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:


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.

The Single Statement that Shows How Hopeless the City of Amsterdam Really Is

Police Chief Greg Culick on the brouhaha concerning the Farmer’s Market on Main Street: (the Recorder)

“The store that is complaining, there were cars parked right in front of her business,” he said. “I was able to come off the bridge, make a U-turn, and park where I wanted. Schenectady blocks off four streets all weekend for the farmers market. Troy does the same thing. I don’t think the street is the issue. It’s passable. I urge you to table it.”

Apparently every other city can figure out how to hold events and gatherings except Amsterdam.

Every other city can build a pleasant, stress-free environment for vendors to sell stuff except for Amsterdam.

Every other city can make the experience about giving the shopper convenience, choice and quality at a single point except for Amsterdam.

Every other city realizes that not everything needs to be political except for Amsterdam.

Every other city actually has more people working toward positive than negative except for Amsterdam.

Amsterdam — the exceptional city on the Mohawk– making what is possible everywhere else , all but impossible here.

City on Edge After Downtown Farmers Market Incident

Amsterdam, NY (Oct 5, 2015) — While details remain unclear, a verbal altercation between a Hispanic woman and some vendors took place on Saturday, October 3rd at the Amsterdam Downtown Farmers Market.  From several reports, the suspect was verbally abusive, removed some police barricades and failed to follow traffic regulations before speeding away. Police were called but no charges were issued.

The incident unsettled local political leaders who see this as a worrisome trend in the city. Local 6th Ward alderperson Lynne Bylynn echoed some of the sentiments of many city residents,”What is happening to this city is shameful with those people feeling they can do whatever they want and not respect their fellow citizens or the police. How does someone get to drive such a nice truck and buy vegetables when more likely than not, they are on welfare. I know it’s not politically correct but those people are ruining our city. Our seniors are truly scared.”

Similar sentiments were echoed on local radio by a long time caller, “Well, I was driving through the city looking at all that is wrong like I love to do on my weekends and glare at all those people who just sit on their porches. Now I didn’t see the incident take place but I am sure it happened because those people don’t have any respect, unlike our resident senior citizens who have the most exemplary manners and the utmost of civic mindedness. I feel sorry for our seniors who might have had to see this but it just goes to show everything wrong with social services. I’ll even bet this woman had a tattoo. Thank god I live in the town where we don’t have these people, or tattoos. I’m glad the 6th ward has the good sense to elect someone who’s not afraid to say what needs to be said.”

This story will be updated as more details emerge.

Amsterdam Rec Center: Dense City vs Hollow City

With the closing of the YMCA in Hagaman and recent talk of the siting for the proposed recreational center, it occurred to me that a long running pattern — a disastrous one– just might continue.

The YMCA was initially sited near downtown Amsterdam and as such provided some much needed density to the city. The reasons for moving it to Hagaman are unclear and unproven to me but suffice it to say, that the move vacated more of the already vacated core of the city. And it’s that vacating core that lies at the heart of the city’s problems. And what causes that cycle of the ever dwindling core is the lack of growth and lack of development paired with the belief that you fight blight by tearing things down, never building things up.

My concern with the Rec Center centers on the site selection process and its consideration for impact on building the city’s core versus hollowing it out. I’m not advocating for or against a specific site necessarily but it seems crucial to the rec center’s success and the city’s success that the site builds the city’s core versus not. For that reason, I think the site selection should be well considered and thought through as this potentially is a multi-million dollar development project and as such, it’s important to get the siting right — from the rec center perspective and from the city’s perspective.

I harp all the time on how the real problem in the city is not blight or high taxes or whatever is the lament du jour — it’s fundamentally the lack of investment and growth and belief and vision in the city– the rec center might be a way to signal a turn into a better direction toward building density and core in the city versus just another reason to hollow it out and sprawl.