1. Do last week's cluster of endorsements of Matt Doheny by the Albany good old boys and girls show they are disconnected from the rank and file Republicans who overwhelmingly supported Elise Stephanik instead of Doheny?
    Perhaps.
    The endorsements were announced late, which means Matt was hoping for a last minute push to get him over the top, or that his own polling showed him way behind Elise and he was desperate for support and looking for a life preserver.
    Stephanik was endorsed by every county Republican committee in the 21st Congressional District except Jefferson, Matt Doheny's home growing up and today. Can't say I blame Jefferson. They were pulling for one of their own.
    Of course, it's no surprise the other county's endorsed Elise, she was the only viable candidate running at the time. Doheny was still in the woodwork because Bill Owens hadn't yet announced his intention to fold his tent.
    Then too, you had GOP committees like St. Lawrence who endorsed Stephanik but offered her only lackluster support once Doheny jumped into the race.
    But back to the question at hand....
    Sens. Joe Griffo and Patti Ritchie both endorsed Matt, as did Assembly members Blankenbush and Duprey. Not sure about Sen. Little.
    You also had St. Lawrence County good old boys like former County Treasurer Bob McNeil backing Matt by throwing a fundraiser for him at his home, and St. Lawrence Conservative Party Chair Hank Ford crossing his State committee to support Doheny.
    When I say I'm note sure if these endorsements mean a disconnect it's because I never really believed that these people, or most elected officials for that matter, really care much for the feelings of rank and file Republicans or County Committee members.
    They get so caught up in the culture of Albany and their own re-election campaigns that their only real concern is for county committee people to circulate their petitions every two or four years when they're up for election.
    The next big question is will Stephanik give them a pass for supporting Doheny, or will she give them a pass in hopes they get behind her for the general election?
    My advice: don't be too quick to let them off the hook, Elise. You're in the driver's seat now and they'll be looking for your coat tails for their own re-elections come November.
    So don't hurry patching things up with them.
    At least make 'em sweat a little first.... 
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  2. On Dec. 6, 2011, my post in this space was titled "Why We Can't Legalize Pot"
    Guess I was right....
    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2014/may/10/how-high-too-high-drive-states-find-no-easy-answer/

    In the big rush to legalize marijuana to get more tax money to feed their government's addiction, states are rushing to legalize marijuana.
    Nobody is asking enough questions.
    How do we quantify levels of "stone-age" when someone smokes pot, drives and hits a kid on a bike?
    Why aren't the anti-cigarette Nazis screaming about the health effects?
    How come we don't discuss earlier studies that detailed the impacts that regular marijuana consumption has on a person's DNA?
    Have we ever studied possible links between pot-smoking parents and autism in their children?
    New York Gov. Cuomo wants to see our state allow medical marijuana. Soon after we do that, the left-wingers will call for full legalization like Colorado and Washington. Big spenders in state government will see easy access to million of dollars in pot taxes.
    And soon after, pot will be legal in NYS.
    But until we can answer some of  these questions and many others, legalizing pot is a big mistake.
    In retrospect, perhaps my title should have been "Why We Shouldn't Legalize Pot, Even If It Feeds State Governments' Tax Addiction."
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  3. Is this the start of a new trend for the fictitious I-98?
    How many other groups will oppose it?
    When will we finally see some financial accountability for the Northern Corridor Transportation Group?
    How much money have they raised over the past decade? Where did it come from and how was it spent? Why do they keep this stuff behind closed doors?
    Specifically, how much public money has been spent on this by the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, a regional authority that is supposed to be working for the good our entire area? When was the last time OBPA worked on a project outside of Ogdensburg besides I-98?
    A bunch of public, taxpayer money has been spent on this but no one ever talks about where the cash goes.
    Any new study of this idea should include substantiation of the group's wild claims in the past that the new highway would result in tens of thousands of jobs for the forest industry. Let's see some kind of proof that a new interstate will create permanent jobs.
    Show us some letters of intent from companies who will locate here and how many jobs they will create.
    Enough with the phony public relations and bloated speech.
    Show us some real information.
    Read on:

    http://mpcourier.com/article/20140412/DCO/704129847
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  4. There has been much back-and-forth about what exactly New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said regarding the much-discussed, little-accomplished four-lane highway across Northern New York.
