Small towns in Adirondacks fight over tourism money

In case you missed it there is yet another dust-up underway in the Adirondacks over how and where to spend the dollars that market our region to potential tourists.

We’ve reported before that the Adirondacks lags well behind in terms of creating a recognizable brand in them minds of potential visitors.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that he wants far more New York City and downstate travelers to choose the vacation opportunities we offer in the North Country, rather than head east to New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont.

But the truth is that studies have shown that a lot of New Yorkers don’t even know we exist.  And to the extent that they do, they don’t think we’re as cool or have as much cachet as our New England neighbors.

Which is why it’s so frustrating that Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake are fuming over a tiny $25,000 request, made by Saranac Lake village representatives to help market their community’s tourism assets.  They want the dollars to come from Franklin County.

Saranac Lake wants to partner with ROOST, the Lake Placid-based tourism operation.  But that marketing program is run by Essex County.

Tupper Lake, meanwhile, feels cheated and left out and wants an equal slice of any tourism marketing pie.

You see where this is going?

While New Hampshire and Vermont find ways to pool their money and messaging power — thereby creating ad campaigns that actually have the heft and creativity to spark some kind of response — Adirondackers work village by village.

The reason for this balkanization is pretty simple:  We are, in fact, balkanized, with no central governing organization to shape how and where dollars are spent.

That kind of effort would take political heft, enough to resist bending to local, parochial interests.  But efforts to create that kind of organization have faltered.

After all, why would folks in Warren County want visitors to spend time on the Thousand Islands?  Why would development officials in Lake Placid want to boost visitorship in Hamilton County?

The answer, of course, is that the region as a whole has the assets and the resources to become a major destination, while no single county or community can possibly compete at that level.

If we marketed the region as a whole, in a coherent, deliberate and persistent way, we would almost certainly see a net increase in visitors that would give everyone more opportunities to build their local tourism economies.

Instead, we continue try to go it alone.  Maybe Saranac Lake will get its money.  They will spend some tens of thousands of dollars — the goal is to pool $85,000 — over some limited period of time to boost the local brand.

Meanwhile, our neighbors to the East continue to boost their entire tourism industry, with Vermont along spending $5 million every year on tourism marketing even during the depths of the economic downturn – with many of those dollars aimed at “our” visitors in New York.

It’s hard to say what the solution here might be.  Maybe there is none.  Perhaps our competitors will continue to grow and market themselves as 21st century destinations, with sophisticated branding, while we remain a kind of cool, funky, undiscovered Wild West.

But maybe some day we’ll find a way to make the Adirondack-North Country into a unified, recognizable destination, where the incredible assets of all our unique villages, resorts, and natural wonders add up to something greater and more appealing than any one community could provide.

I’ve said before:  In the years before I moved here, I was a West Coaster and had no idea what the Adirondacks were.  But I knew New Hampshire and Vermont — and I wanted to visit them some day.

Until we create the same collective appeal for our beautiful corner of the world, I suspect we’ll be missing out on visitors, dollars and opportunity.

 

 

 

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64 Comments on “Small towns in Adirondacks fight over tourism money”

  1. Arlo T. Ledbetter says:

    Speaking specifically to the area within the Park, you aren’t going to get tourism like you do in Vt simply because the infrastructure isn’t there and never will be. People complain about Lake George and say they don’t want that in the Park, but that’s basically what people want to a lesser or greater degree. People want entertainment and ease of access. If you go to Vt you don’t stay at a 1950′s flea bag motel, you stay in a modern, decent place near the things that interest you. As long as development is squashed in the Park and fought tooth and nail your tourism is going to be very limited. I’d also note that unlike National Parks, you can’t drive onto State land to find a camping spot, etc. The infrastructure that would allow families or the elderly to do more than just drive along a roadway doesn’t exist.

    As far as the TI region, it’s strictly low budget outside Abay. If you come up 81 from Syracuse to the Bay it’s fine. If you go outside the Bay and head east you simply come to what a lot of out of staters I’ve talked with describe as an area of “abject poverty”. Other than the Casino, there’s not a lot of draw. It’s not Lancaster Co Pa where the Amish thing is pushed. And if they did come, accommodations are limited.

