Monday, October 31, 2011

Zombie SUCC Student Arrested and Jailed

    According to campus police, it was a Halloween prank that went awry.
    Late last night near the Cortland Rural Cemetery, a female student was chased and bitten by her boyfriend, who was dressed in blue surgical clothing and wore a zombie mask.
    "She didn't recognize him," said Lt. Herman Cain. "She told us that he shouted 'I'm gonna suck your brain out of your head' before he grabbed her and bit her on the neck. She ran to her dormitory and related the story to her roommates. They called police. We questioned her at the infirmary, where she received treatment."
    Campus police say the girl's boyfriend voluntarily turned himself in. Vlad Volpe, age 20, a third year student of Socialist Paraphysics, admitted that he bit his girlfriend on the neck. "Just a love bite, " he said. "Happy Halloween."
    Police arrested Volpe and booked him for felony assault, harassment, medical procedure without a license, and impersonating a medical professional or zombie. He was arraigned before city court Judge Judy Munster, who ordered a psychiatric examination for Volpe, and sent him to county jail.
    "He is clearly a danger to society," said Judge Munster. "We will not tolerate ersatz zombies in the City of Cortland, except for licensed medical professionals, registered Republicans and registered Democrats. Next case."
    "Flasher, your Honor."
    "Bring him in."
    "Sorry, your Honor, he escaped again. The police had him in custody until a few minutes ago, then he got away. He seems to know his way around City Hall."
    "I want to speak to Sgt. Pepper. Next case."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Was Shakespeare a Fraud?

     A recent CBS news article is captioned to stir up a hornet's nest. Anyone who suggests that Shakespeare was a fraud and didn't write all those exceptional plays and sonnets is criticising The Bard. Bard-bashers abound, however.
     Hollywood Director Roland Emmerich wants to destroy 400 years of pious literary teaching with his new movie "Anonymous."
     "The more and more I read, the more I think that William Shakespeare has not written these works, and actually had nothing to do with it," claims Emmerich. He suggests that the real author was the 17th Earl of Oxford.
     Columbia University Professor James Shapiro, who wrote "Contested Will," suggests that the film does not present any evidence. "We're an America that loves conspiracy theory," Shapiro explains. "We love to think there's a mystery, when the facts as we have them are far more extraordinary."
     When it comes to evidence, the argument is tilted on the side of the doubters and naysayers.
     Writers like Mark Twain--who argued that there was no evidence that Shakespeare had the education, especially the legal education, to write the famous plays--suggested firmly that he was not the author. Twain opined, admitting no proof, that Francis Bacon was the author. Other critics claimed that Christopher Marlowe was the author.
     While there may be controversy over authorship, there can be little argument over the beauty and majesty of English language, allegory and metaphor, in the works attributed to Shakespeare.
     Listen at YouTube to lines taken from Hamlet, adapted and applied to the musical Hair.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChTBKjtfd2w

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mayor Explains Perceived Disagreement in City Government



September 28, 2011

Much has been made, by a few, of my decision to allow the position of Director of Finance and Administration to remain vacant rather than hire a replacement, even on an interim basis. Some see the person in this position as a highly qualified professional and functioning like a City Manager. This view downplays the role and credentials of not only the Mayor but other City Department Heads as well. It is understandable that anyone accepting these assumptions would be concerned that such as vacancy might jeopardize the efficient day-to-day operations of city government. Recruiting an appropriate replacement seems like the logical solution.

I see several problems with this scenario--not the least of which is that there seems to be little agreement, let along consensus, on what would constitute “appropriate.” In fact, opinions on how we should approach this issue going forward range from eliminating this position and reassigning the duties associated with it, to revising the City charter to adopt either a City Manager or even stronger--perhaps a full time Mayor.

There seems to be enduring and significant disagreement between the various components of City leadership – Mayor, Department Heads, Council – on which of these approaches would be in the best long term interests of city residents. Some have even called for us to consider dissolving the city all together… in which case, we would presumable be absorbed by the Town of Cortlandville. This lack of consensus extends to the public at large, as evidenced from a letter to the editor as well as comments made to me by constituents.

One thing on which many people might agree, however, is that differences over the former Director’s role and performance were very detrimental to the smooth functioning of our city government. I believe these disagreements have been a major factor in what I see as growing friction between the Council on one side and myself, as Mayor, and City Department Heads on the other. This tension, in turn, has produced a number of specific problems – and more work for everyone in the process. In fact, Department Heads have become so alienated that they see forming a union as the only way to protect their collective interests from what they believe to be unfair treatment by our elected officials.

No amount of expertise or knowledge can compensate for alienating an entire management team. If there are risks associated with not filling this vacancy, under the circumstances, I believe the risks of doing so prematurely would be far greater. Even if we could agree on a job description and candidate, expecting an outsider to rescue us from our current situation is, I believe, unrealistic.

Rather than yield to the pressure to take a course of action, which I see as imprudent, I have chosen an alternative instead. That alternative is based on a different set of assumptions. First and foremost, it views our current management team – composed of our remaining Department Heads and their Deputies – as a dedicated, hard-working, capable group of professionals with a good deal of training and experience. It recognizes that any high level vacancy produces additional work but values cooperation, mutual respect and team effort over more short-term manpower at their possible expense. It’s based on the demonstrated willingness of our existing management group to take on more work and responsibilities in the near term, which will allow us to take our time exploring options without unnecessary pressure and, hopefully, ultimately choosing one that serves the best interests of city residents in the long term.

In the current situation, I see my role, as Mayor, as providing leadership and direction to our professional management team – while exploring various long-term options – including some that would involve restructuring city government. I’ve just returned from Oneonta – where I met with other officials there as well as representatives from NYCOM and other people with considerable knowledge in this area – as part of this initiative. I’m also in the process of gathering information and opinions from additional sources.

