State layoffs continue as Paterson signs final earmarks

Dec 20, 2010

State politics
The Democrat and Chronicle reports that how state layoffs will affect services isn't yet known, even as the governor follows through with plans to ax 900 workers by the New Year:

"Until agencies have a chance to regroup after the work force reduction takes effect at the end of the year and try to redesign and reconfigure the delivery of programs and services, it's hard to say at this point what additional impact there will be," said Eric Kriss, spokesman for Paterson's budget office.

It's also not known whether or not the incoming Cuomo administration will continue the cutting - that should be revealed when Cuomo releases his budget on February 1.

The D&C also has a good rundown of what redistricting could mean for New York, at both the federal and state level.

And the Times Union has a look at the "final batch" of earmarks approved by the Paterson administration.  The paper reports that many of them are going to politically connected organizations.

Getting connected
The Buffalo News takes a look at whether or not the Internet really connects us to a larger community - or just cements our existing biases:

New technologies such as Twitter "amplify and extend who we are and our existing tendencies," said Steve Macho, an assistant professor of technology education at Buffalo State.

The paper notes that recent research has found that services like Twitter are diverse - but not uniting:

The service believes 24 percent of American Twitter users are black, about twice their representation in the general population, Zuckerman said. White and black Twitter users aren't talking to each other, however.

Citing research performed by Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas, Zuckerman points out most popular topics on Twitter are exclusively posted by either white or black users. In May, for example, the term "cookout" was posted almost entirely by black users, while the term "oilspill" was almost uniformly white.

Contract dispute
The fight over a new contact for teachers continues at Onondaga Community College, reports the Post-Standard.  Faculty say they don't trust the college; the college says the teachers have turned down a fair contract:

Negotiations for the faculty and professional employees contracts have reached a stage called fact-finding. Each side was to submit its proposals and backup information last week to a state-appointed mediator, who will produce a report and recommendations in the spring. The recommendations won’t be binding, and the contract will still have to be settled through negotiations. State law forbids public employees from striking.

Terms and conditions of the expired contracts continue, including health care and other benefits. Faculty pay has been frozen since September 2007.

Hydrofracking
Jon Campbell over at the Press & Sun-Bulletin has a look at the mixed reviews for Governor David Paterson's approach to regulating natural gas drilling:

Much like the overall effectiveness of his nearly three-year term, Paterson's decision making when it comes to the vast natural gas reserve a mile below the surface of the Southern Tier and Catskills Region has received mixed reviews, even among usually like-minded stakeholders.

"I think he was walking a very tight rope when it comes to the Marcellus," said John Holko, president of Genesee County-based Lenape Resources and a member of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York's board of directors. "To move on in government life you have to understand that nothing is all good and nothing is all bad, and I think he really did understand that."

Meanwhile the Press & Sun-Bulletin also has a look at the impact of hydrofracking in Louisiana's natural gas deposits.  Residents there have complaints about methane in their water - sound familiar?

The friendly skies
Niagara Falls International Airport is now offering service to and from Florida, using cheap flights and access to Canada and western New York as a lure, according to the Buffalo News.

Manufacturing
The Post-Standard has excerpts of a conversation with Dean Burrows, president of of Nixon Gear Inc., in the suburb of Solvay.  It's a good look into the challenges that manufacturers face in an on-demand world, in which Chinese competition looms constantly in the background:

For a company our size, establishing a factory in China puts a great deal of stress on the organization. It would require a full-time, highly skilled employee to relocate to China for a year to educate the Chinese work force and to train a Chinese citizen to run the operation.

We are also concerned about loss of intellectual property and our competitive advantage.

Any entry into the China market with a factory would be to solely supply the China market.

RPI heads downtown
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is betting on downtown Troy for its graduate students.  The CityStation development is a $140 million project:

"Our graduate students in this particular case are the first pieces creating the economic engine for the project," said Claude Rounds, RPI's vice president for administration.

He called the Sixth Avenue West Student Apartments "the seed for the rest of the project," and noted that RPI worked closely with [developer] the United Group to meet the need for graduate student housing.

Destiny back on track
Money from Citibank is once again flowing to Syracuse's Destiny USA mall project - but that also means the clock is ticking as developer Scott Congel races to meet deadlines outlined in his tax exemption deal.  That leaves the struggling mall's fate uncertain, according to the Post-Standard.

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