This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on a new effort to expand the TC3 honors program by giving 15 full scholarships to Tompkins and Cortland County students who enroll in at least 30% honors classes, and are either in the top 20% of their high school class or have a 90 average. The TC3 Foundation is starting an endowment to help fund the scholarships.
There's also a list of TC3 recipients of the President's Citation.
Looking beyond Dryden, there's an article on State Senator Raymond Meier's early hopes and opinions in his run for Sherwood Boehlert's Congressional seat.
At the state level, Jay Gallagher looks at the burgeoning off-book state debt, in an article that's very similar to last year's Post-Standard series on slush funds. It links to a full list of projects funded by the governor and legislators through authority debt. As before, the Willow Glen Cemetery is on there for $80,000, and I suspect that the $50,000 Assemblywoman Lifton found for the Freeville and Dryden fire departments came from the same source, though too late to be included in that list.
The most astounding part of the article, though, is State Senator Mary Lou Rath's effort to defend the current system whereby legislators hand out money without oversight or a clear explanation of where it comes from. Even in an age where government secrecy seems more broadly accepted, this is just too difficult to read without laughing or crying:
"I would welcome more transparency in this process," she said. "But then we would be played off by one community against another. I don't want to be used as a political football."
She said, for example, when she obtained some taxpayer money to help demolish some industrial buildings in the Erie County town of Tonawanda, officials in neighboring Amherst heard about it and "went nuts" since she hadn't done anything similar for them.
"In the end, we have to trust the elected representatives, who are on the ground," to decide which projects to fund, Rath said.
Politicians are supposed to be political footballs. That's their job! Or does never having to worry about getting re-elected mean they've forgotten that aspect? One tough part of being an elected official is deciding which projects to support and which not to support. Getting publicity for the people you make happy without expecting other people to notice seems bizarre at best, corrupt at worst.
And it's not the elected representatives who are really on the ground - it's the voters. Hopefully someone, maybe even a Republican who can't tolerate this kind of eagerness to add to the state's debt, will remind Rath of her obligations to voters.
(Oh, and this New York Times article on the state's new budget suggests that even with a $2-4 billion surplus, the state is still planning to pile on new debt:
There is also concern about the state's level of indebtedness. From March 31, 1995, to March 31, 2005, New York State's debt grew to $48.2 billion from $27.9 billion, up 73 percent, and increased to $2,509 from $1,537 per capita, according to an analysis by Alan G. Hevesi, the Democratic state comptroller. Under Mr. Pataki's budget plan, debt would increase more than 17 percent by the end of the decade, to $56.6 billion. It is unlikely that the Legislature will cause that number to shrink.
And that's just the official debt, I think. Argh.)
On the print version of the opinion page, Maureen Brull of Dryden asks about "a surcharge for natural gas users due to the mild winter and lower than expected usage." I haven't seen it on my NYSEG bill - there's just a -10¢ weather adjustment, but if anyone's heard about this, leave a note in comments.
The online version of the opinion page also has a letter from Irene Scott of Dryden, charging that "the Journal is more 'in awe of' and provides more 'positive' coverage for those who break the law than those who uphold it." Former County Legislator candidate W. David Restey writes to suggest that Journal editor Bruce Estes "should teach a course at Cornell on Backpedalling Finesse" for his explanation of the publication of a photo including a slain state trooper.Posted by simon at March 25, 2006 8:47 AM in Ithaca Journal , TC3 , energy , politics (national) , politics (state) , public finance