Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The year is essentially over and as is common for me, I take stock of where I am, where I’ve been, and most importantly, where I’m going. It’s time to evaluate my progress toward intended goals and reevaluate my priorities so that my new goals are in step with where I’m going.

This year was a rough one personally because of my Dad’s death. I think I fared okay but it certainly was and is different than I expected. Nevertheless, it clarified a lot of life’s lessons that somehow had remained murky.

My awareness and understanding of many town issues has been heightened by my involvement in them throughout the last 4 years, even leading to a contemplation of a run for office, which fortunately has dissipated. Unless Governor Patterson wants to sidestep Caroline Kennedy and offer me the vacant senator seat, all bets are off for any immediate political ambitions. My impact on matters has so far been less than noteworthy and after channeling my effort toward another endeavor, fundraising for the American Cancer Society, I see that my efforts ought to be redirected. We raised our goal of $1000 in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer…a goal I never thought we’d get close to when I set it. My effort made a real, tangible difference in other people’s lives.

I already volunteer my time in other matters, but it seems appropriate to divert my attention from banging my head against an unyielding town wall to doing things that produce actual results. A matching of talents, if you will.

I was thinking about 9-11 recently and wondered where the feeling of unity and common purpose went after the attacks. It was palpable back then, but cynicism seems to have prevailed. The recent ice storm is a smaller example of what will certainly be fleeting good will. Harder economic times are ahead for most of us and there will be great need to step up and help those who struggle. I intend to be focused on what my part in that will be.

So that’s where I’m going. It doesn’t mean I’ll never speak up again on town stuff but don’t look for me to be nearly as vocal anymore. I’m pretty sure I have more important contributions to make next year than flapping my gums on deaf ears at Town meetings.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Budget Review

(intended budget hearing remarks prefaced by previous post)

I’d like to begin by drawing attention to an article in today’s newspaper. “There Will Be Pain.” That’s a quote from Mayor Bloomberg, roundly regarded as a pretty sharp budgetary navigator. His proposed budget spares no one and no thing and will surely be very unpopular with those affected. But his approach serves as a blueprint for us in some respects.

The very first question when considering the budget should be: what is absolutely essential? In my mind, that usually suggests police, fire, and paramedic services – basically, safety-related services. Much of the anticipated increases are in fact, locked in contractually anyway if I understand correctly what I’ve been told and most people, I think, are rightly reluctant to cut in those areas.

The second question becomes: can we cut other departments? Without even looking, my initial gut reaction is to cut every single item by a straight, equally applied percentage. Equal pain, if you will. Some view that as simplistic but I’d love to hear the argument for why it can’t be done. There’s always a lot of talk about “fairness” – so where is the fairness to the taxpayer that routinely is asked to pay more for less?

That’s right, MORE for LESS. We keep hearing that old, worn-out cliché, DO more WITH less, but in actuality we always PAY more and then GET less. Every level of government is too big and too expensive and if the example can’t be set from the top level down than we should seriously consider setting it from the bottom level up – starting with our own Town government.

The harsh reality, if anyone has the guts, is to start doing without. Layoffs are ugly but it’s going on across America and I’d like to know why our own Town government should somehow be exempt? Start with my suggested across-the-board % cut and perhaps you retain jobs if that is an objective, but in my opinion it should be more about priorities at this juncture.

Looking for specific cuts? Start with the easy stuff. Freeze salaries for town employees rather than doling out raises, even if they seem inconsequential. I’m personally irked by the apparent end-around on the previously considered councilmember raise by including what you’re calling a stipend instead. I don’t recall voting for a Deputy Supervisor position and any additional duties it involves should be considered a privilege. My mindset on this is a reflection of my belief in being citizen legislators and certainly not a reflection of any perceived shortcoming on Mr. Signore’s abilities.

We should also be cutting back on things like office supplies by eliminating any unnecessary mailings or interoffice correspondence or the like. From what I recall, virtually every department has a projected increase on that line. We paid a lot for state-of-the-art telephone systems and other technology and we ought to be squeezing every penny out of our technology by thinking of creative alternatives to achieve results. I realize in the scheme of things, these items are small potatoes but they start to add up when viewed cumulatively and more importantly, cutting them reinforces and cultivates a culture and atmosphere of ACTUALLY doing more with less.

One budget area that concerns me is the legal and attorney lines. Why are the budgeted amounts increasing on the scale they are? In fact, the department request was even larger. What gives? I remember arguments that having a contracted legal team would be cheaper for us than having our own Town Attorney, especially since most of the pending tax litigation seems to have been resolved. Similarly, what about considering a Town Engineer to replace what appears to be a significant burgeoning of contracted engineering expenses?

We’ve spent inordinate amounts of money on a plethora of studies…many for worthwhile endeavors…but it’s been money ill-spent probably because many of these capital-intensive, infrastructure projects have not come to fruition and will likely have to be delayed even further because of the economic backdrop. The data collected may not be valid later on. I’m not suggesting that we suspend all these projects but realistically, we both know priorities and timetables will not be friendly to our objectives. We should be giving serious consideration to changing our engineering approach.

Another line that jumps out at me is the Economic Development Specialist for $11,875.00. What the heck is that for? It seems redundant to me. We already have an IDA, involvement with Metroplex, an Economic Development Chairperson in the form of Mr. Mertz, and of course, each of you, who I thought were elected in part to foster that sort of activity. It sounds like an unnecessary liaison type of position that we could do without.

There has been an indicated desire to tap the surplus to mitigate the tax increase. I’m not necessarily against that notion but I caution strongly that doing so is merely a recipe for putting off until tomorrow that which should be done today. The Town collectively does that trick well. No increase now, followed by a big increase down the road does no one any good. It’s time to start the bloodletting by cutting EVERYTHING that can be cut. If it’s not contractual, then it should be on the table – period.

My comments are not meant to imply you’re doing a horrible job or are insensitive to the budget reality. But it’s way past time to take the burden off the taxpayer. The taxpayer needs real, lasting relief, not some politically expedient quick fix. With declining revenue streams, it’s time to get the machete out and start hacking.

A tax increase is not acceptable to me…and it shouldn’t be to you either. We need to make deeper cuts and we need all of you to muster the resolve to do so.

Budget Prelude

(Intended opening budget remarks)

I began reviewing the Preliminary budget that was posted on line line by line but I’m going to move on to more general comments because…

Page 1 Town Board Major Subtotal indicates a 28.879% overall decline from ’08 Adopted to ’09 Prelim. I believe that is incorrect. That is based on town board salaries of $15,000 each thus increasing the ’08 major subtotal by $20,000. The correct ’08 subtotal s/b $46,900 which yields an approx 1% increase in comparison.

Based on the fact that the very first line in the 62 page document was inaccurate, it didn’t seem very productive to continue examination.

I’ll make a few observations nonetheless, which I will address further in my prepared comments:

TB Conf = 750
TB Subscriptions = 450
Supvr Conf = 350
Supvr membership dues = 600
Compt Conf = 2230
Compt membership dues = 100
Tax membership dues = 50
ASR Conf = 1500
ASR membership dues = 400

Town Justice Office Supplies = 7750 3% increase
Supvr Office Supplies = 4000
Compt Office Supplies = 2500 11.1% increase
Tax Office Supplies = 700

Supvr Office salaries for various positions 24.04% increase
Tax Collection salaries avg 6% increase
ASR salary reflects 5% increase

Telephone services for all these areas reflect increased expenditure too which I’m wondering if is a one time increase for installation of new system?

Overall legal services show nearly a 15% increase
Overall Supvr Office shows 20.6% increase
Overall Compt Office shows nearly 6% increase
Overall Tax Collection Office shows nearly 6% increase
Overall ASR Office shows roughly a 37% increase

ALL of this contained on the first 3 pages!


The Rotterdam Town Board conducted a well-attended 2009 budget hearing last night. I prepared the best I was able by examining the Preliminary Budget posted on the town website on Monday. Of course, the Tentative Budget had been available previously as well. The document, if you’ve examined it, is an unwieldy beast of some 62 mind-numbing, vomit-inducing pages. With a contemplated 8% tax increase looming, there was plenty of unprettiness contained not only within its pages, but in the room as well.

Anger was palpable. People have had more than enough. Another tax increase of any magnitude will not be received well at all by the masses.

Supervisor Tommasone made a decent enough presentation to lead the night off. I think we all understand the revenue constraints we face. The real problem is the expenditure side of the equation. We simply have to reduce spending in order to survive. That’s not an easy task. In fact, the challenge is enormous in many respects. The Comptroller and others have done an outstanding job in many of their revenue forecasts. The bulk of our town budget is locked in contractually for things like police services and such. Those items cannot change by next week when by law we must adopt a budget. But the preliminary budget as it stands contains many salary increases, a costly newly proposed Economic Development Specialist position, and line items like office supplies, conferences, etc. that certainly can be reduced or eliminated.

I’m angry. Actually, I’m fuming mad. I almost did not attend the meeting because I don’t like to be that angry publicly. I also strongly dislike the procedural manner that our town budget hearings manifest themselves. “Town Hall style” Q & A went mostly unchecked, resulting in much off topic discussion and several hours of venting. The Supervisor bore the brunt of the wrath, with the rest of the Town Board occasionally weighing in from around the room. Too many distractions, I thought. I much prefer comments at the podium directed to the entire Town Board. I purposely brought prepared remarks to deliver in hopes it might help temper my rage but the format sucked me into a free-for-all that forced me to improvise poorly. I’m not proud of my conduct.

