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Reposted from my Next Door app. Only 13 years and counting to get a single apartment complex built. No excuses. Now imagine building out Terawatt scales of new electrical power in the next three decades. Imagine building out high speed hyperloops above or below ground. Rolling out new forms of communication, transportation. Imagine building out autonomous cars, and drone delivery and all of the new technologies that are right on our doorstep.

It … will … not … happen. If you are a politician or an entrepreneur, your number one priority ought to be rebuilding our ability to build. Fast. If by “Build Back Better” you mean anything else, you are the problem.

75 Monroe Development information. I am posting this for the benefit of all resident of the village and the town of Pittsford. This posting represent the latest information regarding the potential development at the 75 Monro Avenue location. What follows is a timeline of the events in a simplified explanation and was made available by the village of Pittsford. In December of 2020, Supreme Court Justice John J. Ark issued two major rulings in favor of Village of Pittsford. By upholding the decisions of both the Village Planning Board and Historic Preservation Board to deny project approval, Judge Ark has paved the way for the Westport Crossing project to move forward. In the past, the project developer refused to negotiate in good faith to resolve material defects in their project proposals. The developer also embarked on a campaign of litigation to circumvent basic Village Code requirements, permitting issues, and New York State environmental law. The developer, Pittsford Canalside Properties (PCP) now has the opportunity to comply with the Village Board Special Permit – which was also upheld – and to provide the community with the project they had originally promised.

PROJECT TIMELINE Late 1990s – The Town and Village of Pittsford sue the Monoco Oil Company to stop the toxic emissions from the asphalt facility at 75 Monroe Avenue. After an investigation revealed the company illegally shut off emissions control equipment and dumped waste on the property, Monoco Oil files for bankruptcy and the property is auctioned.

2008 – The Village annexes the property and rezones from industrial commercial to residential to reduce traffic generation from future development and to make better use of the waterfront location.

2012 – The Village Board grants Pittsford Canalside Properties (PCP) a special permit to develop a 167-unit apartment complex and a waterfront restaurant at 75 Monroe Avenue.

2013 – PCP submits a project design to the Village Planning Board that significantly differs from the design authorized by the Special Permit issued by the Village Board. In accordance with New York State SEQR Law, the Village Board identifies fourteen major changes, including larger buildings, reduced landscaping, more pavement, and determines that a new environmental review is required.

2014 – After the Planning Board grants final Site Plan Approval, the Village Historic Preservation Board denies a Certificate of Appropriateness for the project on the basis that the bulk, mass and scale of the proposed development is incompatible with the historic context of the village and the Erie Canal, both of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

2015 – The Zoning Board of Appeals upholds the Historic Preservation Board’s denial of Certificate of Appropriateness for the project.

2018 – The Planning Board rehears the site plan application (as directed by the Court) because the applicant failed to submit a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) Consistency Application with the original site plan submission. Under New York State and Village law, a LWRP consistency review must be conducted before site plan approval is granted. The Planning Board determined that the proposed project was not consistent with the Village’s LWRP and therefore also denied site plan approval.

