Election 2015: Voter Turnout

As noted by the commenter below, I thought it might be worth looking at the numbers here:

So very sad that only 3,500 or so people voted…I am pretty sure that these 3,500 are the only people paying taxes, owning properties or pretty much giving a rats ass as to what happens in or to this city. I am fine with the election results, the people have spoken, however, how really unfortunate that this is the extent of our “city’s” voting force. We may as well be a village, town, or whatever is the level below a city, because this election voting results are so completely pathetic.

Total Votes Cast for Mayor by Year:
2007 — 4495
2011 — 3878
2015 — 3592

So Pam is correct on the trend — downward.

In 2015, the total voting population in the city is 9028 registered voters (as of March 2015). So as a percentage of the total voters, turnout by year is :
2007 — 49.6%
2011 — 42.8%
2015 — 39.7%

So Pam is correct on the dwindling engagement on the voters as well — downward.

I don’t have time to test the claims on whether it is mostly property tax payers, probably so as I’d expect they are more vested in things but I think the drop is too pronounced for that to be THE explanation. I might venture a guess that the cost/benefit on political engagement just makes some people tune it out. And yes, the rat’s posterior also plays a role given general apathy toward elections and the political process.

As I discussed in a previous post, I think that the politcal environment in the city is designed to be closed, protected and intentionally so as to keeping it that way. Likely, most people would disagree with that as too broad a characterization but I do think it is true in the sense that the political culture here encourages that closed, cliquish approach to politics more than it discourages it.

More thoughts on the what the results mean policy wise in an upcoming post.

City of Amsterdam Election Results 2015

The official results from Montgomery County Board of Elections:


Mayoral Candidate Exemplifies Positive Campaign Through Negative Attack Ad

Apparently, the hallmark of a positive campaign is a negative attack mailer as seen below.

Positive Campaign 2015

Positive Campaign 2015

I get it — it’s a campaign and negative attack ads work. However, my problem with the mailer is twofold:

1. You can’t say one thing and then do the exact opposite. Well, actually, you can but you should get called out on it.

2. You should at least make some attempt at some factual basis to support your attack points.

To wit, I guess you can an attack the mayor on crime but why cite 14 years as the timeframe for the “upward trend” in crime when the mailer explicitly states that it’s only been 8 years since Mayor Thane has been in office? That means that apparently Mayor Thane should retroactively be held accountable for the 6 years prior to taking office. Still, the statistics in no way support such a claim or a cause-effect between the Mayor’s policies and crime. Most importantly, the crime statistics unquestionably show that Amsterdam is relatively safe so to demagogue on crime is an interesting spin on positive campaigning unless the intent is to positively rile up the local radio listening audience.

Next, the piece, hardly surprising, goes on to attack the Mayor for the growth in the city’s debt. This is quite lovely given that it is his fellow Republican alderpeople who just added 3 plus million to the total debt on the city’s books. I seem to recall that in the 2014 election it was this very same stalwart band of alderpeople who were going to set the city financially straight and stop adding to the city’s debt much to the cheer of our local media.


The most insulting aspect to the piece is that if you are an informed voter , you realize that you cannot simultaneously rail against the state of the city’s infrastructure — the city’s falling apart! — and then decry the growth of debt in the city. How else do you pay for multi-million dollar capital improvements without incurring some debt and without raising taxes? You simply cannot. To claim to invest in infrastructure while lowering the city’s debt is a nice– positive!– thought but it runs quite negatively against financial and political reality.

Let’s be clear: the mailer is just a short-form set of the same talking points you hear day-in-day-out on local talk radio and the local newspaper that attacks the mayor using the most specious of arguments. In short, the same chorus who wants everything without paying for it as if you can get better roads, better bridges, no blight without incurring a single penny more in debt or taxes.  Indeed, the same chorus who demands all this while cutting taxes at the same time!

Madness, positive madness.

And on these two points, I’m pretty positive , this is a totally negative reality.

City Feud: “Survey Says…”

The Daily Gazette has a good article on the recent community survey in the article “Survey finds residents have dim view of Amsterdam”.

I daresay it’s a bit more than the view that is “dim”.

Before you think this unduly harsh, look at the underlying ideology that contributes to the blight, the inability to move forward, the stagnation in the city — the very things the survey respondents lament.