I’m not optimistic about prospects for next week. I certainly don’t think the Town Board will achieve 0%, or even desires to, without seriously raiding the surplus. Even a generous tapping of the surplus may leave us staring down the barrel of something on the order of a 5% increase.

We need to make deep, painful cuts to spending regardless. I suggested a simplistic approach to that task, in addition to identifying specific smaller potato cuts. Apply an equal % cut to every line that isn’t contractual. With one week available to achieve results, this would apply the pain equally and relieve the Town Board from needing to identify priorities. It may not be an ideal solution, but it works for me.

Later, I’ll post what were my intended remarks last night.

Experiment Concludes

For the past year, I have been evaluating if I should create a new party and mount an independent campaign for Town Board. After my attendance at last night’s Town of Rotterdam budget hearing, I believe I have all but made my decision regarding any immediate involvement in politics. I am 99.9% positive of how I intend to proceed.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I spent October on the sidelines…watching…and waiting for events to unfold. I’m disappointed.

The updated Comprehensive Plan we were promised in March for Fall has not uttered even a peep since. The oft promised water tank for Rotterdam Junction looks to be delayed yet again as the Town considers new siting and design elements. The 2009 tentative budget is dismaying. It goes without saying that further progress on Spring preparations for work in Masullo Estates is nonexistent.

Times will be getting tougher in the near term. Money will become even scarcer. Many things will be left undone as a result. This is the inevitable and regrettable price of inaction, indecision, and procrastination, sadly letting possible achievement slip away.

Fortify the gate. There’s a storm coming.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Living in Masullo Estates

I have been a happy resident of Masullo Estates for 16 years. Despite the delays of procuring infrastructure improvements that I have experienced as NAG Chairman over the last 4 years, I am still happy. Really, no joke.

I’ve said it all along but it bears repeating since Masullo Estates has become the poster child for certain infrastructure deficiencies that in fact, are prevalent throughout most of the Town of Rotterdam. I was actually interviewed a few years back for the Times Union Neighborhood series when they profiled our neighborhood. I’d like to make it crystal clear to anyone who may believe otherwise – Masullo Estates is a fantastic neighborhood to live!

Masullo Estates is comprised of 90 homes built in what amounts to one giant cul de sac. It is an extremely quiet and peaceful neighborhood inhabited by many friendly people. The roads, though needing repaving, are much wider than most you find throughout town. This makes it especially nice to take a walk or ride your bike without interference or feeling unsafe even though car traffic is typically light.

Mounting negative perceptions of our neighborhood have unfortunately arisen out of our vocal efforts to make a great neighborhood even better. Whether or not we ever achieve what we seek, I will continue to enjoy living here – and will defend it as still one of the premier neighborhoods in which to live in the Town of Rotterdam.

11th Dimension

They turned the Big Bang Machine on yesterday and just as predicted, the universe was altered. After nearly 4 years of NAG’s submittal of comments to the ACOE Public Notice regarding proposed construction of Helderberg Meadows, I received a letter, which accounts for hell freezing over. I almost had given up hope.

The short version of the ACOE reply is that they denied our request for a public hearing, though they indicated taking our concerns seriously and addressing them with the applicant. They went on to assure us that the special conditions of the permit when it is issued will be monitored and enforced.

As I concluded reading the letter, a small black hole opened, no doubt coinciding with the atom smasher’s debut, and I was hurled into the 11th dimension.

Failure Is Not An Option

The taxpayer strapped on more massive debt when the government announced it’s takeover of the troubled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac institutions the other day. As a taxpayer, I hate it when I’m forced to shoulder someone else’s blunder. Where’s my bailout?

But the simple fact, like it or not, is that allowing these mortgage giants to fail was not an option. I’m pretty certain it isn’t going to be the last “bailout” we see in the short term either. It’s a fact the credit markets are in dire straits for myriad reasons. The real prospect of a catastrophic banking system collapse would be unimaginably worse. Why and how we got to this point is somewhat beside the point until we regain the integrity and stability the system needs.

This move wasn’t desirable to anyone but it was necessary. A benefit will be a reduction in mortgage rates which will help return some much needed liquidity to home lending. My favorite description of the takeover by a pundit was, “The fat tail risk of an Armageddon has been reduced.” Basically, that means immediate matters just got a little better.

3 Months

Today marks 3 months without my Dad. It seems like every day, I’m reminded of something else that had been long forgotten. It’s interesting and it sucks at the same time, because first I smile and then I’m disappointed I didn’t appreciate certain things when they were happening.

7 Years

After seven years, the sadness of 9-11-01 hasn’t paled. I often reflect on memories of the people I knew that perished in the towers that day, but the anniversary always seems to stir emotions I’d rather leave unstirred. Having worked previously at the WTC myself, I had a special fondness for hanging out there on my periodic visits back to the exchanges. I still can’t believe it’s gone. It took me several years to revisit the site, by then just a huge hole in the ground. The expanse of the void was overwhelming. I haven’t returned.

Many fine people were lost in the attack. Like Michael, at his usual breakfast meeting at Windows on the World. Like Val, at her Cantor trading post on the uppermost floors. Too many good people gone in an eye blink. I hope you will please take a moment to reflect on all the lives lost and offer a simple prayer on their behalf. Then too, remind yourself how precious and fragile this life is (because it’s easy to forget), and remember to cherish every single minute of it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Higher Standard

I readily admit to being idealistic. For me, consistency is singularly paramount. I strive to ensure my comments are consistent with my actions.

For good reason, I don’t traffic in rumor in life, business, or anywhere else. The local forum lately seems laden with misrepresentation. The same people who routinely cry foul when it comes to inaccurate reporting from our local newspaper, seem quite content to offer up as fact whatever half-truths come their way. The same people that are indignant about the negativity and mud-slinging in politics, seem quite content to engage in it if it suits their purposes. I don’t get it.

If you want to hold people to a higher standard, then you’ve got to hold yourself to that standard first.

Real Change

Everyone is talking about bringing change to government. After subjecting myself to the propaganda coming out of both conventions and the incessant media follow up, I’ve reinforced my belief that “change” has lost its meaning. Like every good catch phrase, I suppose it was inevitable. On the local level, the phrase Smart Growth met a similar fate.

Every campaign seems to be a show of some kind. The conventions certainly lost their political relevance years ago and today are no more than very expensive political theater. Theater that we pay for by the way, and could do without, in my opinion. Of course, the media keeps the drama ratcheted up through a constant offering of provocative sound bites by second tier party operatives. I yearn for a more concise election process focused on the issues. I realize I won’t get it though and maybe it never existed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

#13...With A Bullet

Thanks to the continuing generosity of our friends, The Pink Floyds has received $875 in donations toward our intended $1000 goal so far, placing us # 13 on the list of online participant teams!

Come walk with us Sunday, October 19, 2008 at 12:00 in Albany’s Washington Park.

You can join our team or make a donation to fight breast cancer at either of the links below:



Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Not About You

Those who know me know that those opening words in Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, hold quite a bit of meaning for me. In my own personal experience, they represent a recurring lesson that I long resisted. They serve as a daily reminder to remain focused on what really matters.

Earlier posts have alluded to my growing fascination with the Democratic candidate for President, Barack Obama. I’m certain that last night’s convention speech cemented any lingering doubts I may have harbored. That surprises even me, though it probably shouldn’t, and is sure to alienate many of my closer associates who know me as a conservative Republican.

I don’t think anyone disputes that Barack Obama is a powerfully eloquent speaker. What many conclude though is that it is just fancy talk…and perhaps that will turn out to be true if and when he gets elected and fails to deliver. I’ll concede that. I’ll also concede that many of his initiatives give me pause because I’m not sure if he’ll be able to pay for them. What I won’t concede is that this country needs to be redirected…on multiple fronts. Historically, we occasionally encounter crossroads. Like Mr. Obama, I believe we are at one. I hope he is the one who can lead us to where we need to arrive.

His fancy talk resonates with me. Not because I am lulled by its promises. I believe great initiatives begin with that kind of talk, in fact, they require it. In my own experiences of trying to motivate people to be better than they believe they can be (myself included), to achieve the seemingly unachievable, to make a difference, to simply not accept what every other fiber of their being is telling them cannot be done, the essence of success can only be embodied in that kind of fancy talk. Achieving begins by doing, and doing begins by believing. Knowing the obstacles and eliminating the doubts is not the same as pretending they don’t exist. I believe solutions and improvements always exist, even when they might not necessarily be apparent. Because something is behind a wall, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Finding the way over, under, around or through the wall is the challenge. It can always be done with the right belief, determination, and perseverance.

I’m sure many of you watched Mr. Obama’s speech, as I did. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94087570
I’ve provided a link to the transcript and recommend reading it again even if you saw it, paying particular attention to the latter half of it. Some of the passages that stick out for me and illustrate what I’ve written above are:

“Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility – that’s the essence of America’s promise.”

“What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose – our sense of higher purpose. And that’s what we have to restore.”

“I know there are those that dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what – it’s worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn’t work, all it’s promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it’s best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. … But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s been about you.”

I offer my view not so much to influence your vote but to hopefully get you to consider alternatives to what you may have accepted as unchangeable. If you want better, than you have to demand it. Even more important, you have to believe it can be achieved and then actually participate in the efforts to achieve it.

