February 1, 2007

Project Dryden Child event March 10th

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on planning for a fundraiser to benefit the child abused earlier this month who is still at Upstate Medical Center and his family. The New Moms Support Group and Varna Community Association are sponsoring the event, which will be held in the Village of Dryden at the Neptune Hose Company on March 10th:

Potter said they were put in contact with the boy's mother through the Advocacy Center, and know her over the phone, by first name only. At least 30 people from Varna, Dryden, Ellis Hollow and Bethel Grove are involved so far, she added, and the list is growing....

The benefit will include a spaghetti dinner, 50/50 raffle, silent auction, quilt raffle and bake sale, she added, and Bill Sherwood's Round and Square Dance Band is donating their talents for the event.

I'm sure I'll have more details as this event develops.

Update: I left out a story on Spitzer's school plan because it seemed pretty generic, without much specific about local impact, but the breakdown for county schools is available. I'm still trying to figure out what the "Combined Percent Change" means, but it looks like Dryden residents in whatever school districts might get a break overall.

Posted by simon at 8:05 AM Comment

February 3, 2007

Organizing for zoning, Village caucus results

I didn't get to covering yesterday's Ithaca Journal - it was just too busy a day!

There was an article exploring how the Town of Dryden plans to coordinate its many stakeholding boards for the zoning process. The current plan is to create a "law policy commission"

comprised of select members from the town, conservation, planning and zoning appeals boards. As the laws are developed by the individual boards, they would come before the joint workgroup for review. The proposed laws would then go back to the sponsoring board for further work or move on to the town board for approval.

Zoning is going to be a hugely complex conversation, and it's good to see them working on a means of connecting groups with different perspectives. Environmental Planner Dan Kwasnowski's comments suggest that they're aiming for transparency, and hopefully the public will have a clearer view of what's happening and better chance to contribute this way as well.

There's a report on village caucus results which notes that the Village of Dryden will have some choices to make on March 20th. For Mayor, incumbent Republican Reba Taylor is the only nominated candidate, while there is a contest for trustee. The Republicans have nominated incumbents Bob Witty and Randy Sterling, while the Democrats have nominated Elizabeth Gutchess and Lisa Valentinelli.

The editorial called for a new look at the county jail, and supported County Legislator Mike Hattery's call for more study of the results of Alternatives to Incarceration. There's also a letter from Maureen Brull of Dryden calling for reduced interest on student loans to those making timely payments.

Posted by simon at 10:36 AM Comment

Lotteries, drugs, power

The front page of this morning's Journal has three articles that strike me as important to Dryden, if not focused on it.

There's a set of articles on the New York State Lottery, with one on lottery scholarships and one on two Newfield winners of those scholarships. Dryden schools received a little over 7% of their funds in 2006 from the lottery, while Ithaca schools have been closer to 4%. The lottery raises about $2.2 billion per year for education, but that's about 32% of the money the lottery takes in. (Prizes are 56%; the other 12% goes to commissions and expenses.)

$2.2 billion sounds great, and a lot of people seem to content to treat the lottery as a tax on those who are bad at math. The people who might otherwise be paying taxes buy a lot fewer lottery tickets than they would have paid out in taxes, and those spending a lot on lottery tickets seem to let their dreams lead them into a losing game.

I know the lottery's public relations crew is busy with scholarships and talk of education, but let's face it - the lottery works as a massively regressive tax. Politicians seem to support it because the thought of making up that funding through other means is just too much to deal with, so they stay content with a system that takes advantages of the longings people have for a better life and breaks into their wallet.

I know it won't be popular, except maybe with people waiting in line at gas stations while other customers choose their games, but I'd really like to see New York State abolish its lottery. If we want to have gambling, find other ways to do it, and regulate it.

There's an article on the press conference Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson held to celebrate indictments of 32 people arrested a few weeks ago, including two in the Town of Dryden. The indictments address two alleged drug rings bringing cocaine from New York City to Tompkins County.

On the power front, the question is electrical power. In 2008, NYSEG is planning to install real-time electric meters which keep track of energy used at a given time. The good news is that we might be able to reduce power usage when it's at highest demand by charging people more for it then, and less other times. The bad news is that I don't trust NYSEG or the Voice Your Choice suppliers to get this right.

(And will these be able to run in reverse? Could I make more money with a solar panel that feeds energy into the grid while everyone wants it for air-conditioning?)

