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All Politics is Local | The Matt Masur Show Full Episode 3-3-21 – VIDEO | The Matt Masur Show Full Episode
Today on the Matt Masur Show, Matt talks about the latest developments in what could be the final days of Govenor Andrew Cuomo’s time in office. We also touch on the downfall of Neera Tanden (yay!) and an incredible way local people are helping to feed their neighbors in Herimker NY.
Later in the show Herkimer County Legislator and former Mayor of Ilion, NY, John Stephens joins the show. John talks about his campaign, his efforts in Herkimer county to grow economic development and where he sees things going in the future.
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All Politics is Local | The Matt Masur Show Full Episode 3-3-21
Matt Masur Matt Masur show here, you here with you on a Wednesday. I’m kinda like half awake. I’m not gonna lie. I got up just a little later than I probably should have and had to hustle around to get ready, but that’s okay.
Because luckily I had a lot of my prep done the night before Jack and Mo cooking show, checking in on the chat right off the back of the morning, Jack. We got a really cool show for you today. Herkimer County legislator, former village of alien mayor. John Stevens is going to join us later on in the show.
John’s an interesting guy and he’s got a lot going on and I think it’s going to be a fun conversation. We’ve also got all kinds of news and craziness. Before we get into all that. I just want to remind you that we got this thing going on with the merchant link. That’s my merchandise clothing t-shirt shop the merchant link.com is the place to go.
And if you go there, you’ll note that a portion of the proceeds from every sale of every item that we sell goes towards our cause. And our cause is right now, and we reserve the right to. Pick different causes as time goes on, but the merchant link will always support a cause in, in right now and probably for the foreseeable future that causes to help folks locally who have been affected by COVID.
And we do that in two ways. First and foremost, we take the money that we generate from this. And we purchase meals from local restaurants and local catering businesses that have been decimated during this pandemic. And we give that yummy food. To nurses and doctors and frontline healthcare workers who have been working around the clock, dealing with the stress of not only treating this virus at work, but worrying about bringing it home to their families.
Hopefully we’re on the backside of this thing. Things are getting a little better, but those folks still absolutely deserve some incredible free local meals. And that’s what we’re trying to make happen. So the merchant link.com. Our first distribution, our first purchase, I guess you would say our first gift to the healthcare community will be solidified at the end of this week.
And we’ll announce exactly when we’re going to schedule that. So you can see that I’m not just talking about this. This is something we’re actually doing. If you like this show, if you’ve found the segments anywhere, if you like our coverage of different things, if you hate it, if you think I’m a dickhead.
And you just want somebody to yell at every day. That’s that’s a thing I used to listen to Limbaugh at lunchtime every day for like 60 seconds. Just to see how long I could go before I yelled at the radio. You could subscribe to me in many different places. If you’re into podcasts, Spotify, iTunes, pretty much anywhere.
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They just listened to the audio and that’s totally okay. That’s why that’s there. But if you want to watch the video, of course, three, one five live.fm/matt Masur is the home base. That’s the audio of the video, the text transcript of everything that happens here. You can find there that it’s the home base of the show, but you’ll also find a video copy that comes from YouTube.
So if you go to YouTube and hit the mat Masur show and you’d like, subscribe, ring the bell, all of that helps us. That’s all very good stuff. And it helps spread the message, which is the, the goal, right? So we’ve got more news on the governor. And I’ve been telling you about this what every day now.
And I really don’t want to be the, the Cuomo resignation watch show. Like, I, I don’t want this to be everything, but we cover local issues. We cover national issues. This seems to be being covered by The media in both sectors. This is, this is a hot thing and it’s a developing thing. So we are going to go ahead and talk about it just a little bit more.
The current update is the legislator is that legislature rather is going to strip the governor’s emergency COVID powers. Now this technically. You could say it doesn’t have anything to do with the sexual harassment charges, but the fact that they now have bipartisan support to jump on these things, I think indicates the governor’s weakening power.
Let’s get some
leaders in the state Senate and the assembly have introduced a bill, a bill to repeal those powers. News forest Marley Tuska says live tonight in Buffalo with the details. Marley. Can I just say how much I love local news. This is a story about governor Cuomo in the state legislator. And like that happens in Albany.
Obviously the state Capitol. But the local news in Buffalo is like, Hey, let’s send a reporter down to East main street to stand on the busy, noisy corner and give her report about the governor from there, because that’ll make it really authentic. Don lawmakers say, this is the right thing to do since the temporary executive powers have since earned their purpose.
What is the point of sending her on the street to make this report? I don’t understand. Now the legislature could pass the bill as early as Friday, which would send it to the governor’s desk nearly a year to the date. The state legislature expanded governor Cuomo’s executive powers. Democratic lawmakers have announced plans to take them away.
And a statement, majority leader, Andrea Stewart cousins says the public deserves to have checks and balances. One’s past Cuomo will no longer be able to issue new executive orders regarding the pandemic. Well, that seems a little strange to me. Like, I didn’t know, he needed a bill to be able to pass executive orders on something.
And I didn’t know that you could write a bill that says he can’t pass executive orders on, but Adam, well we’re essentially looking at doing is repealing repealing some of the powers as well as. Allowing directives that are already in place to expire state lawmakers expanded the governor’s powers last March, when the Corona virus pandemic slammed downstate leader.