    I think the hey day for Adk tourism died out some time back and CPR via gazillions of taxpayer dollars isn’t going to revive it.

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  2. Mervel says:

    I think it would take a regional or statewide authority, village or county groups won’t be able to do it. The type of change you are speaking of I think is needed but would need a multi million dollar campaign. Growing up was the same ok new about Vermont and I also remember the I heart New York campaign. It will have to be that big. I would not waste time on 25k as it will do nothing in media.

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  3. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    There’s the big spread on ADK Great Camps in Vanity Fair. Good publicity. You have to buy the magazine to read it, but:
    http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2012/06/private-paradises-homes-garden

    But more on topic…in Warren County they instituted a bed tax some years back with all the proceeds dedicated to tourism promotion. Tourism promotion specifically in Warren County. It adds up to millions of dollars. So while the county as a whole has difficulty funding necessary government operations, for instance road maintenance has been deferred and needs to spend about $1.7 million or so to catch up, the tourism department is drowning in cash. People spend hours just dreaming up stupid events so they can chow down on some of the pork. Probably the most secure jobs in the county are in the tourism department. It has become the snake that ate it’s own tail.

    And just like all the EDC’s and LDC’s the tourism departments around the state have proliferated spending cash on self promotion, doling out funds to consultants (often out of the ares or out of state consultants) that churn out boiler-plate reports that often cost more to file than the good they produce – except that it makes the agencies look like they are doing something. And someone sits at a desk and writes a report about how they are doing their job and quantifying how much value their job creates in the local community.

    Don’t get me started!

    Anyway, the problem with NY is that we aren’t Vermont. We are much bigger and more diverse and it is really hard to tell people how you can be everything to everyone – even if it is true. So you have the Finger Lakes fighting the ADK’s fighting the Catskills fighting the Thousand Islands fighting Niagara Falls and everyone fighting the City and the Hamptons to get tourists. And you end up with the I Love NY campaign state-wide which is well known but all the diverse areas get crammed together so that all most people know is that somewhere beyond the Statue of Liberty is Manhattan and a bunch of other stuff off toward Canada somewhere.

    But the real problem isn’t that we dont have a cohesive tourism promotion program. The real problem is that families dont have the time or money anymore to take a vacation. Both parents work and it is hard to coordinate vacation schedules, even for the fewer and fewer who have paid vacations. So instaed of being able to take a full week or two (and heaven forbid a full month like many did years ago) and being able to stay in one place and really explore an area people are going for weekend trips.

    The elite have second, third or fourth homes to go to but often they buy everything they need in New Jersey, cramming their SUV full and stocking the shelves at their camp where they sit inside and watch satellite TV and text their friends and look out at the view of the lake hoping a loon floats by.

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  4. AdkBuddy says:

    My experience with communities working together has not been good. Many years ago the Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid Lions clubs talked about working together. That lasted only as long as Lake Placid needed us. Not the other way around. I don’t think much has changed. A true regional umbrella promotional organization is needed, the communities can’t do it on their own.

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  5. Newt says:

    All true, maybe, but I’m kind of dubious of the argument that nobody south of Saratoga knows we exist.

    Per Knuck’s Vanity Fair citation, I think the country has been saturated with the Adirondaks . How many times have you seen spreads in LL Bean Catalog, NYT Magazine, or whatever featuring the Adrondacks? A couple of years ago (before the Bust)I recall learning by osmosis from my wife that building your own Adk Great Room was all rage across the country. Adirondack Life appears, from it’s adivertising, to be a very successful magazine selling the Adirondacks (very much warts and all) way outside the region to once, future, and wannabee Adirondackers.

    Whatevery the problem with Northeasterners, Canadians know about us. Try hiking in the High Peaks on a weekend if you don’t believe me (their good-natured prevalence may highlight the US tourist deficit, I guess).

    Anyone wishing an anticdote to tourism deficit syndrome should not miss the opportunity to attempt to reserve a choice campsite on Lower Sarnanac Lake between Memorial and Labor Days if you failed to do so before March 1, as I unfailingly do each year. In the old days (80s and 90s) this was not a problem.

    I guess my point is that, Knuck’s correct observation about shrinking family vacation time, and the certain need for more coordination notwithstanding, the word on the Adirondaks is getting out relaiably well through the private sector.

