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Voter guide: Duprey, Bisso respond to Carpenter
October 3, 2012 - Chris Morris
This blog post is connected to an article that will be published online later this morning, and in today's newspaper. There wasn't enough room in the print version to include full responses, so I'm posting them here.
The article is a profile of Democratic Assembly candidate Tim Carpenter, a Plattsburgh City Councilman who is running for New York's new 115th Assembly District. You're probably familiar with the other candidates: incumbent Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, R-Peru, and Plattsburgh educator Karen Bisso.
Bisso will be on the Conservative Party line in the Nov. 6 election; Duprey is running on the Republican and Independence party lines.
I'll add a link to the story on Carpenter when it appears online.
I asked Bisso and Duprey three questions that arose following an interview I conducted with Carpenter last month. Below are the questions, and the full responses I received from the two candidates.
What do you make of Tim Carpenter's assertion that voters should elect him because he's a Democrat and he'd have a better chance at getting legislation passed? Carrie Woerner, a Democratic Assembly candidate in AD-113, made a similar comment at a debate in Queensbury last week, stating that "we cannot continue to send representatives to Albany who have no voice."
Bisso: This statement demonstrates Mr. Carpenter's inexperience in statewide issues. It is not about Democrat or Republican. It is about region. When 2/3 of the Assembly is from NYC or Long Island, the legislation is all geared to benefit them. The down state Assemblymen want all money to be appropriated for them and then show very little regard for the North Country. If you want proof of this, look at the voting record of Addie Russell, a two-term Democrat in the River District which borders the 115th. She has accomplished little or nothing other than voting on legislation which benefits downstate.
Duprey: It's true the system in Albany allows Speaker Silver to determine who can introduce legislation, and he controls each bill that is introduced. This, of course, means more Democrats introduce legislation than Republicans. However it is possible to get a bill introduced in the Assembly if the Assembly member doesn't care whose name is first on the bill, and my placement on legislation is not important to me. Far more important is the ability to work effectively in a bipartisan manner, particularly in the committee process, to develop the necessary relationships and the respect to accomplish what is needed in the District. While passing legislation is highly visible, one of the most important parts of the Assembly position is being able to work through the system with departments and agencies to solve real problems faced by constituents. I have strong working relationships with key people in virtually every state agency and together we have assisted hundreds of constituents with a myriad of issues.
In my interview with Carpenter, he repeatedly stated that local workers (people in Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties) should be given first dibs on public projects - i.e. highway repairs, bridge construction, etc. Do you agree? If not, why? If so, how could the state create policies to do this without unfairly excluding anyone?
Bisso: Since the 1930s when the National Labor Relations Act was passed, there has been an instrument in place called a PLA which is a Project Labor Agreement. PLAs do in fact contain the vehicle in them to require the hiring of local workers. While I am not a fan of PLAs, the fact remains again that Mr. Carpenter does not realize that there is already legislation in place to accomplish his goal. However, in the entire 115th district, there are less than a handful of companies which have the resources to build a road or construct a bridge. But the bigger issue at hand is, “Should we be focusing on temporary tax payer funded construction jobs or bringing in real industry and businesses which will provide consistent steady employment for the residents of the district?”
Duprey: State law is very clear that public projects must be awarded to the low bidder. I am always extremely pleased when a local company has the low bid on a project so local people can find work near home. However, our obligation with tax dollars is also to assure the money is spent wisely, and the low bid process assures that the least amount of tax dollars will be spent on a particular project. We need to remember that prohibiting outside firms from bidding in our locality would likewise keep our local firms/companies from bidding on projects in other parts of the state or other states. Who would determine what is 'local' and what is not? During the past session we passed a bill which does allow approved contractors with a good record of completing state projects on time and within budget to be given preference on certain bids in their locality. Under this new legislation, DOT has awarded two bids this construction season as the Department is continuing to develop standard rules in such cases to meet state and federal requirements.
Carpenter said he thinks reducing the burden of unfunded mandates will be a huge challenge. He said one way to lower property taxes is to broaden the tax base by bringing in more development. Do you agree?
Bisso: This is NY State. Not a cornfield in Iowa. In case Mr. Carpenter doesn't realize it, we are losing the equivalent of the population of Syracuse yearly. Spending more money to develop for a decreasing tax base is not a recipe for success. It is one for disaster. It is not about figuring out how to pay for high taxes. It is about decreasing those taxes in the first place.
Duprey: It would be great to expand the local tax base by bringing in more development. That is exactly what the Adirondack Club and Resort project would do for the Tupper Lake community by adding millions of dollars in taxable assessment (with a PILOT agreement) and hundred of jobs. However, we all know the approval process took more than 7 years, the APA approved the permit by a vote of 10-1 and now a frivolous Article 78 lawsuit is still holding up construction. It is hard to tell other developers they might want to invest in the Adirondack Park. In addition, many of the towns in the Park are not able to expand their communities due to the classification of the lands surrounding their hamlets. On the other hand, the North Country Regional Economic Development Council provides great hope for creating and retaining jobs across the region. I also believe the 48 mile St. Lawrence Natural Gas line project will open development along that route. It is very difficult to eliminate mandates, but our municipalities, school districts and businesses need to get relief from some of the most burdensome mandates. We must continue to work on unfunded mandate relief such as the state assuming a greater share of the cost of Medicaid and rescinding the annual notice requirements under the Wage and Theft Prevention Act to name just two very obvious savings for taxpayers.
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