Now, listen, this might be a good idea, right? This might be the right move. My only concern, my only hesitation to everybody watching this go down is to say, just be careful that we don’t cut off our nose to spite our face. Let’s make sure that this isn’t just a vendetta against this one, man, that puts the state and public health in these issues that are still here.
A lot of people feel like they’re over it. I mean, I, I got half the vaccine so far, I feel a lot better, but it’s not over. And we can’t act like this is over. And just because we’re all over it, that’s going to spell disaster. So I, I just caution my friends here in New York. Tread lightly and pay attention to what we’re doing and what the ramifications may be beyond just reigning in this one guy.
Or say now a year in, there’s no longer the need to allow Cuomo to make these executive decisions without oversight and review local assembly, woman, Monica Wallace. Co-sponsored this bill introduced Tuesday in a statement. She says, quote, last March when COVID-19 cases were skyrocketing and so much was unknown.
We needed state government to respond quickly to limit the spread of the virus and save lives. Thankfully that dark moment has passed. And it’s now time to get back to a normal working order. But some lawmakers say it’s not enough rescinding the governor’s powers. Isn’t the answer. That’s not going to bring these, these brave women, any sort of justice or closure.
That’s not going to bring the facts. What are you talking about?
Why is this guy conflating two issues? This is exactly what I said at the top of the top of the piece.
Hmm. Well, somehow we’ve mixed COVID and you can say that the COVID scandal, the nursing home scandal, somehow we’ve now intertwined that with sexual harassment, what the two have nothing to do with each other. Yes. The governor’s COVID powers are not going to bring relief to his sexual harassment victims.
Of course. The two matters are completely unrelated. And I find it a little concerning that you’re trying to combine them here that tells me that you’re more concerned with going after your enemy Cuomo, then making things better for the residents of the state of New York, which I thought was the point of getting rid of these powers and making sure we had checks checks on COVID powers, do nothing for sexual assault victims.
You’re right, sir. They’re not supposed to, what the hell are you talking about? Families who lost loved ones closure that should have done been done the resending of the powers because the legislature wanted to get back to the job that we were elected to do. Is that not what it’s about?
And if it isn’t, that’s a problem. If you want to restrict a guy because you don’t like him or because he did something else, that’s a problem. That’s, that’s not based on this situation. And, and I worry when you don’t make decisions based on the situation. Now it might be the right call to make in any case, but again, pay attention to the long game and the ramifications of anything that we talk about here, whether it feels right or, or not now, That’s a random girl on the street gang.
The legislature is expected to pass this bill as early as Friday. And as I mentioned, it would then go to the governor’s desk for signature. He must sign because the Democrats have a anti it’s, a veto proof majority in the legislature. I don’t think a veto proof majority means you must sign. Just means it doesn’t matter if you sign it.
Again, I could be mistaken, but I’ve never heard such a thing. That’s why you call it a veto proof. Majority is because he can veto what this is. So he must sign this bill reporting live in Buffalo. Tonight. Marley tusks gets news for reporting from the side of the road for no good reason. I am local news girl.
We have got just want to get this pulled up. Our man, John is waiting by. We’ll be bringing him in, in just a minute. I just want to get to this one more piece that we’ve got here.
you got too many stories in too many screens. Just lastly, on the governor mayor DeBlasio from New York city, a Democrat at one time, the governor’s big ally. He’s unloading he’s over it. And keep in mind, the governor kind of threw him under the bus a few times during this pandemic.
He’s not mincing words. When it comes to the sexual harassment claims, the mayor of New York city is called governor Cuomo’s alleged behavior in these sexual harassment claims, grotesque, perverse, and terrifying. And he said too, so that he must resign of sexual harassment, accusations, lodged by the women are sustained and the governor’s already admitted it.
He’s not really claiming I didn’t do these things. He’s running with the, I didn’t mean them the way they took him. Excuse. So I think what the mayor is saying here is the governor has to resign, right? Is that not the. Immediate conclusion one could draw. I think it is. It’s interesting to see people finally speak out against the governor Cuomo.
You know, one of his well-documented leadership styles is intimidation and, you know, demanding loyalty to a fault or we’re going against you. So a lot of folks. They may have had a different opinion, even. They certainly weren’t gonna voice it
last real quick bit of national news, some good news. I believe for the country, Neera, Tanden, she done. She was. Probably one of the worst possible cabinet picks that Joe Biden has put forward thus far, a horrible, horrible person, totally unqualified for the position. And luckily the senators signaled that they weren’t going to support her.
They weren’t going to confirm her and she knew enough to drop out. Biden budget pick Neera, Tanden drops out of the confirmation process. After it unravels, didn’t really unravel. They asked her about her and they decided that’s not something they want.
That’s the whole point we have confirmation hearing. Is this again, you know, talking about the governor and checks and balances. This is why we have national checks and balances. It doesn’t happen very often. Even the last president was easily able to get whoever he wanted through. But once in a while the position, the the situation pans out for us and we get to actually shut down what would be a horrible choice.
Bravo. Put that in the wind column, we don’t get many. So we’re going to take it. No Neera. Tanden is good. Let’s move into some local stuff. We’re about to bring on John Stephens, Herkimer County legislator. And I thought this was just a fitting piece to jump into right before we bring John on. This is from the local news WK TV.
