Editorial Roundup: New York

Advance Media New York. October 3, 2021.

Editorial: Why a computer chip factory is not another Amazon

Central New York is reportedly getting closer to attracting a semiconductor factory to the White Pine Commerce Park in Clay, bringing 3,000 to 5,000 jobs. It’s close enough that planners are thinking about how they might head off the kind of backlash that sunk Amazon’s plan to locate a second headquarters in New York City.

You’ll recall how activists (and some editorial boards) recoiled at the nearly $3 billion in subsidies New York state offered Amazon to attract one of its two East Coast headquarters, and 25,000 tech jobs, to Long Island City in Queens. They questioned why New York would throw so much taxpayer money at a trillion-dollar online retailer led by the world’s richest man. Residents worried they would be priced out by an influx of highly paid tech workers. Lawmakers were blindsided by the incentive deal hashed out in secret by the Cuomo administration. As opposition stiffened, Amazon quit New York and focused on its HQ2 in suburban Washington, D.C., instead.

There are lessons to be learned from New York’s Amazon debacle. But a computer chip factory is not another Amazon. The stakes are immeasurably higher.

First, the nation’s economic competitiveness depends on creating more semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the United States.

Right now, only 12% of chips are made here. Taiwan and South Korea dominate the market. The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the risks of depending on other countries for these critical components. Disruptions in the supply chain shut down automakers in the U.S. for weeks, throwing tens of thousands of Americans out of work, emptying dealer lots and causing the price of used cars to skyrocket. U.S. consumers who hope to give smartphones, tablets, toys, video game consoles and other gadgets as gifts this holiday season will find prices higher – if they can find the goods at all. In the long run, the future belongs to the country that wins the race to develop the most advanced chips. That should be us, not China.

Second, U.S. national security depends on making our own chips.

International tensions and trade disputes also can disrupt the chip supply. The United States needs to develop trusted, secure, hack-proof sources of computer chips for critical applications like communications, power grids, cybersecurity and national defense.

Third, a high-tech semiconductor manufacturing corridor from Albany to Syracuse has the potential to energize the Upstate New York economy.

Saratoga County’s fortunes have risen since the construction of a GlobalFoundries chip fab a decade ago; a second fab is planned. Cree is building a fab in Marcy. Those plants received hefty subsidies from New York state, along with investments in SUNY Polytechnic and community colleges to develop and train workers. A Syracuse fab could capitalize on the state’s previous investments. As in Silicon Valley, proximity to other tech companies breeds innovation and exchanges of ideas and people.

Because of its importance to the nation, the federal government should pick up most of the cost of “re-shoring” semiconductor production. The Senate already passed a bill that includes $52 billion in funding for this purpose. The House should pass the bill and President Joe Biden should sign it.

New York state also is prepared to kick in. Gov. Kathy Hochul is said to have signed off on an incentive package that will require approval from the New York state Legislature. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is in the loop.

This is in addition to the millions Onondaga County poured into acquiring the land and building infrastructure at White Pine since the 1990s.

To avoid a repeat of the Amazon backlash, officials are feeling the pressure to show how the subsidies showered on corporations and developers don’t just fill their pockets — they benefit a whole community in concrete, measurable ways.

But they should have no trouble making the argument that semiconductor manufacturing is worth the investment because it is in the national interest — and will pay off in ways Amazon never could.

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Albany Times Union. October 6, 2021.

Editorial: A deadly foster care failure

Charlie’s maternal great-grandmother described the child as “a very happy little boy, always smiling.” But Charlie’s life was a difficult one from the start.

As detailed by the Times Union’s Chris Bragg, the boy’s biological parents were considered troubled and abusive and were deemed unfit. So, like too many other children, Charlie ended up in the foster care system.

We wish we could tell you that there was a good ending to this story, that Charlie’s time in foster care provided him with the love and protection and warmth that all children need and deserve, and that he is happy and doing well. But that is not so.

Instead, Charlie and his brother ended up in a Rotterdam foster home that was allegedly abusive, and horrifically so. Charlie died five days before Christmas. He was four years old.

On his final day, Charlie had urinated his pants, and as punishment, one of his foster parents, Dequan Greene, allegedly forced Charlie to eat “nasty corn” - corn mixed with ketchup and mustard - by shoving spoonfuls into his mouth until the child was crying.

Mr. Greene also allegedly forced Charlie to perform “wall squats” until the 4-year-old fell. He then allegedly kicked and stomped Charlie to the point of inducing vomiting, severely stomping the child’s abdomen.

An autopsy would reveal that Charlie, who had significant bruising all over his body, died due to extensive internal injuries to his liver and intestines caused by blunt force trauma. The death was ruled a homicide.

The horror of Charlie’s death is bad enough. What’s worse is that red flags about the care Charlie was receiving were either missed or ignored by Child Protective Services agencies in Albany and Schenectady counties.

Indeed, a lawsuit filed on Charlie’s behalf contends inadequate training, staffing and supervision were a substantial factor in Charlie’s death. If the allegations prove true, the Child Protective Services failed in their primary duty — to protect Charlie. We all failed Charlie.

We will find out more as the civil lawsuit and the criminal case against Mr. Greene, charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, go forward. But the system — the state and local agencies charged with protecting children like Charlie — shouldn’t wait for these legal matters to run their course. They need to determine whether Charlie’s case is a distinct tragedy or representative of widespread deficiencies in New York’s protection of vulnerable children.