In the meantime, I see working with existing Department Heads as one means of re-examining the duties formerly assigned to the Director of Finance and Administration. If we discover that we’re lacking certain expertise, it may be preferable in the short run to look at hiring consultants for specific projects rather than filling the vacancy – even on an interim basis.

Mayor Susan Feiszli

Missing Files at City Hall

Date: January 7th 2011
From: Mayor Susan Feiszli
Dear Mr. Sueben,

I am writing you to document an incident that occurred at City Hall to protect the City from the result of missing files from our Legal Law office.

On December 17th I asked Ron Walsh for his resignation as Corporation Council. Ron said that I would regret doing this. I asked Ron what he meant by that and his response was “you’ll find out”. Under those circumstances it was then that I asked for his immediate resignation instead of finishing out the year.

Ron entered his office on December 19th and deleted the ALL files and emails from the city computer. Ron also removed City files from City Hall.

On December 20th and 21st I called Ron asking for the files, City Law books and keys that were in his possession.

On December 22nd Chief Catalano called Ron Walsh per my request to the above items which were returned later that afternoon to City Hall.

Meira Hertzberg is under contract with the City of Cortland as Corporation Council. She has not been able to locate all of the files on current cases.

Another large file that holds agreements between employees and our former Director of Administration and Finance, Andy Damiano, is also missing from the office of Corporation Council.

Please feel free to call me with any questions.

Sincerely,

Susan Feiszli
Mayor, City of Cortland

Prostitute Makes Ass of Herself

     "A 28-year old Zimbabwe man arrested for allegedly having sex with a donkey tied to a tree has a simple explanation for his actions: the donkey was actually a prostitute who had, well, made an ass of herself."

     Read the rest of this story at The Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/donkey-prostitute-zimbabwe_n_1035194.html

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TRICK OR TREAT

     "Trick or treat" is heard twice each year in Cortland--on All Hallows Eve and on Election Day.
     Treats are associated with All Hallows Eve; tricks with Election Day.
     Children try to frighten people on All Hallows Eve. Politicians frighten people every day of the year.
     All Hallows Eve is the night of the wandering dead, the night before All Souls Day. Election Day is much the same, but there is more enthusiasm.
     The day after Election Day is called All Fool's Day. It is distinguished from April Fool's Day by a lack of joy among losers and a lack of integrity among winners.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gassed Up, Fed Up

     Today I filled my car with gasoline in Cortland at $3.65/gallon. This was the cheapest price in Cortland on Tuesday, October 25, 2011. In Ithaca the cheapest price was $3.61/gallon, in Syracuse $3.51, in Moravia $3.56 and in Auburn $3.44. A year ago the price for a gallon of gas was about 70 cents cheaper in New York State.
     The wholesale price has averaged about $2.70 over the past month. A man who works for a retail gasoline dealership association in Syracuse says that you add about 80 cents to the wholesale price to arrive at the retail price in our area. That would be $3.50/gallon.
     So why is Cortland the most expensive place to buy gasoline of the aforementioned cities and villages?
     Supply and demand?
     When was the last time you saw a "price war?" Can't remember? Does that mean there is no competition? Does dropping the price three cents a gallon on a selective day of the week, always at the same brand stations, count as competition? Have you ever seen different brand stations with three cents discount on the same day? Doesn't it look as if we have one distributor dealing gas to our county?
     It's more like musical chairs.
     While the music plays, and you scramble to get a bargain seat, your money is drawn into a black hole controlled by gasoline distributors located outside Cortland County.
     Gassed up, fed up.

     Edith O'Reilly, Cortland, N.Y.

Monday, October 24, 2011

City Development Under Mayor Feiszli's Two-Year Tenure

CITY DEVELOPMENT UNDER MAYOR FEISZLI’S TENURE

HOUSING:

Since January 2010, the City has provided rehabilitation assistance as follows:

• Investment of $560,847 in HOME Program funds for the rehabilitation of 31 single-family homes owned and occupied by low-to-moderate income households/individuals;

• Investment of $331,175 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the rehabilitation of 11 income property structures that contain 28 units of low-to-moderate income households/individuals; and

• Under Mayor Feiszli, the City also submitted and received a HOME Program grant in the amount of $398,500 for single family, owner-occupied housing rehabilitation; and

• Partnered with Access to Independence to provide administrative funds to operate its Access to Home Program that provides accessibility improvements to housing units in which disabled individuals reside.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

• Submitted and received a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $200,000 to assist Microenterprises in the City of Cortland (defined as businesses with five or fewer employees, including the owner or owners at the time of application for assistance);

• Provided grant assistance to five Microenterprises in the City (with a sixth project pending), five of which will assist low-to-moderate income individuals own and operate their own businesses; one of the awards is to a green energy business; four of the businesses are located in the downtown in keeping with the City’s goals of making the City’s Central Business District diverse and vibrant and another located in the East End in keeping with the East End Strategic Plan to redevelop the retail sector in that neighborhood by providing assistance to stores or service providers currently lacking;

• Loan of $33,000 to Daily Grind South to assist in the development of a grocery store in the South End in keeping with the City’s South End Strategic Plan to encourage retail and services currently lacking in the area; this area is historically underserved and heavily populated by low-to-moderate income individuals that lack transportation. These individuals will now have greater access to a grocery store eliminating costly taxi rides to grocery stores outside the City. The Daily Grind South project is a good example of using multiple sources of funds to make a significant difference in an area. The loan for the grocery store was made with Program income funds; the City also committed CDBG income property rehabilitation funds to rehabilitate two units of low-to-moderate income housing in the upper floor and leveraged over $150,000 in private funds for the purchase of the building and renovation of the fa├žade, including handicapped access. The original impetus to get Daly Grind to open a convenience store in the South End was a CDBG microenterprise grant made under a previous years program. That convenience store grew to the recently opened grocery store; the loan also resulted in job creation for low-to-moderate income individuals;