Posted by simon at 11:07 AM Comment

February 5, 2007

State budget, more lottery

This morning's Journal doesn't have much to say about Dryden, but has a few stories on things that affect us directly. There's a report on a meeting of state legislators with area school representatives. Dryden school board member Brian June and superintendent Mark Crawford are quoted, along with State Senator Jim Seward.and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton.

On a related note, Jay Gallagher lists some prominent current battles Governor Spitzer has joined.

The Journal continues Saturday's look at the lottery with another set of articles. A piece called Local merchants do big lottery business stitches together Rochester and Binghamton-area stories, while one on the players' perspective visits Ithaca. There's an article on lottery tickets as Christmas gifts, another on when the lottery system goes wrong, one on the dream of security for generations, and one on the nightmare of addiction.

Posted by simon at 12:25 PM Comment

February 6, 2007

TC3 professor addresses mental health in Nicaragua

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on TC3 professor Donna Nielsen's visits to Nicaraugua to help patients there, and her recent emphasis on mental health care.

They have pictures of Sunday's Snowfest on Hammond Hill.

The Monitor reports on a double-arrest in a DWI in Dryden.

There's another pile of lottery stories. One looks at the latest marketing hooks, another at innovative accounting, another at casinos and lotteries, another on the lousy odds bills proposing to restrict the lottery face, and finally one on how increasing prize payouts are shrinking the money coming in. All of it reinforces my opinion that New York State would be wise to simply step out of the lottery business.

They also, of course, note the freezing weather.

Update: I missed a letter from Joseph LoPinto of Freeville asking if Republicans would support Jesus if he returned to run for President in 2008, and also a letter from Art Berkey recommending a "No" vote on the Ithaca schools' bond vote March 6th: "A 'no' vote on March 6 on the entire bond will send a message but allow a re-vote on essential items in May."

Posted by simon at 5:30 PM Comment

The growing local blogosphere

This evening's Cortland Standard has an article called "Blogosphere gives rise to present-day penny presses", taking a look at the phenomenon of blogging. I talked with them a few times over the past few weeks, and I'm glad to see the article. It doesn't seem caught up in the mythology of bloggers as a powerful new force, or stuck in the "wow, these bloggers are ignorant and foul-mouthed" that I sometimes see too.

They interviewed me, and also Mary Ann Sumner of Five Wells and Dryden Democrats, Frank Hogg of PrebleNY.com, Billy Beck of Two--Four, and Alex Reid of Digital Digs.

Posted by simon at 6:46 PM Comment

February 7, 2007

Tompkins doing all right, sort of

Ithaca College Professor Elia Kacapyr forecast an economic 2007 much like 2006 for Tompkins County yesterday. His economic activity index showed a decline of 0.1% last year, mostly because of the small number of jobs he saw created in the county - 100 for the year, instead of 700 in 2005. Robert Sweet, deputy regional director of the Southern Tier office of the New York State Department of Economic Development, said that "In the nine counties we cover outside of Binghamton, Tompkins County is by all measures the healthiest."

Dryden seems on track to get some new jobs next year with the RPM tree-growing facility currently under construction, but I guess we'll see.

The print edition of the Journal includes Kacapyr's more detailed report for December 2006, which compared Tompkins County's unemployment (2.6%) to the higher state (3.8%) and national (4.3%) rates. Holiday retail, airport traffic, new home permits, nd home sales declined, while help wanted ads climbed.

County Legislator Martha Robertson asked Kacapyr about underemployment, and he replied that:

Sometimes those unemployment figures can mask problems. When you look at the average income in Tompkins County and look at poverty rates in Tompkins County, those are evidence that there is some mass underemployment going on."

Sort of good, but sort of not good enough.

Posted by simon at 8:46 AM Comment

Comptroller chosen behind closed doors

I haven't had strong opinions about the New York State comptroller's race until now, but this is clearly the wrong way to choose the state's top financial inspector:

Instead of a popular vote, or the open process that the Legislature agreed to conduct last month, Mr. DiNapoli was chosen in a closed-door meeting of Assembly Democrats this afternoon. Applause could be heard from outside the door.

Sure, there'll be an open vote later, but wow. Disgusting. It's long past time for Assembly Speaker Silver - and those who think this is a great way to conduct business - to get (thrown) out of state government.

Posted by simon at 2:34 PM Comment

February 8, 2007

Abolish Dryden?

