Upstate ratepayers should not be forced to subsidize downstate as a result of downstate’s over-reliance on fossil fuels. The rushed decisions being made to meet the state’s unrealistic climate goals will make New York State even more unaffordable, send New Yorkers packing, and put family-owned businesses under.
The PSC’s latest vote to approve an estimated $6.6 billion in local transmission upgrades is yet another example of how the state’s haphazard approach to curbing climate change is negatively impacting Upstate residents. Current Upstate energy generation is 91 percent zero emissions while downstate is a meager 9 percent, yet this 3-16 percent rate hike is expected to be highest for ratepayers and businesses north of New York City.
While all ratepayers will pay the same increases statewide, costs faced by Upstate ratepayers will nearly double on a percentage basis. It is not equitable or fair that Upstate ratepayers will be subsidizing the highest emitters downstate. New Yorkers deserve to know the total cost of the state’s climate action goals, not find out piecemeal as projects are approved over time. If costs keep climbing for everyday New Yorkers and our small businesses, the Empire State Exodus will continue.
While there were two no votes, several PSC Commissioners expressed their concern about the rate increases in general. Until there is a fairer ratio for recouping the costs and we know more about the real price tag associated with them, we should all heed their warnings.
The Swart-Wilcox House, the oldest in Oneonta, is looking for a 19th-century English barn to replace the original one destroyed by fire in 1968.
Upstate New York is rural. Its towns, villages, and cities are spread out and difficult to reach. There are fields and forests and lakes. For most of its over-200-year history agriculture has been, and still might be, the main industry. Upstate New York is beautiful, bucolic, serene, clear, compelling. Rolling hills encircle cool lakes; fields interrupt clumps of forest. Farmhouses, barns, and outbuildings reveal their uses by their shapes and locations. Barns, in fact, are the distinctive feature of our part of the state. Early farms had multiple crops and livestock—wheat, oats, rye; sheep, cows, pigs, chickens—which called for multiple buildings: horse barns, ox barns, hay barns, chicken houses, workshops, corn cribs, granaries, wagon sheds, and the like. The farms resembled villages.
HOLIDAY TOUR – 3 – 8 p.m. Tour the historic village by lantern. See it dressed in its winter finery, learn about winter celebration including Christmas and how they were celebrated in Upstate New York in years past. Cost, $20/adult. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org/event/holiday-lantern-tours/2021-12-03/
Picture this: you’re at a local grocery store. In a hurry. You get what you need and run out of the store and it’s pouring rain. You get home and realize you left your purse in the shopping cart in the parking lot. Your stomach tightens as you remember you had your monthly rent, in cash, in a bank envelope in your purse. You feel sick.
Not a good situation, but this happened to a young woman in Cooperstown just last week. She was devastated when she went back to the store parking lot and found her purse had been turned in, but the envelope gone. Now what is she going to do?
This woman, who asked to go by Kristy for this story, simply posted on Facebook’s “Celebrate Cooperstown” page asking for whomever took her rent money to please return it.
“I have an eight-year-old daughter and I’m a single mom,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. I was devastated.”
“Rent is due, my daughter’s birthday is soon, the holidays are coming. I wasn’t going to judge or question anyone, I just really needed that money back.”
Many responded, as people do on Facebook, offering prayers and hope.
But a few kind souls opened a Venmo account for her. Donations started rolling in.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Kristy said. “These people don’t even know me and they were donating money to help me out. I genuinely don’t know how to express how grateful I am at everyone’s generosity. This year has been rough, I lost everything because of domestic violence in my house.”
“I went from crying tears of despair to tears of happiness and gratefulness,” she said. “The money was way over what I had lost. I don’t even know who coordinated it, it was just a whole community coming together. My heart is so full.”
We all need a story like this right before Thanksgiving!
One of the joys of living in our part of Upstate New York is the ability to recognize and appreciate some individuals who truly make our world better, and who, in a larger populated area, might go unnoticed.
In this particular case, I would like to thank and congratulate Liane Hirabayashi and Lynne Mebust for the success of the “Looking in the Mirror: Cooperstown Reflects on Racism” programming made possible this year via Zoom and sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area and The Friends of the Village Library.
The ability to participate in this important series from the comfort of our homes, and to view at a preferred time through Zoom – all recorded and available through the Village Library website – was a truly brilliant concept.
I am sure that all speakers who shared their expertise so generously would not have been willing to travel on our wintry roads to attend a live event.
Participation was high, technology worked! Our community has a better understanding of racism and now has some tools in our toolbox with which to combat racism here and in the larger world.