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  6. Pete Klein says:

    Here’s a thought. As the election clearly pointed out, demographics are rapidly changing.
    Is anyone giving any thought to marketing the Adirondacks to more than white people, preferably those in the top 2%?
    I doubt many blacks or Hispanics read Vanity Fair and fewer still who read Adirondack Life.

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  7. Dave Mason says:

    Look at the Thursday Sept 13 APA meeting video (1-2pm) for Jim McKenna’s update on an effort by a public/private group to write a new Park wide recreation plan to tackle some of these issues. Also, there is a lot of data presented. If you are into this topic, you should know about this effort.

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  8. Peter Hahn says:

    This is a marketing problem, made much worse by the Balkanization (Brian’s) point. The squabling Balkanization is at the heart of the problem. ARTA vs the trains. Motorized sports vs paddlers/ hikers/XC skiers etc.

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  9. Matthew Rogers says:

    Great article and a very interesting issue. To further complicate matters, the Park is divided up into three Regional Economic Development Councils. http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/ It appears that each Regional Council has more of a focus or primary representation from outside of the Park. I can understand why the Park was divided in this manner – A larger metropolitan focus for each area. This however dilutes the Park’s primary asset – the Park itself.

    I suggest an Adirondack Park – Subcommittee with representation from each of the three councils. The Adirondack Daily Enterprise http://adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/blogs.detail/display/1866/An-Adirondack-Park-Economic-Council-.html called for the Adirondack’s own Economic Council. Regardless of the approach, it is clear the Park needs its own representation and needs to focus on it’s own planning and economic development issues.

    Lastly, and it has been mentioned many times before, there are so many different groups out there competing for attention, planning, re-planning, etc… All these groups must be at the table.

    OK, so know who is going to take the lead on this?

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  10. The “balkanization” comment about the Adirondacks is certainly true – many individual communities trying to market their own little attractions, competing with each other. Saranac Lake has always struggled with being the “little sister” to Lake Placid. ROOST, on the other hand, is not your typical local Chamber of Commerce but a very professional organization, with a large skilled staff, funded by the bed tax in Essex County, that does an excellent job of marketing the promoting that County and specifically Lake Placid. Because the Village of Saranac Lake is actually partially in Essex Co., it seemed logical to approach ROOST about handling the tourism and marketing of Saranac Lake. Franklin Co. has no bed tax and really doesn’t even have much of a county tourism program – so why not look into hiring the neighboring “experts” to market what is unique about Saranac Lake?

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  11. The Original Larry says:

    State government, county governments, local governments, APA, Economic Development Councils, committees, sub-committies and the alphabet soup of different agencies – all have something in common: they are a colossal waste of whatever tax dollars are being spent on them. All you fans of big government, this is what happens when well-meaning people have easy access to tax money. You can’t take a walk in the woods without tripping over a “plan”. The only beneficiaries are those whose livings come from one of the groups mentioned above. The rest of us just have to keep funding the insanity. Does anyone know what the current proposal is for Essex County’s tax increase for 2013? There’s some insanity for you!

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  12. Peter Hahn says:

    Then there are the development culture wars, where one group wants to stop private development, and the other group doesn’t want any public development.

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  13. Arlo T. Ledbetter says:

    Would anyone care to discuss the big issue for winter tourism? When you have gov’t in direct competition with private enterprise, private enterprise is going to lose. NYS owns the 2 big ski areas in the Park. Basically, they own the ONLY ski areas in the Park. It’s too late to do anything about it now, but maybe we can learn from past mistakes. Prior to Whiteface and Gore the Park was littered with private ski areas. Gore came and killed off a number of family owned areas within 40 or so miles. I’d never considered this until it wasn’t mentioned by a friend. Did we consider that back then? I don’t think so. I don’t think people saw it coming at all.

    I think we should be cautious if we ask for the State to do more, it doesn’t always work out.

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  14. Walker says:

    It’s interesting, though. Government is always inept, and does a terrible job– private industry always does it better. So you’d think that the privately run ski areas would drive the government run ski areas out of the market. Hmmm.

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  15. Peter Hahn says:

    All the little private ski hills are gone everywhere. It has nothing to do with government competition.