And there’s a cool thing going on on downtown main street. Herkimer which we’re going to be talking a lot more about this week, actually main street. And Herkimer that is they’ve set up a community fridge. Let’s hear about it. Maybe if their video plays, okay, look it up. What is happening?
Quality video got here guys. This worked earlier. We’re going to try one more time and if not, we’ll bail on this, but it was a good story. Look it, look it up and down these streets, all these businesses are closed. This is a starting in the right direction. I believe people were putting meals outside of the fence on at the library on main street and just kind of leaving them for people in need.
So this is just a step up. The bag lunches that they do at the library are great, but they’re not always there. So I think that would be fridge. The Herkimer community fridge is aiming to help the community. I did not do that. The story literally cut like that. Holy shit. Did he combat hunger while also providing a way to reduce food waste?
Troy Lockwood helped to get the Unica community fridge going and thought it was time to start one up in Herkimer. It’s the idea of, you know, putting this fridge here and giving people the option to take from it and also give to it because the whole idea of mutual aid is that everybody has something that they probably need.
And everybody also has something that they can contribute. So that’s why, you know, it says take what you need, give what you can. Local residents see the need. It’s a tough time on unemployment. You know, the Academy, look at it, look it up and down these streets, all these businesses are closed. This is a starting in the right direction.
I believe people were putting all this on the side of the fence on at the library on main street and just kind of leaving them for people with need. So this is just a step up. The bag lunches that they do with the library are great, but they’re not always there. So I think that would be, you know, one of the major perks.
This is always here. It’s open 24 seven. You come and take what you need when you need no questions asked. I’m seeing these pop up all over the state. I saw some friends in Rochester talk about one there. They mentioned the one in Utica, Jack in the chat, as well as his reference. The one in Utica. This is a wonderful thing.
You know, we have community food banks. We have these sorts of things. But it’s not always enough. And unfortunately it’s, it’s frequently not enough. And seeing these new resources and things like that. I’m getting John on the screen for you here, guys. Or this is it. It’s great to see. And let me just.
Get this lined up just right. So you could see them just right. And we will bring on today’s guest.
Bear with me one second. There we go.
There he is. Marty, Matt, Mara, John. So. Who we’ve got with us. And, and I mentioned this a few times, but this is John Stevens. John is the former mayor of the village of in New York. And he’s currently a Herkimer County legislator for district six, which I believe encompasses part of alien. And, and what else is in that district, John?
Actually it’s all part of the village village and it’s up on the area. What are salient ice? Noah’s West Hill. Okay. And then I do cover a portion off the Hill that goes down main street attempted lab front of the firehouse all the way up to fourth street. Cut over, up over the Hill, back up over the Hill.
So everything’s from there. Okay. Is my district. So it’s all, it’s all in the village. Gotcha. So you you’ve never stopped representing alien, I guess that would be fair to say. That would be fair. Correct. Right. The only difference is now I represent the portion of the village of Ilion and all of the Herkimer County tax base.
Yeah. Yeah. I hear, yeah, it’s, it’s a big thing. And, and I want to get into a little bit of, of just how Ilion and how being a mayor works. But before that, let’s, let’s talk about your current position. Cause you’re currently a legislator you’re up for reelection. Is this, is this your first reelection or have you been there a couple of terms now?
No. I’m in my, I got elected January 1st of 14. It’s a two-year term. So I’m in my eighth year. Okay. So you had this will be my fifth. You have a term you’ve been through this a few times. Yeah, just real briefly. And I’ve got some of your accomplishments and things like that, that, that you’ve done. I want to talk about a little bit, but just in, in very general terms for anybody that doesn’t know, tell folks, what does it County legislator do?
W w what is your role? We, we, we set, we set policy, obviously. That’s basically what every elected official does. We you know, we, we put policies and procedures in place. We build a budget annual annually. We build a budget. You know, we do our best to be as fiscally conservative as possible and not increase taxes due to the residents of the County.
We’ve been very successful in doing since 2015, when the first budget that I support part of because the 14 budget was already settled when I took office by the by the previous group of legislators. But since 2015 overall cut our tax rate 11 and a half percent, just a little under 11 and a half.
I think it’s 11.4, three five or something like that. And that’s the construction of a $40 million correctional facility that we were ordered to instruct by the department of corrections. Yeah. I know that was a hot topic. That was, you know, that’s been 25 plus years in the making But the legislature before us many, many years before us, well, it’s play enough that they took a tobacco settlement money that we call it years ago, all the tobacco companies had to pay millions and millions of dollars to all the municipalities and States and, and they put $20 million of that aside and restricted that just for the construction of the correctional facility, because they knew it was coming now, it took a lot longer than what they expected.
So, half of that $40 million price tag is a little under 40, but that’s the easy way to do it was already covered. We bonded for the second half, which is also covered by the extra quarter percent sales tax at the state has allowed the County to utilize. So the presidents and the taxpayers of Herkimer County their taxes did not increase because of this facility.
Anybody that comes to work in our County and purchases something that’s got sales tax on it. And quarter percent go strictly to the jail and pay off that bond. And it will continue to stay there until that bond is paid for. I got ya. That’s that’s wonderful that, you know, when there are expenditures, at least people were wise enough to sock away some money for it.
