Thursday, January 26, 2012

Proposed New York Senate and Assembly Districts

Well folks the State as done it. I present to you links for both the New York State Assembly Districts and New York State Senate Districts.

Ulster County gets carved up again with both its Assembly seats as well as its Senate Seats.
- New York Senate Map
- New York State Assembly Map

Your comments on this pro and con are greatly appreciated.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Its more than Bank of America

Bank of America announced this week that it will cease Tax Processing operations on behalf of NY State Department of Taxation and Finance in Ulster County's Town of Ulster TechCity complex. Seasonally, this means about 1500 jobs lost. Two thirds of these employees look at tax processing as a second income paying for things like vacation, college for their kids and even for a loved one who is out of work. The other third or about 500 use the tax processing job as their sole means of income. All of the workers are contracted to Bank of America through Manpower, Inc. Manpower will lose this business which will also mean less full timers at Manpower.

Just like any large employer there are ripple effects in the community with businesses who rely on the large employment. In this case its not just the local restaurants and deli's but also larger employers too, like Walmart. Another employer that will see a drop off in activity will the US Postal Service in Kingston. On a typical day during the tax season they get between 80,000 to 200,000 pieces of mail [tax returns] which then get sent in bulk to the TechCity site.
Its unknown how many employees within the local postal unit will be effected by BoA's departure. Given that nearly all the jobs are considered seasonal the WARN team [NY State Dept of Labor] was not activated. It really should come as no surprise that Bank of America is pulling out. Online processing has been the wave of the future the past several years. What is surprising is that their two other locations - one in the Capital District and the other in Binghamton - will still be in operation.

Read the quotes from Bank of America spokesmen and you'll see that Bank of America is cutting New York State Department of Taxation and Finance as a client.
Bank of America has yet to notify the City of NY for its personal returns. There is no word on Bank of America's decision to continue or cease its processing operation of sales tax returns which is also handled at the Tech City location.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NY Stock Exchange Moves

It was reported today that the New York Stock Exchange has been purchased by Deutsche Boerse, AG. Deutsche Boerse operates the Eurex Futures platform and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The merged headquarters will be moving to Amsterdam.

Does this mean that the trading floor of the Exchange will be moving. Not Yet! Folks, if you read the tea leaves you know that moving the Exchange could be next. While its a shame if such an institution would uproot itself, there is a reality factor which must be recognized now.

The US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission will need to sign off on the current deal. We at Hudson Valley Wag hope that the Governor of New York, the Mayor of New York and other elected officials cry out about another company leaving New York.

The bottom line here is the loss of jobs to New York and loss of tax revenue.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dont Mess with Belleayre

I know its been a while since I wrote a column and for that I apologize. There have been so many reasons to write, yet time escapes me. Perhaps 2011 will provide a bit more time to write about economic issues that surround the Hudson Valley.

Today I received my daily email blast from Belleayre Mountain. It read 51 trails open. It would seem that "mother nature" has been very good to Belleayre this year.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, since I wrote about Belleayre slightly over two years ago, I wanted to share that the fight is still on. Belleayre Mountain is an economic development engine that has been running for years. It is a tourist destination for many who enjoy skiing in the winter time. In the summer time it has a great many attractions including swimming at its beach and night time concerts.

Rather than work together to create a true "snow capital" of New York, management at nearby Platekill Ski Center [15 minutes west] and at Hunter and Windham Mountains [15 / 20 minutes north], have continued to beat up on Belleayre Mountain by trying to close it down. Their reasoning to have Belleayre closed down is feeble at best. They say that a state subsidized mountain jeopardizes their own business and distracts skiers from going to their own mountains. While distraction may be true one has to wonder if Belleayre has other true attractions that brings skiers to its mountain rather than the other three. I am a skier and have skied at Belleayre and at Windham. I truly enjoy skiing at Belleayre over Windham. I prefer the trail structure at Belleayre. Platekill's trails are too steep for me and Hunter has just too many people on its trails. I have been to both of those mountains but not to ski. Recently, Belleayre launched a marketing campaign together with local small businesses to attract more people to the area. That's just good business for everyone in the local area. That is what economic cooperation and vitality is. The owners of Windham, located in Florida, claim that taxpayer money is being used to do this. Rather than curse the idea, Platekill, Hunter and Windham may want to development marketing campaigns with other economic organizations like Chambers of Commerce to do the same thing.