2019 – The applicant requests the Planning Board rehear the LWRP Consistency Review. The Planning Board does so, and again denies it. LITIGATION The project review process has been significantly delayed due to litigation brought against each of the three independent Village regulatory boards. The Friends of Pittsford Village has filed two lawsuits challenging the 2012 Special Permit granted by the Board of Trustees and the 2014 Site Plan Approval granted by the Village Planning Board. The developer, Pittsford Canalside Properties, has filed numerous lawsuits challenging fundamental governmental jurisdiction and a variety of procedural issues. The Village has initiated none of the Westport Crossing project litigation. However, the Village Board has a legal responsibility under New York State Law to respond to all lawsuits filed against the Village, including those filed against the two other independent Village boards. Members of the Village Board are legally prohibited from interfering in the decision-making process of the other Village Boards. Since the receipt of the original application, the various boards of the Village of Pittsford have insisted the Westport Crossing Project comply with Code requirements, fit within the established historic character of the community, and enhance the unique canal-side location. THE RECENT COURT DECISIONS In the decisions that were issued at the end of December, 2020, Justice Ark upheld the Village’s actions, dismissing two major lawsuits brought by the developer, PCP. The Court upheld the Village Historic Preservation Board’s (formerly the Architectural Preservation and Review Board) 2014 denial of a Certificate of Appropriateness and the Village Planning and Zoning Board’s 2018 denial of the project’s consistency with the Local Waterfront Revitalization program. In each case, the Boards had previously issued determinations that the Project was not consistent with the Village’s criteria for approval. The Developer sued to challenge those determinations. The Court ruled that both Boards had a rational basis for their determinations, which were neither arbitrary nor capricious and will not be overturned. Specifically, the Court rejected the Developer’s argument that “zoning approval somehow limits historic and architectural review,” and noted the developer had “offered no arguments regarding the reasonableness (or alleged lack thereof) of the APRB’s determination.” Because both approvals were required for the Westport Crossing Project, these decisions strike a major blow to the Developer’s chances of proceeding with the Project as currently proposed. THE PATH FORWARD  The three Village boards remain committed, as they have been throughout this process, to bringing a quality project to the site. Members of the three boards have spent hundreds of hours in numerous negotiations and have clearly conveyed to PCP the type of project that would meet Village Code requirements and the design criteria that would ensure the project would fit harmoniously on the unique canal-side property at 75 Monroe Avenue. In the time since the decisions were issued, the three boards again have worked to provide PCP with an outline of acceptable parameters. In the past, PCP has refused to provide plans in accordance with the Village’s criteria. They have now indicated their willingness to do so and the ball is again in their court. The three Village boards will continue to stand for the principles upon which the community has insisted, and what other developers have routinely followed. Adherence to these principals over many years has created the historic, livable, walkable, and vibrant village we enjoy today. The recent Village wide survey also indicated that this remains the preference of a significant majority of village residents. The path has finally been cleared to build a development that fits harmoniously with its unique canal setting and provides additional housing options in our community.

Courtesy of the Morning Consult:

In other research via Marginal Revolution:

Bureaucratic politics is a politics of privilege. By 1956, the wages of the highest-ranking party and government personnel were set at 36.4 times those of the lowest rank. (By way of comparison, the highest wage in the “corrupt” Nationalist government in1946 was 14.5 times that of the lowest wage.)

Happy Friday.


Your politicians and the elites who move them think the American people are stupid. Policy has to be dumbed down to make it understandable and supportable by the masses. That, itself, is, to be frank, stupid. We have to pander on the minimum wage, when it is awful policy. And even if it wasn’t awful policy, we all understand that the $15 number is not sensible to apply uniformly across states. Costs vary dramatically across states, even within states, and therefore the beneficial effects of the mandated wage, and the costs of the mandated wage, will be wildly difference based on where it is being applied. For example, even here in the lower income portion of New York, our local Walmart is offering starting pay at $14 per hour WITH paid time off, job training, educational benefits, health benefits. My local McDonalds is offering $13.25 for entry level jobs, with benefits. So even here those mandated wages are nearly meaningless, at least for the large businesses. Tell that to a store in rural Appalachia, or Puerto Rico.

Plus the $15 number itself comes from whole cloth. It is not the result of any analysis that shows this to be the “best” number according to a particular policy preference. The national rhetoric doesn’t even dignify the steel man version, “I know these policies raise costs on businesses, I know they will encourage businesses to find ways to mitigate those cost increases, and I know it distorts the important information flow embedded in the system of market pricing which indicates where resources are needed and where they are not, nonetheless I think these costs are worth incurring because X, Y and Z.” We don’t get that. We get dangerous class rhetoric, disingenuous claims about living standards stagnating, ridiculous stories of obscene worker abuse by businesses and so on. I tell you, I’d support a policy, even a stupid one, if we had the capacity to have an open, intelligent and honest debate about it. But we seem terminally incapable of hauling that water. It’s sad.

They think we are stupid. They have to “dumb down” policy proposals and rhetoric to make it understandable to the masses. That is not how we run a democracy, or how we should run our classrooms. What does it say when the elites and politicians think you are stupid? Is it an indictment of their beloved “public” school system? After all, they had all of us captive for 13 years in that system. Maybe it’s because the radical libertarians who run the country had successfully defunded schools for all of those years and deprived them of the monetary and mental manpower to run things?

