Friday, September 10, 2010

Unstainable Wages

Does anyone understand what "unstainable wages" means?   Apparently the people do who run Unshackle Upstate.   It's how they describe Assembly Bill A 3659 in their recently released "legislative scorecards" for state legislators:   "A 3659 Requires unstainable wages on IDA financed projects."   This appears on the report cards of legislators who sponsored it, such as Susan John and Joe Morelle, as an example of "anti-taxpayer legislation."   At least Unshackle got that part right.

Googling Assembly Bill A 3659 to learn just what on earth an "unstainable wage" might be, we learned that the bill was organized labor's #1 priority in this year's legislative session.   It would have imposed prevailing and "living wage" requirements on companies locating or expanding in New York with incentives from Industrial Development Agencies.   This would have driven costs for upstate projects 28 percent higher than in comparable out-of-state communities.   To its credit, Unshackle Upstate played a significant role in defeating this bill.

We think "unstainable wages" in Unshackle's report cards for legislators -- it appears throughout -- is just a typo.   A search of the bill did not find the word "unstainable" in it.   Perhaps Unshackle meant to say "unsustainable" wages.   Yet even then, it's a rather weak and non-explanatory description of what the bill was all about.   Why not say:   would force businesses with IDA support to pay 28% more to build in upstate than out of state?

Maybe this is just another aspect of Unshackle's sloppiness in preparing its report card project.  Yet it, and other ambiguities in Unshackle's "report cards," raise for us once more the doubts we've expressed about Unshackle, about its effectiveness and the political motives of its Executive Director, Brian Sampson and his boss, Rochester Business alliance CEO Sandy Parker.

We've wondered whether Unshackle isn't really in the business of trying to build a firewall between voters and some upstate Democratic officeholders with career-long anti-business records.

Under "Budget Advocacy," the Report Cards tell you, for example, "Assemblymember John voted for 12 out of 12 fiscally unsound budget bills," concluding that she "Voted to support taxpayers' budget priorities 0 out of 12 times."   But it would be nice to know just what those budget bills were, so we could see for ourselves.

Unshackle's report cards consider legislators' votes only on the most recent state budget.   But this is an election year in which career-long anti-business legislators have suddenly become political drag queens, posturing desperately to appear as opponents of everything they've supported for most of their careers.

If Unshackle really wanted to issue a useful tool for voters, they'd have included a ranking about each legislator's career record on the budget as well.   A far more effective way to let voters distinguish between genuinely pro-growth, pro-job creation legislators, and this year's ample crop of phonies.

Moreover, we view as suspect the easy "out" the report card provides to legislators who got an "F" on their report card (like school, we view a grade below 60 as an "F.") In addition to the numerical score, Unshackle ranks legislators in each house, Senate and Assembly, in relation to the other members.

In a body such as the New York State Assembly, where the great bulk of the members are from downstate, and the great bulk of those probably would be on welfare or in jail if they didn't have their State Assembly gig, that comparative ranking makes even legislators getting an "F" look good by comparison.

Consider Susan John, who managed to get, on the 1 to 100 scale, an overall score of -1 -- yes, that's minus one.   Yet compared to her fellow Assembly members, that gives John a ranking of 95, out of 150 assembly members.

An Assembly member scores -1, and there are 55 members of the body who score even worse than she does!

What Unshackle's ranking shows us is that only 33 Assembly members got passing grades.   Out of 150 members, 127 got an "F" -- a grade below 60!

These rankings are more of a statement on the deplorable overall quality of the Assembly than a reliable comment on individual legislators.   Yet they provide some cover even for the worst.

Joe Morelle scored a solid "F" with 45 points out of 100.   But comparing him to the other assembly members gives both Morelle and a complicit daily newspaper something to work with in his support, something to distract from his failing grade.

It also will give Unshackle's leaders Parker and Sampson, both Democrats with close ties to Morelle, ample wiggle room in shaping Unshackle's upcoming candidate endorsements.   For this, Parker has abundantly laid the groundwork:

CEO Sandy Parker ... cautioned that [the Report Card] was just one tool that will be used for Unshackle's endorsements. Other factors will be a candidate's historic support for the organization's agenda, input from the candidate's local chamber of commerce, in-person interviews and a candidate questionnaire.
Right.   A most impressive collection of loopholes.   Anything to provide an out from the objective data of the Report Cards, however shakily presented by Unshackle Upstate.

Note to Unshackle Upstate:   Here's another error for you to correct.   You score Assemblyman Joel Miller at 70%, but rank him at 123 out of 150. Yet Jim Tedisco scored 68 and you rank him at 30; Nancy Calhoun scored 66 and she's ranked at 32.   So Miller has to be in the top 30.

UPDATE - Evening

Unshackle Upstate has corrected its entry for Assemblyman Miller.


Anonymous said...