Belleayre Mountain is one of three State "owned" mountains. The other two mountains, both in the Adirondack Park are Gore Mountain, home to New York's only gondola and Whiteface Mountain, with its steepest vertical drop in the northeast. Recently Gore and Whiteface were transferred to ORDA [the Olympic Regional Development Authority]. Effectively they are owned by the State yet managed, fiscally, by another organization. Its an old "State Budget" trick that has been used by New York State for many years. Governor Mario Coumo did something similar when he sold the New York Prison properties to the New York Dormitory Authority, the same organization that effectively owns and manages public and private universities here in New York State.

Moving Belleayre into the ORDA or creating a new Authority to fiscally manage it may be a good thing. Of course, naysayers would disagree claiming that it still would have undue financial discount influence. We should embrace the positives and use the State's resources to create national and even international advertising. Lets stop the bickering and create a marketing organization with all four organizations to promote Catskill Skiing!

In early December DEC announced layoffs at Belleayre just as everyone was gearing up for its peak season. The timing could not have been worse. The attached link brings you up to date on Belleayre's status. We appreciate RadX's video and thank them for providing it on Youtube for everyone to see.

We hear all to often that the State does not do enough for economic development and for tourism and to that I would agree 100%. To choke off funding for Belleayre and let it die a slow death is not only wrong to the local economy, its also illegal.

Dont mess with Belleayre!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ulster County is RIPE for a Data Center

In the first year of George Pataki's tenure as Governor he and his economic development administration worked hard to "broker" a deal with IBM so that the recently abandoned IBM Kingston campus could reopen in some fashion. Unless you are an out of town reader we all know that Alan Ginsberg, a real estate broker from the New York area, ended up buying the property from IBM. He renamed the property TechCity and proclaimed that within three years the property would be filled.

While history and "should haves" and "maybes" have become foggy since 1993 there was a great deal of discussion at that time that Pataki would consolidate 49 state owned data centers across New York State and bring them to the IBM/TechCity Campus. One might say that Pataki saw consolidation [from a cost stand point] as a good thing. Folks in Ulster County applauded the idea. Unfortunately, no one else in the state did. Workers did not want to relocate to Kingston and various Legislators joined in on the protests because they saw voters leaving their districts. As such the idea died quickly. Oddly, over time consolidation and outsourcing did slowly occur and today there are just six across the state.

Currently, the State Office of Technology is evaluating 18 proposals by developers to build a 72,000 square foot Data Facility which was again proposed by Pataki just before he left office in 2006. In 2006 he proposed using Utica's SUNY IT campus as the site. In 2006 the estimated employee count to run the facility was 200. Four years later with modernization of software and equipment it would seem that the facility would employ less.

The RFP issued last summer and due back to the Office of General Services late last August, stated that the facility would now be built in the Albany area. OGS spokesman Paul Larabee did not immediately know the status of the proposals, but he said that building the center in the Capital Region was a requirement not likely to be changed.

Why was Kingston's two IT areas [TechCity and the Hudson Valley Business Center] or Poughkeepsie and Fishkill not even considered? Clearly, TechCity has the land and other infrastructure that a data center requires - like power and [fiber] access lines.

Isnt it time that folks in Albany stops talking the talk and walks the walk when it comes to helping Ulster County [and the Hudson Valley] with economic development?

Lets get IT jobs back to Kingston!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Trust -and- Truth

Cant seem to find the forest through the trees these days? Here are two quick thoughts that might guide you out.

- Your opinion

-The Truth is out there but like so many aspects of life these days, you just have to find it!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hey Yahoo over here!

It has been reported in the New York Post that Yahoo! is being courted by "State Officials" to open a Data Center in Western New York.

Many will recall that shortly after George Pataki became Governor there was a lot of discussion about consolidating 49 New York State managed Data Centers to the Tech City property in Ulster County's Town of Ulster. The consolidations would have saved New Yorkers tens of thousands of dollars a year. However politicians, spearheaded by then New York State Majority Leader, Joe Bruno, squashed the plan as it meant hundreds of constituent relocation's.

Why is it that Empire State Development is not pitching the glut of data center space at Tech City or in Dutchess County along the IBM corridor? Yahoo is quoted as saying they only need 150,000 square feet.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Is Bigger Better Bottle really Better?

