11/07/2011

Tucker - Pillot II

Posted by MJ

The LUSJ posted their detailed article on the mayor race. Some highlights:

“The city’s a much different place than it was eight years ago. I think there’s a lot of things that we can hang our hat on, that I’m proud of,” Tucker said. “The next four years are going to be extremely difficult years, when you look at the expenses the city incurs and the revenue it brings in, there’s going to be some very difficult decisions. I think I’ve proven I can make them.”
As I constantly mention, the cities budget solution must be increased investment in the city. Any cuts that start to (if not already have) hampered that will only set us back.Union concession will be huge since as the article states, 82% of our budget is salaries, health and pension.
The public  <refuse> program cost about $1.5 million a year inclusive of employees’ wages, equipment and fuel expenses and landfilling fees. Administration estimates privatizing will save the city $10 million over 10 years....

...In order to cut city spending, administration had to get its employees’ consent to farm out bargained-for work. The pact Tucker worked out with AFSCME in 2009, in which it agreed to let the work go, along with 10 union jobs through attrition, was “unprecedented,” Tucker said....
...Pillot says he’s “100 percent for recycling” but questions whether the Modern deal was the best or cheapest way the city could finally land it.

He points to the Town of Niagara’s deal with Allied Waste Services, which he says pays the town $200,000 a year and picks up trash and recyclables for free; trash is burned and the heat is converted to electricity for businesses...
 Getting the union to give up 10 jobs (albeit through attrition) is huge (do many unions give away bargained for gov't jobs?) and long term the city saves money. I find this a hard topic to make the "big" stand on.  The reason that the town of Niagara gets paid by Allied plus gets "free" trash pick up is that part of Allied's dump is in the town . The other part is in the city of Niagara Falls. It is basically a payment in lieu of taxes agreement. Unless we want to create a Allied run land fill in our city, I'm afraid we will not be getting this deal. Either Pillot did not research that deep (took me a 5 minute internet search) or is not fully explaining things to rouse up voters.
Pillot, a city retiree, said he’s support privatizing city services and/or getting the city into shared-service agreements if they “can save the taxpayers money.”
Number's we've been shown show a savings in privatizing garbage. Does he have other numbers?
...The results of revaluation were mixed for residential properties. Some values were raised a bit, some more than a bit and many more not at all. Overall, values stayed the same or were reduced on two-thirds of all residential properties. Since the city tax rate is decreasing in the 2012 budget, those properties will get smaller tax bills.

Pillot says revaluation was “not fair to many of the residents. With home equity dropping 23 percent, the worst drop since World War I, and Niagara County being one of the highest-taxed counties in New York state, how can you justify the assessments?” ...
Seeing that the assessments were 10 years over due it should not be shocking that some changes were "shocking". Even if everyone got a feel good reduction of 20% tomorrow we'd all still be paying the same in taxes. Either he feels those on top were bumped up too much or those on the bottom were reduced too much. Which groups votes does he want grab?Or does he just want us to have a flat tax of some sort?
Pillot is opposed to taxpayer subsidy of the <Molson Concert >series, especially since it’s held on private property, and he says North Tonawanda, the city that used to host it, got paid by the series promoter instead. He doesn’t like the setup in the City Centre courtyard either; chairs are banned and concert-goers have to stand throughout the shows.

...Were it up to him, he said, he’d get the private sector bankrolling the stage and security, and/or change the setup so independent vendors, local businesses and charitable organizations could get in on the concert night hawking act. Currently, the promoter picks the vendors....

...“How can you justify, to the taxpayers, paying ... for a concert when they are struggling to pay their taxes?” Pillot asked. “I talked to a business owner who stated that the concert has lost them business because their regular customers have no place to park...
Anyone know a business open past 6 DT on a Friday? ;)  And technically while held on private property it was the city's initial agreement for the construction of the UCC to allow the parking lot/courtyard to be used for city events. That was while the concerts were still in N. Tonawanda. I'd have no problem with the city trying to find businesses to sponsor it's sponsorship of the series. Perhaps advertising outside the venue? The main issues with the Vendors inside is they are, along with the beer sales, how the promoters pay for the acts. I for one find it huge to get 400k people into what I've always heard as "Lostport" from many people in Erie County, etc. If we are failing on marketing during this opportunity, shame on us.
...In media interviews and trips to the microphone at Common Council meetings, <Pillot> questioned every aspect of the city’s agreement with Modern Disposal Services for private trash and recycling collection, denounced the results of revaluation as unfair and suggested City Hall can’t afford to shed any more employees. Residents have not been well-served by heavy-handed administration, he thinks...

....Still, 82 percent of the city’s projected spending in the 2012 budget is for personnel: employees’ pay and fringe benefits including health insurance and pension contributions.  “Obviously,” Tucker said, “this is where we’ve gotta go next.”...