Is it an indictment of our filthy American culture? Something else?

Demand better. They think we are stupid.

Ban Plastic Pics

So, many drink companies have replaced their plastic straws with paper ones. No biggie I guess, I don’t use straws. But for some, the other benefit of a plastic straw seems to have been that it is easier to jam a hard plastic straw through a rigid lid than a floppy paper straw.

One of my great students found a Bubble Tea shop whose customers got frustrated with the paper straws. So, now all of their teas come equipped with a … plastic … lid pricker …

As they say, have a lovely day.

The purpose of science is not to be “settled” as nothing can be settled – unless you claim to have met the “maker” of the universe. Those of us who claim to be in pursuit of capital “T” truth are also fooling ourselves. Sure, the pursuit of something MORE truthful is surely worthy, but we often speak of capital “T” truth as if we even have the capability of grasping the ultimate answers to the most important questions. We cannot. If this makes me a radical post-modernist, I suppose I’ll have to don the badge with honor, but I do not think that makes the label appropriate.

In any case, the use of the term “the science” I feel has become just another way for people to NOT have to engage or think deeply about the complexity of a topic. Paradoxially (we can’t use the term Orwellian, it’s not appropriate here, I mean more misguided) then, many common invocations of the term “the science” are intended to precisely do the opposite of what “the science” is meant to do.

Take the case of Evolution. Darwin and subsequent thinkers have done an incredible job probing the mysteries of who we are and how we got here and how things change and so on. The “theory” is absurdly solid. But despite that theory having an absurd amount of empirical support, and being “the science” it does not mean we ought not continue to investigate its mysteries, its potential contradictions or our understanding of how it works.

One example of this is the idea that the grist for the mill of natural selection is random genetic mutations during the replication process of living cells. The simplistic story goes something like – DNA does not always replicate identically, so on occasion (extremely rarely) a DNA will obtain a different genotype on one or more of its base pairs. Most of the time these genotypes do not lead to phenotypic expressions that are noticeable or useful. But on rare occasions these mutations will actually confer an evolutionary advantage on its owner (i.e. it makes it easier to survive and/or reproduce) in a particular environment. To the extent that this mutation does so, the improved ability of owners with that “mutation” to survive and reproduce will “advantage” them in the evolutionary game, and that genotype and hence phenotypic expression will become more popular in the population of that species.

But is that all there is? Of course not. But when the term “the science” is invoked, it surely does lead us to believe that it is the case.

I just finished a wonderful book called The Tangled Tree which illustrates this quite beautifully in a number of different applications. The piece that stuck with me most was the discussion of the concept of Infective Heredity. This possibility (empirically demostrated of course) is very different from the vertical flow of inheritable traits from “your” parents. What we are now coming to understand is that the truth is far more complicated that a unitrunked tree of life spouting off sequentially produced branches. In this book, we learn that human beings contain strong evidence of cell characteristics from a strange form of life known as Archaea that chill out on ocean floors near volcanic vents. Nice! Furthermore, it is well known that the humane genome contains a huge chunk of DNA from invasive retroviruses – so the very essence of human beings in ways beyond the metaphorical is that we are viruses, at least partly. Then of course is the fact there we “host” a galaxy-sized melange of microorganisms that play important roles in our daily functioning. Quammen’s book demonstrates how the very core of our own cells likely evolved by being invaded from foreign organisms and incorporating them.

In other words, a good portion of who we are and how we got here did not come from the lucky adaptations from random ‘beneficial” genetic mutations, but rather from cross-species invasions into our human cells. This “Infective Heredity” discovery doesn’t mean Darwin was wrong or that evolution isn’t real. It dramatically enriches our understanding of how life works, dramatically improves our ability to appreciate the complexity of life – very little in our universe is simple and “just so”, something that we ought to take very seriously as we try to be more “scientific” in the social sciences. We must create and propogate a culture that celebrates the kind of work that discovered these horizontal gene transfers, and help people everywhere to appreciate the complexity of human life, and that the distinction between what feels “natural” and “unnatural” is as blurry as can be.