Fancy talk? Absolutely. But I also believe. And I’m prepared to do my part in achieving an even better America.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


The Town of Rotterdam finally acknowledged that the sewage treatment plant needs an upgrade. Project after project has gotten approval on the misleading supposition that there is plenty of capacity at the treatment plant, but Justin Mason’s article in the Gazette on August 16th (http://dailygazette.com/news/2008/aug/16/0816_rottsewage/) plainly makes clear the case I’ve been making for some time. The plant is maxed out.

Add up the reported numbers. The plant receives 1.1 million gallons against a total capacity of 1.5 million gallons daily. That leaves 400,000 gallons to play with. But when the Helderberg Meadows project, which required sewers as a condition of approval is built, that will generate an anticipated 150,000 gallons daily, leaving 250,000. Also, if the dry sewers in Eldorado Estates are connected, a logical connection considering the sewer pipe is existent, that would eat up roughly 200,000 of the leftover capacity.

Cause for alarm? Depends on your viewpoint, for sure. The town thinks they are being proactive by commencing a study to examine energy costs as they contemplate adding capacity. As far as that goes, fine. My concern lies in the fact that meaningful sewage treatment upgrades can be multi-million dollar projects. The level of concern rises when you try to reconcile that with the town’s record of inaction after conducting these studies and their unbridled approval of new development.

Not convinced? Consider the additional 300,000 gallons that a Burdeck Street / Route 7 sewer line is estimated to generate, not to mention the combined load of all the other smaller unmentioned approved development that takes place in town. This is an issue we should all be paying close attention to.

Once again, I think it bears noting that a town-wide moratorium would be a good tool to aid the commendable effort now being made to finally address this matter. Lowering energy costs and doing it right is good. Study is good, but only if what we learn is implemented in a timely fashion. A moratorium would reflect a responsible approach to what is shaping up to be a very sizable problem.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mercury Rising

We’re off to a spectacular fund-raising start! The Pink Floyds have already raised $350 towards the fight against breast cancer. That’s 35% of our goal…all in just a few days! Thanks to everyone who donated to this worthwhile cause. Your generosity is truly appreciated.

We’re just getting started and there is still plenty of time before the Walk. Please take a moment to visit our webpage, www.main.acsevents.org/goto/thepinkfloyds to make a donation or to learn more about the meaningful difference your involvement can make.

Hope starts with us.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Pink Floyds

Is your name Floyd? Neither is mine, but for one day, Sunday, October 19th, 2008, it can be when we walk in the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Please join us to help raise awareness and advance breast cancer research by joining our team, The Pink Floyds!


As many of you are aware, my family and friends annually participate in this event but it has taken on ever-increasing importance since the passing of my dear sister-in-law, Mary O’Connor. We walk for many survivors but especially for Mary, who is my personal inspiration for my strong belief in the phrase, No Excuses…ever. Mary battled passionately, many times seemingly getting the upper hand, only to have the pendulum swing hard the other way. Yet despite the hardships endured and the pain suffered, I rarely heard her complain. She became an example to me of what hope and faith is all about. Sadly, Mary lost her battle but others don’t have to with your help.

This year we are formalizing our fundraising effort by creating The Pink Floyds. We hope you’ll donate to this very worthwhile endeavor. Just as importantly, we hope you’ll join us the day of the walk too. The links below to either our team page, or my personal page, make it easy.

Hope starts with us!




I thought I'd take a moment to mention some noteworthy service I received lately from some businesses here in Rotterdam. I hope I have occasion to do so again.

The first is Adirondack Tire on Curry Road. I have been there twice and received exceptional service both instances. I used to go to Sears for my tires but found their level of service deteriorating consistently past a point I could continue to tolerate. Adirondack Tire, on the other hand, surprised me...twice. They have earned my future business with their pleasant and competent customer approach.

The second is Dunkin Donuts on Curry Road. Admittedly, I am a coffee-holic and with the dependable, consistent service I have been receiving for several years, I'm not likely to break my addiction. I will gladly continue to navigate the dangerous parking lot for my future caffeine fix.

There are many businesses that provide competent, efficient service but I mention these two as standouts. Their emphasis on satisfying the customer is exceptional and I highly recommend both of these outstanding Rotterdam businesses.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


It seems that Change is now the new buzz word for every single candidate for office from the national to the local level. I’m giving the credit to Barack Obama for starting it, though President Bush is probably the most deserving catalyst. When Hillary Clinton realized her approach wasn’t working, she tried unsuccessfully to reinvent herself as a candidate of change. Even John McCain has adopted the mantle of change in his campaign rhetoric.

It didn’t stop there. Candidates of every ilk on the local level are casting themselves in the garb of change too. The most memorable is Assemblyman Amedore who invokes, “Change is Coming.” Let me know when it arrives because I’d love to see it. Speaking of Mr. Amedore, I noticed he’s also using a slogan of “Promises made, promises kept.” I thought he ran last time on a platform to lower my property taxes and prevent Thruway tolls from rising? I’m pretty sure he didn’t succeed on that score in his short time in office, so now instead of promising change, we’re getting a promise that change is coming. I’m not reassured.

But thankfully, some things never change. For instance, the quality of music that The Police produced last night at SPAC was as good as it was 25 years ago when they last graced the stage. Elvis Costello wasn’t too shabby either. And after shelling out for tickets, beer, water, coffee, and a souvenir T-shirt, I had no change.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I attended the Duanesburg Planning Commission meeting last night, my particular interest being the first wind turbine project to be considered since their new ordinance was adopted. Of course, Rotterdam is in the process of adopting similar legislation so I thought it’d be educational for me.

Before I get to that, I’d like to make some observations about the Duanesburg Planning Commission dynamic. I was very impressed with their entire handling of the agenda, one which was chock full by the way. The meeting lasted 3 hours, with the wind turbine evaluation coming nearer the end and lasting 45 minutes in itself.

As most know, I’ve been a critic of our own Town of Rotterdam Planning Commission more often than not, and I didn’t expect Duanesburg to be much different. So I was pleasantly surprised to see open government in action. All the members seemed well-prepared on every project, asked thoughtful questions and offered useful suggestions to the applicants. It was clear to me that each member had some particular expertise and qualification to consider the various projects. They also made use of an overhead projector for attendees to be able to see plans which I appreciated. The most impressive aspect though was that all the discussion took place during the meeting – out in the open. In other words, there was no closed door executive session where things get decided in the dark. They also seemed to have an acute appreciation for SEQR and segmentation, which is usually a significant concern of mine as well.

The wind turbine application didn’t disappoint me either. To date, I’m still forming my opinion on the feasibility of wind power, but my immediate concern regarding wind turbines is that they are properly regulated. The applicant was a knowledgeable and informed applicant and the new ordinance seemed pretty well understood by the commission too. It got interesting when it was determined that the project would not satisfy the setback in some regards. It was a difference of some 15 feet or so and it looked like they may have encountered a stumbling block. Given the actual circumstances of the setback shortfall it seemed appropriate to grant a waiver but I could sense the reluctance to undermine the new ordinance right out of the gate. However, in this case, the turbine is being mounted on an already existing tower so the waiver was more than appropriate, I think. I’m sure everyone hoped they’d have a more straightforward project but I think the wrinkles of this case was actually a great first test…and the commission handled it superbly. I’m looking forward to what transpires at the public hearing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Shell Game

I still have a few lingering questions related to the recently defeated sewer vote in Masullo Estates. Though sewers were soundly rejected by residents, my eyebrows went up when I noticed that an item on the Town Board agenda following the defeat concerned a resolution to approve the required sewer district extension for Helderberg Meadows. I found that odd since Masullo Estates was essentially voting on tying into that nonexistent sewer line. Shouldn’t that line have been established before our vote? Moot now, but procedurally it seems out of order, especially when the Town has gone to great lengths to continually assure us that our destinies were not dependent or intertwined.

I’m also perplexed regarding the swath of land that the Town claimed to have all locked up as far back as November 2007. They voted to spend an additional $40,500 to study this land (that they apparently still don’t own) for drainage relief. (Incidentally, that brings the total to $73,500 without a shovel in the ground.) No results of this study have been forthcoming and now the engineer says the Town has to consummate the sale before he can provide estimates. Excuse me, but what was the $40,500 for then? I suspect that the land deal has been lingering because it was contingent on the Town getting sewers approved. Why else would this sale be delayed for so long when the Town has said how vigorous their pursuit of drainage relief is?

Lately, the Town has begun to spin a new thread that incorporates our relief with the relief planned in other neighborhoods. That’s a little strange and the first we’ve heard that strategy since our effort was supposed to serve as the model for the other neighborhoods. Sounds like a recipe for more delay.

I’m no conspiracy nut, but I do remember being told that the consideration of sewers would in no way delay or impact the planned drainage and road repair. This October will mark 4 years of recent effort and unfulfilled promises. Oh yeah…drainage and road repair is now delayed until next year…again.


The consequences of waiting, or studying too much, or simply taking too long to act decisively are always certain and mostly undesirable and unexpected. The latest casualty to befall the Town of Rotterdam is the announcement that the bike path connection to Montgomery County won’t be completed anytime soon.

That’s unfortunate but not all that surprising given the state of financial affairs in the State of NY presently. I think we’d all agree that there are probably more pressing infrastructure needs that have to be addressed before the bike path. But it’s an illustration of the cost of delaying initiatives. Things change…and that’s not always a good thing.

The recent CDTC Study just completed for Exit 26 examined many bike path elements that ultimately could’ve been vital to other considerations in the area. That could have far-reaching adverse affects on these other plans. See how delay can quickly unravel the best laid plans?