• Loan of $61,500 to Bangles, Bags & Bling, a niche boutique that moved outside the City as a result of a fire that destroyed the Clocktower Building. When the building in which she was located outside the City was sold last year, the City provided the necessary assistance to allow her to move back to the City in a new space and expand. This loan is in keeping with the City’s strategy to create a diverse shopping experience in the City by attracting niche businesses that provide goods and services not provided by big box stores or in strip malls; the loan also resulted in job creation for low-to-moderate income individuals; and

• Loan of $173,000 to Ithaca Technologies, LLC D/B/A Glyph Technologies, which provides proprietary digital storage devices for the professional recording industry and with this loan, is moving toward providing devices for the video and film industry; the company’s customer base, which includes vocal greats such as Paul McCartney, Bett Midler, and Mariah Carey, grew out of its space in Ithaca and not being able to find affordable space in Ithaca, approached the City for assistance; Glyph’s recording devices have also be used to record sound tracks for movies such as Moulin Rouge and Titanic and are used by ESPN, the Disney Channel , HBO, NBC, Fox and other major networks; the job creation promised in return for the assistance has exceeded expectations.


THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AND THE EAST END PLAN

In every community, including the City of Cortland, various public agencies, private organizations, and individuals make decisions that, individually and cumulatively, can affect a community’s future and impact the quality of life. It is prudent to periodically review the larger picture in order to evaluate the impact of emerging trends; deal with land use issues; ascertain the concerns of citizens and stakeholders; and, ultimately, decide whether policy changes are needed to chart the future desired course of the community.

The City’s Comprehensive Plan and a Strategic Plan for our East End Neighborhood’s importance and relevance is discussed below:

East End Strategic Plan

The East End is an older, once tight-knit mixed-use neighborhood with residential, industrial and commercial uses. Issues the precipitate the need for and preparation of the Strategic Plan for this neighborhood include:


• One of the poorest neighborhoods in the City (2000 Census)
• Highway commercial growth/encroachment on its borders
• Vacant commercial buildings
• Conflicts between residential uses and large industry in the neighborhood
• Decline in the condition of the housing stock
• Vacant or underused brownfield sites
• Overall loss of neighborhood character/cohesiveness

The preparation of the Strategic Plan document, which was funded with a Technical Assistance grant from Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program, served as a conduit for the following:

• A collaborative planning process that allowed the neighborhood to identify issues facing the East End today, its strengths, opportunities, challenges, threats, and community preferences.

• Exploring current and changing physical, social, and economic conditions in the East End, as well as understanding the forces behind such conditions and trends.

• Encouraging the neighborhood to think about the principles, policies, and building blocks that should be implemented to revitalize the East End Neighborhood in the future and how to prioritize its revitalization goals and implementation measures.

The Plan established clear and concise goals and implementation measures to address neighborhood concerns. The City has already captured $800,000 for owner occupied and rental rehabilitation and enhanced building code enforcement efforts.

The Comprehensive Plan

The comprehensive planning process grew out of the desire of the City of Cortland to become more proactive in guiding the changing conditions in the City, and to combat the socioeconomic decline the City has experienced in recent years. The Plan was partially funded with a grant from the NY Department of State’s Quality Communities Demonstration Program.

As with many upstate New York cities, Cortland is beset with a number of intractable problems. Historically, Cortland enjoyed over a century of growth and relative prosperity built on a strong manufacturing foundation starting with the post Civil War industrial revolution. The latter part of the 20th Century, however, brought about a collapse of this economic foundation as many companies closed, downsized, or left the area. Other manufacturers have relocated outside the City to the Town of Cortlandville, along with significant retail development. In recent decades the City has struggled as many good jobs, have been lost, the population has declined, and poverty has increased. With a shrinking tax base and a large number of tax-exempt parcels, the City is struggling to meet its financial obligations. Recent fiscal concerns have resulted in hiring freezes, budgetary cutbacks, and even discussion of dissolving City government. Much of the City’s housing stock is deteriorating, and recent years have seen growing conflicts between expanding student housing from SUNY Cortland and traditionally owner-occupied neighborhoods.

Cortland is at a crossroads. The blue collar manufacturing community that Cortland once was is largely gone. The City must fundamentally redefine and reinvent itself in order to reverse the decline of recent decades and remain a viable community in the future. The structure of the national economy has changed, and Cortland must change with it. The rust-belt mindset must be set aside, and a new economy developed in order to compete on the regional, statewide, and national levels: one based on the College, education, arts, culture, recreation, tourism, high-tech and green jobs, and other emerging trends. Strong neighborhoods, a vibrant downtown, and a high quality of life must be fostered in order to support new economic opportunities, and to create the sense of place and community that is needed to compete in today’s world.

In short, the Plan will serve as a blueprint for future action by the Common Council, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Historic District Commission, City Departments, and the community as a whole as it deals with growth and change, and the issues noted above. The Plan establishes clear goals to meet the vision of the City, and sets forth a roadmap to achieve its goals and address its problems.


SIDEWALKS AND TREES

• Planted 41 trees under the Lottery Program in 2010 and 2011 at a cost of $23,000+

• Secured a grant of $15,000 for additional tree planting in 2012

• Provided over $22,000 in assistance to facilitate the removal of deteriorated sidewalks and the construction of new sidewalks at 37 properties in the City in 2010 and 2011

Objections to Cortland's Conifer Project 2008

Make sure you read Exhibit 10, which puts all of this in perspective. Note reference to letters from protagonists Mayor Gallagher and Alderman Quail who wrote in favor of project, which was ultimately rejected. The original project requested a PILOT for 30 years. It was reduced to 15 years after heavy opposition. A PILOT is "payment in lieu of taxes." In the end, the Conifer project was denied by common council. It is worth a second look. See more about this project at Mayor Susan Feiszli's Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/pages/Mayor-Susan-Feiszli/215502941817168


