Monthly Archives: February 2009

Priorities

From today’s NYT story about a once-gentrifying LA neighborhood now stagnating under the weight of the poor economy:

When Emily Cook, a screenwriter, bought a house four years ago in Eagle Rock, a neighborhood on the Northeast side of Los Angeles, she fantasized what the area might look like in a year or two, with cafes and boutiques replacing tattered old businesses… A sad flower shop on the corner, she thought, could become a miniature Whole Foods. An upholstery store could be a gastropub where she and friends would grab a beer, and a neglected 1940s diner could become a retro spot for a quick meal.

Whereas, many of our local neighborhoods around here would be quite happy and relieved to have even a flower shop on the corner and an upholstery store…

Winter: is it just me?

For years, when I would talk to people who weren’t from around here and who expressed shock or disgust at how much it tends to snow in Syracuse, I would reassure them that Central New York had the best snow removal infrastructure in the world. Heck, I would brag about it, even. World’s biggest airport runway snowplow, mountains of municipal salt, drivers who laughed in the face of death, etc.

This year, however, I’ve been finding myself less impressed with the snow removal performance. We’ve had more than one lake effect “event” that was predicted well in advance and yet the roads seem to be more neglected each time. It mystifies me why “they” seem to think that laying down lots of salt and not plowing makes road conditions better. It just makes for slippery brown muck several inches deep. What’s wrong with them?

Or, what’s wrong with me? I hired a guy to plow my driveway this season, for the first time. I spent the first few weeks of the snow season, getting all excited every time he showed up to clear out the driveway. Took a while for the thrill to wear down to normal levels. It’s going to be hard to go back to shoveling now. And I feel like I’m losing my good relationship with snow. I sort of miss going out there. But… I also don’t.

We haven’t really had that bad of a winter, and yet today I faced the morning commute with a tinge of dread. That isn’t a usual feeling for me when it snows. I’ve lost some confidence. Maybe we’ve also lost confidence as a community. Whenever we have a lake effect day now, almost everything gets cancelled. It didn’t used to be that way — or at least, it wasn’t hyped up so much on the news.

I wonder if the people who have scattered from CNY to the four winds will ever be able to bring themselves to come back and accept winter as one of the four seasons. I wonder if the change in American weather tastes is permanent — that most people will keep on living in the hot, humid, stinging-insect-infested South and West because they believe living and working in snowtime is just too much of a sacrifice. I wonder how long our snow belt communities can maintain the stiff-upper-lip semblance of productivity during the snowiest winter months, without making official the impulse to hibernate (or play) during this season. Maybe it’s not just me.

Do you believe in miracles?

29 years ago today…

This is footage from ABC’s broadcast, but the audio was taken from live radio coverage (the game was not broadcast on TV live), so it’s a different ending than the famous “Do you believe in miracles!” but no less exciting. Check it out.

Power down for NYRI?

It’s hard to believe, but it’s getting on to three years since the New York Regional Interconnect project, the notorious NYRI, began to face resistance across a wide swath of Upstate New York, from Utica to Orange County. There was every reason to think that a divide-and-conquer strategy would work for the company, since the geographical area was so broad and folks from Utica generally don’t rub shoulders with folks from the other side of the Catskills. But the NYRI project was being pushed by businessmen who weren’t quite the sharpest in the tool box. They underestimated the resistance that the project inspired among citizens of different political affiliations, the “geopolitics” of New York regional affairs, and just the entrenched political culture of Upstate New York that would make things difficult for anyone who didn’t have a clear “in” to navigate Albany’s dysfunction and molasses pace.

It’s much too soon to call the project “dead,” but NYRI opponents were handed a major win this week when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) could not overrule any state’s decision on power transmission projects. NYRI is now arguing that this decision doesn’t matter because in their view, they filed their application with the PSC one year ago already, meaning that FERC has the right to decide (since allegedly PSC has not decided within a year). The PSC, however, holds that the application was only complete as of last August, meaning they still have until August to decide. So, the beat goes on. But in the meantime, the anti-NYRI coalition continues to receive funding for a prolonged fight, and there are other signs that NYRI’s investors are beginning to grow weary of determined opposition.

The deathly U.S. economy looms over everything these days. Not only must the financial downspiral be disheartening to NYRI’s investors, but it’s also slowing growth and development in the greater NYC area, which was clamoring for more and cheaper power. I’m not sure how this is really set to affect the “power imbalance” in New York State (both literal and figurative), but unless there is a slackening of resistance to the project and it becomes viewed as a job generator, I am not sure how much longer the company can continue to push their plan unless they receive special federal help.