I've been enjoying The Albany Project for the last few days. It's good to find a community of people who also think that the state government, especially the legislature, needs major reform.

At the same time, though, asking what a reform agenda should mean invariably brings out people who want to abolish as many government levels as possible. This particular commenter - I don't know who he or she is - suggests:

  • Abolish all fire, sewer, and library districts and give those duties to the counties they were in.

  • May be politically hard, but morph school districts into county governments, like was done in NYC.

  • Abolish all villiages, and incorporate them into the towns they are in.

  • Change town governments into what borough governments are in NYC- limited, ceremonial posts that can give input on local zoning issues.

  • Make counties the primary form of municipal govenrment outside NYC and give them greater independence on taxing issues. The reason property taxes are so damn high is that property taxes are the only type of taxes counties can raise without approval from the legislature. It counties could raise sales taxes or create progressive income taxes instead of killing the middle class with property taxes, it would do everyone a world of good.

The last point about tax independence seems reasonable to me, but do we really want to abolish everything below the level of the county? (I can't tell if cities would get abolished too.)

So what do you think? Should we:

  • Disincorporate the Villages of Freeville and Dryden?

  • Hand over sewer, water, fire protection, sidewalks, recreation, and zoning (beyond 'ceremony') to Tompkins County?

  • Abolish the Dryden and Ithaca School Districts and combine into a Tompkins County School District?

I'm sure somebody would like to see that, but I would rather not.

Posted by simon at 5:10 PM Comment

Three cheers for Assemblyman Ball

Alas, this isn't a Dryden story. I wish we had representatives, in either house of the state legislature, in either party, who showed the strength Assemblyman Greg Ball demonstrated yesterday during the comptroller vote:

The scene: The state Assembly chamber, packed with hundreds of legislators, media and political junkies. Freshman Assemblyman Greg Ball rose from his desk, raised his microphone and indicted his colleagues.

And before he could finish his two-minute scolding, legislators booed, hissed, whistled and tried to shout down the rookie with cries of "Sit Down!" and "Resign!"...

"Today is a sad day for New York State," the rookie began as heads turned his way. "The public trust has been violated ... This is about a Legislature that is resisting a governor who has a mandate for reform.

"This is the most dysfunctional Legislature," Ball continued as the hisses and catcalls started and he raised his volume, "in the United States of America."

"Mr. Speaker, will you please take control?" Ball said to the man with the gavel, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan. Silver offered no help.

There's video of Ball's comments as well. I'd say that was definitely some booing going on.

Alas, it looks like State Senator James Seward and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton both voted for DiNapoli, along with their leadership.

The Journal also reports on the comptroller election more broadly.

Posted by simon at 5:44 PM Comment

Holland honored

This morning's Ithaca Journal also reports that Dryden girls basketball coach Joanne Holland was honored Thursday night before a game against Watkins Glen for her eight years of work with the team. There's also an article on the Dryden boys basketball team's 55-56 win over Trumansburg, forcing a playoff for the division title.

No, I don't normally cover sports, except to let people know what's in the Dryden Courier. The Dryden School District is a different area than the Town of Dryden, and I didn't want to get into covering Ithaca sports as well (or the other districts in Dryden).

I think, though, that sports needs coverage. I can't devote the time to it that it needs, so if anyone is interested in helping provide local sports coverage here, or even in their own weblog, please let me know in comments. It wouldn't require going to every game - keeping up with the Journal or the Cortland Standard would be fine for here, with additional reporting when convenient.

Hopefully, someone out there is interested!

Posted by simon at 6:30 PM Comment

Spitzer opens fire

Wow. Spitzer's serious:

During a swing through Syracuse that was originally scheduled for the governor to promote his budget priorities, Mr. Spitzer denounced a local assemblyman, William B. Magnarelli, for reneging on the agreement that the Legislature had made to select a comptroller from a list of qualified candidates put forward by a screening committee.

"Bill Magnarelli is one of those unfortunate Assembly members who just raises his hand when he’s told to do so, and didn’t even bother to stand up and say, 'Whose interest am I representing?' " he told The Post-Standard of Syracuse on Thursday.

It was, by Albany standards, a shocking breach of etiquette for a sitting governor to lambaste a colleague from his own party in his home district.