Recently the New York State Legislature voted on a bill called the "Bigger Better Bottle" bill. Signed into law during the first week of April by Governor Paterson, provisions mandate that "unique electronic scanner bar codes for containers sold and returned in New York". This provision caught the entire business community off guard and has created a real mess in the bottling industry.

In Saratoga Springs, the Ball Metal Container Corporation manufactures approximately three billion 12 once aluminum beer and soft drink cans each year for approximately 400 different brands of beer, soda and juices. In fact, well over 300 million cans have been made this year already. Steve DiLoreto, Plant Manager at Ball states, "We build inventory all year to supply our customers through the summer". Further he states, "obviously we can't scrap all those good cans." Seventy five percent of all inventory is used in New York State alone.

Not only does Ball have to create new labeling for the 400 brands but has to get corporate approval from clients who are not even in the United States all of which takes time, energy and money. Some estimates internally state that the retooling alone will cost over $500,000. Small bottlers in New York also are affected by this as well.

"The New York bar code was added to prevent out-of-state containers from being brought into New York to claim the deposit.", said Erin Duggan a spokewoman for Governor Paterson. She added, "The Governors Staff has been meeting with distributors and the industry once they realized the magnitude of the provision and closely examining the implications of this new law."

The new law goes into effect June 1st. Clearly cans and bottles will not be ready for the fast paced summer season.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blowing in the wind

For anyone that has stopped by to read this blog you will see that we do not post very regularly. Frankly, we post when there is news that most do not report on. At the risk of sounding repeative viva-ve a prior post "Which Way is the Wind Blowin" we felt it was important to report on a press conference that took place in Poughkeepsie on Wednesday, October 15.

A startup company AeroCity, LLC has introduced a wind power turbine for urban rooftops. The first Aerotecture wind turbine sits a top of a commercial structure in the City of Poughkeepsie and can be seen but not heard at 322 Mill Street. The beauty of the urban wind turbine is the size and the punch that it delivers in terms of kilowatts per hour for wind power generation. "The concept is that these wind turbines are small enough to be brought up in a elevator and be assembled on a roof without the need for a building permit," said Bill Jacoby, AeroCity LLC's President. The basic Aerotecture wind turbine has a rated capacity of 1.5 kilowatts per hour. What makes this product unique is that multiple units can be linked together providing even more power. Jacoby also added that while the unit atop its first building is vertical, it can also be fitted horizontally on tall buildings in cities like New York and Chicago or on bridges.

AeroCity, LLC is a participant in the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation's [HVCFI] Cleantech Acceleration Program [CAP]. HVCFI, a Lake Katrine based High Tech Incubator with a satellite office in Sullivan County, produced the event for AeroCity, LLC.

On hand to help unveal the wind turbine was Congressman John Hall and Assemblyman Joel Miller who both represent the City of Poughkeepsie. Assemblyman Kevin Cahill who represents most of Ulster County and who Chairs the Assembly Energy Committee spoke about green/clean energy highlighting the AeroCity accomplishments. An accomplished business owner and candidate for Ulster County Executive Len Bernardo was in attendence.

Les Neumann, HVFCI's Executive Director who first described the CAP program and the Incubator introduced Bill Jacoby. Later in the program Sarah Osgood, from NYSERDA, along with Assemblyman Cahill announced that AeroCity had been awarded a $1 million grant which will help fund further development and manufacturing of the product to be built in Ulster County. Demonstration model orders will be fulfilled by December 15th 2008.

For further information about AeroCity, LLC check out their web site at: or by calling Jacoby at: 518-697-0633.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Keep Belleayre Open!

2008 has been a whirl-wind year for the Belleayre Ski Center located in Highmount, NY. Belleayre is one of three state owned ski resorts here in New York, under the assipices of the Department of Environmental Conversation [DEC]. The other two resorts are located in the Adirondack mountains; Gore Mountain and Whiteface Mountain. Each of the three mountain resorts are unique unto themselves.

