Census strikes back
It's official - New York is losing two congressional seats, taking the state from 29 to 27 in 2013. The Buffalo News is bracing for a fight:
It's likely to be one of the most contentious redistrictings in history, given the levels of partisan polarization and the technological know-how to identify populations more precisely than ever before, said Costas Panagopoulos, a political science professor at Fordham University.
The News reports that former Rep. Tom Reynolds (Chris Lee now holds his seat) was a heavy hitter in former reapportionment battles - but that doesn't stop him from making his predictions:
While Reynolds said he will not be involved in the new reapportionment, he expects that it will play out much like in 2002 -- a loss in Western New York and another in the state's southeastern corner. He said it could turn out that a suburban seat could stretch into New York City if some areas of the five boroughs do not register enough population growth.
Meanwhile Gannett's Washington bureau reports that illegal immigrants, included in the Census, helped prevent New York from losing a third congressional seat.
And the Times Union reports that good government groups are calling for a fair redrawing of district lines - or else:
[New York Public Interest Research Group legislative director Blair] Horner's group is among those calling on lawmakers to pass legislation allowing a nonpartisan commission to draw the districts, which the Assembly and Senate would later ratify.
Horner said reverting to the heavily politicized process used after past Census counts would "fuel New Yorkers' already sky-high cynicism about Albany."
New medical building
As the Innovation Trail's Daniel Robison reported last week, a new building at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is the biggest real estate investment in a generation. The Buffalo News today has more details about how the project will shape up, from a briefing held for city planners yesterday.
Healthy living headaches
Are you trying out a high deductible health care plan for the first time in 2011? The Democrat and Chronicle has some tips - and warnings - for those new to this type of plan.
And the Times Union has a warning for those of you with health care spending accounts: buy now or forever hold your peace. Rules about what over-the-counter products can be purchased over tax-free are about to be shaken up dramatically. So stock up on OTC standards like asprin now - or face having to get a doctor to write you a permission slip starting January 1.
Family affair: mall edition
Medley Center Mall in suburban Rochester is delinquent on its snowplowing bill - from last winter, reports the Democrat and Chronicle. Who cares? Perhaps our Syracuse readers - Scott Congel, the owner of the Rochester mall, who has so far failed to deliver on dreams of repurposing the nearly-vacant property into a massive mixed-use project, is the son of Robert Congel. Robert is the developer behind Destiny USA, an expansion of the Carousel Center Mall in Syracuse which has faced its own troubles getting off the ground.
A deal between Erie County and private donors to fund arts organizations pushed out of the county budget has fallen apart. The Buffalo New reports the original deal was for the county to pitch in $100,000, with donors contributing $400,000. But after meeting with a legislature committee earlier this week, the Oishei Foundation has scrapped that plan, and says it'll proceed with funding arts orgs without government support.
Death and taxes
IBM has gotten a $40 million tax break in Greece, outside of Rochester, to retain 550 jobs. That's right - not creating new jobs, just not axing any old ones. The Democrat and Chronicle reports:
The bulk of the investment, $35 million, will be for the purchase of computer hardware and software and related equipment over five years. Most of the business at the facility involves outsourcing for the giant company's customers, Spinei said.
[The County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency] COMIDA approved a sales tax exemption for IBM's investment.
While IBM is getting a tax break, taxpayers in Onondaga County are seeing a tax hike. So the county is readying itself for the backlash, reports the Post-Standard:
“I’ve always felt once people get their tax bills, that’s when it’s really going to hit home,” said Salina Town Supervisor Mark Nicotra. Nicotra’s town is one of the hardest hit, with residents facing a combined tax increase of 47 percent, or $210 on a $100,000 home.
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