    It used to be called the Roof-Top Highway, then Gov. Pataki's public relations flacks called it the Northern Tier Expressway (a name I actually like because it says something, but one that Jason Clark hates because it came from a Republican administration), and then it was called the fictitious I-98.
    I say fictitious because there is no such designation - that is the slick name that snake oil salesmen like Jason Clark came up with because it looks good on lapel pins.
    Agencies like the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority have long promoted the idea of the highway and that makes sense for them. It could lead to more business at their bridge and industrial park, although the highway's last path took it about 45 miles to the south of the 'Burg.
    Then a bunch of academics from the Potsdam/Canton area weighed in by saying the highway will never happen and that by supporting it, local politicians and agencies are causing the state to ignore upgrades to US Route 11.
    YESEleven, as they call themselves (again a cute little name that would look good on a pin) found all sorts of reasons why the four-lane concept is dead in the water.
    Jason and the I-98 crew were incredulous that someone would actually oppose their great idea and they went after YESEleven, or at least Jason did. The resulting hilarity has led us to what happened a couple of weeks ago in Potsdam
    All of this debate caused a reporter to asked Gov. Cuomo where he stood on the four-lane highway, and both sides were quick to interpret (translate) the Governor's words to support their respective stances on the transportation Trojan horse.
    Well, here's my take on what Gov. Cuomo II said (I'm paraphrasing and translating to the best of my ability):
    "I think the highway MIGHT (emphasis added) be a good idea but we're constrained because the state has no money for it, I don't want to raise taxes to pay for it, the federal government is also short on funding and the economy is still in rough shape."
    Then he said, "IF we decide its a good idea, then I THINK we need to study the highway further but we have no money for it, I'm not going to raise taxes to pay for it, the feds have no money and the economy is very sluggish."(emphasis all added)
    He then further said, "We're trying to be fiscally responsible so SOMEDAY, IF we still think its a good idea, IF the study shows its a good idea and will have some economic benefit, then we MIGHT just THINK about building it, IF the state is no longer flat-busted broke, there's STILL not a snowball's chance in hell that I would raise taxes to pay for it, IF the Feds are no longer MORE BROKE than New York State, and the economy's not STILL in the crapper where it probably will be for a while yet! (emphasis added)"
    Thus, that's MY take on what the Govenror said (emphasis added).
    So, while Jason Clark and the other spin-meisters continue the charade that the highway is just one federal transportation bill away, maybe they could take a few minutes to give the taxpayers a FULL ACCOUNTING of how much money - much of it belonging to taxpayers - they have spent in the past decade on pins, bumper stickers, newspaper ads, slick hand-outs, etc. (emphasis added).
    There has NEVER been a complete and public disclosure of the finances of the North Corridor Transportation Group (another cute name, isn't it?), and the time has come for the public to demand one.
    How much are the "consultants" like Jason Clark being paid? How much were they paid over the years? Was the Massena BDC ever repaid the $18,000-plus it was owed by the NCTG?
    And it's time for YESEleven to go to the government officials in Potsdam and Canton to commit IN WRITING to bypasses around their congested, travel-time-sucking downtown corridors. Maybe then we can get the NYS Department of Transportation to upgrade US Route 11 and NYS Route 12 and make portions of them four-lane so as to relieve some congestion and speed people and commerce on their merry way.
    Oh, and it would be nice if both groups would conduct business in the public eye so that we know who you are and what your agendas are REALLY (emphasis added).
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  5. Below you will find a link to an interesting story one of my blog readers sent me. The story from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. is an interview with one of the originators of the Idle No More movement.
    What my reader found very interesting was the movement's co-founder, Sylvia McAdam, says she is not comfortable with blockades and things like bridge closing because it makes the movement appear to "aggressive" (her word). She makes some other interesting points.
    Click this link and see what I mean:  
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/story/2013/01/14/sk-idle-no-more-sylvia-mcadam-130114.html

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  6. There's an old saying that a man in a hole has got to know when to stop digging.
    So, I'll apologize to all of my Mohawk neighbors and others who were offended by my post about the bridge closing.