The Town Board of Rotterdam needs to begin acting more swiftly. No one is saying they should be fool-hardy or less than diligent while performing due diligence on matters but too much study can leave everyone pondering what-might-have-been.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


They say time heals all wounds. I hope that’s true. Death probably causes the hardest emotions to cope with, especially if the death is of a parent. I expected the sense of loss, but not the unique void created by losing my Dad; a void certain to widen when my Mom takes her turn.

We’re five children and he was a father to each of us in different ways, but Dad to all of us. It’s funny the things that come to mind now. Silly things, really. Important things. Commuting on the train together to work. I wish I’d paid closer attention. Or standing in front of his closet, being taught how to dress properly as he selected a tie for me to wear from his tie rack while instructing me in the finer points of wingtip shoe care. I feel honored I got to select his final resting garments and hope I got it right. I’m overwhelmed by memories of other seemingly unimportant events, surprised by some that have resurfaced.

It’s been a little over one week since his death and I still feel numb more than anything else. I’m sad but not distraught. Perhaps I’ve just simply been too busy, preoccupied with all the arrangements that needed attention. I’m starting to feel slightly unsettled with the likely certainty that it will catch up to me somewhere when I least expect it. I suppose I’ll just have to rely on time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In Memoriam

Heaven gained another soul today. It was the soul of an 81 year old man who made a difference, but more importantly, fulfilled his purpose while he was here. He was a devoted husband and father who believed in God. He grew up during the Great Depression and was no stranger to hardship, but he rarely complained. Instead, he worked hard and made willing sacrifices that often went unnoticed. His work ethic was a waning virtue in this world and those that knew his, realized and appreciated it for its unparalleled nature. It won’t be lost completely upon his death because he successfully instilled it in his children.

He was an honorable US Marine that served his country in WWII, more fortunate than his brother that perished on the beaches of France and is buried abroad. Fittingly, he will be honored as such at his wake.

In the midst of today’s sadness at his passing, however, there is sorrowful joy. He is finally at peace with the Lord in paradise. This is not his end, but a new beginning. I’ll miss you, Dad.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Down The Drain

Tonight was the mandatory sewer referendum to extend Sewer District 2 into Masullo Estates. Mandatory only because residents of the subdivision petitioned to have their say after the Town Board surreptitiously attempted to subvert that vote and determine the issue themselves. I’m sure the Town Board was not pleased that the affected residents thwarted the plans to ram-rod the extension through.

From the outset, the 3 ½ year old Neighborhood Action Group (NAG) efforts to secure road reconstruction and drainage relief has been subverted by efforts to have Masullo Estates residents subsidize development of Helderberg Meadows, a nearby approved subdivision that was opposed. That was adding insult to injury as each year saw increasing conflicts of interest and non-productive engineering studies to the tune of $73,500. The consideration of the sewer extension was flawed from the beginning with the Town botching a hand delivered non-binding postcard survey for interest in sewer cost estimates. The Town then spun lackluster survey response into a mysteriously binding result. All the while, planned drainage and road work were held hostage to the sewer vote outcome. (It’s no coincidence that tomorrow’s Town Board meeting agenda has a resolution advancing sewers in Helderberg Meadows.)

I’m happy to report that the prospect of sewers in Masullo Estates has gone down the drain tonight. It met resounding defeat as expected by most residents. It simply was a bad plan they pitched. With that prospect now vanished, it will be especially interesting to see if the Town will expeditiously proceed with the promised road and drainage work or if they will continue to manufacture excuses to avoid remedying this long-acknowledged decades-old problem.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Art of Weeding

Have you ever read the book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Well, I don’t own a motorcycle and I’m not too handy for that matter. If you haven’t read the book, I’d recommend it but for now you’ll have to settle for my version which I’m dubbing, iPod and the Art of Weeding.

I’ve been traveling a lot unexpectedly and so have fallen behind on some seasonal chores. I decided to turn up the volume and pull weeds. Surprisingly, I discovered my Grandmother’s advice was still as sound as ever.

So how does this relate to solving any of Rotterdam’s problems? It doesn’t. Not one iota. I know some of you were secretly hoping for some sort of weed analogy but today’s posts are strictly personal therapy. Alright…one analogy…if the Town systematically addressed one problem at a time they’d eventually be staring at a weed-free landscape. I know someone is thinking why not just spray the weeds with weed killer all at once and be done with it? Because then you wind up with a dead lawn that still needs you to pull up the weeds by hand anyway. Okay, so I don’t have a green thumb…

Thanks for letting me indulge myself. I’ll be back to Rotterdam business and other topics of interest soon for sure.


Today marked the 3 year anniversary of the end of one family member’s journey. My sister-in-law waged a courageous battle and there were many valuable lessons for me upon her passing. I reflect on these lessons daily. They have profoundly altered the manner of my thinking. I miss her.

Oddly, my Dad is approaching his journey’s end too. But he simply refuses to go, defying the odds. I’m at peace with the ultimate conclusion of his journey. I suppose that’s easy since I’m not the one dying. I’m still learning the nuances of the lessons learned, I guess. My compassion unfortunately translates as awkward callousness. But I know what I mean and feel, even if I convey it poorly to others.

So today’s post is meant as a brief reminder to cherish every single moment of your life and of the lives around you.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Benjamin Franklin was one of the most extraordinary persons the world has ever known. He certainly has always impressed me. I found this excerpt from Wikipedia intriguing given my own Cornerstones post.

Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of thirteen virtues, which he developed at age 20 (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life. His autobiography (see references below) lists his thirteen virtues as:
1. "TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."
2. "SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."
3. "ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."
4. "RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."
5. "FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."
6. "INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."
7. "SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."
8. "JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."
9. "MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."
10. "CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation."
11. "TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."
12. "CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."
13. "HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Playing Checkers

I am particularly concerned about the apparent lack of progress toward updating our Town Comprehensive Plan for Rotterdam. Yes, there are numerous CDTC studies completed or in progress for each NYS Thruway interchange that feeds our town. Yes, town officials are trying to update the town code to be more relevant. But this has been going on for far too long without a resultant Comp Plan that can be applied to development pressures throughout the town.

For instance, the first CDTC study was completed for the Route 7 – Burdeck Street Corridor in 2004. The information contained within it wasn’t part of the Comp Plan when Wal-Mart was planning a new super center in that area. That should’ve been a wake-up call to the Town to get their house in order and they were essentially granted a reprieve for their past failure to do so when the Wal-Mart idea was scrapped. Interestingly, the Town adopted a 6 month moratorium during that time but failed to implement the zoning they desired when it was over. I think if they had implemented the town-wide moratorium I advocated for at that time instead and focused on updating the Comp Plan properly, we’d be in better shape now.

Two other studies are done or nearing completion, and are yet to be incorporated into an adopted Plan. But assuming your Comp Plan gets updated every 10 years (our 2001 Plan was scheduled for updating after 5 years in 2006, by the way), the information from the first study is already halfway out-of-date. The Town Code (yet to be available to residents online) is incredibly stale. The obvious problem this all highlights is the fact that development pressure has not been standing still and we are increasingly falling behind in addressing it adequately. We’re busy playing checkers when we should be playing chess.

It’s still not too late to make our best attempt at preserving our Quality of Life and denying Rotterdam from becoming merely a non-descript drive-through town. Here’s what I’ve suggested before and continue to suggest. First, impose a year-long, town-wide moratorium with the intention of getting the Plan updated and functional. At the same time, freeze all requests for zone changes and update the Town Code. The absolute simplest way to beef up the Code is add at least two zeros to every existing penalty/fine on the books in an effort to deter violations, but it certainly needs more than that. Enforcement and oversight has to become a higher priority than it has been previously. Second, develop a detailed plan for building infrastructure in a strategic manner to support the vision that has been determined by the Plan. These are broad strokes to be sure, but at least they’re strokes.

McLane’s recently pulled the plug on their intended project, but Route 7 parcels are being gobbled up as I write, no doubt the next “crisis” of planning. On the other side of town, Hamburg sits waiting for sewers to revitalize that corridor. We need to be better than we’ve been addressing these matters before it’s too late. We need to start playing chess instead of checkers.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Economic Eyepoke

Waiting for your economic stimulus check? Me too. Though it won’t likely go too far or give any real lasting relief from the multitude of factors pressing down on all of us, I suppose it’s better than nothing. I just passed the gas station where a gallon was up to $3.75. It’s only going to get worse unfortunately.

The Fed cut interest rates again today by ¼% for whatever that’ll be worth. Inflation is rearing its head in an ugly manner on all fronts though. The government continues to say we’re not in a recession. I’m pretty sure I’m in one.


It is important to note that the next Rotterdam Town Board meeting on May 14th will be held at the Rotterdam Junction firehouse. I’ll bet almost anything there will be discussion of some sort regarding the long-overdue water tower on the agenda. I’m guessing it will involve the results of whatever study was done to eventually site the new tower on SI Group property. Look for a promise that the tower will be built “this year,” but don’t hold your breath that it actually happens.

The other interesting news to note is GE’s reported intention to locate a wind turbine on their property. As you’re already aware, approval for a wind test tower was given recently in Pattersonville. Neither of these developments is necessarily problematic but each will need close scrutiny to ensure QOL is not compromised in the process. Wind turbines have proven controversial elsewhere and the Town of Rotterdam needs to rapidly develop and implement appropriate guiding regulations. The Town seems to be constantly several steps behind where they need to be on important planning matters. Once again, I submit the need for a moratorium has never been more compelling.

