Sunday, January 29, 2012

Speak Up for the Arts! Arts Advocacy Day - February 14, 2012

Arts supporters from all around New York State will visit their State Legislators in Albany on Tuesday, February 14 to speak up for the arts on Arts Advocacy Day 2012.

Visual artists, authors, actors, musicians, dancers, and arts professionals of all kinds will join representatives from arts councils, museums, and cultural organizations to request strong support for NYSCA - the New York State Council on the Arts. This is an important opportunity to remind our State Senators and Assembly members how valuable arts and cultural services are in communities from Long Island to Buffalo, and from Plattsburgh to Binghamton. The services and grants provided by NYSCA help to support large and small cultural institutions and arts programs across the State of New York. These organizations and activities create jobs, enhance tourism, and are an essential ingredient in small rural towns and large urban centers.

Join the chorus and let your voice be heard! Plan to be in Albany on February 14 to let your Legislators know that you support State funding for the arts. Please visit to learn more about Arts Advocacy Day.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Boards of Directors come together to investigate joining forces; retain facilitation and legal assistance

Amsterdam, NY and Gloversville, NY–The Boards of Directors of the Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce announced today that they are in the process of investigating the possibility of a merger/affiliation of the two Chambers of Commerce. They also announced that to move the process forward, they have retained the services of facilitation and legal assistance from the New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.
“With the departure of both Executives of the Chambers (former Presidents Deb Auspelmyer and Wally Hart), we thought it a great time to look at the possibility of joining forces,” said Chuck Schwartz, Chair, Montgomery County Chamber Board of Directors. “We always want to be proactive for our members in looking at ways to maximize their Chamber membership.”
“There is definitely strength in numbers,” said Mark Finkle, Chair, Fulton County Chamber Board of Directors, “and with an affiliation with Montgomery County, our business communities become a much stronger voice in our region, in Albany, and even in Washington, DC.”
Both Chambers’ Boards of Directors have appointed from their membership an Affiliation Task Force; in Fulton County the Task Force members are Mark Finkle (Stevenson Distributing, LLC), Terri Easterly (Coldwell Banker-Arlene M. Sitterly), Amy Karas (Ruby & Quiri), Jim Landrio (Holiday Inn of Johnstown-Gloversville), Larry Raike (WalMart DC #6096), Diana Marshall (Gloversville Sewing Center) and as a non-voting member Terry Swierzowski, the Chamber’s Interim President. From the Montgomery County Chamber, the Task Force is comprised of Brennen Parker (Rose & Kiernan), Vic Giulianelli (St. Mary’s Healthcare), Lesley Lanzi (FMCC), Judy Phetteplace (Judith Ann Realty), Mike Decker (Liberty Enterprises), Kevin McClary (Amsterdam Recorder), and the Chamber’s Interim President Peter Capobianco, who is a non-voting member.
The issue of affiliation will be discussed at both Chambers’ Annual Dinner Meetings which are scheduled for Thursday, January 19 for the Fulton County Chamber at the Holiday Inn of Johnstown-Gloversville and for the Montgomery County Chamber on Friday, January 27 at the River Stone Manor in Scotia. Members of both Affiliation Task Forces will be at both events to elicit discussion about the issue from members in attendance. In addition, both Chambers will hold informational sessions about the possible affiliation. These will be scheduled for after the Annual Dinner meetings.
The next steps in the Affiliation process: The Affiliation Task Force will pursue a Due Diligence Analysis of a wide variety of corporate documents, budgets, program operations and all the internal controls in both Chambers to determine the best structural manner to affiliate, making the same recommendation to the respective Boards of Directors, who will then seek the permissions of their respective Memberships to formalize the affiliation in the Spring of 2012. The New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. will facilitate the same and file the required documents with the New York State Department of State after the formal action of the two Memberships.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Report: Upstate pays state less in taxes than it receives

Upstate New York pays the state less in taxes and other revenue than it receives back in state expenditures, according to a report from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the University at Albany.

About 24 percent of taxes and revenues collected by New York state in 2010 came from the upstate region, according to the report, titled “Giving and Getting.” But upstate New York received about 35 percent of state spending.

The Rockefeller Institute classified upstate New York as including 48 counties that are not part of the Capital Region, New York City, or the five-county downstate suburbs linked to New York City.

The Capital Region — made up of Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady counties — also paid the state less than it received. It paid just below 4 percent of the state’s total taxes and receipts and received 7 percent of state spending.

Meanwhile, New York City and its downstate suburbs paid the state more than they received in expenditures.

New York City contributed more than 45 percent of all state taxes and revenues. It received about 40 percent of expenditures in return, according to the report.

Downstate suburbs in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties gave the state 24 percent or 27 percent of its taxes and revenues, depending on calculation methods used. Those areas took home around 18 percent of state funding, the Rockefeller Institute report found.

The report calculated receipts paid and expenditures received in each region using various methods — by place of residence and by place of work. Each method showed that upstate New York and the Capital Region received more than they paid, while New York City and its downstate suburbs paid more than they received.

Upstate New York would have lost between $8.1 billion and $9.3 billion if its share of state-funded expenditures matched the revenues it contributed, according to the Rockefeller Institute. The Capital Region would have lost about $2.7 billion.