April 8, 2008
To: Commissioner Deborah Van Amerongen
DHCR
Hampton Plaza
38-40 State Street
Albany, NY 12207
RE: Specific Objections to Conifer (Cortland Family Housing LLC - Cortland Apartments) Proposal for Subsidized Housing; SHARS ID 20086020
Correction of Misleading or False information and claims regarding Community/Housing Needs and evidence of local Support
This summary addresses specific claims within the Cortland Apartments application for 2008 DHCR funding that are false and/ or misleading. It is requested that the application be reviewed on the basis of the correct data as here in explained:
DHCR App Exhibit 2 - Community Impact/ Revitalization
A. Documentation of Community/Housing Needs
2a Existing Documentation of Local Need
A - Document - Local Needs Document - Local Consolidated Plan
Name: Cortland County Consolidated Plan, Cortland County, Published 10/2002
B- Needs identified:
1. Type of Project: The type of project is for NEW or Additional affordable housing units. The application correctly identifies needs for community revitalization but page 47 indicates only housing rehabilitation and home ownership as needs (see exhibit 1 pg 47) Pg 56 (exhibit 2) again references rehabilitation of existing units as Activity 2 of Objective 3. However, the preceding page 55 that begins Objective 3 specifically states “The high vacancy rates suggest that new subsidized housing may not be appropriate,... ( see Exhibit 3) The italicized emphasis was by the plans authors.
3 Item 3 Specifically mentions need for proposed project. This is false. In fact, the type of project , building new units, is specifically mentioned as inappropriate. As noted above (See Exhibit 3). The entire emphasis of the Consolidated Plan is on rehabilitation of existing units and replacement.
2a Existing Documentation of Local Need
A - Document Local Needs Document - Community Revitalization Plan
Name: South End Neighborhood Strategic Plan, City of Cortland, Published 6/19/2007


1. Identifies this type of project. The answer is incorrect. As in the Consolidated Plan, the South End Strategic Plan stresses a need for “rehabilitation” not additional units. Pgs 16, 22-23 , 38 reference only poor condition of housing in general. Pg 45 stresses Rehabilitation. The only time new units are discussed is in the context of replacing existing units that are not suitable for rehabilitation and must to removed and replaced. - See below Exhibit 5 which summarizes the five (5) actions recommended within the South End Plan. All address rehabilitation only. “New” is only listed on page 67 which is the summary matrix of the actions listed in the report. Read Exhibit 5 which lists all five recommended housing projects and/or pages 45 through 51 of the Plan which detail the specifics of the recommended actions. None refer to the type of project intended by Cortland Family Housing - which is for new additional units outside of the blighted South End area.
3. See above - need for project type is NOT mentioned in Plan.
In addition, it should be noted that the project is NOT is the South End geographical area. See Exhibit 6 map of the South End Plan. ( It should be noted a small City map in the lower left corner indicates that the actual study area was the general areas from Owego to Main Street from the City line to downtown. The eastern portion included on the Plan map is actually the City Noss industrial park and the former Rosen Superfund clean up site - now vacant and promoted by the City for industrial development. See South End Plan page 17) The Cortland Family Housing site is actually one of the few vacant General Industrial zoned sites in the City of Cortland outside of Noss Park and the Rosen site. Although multi family housing units are not prohibited in Industrial zones, single and two family homes are. The zoning ordinance states that the zone is “created to provide for industrial activities which could have significant adverse impacts upon neighbors ..” (See Exhibit 7 for zoning map and zone)
DHCR App Exhibit 2, B Evidence of Local Support
The following addresses the community supporting documentation of Mayor Gallagher and Dan Quail as listed in Attachment C1:
Gallagher letter - January 31, 2008:
Paragraph 2: states “ the development site is located in the south end of our city..”. This statement is incorrect. The South End Strategic Development Plan does NOT include this site. See exhibit 6.
Paragraph 4 states : “on behalf of Cortland Family Housing, LLC, the City of Cortland, ... give this application your utmost consideration,” . On February 19, 2008 the Common Council voted 5 to 3 to deny Cortland Family Housing, LLC a community development loan. Much discussion occurred , the Council as the governing body of the City of Cortland determined that the support for this specific project through use of Community Development funding was NOT in the best interests of the City of Cortland. ( See Exhibit 8 Common Council meeting minutes)
In addition, 5 of the Common Council members wrote to the Cortland IDA recommending that the Project NOT receive consideration for a PILOT program - See Exhibit 9)


Gallagher letter of February 21, 2008
Paragraph 1 states “The Cortland Family Housing apartments will be within the City’s South End Neighborhood “ . This is false - see attached Exhibit 6 mapping the South End and the Conifer (Cortland family Housing )Project
The third sentence states that the project “specifically addresses the South End Plan by providing “ ‘ energy saving, safety , and special needs housing features so the living units remain affordable and can be enjoyed by all”“ . The quoted line paraphrases sentence 5 of paragraph 2 from page 45 in Section VI - Action Agenda of the Strategic Plan - Problem/Opportunity 1 - Housing. It also is the title of Project 1.4 However, the quote specifically neglects to mention the preceding paragraph on page 45 (see Exhibit 4) and sentences which state the problem is due to deterioration of home ownership and conversion to rental units and that “To reverse this trend, the City should embark on a course of rehabilitation the existing owner- occupied housing market segment and encouraging home ownership programs to increase the level of owner-occupied housing. Tenants also deserve to live in standard affordable housing units, and the City should promote the rehabilitation of the rental market, particularly those units occupied by lower income households. Rehabilitation efforts should preserve and enhance the rich architectural detailiing that give the Neighborhood character. Financial incentives should be developed to assist tenants to become home owners. This action would make the dream of home ownership a reality and help reverse the lack of pride which is evident on some of the neighborhoods streets. New housing programs should..”
All housing recommendations for the South End Plan stress - rehabilitation. See Exhibit 5 and full report pages 45 - 50.
Paragraph 2 again erroneously states that the project is in the South End - see map Exhibit 6
The 3rd sentence indicates the City “has already made plans to spend approximately $175,000 ..” This is erroneous. The City has made an application for Safe to School grant funds to modify sidewalks and provide improvements along Pendleton Street as it serves an existing low income housing project to the south of the Cortland Family Housing LLC site to have better access to the High School and Randall School. No expenditure of City funds is anticipated without the grant.
Paragraph 3 states “on behalf of the City of Cortland ... I welcome this proposed project to the South End neighborhood”. As noted above Exhibit 6 - the site is NOT in the South End Neighborhood. As per Exhibits 8 and 9, the majority of the governing body of the City of Cortland, the Common Council, rejected the use of City Community Development funds for the project at its meeting of February 19, two (2) days prior to the letter.
Dan Quail letter of February 22, 2008