Q Anon

1937 New Dealers Edition. Seems like FDR was off his rocker.

In the midst of these defeats, and the rising unemployment, Roosevelt became more explicit in describing a conspiracy of businessmen trying to undermine his administration. They were still avoiding taxes and refusing to invest in economic development. Morgenthau received first news of this conspiracy in a phone call to Roosevelt in November 1937.


I called the President last night at 6:15 and told him that I was now convinced that we were headed into another depression and that I thought he had to do something about it. I said I would like to call in a number of people over Saturday and Sunday and discuss whether we should do something about gold. From then on the President got very excited, very dictatorial and very disagreeable.

He quoted at great length a man whom he described as a wise old bird” who had told him that there were 2,000 men in this country who had made up their minds that they would hold a pistol to the President’s head and make certain demands of him, otherwise they would continue to depress business. He quoted a lot of other generalities.

I said, “A great deal] depends on who this person is” and, like a crack from a whip, he said, “It is not necessary for you to know who that person is, [“) which, after thinking it over, led me to be lieve that the wise old bird” was himself whom he was quoting


Four days later, when Morgenthau had lunch with the president, Roosevelt again-in mellower terms-described the ominous threat of these mysterious 2,000 men. “Now I don’t say that 2,000 men have all got together and agreed to block us but I do say that 2,000 men have come to about the same conclusion,” Roosevelt insisted.

Interestingly, as the depression within a depression persisted, Roosevelt thought the conspiracy was still there, but that the conspirators had diminished in numbers. At a cabinet meeting in February 1939, with unemployment at 19.3 percent, Roosevelt said that fifty rich men had formed a kind of cabal to raise money to discredit the president. Morgenthau summarized that cabinet meeting and noted that Vice President John Nance Garner, who had been critical of the president, was annoyed at FDR’s allegation. “The Vice-President” according to Morgenthau, “got on a tirade about what he [FDR] said about fifty rich men who had put $5,000,000 into a pot to discredit this Administration and that something should be done about them. …”


Oh, I meant 1937:

I was impressed as never before by the utter lack of logic of the man, the scantiness of his precise knowledge of things that he was talking about, by the gross inaccuracies in his statements, by the almost pathological lack of sequence in his discussion, by the complete rectitude that he felt as to his own conduct, by the immense and growing egotism that came from his office, by his willingness to continue the excoriation of the press and business in order to get votes for himself, by his indifference to what effect the long continued pursuit of these ends would have upon the civilization in which he was playing a part. In other words, the political habits of his mind were working full steam with the added influence of a swollen ego. My deliberate impression is that he is dangerous in the extreme, and I view the next four years with no inconsiderable apprehension.

That was from Moley’s diary again. Unreal.


A lovely story:

To generate “settlers,” the government reinstated the hated system of domestic passports that had been banned after the 1917 Bolshevik coup.

Almost immediately, police throughout the country began rounding up anyone found in a place other than where they were registered.

He was a miner from Novokuznetsk. Married, with two children. Once he went to Novosibirsk and stopped at the central market,” Panovaya recalled. “At that moment, they surrounded the market, set up a dragnet, and arrested everyone who wasn’t carrying documents. Everyone – including women and children – was loaded onto a barge and sent to Nazinsky Island.”

Asked for details, he said: “It was very simple. Just like shashlik. We made skewers from willow branches, cut it into pieces, stuck it on the skewers, and roasted it over the campfire.”

“I picked those who were not quite living, but not yet quite dead,” he added. “It was obvious that they were about to go – that in a day or two, they’d give up. So it was easier for them that way. Now. Quickly. Without suffering for another two or three days.”

Others described women who were tied to trees while men cut off their breasts, calves, and other body parts.

Real socialism.

Businessmen are stupid!

The news are all against me!

Fake news!

Here is Brain Truster Ray Moley (i.e. an FDR insider and supporter) on FDR:

(FDR) then launched into a violent attack upon business men generally, saying that he had talked to a great many business men, in fact to more business men than had any other President, and that they were generally stupid. He said that the trouble with them… was that they had no moral indignation for the sins of other business men…. He then turned from that to a violent attack upon the newspapers, saying that the newspapers had no moral indignation,… that all of these [news- papers-he ‘named a long list”) were guilty of falsifying news…. He said that nothing would help him more in the 1936 election) than to have it known that the newspapers were all against him.