...Pillot’s response: “Everyone knows they have to pay taxes to cover vital services, but we have to look at lowering the tax rate before we tax our residents right out of the city....”
So we have to lower the tax rate but we can't afford to shed more employees? Yet they take up 82% of the budget.  Does Pillot have an answer in there somewhere?

The removal of Hoffman / his job title was mess but other wise I have faith in at least a steady ship with Tucker. The city looks like a better place since I arrive in 2004. As for Pillot, I am not sure what he is trying to bring to the table. Besides trying to listen to all of us, who if they are the usual vocal minority, would equal no change at all, what could we expect?

Get out and vote tomorrow.


36 comments:

Karen said...

It's amazing to me how much people complain about the taxes that we pay as if they had no idea when they bought their homes that they would have to pay taxes. When my husband & I moved into the city, we knew we would pay way more in taxes than in the town but the houses were cheaper and we like being so close to everything that we were ok with that. When the cost of EVERYTHING goes up in the world, how/why would/could taxes go down? It just doesn't make any sense. The reality is that any politician that says he's going to cut taxes is either lying or he's going to cut services. You can't keep everything and have costs go down.

MJ said...

That's the big rub with the "highest taxed county" award we get every year. It is taxes per assessed value.

Do we want our houses to cost 4x as much? We'd still be paying the same overall tax bills but no longer have that title. We'd also be losing 4x as much in interest on our mortgages etc.

george2012 said...

But the point is services need to be cut, especially fire. This department was built up when Harrison Radiator paid the majority of our property taxes. I have done internet searches but can;t find any details as to what percentage of our assessed value was Harrison vs. residential, it would be real interesting. I do know they demanded a large fully staffed fire department. Now that they are paying hardly any taxes and hardly any wages to their employees it's time to downsize.

As I did my research here's an interesting article from the NY Times from 2006 where Tucker was going to have to negotiate with the unions to save our city budget!!!!! Sound familiar??
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/04/nyregion/04lockport.html?pagewanted=all

Taxpayer said...

George gets the gold star for accepting the reality that the current regime refuses to acknowledge. MJ also has a partially valid point about cutting services being counter productive. The truth is that the City of Lockport could once again prosper if it were to right-size it's public safety departments and redirect it's resources to the appropriate departments such as Highways and Parks, also the Building Inspections and recruit quality department heads to run those departments. As a side note- union contracts expire at the end of 2012, police and fire both endorsed Tucker, they know he'll give them another sweet deal. Tucker has proven that he would rather burden us with higher taxes than piss off his friends in the police department. Wake up Lockport!

Nicholas said...

I will pay higher taxes knowing that when I call 911 that a well trained paramedic or firefighter will be showing up and not some volunteer!! You think highway and parks is more important than public safety?? Really??
They cut the garbage service and the council and tucker took alot of heat for it, people just like to bitch and complain regardless of the decision that are made. George you were down there every 2 weeks complaining about garbage and modern, and now you want services cut? I guess Johnny O's speech fell on deaf ears!!

george2012 said...

You can have your trained paramedics showing up if we only had a minimum number of firefighters working full time augmented by a volunteer force for the 10 (not an actual number, just a guess) fires a year we have. Or option 2 is you can have rural metro's certified paramedics show up if we go totally volunteer and put full time ambualnce service up to a franchise bid.

Taxpayer said...

Keep our EMT service and expand it with a contract with the Town. Actual fire fighting goes volunteer. Dispatch should be moved to the County and those positions eliminated. Check your history and see the disparity in department reductions for the last thirty years, then ask why our infrastructure looks like crap.

gijoe2012 said...

I have a better idea..instead of cutting services to the bone let's stop spending on things we don't need, and stop giving life-time benefits to City employees.

Fire protection and paramedic response won't suffer with an all volunteer fire department.
Several municipalities have them. We can't afford the luxury any longer, and.it's not necessary. Times have changed. WE need to convince everyone to change too.

Xavier said...

We can't afford to lose our paramedics - I can't anyway.
Before anyone jumps down my throat - my son is a volunteer firefighter and is VERY well trained. THE issue is response time, and with my particular situation (heart) when I need them I need them FAST and capable. Volunteers are just that - Volunteers. They have JOBS to which they must go in order to feed their families. Those jobs are often NOT in the City of Lockport.
I'm not against a hybrid fire service. MANY municipalities in Western New York use them and they work well.
The Fire and Police staffing situations are not necessarily there to help the citizens - as the niece of a Buffalo Firefighter who died in the line of duty - they have rules as to when they can go into or on a structure fire. The rules are there for a reason - so fewer firemen DIE at the age of 44 leaving wives and 6 kids.
Same situation for the Police.
If you talk to any firefighter or police officer in this City, you'd know how they despise Tucker and Pat Shrader - they drive a VERY hard bargain. Yet still, they endorse Tucker over Pillot the ex-cop. Odd? No - they know Pillot couldn't negotiate himself out of a shoe box.

