Arcuri wants job growth, bipartisanship

Democratic candidate for 24th congressional District speaks at Community Restaurant


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Congressional candidate Michael Arcuri speaks to Cortland County business leaders Friday at the Community Restaurant in Cortland.

Staff Reporter

Democratic congressional candidate Mike Arcuri talked Friday about his plan to increase job opportunities at an event sponsored by the county Chamber of Commerce.
He spoke at the Community Restaurant on Main Street in Cortland.
Arcuri, the Oneida County District Attorney, is running against state Sen. Ray Meier (R-Western) to fill the 24th Congressional District seat that will be vacated by incumbent Sherwood Boehlert (R-New Hartford).
The breakfast Friday was the latest in a series of Chamber of Commerce events hosting political candidates. Meier attended a breakfast on Aug. 15.
Throughout his address, Arcuri stressed his commitment to bi-partisan politics.
“That’s what we need in Albany, and that’s what we need in Washington,” Arcuri told about 30 people who attended the breakfast. “I promise not to be a rubberstamp, and to be an independent voice for the people of this district.”
The exodus of manufacturing and other jobs out of upstate New York was one of Arcuri’s main points, and he said the state’s extensive regulations and high taxes were partly to blame for this phenomenon.
“Even if such jobs come to the area, they are increasingly vulnerable to being lost to other states and elsewhere around the world,” Arcuri said.
The candidate said that if elected, he would work toward strengthening regional affiliations (comparable to the so-called Silicon Valley) by encouraging cooperation between other upstate and statewide New York members of Congress and even establishing a regional caucus.
“What we need to do is stopping fighting over a small pie and start working towards a larger pie,” Arcuri said.
Infrastructure improvement was another strategy that Arcuri defined as crucial to the economic development of the district, with a focus on technology being perhaps most important.
As an example, Arcuri related a conversation he had with a farmer who told the candidate that his son had found a tractor online for a very reasonable price.
“Technology is very important to the development of every sector,” Arcuri said after he had finished his address and chatted with the attendees. “Technology can make us more efficient in everything, from agriculture to manufacturing.”
Arcuri also emphasized the revitalization of downtowns, and pointed to Cortland’s Downtown Partnership as an excellent example of what kinds of initiatives need to be pursued in other parts of the district.
Encouraging businesses, especially small businesses, was another point that Arcuri felt needed to be emphasized in the district, and trumpeted cutting taxes for middle-income families and minimizing the regulations that may stifle economic development rather than help it.
“The beneficial thing about small business is that it develops locally and then spreads out,” Arcuri said after his speech. “And it stays local.”
He said he supports and would like to expand the use of micro credit loans to assist small businesses.
As an alternative to our dependence on foreign oil, Arcuri proposed concentrating on the development of ethanol fuel, derived from corn. Although the acidity of the soil in Central New York doesn’t yield corn that is efficient for use in ethanol production, Arcuri said the location of the district would be ideal for ethanol production.
“The vast majority of ethanol is used on the East Coast and the West Coast,” Arcuri said. “We are in a very unique position. We can bring the corn in, produce the ethanol, and ship it out.”
In response to a question asked by John Carroll, of Virgil, regarding the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, Arcuri said he would work to revise that legislation, which he said he had a problem with because it had been “written by the drug companies.”
The candidate also pledged to push for universal health care.
“We are not going to put it on the back burner any more,” Arcuri said.
Carole Ann Davies, of Cortland, the director of special education for Marathon Central School, had asked the candidate about difficulties related to the No Child Left Behind Act.
“Obviously, it’s not funded as much as it should be. We have to put our money where our mouth is,” Arcuri responded. “The most effective part of education is tweaking it later on.”
“The most important thing is that he has an awareness of the importance of the funding,” Davies said afterward. “I thought (his speech) was excellent. He has such broad vision, and breadth of knowledge.”
The purpose of the Chamber of Commerce public affairs breakfasts is to educate the voters, said Cortland County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Garry VanGorder.
“It’s going to be a close race by most accounts, and votes in Cortland County are going to matter in a very important race nationally,” VanGorder said after Arcuri finished speaking and taking questions from the attendees.



Economic rankings show county is on the rise

Staff Reporter

When Rob Stephens started working as a personal trainer in Cortland 20 years ago, only wealthy clients could afford his services.
But now he has many middle-class clients, said Stephens, 42, of Cortland.
“I work with a cross-section of Cortland,” he said.
Stephens attributes that change to a greater portion of middle-class people in Cortland.
According to rankings released this week by Policom Corp., a Florida-based economic consulting firm that ranks American metropolitan and micropolitan areas, Stephens’ observations are on par.
Cortland County improved its standing in a national ranking of economic strength, gaining more than 100 places in rankings.
The firm compiles economic strength rankings from indicators such as employment, population, earnings and personal income. It also factors welfare and Medicaid payments into the analysis, as indicators of economic weakness. Measures such as population and per-capita income are combined with changes over five-, 10- and 20-year periods to produce the rankings.
From 2004 to 2006, Cortland County moved up 121 points in the firm’s rankings of areas based around small cities, from 445 to 324. About 600 such areas across the country were ranked.
Every micropolitan area in upstate New York improved its ranking from 2004 to 2006. Ithaca, a metropolitan area, saw its ranking dropped from 239 to 293. The metropolitan rankings comprise about 375 areas.



Motocross track riles Dryden neighbors

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Approximately 15 residents came to the Dryden Town Board meeting Thursday to voice concern for a motocross track in a residential neighborhood.
A 40-minute discussion ensued over the noise pollution and the possible devaluing of the properties surrounding the track.
Neighbors asked if zoning laws prohibit the track from being in its current location.
Town Code Enforcement Officer Henry Slater said there were no laws prohibiting the track’s existence.
Joy Swanson who owns the track with her husband, Bob Parker, said the lot was purchased to satisfy a passion her son and his friends shared.
“There is only a set number of boys who ride on that,” Swanson said. “Not a free-for-all place, it is not an open place for boys to ride.”
Town Councilman Martin Christofferson said both his sons ride their bikes at the track.
“In a couple years these boys will be all grown up,” said Christofferson. “Three or four of them are seniors.”
Cynthia Waterman said she doesn’t mind some riding, but they are there every day. She lives next to the track.
“If they would ride for three hours, then we could look forward to some peace and quiet,” Waterman said. “You never know when they are going to come or for how long.”
Both Swanson and Parker said they are willing to work with their neighbors to rectify the situation. Currently, they said they do not allow riding before noon on weekends. They also said the boys are not allowed to ride during dinner hours, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Neighbors also were worried about the children riding their dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles on the street.  The town left the issue for the neighbors to resolve.