Why the Chalmers Demolitionists Think You’re a Tool

Everywhere but Amsterdam: Repurposing Commercial Space into Luxury Apartments

From the Albany Business Review (Developer secures financing for luxury apartments at historic manufacturing building):

Real estate developer Uri Kaufman secured a $30 million loan enabling him to convert the former Albany Internationalheadquarters into 145 luxury apartments.

M&T Bank is providing financing. The loan closed March 24.

I won’t rehash how the demolitionists killed a potential game changer project in the city– you can find plenty of posts on this blog on how that played out.

Instead, I want to caution you on the revisionist framing of why we have no residential development in the city and how Chalmers repurposing would never work. In short, they do not want to you to see how utterly wrong and misguided they were and continue to be on how to bring development and growth to the city.

They do not want you to know that the very same developer and very similar project as here — a $30 million residential development — was rejected and turned away for no other reason than their assertion that such projects never, ever work. Or that no bank would ever fund such a project. Or that it was someone –gasp– from outside the city. [cue the horror track]

That’s what they want you to believe so you do not now confront them with the reality that they were unquestionably wrong in everything they claimed.

As I predicted, the lot is merely a parking lot, and like every other demolition project , what happens next is precisely nothing in terms of development. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Nien.

But they want you to believe that demolition is a great strategy and for Chalmers, was the right strategy no matter how much objective reality flies in the face of that statement. They do not want you to now remind them or confront them of their utter wrongness so that is why they want to reframe the debate on demolition and Chalmers specifically.

Don’t be a tool.

City of Amsterdam Financials: Don’t be a Tool

Read this article in the Mohawk Valley Compass carefully and entirely so you are not a tool on the state of the city’s financials. Here’s the teaser ( from “What Amsterdam residents need to know about the city’s “negative fund balance” ):

So what gives here? Is the city short millions of dollars? Are we spending money we don’t have? The answer requires just a little bit of understanding of the Capital Projects fund and how it is different from the rest of the funds. I’m grateful for the time that Controller Matt Agresta has spent to help me understand the situation so that I can pass along that understanding to the public.

I disagree with Tim Becker in one regard however: that some folks have ‘the best intentions’ when discussing the state of financials.

No, they absolutely do not. They think you are a tool and willfully, intentionally, purposefully, deliberately misinform on the financials and most other things so you remain a quite useful tool to their political agenda.

Here’s the simple reason why: if you want to understand the financials, why would you not , first and foremost, sit and talk to the Controller, Matt Agresta, to get a clearer understanding of the state of the financials?

That’s what Tim Becker did and wrote about. Do you know why no one else did that or wrote about that or why we get to hear everyone else’s take on the financials other than the Controller’s?

Because they think you’re a tool.

Don’t be a tool.




Common Council Spending Millions and Adding to City’s Crushing Debt

I’m merely playing back — with my sarcastic headline — the current Council members past rhetoric and demagoguery on the city’s financials given their recent actions. From today’s Recorder: 

Fourth Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler suggested the Common Council bond for $1 million for emergency items and postpone a bond for other capital projects until the budget is done.

I would find this really funny if I did not live in the city and have to deal with the implications of such a dysfunctional political climate that assures lower property values, higher taxes and less services.

And let’s remember: the current Council and their legions who bought in and promulgated the ‘city is bankrupt’ and ‘we can’t spend’ should not now get a free ride when they are doing exactly what they railed against. But as it’s campaign season, they now realize they might have to actually accomplish something.

They can’t have it both ways.

Apparently, and most troubling, our Council doesn’t care about our seniors with their runaway spending either.


The Disastrous Implications of Spending on Demolition

From the Recorder (City to review capital projects list):

There is also a $500,000 cost for the demolition of city-owned properties and another $100,000 for the stabilization of city-owned properties.

And here we go again with a Council bonding (ie, adding to the city’s debt) with half-million dollars toward demolition with zero dollars on programs or initiatives to create an economic environment that would avoid demolition in the first place.

I’ll keep on soapboxing until it’s more broadly understood and recognized that demolition is not a sustainable policy for the city. It’s a symptom of the lack of growth in the city and the need to spend money to drive growth versus spending money to fix the symptoms of no growth.

Here’s an alternative proposal: for every dollar spent on demolition, a quarter needs to be spent on building or creating something to drive growth.

So instead of $500K exlcusively allocated for demolition, drop the demolition budget to $375K and spend $125K on something to add to quality of life or economics in the city.