Editor’s Note: Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, is retiring from the county board to focus on chairing the city Planning Commission, and to share his reflections on development and environmentalism through his blog, (accessible by Googling “danny lapin blog”.) This is an excerpt to his introduction to the blog.
One of my best friends in graduate school lovingly coined the topic of local government the “most important thing nobody cares about.” This was, of course, after hearing me prattle on about tax rates, land-use regulations, and urban planning in general for hours on end over the course of our two-year program in bucolic Upstate New York.
The decisions made by our local government affect us a lot more than we might think. Most apparent is in the layout of our road network and built environment. Those decisions were likely guided by a zoning code overseen by a local Planning Commission.
Decisions on how parks are designed, when basketball courts are opened or closed, and whether a new dog park should be built in town are controlled by local governments. Decisions on when to plow our roads, inspect the safety of our buildings, and how best to respond to emergencies are largely undertaken by… you guessed it… local governments.
Too often, I hear that town/village/city meetings are “boring” or that “nothing” gets done. People question whether they should take time away from their families, jobs, or other commitments to attend meetings.
I created this blog to break down key issues facing the city ranging from Downtown Revitalization to housing, taxes, sustainability, and beyond. I did this because I want us all to effectively evaluate each candidate based on the merits of their vision. Ultimately, who each reader chooses to support is up to them, however – it is my hope that this blog will play a small role in helping people understand the key issues facing our community.
So why create a blog now? In 2016, the City of Oneonta received a $10 million grant through the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative. This grant is intended to transform our downtown through the implementation of several small-to-to medium-sized projects. In the five years that have transpired, façade improvements are starting to pop up Downtown, a new marketing campaign was launched, and dozens of units of new housing are likely to come online in our community.
As the planner/engineer and creator of “Strong Towns,” Chuck Mahron, says change is at its strongest when it comes incrementally from the bottom up. As citizens, we get to act as glorified job interviewers as we select who will be Oneonta’s next mayor. The first step to the interview process is for us to figure out what are some of the key issues facing our city. It’s time to step beyond the
dinner table where many of us has an idea of what Oneonta needs, enter the public square, and debate these issues in the open.
The next New York State budget is on its way to passage, and with the federal stimulus of $12.6 billion it will not be as bad as projected. But there are still many problems ahead. Our state had a budget deficit before the pandemic, and a declining population, which the census will likely confirm later this year.
We must look for new ways to bring people back to New York. Without more people, our state will continue to suffer, and the problems will continue to grow. What is one way to bring people back?
How do we get more jobs? By investing strategically in the industries of the future, and we can do that without hurting businesses already here.
Green energy has dazzling potential. It is the industry with the fastest growing job basis in the country, and these jobs pay higher than average.
We need the energy too. New York has some of the highest utility rates in the country, and investment in green energy will lower energy costs, because the costs for renewable energy continue to go down.
Recognizing the value of green energy, the legislature passed the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act in 2019. This bill outlined clear and achievable targets to increase renewable energy production, storage and energy infrastructure.
Plus, it recognized that many communities across New York have been left behind and disadvantaged economically, so it makes sure that large parts of the investment go to these communities.
Our region has been left behind by Albany for far too long. This bill may start to change that. Of course, the question comes up of how to pay for these upgrades. We cannot print money like the federal government, so the answer is the Climate & Community Investment Act.
This bill will set taxes and charges against those businesses that pollute the most. The revenue will be turned into direct reinvestment in our state.
I support this legislation because it answers the question of how to pay for a specific state program. It may not be a perfect bill, it should be debated, and that debate can certainly make it better.
The results of this bill will help our region, and for that we all have reason to support it.
A year ago, just before the start of pandemic lockdowns, some 10% or less of the U.S. labor force worked remotely full-time. Within a month, according to Gallup and other surveys, around half of American workers were at distant desktops. Today, most of them still are. And surveys of employers and employees alike suggest a fundamental shift.
While forecasts differ, as much as a quarter of the 160-million-strong U.S. labor force is expected to stay fully remote in the long term, and many more are likely to work remotely a significant part of the time.
Smaller metro areas such as Miami, Austin, Charlotte, Nashville and Denver enjoy a price advantage over more expensive cities like New York and San Francisco, and they are using it to attract newly mobile professionals. Smaller cities have joined the competition as well, some of them launching initiatives specifically designed to appeal to remote workers.
And more rural communities including Bozeman, Mont., Jackson Hole, Wyo., Truckee, Calif., and New York’s Hudson Valley are becoming the nation’s new “Zoom towns,” seeing their fortunes rise from the influx of new residents whose work relies on such digital tools.
Richard Florida and Adam Ozimek
Wall Street Journal
March 6-7, 2021