Sandy Parker and the crew at the Rochester Business Alliance are following in the footsteps of former Chamber of Commerce President Tom Mooney, who also endorsed Democrats like Louise Slaughter and Joe Morelle, on the theory that it was "practical" to do so. They were naive to the point of foolishness then, and Parker & Co. are foolish and naive now. Our business community is politically irrelevant in Albany and Washington because they have spent so long being "practical" and cow towing to liberal Democrats who vote against business interests.

Anonymous said...

Sandy Parker is purely a messenger for "Dutch" Summers...and his personal political and social agenda. She, for example, made Mayoral Control an issue for RBA...while ignoring legitimate business issues at the same time. She has confused her responsibility to our community with her personal relationship with Mr. Summers...which, unfortunately, now makes her ineffective as the leader of her organization. Her board should ask for her resignation immediately!

Anonymous said...

The NY Business Council also issues 30 page position papers that no one reads, then wonders why the state legislature keeps passing anti-business bills. Meanwhile they contribute very little to campaigns and never speak out in public, except thru flacks no one pays attention to. The unions play a smarter game, contributing huge amounts and being very vocal. Locally, Anon is correct that Sandy Parker is as ineffective as Tom Mooney. Rochester seems doomed by weakness and over eagerness to be "practical". Morelli is not taken seriously by anyone and deserves to disappear into the insurance dept or some other faceless bureaucracy as a Cuomo toady.

Anonymous said...

Parker and Summers are angry with Senator Jim Alesi only because he hasn't openly endorsed their specific version of mayoral control. Now they're using RBA and Unshackle Upstate to go after him despite all he's done for businesses in Monroe County and the state. They're going to endorse Alesi's opponent despite the fact that she's worked with the same Democrat state leaders that have almost destroyed the business climate in NY. And the rest of the RBA and Unshackle board members are helpless to stop it. Someone needs to though!

Anonymous said...

The Alesi vs Wilmot race will be one of the most interesting locally. Like so many of the GOP Senators, Alesi became arrogant, isolated, defensive and a "part of the problem" RINO in Albany over the past 10 years, joining Bruno and then Skelos as closer to the teachers unions than taxpayers. On the other hand, Wilmot would be even worse because her liberalism would further destroy our region's economy. What a choice.

Anonymous said...

Like so many GOP Senators? How about the Democrats Anon. With Dems in total control, they raised taxes by more in 2 years that were raised in 10 when there were BOTH Repubs and Demos in charge. Ya, the Senate Dems like to ignore that Democrats have run the Assembly and the Governor's mansion for many, many years. I don't EVER recall taxes being raised as high (especially in a recession) as the Democrats did these passed two years.

Sure Alesi is arrogant which is probably why he's being targeted this year by the Dems, but if you think Wilmot won't bow to the New York City money-whores, you're nuts. Wilmot worked FOR Malcolm Smith and will do anything he wants, anything. They're BFF's! I hear he's been in Rochester several times so far for her. Can't you strategize over the phone or the internet? Are we footing the bill for his escapades? Wonder what that's all about.

The dems will pump a million bucks into this race all for nothing. I'm sticking with Alesi and don't care how pissed off Mr. and Mrs. Parker-Summers are.

Anonymous said...

You might think Alesi is arrogant but from what I'm learning about Ms. Wilmot, she'd be a disaster for our community.

Be very careful you don't thow the baby out with the bath water!

This country did that by voting for Obama and Democratic majorities in both how and look what we got for it...

Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid
An non-stimulus package
Trillion+ in debt
A proposed business-killing business plan

I'm sure I missed several things.

Anonymous said...

Mary Wilmot and NYC Senato leader Malcolm Smith are indeed very close. He wants her very bad in the Senate. Their relationship will not be good for Upstate New Yorkers. And you can bet that with the two of them together, it won't be our needs being met first and foremost.

Anonymous said...

10:05, I am not disagreeing with you, in that I regard Wilmot as a leftist who would sell-out Rochester for the NYC boys in a heartbeat. She comes in the fine tradition of Louise Slaughter, Susan John and Joe Morelli, who are Big Government tax and spend elitists.

Having said all that -- the fact is Alesi and the GOP state senators have dug their own holes deep with decades of ample toadying (is that a word?) to the labor unions, out of control spending and mandates that are killing local governments. People like Maggie are basically helpless to control their own budgets because of Albany mandates. The response from Alesi over the years has been basically "pound salt" and an arrogant "we're the senate and we're above it all". Nozzolio, Maziarz, Volker are all with him, as were Bruno and Pataki. The downfall of Minarik, the frustration of Doyle, the helplessness of Brooks -- all tied to the incredible arrogance of the GOP Senators when they were in power. Of course it didn't help that Pataki was a useful idiot for the unions either, or that the business community (Mooney and Parker locally, the NYS Bus Council statewide) is hapless.

So now we get to pick our poison -- Alesi or Wilmot -- bad or worse.

Anonymous said...

Mary Wilmot is nothing more than a rich liberal elitist who thinks she's smarter than use poor dumb average middle class voters. People like her don't want to listen to what we want, they want to tell us what's good for us.