All available evidence suggests the latter. In fact, Mr. Bragg’s reporting in recent years has detailed extensive failures by Family Courts and Child Protective Services, showing that the system is in desperate need of reform.

As we’ve said before, there is no state responsibility more important than protecting vulnerable children. New York has no larger moral obligation than to the children, whom the system must protect, not neglect.

There is no changing what happened to Charlie, but his death can be a spur to prevent similar tragedies for other children. Make this failure the last.

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Plattsburg Press-Republican. October 2, 2021.

Editorial: Saranac River Trail spur great addition to area

The Saranac River Trail Greenway Treadwells Mills Connector is another step in completing what figures to be a world-class trail system that will greatly enhance our area in many ways.

The new 1.5-mile spur is now open for your enjoyment. It begins off Route 22 across from Plattsburgh International Airport near the Pike’s Cantonment site.

It is a gravel trail suitable for bikes, strollers and wheelchairs as well as foot traffic. The path winds along the southern bank of the Saranac River through forest and then under the Interstate 87 overpass.

After passing through a chainlink fence, it winds past the hydroelectric facility property and then up a steep, but short hill. From there, it leads you to a scenic vista featuring the majestic Adirondack Mountains.

It then continues along the road for about three-quarters of a mile, ending at the Military Turnpike near the dam.

A walk down this path, especially in the coming days of fall foliage season, is sure to take your breath away, and give you a moment to think, breathe and just enjoy the magnificent area we live in.

The Treadwells Mills Connector is part of the overall 27-mile trail that has been in the works for about a decade. When complete, the trail will connect the City of Plattsburgh to the Town of Saranac along the river, and all points in between.

Such a trail figures to benefit the area in so many aspects.

It offers recreation in the form of hiking, biking, fishing, paddle sports, snowshoeing, cross country skiing; history as it covers lands that have been inhabited in some form for thousands of years, and it bolsters commerce as yet another great tourist attraction for the North Country.

As officials said at the recent soft opening of the new spur, the North Country is a four-season destination and a functional river trail will be a perfect fit for the region.

It fits perfectly with other spurs that have already been completed in the Town of Plattsburgh on LaPierre Lane and in the Town of Schuyler Falls on River Street.

It’s not easy to pull off such a project as a new trail spur, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes full collaboration of public and private partners to get it done.

Fortunately, the City of Plattsburgh, the Town of Plattsburgh, the Town of Schuyler Falls, Town of Saranac, Clinton County and the state have all worked together with the Saranac River Trail Inc., an all-volunteer non-profit organization, to get the trail off and running.

Projects such as these are not cheap. There have been grants secured by the city, county and towns for development, but fundraising is an ongoing effort.

Public support in the form of volunteers or donations are always welcome.

Donations go towards helping cover the costs of planning, development and promotion of the Saranac River Trail. For more information and to make a donation go to saranacrivertrailgreenway@gmail.com.

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Dunkirk Evening Observer. October 6, 2021.

Editorial: SUNY FREDONIA Perfect timing for discussion

Here’s a topic that is sure to bring plenty of thought and controversy today. “Freedom of Expression on College Campuses” will kick off the fall Brown Bag Lecture Series at the State University of New York at Fredonia by Professor Robert L. Dahlgren of the College of Education at noon.

In his talk, according to SUNY, Dahlgren will survey the history and conceptions of academic freedom, addressing the contemporary cultural and political fault lines that inform the issue of freedom on college campuses today. With the current climate of division throughout the country, it is interesting to see how outspoken young adults are once they reach campus.

Over this past weekend, about 50 students took part in a march for the solidarity for women.

The march started on campus outside of Starbucks and ended at Barker Common where the group held signs and received some acknowledgement from passing drivers along Main Street.

The Brown Bag event, normally held in the Williams Center, will be presented on Zoom, those planning to participate should use the online link available at https://events.fredonia.edu/event/brown-bag—freedom-of-expression-speaker-bob-dahlgren#.YVXmCprMKUk

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Jamestown Post-Journal. October 6, 2021.

Editorial: City Council Should Scrutinize New, Stimulus-Funded Jobs

Earlier this year, The Post-Journal voiced its opinion that a public relations person for Jamestown’s $28.3 million federal stimulus program was a complete and utter waste of money.

Mayor Eddie Sundquist’s revised stimulus spending plan presented to the City Council for approval Monday still included almost $400,000 over six years to pay someone for public communications and coordination of the stimulus plan. In our view, the position isn’t needed in the least. If the city is spending the federal windfall well, the results will be readily apparent to all of Jamestown’s 31,000 residents. If not, no amount of federally funded lipstick will make this pig of a position into a beauty queen.

Another position should also face close scrutiny from the council — an events coordinator.

Sundquist plans to spend $1 million on a downtown programming fund and for an events coordinator. If the events coordinator ends up making the same amount of money as the stimulus plan spin master, it’s a waste of another $400,000. The city would be better off coordinating with the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce, which already puts on one of the better attended downtown programs in the downtown Jamestown Cruise In and which has a group of businesses that meet on a regular basis to work on events.

City funding, used properly, can help create the type of regular events needed to boost downtown. But downtown events have languished since the people who really cared about putting them on retired. A temporary city position is only a short-term band-aid to that problem unless the mayor’s plan is a permanent city job — which we can’t envision working once the stimulus funding runs out.

A better path forward would be getting the groups involved with city events on the same page and finding a way to support them rather than supplanting them with a position based out of city hall.

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