creating new opportunities for Upstate NY.

Another critical but overlooked piece of the puzzle is sustainable development. Amidst all of this pork for new highway projects and moving factories across town, there is little talk of projects that will help to revitalize our downtowns and promote sustainable development. There needs to be more of a focus on projects like the Newberry Square building rehab and the Cobleskill Creek Trail. New sidewalks and facades for all the Downtown business districts in the region would not only provide temporary construction jobs and provide the facelift our business districts will need to thrive in coming decades but it could be done at a fraction of the cost of Schoharie County’s three new proposed highway exits. The current and temporary reduction in fuel costs has made a lot of us forget just how obsolete our automobile-dominated society is becoming. We need to start rebuilding compact, high-density communities sooner rather than later. We need to start by rehabilitating the vacant spaces in our downtown business districts and working on our bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the county, which is currently non-existent.

More federal aid for wind farms could also be a windfall for the area if federal aid stipulated more robust PILOT payments for local communities. This could help to reduce local resistance as communities realized they had more to gain than to lose by working with wind power developers.

Right now is a critical time for America and particularly the depressed economy of Upstate NY. With the Federal Government eager to throw hundreds of billions of dollars at the problem, it is imperative that we as citizens insure that this money is used wisely to build a sustainable future and not to pad the wallets of the porkers who run this county. After all, a trillion dollars is a terrible thing to waste.

17 comments:

Bob Nied said...

Sean you are spot on in regards to the ill-conceived spending projects you mentioned. The absurd notion of another I-88 exit to accommodate the equally absurd waterpark is a perfect example. You are also perceptive about the motives behind the proposed Podpadic Road "improvement." Additionally, the Creek Trail and downtown revitalization efforts should take preference over obvious pork projects. I would caution you however to look closely at the SUNY waste to energy project. SUNY is refusing to provide details of "Phase III" of this project which would include a large-scale garbage handling facility and the County is proposing to help gain funding for it with no knowledge of what it will do to/for the residents of the County. (The County is basing its pursuit of funding on a brochure distributed by SUNY that SUNY now denies accurately reflects the scope and scale of the project). Also important- No SEQRA review has been conducted, no site plan has been presented and no public hearings have taken place. The college is taking the position that they do not have to work with the communities that could be impacted by this operation. You should also note that the principal backers of this project are an off-shore (Indian) company and the US Army. Do you think this is a project intended to benefit those who live Cobleskill and Richmondville?

As to wind developers- I have only one thing to add to this discussion. If you think industrial wind development is a bone to the communities take a look at the finances of other Upstate NY Towns who have signed PILOT agreements with wind companies. The story is the same- no net decrease in the tax burden on residents while at the same time and increase in Cost of Community Services and a host of complaints about health and safety.

Last point- Europe has industrial wind for 25 years or more. Setbacks in Europe have gone from 1000 meters to more than a mile because of the health and safety issues. If we do that turbines can't be built in Schoharie County. Do we want health and safety or do we want a couple of thousand dollars in PILOT money? (or more money for the same large landowners who seem to control decision making in Richmondville and Cobleskill?)

Barney Frank said...

In Schoharie County, Obama’s stimulus package has local Republicans lining up with their hands out like kids in a candy store, or should I say pork store.

Uber liberal AI Mackay was also seen at the trough. Rumor has it he has circulated a list to officials of "pure bacon" that would make Jimmy Dean sizzle.

Pigs it would seem are by Bi-Partisan.

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear!
"We need to start by rehabilitating the vacant spaces in our downtown business districts and working on our bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the county, which is currently non-existent."

Anonymous said...

You are on the money with all your observations my friend. Unfortunatelly most schoharie county residents have no clue of what driving forces rule their lives and that of their children. As long as you have fast food, plenty of soda,beer,cigarettes and ample sports entertainment (oh and shopping malls for the women folk) one or many can very efficiently rule over them. "Bow your head to the one you serve and you will get what you deserve"

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand....What we Schoharie county residents REALLY need is better bike paths and more sidewalks??
I fail to see how that will help me at all. I've busted my ass all my life, bought and paid for a house that I COULD afford, (with a mortgage interest rate of over 10%, by the way) put my daughter through 4 years of college, and managed to stay out of jail and off the welfare rolls throughout this entire time. I even managed to put some money into an IRA over the last 12 or so years, to augment my retirement income that will probably be derived from being a part-time greeter at Wal-Mart. I have worked throughout this time for a small business that has no retirement plan, and has struggled to stay afloat due to constantly increasing government BS and interference. So where am I now? My house is worth substantially less than it was a few years ago, even though my taxes have more than doubled since I’ve owned the house, my IRA is worth HALF of what it was 6 FREAKING MONTHS ago, and, unlike too many Americans, I am smart enough to know where the blame all for this lies, and it is not MY doing. Now my “feel good” government wants to “spread the wealth”, that is, spend not only what’s left of my money, but my children’s and grandchildren’s money, to bail out the assholes that got all of us in this situation to begin with. The sad part of this plan is that, after that money is pissed-away, the “special interest groups” that managed to put the current regime into power will still be begging for more, and thus far, very few people have the balls to even suggest what really needs to be done.
And this is what we forward-thinking people in Schoharie County are talking about here:
"We need to start by rehabilitating the vacant spaces in our downtown business districts and working on our bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the county, which is currently non-existent."
This is pathetic.

Jesse Jackson said...

Amen Brother---Well said. But in this current social climate your letter would be construed as having a racist tone.

Anonymous said...

wow...I didn't see or think "race" when I wrote that rant. The current "regime" to which I refer is more Congress than The President, however I can't say I'm particularly happy with him either...