Paragraph 1 - second sentence states “ the project is critical to the continuation of re-developing the City of Cortland’s South End Neighborhood”. As noted in exhibit 6, the project is NOT located in the South End Neighborhood.
Per pages 45 - 50 of the South End Plan - the type of project proposed is NOT recommended as part of the South End Plan - Only rehabilitation of existing units and replacement of or removal of existing units to reduce densities, and promotion of home ownership are recommended. No part of the plan recommends construction of additional units.
DHCR App Exhibit 2 D - Community Needs Narrative:
1 Paragraph 12 conclusion states that “ substantial current need and an identified pressure in the near future to provide additional quality affordable family units.” This is a false statement. As per the Consolidated Plan pg 55 (see Exhibit 3) additional units are specifically noted as being undesirable.
The general discussion of Item 1 of D is correct in that affordable housing is needed. However, all plans quoted also specifically note that there is a high vacancy rate within the City and that additional units will only exacerbate the problem. The Consolidated Plan and the South End Plan both stress removal of existing units and rehabilitation. Additional units will degrade housing quality in general in the long run.
3 Paragraph 2 state the project is part of “..the South End Strategic Plan” . This is false see map Exhibit 6
Also that it is part of “Cortland County Consolidated Plan 2002" This false as per pg 55 of Plan - See Exhibit 3
Paragraph 3 same - see exhibit 3 and 5
Paragraph 4 . This again makes the false statement that the project is in the South End Strategic Neighborhood - See Exhibit 6
Paragraph 5 state there is a “..great need for the Project in the Neighborhood “ This is again a false statement as it is NOT in the Neighborhood. (Exhibit 6) and the Plan indicates per pages 45-50 (see Exhibit 5) that rehabilitation is needed and reduction is concentration and density of units is needed.
Paragraph 6 references Mayor Gallagher and Councilman Quails letters - See above comments on these letters - claims of public support are false.
Paragraph 7 references “ .. The City has committed to infrastructure improvements at the project site” The City has made a grant application for Safe to School funds in the area and not specifically for the project. No commitment of City funds has been made and noted improvements are contingent upon receiving grant funds. Sewer improvements are City wide due to excessive infiltration/inflow problems that have plagued the system for decades.


Paragraph 8 falsely states the project is part of the south end plan (see exhibit 6) and indicates “implementation” of significant measures by the City. Only the sewer project is ongoing.
DHCR App Exhibit 8 - Site and Building Information
Item 7 a. Site is free of hazardous materials and incompatible adjacent uses. This was answered yes. In fact the site may have some residual hazardous materials as evidenced by Pat Snyder letter of ( see exhibit 11). It is also in an industrial zone with the following surrounding uses :
East - rail road line and scrap yard - demolition company processing faciltiy
North - industrial facility
South and East - County Recycling facility
All of the above would be considered incompatible uses.
In conclusion, there is no disagreement that there is a need for affordable housing. However the application fails to mention, and the Project address, the high existing vacancy rates. Projects recently undertaken in the City by Housing Visions where rehabilitation or replacement in kind are the type of government subsidized housing that is needed and acceptable within the guidelines of the Consolidated Plan and the South End Plan. Also needed and stressed to a greater extent, is the need to promote home ownership programs for middle and lower income individuals and to reduce high density rates.
Very truly yours,


EXHIBIT 5 - SUMMARY OF HOUSING PROJECTS RECOMMENDED IN SOUTH END STRATEGIC PLAN
The South End Strategic Plan suggests 5 specific projects to meet the Housing needs identified. They are :
1.1 - Housing rehabilitation program in the South End for Owner occupied and Income property page 46
1.2 - limit conversion of owner occupied housing to income and encourage converting income property to owner occupied - page 48
1.3 - demolish properties not fit for rehabilitation and reduce density - specifically lots with 2 structure and insufficient parking page 49
1.4 - “promote energy saving, safety and special need housing features so the living units remain affordable and can be enjoyed by all” The sentence next states that in order to be affordable for households, “housing rehabilitation must consider energy saving features ” and “Rehabilitation must take into account the needs of individual household members such as features that allow the elderly to age in place ..” and “address lead base paint, asbestos, and smoke and CO detectors ..” pg 49
1.5 - Encourage development of more middle income housing - to diversify the neighborhood. Pg 50
As can be seen ALL recommendations associated with the South End Strategic Plan specifically target “Rehabilitation” and reduction in densities. No NEW multifamily developments are suggested