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Moratoriums

I noticed in the Spotlight News that yet another local moratorium is being considered. This time in the Town of New Scotland. Like the discussion in Niskayuna, it’s intended to ensure the Comprehensive Plan addresses the relevant impact of large projects. Are you paying attention Town of Rotterdam?

Thursday, April 24, 2008


What a beautiful day today turned out to be. I’m surprisingly filled with happiness in the midst of a storm. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by such a loving family that helped to celebrate another milestone and remind me of the blessings in my life that make it worth living.

Things I Left Alone

I’d like to touch on a few other aspects to the sewer district extension that I didn’t comment on last night.

We have been trying to secure drainage relief and road repair in this latest effort since October 2004 when NAG was founded. We’ve endured many setbacks, unfulfilled promises, and numerous studies along the way. We’ve been patient though, even when confronted with the permutation that included this sewer district extension.

I don’t understand how the Town isn’t prepared to bid the construction costs after so much elapsed time. The sewers were supposed to be an added consideration, not an impediment to proceeding. Now the referendum won’t take place until June 10th and no matter if sewers pass or fail, there will be no progress for at least 6 months optimistically. That means we miss yet another construction season. I’m beyond words to express my disappointment and frustration at that turn of events.

I purposely avoided drainage comment as much as possible last night since the hearing was focused on the sewer aspect. But one interesting point that needs to be explored is what the additional $40,000 paid to study a proposed land acquisition for drainage paths got us beyond further delay last year. No mention has been made about it and all of a sudden we need another 6 months minimum to rework costs? I suspect the land deal is somehow contingent on the Town getting the sewer district extended first.

Let’s assume for a moment that sewers are approved by residents. That’s fine with me ultimately despite my cost objections. I’m a financial guy who knows how to navigate those waters to my own personal satisfaction. The problem is that we still can’t do the project this season. Costs will increase again and now the approval impact could be much different financially for many. More importantly, approval of sewers will now inextricably link us to the Helderberg Meadows project schedule. With the real estate market what it is currently, what happens to our project if Helderberg Meadows progress slows or stops altogether? In addition, ACOE still needs to sign off on permits for Helderberg Meadows and the anticipation of getting that approval soon is pure speculation. That comment period dates back to early 2005 and I’ve been calling them periodically ever since for status.

Many other salient points were raised by my neighbors. For instance, where is the Highway Superintendent input? He’s an elected official that doesn’t seem to feel a need to participate directly in this discussion. What is the accuracy of the estimates? Already estimates have risen substantially three times over the last year. Additionally, some residents have indicated they will not need a grinder pump according to the engineer but when they explored connection costs on their own discovered that indeed they would need one because their lateral would meet the gravity pipe street connection too low. To imply that connection costs will be typical is misleading because the way the homes were built will require a costly retrofit to connect.

We considered the sewer proposal in good faith because it made sense to consider it, especially when we were assured that consideration could occur without further derailment of the intended drainage and road repair relief. Unfortunately, we are now finding out otherwise.


I thought I’d begin simply by posting a copy of the remarks I made last night at the public hearing on the sewer district extension for Masullo Estates. Others in attendance raised many other important questions so I’d encourage you to try to see the taped replay on TV.


Thank you for this public hearing finally.

I thought I’d try to keep my comments limited to the actual sewer district issue best I could. I’ll try not to stray too far into peripheral issues which are certain to creep in despite my best efforts, but I feel I’ve spoken to many of them already in recent weeks anyway.

Prima facie, this sewer district extension proposal looks attractive on economic terms. Bond retirement costs are no doubt as low as could be hoped for if coupled with planned road reconstruction. But looks can be deceiving.

I love building infrastructure. I don’t mind paying to do so either. But unfortunately, this sewer district extension proposal disproportionately burdens some homeowners in the anticipated district; specifically, those that live along E. Lucille Lane, of whom I am one, who will be required to install grinder pumps at their own expense in order to connect to the line.

I’ve obtained estimates of grinder pump installation, and its cost prohibitive just to install, let alone maintain. The estimates so far range anywhere from $3000 to $10,000. Include the amortization of those numbers and economically, for those affected, the proposal begins looking unattractive.

Already, my personal feeling is that I’ll be defraying Helderberg Meadow costs since that is the driving force of this sewer initiative. On top of that, I’m expected to subsidize the cost of the line for the rest of the homeowners not required to install grinder pumps. Also, I’d be assuming a likely grinder pump maintenance headache that I currently don’t have and don’t really desire. Lastly, sewers open additional acres of land to development that are currently prohibited from development. Those landowners stand to benefit disproportionately from this sewer proposal.

Unless I hear someone else make a compelling case in favor, my predisposition is to pull the lever against approval of the sewer district extension for Masullo Estates. If approved, I won’t connect, until forced to do so.

As desirable as sewers may be, let’s remember this in proper context of what we as residents originally sought. We need road reconstruction and drainage relief. Sewers were an add-on consideration, not a priority, nor a desire. The high water table is the underlying issue responsible for our dilemma and no matter how you slice it, sewers to replace septic only nominally, if at all, alleviate it. It’s simply not a material impact to the groundwater issue.

I’m against the sewer proposal to extend the district as it stands and urge the Town Board to reject it and proceed solely with the road reconstruction and drainage elements previously planned for posthaste.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lost Moon

Remember that moment when Apollo 13 astronauts realized their problem would cause them to miss their moon landing? It was a lot like that tonight at the public hearing on sewers for Masullo Estates. It is highly likely that we will miss another season to achieve necessary drainage and road work. The referendum for the sewer extension will not occur until June 10th if the Town Board determines the sewer initiative should proceed. That scenario, coupled with increasingly less reliable road reconstruction estimates previously obtained and dependence on ACOE permissions to Helderberg Meadows could conceivably delay any other planned work by 6 months…and that was best case. It was gut-wrenching to witness the realization sweeping through attendees as the hearing progressed. But like the hope and determination that ultimately saved Apollo 13, we intend to persist in our efforts. There is one glimmer that could still turn things around.

Mr. Mertz, our champion from Day One, is still our strongest advocate. To him, we are grateful. We could’ve been easily abandoned.

I’m tired. My notes are in the car and I failed to remember my digital recorder. Perhaps after news reports, I’ll provide my version of the meeting. In short summary, the room was packed. At least a dozen residents expressed reservations or outright disapproval and many important questions were posed. No one spoke in favor but I won’t jump to the conclusion that there isn’t anyone who would vote ‘yes.’ Want to know how I weighed in? Catch the taped replay until I post a transcript of my remarks.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Trees

I'm still deep within the woods but what didn't seem possible last week has suddenly shown signs of alternative. It's several weeks at least to the edge of the forest, an edge I can't see yet. The edge of the forest offers no grand solution or reward, only resolution of sorts. But now I can search for the path to take me there. I have many paths from which to choose, unfortunately, and only one leads to where I want to wind up; the others undoubtedly will lead me deeper into the woods. Strangely, it's 3:00 PM as I come to this decision...I am confident in my choice.

Smokey the Bear

It must be Spring again. I know that not by the bloom of the forsythia or the flutter of the hummingbird outside my window but by the steady roar of chainsaws working across the street.

There is no curb cut, yet a registered pickup truck freely enters and exits the woods now to aid in deforestation.

As brush piles are forming throughout the woods, I can only wonder if matches will join stupidity again this season. After reading an article in today's Gazette about the numerous wildfires in the area that started through negligence and ripe conditions, I've double-checked that emergency police and fire numbers are in my cell phone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Two things to watch.

First, of course, is the public hearing on extending a sewer district to include Masullo Estates next Wednesday, April 23, 2008. This is the precursor that needed to occur prior to undertaking planned road reconstruction and drainage relief for the subdivision. I intend to speak. I’m sure I won’t be alone.

Second, the court ruling in Niskayuna overturning a previous court decision regarding Stanford Crossing has now prompted calls for a moratorium. In fact, the Gazette editorialized today on the topic. I find it interesting especially since I intend to renew my own call for a moratorium in Rotterdam.

Off the Grid

Sad circumstances have conspired to curtail my ability or will to post. I hope to be able to channel my emotions constructively soon. In the meantime, I am comforted and inspired by a quote from my friend, John Mroz:

“Peace is not the absence of chaos or conflict, but rather finding yourself in the midst of that chaos and remaining calm in your heart.”

While I was Sick

While I was ill (which is one reason I haven’t posted in a while), two Daily Gazette news articles caught my attention. The first was “Owners ordered to fix septic system / Sewage bubbled from ground at truck stop” by reporter Justin Mason on April 2nd. This was especially interesting because the McLane’s distribution facility is directly across the street and will also be served by a septic system. Resident concerns about McLane’s aired recently during the Princetown hearings begin to be viewed in a different context altogether and hopefully, will be factored into future decision-making.

The second article, “Residents say Route 7 is due for an upgrade /
DOT spokesman says studies show little need to change road” by Mr. Mason also, amplified that infrastructure in that area is increasingly becoming substandard to support existing demands let alone anticipated development.. The I-88 exchange is poised for development and undoubtedly will affect future traffic flows all the way through the 5 Corners intersection. It is naïve to think otherwise and irresponsible not to address the inadequacies beforehand.

DOT spokesman, Peter Van Keuren, aptly sums up the situation though the intent of his quote runs contrary to the point I make here. He is quoted, “some of the issues may end up being the price the area will have to pay for economic development. It’s kind of a Catch -22.”