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  16. Peter Hahn says:

    The difference between whiteface and the big private ski resorts is that the private ones have condos all around them, and the public ones don’t.

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  17. Arlo T. Ledbetter says:

    All the little areas are gone now, yes. But in Vt those little private areas became todays big areas. In the Adks specifically the 2 State areas put pretty much all the non-municipal owned areas out. And it wasn’t because gov’t was so good at running ski areas as Gore and Whitefaces history show, but rather that money wasn’t an issue. When money isn’t a problem, relatively speaking, you have a huge advantage.

    As for the condos, which state has the larger ski industry- NY or Vt? Which one is a destination resort type of thing? Does anyone really think Gore, for instance, compares with Killington as far as revenue and benefit to the local economy?

    I’m just saying, when gov’t get’s involved in direct competition with private enterprise, that’s socialism btw, private enterprise loses. Be careful what you ask for.

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  18. The Original Larry says:

    What you don’t get, Walker, is that the government is spending someone else’s money and can continue to do so indefinitely without regard to profit, efficiency or ROI. That is exactly why taxes should be cut and government reduced in size. Take a look at any former communist country and see if the people prefer private enterprise.

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  19. Pete Klein says:

    The disadvantage for Gore and Whiteface is their slops face south. West or north facing slops hold up better.
    Also, not all small ski centers are gone. Speculator still has Oak Mnt. and it has great prices.

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  20. Peter Hahn says:

    Government is spending OUR money, not someone else’s. it’s a representative democracy, and that’s what we decided to do with our money. That’s what governments do and the way democracy works.

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  21. Walker says:

    “Take a look at any former communist country and see if the people prefer private enterprise.”

    So why didn’t New Yorkers just ignore Whiteface and flock to Big Tupper in such great numbers as to keep it solvent?

    And, by the way, Mt. Pisgah is government owned and operated. You figure it should be shut down?

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  22. The Original Larry says:

    Walker,
    Government has had a seemingly umlimited amount of money to spend on these white elephants. A government involved in ski area management? Not something tax money should be spent on. epresentative democracy, sure, but why howl when people oppose the government? It’s been called treason and racism elsewhere on this site.

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  23. mervel says:

    Downhill skiing is probably not the future of the Adirondacks, it should not be struggling given our proximity to major metropolitan areas in the US and Canada. Given that it is struggling its not about “marketing”, there is just a fundamental issue with its long term viability in the Park outside of one or two signature mountains.

    Other outdoor recreation however is viable and is doing fine. But it was pointed out above this is a big state, we are not Vermont, we have the City we have the Finger Lakes and on and on, there is a lot of attractions. The Adirondacks and the Seaway Valley have to fit into that mix.

    I think Canada is the key. We already have significant visitors from Montreal and Ottawa.

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  24. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Canada is great and all but they have funny plastic money with nude pictures. What is that all about?

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  25. Walker says:

    “Government has had a seemingly umlimited amount of money to spend on these white elephants.”

    Yeah, but if the government does such a bad job, why is Whiteface so popular?

    “Representative democracy, sure, but why howl when people oppose the government? It’s been called treason and racism elsewhere on this site.”

    It’s called treason and racism when suddenly the vehicle of opposition to the first American government headed by a black man is secession.

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  26. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry and Arlo . You are certainly entitled to complain about the government, but we can point out that you are factually off base. In another story today, the government is stocking fish. Fishing is a big industry and a big economic driver, but no private enterprise would stock fish except maybe a mom and pop trout farm.

    In the adirondack park, if there is going to be a skiing resort, it has to be state supported. The state owns the land and there won’t be condo development. Look how hard it is to get the ACR going, and it will most likely fail if it ever gets off the ground.

    The tax payers of New York are happy to have a big park for recreation, and they (we) are willing to support a ski mountain both for recreation and to help out the economy of the North.

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  27. Peter Hahn says:

    Although obviously some tax payers are opposed to any expenditures that they don’t like.

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  28. mervel says:

    I think that is true Peter. The Park is different, its not the West or Vermont for that matter, where you have private landowners who can just build huge condo developments on their own land. The best down hill skiing in the Park is obviously Whiteface. I would say focus on that make sure it maintains as a top flight eastern destination ski area, other than that I am not sure I would support public investment in down hill ski hills. Not because I am against public investment, but because as a tax payer I don’t want to see the money wasted on failed ventures that are not viable in the long run.