Whatever happened to Andy Chapman's little group and where are its recommendations? Andy told me in March they were ready to publish them. What happened Andy?

Xavier said...

P.S. EVERYONE MUST VOTE!!!!!

If you don't bother to vote, you lose your right to bitch and moan. (MY rule.)

Liz said...

I put off voting all day because I couldn't make up my mind on who to vote for mayor. I really don't like either candidate, I have major issues with both - one thinks Lockport is his kingdom, the other doesn't really have a real stance on anything substantial. I had to vote for SOMEONE though, so I did. Hopefully I didn't make the wrong decision.

My decision for common council was fairly easy and is probably the main reason I went to vote today since both mayoral candidates were underwhelming.

Also - how can you be on the democratic, conservative and independence party lines all at the same time? They have fairly different viewpoints on... well, everything. I abstained from 70% of the ballot. It really didn't matter since those candidates were running unopposed. We need some new people with ideas to get out and run for office. It makes ME want to run for office! Even if I didn't win, at least people would have a choice!

Liz said...

(I know logistically HOW they could be, I'm just saying, it sort of dillutes the point of political parties if you can just get onto every party line.)

JMathers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JMathers said...

George says:

"You can have your trained paramedics showing up if we only had a minimum number of firefighters working full time augmented by a volunteer force for the 10 (not an actual number, just a guess) fires a year we have."

The fire department responds to 3000+ calls a year. Most of them are medical responses. Roughly 400 calls are fire responses. George does not understand that with a 3 minute response time most of those small fires he does not hear about do not have a chance to turn into big fires. The town has most of the headline worthy fires due to one reason. RESPONSE TIME.

gijoe2012 said...

Well that's great..the taxes will get so high everyone will have to move out of the city, but we'll still have bragging rights for a quick response to a small fire.

The 5,000 people that will be able to afford to live here will have very expensive, but extraordinary fire protection.

gijoe2012 said...

Now that Mike Tucker has defeated an opponent who obviously didn't have the "tools" to run the City, will Mike Tucker understand that the race was so close because most people would rather vote for an empty shell then to give him 4-more-years ? This was no vote of confidence or a referendum on Mike Tucker's management style, or his meager accomplishments.Hopefully he realizes it.

Is there any system in-place to "recall" the Mayor of the COL? I anticipate we're about to view the sequel. "Dictator II" and we may have to rise up if there isn't a change in attitude over at City Hall. "Recall" is one way to do it.

Anyone have any info?

gijoe2012 said...

I answered my own question. The mighty GOOGLE told me NO RECALL law IN NEW YORK STATE.

Nicholas said...

No Jake Smith, no Andrew Chapman, no Shirley Nicholas, no Jean keaney!!! Life is good!!

gijoe2012 said...

four more years of the Buddy-Buddy System
Friends with patronage Jobs, relatives with jobs created for them, conflicts of interest, backroom deals to give campaign contributors special favors.

Don't get to excited. Isn't the State looking at Mr. Tuckers campaign finances?

People who are part of the problem..Rejoice! you get to suck the blood from the rest of us for 4 more years!

You think taxes are high now? just wait.

MJ said...

If referring to the garbage system people can be reminded that it was a group of volunteers that laid it out, multiple bids were solicited and it was voted on by the common council. Are we suppose to believe all that happened as a sham to pay back for a couple grand political contribution to one person?

I find it ridiculous to even mention it.

gijoe2012 said...

no not necessarily..but to deny the fact that corruption exists is naive..don't cha think?

I don't know whom you're directing it toward but I never have nor am I now referring to the Garbage pick-up, and the contribution from Modern to Tucker election campaign. That's old news.

I suggest you watch a two part interview with Jack Abramoff on MSNBC tonight at 10pm. There was also a segment with him on 60 Minutes.The system is broken. Someone who is part of the system is part of the problem.

Bribes are common place and as much a part of the political fabric as voting itself.

I'm unclear what your refering to, or why your defending Mike Tucker. My understanding is that there some irregular things that have been cited in a compliant about his campaign financials. I didn't initiate the complaint.

Karen said...

The main focus for EVERYONE in every political party, on every blog, at every meeting should be how to increase REVENUE not how to cut expenses. If the city had more money from taxpayers & businesses, it would offset the inevitable increases in costs. For example, I'm not sure how much the city will get back from the recycling program, but I know they receive a percentage of the profits when we reach a certain amount of recyclables. So, make a major push to educate the city about what to recycle & encourage it. Teach people that the more they recycle, the more money the city has. Easy money.

gijoe2012 said...

yes

MJ said...