Everything in Rotterdam when it comes to development seems to be a Catch-22. That’s because we don’t have a proper Comp Plan and we can’t as a community seem to see past the immediate dollar sign. Let’s face it; development of some kind will occur in and along that corridor. Believing otherwise is equally as naïve as believing that the current infrastructure is adequate to advance that development.

It doesn’t have to be a Catch-22. And if economic development comes at a “price” that destroys QOL, then there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of sense behind achieving the development anyway, does there?

For those that don’t accept the simple argument above, why not turn the Catch-22 inside-out? Instead of saying, “some of the issues may end up being the price the area will have to pay for economic development” we can state, “some of the potential for economic development may have to be curtailed until adequate infrastructure can be built.” Better still, actually build the infrastructure first. In all likelihood, the result is an eventual lower “price” that we can all live with comfortably.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Quality of Life

Quality of Life. It’s this term that is purportedly key to Rotterdam decision-making. Often times, this term becomes linked with another popular term in Rotterdam. That term is Smart Growth.

Smart Growth is mostly a euphemism for economic development. It means many different things depending to whom you’re speaking. In Rotterdam, Smart Growth has come to mean economic development while preserving and enhancing Quality of Life. Accepting that description in simple terms begs the question than of what Quality of Life (QOL) means. Therein lies the rub.

I’ve heard both terms used so often by our elected here in Rotterdam that I suspect they’ve lost their meaning for many. Seemingly, the definition of QOL for our elected is simply predicated on an expanded tax base. More businesses. More jobs. The implication is that if these are provided you can’t help but have enhanced QOL. While I agree these things are important if not vital, they can actually be at odds with preserving and enhancing QOL.

How else can you explain the previously proposed Wal-Mart super center that would’ve disrupted the QOL that many residents in that area enjoy currently? How else can you explain the approval of Helderberg Meadows that will exacerbate drainage problems in the town? How else can you explain the McLanes food distribution facility that will operate trucks 24 hours per day and increase traffic through a high-end residential area? How else can you explain the exploding construction effort adjacent to the aquifer, putting our precious water supply in jeopardy?

In and of themselves, none of these projects are “bad” and in fact, they deliver some of that all-important economic development…but there’s certainly not anything “smart” about much of the growth we’ve invited. So much of that relates back to an outdated Comprehensive Plan. I’ve said it before but it bears mentioning again. The Plan has got to come first, followed by the building of appropriate infrastructure before approval of these projects. Doing it in reverse as the Town has attempted is a recipe for disaster and ultimately the very QOL we aim to preserve and enhance is compromised.

So just what is QOL? Here’s my attempt at a concise definition: A healthy, enjoyable environment where community design discourages additional traffic, noise, or adverse environmental effects, especially in the residential areas of Town. There’s a lot unsaid here but real quality is somewhat of an intangible. It varies depending on who you are talking to but deep down there is a universal feeling attached to it by the typical resident. He wants a place to relax, feel comfortable and safe, and raise a family safely. We all know progress marches on but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of what we value. If we can’t preserve that, all the economic development in the world won’t matter.


Big K has breached the void by logging the first direct comment of what I hope is many to follow. Though this blog was never intended to be tremendously interactive, I hope others that read my views are encouraged to open constructive dialogue with me on the topics I introduce. We can probably all learn something from the discussion.

I moderate all comments that are made. If they are inappropriate they won't be published which isn't to say you can't disagree with me. I don't tolerate politics of hate, however. If you want to spew rumor, slander or mock elected officials, or toe party lines and invect rhetoric, this isn't the place to comment. If you'd like to offer solutions or alternatives, or provide useful factual update (like Kevin did) then I welcome your participation and look forward to the positive outcomes our debate can achieve.

Friday, March 28, 2008


I went to the Town Board meeting Wednesday, March 26th with no intentions other than to listen to a discussion of the seemingly adopted SI Group PILOT sponsored by the IDA. There still seems to be some confusion and concern by the Town Board, who mostly still hadn’t seen the actual agreement so I gleaned less than I had hoped. Mr. Mertz raised some thoughtful questions that hopefully will be answered adequately.

One gentleman from Rotterdam Junction expressed concerns about how the proposed water tower was being considered in light of new site possibilities created by the SI Group PILOT.

The agenda overall was again very light and uneventful. Despite a public hearing for a recently recommended zone change by the Planning Commission, no one chose to speak to it outside of the applicant. Zone changes usually get more interest than that. My own interest has already been satisfied when I attended the Planning Commission review of the matter.

Since the meeting concluded in relatively short order, I impulsively decided to issue my 4th annual Spring plea for drainage relief and road repair for Masullo Estates. There is much still to be done to accomplish getting a shovel in the ground this season. With March over, no status on the “ongoing” surveying, a looming sewer district vote to determine the extent of any eventual plan, there doesn’t appear to be much room for optimism right now.

On a side note, Mr. Silva inquired about the progress of the Salary Committee. Sadly, no one had an answer beyond that the Town was preparing some information for the committee to use in their ponderings, though no one knew if ponderings had commenced.

Quarterly Review

The first quarter of 2008 is about to conclude and I thought I’d briefly evaluate my efforts and intentions in creating this blog.

I must admit I thought I’d be more active in my postings but I don’t typically spend a ton of time in front of a computer for personal use. Heading forward, I probably should think about a schedule for days I will definitely post, but it isn’t likely to happen because I like to feel inspired when I write and my crazy schedule probably isn’t going to afford me that predictable luxury. Plus, I don’t want to post just for the sake of maintaining a posting count. The Town Board agendas have been pretty quiet too which hasn’t helped production.

One thing I’ve enjoyed is stretching into some other levels of government. It simply couldn’t be avoided in a presidential election cycle and the unprecedented state government events, but I’ve tried to limit myself because I want my focus to remain primarily on Rotterdam issues I feel are important and what drives me to think the way I do.

I’ve just finished organizing my archives again so I expect to explore a few topics in more depth over the coming weeks.

Round Rooms

The politics of hate. For all the talk of moving beyond the daily vitriol, we seem to collectively fail in that pursuit. Whether we’re bashing our town officials, county officials, state officials, federal officials, party officials, or even each other, it’s self-defeating to our desired goals. I suppose it’s just easier to criticize than to actually try to participate in forging solutions. The problem with that, of course, is that we’re doomed to remain stagnant, stuck in our own cesspool of bitterness, anger, and apathy.

I’ve always believed that assigning blame is generally a non-productive exercise beyond identifying root causes of problems so that measures can be implemented to help prevent similar missteps from occurring. Unfortunately, for some people, they become obsessed with revisiting who’s to blame and become mired in a mindset that can’t get to dealing with possible remedies.

Long-time ex–Rotterdam Supervisor Constantino is still blamed for a multitude of sins. Ex- Supervisor Paolino is still getting knocked for initiating the town’s reval. Current Supervisor Tommasone is abused for studying issues to death while Councilman Mertz is routinely criticized for nobly sticking his neck out on a host of issues. County Legislator Dagostino is still vilified for her involvement in a questionable land sale. State leaders seem dysfunctional in nearly all aspects. Presidential contenders have resorted to trading distorted or exaggerated barbs daily. Some will say it’s just the nature of the game and can’t be avoided. I don’t accept that. I don’t accept that it’s some sort of game, with us as pawns to be maneuvered. I’m sick and tired of accepting the inappropriateness that dominates the process without getting results. It’s time for a new paradigm.

I don’t live in a bubble. I do my fair share of complaining and I’ve probably been guilty of being inappropriate myself at times. Let’s face it, many times they probably deserve it. I hope I’ve succeeded in never making it personal, though I’m also aware I’ve upset a few people along the way that have taken my comments personally.

I think the situation Senator Obama finds himself confronted with is a lesson for us all. He’s proved not to be perfect and Rev. Wright’s comments are undeniably disturbing. I don’t find my politics to be in alignment with Senator Obama as he leans left when I lean right, though I appreciate the foundation of his arguments because they surprisingly begin from the same constitutional basis more often than not. We just arrive in slightly different places. I can respect that because as I’ve said before, I don’t necessarily have all the answers. What I think is important about his candidacy is that we finally choose as a nation to acknowledge the existing racial divide in terms we haven’t before, put aside the provocative comments from the fringe, and begin trying to find a better way to co-exist so that we can solve the bigger problems that need solving that perpetuate. We’ll never, ever make progress if we continue “to retreat into our respective corners” of excuses. And that corner doesn’t just accommodate our discomfort discussing race but every other issue we encounter. It’s time for all of us to embrace the effort to be better than we’ve been regardless of our candidate preferences. And that applies from top to bottom. From the White House in Washington to the Town Hall in Rotterdam.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lightning Round

Easter weekend. High winds. The Woodsman returns. I’m just waiting for the first match to hit the ground.

Spring. Rain. Sump pumps working overtime. I wonder how the latest “study” is coming along. Of course, we’ll need the results before any action is taken. We’re also still awaiting a sewer district vote which will have to be organized and conducted before any decision for action is undertaken. Do you think there’ll be a shovel in the ground to provide drainage relief this year?

Grievance Day. It’s sneaking up. It will be interesting to see how many turn out to contest their still contentious assessed values especially in light of a weaker real estate market that has likely trimmed a little too. I love that our new assessor is named Mr. Surprise!

