Obey Your Master

According to local folklore, courtesy of the local airwaves, the city has “people leaving in droves” and the number of houses for sale is skyrocketing with virtually every home on the market compared to a few months ago and last year. Or so we’re told by our overlords, the town people.
I hate to ruin the fine sport of our local town folks as they drive through the city, looking down upon the mere peasants, as they wend their way to their town estates. Still, at its core, the claim is simply rubbish and demonstrably untrue. Not to say this will temper the propaganda and misinformation but maybe it will give you small measure of comfort, when trying to mount a counterargument to the good towns people at one of their highbrow events, typically held in the snack food aisle at WalMart. After all, it is in the town.
While the report below reflects Montgomery County as a whole, it’s quite likely that an explosion in listings in the city would show as a jump in listings and given the large supply of homes, we would expect prices to fall ,days on market to increase and inventory to rise. After all, this is what economic principles would lead us to believe.
But the funny thing is that the data shows the opposite: fewer listings, higher prices and homes selling more quickly. So either our overlords are totally fucking clueless or the city, statistically speaking, somehow manages to look nothing like the county of which it is a large part. I’ll bet it’s the former.
What irks me is that sheer misinformation and a disdain for fact-based reality then molds perceptions that then shape policy and strategy. Even worse is the embrace of this nonsense from people who live in the city, lulled into believing that all is bad, and nothing good, thanks to folks who are not only ill-informed but intent on disparaging the city merely to enhance their self-standing. If I had more time and motivation, I’d start my own media outlet whose only purpose would be bashing the towns; I think it would be pretty easy to turn the tables on our overlords by exposing the less than regal aspects of the towns. Who knew your socioeconomic strata was defined by the number of cars on blocks on your stately grounds?
That sounds like a fun event for us city folk for a nice Sunday drive. We can play that game too.
Here are the numbers:
[scribd id=98580431 key=key-2a66rztq6d54as2yrxf1 mode=list]

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23 Responses

  1. Maybe my real estate math is a little fuzzy, but I’m trying to figure out how a 57 percent increase in the number of days a home is on the market until sale translates into homes selling “more quickly.”
    I also fail to understand why you continue to legitimize the local airwaves. It’s the same six people calling every day to blame everything on “those people.” Ten bucks says most of your normal, everyday people don’t even tune in.
    And while I understand the underlying theme of your argument (and find myself agreeing with much of what you state), I’m a little stunned by the tone and language of your post, and disappointed you’d take this route. Your voice is normally a little more balanced and rational than this. This smacks of arrogance and condescension toward anyone who doesn’t live in the city, giving the impression that you think the people who live outside the borders of the Rug City are uneducated trailer trash hicks.
    The fact that the chief executive of the city would endorse a post that takes this tone and low-road approach speaks volumes as well.
    If this is what is now going to be considered elevated, educated and informed local discourse … well that’s just sad.
    Perhaps I’m missing the point of this particular entry. I hope I am. More often than not, you provide an interesting viewpoint on a variety of issues. I’ve actually found myself agreeing with you more times than not, and I’ve been able to at least respect the opinions I don’t agree with because at least you present them in a reasonable way.
    This kind of approach is beneath you and drags you down to the level of the people you criticize in this post.

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      I did misread the numbers for days on market for inventory so that is hugely embarrassing. I stand corrected. I think the numbers still support the crux of my argument however.
      The point of my post was to merely reflect to the town what gets directed at the city. And unless I’ve missed it, I don’t see too many people in a public forum push back against this constant media drumbeat. Sure, it’s the same 6 people but you can’t dispute that this sentiment pervades the broader public psyche and extends well beyond 6 people.
      My tone was intentionally harsh as I’ve simply had enough with the city as fodder for the local airwaves with no one pushing back. I find it funny to be accused of arrogance and condescension when day-in-day-out it’s arrogance and condescension that rule the day in criticism of the city. Yet, no one levels that charge at them.
      As far as low-road, I’m not the one driving around crowing about the dismal state of the city to the hoots and cheers of the local listening audience. That’s arrogance and condescension .
      I’m aiming for satire and venting. Hopefully people see the difference. After all, I’m just turning the mirror on them.

      • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pushback. Nor do I think there’s much wrong with your overall argument. After all if the housing market is so horrible and no one is buying homes, one would have to wonder how my brother-in-law’s real estate company continues to increase its numbers in terms of volume sold in the 3-4 years he’s been doing it (not a shameless plug for a family member, just stating facts).
        While I’m sure there are more than six people who believe the views expressed on the local airwaves, I’m convinced there are fewer people than we think who actually tune in (or log on) to the madness. I wish I had actual numbers to back that up; but I’m basing that on the everyday folks you’ll run into at a Mohawks game, Spring Flings, Price Chopper (and Walmart 🙂 ). I’d say most of them have never even heard of all the local blogs out there (heck, I’ve even been asked by a few folks why I don’t write a column … talk about an ego balloon-popper!) nor do they tune in to the local radio shows. No, I’m not going the “no one (reads/listens)” route; I’m just saying it doesn’t seem like the audience is as broad as one might think, and maybe too much weight is placed on what “they” say on the radio.
        I get what you’re getting at, and please don’t take my disappointment in the tone of this post as a personal attack. I respect your views and agree with most of them (the ones posted here and in the few one-on-one conversations we’ve had). I was just a little taken aback by the specific tone and language of this post … it’s not the way you normally express your thoughts.

        • flippinamsterdam says:

          Charlie,
          I’m fine with you calling a Flagrant 1 — I intended it to be a hard foul. I’m not trying to channel my inner Metta World Peace so I accept the requisite free throws on your part.
          Charlie & Tim,
          I do differ with you both on the reach and influence of local radio and your view that it is somehow outside the mainstream thought. I think you both question why I would give it validity; I think you should not ask me but ask our elected officials who merrily call in or appear and , with few exceptions, never confront what I’m challenging. Indeed, look at the media relations and communications of our school district and it is heavily driven to local radio. If it is so outside the mainstream, why such a presence by local elected leaders? Are they not giving it way more validity than my blog ever can or will?
          In the age of social and digital media, is it not odd that media relations by the local major institutions and policy makers have virtually no digital presence but such an overwhelming on-air presence? Again, a few exceptions, but look at the overall picture.
          Maybe I need a Gatorade and a halftime talk but I’m not able to reconcile why our local leaders would give credence to something so far outside the mainstream.
          Respectfully submitted

      • Tim Becker says:

        How many listeners WCSS reaches and whether those six callers are actually influencing anyone are two different things. A colorful personality is entertaining, not necessarily influencial. Admit it, they seem to have you hooked 🙂

    • Tim Becker says:

      Flippin is just doing what Flippin always does, countering an extreme position with another intentionally extreme and usually intentionally sarcastic position. I don’t think for one second that Flippin views people who live outside the city as inferior. However, there are obviously a few people out there who view the city as inferior, and that is who he is targeting. Actually, Charlie, I’m surprised at your reaction, you should know Flip better than that by now!
      I think there are always people who second guess their purchases – houses, cell phones, cars, it never ends. Insecure people will always feel a need to trash other people’s buying decisions.
      I’ll say this to Flip though – I don’t think the negativity pervades the majority of city residents as much as you think. I think it’s important that you puncture these irrational viewpoints. But I think maybe you obsess a little too much on these radio callers. My view is that the majority of people who live in the city generally like where they live, but they have their legitimate gripes, complaints and concerns, and are generally slow to accept change. But I think any population with stagnant growth is like that. If you really think that dominant culture of Amsterdam is completely change-resistant – then what hope is there? Why bother even blogging?
      What draws me to Amsterdam is the fact that I have met so many people who are – in fact – positive and optimistic about the city. What I see happening, however, is that the vocal minority will seize on the legit grips, complaints, fears, etc that the middle has and amplify them. When the counter arguments are directed at the minority (ie – you’re just against change, etc), the middle is disenfranchised, thereby undermining the effort.

  2. To build on that last thought, Flip, why do local elected officials rip on what’s aired over the local radio airwaves but continue to appear on these programs?
    It’s clear there are certain officials and organizations that have no use for the paper, nor do they like the paper’s content, so they make a deliberate attempt to cut us out completely when it comes to coverage of local happenings (unless they want something) or discussion of local issues. (I’m not trying to whine about it here, because we’ll continue to cover the good and bad of the community with or without the talking heads.)
    If these officials’ feelings toward the radio mirror those of the paper, why do they continue to give the a.m. AM talk shows favored nation status? Seems like there’s a twinge of hypocrisy there.
    You’ve addressed the radio vs. online discussion thing before … and I’m with you on that 100 percent.
    I tend to agree with Tim about the vocal minority seizing on legitimate concerns and amplifying them. A lot of the regular schmoes I come across on a daily basis do have worries about taxes, crime and schools, but like Tim said, I think most of them don’t hate the city (or the surrounding area), nor do they think Amsterdam is going to hell in a handbasket like the radio callers and crusaders would have everyone believe.
    I also think Tim’s right about public disenfranchisement. I think there’s no clearer evidence of that than the fact there fewer people who voted in last November’s local election (where every elected seat in Amsterdam was up for grabs, along with nearly every spot on the county board of supervisors) than what typically shows up at a Friday night AHS Rugged Rams game.
    Keep channeling that inner Metta World Peace! My initial reaction to this post (and I don’t want to keep hopping down that bunny trail) was due to the fact that it was way harsher and snarky than your normal wit and satire. I just felt “going there” lowered the quality of the debate. I’ve been called out before when I’ve done the same thing. I’m also a fan of this blog (and its author) and I don’t want to see it go over to the dark side like so many other sites have done.

