Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Liquor Distributor Leaving For Greene County: Our Ulster IDA Blew It

Suprise, suprise! Empire Merchants North ( the former Colony Liquors ) has decided to move to Greene County instead of staying in Ulster County. All of the existing employees will be offered jobs at the brand new, UNION BUILT facility north of Kingston. The Greene County IDA put the $27 million dollar deal together that will preserve the liquor employees jobs and create prevailing wage construction jobs. What a win-win for everyone involved!

The Ulster IDA just didn't get it. They thought that cutting the baby in half was the answer. Word is that the powers that be at Empire Distributors lost all respect for our Ulster IDA and how they handled the situation. They could not believe that the Ulster Agency charged with creating and PRESERVING jobs thought that screwing the Ulster construction trades was the solution. Unfortunately, it had nothing AT ALL to do with the decision.

Our Ulster IDA not only lost the jobs (here) for the liquor workers ( they still have jobs there ) , they sold out the entire Ulster County construction workforce for nothing. You remember, they THOUGHT they had to cancel out the prevailing wage policy so that the liquor workers wouldn't lose their jobs. They were sadly mistaken. Now Greene County has all of the jobs.....the permanent jobs and the prevailing wage construction jobs. Nice job, Greene County!

Our IDA thought the local construction workers concerns didn't matter and that their jobs were throw away jobs. They aborted the prevailing wage policy despite proof that using prevailing wages still kept the project within the budget. Our IDA was a bit confused toward the end. They thought it was some sort of a game. The IDA vs the Local construction worker - and guess what? The construction workers lost the prevailing rate and the liquor workers kept their jobs anyway - just as was predicted. Their only hardship is that they may have to drive a half an hour to work. Which is best described by todays commuting standards as "working close to home".

Oh,... and yes, thank you Elliot Auerbach for your vote against the prevailing rate and the building trades. Wait until YOU need a job.

Steve Finkle, director of Kingston's Office for Economic Development, said that people now employed in Kingston will still have the opportunity to work at the Greene County site. Seems like the only thing OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LEADERS can "develop" around here are BIG ASSES - from sitting on them.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Orange Regional Medical Center Project Heads To Trial

A judge has denied a motion by Orange Regional Medical Center to dismiss a lawsuit filed by IBEW Local 363 alleging the hospital violated terms of a state grant by not paying the prevailing rate for electricians on its new hospital construction project.

The ruling by Orange County Supreme Court Judge Elaine Slobod restrained the hospital from proceeding with electrical work on the project until the matter is resolved. The hearing date is set for October 7, 2008.

Orange Regional Medical Center accepted millions of dollars to help finanace their new $306 million dollar construction project. The grants they accepted, according to the law, call for the recipient to use the local prevailing wages to build the project. The hospital contends that the grant would make only a portion of the project prevailing rate and felt that they could unilaterally decide where, when and to which trade they would apply the law. This spurred the lawsuit from IBEW Local 363. The hospital petitioned to dismiss the case and lost. This ruling now sends this entire case to trial where the hospital will be asked to account for and show the court where the grant money was spent and whether contracts were given out in deference to the law.

Fifty Four Speak in Favor of Dutchess Electrical License at Last Public Hearing - Only Two Speak Against It

Fifty six people attended what will be the last public hearing concerning the adoption of a Dutchess County Electrical License. Of the fifty six people, fifty four spoke in favor of passage. One person, who admittedly isn't interested in learning, studying or being tested and another who had no clear reasoning, spoke against it. Now County Executive Bill Stienhaus will either sign or veto the law. Even if he happens to veto the law, a possible political blunder at this point, the Dutchess County Legislators currently have enough votes to override his veto.

The people of Dutchess County have spoken loud and clear in that they favor this important consumer protection based law. Your average citizen has no idea if the electrician they hired is providing them a proper and safe insatllation or even if they carry the proper insurance. This law will provide the people of Dutchess County with piece of mind and a true recourse in that regard. Bad contractors do not keep their licenses for long when you have the structure in place that a license provides.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mayor Says Calls For Accountability From DPW Head Are Just A Witch Hunt

Ok, so here is the short version. City of Kingston Department of Public Works Superintendent Steve Gorsline has "billed" the City about $14,000 for work performed this year over his normal weekly forty hours. Problem is that no one seems to know what Steve did or when he did it. That's a lot of "extra" money to make between only January and July. He cashed the hours in during a dispute over whether he would be or he was actually suspended in regard to the harrassment case now pending against the city. ( Most city officials had no idea what his status was.)