Jesse Jackson Jr. said...

wow...I didn't see or think "race"

It is not what you see or think it is what is perceived.

Sean said...

Why do you blame people who bought homes they COULDN'T afford?

Wasn't it Republican, pro-market ideas like deregulation of the financial markets that allowed Wall Street speculators to go on a feeding frenzy chasing housing bubble profits, buying up bundled mortgages, and thus driving the reckless lending?

Weren't people only acting rationally?

I will agree with you that it is foolish to print/borrow money to pay for the stimulus. We really should just take it from the rich.

And I don't think that building some bike paths and revitalizing our town centers would be the worst thing in the world. Why that is considered "pathetic" I don't really know.

Anonymous said...

Sean...I will play your silly game and respond to your questions, even though I hope that you know better.
First of all, I feel very badly for those who lost their jobs due to the recession and are not able to make their mortgage payments. I certainly do not “blame” them for their situation. If, on the other hand, someone bought a home they simply could not afford, they were STUPID, plain and simple. The lenders were STUPID and, as you point out, GREEDY to write these mortgages. I suppose if Greed and Stupidity are rational, I can agree with you. From Jimmy Carter onward, the "feel good" push from our government was to get more people into home ownership. The great American Dream. The banks obliged because Fannie and Freddie were buying up the mortgages. There is nothing wrong with the American Dream. What went wrong was the way it was implemented. The only people who could lose under this plan was…well…everyone. It is comical that you blame the Republicans for this mess. There is plenty of blame to go around on both the Right and the Left. You really think it is rational to lend money to under-qualified borrowers, and require a down payment so small that the owner's equity is negative from the get-go? As a result, the only rational thing for the buyer to do when things get tough is to walk away, because he has nothing to lose. I don’t see that as “rational.”
Regarding “taxing the rich,” based on IRS data from 2006 (http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html), the top 1% of individual earners earned 22.1% of the nation’s income and paid 39.9% of the income tax burden. The top 25% of taxpayers earned 68.2 percent of the nation's income, but they paid 86.3 percent of the income tax. I believe these numbers are even more skewed in 2007 and 2008. We already ARE taxing the rich. The real problem is that there is still not enough money to feed the voracious appetite of our “Tax and Spend” government. This situation is about to be hugely compounded by the “Stimulus Bill”. As I sit here, Hillary is in China trying to convince them to loan the US even more money.
Our Nation’s financial situation is way more complicated than could be described here or be described or perhaps even be fully understood by me at all. One thing that I do know for certain, it is a mess…

Sean said...

First of all, I do not know better.

Second of all, your analysis of the housing crisis is somewhat spotty. The major missing piece is the speculation that was driving real estate values up and up.

Rampant speculation followed by the inevitable bust is as natural to the capitalist system as anything else, not least of all stupidity and greed.

It is no mystery who is to blame. The republicans deserve a lot of it, after all, deregulation, a republican idea, is partly what got us into this mess. However, it was Bill Clinton's administration under Bob Rubin and Lawrence Summers who spearheaded much of the actual de-regulating, the whole time working hand-in-hand with republicans.

Where you and many others make a mistake is in blaming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Community Reinvestment Act (not you of course). These are merely specious scapegoats put forth by Republican shills like Limbaugh and Hannity who know the average Joe likes to blame the big bad government trying to help poor people for all the problems of the country.

As far as taxing the rich, FDR had the highest tax rates up around 80-90 percent! Today the top rate has been lowered to 28% under GWB!

At the state level, the regressive income tax is far worse. Our democratic governor wants to tax the poor at every turn but won't consider asking the Bernie Medoff's of ny to pay a cent more.

Yes, we already are taxing the rich, but we are not taxing them enough, not even close.

"Our Nation’s financial situation is way more complicated than could be described here or be described or perhaps even be fully understood by me at all. One thing that I do know for certain, it is a mess…"

No, we all need to educate ourselves and look past the easy targets provided by talk show hosts. We need to give up the romance of the free market. Would it really be so bad if we spent less on the military and took more from the rich and ended up more like Canada or Denmark or Norway?

Hey, China took all our jobs, why not let them finance our welfare state!

Spiro Agnew said...

jesus sean you got diarreha of the mouth worse than that perfidious naBob nied

Anonymous said...

wait a second bob...what is soo obsurd about a waterpark coming to howes caverns?? this place is so "rundown" and has been...there is nothing for anyone to do here in the esperance area. i think it will begin to bring in tourists..in turn will maybe begin to develop slowly, and MAYBE not every business will be closed 4 days a week. im totally for it! bring it in..bring jobs in...its the 2000's people! ~get wit it

Robert Niedahug said...

Sean-
At least you know good writing when you see it. I am the author of 5 of your 8 praises.


Anonymous
PS
I actually googled "most expensive sunglasses"= Moss lipow. Keep your left leaning shit comming I fucking love it.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the "…how stoned was he?" and the "Get a clue Pal…" entries....
I never did get a believable answer to the first one. As for the second, I’m still waiting for him…to get a clue, that is...

Anonymous said...

Sean said: ..."Where you and many others make a mistake is in blaming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac..."
These numbers just released, 3/12/08:

Freddie Mac Losses By The Calendar, 4th Qtr. 2008

Full Quarter: $24. billion
Each Day: $265 million
Each Hour: $11 million
Each Minute: $184,000
Each Second: $3000

but they have no fault !!!
Sean, you are full of shit...

Sean said...

Wow, Google AND a calculator! I'm impressed.