And the Band Plays On

In yesterday’s post I addressed the inherent conflict between demanding action on infrastructure/hydrants and the financial means to do so. In short, I called out the people who rail against the problem but recoil when it comes to supporting a means to finance the project. In other words, they demand a fix as long as they do not have to pay for it.
I think the perfect illustration of this mindset — all too prevalent– is in the post below from ‘oldschool’ on the site amsterdamit (the full post is here):
It looks like a 24 million dollar plumbing bill to fix the infrastructure. OK, now some folks think that means a tax hike. Maybe, or maybe not. Why does the solution always go to a tax hike ? I agree there is no easy solution or even a quick fix solution, BUT isn’t there a POLITICAL one ? How about a POLITICAL push by the Democrat Mayor to the Democrat controlled NYS Senate and the Democrat controlled NYS Assembly and Democrat Governor for State dollars. How about a push to the Democrat Congressman and the 2 Democrat United States Senators for Economic Stimulus Money ? How about a push by all of them to the Democrat President of the United States ? I know the wish list was submitted in December 2008. Circumstances have changed. Our community has an immediate public safety problem that requires STRONG political action.
[snip]
Please get this plumbing fixed. Nothing, I repeat, nothing is more important !!! Call every Democrat here and ask, no plead, for their help before someone dies in a fire. Do it today, before we have another fire.
This post perfectly illustrates the legacy mindset of this community: we need to do this NOW but don’t expect ME to PAY for it. Instead we need a ‘political solution’. WTF is that other than hoping for funding to appear which in most cases will not appear. But somehow this intellectually dishonest, disingenuous meme is mainstreamed as a tenable, respected position. What’s more galling is to take such a position under the auspices of such life and death urgency with no accountability while ducking under the issue as a ‘political’ issue. So if something tragic would occur, oldschool and ilk could blame the politicians with no personal accountability whatsoever. I should not be surprised.
And no, I do not enjoy paying taxes but at least I try to bring some realism to my positions in that if I advocate replacing a huge part of city infrastructure, I ask myself how we can pay for it. I don’t expect we plan for the city’s future using the financial equivalent of winning Lotto to fund it.You also see the same mindset with abandoned and dilapidated housing– it needs to go but then silence on how to pay for it.
And the band plays on.
And a direct note to ‘oldschool’: The party is the ‘Democratic’ party not the ‘Democrat’ party. I find it quite ironic that the very policies and party you mock is who you hope gives us the money to fund this so you may avoid any personal responsibility in the matter. But then unfettered hypocrisy is the strong suit of those who coin and toss the term ‘Democrat Party’.

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21 Responses

  1. P. K. Dick says:

    Oldschool typifies the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” (IFAICGU) mentality. We are too pathetic to help ourselves so let us all beg for money and use the begging as an excuse to do nothing – no matter how long it takes. This is not the attitude that made this country great. Did we wait for help when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? I am not saying that we should not use the aid that is there but if there is a present need that is urgent – hopeful/hopeless waiting is not a viable strategy.
    and the band played on. . .

  2. madmirth says:

    This goes back to the whole “entitlement” feeling many seem to possess these days. “This should be done for ME, it’s my right”. I don’t remember seeing fire hydrants in the Constitution. These are benefits, and it is a shame that the conditions of the water has gotten to this level, but the residents should contribute to the benefits of the community. No, no one likes taxes, no one wants higher taxes, but you cannot benefit from fire hydrants, trash pickup, public roadways, plows, electrical infrastructure, so on and so forth, and expect that someone else is responsible to pay for these things for you.

  3. nygirl says:

    I believe it was the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor.

  4. w murphy says:

    Sell the Golf Course?
    That’s a great idea- sell the one true historic gem that we can actually point to with pride and say it has lasted the test of time. The one thing that might actually attract white collar professionals to the area to buy a home and enjoy the quality of life. Shortsightedness at its worst.

    • P. K. Dick says:

      The golf course should be promoted and managed properly. It is one of the best course designs in the area, and the best kept secret. It does not attract play from outside the area and loses money!
      But, the city should never sell it – ultimately if it can be managed properly it will be advantageous for the city to maintain control.

  5. Sell the golf course and…
    Not an option Jerry, especially this 18-hole layout that is truly a classic.
    This isn’t the Chalmers Building.
    If golfers can travel all the way to Alabama to hone their skills on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail – a collection of courses designed by the Jones family, why can’t we get golfers from neighboring counties to come here and play an original Robert Trent Jones layout?
    You don’t eliminate assets, especially one that is irreplaceable. It is truly one of the few green spaces left in this city and to privatize it would open the door to a possible bulldozing and elimination of another one of our treasures.

  6. Why would we support a golf course that looses money when we have homes burning to the ground because of insufficient water flow? The golf course could be sold to a corporation and managed efficiently with a contract that would keep it as functioning golf course. It would still attract people to the area and be the wonderful historic golf course that you all love. In fact, Uri Kaufmann should buy it and have it placed on the national historic registry. Maybe it could receive grant money too!