So it doesn’t hurt you like this. Any credits that I can take since I’ve been there, because of it was way, way before my time, I would probably still a child, but you, but you’ve talked about in your time The tax rates have gone down 11 and some percent. How is that possible in, in today’s world?
It’s it’s, it’s all based. A lot of people don’t understand that it’s based on each count equalization rate, which is a formula that’s very complicated. I wouldn’t even venture to go into how to understand that I have a overall concept of it. But each town has an equalization rate. Depending on the value of your homes and et cetera, et cetera.
So while some townships within the County might have an increase of 4 cents or 5 cents per thousand the majority of the townships have a decrease further obsessed value per thousand. And overall that drops our tax rate. Now know the first couple of years I was in England up maybe a 1% or a half a percent or three quarters of percent, but.
Over the last two or three years, we’ve dropped significantly 6%, 3%, 4%. And a lot of that is just due to you know, being fiscally conservative and managing our, our funds. Right. No we’re comfortable in our fund balance. We say quite a bit of money with the new correction facility.
We didn’t have a board prisoner, which means we don’t have that a one and a half to $2 million expense to pay other counties because we can keep them. In our office really? Because the current, current jail, the old jail, but not the old, old jail cause we still involved. Yeah. It’s just it’s not, it’s we we’ve had a variance from the state for many years to get, to keep people in that facility.
And now you know, we’re hopefully hoping we can open the doors here in the next month or so on the new facility, but we’ve saved that cost. You know, it’s, it’s it’s a balancing act. It’s tough. You know, being an elected official on these times is, is. Not easy, especially with the way the economy is going on nationally and worldwide.
So we work real hard. Yeah. Yeah. Take the the normal challenges that the area has been facing for decades and then add this insane pandemic and all the variables. I don’t, I don’t envy you that’s that’s we talked about, I mean, obviously the elephant in the room is Remington. You know, I, I dealt with them.
I’ve dealt with them since 2006 when I got. I don’t know whether it’s Dahmer smarter. When I got involved in, in, in the political world. I, I tell people I hold a political position, but I’m not a good politician. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’m very forthcoming. If you ask a question, you’re going to get an answer.
How do you link that in or not? I can’t help that. I hear you the best one. Yeah. And but you know, we’ve I think one of the proudest things that I was accomplished during my tenure is Oh, as mayor was, we got a Remington on village electric units municipal electric, but just very little cost for a time in history.
It had been chained, tried a couple of other times. But the, the board that I had with me and, and in our village attorney at the time, JK Hage, who had took a lot of heat for, because people thought I paid too much money for him you know, we saved Remington millions of dollars in operating costs annually.
And you know, we had a significant increase in our revenue in, in the, in the village like department. So that was a huge hit for us is probably one of my prouder accomplishments as, as mayor. So, you know, we’re working really hard at the County level. Keep, keep them viable here. Now I understand that they, they, they started again Monday or Tuesday, they got some people after starting the eight 70 line X, nothing but positive.
You know, we filled. Our, our business parks, we being the County in the Ida you know, you look at tractor supply, that’s their largest distribution warehouse in the entire nation. All of the econ commerce, which is your online ordering goes through the Frankfurt facility. It’s a little under a million square feet, 900 and some odd thousand square feet with the additional option of another 300,000, they promised us 300 jobs or at 600 jobs.
Plus or minus to now you know, you got Heidelberg, they were the ones that took the first step at pumpkin patches. We all know it you’re sat vacant for many, many years. They built a new facility. And from there it just much room it’s completely full. Now there’s no room. So, and in that park alone, they’re probably close to 750 jobs in that area.
The go ahead and sorry. No, yeah, you’re right. I was just going to say, this is a, exactly something that I wanted to talk about because in my lifetime, you know, Remington arms for the folks not living in the area of Remington arms, America’s oldest gun maker, absolutely historic the American rifles typewriter was invented nilly in New York.
It’s it’s an incredible. Asset and it has always been the biggest employer in the area. My criticism had always been the majority of my life. It felt like we put all our eggs in that one basket. It was about Remington. That was the only thing nobody ever tried to in my opinion, bring in other businesses, other employers.
So in case that factory failed, you know, we would still stay afloat. I, and I feel like I didn’t see a lot of that until recently. And in these things that John’s talking about, When he’s talking about building out business parks and things like this, this, this wasn’t a, in many cases, these weren’t areas that used to be business parks and had gone down or whatever.
They found new areas they’ve built, new places brought in, or in many cases, expanded a lot of these businesses and created a lot of jobs so that yes, we want Remington and yes, we want to do everything we can to keep them there. But You know, regardless of what they do, the area is going to be okay. And that’s, that’s what I’m really excited about.
Yeah. And we’re continuing, continuing to expand. You know, and that park is full. The one rate across the fi across five S route five S North park is crossing the fairgrounds where we have fiber nine and hail manufacturing that basketball. The West Frankford industrial park where grantees kitchens is and Northern Chafee.
And we, you know, we filled that up. Ida with the help of the legislature, we just bought 188 plus or minus acres and Skylar upper, the old drive in is Wilker. And Alex is we have optimistically. We have people looking at that I believe virtual signed agreements, but that’s nothing we can so announce yet, John, how do you go about this?