  3. robert purtell says:

    I have written this comment four times, erasing the prior three because I really didn’t want to be dragged into this discussion with the tone it was getting to. The only thing I can say is I have heard some of the opinoins and I consider the source, alot of misinformation on the airways that is often spoken with authority and confidence, but no facts that back them up.If anyone wants information on the real estate market, they should consult an expert and not rely on the banter of someone who is an expert on everything that comes across the telephone lines.
    Just sayin

  4. diane says:

    Just curious, how do you compare that the stats are for the county, and the comments generally are in reference to those leaving the city? Anyway to separate those numbers out?
    While I know you speak ill of talk radio, this city still has an older population that is not tech savvy and still listens to the radio and reads the paper.
    Charlie, the comments in regards to people not reading the paper are the same all over; every time the Charlotte Observer made a negative comment about USAirways, another pilot cancelled his subscription. There are always going to be those individuals out there.

  5. I go on the local “misinformation station” (Dave Dybas’s term) to set things as straight as I can once a month and to talk to an elderly demographic that does not avail itself to the internet. People “of a certain age” tend to be the most active voters, so I acquiesce though I don’t know how effective the venue is when it’s only one day out of thirty-one.
    I also don’t know of anyone deliberately cutting the newspapers out of the mix. I no longer post FB announcements to the Recorder FB page, because I think less people travel there since the automatic links to daily news have been removed. WCSS has by far the largest group of followers, so I post there, and to WVTL with the hope that Bob Cudmore will announce our news to his listeners in the morning. I fax and email press releases to the same set of media outlets that I always have.
    Charlie knows how I feel about the paper he works for. I’ve had many discussions and flurries of emails with him talking about the editorial stance of the paper bending what is reported there, just as it is on the airwaves. I can point to countless instances of this bias. Yet, I continue to return calls and talk to the reporters with the hope that my information makes it to the masses.
    Radio does not have a corner on this problem or on it’s participants. Look at the four to six people that show up regularly at Council meetings. Do they represent the voice of the other 18,000 folks that live here? Even if the total is forty that come out, is that a representative group? Do they have a personal or political agenda? Are they fully informed? Do they share substantive information or hearsay? Do they problem solve or complain?
    It is what it is.
    I point folks to this blog because the discussions here are intelligent. That I would be called out on the carpet because a colorful word is bandied about is silly.
    Like Charlie and the rest of us, my perspective is shaped by the many, many individuals that I speak to all day, and am bouyed by their love of this city, their appreciation for the actions they see us taking, their concerns, and their faith that we can turn the ship around. It’s not all doom and gloom out there. Negativity is something we ALL need to guard against in order to progress the change we profess to want. I guess if it were easy, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    • The charges levied publicly here by the chief elected executive of the city in the third paragraph are pure baloney. Not once since I’ve been here (which has been the bulk of the mayor’s term in office) has anyone directed any reporter at any time to bend their coverage toward one side or the other. To make a remark like that, especially in a public forum such as this one, is reckless, insulting and offensive.
      The numbers also do not add up to support the claims made in the second paragraph.

  6. “What irks me is that sheer misinformation and a disdain for fact-based reality then molds perceptions that then shape policy and strategy.”
    Point at hand: look at today’s editorial in the Recorder, still banging on about a budget that gives a small raise to Corporation Council and allows for economic development, code enforcement, and property maintenance, all the while coming in under the 2% property tax levy cap. Yet, they run only a brief story on Wednesday about the Council’s desire to continue to pay hundereds of thousands of dollars over what is necessary for duplicate health insurance adminitrative costs, citing a “team approach” several times in the article. Where’s the outrage? What happened to investigative journalism? Where has all of that money been going for years? How much? To whom? Has any of it been used to influence elected officials?
    Today’s editorial keeps everyone, in government and out, staring at the lock on the window instead of looking through the glass to what is happening outside.