It’s insane to keep spending money on demolition while spending nothing in time or resources on growth.


Why The Common Council and Pundits Treat Voters As Tools

Here’s why my headline is not nearly as provocative as you might think. From yesterday’s Recorder (City to review capital projects list):

The Common Council is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss its capital project list and narrow down priority projects that will begin this year.


The purpose of the meeting is to discuss a capital project list that totals nearly $3 million for this year.


the aldermen discussed bonding and realized it is an opportunity to address other capital projects that have been ignored over the years.

What strikes me about this meeting and the utter lack of uproar over the meeting is that the Council — the very same Council beating a constant drumbeat on the state of the city’s financials and its debt– is holding a meeting to discuss doing the very same thing that they swore and testified will doom the city if there is even a penny more of spending or debt. Let’s remember that this is the same Council which spent weeks and months deliberating fiscal policy with with the mayor’s car which has an asset value of $900. Clearly not $900 thousand or $9 million dollars — 900 dollars.

So how can this Council even consider a meeting on something that appears to be many, many times 900 dollars?

Before we answer that, why is there no uproar from the usual pundits on the all so dire straits of the city and how can the Council even consider a meeting with any discussion of new spending or debt? Are the presses out of ink and the radio towers somehow unplugged?

No, it’s not that at all. It’s simply that the Council and the fellow demagogues on the city’s financials think you’re a tool and won’t notice the cognitive dissonance in holding a meeting on whether to do the very thing they screamed should never, ever be done and for which they ridicule and skewer the mayor and previous councils for the very same thing on which they now seem intent to pursue.

They truly think you’re a tool and will not call them out.

Simple as that.

And unfortunately, I think they will get away with it yet again.

City Taxpayers Liable for $291,000 for Repairs at Golf Course

From today’s Recorder:

The topic that was raised at last week’s Golf Commission meeting when members expressed frustration about the $9,000 received for the clubhouse roof, when the claim that was submitted totalled[sic] approximately $300,000.

So when someone tells you that city taxpayers don’t have a say in the operations and governance of the golf course, you can then question why you are liable for repairs. Or when someone tells you that city taxpayers pay nothing for the golf course, you can call them out.

I’m also curious why no elected official seemingly cares about the impact of the repairs on our seniors.

Oh right, no elected official will play the senior’s card with the golf course. Sorry, my bad.

City of Amsterdam Finds Innovative Solution to Potholes

Amsterdam, NY (March 11, 2015) — Like most upstate cities, the small upstate city of Amsterdam finds itself struggling with the toll of winter upon its roadways. Faced with a depleted budget for road maintenance and repair, a few Common Council members are reviving an idea from decades earlier.

Common Council member of the sixth ward,  Lynne Bylyn, explains, “Several years ago, the city built a sludge processing plant for raw sewage to convert, um, ‘sludge’ to pellets that we could then sell as a way to generate millions of dollars for the city. Unfortunately, the plant never worked and cost city taxpayers millions of dollars in litigation and capital writeoffs. So as a Council member who cares deeply about our taxpayers, I thought maybe we have a win-win here — we generate a lot of ‘sludge’ and we have a lot of potholes with little money to buy filler and even less money to buy salt. If no one wants to buy our ‘sludge’, well, maybe we can use it to cut expenses for city taxpayers. It’s truly a win-win for taxpayers assuming the mayor stops driving the city car and creating all the potholes in the first place.”

The initiative is off to a difficult start due to the technical complexities and the public relations involved with such a scatologically themed subject. The Council was embarrassed last week when its internal working names for the project, “Sludge Helps Increase Tax Savings’ and ‘Paving Over Our Potholes’ were roundly mocked for their acronyms.

Council member, Lynne Bylyin explained, “It’s no laughing matter when it comes to high taxes and the state of our roads. I’ve heard the jokes and people really need to be more mature  than a first grader with all the poopy jokes and driving on our — I’m not going to use the word– roads. I don’t find that funny at all. All I know is that even if it takes millions to bond and then build a new plant to turn sludge into pavement to fill potholes and maybe find a way to use sludge instead of salt — it’s biodegradable–, then I’m all for it. We’re saving the taxpayers money and that’s all I care about.”

A special meeting of the Committee of the Whole will be scheduled for next week.

–Additional correspondence provided for this story by T.P. Forbung. Whole article initially submitted March 9, 2015.