There is, of course, some complaining. Assemblyman Brodsky moans that:

"It is absolutely possible to agree or disagree with the governor or the speaker without being morally inferior"

Unfortunately, the Assembly Democrats already showed their moral feelings by electing the comptroller in a closed caucus. I think it's fair to say they've lost the right to claim the moral highground, if they ever had it.

Posted by simon at 10:46 PM Comment

February 9, 2007

"The day reform died"

Today's Ithaca Journal editorial has a pretty dramatic title, one I hope doesn't prove prophetic. They pretty much condemn the legislature's comptroller selection process, including the booing of Greg Ball. Their conclusion shares my disappointment in our area's legislators:

We've heard from our elected officials and others over and over again how they were going to work with Spitzer and they, too, wanted reform like the new governor.

But you don't have to dig too far to see how our officials responded when reform was on the table on Wednesday. Sens. James Seward, George Winner and Michael Nozzolio, and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton all voted for DiNapoli.

There are also two articles on Cornell's economic impact, an overview and a by the numbers piece. This bit is hard to forget:

Cornell is directly or indirectly responsible for about 25 percent of people employed in Tompkins County and pays about 50 percent of all the wages earned in the county.

I've said for a while that without Cornell, Ithaca would look like Watkins Glen, a much smaller place one lake over. Of course, there are people who think that might be a good idea.

Posted by simon at 7:49 AM Comment

Chocolates tomorrow, music tonight

This week's Dryden Courier stocks its front page with weekend events. They lead with an article on my favorite annual event, the Etna Chocolate Festival, which will be tomorrow, February 10th, from 10:00am to noon at Houtz Hall (map). I'm sad to report that I can't make it this year, but I strongly recommend it.

There's also a notice of an a cappella concert tonight at Dryden High School, including Beyond Measure and Ithaca College's Ithacappella. Tickets are $10, $8 for students and senior citizens. There's a photo from last weekend's Snowfest as well, and another inside the paper.

It's not in the Courier, but I should probably mention another event this weekend, Sunday's pancake breakfast at the Varna Community Center (map) from 8:00am to noon.

The editorial is happy about Governor Spitzer's budget, and there's a letter from the Dryden Senior Citizens thanking everyone who helped raise $3000 for the Dryden Kitchen Cupboard in the Salvation Army Kettle Drive. I like the closing sentence:

It is a blessing to be part of a community where sharing and caring for others is very important.

In sports, Dryden sophomore Tara Brenner is an athlete of the week for her performance in the pole vault, where she broke the school record and won first place. They have a separate report on the track meet. There's also a report on the Dryden boys basketball team's victory over Watkins Glen last week, and a report on the upcoming Lansing-Dryden game.

In the Groton section, there's a report on the schools meeting with legislators.

In Matt Cooper's Inside Dryden, he visits Klein's Archery.

Posted by simon at 12:03 PM Comment

February 10, 2007

Snyder Hill fire

A vehicle and garage on Snyder Hill Road burned Friday morning, according to the print edition of the Ithaca Journal.

There was also a disturbance at Caroline Elementary School, where most young Dryden children in the Ithaca schools attend. I'm not entirely clear how large a disruption it was, but it was apparently triggered by a parent in a custody dispute threatening to pick up a child.

NYSEG will be holding an informational meeting on expanding existing transmission lines on Tuesday, February 13th, at Neptune Hose Company, 26 North Street, Dryden (map) from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. I posted an earlier notice about the project.

In letters, Gary Simmons of Dryden writes a letter mocking the dangers of driving while talking on a cell phone, and Brian Jones of Freeville writes to express his disappointment in the Journal for publishing Ithacan Gino Bush's column on racism.

Posted by simon at 3:29 PM Comment

Tag cloud descends

If you scroll down to the bottom of the front page, you'll see a category list for this site presented as a "tag cloud". Tag clouds list categories, but the size of the name reflects the number of entries under a giving category. It's not strictly proportional - otherwise "Ithaca Journal" would probably be two inches tall - but you can get a sense of what's passed through this site over the last three years.

Categories have changed over time, too. I use 'photos' much less than I used to, though I probably should start again, and 'Varna' got a lot of use while I was publishing photos of the houses along Route 366. I'll refine the system eventually, but for now it's kind of interesting.

Posted by simon at 3:51 PM Comment

Reforming state government

I published this over at The Albany Project, but it's a pretty tight explanation of how I'd like to see change, so it seems worth putting here too.