  7. diane says:

    Obviously the numbers that showed up at the public hearing on the budget were not considered worthy of anyone’s attention as most of the comments were ignored. It is a shame that the administration is so bent on squashing anything that does not go along with their plans. I thought we still lived in a free country with a free press so that we could all speak. So long as we have a mayor that does not like to hear anything negative she will continue to squash that person and their opinion calling them ill informed whether it be me, Chet or anyone else that does not beleive in everything she states. I have my own mind, my own thoughts based on information that I have obtained many times from FOILs and it is still not enough . The mayor and I do not see eye to eye, but do listen to what she has to say and make my own determinations on what she has said. Frankly the fact that the people showed up and stated their opinion on the budget and they were completely ignored by the mayor and council only confirms this. Because the budget was under 2% tax cap does mean it had to be passed. In spite of the comments that it was gone over line by line, that in fact is a false statement, as Jim Nicosia and I sat right there for all the meetings, and it was not gone over line by line in full view of the public. They may have done it at home, but not at the budget sessions. Not to mention that some depts were not even discussed.
    This blog may be intelligent, but my first question observation was not answered, the above info is in reference to the county. How do you break out the figures for the city to see what is going on here. I thought the point of this was to prove that people are not moving out in droves? I may have misread it, but the info is for the county of which the city is a part of, but does anyone have numbers on the city real estate aonle?
    Frankly, if anyone wants to get an opinion of what is going on, read all that is out there in the local media, Recorder, Gazetter, LH, listen to WCSS, WVTL and the other media and blogs etc, then you can get a good idea of what is going on.
    The mayor has recently been saying that those of us that speak onnly criticize, when in fact I have offered solutions to many problems for them only to fall on deaf ears, the trash can in her office or no response to several emails over the years. The mayor, in my opinion missed an opportunity to work with myself and others when she continually shoots ideas down. The best cost savings for the fire department would be in house training to cut the over whelming overtime for that department. It was ignored during the budget session. The cheif is there to make sure that he can get all the overtime he can for his guys, not to cut it and nobody says a thing….150,000.00 last year in overtime. Need I say more ? We cannot continue to go on this spending spree without consequesnces.

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      My post explains the reasoning behind the numbers . Ironically my numbers and reasoning get questioned yet the people making the claim of people leaving in droves never have to prove their claim. Funny how that works time after time. Maybe I should call-in too that way whatever I assert would be accepted as true and I would never have to show a single fact or chart to prove it.

    • wildthane says:

      Diane, you cite that you go to secondary sources to develop your opinions. Why not take me up on my invitation and talk to me directly? My door remains open.

  8. wildthane says:

    BTW, the County just renegotiated their contract with Benetech, cutting out the middleman, and have reduced administrative costs from $250,000 to just under $28,000.

  9. robert purtell says:

    My experience is that people are not leaving in droves, The last census showed just the opposite, the population increased in both the city and the county. The first time that the population has increased in 50 years. If there is any question as to this issue of people leaving the city, just try to rent an apartment in Amsterdam, nearly impossible. As far as the data on sales, Any member of the Capital Multiple Listing service can pull up loads of info going back 10 years.
    The truth of the matter is that it seems that the persons spewing the information of people leaving Amsterdam in droves, have not done their homework and the most reliable source, I would assume is the Census.

    • Tim Becker says:

      Isn’t it expected that most people, if they are going to sell, will wait until spring to put their home on the market? It would seem to me if someone were pre-disposed to thinking everyone wants to leave Amsterdam, that seeing an increase in for-sale signs during this season would serve to confirm that bias.

      • robert purtell says:

        Yes that is a good observation, but who really scans the whole city to veiw the real estate market? does one cruze the city and count real estate signs. I would also think there are other driving forces for real estate signs, say the economy,? could it be that financial resaons might cause a owner to consider selling? To date I have seen no riders on the signs that read “leavin town for a better place” or “I am out of here” or how about downsizing or divorce? does that create a sense of urgency to sell?
        Again, a little bit of misinformation goes along way if your are discussing issues that one has not done the research.
        And by the way, I have mentioned before, I do business in a rather large area, up to 120 miles, I still argue that Amsterdam is not much different when it comes to real estate, if anything we have a more stable market.

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