.EXHIBIT 10 - PORTIONS OF CONSOLIDATED PLAN.
Attached below are excerpts from the COrtland County Consolidated Plan and pages from the South End Strategic Plan. Even though the project is NOT in the South End - both documents clearly stress the need for affordable housing through “rehabilitation” and specifically state that NEW or Addition housing units are NOT desirable.
Excerpts from the Consolidated Plan are attached. The full plan can be found on the Cortland County web site http://www.cortland‑co.org/Planning/ConsolidatedPlan.pdf
OBJECTIVE 1 was to:
“ Improve the condition of the existing housing stock in the community, especially housing which is owned, occupied, or available to low to moderate income residents” The following activities were listed as priorities in order:
Activity 1: Renovate existing rental properties thru rehabilitation programs
Activity 2: Renovate owner-occupied housing through rehabilitation programs
Activity 3: More aggressive code enforcement to maintain rental and owner-occupied housing units as “standard”.
Activity 4: Coordinate inspection of student housing and enforcement of housing code to ensure that student housing meets housing code standards, at a minimum
Activity 5: Review local codes, and revise as needed to enable “proactive” code enforcement
Objective 2 was: “Increase the level of home ownership
Activity 1: Encourage and promote home ownership through programs that provide assistance to low- and moderate-income first-time home buyers
Activity 2: Limit the conversion of single-family homes to rental properties.
OBJECTIVE #3: Increase access to affordable, quality rental properties
Need: While rental vacancy rates remain high in the City and villages, waiting lists for quality subsidized housing and Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers remain long. The high vacancy rates suggest that new subsidized housing may not be appropriate, however, the long waiting list for subsidy programs suggest that the supply of affordable quality rental properties is an issue in Cortland County.
Activity # 1: Income property rehabilitation incentive programs should be conditioned on rent subsidy programs and/or affordable rents. Rental property rehabilitation programs (as discussed in Objective #1) if successful, will increase the amount of available quality rental properties. Linking rent subsidy/assistance programs and/or affordable rents as a prerequisite for participation in the rehabilitation programs will ensure that these rental units, once brought into compliance with housing quality standards, will remain affordable to low to moderate income persons and families.


Activity #2: Identify and pursue funding opportunities for additional rental assistance programs, as they become available. Cortland County community housing agencies should seek to provide additional subsidies, including additional Housing Choice Vouchers, to low and moderate income families and individuals, for existing rental housing which meets housing quality standards, as funding become available. As detailed more fully under the Homeless and Supportive Housing Needs section below, there is a significant need to provide affordable housing that is accessible to disabled individuals. Funding should be sought to provide rental subsidies specifically for this population.
Proposed Accomplishments: A stronger supply of affordable rental housing that meets housing quality standards will ensure that even those in the community with limited financial resources will have access to decent, affordable housing options.

Questions for Conifer Project by Alderperson Feiszli

These are questions I asked regarding the project when I was alderperson. Mayor Susan Feiszli. 


Prior to taking action on the project I would like to have answers to the following questions:
1. Of the proposed $21,000 in PILOT payments precisely how much will be paid yearly to :
a. Cortland County
b. City of Cortlamd
c. Cortland City School District
d. Any other entity
2. Of the $24,000 estimated as taxes without a PILOT please provide the same as above
3. How was the 24,000 estimate calculated? My understanding of 581- a is that it is based on an income approach for properties with at least 20% of the units rented to people who are in a municipal income guideline program. The income approach stipulates capitalized value of a series of yearly net incomes over a set period. What is the:
a. Yearly gross income
b. Yearly estimated expenses
c. Yearly or total Capital reserve
d. Period or term over which the project value is being capitalized and rate being used in the calculation
4. How many permanent full time jobs will be created? How many Equivalent full time or part time if any?
5. You indicate an “issuance “ fee is being charged by the IDA. Are bonds being issued for financing the project? Will IDA own or have a leasehold agreement at the site? Who actually receives the “issuance” fee? It has been stated this is a payment that is going to “local” governments. However, it is assumed that such fees are charged in order to cover actual costs ( bond attorneys, title searches, sales, appraisals, etc.) associated with the project financing. Will this fee be going for the above uses or be distributed to the local governments (county, city, and school)
6. How long a period of time will the project be subject to rent controls to allow lower income renters? And what happens at the end of that period?
7. What percentage of the project units or bed will be set aside for lower income residents and what are the current proposed income guidelines?
8. What is the exact amount that Fritz Brown is paying? What is the exact amount he will be paying in late fees and penalties? Is there any break to this number?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wilmer McLean

     "One of the lesser-known figures of American history is Wilmer McLean, a Virginia farmer who took little interest in politics.
     "In 1861, most of the Rebel army marched onto McLean's land. The Union forces attempted to bar their way, and the first full-scale battle of the Civil War (Battle of Bull Run), got underway--right on his farm. Thirteen months later, it happened again. The second battle at Bull Run destroyed McLean's land. McLean had had enough. He packed his wagons and moved two hundred miles away from the war.
     "Three years later, in a weird twist of fate, two men confronted each other in Wilmer McLean's parlor. These two men talked and signed a document on McLean's best table; for he had moved to a little village called Appomattox Court House--where Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant negotiated the end of the Civil War."

--Ripley's Believe It or Not.

For additional information, please visit Wikipedia link   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilmer_McLean

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mayor Feiszli Explains Fund Balance and Cortland Budget

To the Citizens of Cortland:

There seems to be some confusion about the fund balance and my not raising taxes for the last two budgets
These are two separate issues.
The nearly 2 million dollar fund balance is mainly because of Highgate and the selling of properties for back taxes. It also has to do with changing how the City operates vs. past practices.
Think of that money going into a savings account or a 401K to be used for emergencies only.
The City needs to have a healthy fund balance to have a good bond rating to keep the interest rate for borrowing low. It is like your credit rating. If you have a bad credit rating it costs you more to borrow money. With a healthy fund balance it costs the City less to borrow for large capital projects.
Over the years, former Administrations have depleted the fund balance AND raised taxes at the same time just to cover year to year expenses rather than trying to control them.
When I took office two years ago, we had overspent to the point that the fund balance had disappeared and the City owed over $300,000. What this means is that former administrations spent money that they didn’t have.
The City Budget is more like your checkbook. We had X amount of dollars to spend for 2012 and X amount of money to use from revenue generated from sales and property tax.
I could have raised your taxes to cover increased expenses or used some of the restored fund balance, like former administrations had, but I didn't. We made do with what we had and lived within our means. Period.
By working with Department Heads and our Finance Department we were able to balance the "checkbook" by finding ways to provide the same services without raising your taxes.
This was not just accomplished the last few weeks. It took two years of hard work to be where we are today. For the first time EVER Department Heads have been working together to keep expenses down. Some measures to save money resulted in “Improper Practice” charges from Unions against the administration, but I felt they were in the best interest of the taxpayers. Past Practices Had to Stop!
And it worked. The Departments have taken down the wall and are now sharing employees and equipment to get the job done which eliminates duplication of services by increased communication.
We now have a healthy fund balance, and are keeping overspending in control.
Mayor Susan Feiszli