Gorsline makes $71,000 in yearly salary and another $15,000 in Medical coverage. His extra pay of $14,000 represents 20% of his YEARLY SALARY. But, he claims this $14,000.oo in extra work was done within just the first 7 months of this year....so it is actually a 40% raise on his salary paid for that time period. That's a lot of dough. However, if that is LEGITIMATELY what it is, then so be it. Everybody should get paid for what they do.

But that is the dispute. There are no credible records of what he did or when he did the work. The records he handed in to show what he did were best described as chicken scratch. A quick calculation shows this comes to $2000. oo - extra pay - PER MONTH - EVERY MONTH for this seven month period. That's alot of time. More disturbing is the Mayoral reaction. It's a Witch Hunt, that was Sottiles response.

Let me help the Mayor out. Here are some good responses:

"I will be calling Gorsline in and getting an indepth review of what he did and when he did it."

"I will investigate this and make sure the documentation matches the hours he put in for."

"I expect a full accountability of this exhorbinant amount of money and extra hours in such a short period of time."

"I will make sure that the City of Kingston taxpayers are getting what they are paying for and report back to them what I have found"

"I will fire any employee, even Superintendents, who misuse the public fisc and I will be certain to account for every hour and dollar, that is what I was elected to do."

I know a sure fire way to get the Mayor to turn over every stone to get to the truth.

Change the name of the person involved from Steve Gorsline to Troy Ashdown of CSEA.

The Mayor would have an entirely different approach then. He would be very concerned about the "abuse going on in the DPW". He would gladly show all of the unacceptable "Chicken Scratch" records he found to the press, he would promise that heads would roll and he would have so many concerns to voice about the taxpayers and their money. YES,then you would truly see what a witch hunt is all about.

His response that the other department heads, such as police and fire department heads, get the same type of pay is just a smoke screen. They are capped at 80 hours - Mr. Gorsline turned in over 400 undocumented hours, that is quite a different situation. What's wrong with accountability Mayor? Stop the double standard and show the people of Kingston all of the records. The Common Council seems just as confused on this as the general public. Let's clear the air here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We Vote - You Stall

The nurses at Benedictine Hospital voted on September 18 BUT the hospital filed an appeal of the decision of the Regional Labor Board - challenging all over again who can vote. The hospital says that the Kingston hospital nurses should vote in this election too. Can I really trust that the hospital (who really wants NO ONE to be in the union) suddenly WANTS to include MORE PEOPLE in the vote - for something other than a selfish reason?

Now the votes can't even be counted, they will not be opened until this great concern of the hospitals is answered in Washington.

This is just a stall tactic to discourage the nurses in regard to the election. It is shameful. This is a legal game of keep away. I wonder how much money the hospital has spent so far fighting their own nurses? Isn't it ridiculous for them to do this to the very workers who touch the people? They hired high priced Lexington Avenue Lawyers to battle our poor nurses - just trying to make a little living.

This is an insult to the nurses who work at that hospital. You may have been told that the union can't do anything for you. If that is really the case, what difference would it make to the hospital if you had a union or not? Looks like enough to spend thousands in legal fees and even PROLONGING the process and paying untold thousands more.....for what? Why?

The nurses there should be proud of themselves for standing as a group. It is a very American thing to do. Many people support you. ..............Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Come on, Take The Money And Run

Sign at corner of Rt.299 and North Putt Corners Road, New Paltz

Ulster County IDA Floats $125 Million Dollars For WOODLAND PONDS PROJECT;
Out of state workers flood into our area to take jobs created with NY taxpayers money.

All While Ulster County Workers Face Their Highest Unemployment Numbers in Decades!

The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency has failed us all once again!

New Paltz, NY - The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) has helped finance the project known as “Woodland Ponds” on North Putt Corners Road with $125,000,000 in tax exempt bonds. Our Ulster County IDA Board is supposed to create jobs for the local residents in return for providing millions in public funding to corporations.

What was once a great idea has turned into a form of corporate welfare at the expense of the local residents. Our Ulster IDA did NOT ask or God forbid - DEMAND - something concrete in return for the financial investment – no promise of jobs, no promise of local employment, nothing.

We will just trust you and please………..just take our money.

The project hired a Construction Manager called Tri-Tec from Long Island to dole out the contracts. The number out of state workers onsite is staggering. New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey are all benefiting from our investment of NYS tax money. They must be very grateful to us NYS taxpayers for financing their employment while we have our own NY / Ulster residents on unemployment.

An IDA was created in each county in NYS and they exist to promote the economic well being of the "residents". However, it's becoming clear that our Ulster IDA Board doesn't think that means the "residents of Ulster".

