Welcome to the Finger Lakes! Our theme song:

In a town this size, there's no place to hide
Everywhere you go, you meet someone you know...
In a smokey bar, in the backseat of your car
In your own little house, someone's sure to find you out
What you do and what you think
What you eat and what you drink...

(Kieran Kane)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our film is out of date

Sippican Cottage:
I have almost no pictures of my work from back then. I tell my children that you used to have to buy a reel of plastic film covered with metallic goo and keep it hermetically sealed in an expensive camera, and when you were done with 24 pictures or so, you'd take them out and drive to a store and leave them with a clerk and then go back a week later after they were done drizzling them with strange chemicals and printing them on shiny pieces of paper. They were all completely white or completely black, generally, when you finally got a look at them.

I tell them, but they figure I'm pulling their leg.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Long slams Gillibrand over ethanol support

NY Senate candidate Wendy Long understands that Kirsten Gillibrand is working to keep fuel prices high and giant ethanol producers  rich:
“The worst drought in over 50 years is striking the heartland of the country resulting in astronomically high corn prices, increasing the cost of feed for dairy farmers, and driving up costs for yogurt and other producers.  Unfortunately, Senator Gillibrand is more interested in protecting her friends in big ethanol than she is in protecting our dairy farms,” said U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long.
This is not the first time that Gillibrand has sided with big ethanol.  Last June she voted to strike down a measure to roll back $6 billion in federal ethanol subsidies.  The measure, S.1057, was dubbed the “Ethanol Subsidy and Tariff Repeal Act.”  
Would that more Upstaters joined Long in understanding the connection between subprime mortgage profiteer Gillibrand and the high energy prices that are crippling our economy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Scott McKenzie, RIP

"All across the nation, such a strange vibration."

Scott McKenzie, Singer Known for ‘San Francisco,’ Dies at 73

Winds of change?

Newsweek?  Really?

Arlo Guthrie meets Steve Goodman

A fateful beer,  recorded in Oklahoma City last year.  Arlo shared the bill that night with Ithaca's Burns Sisters.

Wendy Long in Potter

Wendy Long at Potter Park Onion Festival, Yates County, August 18.

For contemporary news reports of Yates County's legendary Branchport onion truck crash in 1952, click here and here.  As we recall, locals were still talking about it 25 years later.

Photo: Wilson Simmons

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cuomo backing off thruway toll hike?

The two-lane is still toll-free!

Second generation New York governor Andy Cuomo has been supporting the absolute necessity of billionaire Howie Milstein's "modest" 45 percent Thruway truck toll hike. 
“The Thruway Authority has to be financially capable,” Cuomo said in an interview Friday on public radio’s “Capitol Connection.” He said the authority created to operate the statewide system decades ago must be able to meet its debt payments from capital borrowing. Compared to other states, Cuomo said, truck tolls “are not that high.”
The toll for a three-axle truck traveling from Buffalo to New York City is about $88. That could increase to $127.
We're not sure that Andy's view from his cozy Albany/Washington bubble allows him to understand how increasing Thruway tolls forces more traffic onto rural two lane roads, resulting in more traffic deaths for his Upstate constituents.  Perhaps Andy's presidential aspirations have cleared his head, however, as yesterday the millionaire career politician seemed to backing off a bit.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday agreed a toll increase must be a last resort, but he said the Thruway Authority run by his appointees need to make sure it is fiscally secure enough to pay its contracted debt. Mr. Cuomo also said public hearings under way are also considering the option of raising tolls for passenger cars as a way to spread the burden. Car tolls were last raised in 2010.
"The first question for them is, can they find more efficiencies?" Mr. Cuomo said. "The economy isn't coming back. The answer can't be more taxes. So the answer must be finding a way to run that organization more efficiently."
So car tolls haven't been raised since 2010?  Most Upstaters, if they're still employed at all, haven't had a raise since 2008.  We predict these outcomes:  higher tolls for trucks, higher tolls for cars, higher salaries for Thruway employees, and higher accident rates for Finger Lakes roads.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How do we get a gig like this?

Free car, too!

Apparently, Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras gets paid 204,000 taxpayer dollars annually, just for showing up,   If she does go ahead and actually what she was hired to do, she rakes in even more.
The Syracuse City School District has told 86 teachers and staff they won't have a job next year. At the same time, the school board is considering giving superintendent Sharon Contreras a $10,000 performance bonus. Contreras makes $204,000 a year but under her contract she is eligible for the bonus if she meets goals set by the board.
We suspect the only way a typical Central New York job seeker could land a deal this good is at gunpoint, which if, you think about it, is how the school boards do it.

But wait, there's more!
In addition to her salary, the district will pay Contreras up to $13,000 for moving expenses and travel to and from Syracuse until July 1 and pay half the cost of temporary housing within the city for the first 12 months after she arrives or until she finds a permanent residence.