Editor's note: You may read this and other posts by Mayor Feiszli at link  www.facebook.com/pages/Mayor-Susan-Feiszli/215502941817168.
In her two-year term, property taxes were not increased. Did former Mayors Walsh, Tytler or Gallagher do this? On the contrary--

Aliens Abduct Cortland Democrat Clay Benefit

      Alien Precursors abducted City of Cortland Democrat Clay Benefit late last night near the corner of Homer Avenue and Madison Avenue. A cloaked flying saucer hovered over the city as a trio of Precursors descended to earth and made the pinch. Precursors are hybrid Republican-Aliens.
      The Precursors took Benefit to Republican headquarters on Port Watson Street for interrogation. They grilled him for several hours, demanding answers about political mischief by Democrats aligned with the Woodster faction. Republican committee members cooked up the questions. They were present and recorded all questions and answers.
      An incomplete transcript follows. It was obtained from Victor Bahou's ghost, who still resides in the building.
      Precursor 1: "Was it your idea to misprint Democratic primary petitions?"
      Clay: "No."
      Precursor 2: "Was William Woode involved?
      Clay: "No."
      Precursor 3: "Does no mean yes?"
      Clay: "No."
      Precursor 1: "When you discovered the misprint--which made the form unacceptable to election commissioners--did you notify mayoral candidate Tobin?"
      Clay: "No."
      Precursor 2: "Who notified mayoral candidate Tobin?"
      Clay: "I don't know."
      Precursor 3: "When was mayoral candidate Tobin notified?"
      Clay (frazzled by rapid fire questions): "The day I told him--"
      Precursor 1: "Did you lie to Precursor 2?"
      Clay: "No."
      Precursor 2: "Why did you delay notifying Mayor Susan Feiszli, who had the same misprinted petitions for two months and was notified of the mistake with only eight days left to qualify?"
      Clay: "I thought she was notified."
      Precursor 3: "Who notified her?"
      Clay: "I don't know."
      Precursor 1: Having been notified several days after Tobin, Mayor Feiszli was at a clear disadvantage. Was that intentional?"
      Clay: "No."
      Precursor 2: "Are you planning any dirty tricks for Republicans?"
      Clay: "No."
      Precursor 3: "Does no mean yes?"
      Clay: "No."
      End of transcript.
      Before returning Democrat Clay Benefit to the place of abduction on Homer Avenue in the wee hours of morning, the Precursors brainwashed him and instructed him to send an email to all Cortland voters. His email endorsed Republicans Dan Quail and Tom Michales for reelection.
      When he was released, he was admonished to abandon any pretense that he was a Latter-Day Solon, or political reformer.
 

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Camp

      The bed was made, the room was fit,
      By punctual eve the stars were lit;
      The air was still, the water ran;
      No need was there for maid or man,
      When we pulled up, my ass and I,
      At God's green caravanserai.

A Camp by Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who Am I? (Number1)

     I was born in Russia but I grew up in Brooklyn. I received my PhD in biochemistry from Columbia University. I was a tenured associate professor of biochemistry at Boston University, but after 1958 I seldom taught classes. I was too busy copyrighting Theremon762 and Multivac and other strange names.
     No, I didn't sell vacuum cleaners.
     I was a claustrophile most of my life. I actually enjoyed enclosed spaces. When I was a child I wanted to hide inside a newspaper stand in a New York City subway station and listen to trains as I read magazines.
     As an adult I enjoyed Gilbert and Sullivan operas. I joined the Sherlock Holmes Society, the Baker Street Irregulars and the Trapdoor Spiders.
     No, they weren't street gangs.
     In 1984 I was named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association. Humanist is the named I preferred rather than atheist or agnostic.
     I had a heart attack in 1977, and triple bypass surgery in 1983. The blood I received during bypass surgery was tainted with HIV. I died in 1992 of myocardial and renal complications.
     I wrote or edited over 500 books. I became famous for The Foundation, Galactic Empire and I Robot series. I won awards for two short stories, Nightfall and The Last Question.
     I am Isaac Asimov.
For a short biography, go to link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Is It All About Money?

      Mayoral candidate Brian Tobin handily won the Democratic primary. How will he reward his political handlers--veteran party hacks Ron Walsh and William Wood? Will they both regain a foothold in city government? Will Ron Walsh resume as corporation council, and William Wood resume as city clerk?
      Is that what voters want or expect?
      A farmer in Cortlandville suggested that appointing Wood and Walsh to positions in city government may be similar to a sheep rancher putting wolves in his sheep meadow.
      How did these veteran party leaders convince Alderman Tobin to run against Mayor Feiszli in the primary? Did they appeal to him on the singular issue of the landlord-city code dispute? Or was it a more primitive, selfish appeal for pecuniary reward?
      Without public salaries and benefits for part-time work, the number of enthusiastic candidates for public office would decline sharply. The health insurance benefit alone is a capital draw, worth up to $15,000 per year. And part-time public employees are eligible for state pensions.
     The office of mayor pays $25,000 per year, the corporation council position pays $40,000 per year, and the city clerk position pays $3,500 per year for four hours work each week. All these positions are part-time with full benefits, if chosen.
      Is it all about money?
      You bet it is!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sgt. Pepper Slammed by Area Newspaper

    One of the newspapers that serves the Cortland area has slammed Detective Sgt. Lonely Pepper in a typical, rambling, unfocused editorial. The newspaper charged that Sgt. Pepper submitted a claim to the city for overtime for his musical performance at the Occupy Cortland demonstration last Saturday night.
    Sgt. Pepper denied the charge and issued the following statement:
    "I did not submit a claim for overtime. I was not in uniform, I was not working a case, I was not working period. I and the band volunteered our time, at the chief's request, in harmony with the event. The chief will back me on this.
     "The newspaper also suggested that the police department is 'running on empty' in regard to the unsolved flasher case. I am not authorized to talk about that case, other than state we have a person of interest--that person is one of the 'Good Old Boys'-- we prefer not to identify him at this time.
    "This same newspaper also made undocumented charges about the decisions and performance of our mayor. The public was misinformed. Addressing the newspaper, I demand a correction--for me and the mayor. Set the record straight. Put up or shut up."