I mean, what did, what is brought these people here? Is it a matter of tax breaks or are we giving them something special? What, what is it that the is there’s, there’s a typical pilot, which is a payment in lieu of taxes. You know, they give them, they give them a break and then over a certain amount of years, mostly it usually it’s a 10 year.
And they, they increase their tax contribution annually. I’ll be quite honest with you, the Ida with John Piza cause their executive director, this guy he’s got a hostel. He really does. She’s probably no less than 70 project in the works right now. As far as you know, with solar project business parked you know, he went to California last year and did a presentation in front of all kinds of billionaire investors.
And he won that contest and he got $50,000 in free money for legal fees and stuff like that. I just wanted to do full project and alien is, is his full cons. The village took the arrange and bought that property you know, and very, very expensive purchase. Got it. Before it went into bankruptcy, that’s something I tried is the mayor and it just didn’t work at that time.
So credit to the village board right now, it took it took a gamble and bought that. You know, we’ve finished up a phase two I’m on the County Brown seals group . And, and, you know, we’ve got a lot of the bills school the do fall. There’s a couple, all the properties that we’ve got, the DEC and the EPA interested in that comment.
And they’ve looked at these and they’ve started a forward progress. You get these properties back on the patch, roll. Now there’s just a lot of good stuff going on here with a lot, with the possibility of a lot of investment and quite a few more jobs coming in there. I mean, CRE is not in Herkimer County, but as you know, you know, we’re, we’re kind of a small area.
So anything happens even in Oneida County spills over into Herkimer County or vice versa. Right. You know, people want to live here. People want to live there. So, you know, well, I know we’re economically depressed. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Getting us to the next step and tech Bible.
This is a great place to raise a family and people know that it absolutely is. And, you know, telling that story. And you know, I, I asked you how, how this happened and I kinda knew the answer as you were saying it, when you talk about. John going to California and things like that. In some cases local people here that because out in Onondaga County, you get a lot of that.
We have officials that are out traveling and, and pitching the area to other people. And what folks don’t necessarily understand is we’re not just sending this person to a conference or a vacation in, in some other sunny state that we all wish we could go to today. It’s as John, as John is, is down South right now.
But. You know, th the whole idea is you got to sell it. You got to take this show on the road and people need to know. And, and, and as you say, we are a little economically depressed, but as a business owner, as an investor that’s kind of good news for you. That means there’s low costs to operate, and there’s a willing workforce that is not demanding top dollar.
And, you know, in, in some cases that’s unfortunate that our locals can’t do that, but. For a business for opportunities. Hell yeah. Gimme, gimme cheap real estate and a workforce. That’s, that’s hungry to be here for me. Well, and, and to your appointment with the workforce, you know, that’s what eats, that’s a big, big, large component of what keeps Remington here.
They they’ve, I think this new group of investors, this new ownership has even stated in, in, in the media that our workforce is second to none. You don’t look, there are people, you know, we have generational. Families in that plant. My dad retired from there with 38 years in the place. I worked there for two months and said, that’s not for me.
I don’t want to be cooped up in a factory, you know, so I went off to college, but yeah. I think when you, when you make that statement that they get inexpensive help. I think that’s, that’s a, that’s a valid statement, but at the same time, it’s, it’s, it kind of hurts a little bit. Yeah. You know, ironically, we’re, we’re in the process now we being the County legislature realizing that you know, we’re, we’re having a hard time attracting and recruiting and retaining employees because the pay is not quite there.
Right. So, you know, we’re, we’re taking a good, hard look at that. You know, years ago, the benefits. Great and County level. And that’s why people took municipal government jobs. Benefits were good. Your health, health insurance, your time off your retirement, and the pay was a little older, but people were like your dad’s rinses.
He’s willing to take the gamble that in firehouse, you know, did his career. Now, now I see them kind of leveling off. So they’re about equal because your retirement systems aren’t as good as the retirement system care level. Isn’t as good. And you gotta work till you’re 62, you got to contribute your whole career, blah, blah, blah.
So we’re taking a good, hard look at that. You know, we might have to increase our, our, our, our, our pay rate a little bit to compete with the, you know, the backward supplies starting at $18 an hour. You know, which in our area is a good wage, right. You know, you can raise a family and I’m a strong, strong proponent of paying people.
I have t-shirts that say, pay people more that offend folks when I walk around town. But it is, like you said, it’s, it’s kind of a double-edged sword, but to me I don’t mind pitching it to those investors. Cause the, the, the gambit here is, yeah. Get in here, open this business. Labor is cheap and when you and everybody else does it now it doesn’t have to be cheap, but now our workers can say, listen now you’ve got to pony up and, and it’s just kind of the way exactly.
Exactly quickly and we’ll move on on this, but I’ve been following this story and I’ve actually, I’ve got another interview scheduled tomorrow from a representative of this group called Herkimer nine. You probably know something of them they’re backed by the legendary Alice Cooper, which is just awesome.
Yeah. This is a cool, another development project that’s happening in Herkimer. And I don’t know if you know too much about that John or, or what, but not a whole lot. They’re they’re they’re Major I guess their president or leader. I’m not sure exactly what title is. Eugene is, is the, the the human calculator guy there.