This week cast the machinations of the state legislature into sharp relief. Democrats and Republicans alike seem painfully aware that their state government isn't particularly interested in their opinions.

There's a lot of call for reform out there, and lots of people have agendas. I'd like to ask, though, that we keep the initial agenda extremely small and tightly focused, addressing just one key aspect of the 'reform' puzzle:

Making the legislature responsible to voters again.

There are lots of aspects to that, from leadership control to gerrymandering to lobbying to campaign finance. It's a complex issue by itself, but it's a lot of why people were enthusiastic about Spitzer, and it's at the heart of making government function again. It's also something that gives members of both parties work to do and conversations to have.

I know everyone has their own list of other reforms - closing tax loopholes, municipal consolidation, town and village courts, you name it. Unfortunately, none of those will help solve the basic problem of accountability, and may even be used as bargaining chips by those we're challenging to buy us off or splinter us.

Let's work for a state legislature that's accountable to the people of the State of New York, and then help that government figure out what it is that New Yorkers want.

Posted by simon at 4:01 PM Comment

February 12, 2007

More on state intrigues

This morning's Ithaca Journal is quiet on Dryden, though maybe we wouldn't want a story about eleven feet of snow.

There are two pieces on the current situation in New York State politics. Yancey Roy tells the general story of the comptroller's race, and I think his conclusion nails the key problem in the legislature today:

Almost no one envisions a scenario in which the political leaders just say: here are all the candidates, every one of you just vote for the one you think is best.

On the opinion page, Jay Gallagher looks at odds of a Democratic takeover in the State Senate.

Posted by simon at 12:34 PM Comment

February 13, 2007

Assemblywoman Lifton ducks, dodges

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton has a guest column on the comptroller's appointment in this morning's Ithaca Journal. Unfortunately, the most interesting part of the letter is what it doesn't contain: any discussion of the process the legislature, and especially the Assembly followed.

She talks about how this was all conducted legally, and she talks about how happy she is with the candidate the Assembly chose. She blames Governor Spitzer for having "overstepped constitutional bounds in early January when he inserted himself into the decision about who should be the new comptroller", despite the Legislature's having little criticism of the panel at the time it was created. She doesn't talk about:

  • The expressions of public outrage by Assembly members when it became clear that the panel hadn't found any of their members qualified to be comptroller.

  • The private party caucus where Assembly Democrats - and only Democrats - chose the next comptroller and applauded him. (The entire legislature is supposed to make that decision, but it was only a ratification of the already-made decision.)

  • The booing of Assemblyman Ball for challenging the broken process. (Update: WHCU reports that Lifton thinks "It was grandstanding.")

What we do get is a sunny story about the separation of powers - an issue that didn't seem to matter when the deal about selecting candidates was originally struck - and rhetoric about the importance of her oath of office:

When I am sworn into office after each election, I take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and New York State Constitution.

That's an oath that I take very seriously.

Here again, she doesn't talk about the other oath that legislators take in practice - the oath to support their leadership, and to simultaneously pretend that there's no such oath. "Three men in a room" gives the leadership huge powers to reward and punish both legislators and their districts, and Lifton seems very content to follow Sheldon Silver wherever he wants to go.

It's time for change in the Legislature. There seems to be precisely one member willing to stand up and challenge the leadership. Since our Assembly and Senate members don't feel comfortable raising a challenge, it's up to the voters. The leadership is a powerful and centralized operation, while the voters only exercise their power every two years, for all kinds of reasons. It's going to be hard to change this system, but just complaining about state government hasn't improved much of anything.

Posted by simon at 8:35 AM Comment

Snow on the way

It's not the eleven feet of snow further north, but a real storm looks likely to hit Tompkins County tonight and tomorrow. Heavy snow, freezing temperatures, and plenty of wind are on their way.

Beyond the Lifton explanation of her comptroller vote, there are a number of county and state stories worth mentioning here. Room tax revenues are up for the county, and more hotels have opened, suggesting that more is yet to come. Nursing homes in the county face cuts in Spitzer's budget, with five nursing homes in Tompkins County losing about $1.5 million. (I can't tell from the article if any of that is to do with closing Lakeside.)

Update: I forgot the Journal's editorial, which examines what it considers the too-light sentence for former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, concluding on a level of outrage that I don't think I've seen at the Journal recently.