The fundamental ideology killing the city has at its heart the following principles :

  1. You fix blight by demolishing stuff even if you have to incur more and more debt to demolish stuff. Meanwhile, you incur zero debt to build anything that might yield a positive return in the future.
  2. You invest nothing, zero, on development or turnaround.
  3. You believe that the symptoms are the problem, namely, that blight, poverty, rundown housing are the problem, instead of what they really are– symptoms of a larger problem. The larger problem is lack of growth and lack of investment , both public and private.
  4. You actively turn away and reject outside investment — whether that investment is conceptual or financial. But more than anything, you reject any idea that represents something new or something different to the way things are.
  5. You preserve and protect the status quo no matter how completely dedicated that status quo serves for its own benefit versus the collective benefit.
  6. You oppose any initiative or view that embraces Amsterdam as a city, choosing instead to make it into anything but a viable city.

Honestly ask yourself if the principles above are any less prevalent than years past in the public and in the public office holders. I daresay prospects are getting dimmer , not brighter.

And the view remains grim when you look at it from a private investment and private stakeholders viewpoint — it literally does not exist. How the city can reinvent itself with no significant private investments and initiatives is simply not possible.

But let’s get to a key point in the Gazette piece:

Divisions, be they racial or political, were themselves identified by many as a problem facing the city.

Let’s be blunt: this city fuels itself on division so what the survey respondents don’t quite get is that division, divisiveness, and for good measure, vindictiveness, really gets to the true character of the city. In other words, division is not a bug in the system; it’s a feature.

Again, that might be harsh, but that’s what my survey says.

Local Newspaper Editors Furious at Competitive Newspaper’s Mayoral Endorsement

Amsterdam, NY (October 23, 2015) –With today’s endorsement of Mayor Thane for Mayor of the City of Amsterdam by rival publication Daily Gazette, local editors at the Amsterdam Reporter were furious at the endorsement and the editorial tone directed at the candidates.

“We were simply appalled at the tone of the editorial — positive, respectful to both candidates and hardly any contempt directed at the mayor.”, remarked Edward Ditter, managing editor. “Even worse, the Daily Gazette seems to forget about the most important aspect of the mayoral race, namely, what a terrible threat Facebook and social media are to our positions as bastions of informed and erudite discourse. The Daily Gazette would be wise to rail against any digital media to preserve the interests of our newspaper and radio listening public who, without question, share their always informed and always respectful views the proper way — through letters to the editor and call-ins to local talk shows.”

Asked if a decision on endorsement had been made at the Amsterdam Reporter, Mr. Ditter remarked, “We will not rashly publish a decision like our competitors until we dig deeper into the issues and candidates through a [audible laughter in background], umm, sorry for the noise, [more laughter] careful deliberation and vetting process over the next few weeks. [uncontrollable laughter now] Sorry, have to run!”

Local resident and self-admitted newspaper and talk radio addict, Chance Tukomplayne, also expressed outrage with the Daily Gazette’s endorsement, “Well, I don’t know how they could endorse this Mayor as far as I’m concerned. Now I don’t go on Facebook but let me tell you what I hear — the mayor’s ripe for plucking and a raging Nazi dictator.  Plus, what the hell is she doing out of the kitchen? Someone demanded that a while ago on the radio and she still refuses to get out of City Hall and get back in the kitchen! How the Daily Gazette can dismiss the opinions of our esteemed bastions of civil discourse at our local media outlets I’ll never understand.”

This story will be updated as the various campaigns respond.

A Tale of Two Developers

It was interesting to hear about how the Key Bank building is going to be converted into a mixed use building. From the Recorder:

The former KeyBank building at 29 East Main St. is proposed to be renovated by Cranesville Properties, LLC. Joseph Tesiero, property manager, said the company’s plan is to have four upscale one- to two-bedroom apartments per floor from the third to eighth floors. The second floor could be used to develop a townhouse. The first floor, Tesiero said is planned to house a microbrewery that would serve alcohol on-site.

I thought this was interesting in light of the Chalmers fiasco so let’s take a look at the two projects.

Chalmers versus Key Bank Development

Chalmers versus Key Bank Development

Fascinating, isn’t it?

With Chalmers we get all kinds of political pushback; all kinds of uproar about how such a project will never , ever work in Amsterdam; all kinds of absolute certainty from the local media — newspapers and radio– on how it is a boondoggle and how dare a developer take public money to fund private development to — gasp– make profits. And of course, as it is Amsterdam, rumors, innuendos and blatant lies on the project as a whole to discredit it fueled , again, by our local media and amplified by the abundant naysayers and doubters and do-nothings.

Fascinating that none of the Chalmers demolitionists and sages of economic development are not vocally discrediting this effort, especially our local media pundits who pulled no punches in discrediting such development in the city.

Of course, Chalmers required demolition and as there is no higher or no more noble goal than demolishing stuff, I should be hardly surprised that this might be a factor. You know, better to knock something down than take a chance on a $20 to $30 million residential development. But still, the projects overall have very much in common, yet the community responses differ so wildly.

So come on guys and gals, why so mum on Key Bank repurposing?