Of coarse corruption exists. I'll just wait to see what you are alluding to instead of trying to guess.

Life is full networking, civic and private relationships. That's humanity. No matter who we elect they will have to form relationships, make contacts etc to get things done. Does it cross a line somewhere? Of coarse. Be it in politics, religion, banking etc. What line are you alluding too?

I just get tired of generic "back room deals" comments. This is humanity. There will be discussions, deals, frameworks, connections all made though out the day and in a number of places.

A "back room deal" secured the land for Bethlehem Steel under the guise of the 1901 Pan Am Exposition. It provided 75 years of prosperity for a number of people. We can debate the overall benefit of the steel industry over the years but it would not have happened with out business connections working to bring the investment here.

I'll wait to see what become of what whenever...

MJ said...

A lot of us agree. The time for investment related focus is long over due. No real plan for it exists.

Xavier said...

Some people will continue to beat the old drum no matter how reasonably you attempt to explain something to them.
They take your explanation and attempt to paint YOU the bad guy. It's silly, really, and I suggest that those who are playing the tympani put their mallets down and put their names on a ballot or volunteer for the city they allegedly love.

gijoe2012 said...

MJ..I'm not an investigator,but there are plenty of unanswered question related to financial dealings in the city. Just one example: look into the "deal" the person who is running "Harrison Place" has been given.

If you want to accept everything you're told that's you're choice. I wasn't raised that way. I don't believe in keeping the peace because the sound of decent is too loud for some people.

It's also typical for people who complain about people "beating the drums" are cool with the drum beat when it fits their ideology.

When they disagree with it...it's noise.

MJ said...

It doesn't have to do with accepting everything just like there is no need to question every single thing.

If a company comes in with a complaint for a pay-to-play scheme like the Brown-Pridgen one in Buffalo then lets look into it. If we are paying twice as much to someone when some else is offering twice as much for half the price then lets look into it.

But I am not prone to get all fired up over generic accusations. If nothing else they become as tedious as the political mailers were all receive.

I'm willing to elect people and then let them (try to) take care of business. When they are up for election again I can vote my approval or disapproval. There are 5 councilmen, a mayor, etc to check each other. Unless all 5 are being bought out or something I'm more willing to use my time to try to point where I'd like the city to go then questioning every decision they make especially for normal business decisions Someone else may feel different and that is fine. All I ask is for some substance instead of generalities.

gijoe2012 said...

good point..unlike several of the people on this blog, my mind can be changed by an opposing argument that makes sense.

Let me just say..if it looks like a snake, acts like a snake, and moves like a snake...

It's a snake.

Xavier said...

I agree with you Joe. There are far too many people who hear one little piece of something and then bang the tympani without doing any of their own investigation. Such things are relatively easy to start for someone with a laptop and a ride to the Courthouse.
Under no circumstances do I agree with certain people all the time. Far from it. I'm able to discern a LOT and then training and experience take over.
Simply because I stand a certain way on a certain topic does not mean I haven't already done that investigation - and I am uniquely positioned to acquire more reliable information than most as those of you who know my history are aware.
Even then - you make choices. Usually a choice is difficult to make because no one and no thing are beyond reproach or suspicion. It's often the "lesser of two evils" mantra.
I make choices in these situations by weighing the relative merits of the people or groups involved. Nobody's perfect. Some are more perfect than others. I, too, am able to be swayed by an opposing argument - after I've investigated it, of course. Joe knows this. George does not, but then I don't think George has a clue as to my training and experience. I wish he did - it would cut the Council Meetings in half.

george2012 said...

Patti I don't know why you always have to attack me. I do know your qualifications from all your ramblings on here. You are a lawyer, an almost Olympic champion, someone who has personally cleaned up the catholic churches here in Lockport, a home owner who has a lawn nice enough people like to use it as a bathroom and to fornicate on and an expert on every subject. You are somebody who is so smart you think if your assessment is raised but they give you a tax rate decrease that that is a tax cut....
I purposely have not made fun of you or attacked you in a long time as I tend to just laugh at your ramblings. I would appreciate you leaving me alone too.
MJ you are smart enough to realize I have been staying out of all the personal attacks Joe and Patti have been doing on this board lately.

gijoe2012 said...

George..you're really a piece of work.

Why are you dragging my name into your issue with Patti? Don't you realize you're doing exactly what your accusing Patti of doing?

george2012 said...

I apologize.

gijoe2012 said...

Thank You

Pete said...

George--I offered to help you. Then you came after me with.the same old/same old. I don't understand how or why people who want only tbe best for our city can continue to behave that way.
Kindly knock it off. Thank you.

george2012 said...

Who the heck is Pete?? I was referring to the one with the wacky posts, Xavier.

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