Yes. I got his name escapes me at the moment. Scott, Scott. Yes. I was going to say Steve and I knew that was wrong. You know, he’s coming from a presentation to the legislature. I know they’ve met many times with the vote to Herkimer you know, any type of development. If they can get this off the ground.
Absolutely. You know, I, I don’t have a whole lot of comment right now on it because we don’t have a whole lot of financial information from whole very preliminary. Yeah. You know exactly. I mean, th th they have a plan of some sort in a direction. I think now just at, at, at the the the legislative level or any type of elected official level, you know, I would personally want to see.
Some sort of numbers from them, where are they going to get their investment from? Where is this money coming? But their ideas, Hey, you know, anything we can do to improve on any, any municipality in Herkimer County, I think is a great thing. And all the old forge the enchanted floors, water supplier, they just did a $3 million project improvement.
Unfortunately. And chemical last year didn’t allow them to open. But they’re optimistic this year. We’re saying we can open up even on a limited basis. So, you know, they built three or four big new slides and, and sexual you know, and that, that, that’s a great Buddhism capital for us. So, you know, I just, like I said before, I I’m optimistic.
I see things improving. We’d like to see them faster while absolutely. But you know, we also gotta realize, sit back and be patient Again, I think we’re one of the most fiscally sound counties in the state. You know, and, and part of that’s due to the current legislature, part of that’s due to the previous legislature you know, smart investments that were made and continue to be made.
You know, we’re, we’re, we’re in a good position here. You know, a lot of places that sales tax would the COVID hurt. The municipalities, our, our, our County actually had a 0.7, 7% increase in our sales tax. So, you know, during a pandemic where people are, are just, you know, buried in stuff that that’s a good sign to me.
Yeah. It’s, you know, like you said you gotta be patient things can happen all at once at the same time. I feel like the list of things that we’re talking about that have happened in the last say 10 years is moving along a lot faster than I’ve ever remembered throughout my life in the area.
So, I think you’re, you’re moving in the right direction. I want to ask you a little bit now. I want to just talk. Slightly about this thing going on in the village, a billion year old, your old position. And I’m not going to ask you to really give your, your personal take or your personal account on this too much.
Because I realize you’re, you’re disconnected from it and you’re kind of in a, another place now, but you know, one of the biggest parts of this story, and one of the, the biggest things that folks are talking about is. It seems like to procedures and it seems like the way things are happening in the village right now are not necessarily according to how things are supposed to go.
But again, I don’t know how these things are supposed to go. So, I wanted to talk to you about a man who’s Ben Mayer and just ask, you know, what are some of the responsibilities? What are, you know, if a, if a mayor of a small town like alien wants to make personnel changes in a big department. You know, what, what would normally just be the procedures that you would go through?
Well, I want to say all employees, not all employees, but civil service employees, so that there’s a firefighter or a police officer department, employee water, you know, they have to take a civil service test. What, what that entails is a written exam. You know, you have to number one, you have to pass it.
And, and usually number two is you have to be in the top three candidates on that list that made of those that have passed it to be interviewed and hired. You know, and once you, once you get that civil service appointment, you had some protections you know, there’s state law, there’s civil service law that protects that employee.
You know, and there, there, there is a proper procedure and a proper way to. To go about disciplining someone or Nicole, Paul removing someone from office you know, it’s, it’s, it’s quite lengthy. And, and I might, I might misquote the exact number, but I believed in article 75 hearing charges or filing from the municipality would have to be brought to that employee.
So, so there is a process it’s it it’s, it’s not an easy process. You know, as you stated as a former mayor I understand the process, but what helped me understand that process even more was you know, I’m a previous union president for the city of little falls, local firefighters union.
And you know, I, I negotiated contracts on both sides of the fence. I negotiated contracts for my people when I was a union firefighter. And I also had to negotiate contracts as a mayor. With the employees in the village. So, again, I seem to get stuck in this kind of precarious position once in a while, because I’m still even in firefight.
Sure. You know, I’m, I’m, I’m an alumni member of the international association of firefighters. So, but you know, if you’re, if you’re just open and you sit down with these folks and you talk to them like humans things go very well. You know, I never had a contact on either side of the fence that went to mediation, arbitration per any of that stuff.
You just need to, you need to be a human being and talk to these folks. You can’t come across you know, and, and, and this coming from me, my father, I hear him in the background in my head saying, there’s the pot calling accountable because, you know, I, I have a short temper, I, you know, I’m, I’m quick to get to get upset.
But over the years I’ve learned. No, that I’m not 25 anymore. And I just can’t start throwing haymakers to get my way, you know, I’ll be 55 years old, you know, I’m crippled, broken neck, blah, blah, blah, cancer, all hair. So I’m just, I’ve kind of learned that, you know, if you sit and talk your outcome is better with, with the situation at alien you know, as you stated, I’m kind of in a precarious.
Position here because it doesn’t really have anything to do with me in the political world as an elected official. But in the taxpayer world, it most certainly does because I still live in Atlanta and pay my taxes. I don’t want anybody to think that I, what I say is trying to influence any decision.