Flashing signs. Looks like there’s more to the proposed law change than originally met the eye as several business owners have expressed desire for such signs. We’ve already built in exemptions for schools, fire houses, and fraternal organizations. This looks like the evolution of spot zoning as surely waivers will be granted. I’m not losing any sleep over this one though unless my neighbor installs a flashing sign that keeps me awake.

Draper School. Charter School. Future derelict eyesore? I hope not. This could turn out to be the next hot potato in town. For those that recall, the approved charter school was met with strong resident opposition that fell on deaf ears. This one is worth watching.

Four Corners vacancy. What’s the deal? I haven’t seen anything on any agendas that pertains to the future of this building. I’d guess drugstore but the lot appears too small. Savvy move getting rid of the tenants beforehand though after what Capitol Plaza experienced by way of backlash. I’ll be sorry to see the billboards on top go. They were my favorite billboards. Maybe just a rehab is underway?

Ding! Time’s up.

Lions, & Tigers, & Bear Stearns, Oh My!

I have just one question…Where’s my bailout?

Fundamentally, I’m against bailouts. I like to believe in free markets to determine value. I have a finance degree, 20+ years of work experience on Wall Street, and am also a Realtor.

The recent bailout of Bear Stearns orchestrated by the Fed and JP Morgan is bad policy and is setting ever increasing bad precedent by the day, as now the price to shareholders is being increased to $10 from $2. It’s near impossible to be able to determine what value, if any, is left for shareholders but short of a bailout, value would’ve likely been determined by the market to be $0.

But for all my opposition to this bailout and its associated burden on taxpayers, it was absolutely necessary to prevent further calamity. Liquidity in the financial markets is already stressed and a bank failure of this magnitude would surely have set off a bank run and other giants would’ve fallen too. A collapse of the entire financial system would create Depression-like consequences the likes of which generations of Americans have never seen. The government had to step in or how ever ugly you and I think it is from a taxpayer’s view now, it would’ve been something unimaginably worse.

The real underlying problem here is where was the government when lending common-sense went out the window? Where was the government when derivatives were proliferated upon investors? The questions go on and on without adequate answers. There are varied and substantial layers of government regulation (Fed, SEC, FDIC, etc.) that facilitated this debacle by assuming a See No, Hear No, Speak No posture. They extended normal business cycles by allowing banks to play ever looser with the rules. It couldn’t last forever. They knew it but ignored it. We’re now imploding. We’ll see what the toll is, but many a little guy will be left holding the bag.

For now anyway, the bailout has succeeded in restoring confidence to the banking system and markets, as was the intention. Like it or not, we all need that confidence to sustain itself because if it doesn’t, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Caught in a Web

I just got finished looking at the Town of Rotterdam’s website and am slightly disappointed by the lack of useful updating. I was happy to see that past 2008 agendas are finally being uploaded but there are no “minutes” as one might hope and expect, and can be found on other town websites. I remember the Supervisor making mention of the possibility of having cd’s of the meetings available and wonder if progress has been made on that initiative. Also, I noticed that the latest newsletter upload is the inaugural one from May 2007. I seem to remember at least one other that I received in the mail that doesn’t appear yet. The Planning Commission agenda for the meeting that took place March 18, 2008 has yet to appear too.

Positively, the town directory seems adequate and several links are of particular usefulness. They include the school links, the library link, the real property database, and the sex offender registry. Other useful data can be found under Important Notices where a land use study appears along with an EIS and budget links.

Overall, the website is improving but is still lacking in providing critical information, such as the town code. I hope that’s something that will be added. I’ve suggested in the past that it may be worth investigating having a student intern provide the support necessary to keep the website updated.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


My last post got me thinking about the people I’ve met that inspire me to be better than I might otherwise be. We all have our own list I suppose but I thought I’d share some of the individuals on my list. I’ll intentionally limit myself to only those people who I’ve actually met and had substantive contact with.

My wife, Ann is absolutely the most influential person on my life. I’m consistently amazed at her insight on all matters complicated and delicate. Her advice is always speedy but never hasty and rarely off the mark. Truly the most remarkable person I know, she is my greatest resource.

Before Ann came along, I was most influenced by my parents and a few special teachers. My Dad is a WWII veteran who grew up through the Depression. I was always impressed by his work ethic and commitment and ability to make sacrifices without ever making them apparent. I think I’m only now beginning to fully appreciate that and understand how to incorporate some of it into my own behavior. My Mom is the one who nurtured and encouraged me in a way my Dad never would. She was the first person who made me understand the importance of believing in myself and that giving my best effort was all that was important in the scheme of things.

The most influential teacher on my life was my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Kaplan. She encouraged my writing, especially creatively, and introduced me to public speaking. To this day, she remains a resource to me.

I also had the great fortune, which often times felt like a great misfortune, of growing up alongside two individuals that went on to even greater accomplishments. Kevin Short, who is a northeast professor responsible for pioneering the compression technology that gives your cell phone those fancy rings among other things, and Walt Weiss, of Oakland A’s fame. Both provided enduring examples of excellence that I could directly relate to.

Two years ago, I had the privilege of being invited to an intimate investment seminar in Vail. Several individuals had a profound impact on my thinking but two stand out prominently. The first is Tom Kirk, Jr. whom I’ve already mentioned and the second is General Hal Moore. These two men are renowned for their ordeals but it was their distilled advice which seemed so utterly simple that was of most impact. In the context of what they had endured, their demeanor and insight on life was remarkable and compelling, yet surprisingly straightforward and simple.

These people I’ve mentioned are but a few of the direct influences on my life and how I choose to approach things. It’s amazing to me the shared qualities between those famous and those ordinary. We all know individuals with these qualities; the qualities hard to define sometimes but easier to recognize. We can all be inspired to be better than we would be otherwise if only we stay alert to the wisdom that touches our lives every day.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Reading one of the local forums has me a bit depressed. It seems when things quiet down, the tenor of comments turns nastier. I never understood the appeal of continual complaining or repeated bashing simply to complain or bash. It gets old fast and for the most part, is unnecessary if not redundant.

I’m not especially forum savvy and I no doubt expect intelligent discussion with a purpose in the wrong venue, I suppose. Maybe I’m just in a foul mood but if I wasn’t I now know where to go to get in one.

I do my fair share of complaining too but I then try to move past it to find a solution. It’s just plain unproductive otherwise. My best bet would probably be to realize that some people like to complain. And then they complain some more. And that’s all they’re ever going to do until they draw their last breath. I should learn to avoid those people.

I’m reminded of some advice given to me by Mr. Tom Kirk, Jr. “Look in the mirror each day and ask, have I been the best father, the best husband, the best son, etc. that I could be today?” That may sound like dorky advice unless you know who Tom Kirk, Jr. is and what he lived through. I’ll let you dig around on your own to find out but he’ll likely come up again in later posts. In the meantime, look in the mirror and ask the question of yourself. The answer may help you to stop complaining.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Back To Business

Well, it's official. We'll have a new governor effective Monday after Mr. Spitzer finally saw the light and resigned. Let's hope Mr. Paterson is able to move our state forward.

There's a Rotterdam Town Board meeting tonight but the agenda is very light. There is a public hearing on limiting flashing signs that I don't imagine will generate much opposition. All said, looks like the quiet will continue here in town for a little while longer.

Monday, March 10, 2008

In A New York Minute

On Day 435, everything changes. The Sheriff of Wall Street, Eliot Ness, Mr. Clean, The Crusader of the Year, The Steamroller is now, just Client – 9. The reformer, Governor Eliot Spitzer, who promised great changes and rode a mandate of historic proportion into office, has fallen. And fallen hard. I am as stunned and dismayed as anyone. It’s inconceivable to me that all his accomplishments could vanish in an eye blink … all for sex.

This is by no means ordinary infidelity. It’s criminal. He of all people knew it. The stink of illegality and corruption is impossible to shake. This is a colossal betrayal of public trust affecting his ability to govern. There is no doubt, Governor Spitzer must resign.

The saying, “What goes around, comes around” was never more apt. Mr. Spitzer built his reputation as a moral bully. He’s about to be on the receiving end of such treatment, and rightly so. I have no sympathy for him. It was additionally disgraceful that his gargantuan ego allowed him to subject his wife to even more humiliation by having her at his side during his public apology. I thought that was extremely sad.

The motivation for the fall will be subject to endless speculation. Invincibility Complex? Certainly, a classic case of hubris. Whatever the reason, I’m ashamed to be a New Yorker today.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Not the Answer

I see the City of Schenectady is having trouble with their crossing guards not showing up for work. There is no doubt that’s a serious problem in need of remedy.

But of course, the first reaction is a knee-jerk one…and it’s not the answer. They are suggesting a pay raise without even knowing the underlying reasons for the absences, something they will likely never know anyway. Of more concern, their proposed plan rewards poor performance. Wouldn’t it be great if anytime you wanted a raise, you simply stopped showing up for work? In my world, you’re fired for that and replaced by someone else. Lately, government’s answer to all woes seems to be a pay raise. God help us all.

Visions II

I HAVE A VISION of the Town of Rotterdam being even greater than it is. I wouldn’t live here otherwise. It starts with an adequate Comprehensive Plan.

I HAVE A VISION of the needs of residents coming first. A vision where resident concerns are not made subservient to developer desires. This is derived and accomplished from adherence to the Comprehensive Plan.

I HAVE A VISION of economic growth in the Town complimenting and enhancing our Quality of Life, not dictating and overriding it. That involves decision-making that considers long-term impacts as carefully as short-term benefits.