    As you can see, my post upset a lot of people. That was not my intent. Nor was it my intent to to dismiss or criticize the Idle No More movement or the opposition to Mr. Harper's legislation. The opposition is legitimate and everyone has a right to oppose it.
    I simply hoped that in the future we could find a better way to state a protest than to shut down the bridge. In retrospect, I could have chosen a few words differently in my post.
    Because this has taken on a nasty tone, I will no longer post comments on my original post about the protest. I have never done that before, but this one is different.
    I will post comments about this post - my apology.
    I hope I can repair any damage I may have caused. I worked for the Mohawk Tribe for over five years and really enjoyed my time there. I grew up in Helena and attended weekly  mass at St. Patrick's Church in Hogansburg. I have many Mohawk friends and I hope this controversy has not caused my to lose any of them.
    Niawen (I hope I spelled that right!)
        
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  7. Once again, law-abiding travellers between Massena and Cornwall, Ontario, have been harassed and inconvenienced by another pointless protest closing traffic on the the Seaway International Bridge.
    The time has come for U.S., Canadian and Mohawk authorities to stop this foolishness.
    What exactly have any of these protests accomplished other than ticking off drivers?
    If the organizers of these protests think they are gaining any kind of public support for whatever statements they are trying to make, they are sadly mistaken.
    Why must we tolerate them? Why do authorities tolerate them? If I get a hundred people together to close the bridge in protest of bridge-closing protests will I be arrested and taken off to jail?
    Look, I know that authorities are hesitant to stop the Mohawk-sponsored protests for fear of being called racists but the time has come for residents of all three communities to come together and say we've had enough of the disruptions to our business, our pleasure, our daily lives.
    Most people can't tell you what any of these protests are about. In fact, some of the protesters probably don't really know why they are closing a bridge and what they hope to achieve.
    I don't make these comments out of hatred or because of any bias.
    I am simply appealing to reasonable adults in our communities to do the right thing and say we will not tolerate these disruptions in the future. There are plenty of other means of expressing your viewpoint.
    Let's put our energies toward something positive and  make a real difference in our region. 
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  8. The Massena Village Board recently passed a new curfew law that says 15-18 year old kids must be off the streets between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
    Why is this law even necessary?
    Poor parenting, that's why.
    How do you not insist that your kids are home in the house by 10 o'clock at night? As a parent, where are you and what are you doing? Is it possible that you don't know where your kids are?
    When I drive around town late at night, I am amazed at what I see. Kids, young kids aged 10-12 by my estimation, are out roaming the streets on foot, bikes and skateboards. Why aren't they at home? Why aren't their parents out looking for them?
    It's time to hold people accountable, and this new curfew law will do just that. It's long overdue and I believe the village was remiss in not enforcing the old curfew law that was on the books for decades.
    Police Chief Timmy Currier said it was unenforceable because a court had ruled a similar law unconstitutional. My attitude was enforce law and let someone challenge it in court.
    But that's all history now.
    The new curfew gives the Chief and his police force the tool they need to clean up our streets and likely put a damper on some of the stupid vandalism that has been plaguing our community.
    Now we have the law. Let's put it to good use as quickly as possible.
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  9. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/nyregion/offices-of-eric-t-schneiderman-and-thomas-p-dinapoli-play-down-roles-in-settlement.html?_r=1&smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto


    I try not to make this blog political and this entry is not about partisan politics. It is about the bad things and corruption that usually evolve when any one political party has a lock on all the power of a specific part of government, or government in general.
    In New York State, Democrats control the Assembly, the Comptroller's Office, the Attorney General's Office and, of course, Governor Andrew Cuomo is also a Democrat. Republicans control the Senate by a slim majority.
    Again, when one party controls things for any period of time, bad things happen.
    In the Senate, which was controlled by the Republicans for about 40 years straight, guys like Joe Bruno took advantage, wielded undue power and eventually broke the law. Thankfully, he was sent to prison for his corruption.
    Now, in the Assembly (as referenced in the article link above), Sheldon Silver and his cronies have run roughshod over the state constitution, the state's taxpayers, even the weakest code of ethics, common decency and perhaps the law.
    It's not the first time he has done this and it probably won't be the last. He is a tyrant and a corrupt one at that.