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  29. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    If you’re going to knock yourselves out on the subject of skiing and resorts you have to consider the customers options. If you live in NYC or Newark or Boston you can get on a plane in the morning and be skiing in Utah in the afternoon in waist deep powder. Plane tickets are still fairly cheap — and Larry, that is largely due to government intervention and government spending in one form or another. That isn’t to say that the ski industry is doomed but a good portion of the people with lots of money aren’t going to ski up here.

    There are still some private ski areas hanging on around the fringe of the Park. West Mountain and Willard Mountain (in Washington county) are lucky enough to be a very short drive for a population base of over 100,000 people. Maple Ski Ridge down near Schenectady, McCauley Mt in Old Forge, Snow Ridge, Hickory if it can be saved. All good areas. But they either don’t have the vertical drop/terrain or the population base to make them destination resorts. Several have potential as family friendly resorts but investing in low elevation skiing is a pretty poor bet now that everyone is fully on the Global Warming page.

    The golden age of eastern ski resorts was 40-50 years ago when it was much harder and more expensive to ski out west. Areas that planned ahead, laid a good groundwork for the future, and were lucky in their location – or were taken over by the State – have survived.

    Someday there will be a turn-around and if any areas hang on that long it will be a new boom in the east. Assuming it still snows in the winter in 20 or 30 years.

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  30. The Original Larry says:

    Sorry to disappoint you, Walker, but the secession movement is neither racist nor treason. I know, I know, two less things for you to scream about (have you found the link between corporations, the wealthy and secession?) but advocating the dissolution of the government is a far cry from “levying war against them”. As for racism, the vast majority of Americans do not care about the President’s race, only his fitness (or lack thereof) for office. While there are undoubtedly still racists in America, as there are also KKKers, communists, anarchists and the odd Nazi, half the people who voted, voted for Obama and of the other half, most think he’s a pretty good guy, just not their choice for President. It’s time to move on, Walker; most of us have.

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  31. The Original Larry says:

    Peter Hahn,
    As a resident/taxpayer in Essex County I am opposed to any non-essential spending of tax money in a year (2013) when county taxes will increase by 25%, which is the last estimate I read in the Press-Republican. I know the difference between state and county government, but really, funding a ski area AND raising property taxes by 25%? Not to pick on Whiteface, I’m sure there are many other, more egregious examples. 25% – is it any wonder people are fed up?

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  32. Walker says:

    Sorry to disappoint you, Larry, but I’ll decide when it’s time for me to move on.

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  33. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry – I’m a resident of Essex county too. but, as Im sure you know, the county isnt paying for Whiteface – and probably gets a lot of income indirectly from the presence of the ski resort in the county. In this case, our taxes would probably be higher without Whiteface.

    Most tax increases are tied to increases in health care costs.

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  34. The Original Larry says:

    This is borderline hopeless – a 25% tax increase and the answer is it could be worse if the state didn’t fund Whiteface? We have Obamacare but that’s not socialism? Anyone opposing the President by petitioning for secession is a traitor AND a racist? It’s a plot by the rich to steal all the wealth? This nightmare rivals any drug-induced hallucination from the 60s!

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  35. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Agent Walker, your attempts have been unsuccessful, subject Larry has become aware. He must be brought in for reprogramming.

    Citizen Larry, please remain calm. Choppers are on the way. Resistance is useless. You will be absorbed into the Body.

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  36. Walker says:

    I think the word is “futile…” As in “Resistance is futile.”

    All your base are belong to us.

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  37. Arlo T. Ledbetter says:

    Peter, tyhe state stocks fish, yes. The state also passed laws that require me to pay $29.00 to go fishing or hunting on my own property where the state does not stock fish or pheasant or anything else. And you hit the nail on the head when you said, “…the State owns the land.” That’s the problem in the first place. The State owns so much land that it makes it impossible for any one to compete, plus they don’t ave to worry about a warm winter and the bottom line. That’s the point! How does private enterprise compete with a socialist endeavor? Maybe you don’t see the problem with that, a lot of other people do.