New York City would have received an additional $4.1 billion to $6.1 billion in state funding if state expenditures matched revenues from the city, the report found. Downstate suburbs would have gained $4.6 billion to $7.9 billion.

The New York City–based Citizens Budget Commission, which describes itself as a nonprofit civic organization focused on changing the finances and services of New York City and New York state government, commissioned the report. It was supported by a grant from the New York Community Trust, a New York City–based community foundation with more than $1.9 billion in almost 2,000 individual charitable funds.

Analysis: Cuomo's focus to be running gov't in '12

The Wall Street Journal offered this perspective on Cuomo and 2012:

After a year of political wins including a cap on property tax growth and the legalization of gay marriage, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he even managed to surprise himself this year.

"I think it has been a remarkably different year for this government on every level," Cuomo told The Associated Press in an extensive interview. "I'm proud of the way it's acting, proud of the way it's performing and I think performance is probably more important than ever before."

He said he accomplished practically his entire four-year legislative agenda that propelled him to office a year ago. It included a rare spending cut, elimination of a near-record $10 billion deficit that he inherited, a 2 percent cap on the growth in property taxes, the gay marriage law, and, after dropping his no-tax pledge, a Cuomo-led tax revision that raises billions from a millionaire tax while providing a modest but rare cut for 4.4 million middle-class New Yorkers. His approval rating was a sky-high 68 percent last week in a Quinnipiac University poll.

So for 2012, he's going to turn to tinkering and overhauling under the hood of state government, the way he does with his classic '75 Corvette and '68 Pontiac GTO.

Not everything has been a clear win so far. Cuomo is still criticized for cutting back-room deals after promising the most open government in state history. His bills, including a much-needed ethics bill, have gaping holes despite the self-congratulations of Albany leaders. His income tax overhaul this month raised taxes on the very rich, after he promised no new taxes because they would drive employers out of state. His tax break for the middle class drew big headlines, but it will mean just $300 or so for most families, as he increases spending he vowed to cut. And his new ethics enforcement board has had one of the rockiest of starts, including holding a secret meeting.

But his public appeal remains near historic highs.

Look for hints of a second act in the weird way Cuomo unwinds:

After back-to-back private negotiations with seasoned legislative leaders and countless calls to allies and foes, he steps out of the thick plastered walls and 4-inch thick hardwood doors that protect his office to mull over the sanding and painting by workers in the Capitol's halls.

He adopts the role of a very hands-on, $179,000-a-year laborer intent on stripping down and restoring the ancient pile of a capitol. His father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, used to nearly chain himself to the place 20 years ago with Andrew at his side, a 23-year-old unpaid confidant and strategist. Today, the younger Cuomo can be seen pointing out the places portraits should hang in the Hall of Governors outside his office, scaling the spider web of scaffolding in towers for a personal review or taking to the roof of the massive Capitol.

Expect more of the craftsman Cuomo in 2012 as he says he'll turn from pushing landmark legislation to making the state's massive agencies with 170,000 workers, an endless fleet of vehicles, banks of computers and tons of other resources work better.

"I like to build," said Cuomo, who once founded a nonprofit organization that built homes for the poor and served as federal housing secretary. "I have seized this building (the capitol) as a metaphor for the whole process.

"To me, the place is entirely different than it was 20 years ago — not for the good. I believe there has been a deterioration, a pervasive deterioration in the performance, the integrity, the pride in the culture," Cuomo said. "There's so much work to do and people don't even notice. In my mind's eye, I see the building as it was 20 years go ... you know when you live in a house for a long time and you don't notice the paint fading and then you move a picture?"

As he did for complex legislative proposals, he now reduces the detailed problem of running government better to a simple proposition.

"You should reorganize first, then cut," he said, turning on its head the process of cutting state spending over the past three years. "Don't use the budget to make management decisions. Make management decisions, then do your budget."

Cuomo was widely credited with doing just that as President Bill Clinton's secretary for housing and urban development. He even makes a case that he might enjoy rebuilding state government, even if it comes with fewer headlines and less attention than his first year.

Cuomo started the year with a 70 percent favorability rating in polls and ends with a 72 percent favorability rating, a rare height and even more unusual show of staying power.

"The governor has had an incredibly successful first year in office from a policy perspective, from a political perspective, and from a perspective of how the voters of this state see him," said Steven Greenberg of the Siena poll.

There are, Greenberg notes, still landmines to navigate.

Among them is whether to approve "hydrofracking," the process in which chemicals and water are forced into shale to tap a natural gas reserve deep in the Southern Tier. It's seen as a gold rush by some and a threat to the environment by others. He also will have to decide whether to accept or veto new election district lines. Traditionally, the majorities of the Senate and Assembly contort the lines to protect their power, a practice Cuomo vowed as a candidate to veto. But now these majorities are needed allies.

He also promised to create private-sector jobs. And if his legislative agenda is slim, he will be reminded of some big campaign promises that he hasn't touched as governor. Key among them is campaign finance reform, desired by every candidate but few incumbents.

"I think Gov. Cuomo has a potential to have a very good second year," Greenberg said. "But he also has the potential to run into some road blocks and start to see the incredibly strong support he has with voters weakening a bit. It could turn on a dime."