Once she’s settled in, Contreras will be eligible for a $10,000 bonus the first year if she meets her goals and $15,000 the next two years if she meets her goals.

The district will contribute $12,000 to a tax-sheltered annuity the first year of service, $14,000 the second, and $16,000 the third year.

Other benefits:

  • 25 days vacation
  • 60 days paid sick leave and family illness leave (78 days the second year and 96 the third year)
  • Eight personal days
  • Car, or $600 a month automobile allowance
  • $300,000 life insurance policy
  • $5,000 per year for professional development
  • Full benefits for her and her dependents

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Obama policies causing gas prices to skyrocket, again

You wouldn't know it from following our local media, but gas prices in our neck of the Finger Lakes have been skyrocketing.  Once again, we don't see reporters repeating their Bush-era routine of of harassing motorists at the Valero pump, asking them if they've had to give up food to afford fuel.  However, way downstate, word has been leaking out.
Pete Richardson of Wappingers Falls said he spends roughly $94 a week filling up his 2010 GMC Terrain.
“I’m obviously not happy about (gas prices) because it constrains my family and what we can do together,” he said.
Richardson, 32, said it’s frustrating with the economic situation that employees aren’t making more but are being asked to pay more.
One can only hope Mr. Richardson will remember his frustration when he enters the voting booth this November.  Perhaps the crushing increase in energy prices my not bode well for the incumbent regime's reelection prospects.
Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said pump prices will be part of their political messaging, alongside other staples like jobs data. “We are going to be talking about every economic factor,” she said.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, meanwhile, vows to hit vulnerable Senate Democrats – such as Claire McCaskill (Mo.) – and Obama over the prices.
“The NRSC fully intends to highlight the disastrous effects President Obama’s EPA has had on our nation’s energy prices including their rejection of the Keystone Pipeline,” said spokesman Lance Trover.
Unlike corruption at the Export-Import Bank, gas prices are an issue that most voters can instantly understand.  Let's see if the Republicans can can make the easy shots.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Maxfield  Parrish, 1926.

Tolls to be suspended on holidays

Weedsport?  No, Zhejiang.

Finally, some relief for overtaxed residents:  tolls will be suspended on national holidays!

Millionaires Andy Cuomo and Howie Milstein will not be able to take the political credit, however.  The toll-free holiday policy will be implemented in China, not on the Thruway.  New Yorkers will continue to pay.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hello Mary Lou

Ricky Nelson on the Ozzie and Harriet TV show, 1961.  Mary Lou stirs a memory from You Tube commenter osterclipper1:
I was in the US NAVY(May 5 1961) and we were waiting to pluck Alan B. Shepard from the water and bring him and his ("Freedom 7 space capsule) aboard the carrier--USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN CVS 39...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Channel 15 misses the point

Long line at Phoenix Chick-fil-A today

Phoenix, AZ's Channel 15 explains that today's nationwide Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day is about opposition to gay marriage.
The row over same-sex marriage could see thousands of Christians flocking to Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, while same-sex couples will turn up at the fast-food chain Friday for public displays of affection.
Both events are intended as mass shows of support by people on both sides of the marriage issue and mark the latest round in a long-standing beef that gay and lesbian rights groups have with Chick-fil-A's leadership, which has openly espoused biblical values, not only in its operating principles, but in its conservative definition of family as well.
Sure, some of the folks standing on line in the desert sun for hours, just to buy a chicken sandwich, may be opposed same sex marriage, just as Barry Obama was, up until a couple of weeks ago.  But we believe most of the sweltering customers are there today to protest government officials unconstitutionally using state power to punish a guy whose personal beliefs differ from those of the politicians' core supporters.  And, of course, to score a tasty and affordable lunch.

Update:  Readers of Ithaca' own  Legal Insurrection are flooding the blog with photos  of Chic-fil-As around the country.  Here's an amazing video.

Auburn IDA denies developer subsidy

Help a fella pay his country club dues?

In a rare occurrence in the Finger Lakes, an  Industrial Development Authority has declined to dish out taxpayer cash to a tin cup rattling developer.
On Tuesday, the Auburn Industrial Development Authority voted unanimously to deny a payment in lieu of taxes request by Calamar Construction, a Wheatfield-based company planning a $9.3 million independent senior housing complex.
"I don't believe in PILOTs for residential at all," AIDA board member and City Councilor Matthew Smith said. "There aren't going to be jobs, and it's a severe cause of market distortion."
Smith said if the project was needed and profitable it would be built without public assistance.
We've more than once seen this type of well-funded developer, who typically comes from a government regulatory background, bully local officials into  submission, so Auburn's decision is a breath of non-subsidized fresh air.  Next step:  get rid of all the IDAs and give their budgets back to the taxpayers.  

More here and here.