Posted by simon at 8:43 AM Comment

NYSEG power line meeting rescheduled

Power lines are built to (usually) deal with heavy snow; meetings about them aren't. The Journal reports that:

Ithaca Transmission Project Public meeting has been rescheduled from today to Thursday, 7-9 p.m. at the Neptune Hose Company in Dryden.

Posted by simon at 11:38 AM Comment

More on state politics

My concerns about the state of New York State politics have me writing about things that don't really fit on this site. I'll keep posting some of it here, especially as it relates to those who represent Dryden, but it's not specifically enough about Dryden to keep it here.

If you'd like to read more of my opinions on state politics, you can visit my page at The Albany Project. It won't be nearly as steady as the writing here, but hopefully it'll be interesting.

Also, it might make sense to note a few other places I currently write semi-regularly. I've written on technology for XML.com and also have a tech blog. I write on Quakerism and occasionally on broader religious issues. It's been a while, but I sometimes post at Daily Kos as well.

Posted by simon at 7:42 PM Comment

February 14, 2007

Lots of snow

Well, in the end, not that much, maybe a foot. Well, maybe more - it's snowing again, though it sounds like the worst of the storm's moved east of us. Still, this morning's Ithaca reports on the state of emergency declaration, along with Ithaca and Dryden school closings.

There are several articles on Dryden government and happenings:

  • The Dryden Village Board will hear public comment tomorrow night on a proposed 22% sewer rate increase. The increase is meant both to deal with the increasing costs of their 40-year-old sewage treatment plants and for getting started on replacing it. (Town residents in the Cortland Road Sewer District will also see a 22% increase in their bills, which run 125% of the Village rates.) The meeting will be at 7:00pm meeting at Village Hall, 16 South Street, Dryden (map).

  • Dryden Village Trustee candidates Lisa Valentinelli and Elizabeth Gutchess filed petitions to run under the banner of the Better Dryden party. They were endorsed by the Democratic party last month.

  • An article credited to "Journal Staff reports" and reading depressingly like a press release reports on developing plans for a special committee to address land use issue, including zoning, stormwater management, and riparian buffer zone protection.

  • Cathy Wakeman's Dryden Town Talk reports on 2006 Dryden High graduate Leslie Fisher joining the University at Buffalo Choir in a singing performance at the United Nations General Assembly.

  • Groton Town Talk reports on an upcoming February 16th dinner theatre at the Elm Tree Inn in McLean.

In state news, there's an article on a call for optical scanner voting by a number of people including Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton.

Posted by simon at 12:09 PM Comment

February 15, 2007

Another snow day

I hope everyone's enjoying the snow and sunshine today - Dryden and Ithaca schools are closed, as well as TC3. The Journal has lots of articles and pictures on the snow, which wasn't a record, but still closed down or slowed down a lot of activities.

The main winter blast story notes a tractor-trailer cab landing in a ditch on Hanshaw Road. An article on Valentine's Day includes pictures of snowmobiles filling up at Clark's, and another article includes a photo of Dawn Metcalf delivering flowers for Arnold's.

Posted by simon at 12:57 PM Comment

"Fervent consumer advocate"

I hadn't heard much lately about Angela Sparks-Beddoe, Governor Spitzer's controversial appointee to chair the Public Service Commission, but this turned up in the Elmira Star-Gazette:

Angela Sparks-Beddoe, his controversial pick to head the state Public Service Commission, will be a "fervent consumer advocate" if confirmed to the post of the state's top utility regulator by the Senate. The company Sparks-Beddoe has been affiliated with, Energy East Corp., the parent company of New York State Electric & Gas Corp., has clashed repeatedly over the last few years with the commission staff who thought her firm wasn't treating consumers fairly.

I guess I'd like more details. If her notion of being a "fervent consumer advocate" relies on nonsense like NYSEG's Voice Your Choice program, with lots of options but not much variety, then I hope she gets rejected. Her association with NYSEG and Energy East is a pretty bad start, and she has a lot of explaining to do. Spitzer provides a start:

Q: Folks in the Southern Tier have for a long time thought that the PSC was a consumer advocacy group looking out for their best interests. Yet now, you have appointed someone who is an energy company executive (Angela Sparks-Beddoe of Energy East) to run the PSC. How do you explain that rationale? What does the PSC stand for?

