OPINION: Socialism For The Rich
August 5th 2012 · 2 Comments
With all of the talk about “socialism” this election cycle, we thought it’d be a good time to discuss this. Here in Utica we’ve seen a lot of socialism. Unfortunately, it’s been geared to benefit the privileged few with money. That’s called socialism for the rich.
It’s ok that we continue to see property and sales tax increases, but we never hear the friends and family plan talk about the tax breaks or corporate handouts given to local businesses. Over the decades, we’ve spent millions and millions trying to lure jobs to the area. Look at the “NanoTech” site. Millions spent on an empty field. We lost the bid to land a major company, and then we even lost the consolation prize of a packaging plant. We’ve spent untold millions on the former Griffiss Air Base, yet it’s mostly been to reshuffle/relocate jobs with even more tax abatements.
Last week, we saw the city ready to shut down Buckley Pool in East Utica over a $10,000 water pump. Thankfully, private citizens and the Community Foundation donated the funds. However, we wonder how the private donors feel knowing that the next day the city rehired more police officers and promoted many more. A week earlier the council voted to give their part-time attorney a raise despite him already receiving a state pension and having another appointment. The city paid an estimated $300,000 to tear down a property on Bleecker Street that was bought from the Gaetano family for $1. A councilman’s brother, who heads Centro, benefited from that deal while the councilman voted on it.
But, this is not news to our overlords. This has become functional. With the loss of industry, manufacturing, an abundance of intellect and the days of the old hostels and mafia – this has become the new racket. Those in these positions help funnel taxpayer money through a slew of different select agencies in order to handout contracts for projects that rarely come to fruition. In return, the politicians get their family and friends jobs at these agencies, businesses and governments. They also get financial help on their campaigns. Anyone that dares stand up and speak against this system is labeled a “troublemaker” and “bomb thrower.”
We hear the same calls for reform and change every election, yet the same policies continue every year – no matter who we elect. That’s because these politicians and their coconspirators like to exploit the generally trusting and warm hearts of Utica residents. You see, Uticans have dealt with a lot of let downs over the decades. They’ve almost come to expect the worst. But they continue to be a very close community that has become cynical, and in return, seem to block out any attempts at hearing the truth. This allows the establishment to exploit this for political gain.
This city was built by the benevolence of those innovative minds that settled Old Fort Schuyler. After they became successful, they sought to give back to the community that helped them. In 1931, during the Great Depression, when the Utica banks were on the verge of collapse, it was Mrs. Thomas R. Proctor that stepped up and deposited her vast personal wealth into the local banks to protect them. This was a great risk, but showed the civic pride of those that benefited from this great city. In 1938 and 1939, Buckley Pool, named after Judge Buckley, and Addison Miller Pool were built as part of FDR’s W.P.A. program. The first commercial telegraph was started here in Utica, which led to the Associated Press and other major corporations still in existence today, including American Express and Wells Fargo.
Somewhere we went astray. And although we believe most people in office have good intentions, it seems they lack the ability to truly think big. What do we want to be? A city of innovation or a city that just couldn’t change with the times?
It all adds up to socialism for the select few in Utica. While programs are cut in the inner-city, streets are in disrepair, infrastructure is deplorable and we’re on the brink of fiscal disaster, the city continues with the status quo as if everything will magically workout.
You don’t have to be a Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, to understand that Utica has a spending problem. We spend more on economic development than any other city our size. Yet we see the smallest return on investment. We spend over $10 million per year than we take in. We are bonding to pay the bills and bonded 20 years to pay for ambulances that have a lifespan of 4-5 years.
This is a disaster in the making. The people of this city deserve a break for once. The current structure of our city government was designed at a time when the city had over 100,000 residents and was growing at a pace faster than New York City. That ended after WWII, and it hasn’t turned around. City officials seem content with just asking everyone to “love Utica.” We do, that’s why we’re fighting for our city. Just saying you love the city isn’t enough though. We need to see action that proves it. Talk is cheap.
It’s like having a $200,000 per year job with a $500,000 mortgage, two BMW’s and a summer camp. As anyone that’s gone through a situation like this knows, if you lose that job and replace it with a $50,000 per year job, you have some decisions to make. They won’t be easy. Your kids will likely be mad for a while. But you need to downsize the house, get more economical cars and maybe sell the summer camp. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before your home is foreclosed, cars repossessed and any savings for your kids’ college is gone. You do what you have to, no matter how tough, to make sure the longterm stability of your family is your first priority.
Utica needs to decide what our priorities are. Does our mayor want to go down in history as just another forgotten figure that didn’t seize the moment, or does he want to finally tell the people the hard truth and start righting this ship? That’s his choice, but we hope someone starts thinking about the real underdogs in this city – the people.