Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Legislators Call for Border Solution

As St. Lawrence County Legislators for areas that have been greatly affected due to the closing of the International Border Crossing, Greg Paquin and Daniel Girard would like to call for a resolution that involves our American President and the Prime Minister of Canada, along with representatives from the Mohawk Council for Akwesasne. This would show our local constituents that each national government views this problem as a true international occurrence.

As the protests continue and the International Bridge located between Cornwall and Rooseveltown remains closed, many people have commented on the local impact for communities on both sides of the border. Estimated losses for Cornwall businesses stand at approximately $10,000 per day for each business. Merchants in Massena, especially the St. Lawrence Centre mall complex, and surrounding St. Lawrence County areas, have seen their sales drop significantly as the bridge closing limits Canadian customers. Businesses on Akwesasne have felt similar struggles, especially in a downturn at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino and the Mohawk Bingo Palace, which will decrease the amount of money our local communities receive from the Tribal Gaming Compact.

Beyond the monetary impact is a personal impact for many families. The location of the bridges between the United States, the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, and Canada has allowed families who straddle the border to keep in contact with minimal effort for generations. Now, the path has been cut, and families are forced to find alternatives.

While most of the discussion about the bridge closure focuses on the local fallout, this is in essence an international problem. The reported issues deal with national border security and tribal sovereignty, unfortunately a solution that respects both issues has not been brought forward.

President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and representatives from the Mohawk Council for Akwesasne should sit together and give this issue the respect it deserves as an international problem. Hopefully, then a permanent solution beyond a permanent closing of the bridge spans could be reached.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Restructure American Auto Industry

With the Obama administration taking a hands-on approach to the auto industry after leaning on Rick Wagoner to resign, I believe they should carry right on through to the paradigm that surrounds corporate restructuring.

Corporations and the Federal Government seem to often be at odds about restructuring during the recession. Corporations want to cut expenses and make themselves look viable in the long term in an attempt to buoy their stock prices. The first area cut is personnel, and we have all read about the huge layoffs, buy outs and firings. But, the focus of the stimulus money was job retention and job creation. The Obama Administration understands that an unemployed person makes fewer purchases and cannot pay off the items he already owes on.

Obama should insist that every GM plant that has been closed, or idled as the company calls it, should return to full capacity. If they want to impose their will about the executives in GM, then they should impose the will of the stimulus plan onto the entire recovery procedure. If the money shilled to GM came from taxpayers' pockets, then it should go to keep taxpayers in jobs. This would be a boost across the entire workforce as many estimates show ancillary job loss at six to seven for every auto worker who loses his or her job.

The Federal Government should have a huge say in how these corporations operate, the same as any investor. If you can find me any other investor with as many billions of dollars spent, then she can control the process.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Disappointed with DANC

The DANC board voted unanimously to install Sen. James Wright as Executive Director. I'm not surprised that he was appointed, but I am surprised by the unanimous selection.

Current members of the DANC board have stated that they do not want to politicize the Authority, and they ask county boards of legislature to keep that in mind when making appointments. With their choice of Jim Wright, the DANC board has fully politicized their work. Regardless of resume, Wright's selection has taken an organization that was built to promote the economic well-being of Northern New York and given the perception that it is a political spoil.

On more of a personal note, I have never spoken with Sen. Wright, despite the position I have and the fact that he was my State Senator.

I attended the announcement that General Motors was "idling" their plant in Massena. Senator Wright was also in attendance, as was Gov. Spitzer, Lt. Gov. Paterson, Senator Griffo, Assemblyman Aubertine and Assemblywoman Scozzafava. Each official spoke about the closing and what his or her office would be doing. Most of them seemed involved during the announcement.

Except for Senator Wright.

He seemed to be text messaging constantly. I don't know what it was about. Maybe he was keeping in touch with the CEO of GM, or he was proposing legislation for Congressman McHugh to bring forward about job losses in the age of free trade agreements. Or maybe he was in touch with his office about trivial matters or concerns in other areas of his district. I don't know.

I know that announcement was important to the families of 500 people who were losing their jobs in Massena. It was important to a community that had seen its manufacturing base decrease by two-thirds in the last thirty years. And it was important to have an elected official treat them as if they were important, at least for the few hours that he devoted to them specifically during his many years of public service.

And so, I am nervous, that St. Lawrence County, who is relying on DANC to help rebuild what has been lost, will be overlooked. That the Republican Wright will overlook the Democratic majority in the Legislature. That Wright, who has served Jefferson County well in the past, before becoming a State Senator, will continue to primarily serve Jefferson County in his position after being a State Senator.

Even with all of that, I pray to God that he succeeds, because if he does, then life will be better for everyone in this area.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tax Cuts Trickle. A Stimulus Pours.

While haggling over the economic recovery package, many conservative Republicans (if they would favor the package at all) argued that it should be dominantly or completely made up of tax-cuts rather than stimulating spending. This assinine argument assumes that we are idiots. Both cutting our income or increasing our spending can hit the bottom line at the same level. The shift is on opposite sides of the ledger, but it's meant to address the different constituencies.

It isn't class warfare; it's political warfare that pits the classes against one another. Trickle down economics ruled the 1980s, the system viewed American society as a slope, with the rich on top and the poor at the bottom. Benefits needed to be poured on the top and those would trickle down to the bottom. Anyone who has actually grown anything on a slope realizes that the trickle dwindles until the bottom is left with almost nothing.

I look at our society and see it as a bell curve. More people earn income that would place them in the middle than at the top. The stimulus package focuses on the middle more than a tax cut package would.

Pour that stimulus straight down on the middle of the curve and watch it flow to both sides.