    The Democrats hold a veto-proof and bulletproof majority that is hugely dominated by New York City and the typical political machinery that is put in place in large cities controlled by one party. Chicago and Los Angeles are other examples.
    I'm sure you don't have to look very far to find plenty of examples where complete Republican control has brought about similar seedy situations.
    Silver is a bully who reigns over a cowed Assembly whose members are afraid to stand up to him and his corruption. Anyone who dares the challenge King Shelly is usually put before the political firing squad and summarily executed. And for years, media in Albany, NYC and around the state have allowed this abuse to go unchallenged as well. Shame on them for there complicity,
    New York State as a whole may be unique in that all of the major political offices are held by politicians from the same party. Our state in not well-served by that situation. In fact, we suffer because of it.
    There was the time when the voters made sure there was some political diversity in these top jobs. Just a few year ago, we had a Republican Governor with a Democratic Controller. For years before that, we had a longtime Democratic Governor and similarly long-tenured Republican Comptroller.
    It's not that way any more. Nearly all of New York's political eggs are in one basket. Those eggs are getting rotten and beginning to smell.
    Attorney General Eric Schneiderman knew about Silver's latest crooked deal. So did Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli. And neither one did anything to stop it or even let the public know about it. They should all hang there heads in shame and should give serious consideration to resigning there posts.
    What's most obvious is that Silver has got to go. If not to Attica or Dannemora, then at least out of the Assembly. There should be a unanimous demand for his resignation. But it's not happening, and the silence coming from other politicians, especially Democrats, over his corruption is deafening.
    But, ultimately, who is responsible for this corruption that is brought about by total control of our state governmental system?
    The voters. All of us who elected this sorry slate of crooked enablers.
    Look in the mirror and you will see who has allowed this cancer to grow and thrive in our once Empire State. We elected them.
    Do we have the courage and the stomach to turn them out next time we have the chance?
    Probably not. Our track record stinks, but I can still hope that one day we will collectively do the right thing for ourselves. 
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  10. Public Employees Must Contribute to Pensions

    Public employee pension costs are killing local government budgets and the various Comptrollers' manipulation of the fund is making it worse. Couple this with the fact that most people in the fund no longer contribute to it, and you've got a big mess that it costing taxpayers big money.
    Most people don't know that only one man has control over the billions of dollars in New York State's pension fund. There is no committee, there is no investment advisory board, heck, there is absolutely no input from the millions of public employees whose retirements Thomas Dinapoli is messing with.
    It's all his call.
    The New York State Constitution says so.
    And the State Constitution needs to be changed. Change needs to happen to get better results and to avoid criminal activity like the damage done by DiNapoli's predecessor, Alan Hevesi, went to jail for his corrupt dealings with the state pension fund, among other things.
    But that's a topic for another day.
    This post is to call on town, village, county, state and other public employees, and the unions which represent them to do the right: begin contributing to your retirement pensions again.
    You see, most present and former public employees (including me), only contribute to their own pension for ten years. When they do contribute, it's only about two percent of their salaries. Then, like magic, after 10 years they no longer contribute. They leave it all up to the taxpayers.
    This year, the taxpayers will foot a pension bill that is equal to almost 21-percent of every public employee salary. So, if somebody makes $45,000 as a town employee who has been in the job more than 10 years, then the taxpayers of that town pay 21-percent of that salary to the state pension fund. The employee pays nothing.
    Do people in the private sector stop contributing to their 401Ks after 10 years on the job?
    Well, if they do, you can bet their retirement checks will be pretty sparse.
    Public employees, after 20 years on the job and only contributing two percent of their salary for 10 years, will retire with about 50-percent of their average salary over the last three years of their careers.
    So, I guess I will go out on a limb be one of the few public officials who say that all public employees should continue to contribute to their pensions during their entire careers.
    The taxpayers deserve no less.
    In fact, the taxpayers deserve a break.
    It's time for Governor Cuomo, Comptroller DiNapoli, the entire New York State Senate and Assembly to speak up and do the right thing. They need to start moving to reinstate public employee pension contributions.
    Will they do the right or will they continue to cave in to public employee unions and their millions in campaign contributions?
    We'll have to wait and see, but I won't be holding my breath....  
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