    BTW- Essex County most certainly IS paying for Whiteface, and Gore and Bellaire and every other State owned enterprise, program, grant, fund. etc. There’s a reason we have some of the highest taxes in the nation, it’s SPENDING!

    Walker, Whiteface is popular because it’s the biggest game in town and because of the Olympics. Gore is popular because it’s the biggest game in that part of town and sheer size. Big Tupper didn’t have an unending supply of money to throw at every problem that came up. That’s why it failed, it needed a profit to survive. The State doesn’t need a profit, they just raise taxes.

    BTW- as explained elsewhere, the secession protest has absolutely nothing to do with Obamas skin tone and everything to do with failed policies, poor performance and a complete lack of insight for our problems here. It’s not treason at all, nor is it sedition. Treason would be a President selling defense technology to our enemies in exchange for campaign contributions.

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  38. mervel says:

    But for Whiteface given it’s location surrounded by a state forest reserve, private enterprise is impossible. I would say that given the restrictions put on the area by the State, the state should kick in to help maintain what is arguably one of the best ski mountains in the East. Lake Placid is a national destination that does make lists of some of the best ski towns in the US. From that perspective this state investment is good for the North Country.

    The role of NYS government and its large size and reach is a different discussion. However if we are going to have big state government with high state taxes, which as a state we have decided to do for better or for worse, I would rather see those taxes invested in infrastructure like Whiteface, rather than massive regulatory structures and departments that exist in that octopus conglomeration of buildings that make up our massive state agencies in Albany.

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  39. Arlo T. Ledbetter says:

    Well, I gotta agree with that last paragraph Mervel. But wouldn’t it be better if private enterprises were encouraged to flourish and grow? That way the state doesn’t have to spend on socialist endeavors and taxes could be reduced and and taxes collected from the private entities.

    Yeah, right, that’ll happen in NYS.

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  40. Will Doolittle says:

    I prefer New York’s ramshackle diversity to Vermont’s homogeneity. One quaint hamlet after another, cows on the hills and jeans and flannel shirts on all the people. That’s Vermont Boring.

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  41. mervel says:

    Well I think yes and no Arlo. I would like to see more encouragement for business growth in NYS, the regulations are pretty tough it makes most lists as one of the worst places to start a new business, unless of course you have a contract with the state or are a financial services firm in NYC, but upstate we have the worst of all worlds, high taxes with a low wage rural economy.

    Business is protected in NYS with the right connections, but midsize business without connections in Albany or on Wall Street have a harder problem. NYS is actually bad for working class people, it is good for very wealthy people, trust fund kids, and we have a good social safety net for the poor compared to other states. But we have a lot of poor, for the amount of taxes we pay it is a scandal that we rank well below other lower tax smaller government states in our poverty rates. Its not a good place for your average blue collar man or women.

    I think we should be pushing for fracking, it creates blue collar manufacturing jobs that we all say we want.

    The fact is though a lot of people like things just the way they are, 10% unemployment in SLC, well you know they can go on welfare, its better than encouraging these polluting industries, I think that is the mindset.

    The Park to me is different. The Park is a national gem that should be protected at all costs. (certainly I am against any sort of oil exploration in the Park).

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  42. mervel says:

    Not all socialist actions are bad. Social Security is a GREAT program, it keeps more people out of poverty than any other social engineering scheme that we have going. Building roads, bridges, airports, NASA, police, armed forces, national and state parks ,are all socialist in nature and they make our country better.

    The engine however must always be the private companies that make and market the majority of our goods and services, they pay the costs for all of the above. If we kill them, the above dies also.

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  43. Rancid Crabtree says:

    I don’t mean to butt in but Social Security is a disaster. It was started as a way to put more o money into the Depression Era economy and conveniently was also a great way to get FDR a whole lot of votes. I mean really- free money!!! Who would vote against that? But what has it become? A giant ponzi scheme that we can’t pay for. Maybe if the politicians had kept their hands off the funding it would have been okay, but they didn’t and now look at it. So yes it’s a great help to a lot of people that bought into the lie that gov’t would take care of them in their old age and didn’t prepare at all for that eventuality. But what about tomorrow? There are still lot of people that just can’t grasp that SS isn’t a retirement plan they can live off in their golden years. How long are we going to keep holding that branch out to people before someone has the backbone to tell them the truth?