    For more on Sgt. Pepper, see previous posts "Occupy Cortland Protest" and Flasher Spotted Near Beaudry Park."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Trick Paragraph

     "It was a crisp and spicy morning in early October. The lilacs and laburnuns, lit with the glory-fires of autumn, hung burning and flashing in the upper air, a fairy bridge provided by kind nature for the wingless wild things that have their homes in the tree-tops and would visit together; the larch and the promegranate flung their purple and yellow flames in brilliant broad splashes along the slanting sweep of the woodland; the sensuous fragrance of innumerable deciduous flowers rose upon the swooning atmosphere; far in the empty sky a solitary oesophagus slept upon motionless wing; everywhere brooded stillness, serenity, and the peace of God."

excerpt, Double-Barreled Detective Story by Mark Twain.

Occupy Cortland Protest

    The Occupy Cortland protest, a local spin-off of Occupy Wall Street, entered the sixth day in typical Cortland fashion--a few resolute older protesters showed up in front of the U.S. Post Office building at 8 A.M., Saturday morning. The young student protesters, who had partied Friday night, were sleeping on the sidewalks, in doorways, and in alleys. The weather was seasonal, the morning was chilly.
    Some protesters waved signs, and some shouted slogans:
    "Down with Capitalism."
    "Wall Street Robbers."
    "Corporate Greed."
    "Fair Tax--Tax millionaires."
    "People Before Profits."
    "We are the 99 Pct."
    "Jail Banksters."
    "Protect Working Families."
    "Honk for Justice."
    A few passing motorists honked their horns. Others ignored the protesters, who were five in number, a mix of retired university and government employees.
    "Shouldn't we be protesting at a bank?" a grey-haired woman said to another protester.
    "We should," answered the other woman. "But where? Which bank?"
    "Let's move our protest to the HSBC bank," the first woman suggested. "It's those bailed-out, bonus-bragging bankers that we want to make accountable. The post office has nothing to do with the economic mess we're in, really."
    The protesters all agreed to this suggestion, and they re-located to the sidewalk in front of the HSBC bank. The farmer's market vendors who lined the west curb of Main Street watched with curiosity.The protesters continued to shout their slogans and sing old civil rights' protest songs.
    "We shall overcome--"
    Someone made the point that the HSBC bank was controlled by Communist China. They paused their protest and huddled in serious discussion. They agreed that Communist China had abandoned socialism and was now a purveyor of capitalism, and that the protest should continue in front of the bank. One of the aged protesters, a retired education professor, summarized their position:
    "The Chinese are building new farms, railroads, airports, highways, skyscrapers, factories and revitalizing neighborhoods. The slums that were the earmark of communism are disappearing. There is inequality everywhere in China--classic signs of capitalism. It's the fault of Wall Street and big greedy banks, like this one, that devour the middle-class and create poverty all over the world. Look what they did to Greece. We shall overcome--"
    One old street vendor, who was watching and listening, commented: "He contradicts himself."
    The retired professor, who was the object of the criticism, didn't hear him.
    The young protesters began to stir about 2 P.M. The partying resumed. Music flowed along Main Street, songs were sung, slogans were shouted. By 4 P.M. there were hundreds of protesters on the street and sidewalks. Vehicular traffic could not pass. Horns were honking. Angry motorists were shouting from open car windows. The police were called by concerned merchants. Vendors packed their produce and left the farmers market.
    Protesters said that they had a permit. Police said that the permit did not allow protesters to block traffic. Both sides sought to avoid a confrontation. Police Chief McCartney said he would supply musicians at 8 P.M. if the protesters allowed traffic to pass. The protesters happily agreed, cleared the streets and allowed traffic to pass. Chief  McCartney contacted Sgt. Pepper and made arrangements for the music.
    At 6 P.M. the older protesters went home. New signs appeared.
    "LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS."
    "Outlaw War."
    "Outlaw Work."
    "Make Love not War."
    "LOVE IS MY RELIGION."
    "Free Tuition."
    "FREE BEER."
    A student leader gave a short vitriolic speech against capitalism and work, and concluded with:
    "We have some serious issues about wealth and greed in this country, but right now it's party time!"
    At 8 P.M. Chief McCartney and Deputy Chief Starr introduced Sgt. Lonely Pepper's Band to the crowd of youthful, enthusiastic protesters. Chief McCartney told the crowd that Sgt. Pepper was the detective assigned to Cortland's unsolved flasher case. The crowd applauded.
    Sgt. Pepper, lead vocalist, began the evening festivities with "Imagine" followed by "Give Me Some Truth."
    Behind the scenes, the mayor praised the chief's decision to control the crowd with John Lennon music.
    "There are arrests and street violence in Denver and New York City," she said. "But we have peace and cooperation in the City of Cortland."

    Click on YouTube below for an entertaining Wall Street protest song suggested by a reader of this blog.


http://www.youtube.com/user/ReasonTV#p/c/3/4QTfNEDgusQ

Readers interested in the subject of unequal income distribution and probable effects in the United States please click on the Bloomberg News and New York Times links below.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-13/growing-income-divide-may-increase-u-s-vulnerability-to-financial-crises.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/opinion/sunday/kristof-americas-primal-scream.html?_r=1&hp