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Upstate won’t recover until cities can regain their long-lost luster

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
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Upstate won’t recover until cities can regain their long-lost luster

Once again, the key to growing upstate New York economically is bringing new life and vibrancy to its cities. That will occur only when those cities and their surrounding townships see the wisdom in the concept of consolidation.

There are many ideas toward improving the finances of struggling cities, some described in Robert Caracciolo’s Oct. 28 Viewpoint, “Redistribute the revenue.” But the truth is that nuance won’t work in the long run, neither for upstate’s cities, but even more importantly, the economy of the entire upstate region.

Cities are more important than counties. Energizing commerce in upstate cities will lead to new commercial energy through the creation of new, good-paying jobs throughout prosperity zones surrounding each of those cities. Counties can’t do that, but central revitalized cities can. As long as we continue to do the “same-old, same-old,” upstate will never see its full potential.

It’s really about our crazy and confusing structure of government. We know that the state won’t legislate consolidation, and we also know that land-rich townships reject consolidation outright.

There’s only one way to proceed. It’s incumbent on every city government in every upstate city to take matters into their own hands. Here’s what they should do:

1) always extend the hand of friendship and work in cooperation with their surrounding townships;

2) aggressively pursue annexation, particularly those town areas of highest commercial value;

3) propose, then enact, local taxes that yield new revenue from non-city residents, perhaps the best one being a commuter tax assessing non-city residents for the privilege of working in those cities. I’d bet that in Schenectady, as in other upstate cities, the vast majority of area income earners [higher-end earners] work within the geographic footprint of those cities.

These strategies are certain to get the attention of leaders and residents living in surrounding townships. City governments genuinely seeking municipal consolidation would be well served to implement these strategies and will likely see an increased willingness from town governments to come to the table to discuss merging. Try it, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Albert Colone

Oneonta

Contec should bring its business back to Sch’dy

Re Nov. 6 article, “Cable box company Contec restructures”: I remember reading about the workers laid off in 2009 from Contec [Holdings Ltd.] and felt awful that people were losing their jobs in this economy.

Now I see they are “restructuring.” What a coincidence that while they laid off all those people, they opened a facility in Mexico the same year. What a slap in the face.

Chief Operating Officer Wesley Hoffman said, “we are closely looking at opportunities to expand our business.” Why doesn’t he start with “expansion” back to Schenectady rather than another foreign country? I’m sure the laid-off workers would be thrilled to have “their” jobs back.

Tina Bacon

Delanson

Can’t get to church in run-up to Stockade-athon

Re Nov. 11 letter, “Time of Sch’dy road race horrible for churches”: I agree with Dr. William Levering’s request to change the time of the Stockade-athon. After trying unsuccessfully to get to St. John the Evangelist Church on Union St. this morning [Nov. 11], I had to return home to Scotia.

I should have known better than to try. This has happened to me in previous years, but I thought if I went early enough I could find a way. But no luck! Once the race is in motion, there is no way to get to the interior of the city. The course snakes through the city and cuts off all major streets.

It’s time to change the time of the race. Why not have it on Saturday or Sunday afternoon? It’s time the race organizers take into consideration all of the people trying to get to their places of worship on Sunday morning.

Eileen Comley

Scotia

Obama’s mighty army wasn’t only minorities

I take issue with a statement made by E.J. Dionne in his Nov. 9 column, “Obstructionist GOP will be endangered species.” He says, “And he (President Obama) mobilized a mighty army of African-Americans and Hispanic voters.”

When I spent 4 1⁄2 hours making phone calls for Organize for America, the room was filled with Caucasian men and women. The CEO of a local health care facility spent three weeks in Ohio working for Organize for America. And my youngest daughter canvassed door-to-door in Virginia. We are all Caucasian.

The mighty army that President Obama mobilized was made up of Americans of all races, genders, religions and sexual orientations. The president mobilized committed Americans who care deeply about their country and the direction in which it is going.

Roberta Steiner

Niskayuna

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comments

November 14, 2012
7:28 a.m.
wmarincic says...
(This comment was removed by the site staff.)
November 14, 2012
10:45 a.m.
ronzo says...

Re:Upstate won't recover...These are good ideas, but the chances of any of your ideas coming to reality are well? People don't like change. As a result, sometimes change must be forced to achieve a result that is best for everyone. It has been proven time and time again here in New York that suggesting a change via a majority vote mostly results in the same answer - NO. So legislators need to make the changes for the people, but most are unwilling because they there's too much emotion within their constituents. I do not agree that counties cannot be the central government. County based governments can and do successfully work in other parts of this country. To name a few - Miami-Dade, FL; Louisville - Jefferson, KY; Augusta - Richmond, GA, and most of the Southern states. But short of changing to county based governments here, it might be possible to achieve your center-city idea by making people who live in these towns to pay a tax premium. If the towns paid more tax than city residents, that might take away some "advantage" people in these towns may feel vs. city living, and make them more willing to "merge" with a city for financial advantage. But the odds of that happening here are again well? This may only work for urban counties. In rural counties that have no cities, pure county based governments would theoretically work if people's resistance to change and emotion were not in the way. If you want some "tax facts" and haven't seen this look at:

http://taxfoundation.org/article/propert...
and view New York's taxes vs. other states. Maybe if more people became aware of this their emotions about organized government here would change.

November 14, 2012
3:21 p.m.
janesjoys says...

Thank you to the staff - I wondered if there was any limit to what readers could post.

November 14, 2012
9:49 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Really, my post was removed because I said that those parents should have spoken to people that have lived through communism and facism? Whatever. Liberal biased papers like this are the reason that Obama was elected twice. Had papers told the truth he wouldn't get elected dog catcher. Look at Jessie Jackson Jr. another Chicago great politician who is being treated for a mental disorder and is being charged by the FBI and forced to resign and go to jail and he was still elected by a landslide.

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