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      Jerry,
      While your post perfectly illustrates the point of my post, I’ll still take your bait: you get $5M for the golf course . You now have $18M to go; show me your financial math for paying the $18M
      BTW, my $5M offer is $27.4K per acre or 833 times earnings ($5M/$6K) so it’s a quite ludicrous generous offer
      Game on: $18M and you need to finance it

    • w murphy says:

      The Golf Course actually made money last year. Find one public entity in the city that actually made $ last year. Also, nationally public & private golf courses have been bleeding red ink as the recession has taken hold- owners are literally just walking away from them now. We actually may be a case study for how to keep our heads above water when all others are drowning.
      We have a beautiful, historic course that charges very reasonable fees to match what folks in this area can afford. Why do we always look to mess with the the things that are actually working? Getting droves of people to join from schenectady or saratoga is a pipe dream- a round of golf takes long enough, people won’t add another hour of travel no matter what the cost savings.

      • As a taxpayer, I do not feel it is important or necessary for my tax dollars to subsidize an elitist recreational activity that not all have the privilege of participating in. I would much rather fund community parks, pools and playgrounds for the children. Our kids are using parking lots and streets to play in. Some of these condemned building could be torn down and the property turned into safe supervised play areas. Too many kids with nothing to do = crime and drugs.
        When I saw the City Council debating over whether to replace the pool house or fork over the money to the golf course, it seemed like a no brainer to me.
        I know this is not THE solution to the failing hydrants, but an area that we need not neglect.

        • flippinamsterdam says:

          Jerry,
          Just a reminder that you’re still $18M short for an urgent public safety issue. You have your $5M for the course so it’s off the table.
          What’s your funding stream?

          • First of all, where did you come up with the 24 million figure to fix the hydrant issue?
            What is the assessed value of the golf course and what are the operating costs including salaries of employees.
            Stimulus money is up for grabs, who has the political clout to bring it home? Paul Tonko? George Amodore?

          • flippinamsterdam says:

            I think my point has been made resoundingly clear by your inability to articulate a financial solution to what you deem an urgent, priority fueled issue. I need not say more as raising the golf course seeks to distract from the inherent complexity of dealing with our infrastructure.
            BTW, the basis for my numbers are outlined in the post and the $24M figure is from oldschool not my figures. The assessment and salaries mean nothing in terms of market value for the property if a private investor were interested. Finally, I have issues with the governance and operations of the course but I still support it as an asset in the community.

          • Your labeled this an urgent priority fueled issue, not me.
            I offered my opinion, you didn’t agree. Instead of debating with me using your inaccurate numbers, why don’t you come up with your own solution?
            This is about priorities and assets and coming up with a solution that has the least impact on property taxes which are among the highest in the nation.
            I sincerely hope your house does not catch on fire while your enjoying 18 holes on the city owned golf course.

          • flippinamsterdam says:

            Here’s a bubble-bursting bit of personal disclosure: I find golf as a sport to be insufferably dull; I do not play the game nor do I have any interest in playing. That said, I still find it utterly rational to support Muni with my prior caveats.
            Fires are not deterministic but random events; it’s folly to believe we can assure that we are utterly risk free from harm or consequence given economic and other constraints. I tried to deal with the inconvenient reality that a true solution requires real financial resources and commitments along with some level of financial responsibility on the part of the community. That is what I outlined; some people don’t like the financial choices — namely taxes– but that is the bottom line.
            I’ve said my piece and in my humble opinion, I’ve tried to be forthright about the financial choices –albeit unpleasant — facing the city and presented some analysis to crystallize the debate. Trust me: no one would be happier from a huge receipt of stimulus money than me. I guess it comes down to basic principles: financial planning assuming a range of random outcomes versus financial planning assuming a singular, what-I-know-must-be-true outcome.
            Let’s all hope we fall on the proper side of the statistical distribution when chance knocks but regrettably we can’t cheat the curve forever. As the blog Zero Hedge quips: “”ON A LONG ENOUGH TIMELINE, THE SURVIVAL RATE FOR EVERYONE DROPS TO ZERO”
            Cheers

          • P. K. Dick says:

            IFAICGU

      • P. K. Dick says:

        The water system makes money and to a lesser extent the sewer system makes money.
        The problem I have with the course is as follows:
        1. It pays no taxes, water or sewer fees.
        2. Private courses pay these things.
        3. Private courses make money.
        4. Muni breaks even.
        5. Shouldn’t Muni be able to do better?

  7. P. K. Dick says:

    This initial post by Flippin, I believe, was offered to highlight the defective thought process of “oldschool” who theorizes a problem then proposes a do nothing/ pie in the sky solution. Then the debate shifts to other do nothing / pie in the sky solutions.
    The real humor hear is that the problem is not even defined yet! In the face of this ignorance, people take positions and defend their solutions. This is what happens in government all the time. MOSA solved the problem of $100+ per ton tipping fees – a problem that is still waiting to happen.
    What is wrong with the water system? It could be a build up of corrosion(expensive pipe replacement), it could be a valve line up problem(cheap) or it could be something else like a design flaw in the system(was there a fire in this area before when fire flow was adequate?). Lets not sell the golf course and bond 24 million before we know what is wrong and lets not whine like babies that we didn’t have the solution before the problem became apparent unless your whine is that you accurately warned someone in city government about the
    actual problem and were ignored.

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