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Voice of the Voter poll finds it's still the economy, stupid

Jobs and the economy are still voters' top concerns, according to a new poll.
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Jobs and the economy are still voters' top concerns, according to a new poll.

Voter concerns: jobs and economy
The economy is still top of mind for voters, according to the Voice of the Voter poll, sponsored by Innovation Trail lead station WXXI, the Democrat and Chronicle, 13 WHAM and WDKX.  You can see full poll results here [PDF] but here are a few highlights:

*58 percent of voters think the United States is on the wrong track, 35 percent think we're on the right track.

*For New York it's even more dramatic - 87 percent wrong track, 12 percent right track.

*59 percent of respondents volunteered that jobs and the economy were the most important issue facing the country.  In second place was debt and the size of government, identified by 16 percent of respondents.  Third place was captured by taxes, spending, budgets and the deficit, with 6 percent of respondents.

*57 percent of respondents supported a state property tax cap, limiting increases to 2.5 percent a year.  But when the cap was phrased in relationship to potential cuts to police, fire, education and library spending, the results were split with 41 percent supporting and 42 percent opposing.

Dirty chip fab
The Times-Union has a "cautionary tale" about how chip fabrication, often referred to as a "clean manufacturing" industry, can turn out to be dirty indeed.  Many in a town in New Mexico, near an Intel plant, say that they've been injured by fumes from a chemical used in chip fab:

Locals have complained of bad odors emanating from the fabs and report disturbing symptoms such as headaches and coughing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and even seizures, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in Atlanta, which has studied possible health impacts of the site.

Global Foundries, which is building a much-touted facility in Saratoga County, says it won't use as much of the chemical that New Mexico residents are concerned about.

Housing development on the rocks
A student housing project in Binghamton won't be coming to market until 2012, because of problems pulling together the property portfolio.  The project has been billed as an economic revival for Binghamton's downtown, reports the Press & Sun-Bulletin:

City officials and downtown merchants have looked forward to the addition of hundreds of students living downtown. College Suites could generate up to $1.7 million in new direct and indirect spending in the city, according to a consulting firm hired by Newman Development to gauge the social and economic benefits of the project.

Fracking health concerns
The Buffalo News has a report about families south of Buffalo who've reported illness after natural gas hydrofracking began in their neighborhood.  But just like in Pennsylvania, gas firms and regulators claim the methane in wells isn't harmful, so the families are suing the driller.

Farmers forming cooperative
New York farmers who have to send their cattle to Pennsylvania for "processing" (there's a euphemism for you) are losing money to transport costs.  So farmers in Madison County are teaming up to create a cooperative facility to process animals locally, and to tap into locavore sentiments as they market the meat.  From the Post-Standard:

It’s a $2 million project that received a significant boost: a $750,000 loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If that plant is successful, the cooperative will expand to a $20 million commercial plant that could handle 50,000 animals.

Casino owners want chips to fall locally
The Seneca Indian Nation is now getting support from four Buffalo area politicians in their fight to keep casino profits local.  Currently the state government distributes the funds, but the Senecas argue that it makes sense to drop the middleman:

The Senecas are involved in a heated dispute with Gov. David A. Paterson over the tribe's refusal to make required 2009 and 2010 casino-revenue sharing payments to the state and to communities that host the Seneca casinos in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca. The governor says the Senecas are about $200 million behind in the payments and are in violation of the Senecas'casino compact, the legal agreement with the state that allows the tribe to run casinos.

High speed rail hearing
High speed rail will be on the agenda Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. as federal rail officials travel to the state fairgrounds to hear public comments, reports the Post-Standard.  There are six hearings across the state this fall, as officials seek input about updates to New York's beleagured passenger service. 

Banks buy debt
The Times-Union has a piece from the Huffington Post Investigative Fund about how banks are moving into debt collection in order to bulk up their portfolios as more consumers default on loans:

In exchange for paying overdue real estate taxes, the investors gain legal powers to collect the debt and levy fees. At first, property owners may owe little more than a few hundred dollars, only to find their bills soaring into the thousands. Some jurisdictions tack on bills, such as for water, sewer and sidewalk repair.

On the job
Looking for a new career?  The Buffalo News has a profile of an entrepreneur who wanted to be his own boss - so he bought an existing company.  The upshot is that existing businesses already have clientele and a reputation.  But buyers should beware of a steep learning curve as they enter new industries, take on managerial roles and figure out ways to finance their dream.

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