I HAVE A VISION where taxes do not have a stranglehold on residents. We can control the tax burden we impose by demanding more efficiency from our tax dollar from those charged with allocating it. We need to accept we can’t have everything today and yes, some services will likely be seriously curtailed. I believe there is an acceptable happy medium to be realized that results in lower tax burdens and sufficient important services. To some degree, responsibility to be self-reliant and a willingness to sacrifice in the short-term will be required.

I HAVE A VISION that focuses on rebuilding Town infrastructure. That should be a priority.

I HAVE A VISION that does more to protect our greatest natural asset, the Great Flats Aquifer.

I HAVE A VISION of a “political” party to achieve these goals. In fact, it’s not a political party at all but a party without politics. It’s a party without $ influence. It’s a true grass roots uprising to begin to restore decision-making to the electorate. A party rooted in constitutional principles. It’s THE TEA PARTY.

Visions are only as good as the determination to realize them. The trick will be translating these visions into reality. I’m beginning to have a vision of achieving that new reality.

Visions I

Everything worth building starts with a blueprint. The blueprint guides everything. The Town’s blueprint is the Comprehensive Plan. Evidence suggests that the Plan is either woefully inadequate or disregarded altogether. I suspect it’s a combination of the two.

I’ve been accused of being a “negative guy.” I’ve been accused of being a Pollyanna and being too unrealistically idealistic. I understand why the accusations are leveled but dispute them. (I’m negative, remember?) Anyway, the simple fact is there are problems that need fixing. There is a harsh reality to this life that cannot be ignored when doing so. That doesn’t mean problems are unsolvable. More precisely, it means they’re not easily solved. Still, they are solvable nonetheless.

My “negativity” is accompanied by constructive suggestions for solutions. If it wasn’t, there would be no point in opening my mouth to begin with.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


It’s been “all quiet” in Rotterdam lately and after yesterday’s rains, it’s also all “under water.” I had occasion to drive throughout the Capital District today and was truly amazed at the level of saturation and unusual flooding in almost all areas I visited. If you’re experiencing any unusual flooding, welcome to the world most Masullo Estates’ residents experience usually. I hope we all dry out quickly because it looks like more precipitation on the way shortly.

Barack Obama also got swamped in last night’s primary contests. Personally, I was surprised. I thought Hillary Clinton’s last stand would turn out to be her last gasp. Her wins last night certainly will keep the Democratic race interesting for yet a while longer. Ultimately, I believe Obama will prevail.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

'Roid Rage

I’m not on steroids but nonetheless, I’ve got some steroid induced rage. How so, you ask? I am growing increasingly perturbed by the waste of government time and resources investigating allegations of improper performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. I’m not here to defend any ballplayers either. I simply don’t see it as a relevant issue our government should be concerned with.

It’s pretty obvious that steroids and other questionable substances are rampant in professional sports, baseball and otherwise. God help us all if the government is going to try to play enforcer on that front. We’ll never get anything of consequence accomplished on the issues that really matter. In fact, this whole mess is nothing more than an opportunity for no-name politicians to grandstand. Is it any wonder real problems go unnoticed, unaddressed, or unresolved?

Beyond the poor example these athletes set for our youth by this behavior, I’m really disinterested in the travails of these pampered individuals. I’m pretty certain I never pulled a voting lever for anyone to investigate the matter…but perhaps, I misremember?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In the Cold of the Night

It seems lately that every meeting I attend is in a snowstorm. Last night I attended the important public hearing on the PILOT for SI Group. I’d never been to an IDA meeting before and thought it would be educational for a variety of reasons. Thankfully, my daughter was eager to accompany me.

By now, you probably know the PILOT was approved but not before a rather lengthy Executive Session produced a few additional concessions from SI Group. I’m not smart enough to tell you with absolute certainty that it was a good deal but I’m inclined to believe that it was probably a prudent decision to hammer out an agreement. If SI Group lives up to it’s end, it could ultimately be good for everyone. A calculated and necessary gamble given the pending tax litigation that now goes away.

The public hearing itself was a bit of a disappointment. Gazette reporter Justin Mason was generous when he described it as sparsely attended. Three people had their say so, expressing their concern about the financial impact on residents. Strangely, no one representing the Schalmont school district took the opportunity to vet the PILOT’s impact on school programs. The anticipated shortfall in revenues that the school district will shoulder is substantial no matter how you slice it. And lack of that money will either result in reduced programs or increased school taxes. Of course, losing the tax litigation could’ve produced the same or worse result.

In the end, I was especially surprised at the lack of public interest. I suppose I shouldn’t be by now. A cold night indeed.

Carrying the Water

Have you ever carried someone else’s water? I have. Not knowingly, but I carried it just the same having convinced myself that the water was actually mine. Chalk it up to political naiveté or just plain ego. More likely it was a combination of both. Anyway, after several years of maneuvering, or being maneuvered as the case may be, I’ve finally arrived back at where I started but a lot wiser and certainly more perceptive. In short, I’m pretty sure I know which water is mine to carry. I just hope it’s not too heavy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me

Taxes. George Harrison captured the emotion we all feel when we begin to realize just how much in taxes we pay. Just how much is enough?

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

We’re getting absolutely crushed by taxes, in New York State particularly. Property taxes are skyrocketing. Sales taxes are incrementally increased with greater frequency. George might have been exaggerating about the degree to which we’re taxed in his lyric, but his disdain for the taxman was never clearer.

So what will it take to reverse the pain? I know I don’t have the answer but I know where to start. Don’t vote for the incumbent at election time. I know it sounds wacky but how else are we going to get our elected officials to listen? We need across the board spending cuts in conjunction with no tax increases. One without the other is a losing game.

For example, Schenectady County is already in dire fiscal straits with budget shortfalls. How does that happen? It’s poor, some would say incompetent, budget forecasting. The problem, I think, is that they do the forecasting in reverse, essentially manufacturing the projected numbers to get them to what they already intend to spend. Somehow it continues. People complain but they fail to translate that outrage into different outcomes. In short, we keep getting screwed. More to the point, we keep letting them screw us.

I’d abolish the entire tax code as we know it, if it were up to me. It’s not.

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me.

Don’t I know it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Wind

The prospect of wind farms in Rotterdam took a small step forward at last Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting when a 197 foot temporary test tower was approved. The tower is approved for up to three years and it may well turn out that there is not enough wind to make a full-blown wind farm economically viable. This newly approved tower will be situate to already existing cell phone towers apparently.

Though only one resident spoke out against the tower, the concerns voiced were aimed more at future efforts to erect a wind farm and therefore were slightly misdirected. It will, nonetheless, warrant much closer scrutiny as this initiative progresses and the onus will be on the Town Board to make sure zoning is updated and sufficient to ensure proper safeguards should a larger scale project emerge.

Alternative energy is vitally important but look for this issue to heat up if a wind farm is eventually proposed as it was in Cherry Valley.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Early Call

It’s a long way to the election but after last night’s Democratic debate, I’d say get used to the notion of President Obama. He’s speaking the language that people understand. They yearn for someone to make their lives better, the country better. They believe.

It’s strange to see someone as savvy as Mrs. Clinton getting out-savvied. In my opinion, her arrogance has defeated her. She, along with many others, assumed early on that she was entitled to the nomination. It would be a cakewalk. Then Barack Obama captured attention unexpectedly. No matter, he’d fade away in good time. But strangely, he didn’t and now her back is against the wall. She looks unsure of just how to right the ship.

How could it happen? In simple terms, Obama seems to believe what he says. He inspires people to believe that what he says is possible. To make the promises reality, he’s going to need people to be motivated, inspired, and committed to believing.

The million dollar question is whether he can deliver. I hope he can because the last Democrat whose big talk I believed was Eliot Spitzer who disappointed me royally.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Road Traveled

It’s been a long arduous journey in the quest for drainage relief for the Masullo Estates subdivision. I’m reminded of this simple fact every time I take my dog for a walk and witness my neighbor’s sump pumps pumping furiously. I’m reminded again every time I leave for work and try unsuccessfully to navigate the ever-increasing number of potholes that unmercifully take their toll on my vehicle. And of course, I’m reminded every successive Spring that arrives without the associated previously promised relief. It’s frustrating.

With Spring once again approaching, I wonder if 2008 will be any different than the Spring of 2007, 2006, or 2005. The Town Board has been spending increasing amounts of money studying the potential fix. That’s good…and bad. Good because we hope we’re getting closer to actual relief. Bad because there still hasn’t been a shovel put in the ground to provide it. All the while, our roads continue to deteriorate. The logic is circular. We can’t fix the roads until we fix the drainage. We can’t fix the drainage because we need to study it further. And round and round we go.

To be fair, this administration has probably done the most to address the decades old problem. Unfortunately, they really haven’t done anything yet.

My personal stake is as it has always been. I’d like to see my road paved. It’s that simple for me. But many of my neighbor’s have serious drainage issues. As my knowledge of the problem increased, my outrage led me to believe we could get it fixed. NAG was born October 5, 2004 and its effectiveness has been mixed, as evidenced by the inability to force tangible relief.


At this stage, we’re effectively up against it, as they say. The nearby Helderberg Meadows is virtually approved and their required sewers are likely to become ours too. I fear that sewers will be offered as our drainage relief. It’s the groundwater, stupid. That’s the real problem. And it may get overlooked in the end. Right now, the Town is poised to repeat history with the approval of Helderberg Meadows.

In the end, I hope I at least get a road I can travel.