That’s not the case. But as a union brother still you know, I will support the union guys. Until I’m given a reason not to you know, I’ve talked with both, both men and they understand that, you know, this all comes to a concluder well, and this comes to a conclusion, which I would kind of hope that with the weekend, but if, if, if that’s a big capital I and S comes out with either one of these gentlemen has bumped something improper incorrect I want to say out of character then I would tell them right to their face.
Look, guys, you messed up, you have to, you know, you have to, you have to take your lunch. Is anything they’ve done or not done? Or been I don’t know if accused is the right word. Because I think social media has blown this up more than more than anything. But if it comes out that, you know, they bumped something that they’ve said Nicole fun.
Well, I don’t think any of that. It’s a fireable offense or termination. I really don’t. Yeah. But again, that’s just me you know, the process I would have went through as, as the top dog in the village is different than the one that they’re currently taking, but that doesn’t mean that doesn’t really mean anything.
You know, I, I, I made a post on Facebook because my form was inundated with text messages, phone calls and emails. You know, coming to me and, and I had to put, I just finally pulled my license just to put something out there. I’m not mayor anymore. People still thought I was right. So, you know, I, I was getting a flack and feedback on that.
And, and that’s either a good thing or a bad thing, you know? You know, it’s good because maybe I did a teaching job and they still thought I was there, or it’s sad because people aren’t paying attention to what’s happening in their surroundings. You know? No, unfortunately. Yeah, well, yeah. And there was three mayors after I left, you know, there was a six month mayor, Beth Neil took over because I, I left six months before my term ended because I took the legislative position.
Sure. And then there was two other mayors after her. So, but you know, it, it’s a tough situation. It really is. You’re you’re in a small town. Everybody knows everybody. And, and I back these two guys, and like I said I’ll back them as a union guy until I give something not to back. And then but I don’t think anything they’ve been told that they may or may not have done is his reason for termination or, or promotion or anything like that.
And that’s just the way it just might. That’s just my feelings. As an elected official, you know, I, I said this in my post. Right. You lose the ability and some rights on how you speak. Sure. You know, I, I can’t, I don’t have the ability to scream and yell and raise hell anymore. I mean, I can do it, but it’s certainly gonna hurt me in the end.
Right. You know, and I said this to a couple of my board members when I was the mayor. No matter what you think you lose all rights, you really do. You have to change your thought process. You have to change how you respond to people. You know, you can’t scream and yell at people. You can’t, you can’t go right to a a hundred percent in big packet.
Somebody, you know, when you’re out to dinner, people are gonna approach you. And you know, I, I drove my one younger brother crazy because every time we went off to go get something to enter or whatever. You know, people would come up to me and want to talk and he’d finally tell them, look, you’re not here as the mayor.
Well, unfortunately you are the mayor a hundred percent of the time. So you have to acknowledge these folks. You have to return their phone calls or emails or pact messages. If they approach you on the street, you have to be professional and courteous to them, you know, and don’t get me wrong. There was times that I wanted to tell somebody to screw off, or I don’t know what we kind of can’t say on here, you can say anything, but yeah, I hear you.
It’s it’s you just have to treat people differently because you work for them. Right. You know, they put you in that position for work. For, for, what’s asked for everyone, all 8,000 plus people or 62,000 people in the County, you know, I worked for them. They put me in a position to make an educated decision, which would be beneficial to everyone.
So you can’t, you know, you can’t you can’t go after people at, that’s not probably the right word, but you can’t be. I think, you know, you can’t be heated with public if put you there. And I, I think there’s a there’s a disconnect with the lack of communication from all parties, all parties.
So it’s, it’s tough. It’s tough. You know, it’s tough when they’re friends of yours. You know, or relatives in-laws in your case, or, you know, but I’ve known both of both of these men or. You know, their entire careers you know, I’ve known him since, like I said, on my pulse that should not knows kids running around in their back yards, you know?
I think it’s just I believe this is a matter of public record, so it shouldn’t be too controversial. But during your time as mayor did you ever have any disciplinary issues with either of these gentlemen? No. None whatsoever. Yeah, nothing. I, I, you know, I’m going based on what I’ve seen in the public.
I don’t, I Googled it when I left in 14. I had from 2006 to 2014 I had no disciplinary issues with either of these men. As a matter of fact, I, I I put I gave them awards of merit awards of heroism certificates of merit to put in their files for work that they did above and beyond, you know, I was unfortunate that during my tenure, as mayor, I handled.
Three of the largest loss of property floods in the history of the village, you know, pause 11 and 13. And then in 2006, three days after I was elected to, as a trustee position, I was standing chest deep in water, running down the street front of the library. So I also had the opportunity or the unfortunate opportunity to handle that as well.
So, you know, in seven and a half years, I handled four major incidents. And these guys performed as, as did many members of the, of the village employment forge above and beyond, you know, they were, they were out for days and days and days in the 13 floods, you know, I, I didn’t come home for five days.
My wife, I walked in and she’s like, who are you? You know? So, but no, no disciplinary action whatsoever. And that’s part of the that’s part of what bothers me is this kind of went from zero to a hundred with nothing in between. Right. So, well, you know, we’ll see, we’ll see again, as a blister, as someone in an elected official, I really, it doesn’t concern my political job.