Belleayre, affectionately known as "New York's Winter Snow Park", has constantly come under fire by opposition groups since 1984. Since that time, a group of local business leaders and residents [both full timers and second homeowners] recognized the economic importance that Belleayre plays to the local economy. Local, in this instance, is defined as the businesses in the surrounding towns as well as Delaware and Ulster Counties. Local groups have been created to help promote Belleayre. They are; The Belleayre Conservatory and Coalition to Save Belleayre. The Belleayre Conservatory was established to provide a venue for summer programs at Belleayre. Most notably they have brought some of the best entertainment to the Catskills. This year alone they featured entertainers such as Ronan Tynan [the Irish Tenor] and Brian Wilson [from the Beach Boys]. The Coalition to Save Belleayre also presents a yearly award, "The Spirit of the Catskills" at the annual Snowball gala held at the Summit Lodge at Belleayre every January.

Opposition forces have resumed their attack on Belleayre this year through politics at the State Level. In March, long time advocate of Belleayre and local State Senator John Bonacic said he opposed proposed cuts by DEC to Belleayre. "Unit Management Plans (UMPs) are exactly that - plans. They are rarely, if ever fully implemented or fully funded in one year. The State has made the decision to be in the ski business. The State has reaffirmed that decision in 1999 and 2000. If we are going to be in the ski business, we ought to do it well. If the DEC is now claiming that we need the money in the budget to fund every element of a UMP, then that means there will be no long term planning for the growth of our parks and recreation system in the Catskills – and that is bad public policy," Bonacic said.

In June, with the help of Senator Jim Seward, who represents neighboring Greene County, home to Hunter and Windham Ski Resorts, offered a Senate bill which was presented to Legislators to create a "blue ribbon commission" that would examine all NY State owned recreational facilities. While "all" meant facilities like Bethpage Golf Course, Saratoga National Golf Course, Jones Beach, the Jones Beach Amphitheater among others, the spirit of the commission was to focus on Belleayre.

Coalition to Save Belleayre Chairman Joe Kelly reacted with increased frustration to the news that legislation forming a blue ribbon commission to study the state's participation in the recreation industry was passed by the New York State Legislature. "This legislation was pushed through by Greene County real estate interests in protectionist efforts to grab an ever greater share of the skier visits to the Catskill Region," said Kelly. "We call on Governor Paterson to veto this legislation and urge all Belleayre Mt. supporters to call and e-mail the governor on this matter." On September 5, Governor Paterson vetoed the legislation. While the bills were overwhelmingly passed by both houses, insiders have indicated that there will not be a vote to override the veto.

Unfortunately, the opposition has not stopped with the veto. Earlier fears announced by Senator Bonacic concerning DEC funding cuts occurred. In particular, this included funds used for the Belleayre Fall Festival which draws over 16,000 visitors to the mountain and for that matter the region over two days in October. Noting that the cancellation of the annual October Festival came in the same week that Governor Patterson vetoed a blue ribbon commission to study the fairness of Belleayre's operation, Kelly said that some people in his organization believe the budget cuts were related to the lobbying Greene County that was done to curtail Belleayre's operation. "We certainly hope that this is not the case. But it makes no sense to cancel one of your biggest money-making events in a single year," said Kelly. "And once you are open and operating, it makes absolutely no sense to only operate part of your capital investment," he added. "I don't know if people in state government are caving to pressure from Greene County to hold Belleayre Mt. back, but we certainly intend to look at that possibility."

While endangered, supporters of Belleayre including that of US Senator Charles Schumer have called upon State DEC leaders to restore funding. Schumer wrote, "Belleayre Mountain Ski Center is bursting with economic benefits for Ulster County and we cannot let it fall to the wayside," Schumer said. "I hope that the DEC will heed the community's call and commit to a full ski season at Belleayre so that we can keep the jobs and revenue generated by the ski mountain." Meanwhile, a local tourist attraction, the Delaware and Ulster Railroad whose yard and headquarters are located just "down the road" in Arkville offered its property for the Fall Festival. Organizers, opted to hold the event [October 11 and 12] rather than canceling it.

Belleayre Mountain is willing to work with the other ski areas in the region; Hunter, Platekill and Windham to develop a joint marketing plan. Tony Lanza, Belleayre Mountain's Superintendent has advocated for joint marketing for years. In addition to joint marketing he has proposed a joint or combination "ski ticket". This idea has grown in popularity in other states such as New Hampshire, Colorado and Utah.

The bottom line is that should Belleayre lose funding by DEC it would create a regionally significant blow to the economy which is the last thing the Hudson Valley needs right