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  44. mervel says:

    No I think we can pay for social security and it is a good plan to provide what it says, social security to the older people in our country. The system has always been designed as a pay as you go system, one generation pays for the next. Our SS taxes now are paying for those currently retired, when we retire those working will pay our social security, it is a social contract between generations and it works. It is very efficient compared to other government programs. The problem of course is that we don’t have as many kids as we used to and thus we have an imbalance of workers to those retired. This is easily remedied several different ways, raise the cap for paying social security taxes, right now those making above I think 100K? pay a zero marginal rate or we could simply raise the age when you can start collecting social security or we could simply pay out less social security to each recipient, there are other ideas also. It is a very solvable problem.

    Medicare/Medicaid that is a different story and something will have to radically change to make those work in the future.

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  45. mervel says:

    Unless you are a person such as myself who can live on very very little however; social security is not enough to really live on for most people, you need your own retirement in addition to social security. But if you plan on having one paid for small car and one 500 sq foot mini home, and the only entertainment you want is a hike in the woods; well social security can actually work!

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  46. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Not only is Social Security solvent but it has been a cash cow that legislators have robbed from for decades in order to finance deficit spending.

    Social Security is not the problem. In fact part of the plan to help Americans weather the financial crisis of the last few years was the implementation of a SS tax reduction.

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  47. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    And speaking as a business owner, NY is a GREAT place to do business. Without the asset of the Adirondack Park and the close proximity of the financial capital of the US where a small minority can siphon immense wealth off of the backs of ordinary people I would be out of business.

    I’m really sick of all the business owners in NY who complain about what a terrible place to do business it is – all while they drive a luxury car and live in a McMansion. Work is work, that’s why they call it that. Nobody said it would be easy and nobody said you have a right to get rich no matter how hard you work.

    I hear that MIssissippi has very lax regulations. Why doesn’t everyone move there to start a business? Because NY is a good place to do business and MIssissippi isn’t.

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  48. mervel says:

    Well not really Knuckle if you look at rates of new business creation, Mississippi yes you are right; but other states they are doing much better for small business creation. But OK we all live here we make a choice to do so, that is the cool part of this country and our federalist experiment; so the benefits of living here are better than the problems according to our vote which we do with our feet; so we stay in NY.

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  49. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Looking at rates of business creation isn’t necessarily a reflection of being a good place to do business in the same way that housing starts isn’t a good way to look at long term viability and sustainability of a particular region. You can look at North Dakota and see all kinds of statistics that show the place is really booming – including their crime rate. It doesn’t mean ND is a better place to do business, it just means there is a short term boom there.

    Lack of regulations doesn’t make a place a good place to do business, it just makes it easier for unscrupulous businesses to push their costs onto other people. Lower wages in states that have people with lower educational standards and lower standards of living don’t make a place better to do business; it just makes them places that are easier to take advantage of a more tractable workforce.

    Thank God for ObamaCare because soon it will be just a little more difficult for those who make themselves wealthy by exploiting the labor of the downtrodden to get away with the practice of forcing the burden of healthcare onto the public sector while keeping the reward of excess profits.

    And what about the business climate change that took place in the mid-west when dirty coal burning power plants and factories were forced to reduce emissions of pollutants that were killing our lakes and forests here in NY that we count on for forest products and tourism – not to mention the health of our citizenry?

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  50. Arlo T. Ledbetter says:

    Uh, I’m a small business owner. I don’t drive a luxury car or live in a McMansion and I think NY is a terrible place to do business. My taxes and the regulations on my industry are growing, my county is raising taxes 13.5% this year alone. Obamacare looks like it may close me down, or a least make me a one man show again. Of course I see that will make me one of the dirty SOBs exploiting the downtrodden. Dang man, did you steal that line from Pravda or SEIU?

    SS isn’t solvent in the sense that it spends more than it takes in. The only way to fix that is to reduce payout or create a lot more workers. And the increase in workers will have to keep growing. Like the lady said, its a ponzi scheme at present. So you go to means testing, do away with the cap, raise the age and reduce the benefit. If you have to do that it’s not exactly proof it’s a great system that works fine, now is it?

    If you want to look at good places to do business, look at Texas. Growing like a weed!

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