Their track record for "job creation" compares very closely to that of the Jamaican Bobsled team. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dutchess County Passes Electrical Licensing Law

Dutchess County residents can finally breathe deep. Anyone installing electrical work in customers homes or businesses will be required to actually prove that they are qualified as an electrician and to obtain an electrical license.

The Legislature voted 17-8 Monday night to approve a law that would require electricians who do business in Dutchess County to carry a Master Electricians license. The Legislature has a veto-proof majority of 17 votes.

The cities of Kingston, Beacon and Poughkeepsie, the counties of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Greene, Sullivan, Orange, Rockland and the states of Connecticut, Massechusetts and New Jersey all require licensing for electricians.

Law co-sponsor Legislator William McCabe, D-Union Vale, said that in the past, Dutchess County Executive William Steinhaus has opposed the electrical licensing law. However, most people believe that to be a purely political decision of his, having nothing to do with the actual law. The licensing law was just a convenient political football.

The law says applicants must have seven years of experience and pay a $350 fee, as well as other fees. The Electrical Licensing Board, which grants licenses, can make exceptions if an applicant fits the requirements. These are the same requirements that are found in every other locale requiring an Electrical License, including the City of Poughkeepsie.

Proponents say the law protects the consumer and deals with a public safety issue — First, it gives a consumer who receives a shoddy installation a remedy and a place to lodge a complaint and get action and will help minimize the occurrences of fires caused by faulty wiring.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Orange Regional Medical Center Project Comes To A Halt

It looks like the Orange Regional Medical Center, the $300+ Million Dollar Hospital project in Crystal Run has some issues. The project was shut down last week because tradesworkers on the site would not cross the picket line established by the Hudson Valley electricians union, IBEW Local 363, who has an issue with Rondout Electric of Poughkeepsie for undermining the standards of electricians in the area. This is a local contractor that has historically undermined the established local standards of electricians by paying his electricians less in pay and benefits.

Construction jobs should not be won by the contractor who can pay their workers the lowest wages. That is why mobile craft workers need to establish standards for their labor. This standard is established in every area across the country by the state and federal government. And those standards need to be respected.
That standard evolves over the years and keeps the local industry stable and local employers in business.

ORMC has gladly accepted around $48 million dollars of NYS TAXPAYERS money in order to be able to fund their project. The contractor that they put in charge of the project hired other contractors that undermine the local construction industry and drive down wages and standards. This project is just another example of the NYS TAXPAYERS NOT GETTING THE MOST BANG FOR THEIR BUCK, and just "more of the same" around here lately. The bank vault is open. Who will be the leader or politician that finally stands up for the local middle class and realizes that his or her supporters need these construction jobs? And that the standards they have worked for over the years, should not torn apart by developers using NYS taxpayers money? Can anyone say it?

Politicians always talk about all of the jobs they want to create. You hear it all the time. But local job creation opportunities are actually being lost every year! Jobs we could have had. Opportunities for good jobs - just given away! No one can justify the NYS TAXPAYERS not getting the full return every time they use our money. Thousands of opportunities have been lost over the years when officials gave money to developers with no strings attached. The construction jobs are and should be in every politicians mind, part of the investment. The local standards established prior to the project shouldn't plummet after of the project is built, thats the gripe.

Some local boards and politicians feel that it's kind of an inconvenience to ask a developer to create local construction jobs. To ask that the builder respects the area standards of the construction crafts in return for the financial help they receive. Some local boards and politicians think that the construction jobs "don't count". Kind of a bother, a write-off.

They are wrong. Thousands of local families depend on those local construction workers. They don't stick out because they go to projects to work, not to buildings. They are hard to see and count but they are out there en mass.

Projects funded by the NYS TAXPAYER money should employ people in the area it is built in and not undercut the standards of the local construction workers in that area. Government should not be lending financial assistance to someone with one hand and at the same time, inflicting financial harm to someone else. That does not make sense. Both sides of the issue are part of the equation. When this happens it is not just an erosion of the standards for one job, it is the erosion of the fabric of the entire local construction industry.

The good news is that some workers on the project DO RECEIVE the prevailing wages and benefits for their crafts and they are local workers. WE ARE VERY HAPPY ABOUT THAT AND IT IS THE WAY IT SHOULD BE. It proves it is possible to accomplish. However, keeping score of the amount of hits and misses only points out that there are still jobs lost - that could have been found.

If this issue is left unchecked, pretty soon maybe only "some" will be able to pay these state and local taxes. "Some" doesn't work there either, does it?