SPITZER: Let me be clear on this because I'm hoping that when people understand and get to know Angela, they will be not only supportive but overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

And I am by no means challenging the right of people to be uncomfortable with where she has been. I understand that as a reflexive response. But I think when people speak to Angela as I have, over many meetings, about what the right answer is to our energy debacle, they will see someone who is a fervent consumer advocate.

She understands the need to invest, the need to drive rates lower, the need to get an Article X (powerplant) siting law, the need to get projects built so we can reduce demand, the need to be efficient, the need to find alternative energy, to invest in ethanol, windpower, solar, these are the things that will be part of a really creative energy agenda that we will be pursuing.

To those who have expressed the doubts, and I understand the doubts, I would say give her a fair shot and meet her and listen to her and you will be very excited about what she brings to the job as I hope most people are about the whole range of appointments I've made.

I guess we'll see what turns up in the approval process.

Posted by simon at 3:16 PM Comment

February 16, 2007

Child abuser likely to plead guilty

While much of this morning's Journal focuses on snow cleanup, the Journal's breaking news reports that Jacob Carter's attorney reports that he has decided to plead guilty to assault, sexual assault, and sexual abuse charges in a plea deal. It's not certain until it's before a judge, however.

The editorial is a collection of Laurels for those who helped during the storm.

Posted by simon at 12:11 PM Comment

Dog in snow with lamp

I like deep snow. Spring (my dog) is a little less certain.

Dog in snow with lamp
Dog in snow with lamp.

Yes, that's the barbecue grill, turned into strange white pyramid with a handle.

Posted by simon at 6:08 PM Comment

February 17, 2007

Arcuri speaking in Lansing this morning

This morning's Ithaca Journal notes that Congressman Michael Arcuri will be speaking on energy issues in Lansing this morning. (I can't make it, unfortunately - I'd agreed to be at the History House as a docent this morning.)

There's more detail on the possible guilty plea of Jacob Carter.

School News and the Dean's Lists include achievements by Dryden residents.

How They Voted in Albany shows more independence than usual in voting, with numbers that don't all line up by party. I need to look into that more closely, as it's not something I see regularly.

On the opinion page, Elizabeth Morano of Freeville suggests that "Bush-bashers" may be right.

Posted by simon at 9:15 AM Comment

February 19, 2007

Congressman Arcuri in the neighborhood

This morning's Ithaca Journal has a brief piece on Congressman Michael Arcuri's visit to Lansing to lead a panel discussion on energy issues. (Unfortunately, I didn't get to go, having scheduled time as a docent at the History House a long time ago.)

On the opinion page, Jay Gallagher suggests that Albany may be a grayer place that the black-and-white of Wall Street, which makes me wonder if Gallagher has spent too little time on Wall Street and too much time in Albany.

It seems to have been a quiet weekend for Dryden.

Posted by simon at 8:07 AM Comment

February 20, 2007

Protests on plea

Not everyone is happy with Jacob Carter's proposed guilty plea, which would get him a sentence of 43 years to life for charges including predatory sexual assault. Dawn Potter, spokeswoman for Project Dryden Child, is quoted:

Those children weren't allowed to plea bargain... He showed those children no mercy ... why would the [district attorney] show him one ounce of mercy?

The Journal says that District Attorney Wilkinson wouldn't talk about the details of the case, but the Journal writes that:

Wilkinson noted that when a defendant pleads guilty to the most serious charge, it's not a plea bargain.

In a follow-up to an earlier article about the challenges of rural Internet service, the Journal finds that some of the people they spoke with have managed to get better service, with more service on the way.

Posted by simon at 8:01 AM Comment

February 21, 2007

Girl scout international night Monday

This morning's Ithaca Journal is pretty quiet about Dryden, except for this item mysteriously placed at the top of Groton Town Talk:

Girl Scout International Night will be from 6-7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26 at the Dryden Elementary School Cafeteria.

This program has been put together by Junior Girl Scout Troop 869 of the Groton/Golden Arrow Service Unit/Girl Scouts - Seven Lakes Council, who invite the community to their celebration of the Girl Scouts' World Thinking Day.

Jody Saroka, the troop's leader, says, "Come travel the world for free! Get your passport stamped as you experience the culture of 16 countries, play international games, sample foods and hear international music. There will be fun for all ages."

Otherwise, all seems peaceful.

Posted by simon at 8:46 AM Comment

February 22, 2007

Indictment in home invasion

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that a grand jury has indicted a Dryden resident for several counts of robbery in last month's home invasion robbery.