But as a taxpayer, you know, I got a little skin in the game there. Right? I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that it comes to a quick resolution or a quicker resolution. And I think it would be a huge loss to a very, very young department if either one of those gentlemen were to either. A leave on their own or B for some reason before us to leave.
I think that would not be a good thing for the residents in our village, both. There’s a lot of years of experience there. Yeah. And they’re both leadership positions, a deputy chief and a chief. So that’s, that’s very scary. So let’s, let’s end on a high note enough enough of that for right now. You know, we’ve talked about a lot of the things you’ve done and a lot of things you’re interested in, let’s talk about if, if reelected what can we expect from you and what can we expect in the County going forward?
Oh, great question. You know, and I’m reelected there you go. Just a little competence, competence You know, we’re going to continue to be the same legislation that we have been, you know, we’re going to continue to watch our finances. Again, as I said earlier, we’re in a great place.
And continue to work on bringing business here jobs here. Again, the Skylar business park is, is going to be a huge asset for us. I would venture to say that by the end of this calendar year or the beginning of next calendar year, that we’re going to have a few more businesses in there with quite a few more jobs.
And that’s kind of like the practice supply thing. We have an inkling of what’s going on with companies that might be in Cox or really. They don’t want to put it out there until they’re ready to pull the trigger. Of course. So, and then you know, continue to work on you know, our infrastructure you know, we’ve had some damages from floods and in our County highway department and our our, our folks that are doing good work and getting up and running you know, our Sheriff’s department is good.
It’s just transitioning over to that new facility. I think that’s going to be a good, good good thing for us. Yeah. Just, just a quick side, there. Any ideas of what might happen to the old facility? I mean, I know obviously it wasn’t qualified as a jail, but can we do anything else with this bill?
Right. Funny, you mentioned that because we’ve done a property study on what our space study, I guess, is the best way to put it and what we have cause we’re certainly short on space. Okay. You know, we have offices that we will probably have to move around. So we’re in the middle of doing that now.
You know, they can be utilized. We have the old courthouse, which is it’s on the historic registry, but boy, that place is just beat up, you know, just that know. I wouldn’t want to go to work in that sincerity would be quite honest with you. I pulled, I pulled my you know, my counterparts in the legislature, my colleagues, I wouldn’t send my wife or kids or even myself to go in there and work.
We’re asking folks to go in there. And I, you know, I, I, I don’t, I don’t see that as viable, but we’re doing the space study, the old jail. We’ve talked about that and what we could or couldn’t do with that. So we’re in the middle of that. You know, you’ll probably see some utilization of our existing structures and you know, some vacant structures that we have and, and, and move people around and make them comfortable and, and give them a good work environment.
So yeah. But you know, we’re just, we’re going to continue to do and make progress like we have. And I, I think I, I’m pretty proud of what we’ve done over the last six or seven years since I’ve been there. I don’t see a huge change in, in the direction that we’re going. You know, we’re going positive.
Everything we do is, is, is, is as many people positive and miserable forward. And that’s where we’re at, you know, have the ability to keep our taxes reasonable or. Well non-existent as far as an increase goes. Sure. You know, with, with our national economy, you know, it’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a big balancing act, you know, we’ve got, you know, we don’t know where we’re going to be this budget year with the state, you know, they say, they’re going to cut this and going to cut that.
And so, you know, while we’re nervous, we’re also optimistic at the same time. That’s that’s the best you could ask for, I think in, in days like today, so. John Stevens. I want to thank you very much for joining us on the show today. I very much enjoyed our interview. And I look forward to to bringing you back and talking about more specifically economic development, because that is a story and a drum that I absolutely love to beat.
So, anytime. Just real quick before we go. Is there a place a website, a Facebook page anywhere where folks that want to help you and support your reelection campaign? Yes. Actually my personal page I, I try not to use that, but I will post everything. It’s just kinda Stephens and then I have gone Stevens for Herkimer County legislature.
Legislator that’s also a Facebook page. Those are the two, those are the two big drives that I use. Any, you know, most people you can go to the County website and you can get my email. It’s alleged jStevens@herkimercounty.org. If you have a question that you want to ask me via email I’d be certainly happy to ask.
If even if you’re not in my district, I can point you in the proper direction to what legislator you should be contacting. I have no issue with that. So yeah, I’m, I I’m, I guess I’m an open book. I really, you know, I I’m, I don’t have anything to worry about or hide. I do the best job I can and that’s the only promise I’ve ever made is being in the elected official world.
I’ve never promised a job or anything like that. It’s it’s the promise I make is I’ll work as hard as I can. And as hard as I’m able for the people that I represent. So that’s, that’s it, you can’t, it can’t be any more straightforward than that. So, John, I appreciate you joining the show. I’m going to let you go and I’ll check in with you after we’re done, but I appreciate it.
And we’ll talk to you soon. Thank you. Appreciate it. Have a good day. That was John Stevens again. And it’s great to have him join the show. I think that was a fantastic interview. And I look forward to more of that tomorrow on the program, we will have Jordan and possibly some other folks from the Herkimer nine organization.
The folks that we talked about that are, are looking to bring more development to downtown Herkimer New York, pretty cool local stuff going on, and I’m excited to be able to talk about all of that. If you missed any portion of this show today, and you’re watching live on Twitch, just stick around. The immediate instant replay will start as soon as this is over with Tarantino it.
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