Typical arrogant elitism.

If you think Alesi is arrogant, then Wilmot is the poster child for the "Vote for me cuz I'm smarter than you" crowd.

Just listen to her. She's a consumate wealthy liberal elitist who is pretending to be an average working class conservative. She's nevera worked an honest day's work in her life, comes from a wealthy family and has held government jobs working for officials that have raised taxes and spending the highest in the history of this state. But she wants us to believe she understands our needs? Is she really serious?

If you know her at all, you know this is a total and complete lie. If you hear her speak, you can pretty much guarantee that she's telling a lie to you. It's that simple.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Mr. & Mrs. Summers aren't quite reaching that $500 thousand they said they'd have for their political hit squad. Check out their financial reports:

July report: $44,000 (25% came from Dutch himself)
32-day pre-primary: $10,000
11-day pre-primary:$2,500

Each report they raise less and less. The big money contributors must finally have their number.

Check it out:

Anonymous said...

I read Unshackle Upstate was going to announce their endorsements right after the september 14th primary. It's almost a week later and they've done nothing.

Is that because all our local republican state electeds did so much better on the survey Unshackle put out as compared to the democrats? Now they have to figure out how they endorse democrats who failed miserabley.

All this after Unshackle tried to write their survey in a way that would benefit democrats and hide their terrible voting records.

Let's face it. This groups of liberal elitists is a joke. No one should recognize them as anything else and we should clearly not give them power and control over our local governments.

I don't bust my butt in this world so some rich old man and his girlfriend on the side can try and tell me what and whom I'm supposed to support. I didn't elect them to squat.

Jon Greenbaum said...

Make no mistake: when the Business Alliance's Sandy Parker gets out in the public eye to talk about what's going on in Albany, it is for one reason only: to influence public policy so that these corporations can maximize their profits. That is what she gets paid to do. It's right there in the Business Alliance mission: "The Rochester Business Alliance, the regional chamber of commerce, will create value for its members... by advocating for an environment essential for member success." The mission doesn't mention anything about jobs, quality of life or sustainability of the planet. It's about maximizing "success," meaning profits.
That's fine. But let's see it for what it is: the voice of a particular special interest. And there is something peculiar about this type of special interest. As opposed to people with disabilities lobbying for home care or parents lobbying for smaller class sizes, corporate lobbyists don't represent New Yorkers, they represent corporations, and corporations are not people. This is not a small distinction.
One could make the case that the corporate lobbyists represent shareholders, but the corporate entity is required by law to maximize profit, not create jobs for our community. We're not talking about altruistic, charitable organizations here.
Nor are we talking about democratic organizations. While unions actually are democratic organizations representing millions of New Yorkers who elect their union representatives, corporations are not democratic. We have no say in these business decisions. We had no say when the corporations represented on the Business Alliance board of directors made decisions to send tens of thousands of our jobs overseas.
Let's be honest: the Business Alliance has been opposing policies that help ordinary working people, people struggling to pay their medical bills to businesses represented on the Business Alliance board of directors, people struggling to pay rent to landlords represented on the Business Alliance Board of directors, people struggling to pay back the high-interest loans to the banks represented on the Business Alliance board of directors, people struggling to pay for expensive classes (to get a better job) at the colleges represented on the Business Alliance board of directors, people working two jobs because they earn so little working for corporations represented on the Business Alliance board of directors.

Jon Greenbaum said...

Sandy Parker would have us believe that low taxes, less worker protections and less business regulations are the ONLY way an economy can prosper. That's an interesting theory. But back in the real world the data is already in on how economies actually function and it is clear that high road economies can be even MORE competitive than the United States economy.

It's not big government or small government. It's government that effectively hits the sweet spot and delivers for the people. Given the enormity of the recession it's safe to say the American economy needs to be tweaked quite a bit. Sandy Parker's low road economic philosophy leads to more of the same - bloated Wall Street inequality and families stressed by unemployment.

Anonymous said...

Sorry John but unions are the biggest part of the problem. How can you claim that there is democracy in a union? Union members are forced to pay money that, according to you, they have so little of, to fund political campaigns that many of them do not personally support. Their money also goes to defend union members that have no business being defended by the union yet they cost the rest of the members plenty of money. Lastly, union members many times are told that the union cannot help them and they must go elsewhere for help.

And don't get me started on the "union leader meetings" that ABSOLUTELY MUST BE HELD in Las Vegas, Florida, California and many other great vacation destinations that the rank and file members don't get to enjoy...

but they sure as hell pay for it. Face it, you've outlived your usefulness and do more harm for workers than good but are fighting desperately to hang onto fat-cat union boss salaries and benefits.

Your commenting here is simply distracting from the real issue at hand.

And that is that Sandy Parker and the so-called Rochester Business Alliance is really hell bent on electing Democrats and NOT supporting businesses... I'm sorry, let me rephrase that...

EMPLOYERS!!! They're the ones that create jobs. NOT UNIONS.