On the opinion page, the editorial congratulates the county for their budget process, and mentions a county budget meeting to be held in Dryden at Neptune Hose Company March 3rd at 9:30am.

Posted by simon at 5:02 PM Comment

February 23, 2007

Changing of the gym at TC3

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on the final basketball games played in the "Panther Pit" at TC3. The old basketball court will be disappearing, replaced by a new gym currently under construction. In those last games, the men's team won and the women's team lost.

Posted by simon at 8:28 AM Comment

February 24, 2007

Two up for two seats in Freeville

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that two incumbent Village trustees are up for re-election in Freeville's non-partisan races. Rachel Dickinson and Lloyd Purdy (appointed to replace the late former Mayor Thomas Lyson) of the Citizens Party face no opponents in the March 20th race.

In Darts and Laurels, Dryden resident Millie Norton thanks everyone who participated in the Salvation Army kettle drive held at Clark's. The SPCA thanks Pyramid Mall for hosting their pet adoption, which sent 128 pets from their Hanshaw Road facility to new homes.

Posted by simon at 2:21 PM Comment

February 26, 2007

Snowmobiling for breast cancer support

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on Saturday's 4th Annual Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance Chicks Ride, sponsored by the Dryden Caroline Drifters Snowmobile Club. 23 women raised $650 to support the IBCA's work. The print edition has a photo of the ride, but unfortunately it's not available online.

Posted by simon at 12:00 PM Comment

February 27, 2007

Standard on Village sewer plant, race

This morning's Cortland Standard reports on the Village of Dryden. There's an overview of upcoming elections, in which two Democrats (Lisa Valentinelli and Elizabeth Gutchess) and two Republicans (Bob Witty and Randy Sterling) are running for two trustee seats. The Mayor's race is uncontested, with incumbent Republican Mayor Reba Taylor running..

There's also a piece (further down) on a public hearing to be held Thursday night (now postponed to March 15th) on the increase in sewer rates for the Village and for the Cortland Road Sewer District in the Town of Dryden north of the Village. I was more than a little surprised, and suspect Town Board members will be a little surprised to see "Taylor said the state Department of Environmental Conservation had already approved the project, but the delay of the project is because the Cortland Road Sewer agreement has not been signed". It seems like every other Town Board meeting for the past year, maybe more, has included a brief discussion asking whether the Village has sorted out their side of that agreement. I should probably attend Village meetings to see what their side of the story is, but it's odd.

The other cause of delay is "also the village of Freeville may be interested in joining the sewer system." That delay might yet prove to be a critical assistance, as it sounds like the grants available in New York State to help pay for sewer systems these days are often connected to intermunicipal cooperation. Mike Lane has been encouraging this idea for a long time. That delay might be a useful delay, if it works out.

Posted by simon at 8:36 AM Comment

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton Thursday and Friday

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton won't be visiting Dryden this year with her community meetings, but she will be in Ithaca and Cortlandville.

On Thursday, March 1, she'll be at Ithaca Town Hall (215 North Tioga Street, Ithaca) from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. On Friday, March 2, she'll be at the Cortlandville Fire Hall (999 Rt. 13, Tompkins Street Extension, Cortland) from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.

She'll also be in Newfield and Ulysses next week. There's a lot going on in state government this year, so it should be interesting.

Posted by simon at 10:57 AM Comment

February 28, 2007

Jazz concert tonight; sewer hearing delayed

Cathy Wakeman's Dryden Town Talk reports that the Cornell University Jazz Ensemble will be having a workshop and concert tonight at the Dryden High School auditorium. The workshop for students runs from 6:00pm to 7:00pm, and the concert starts afterward. She also reports on Dryden Elementary School's Bookfest, to be held Saturday from 9:00am to noon, with a variety of activities for children and a number of Dr. Seuss-inspired cakes.

The Village of Dryden sewer rate hearing has been postponed until March 15th. For a lot more information on the state of Dryden's sewer financing and possible futures, see this detailed comment from Mike Lane on yesterday's story. There's a lot going on.

Briefly in Tompkins also notes that the Dryden School Board "is considering a $30.5 million budget... reflects a 6 percent increase over the current year's $28.7 million financial plan... salaries and benefits represent the areas of greatest increase." The board will take up the budget at its March 12th meeting.

Posted by simon at 8:25 AM Comment