That is from his journal, May 2-3, 1936.


{UPDATE: NYS Senate passes Green Amendment to the State Constitution. It includes, “In practice, this amendment will require government to consider the environment and its citizens’ relationship to it in all decision making. It also creates a powerful tool for combating environmental racism and rebalancing the inequities communities of color and low-income communities face from disproportionate exposure to pollution and other environment-harming practices.”}

One of the challenges facing environmental policymakers is that land prices adjust in response to changes in the amenity value of property, changes in the safety of property and the changes in any other hedonic characteristic of property. Policy makers CANNOT control this any more than they can control the climate. This fact raises environmental justice issues on its own. For example, if there are places in states that are dirtier, have dirtier water, have dirtier air, have noisier air, have less outdoor amenities, and so on, all else equal the demand for those places will be lower and therefore the price of land and other real estate in those places will be lower. These low prices would be attractive to individuals who place a higher marginal value on the next dollar, and for the time being that tends to be lower income Americans, a disproportionate share of whom are black.

There is another direction to this challenge too. If there are already real estate locations where costs are lower, for whatever reason, regardless of environmental amenities, then those low-cost places will be attractive sites for power generation, manufacturing, high-truck traffic, routing of roads and rail, disposal, and more. In this case, we would again notice – despite this not being anyone’s intention – is that low-income black communities may find themselves in disproportionately poorer environmental conditions.

One economic insight here, one that will certainly not receive good-faith airtime in many corners, is that people who live here are no better or worse off with the environment being cleaner or dirtier. We are of course leaving out a supply-side innovation part of that story.

Be that as it may, most of the articles you will find on “environmental justice” will tend to focus on how environmental policy and industrial policy and “free market economic activity” has a disparate impact on black communities. What you are sure to find less of is a focus more broadly on environmental justice concerns as it pertains to all lower income Americans or Americans who tend to be left in the back of the room while crony and political wheeling and dealing take place.

Take the case of Green New Deals and Wind Power. Wind is already famous for being a “not in my back yard” technology. The Cape Wind fiasco (the aristocratic Kennedy’s and their pals were successful in preventing it) is just the tip of the iceburg on it. We don’t see Green New Deal advocates asking to put windmills in New York Harbor, in Central Park, in the Golden Gate, in Marin County, and so on. Some urban and wealthy areas are surely good places to site windmills particularly since it would reduce the need for long-stretches of high voltage transmission lines. But of course there is always a “but.” You will never see a windmill close to these areas. And a corollary to that is that low-income black communities who live on the fringes of these cities or in the hearts of them, would tend to not be subject to wind. So we have a positive externality from “snooty white people” flowing into less fortunate communities.

Of course, we do not see the blue-blooded aristocrats protesting all wind, just the wind near their leafy urban college campuses and high-tech office buildings, plugged in Starbucks, and Lululemons. So where else do we see cheap wind sites? Out in rural America, home of the “deplorables” … the deplorables need no description, clinging to their bibles and guns and faded Trump stickers. Do you think they appreciate the impact that wind has on their land values, at least for the land that is near wind but not lucky enough to be “bribed” by the wind companies to have the mills sited on their land? Do you think we have activists saying how it is unconscionable that the almighty dollar is being used to “force” poor deplorables to endure the siting of windmills near them? Contrast that of course to the uproar there would be if a waste management company tried to bribe residents of an inner city to allow a large trash dump next to their homes. Of course, it is well understood that not only does the production of windmills require the use of materials that can be sources from some pretty unsavory sources (cobalt for necessary battery backup and storage perhaps coming from child labor, the rare earth mines for the materials needed in the nacelles leaving massive scars of damage in poor communities in Asia and elsewhere, etc.), but that they require the destruction of massive amounts of trees, require massive amounts of concrete for their supports, massive amounts of wiring to send their power from where the wind is to where it is needed, they require the turning our heads away from the impact on migrating insect populations, they require turning our heads away from the impact they have on important raptors (yes cats kill billions of birds, but cats are not eating raptor eggs or babies), they require turning our heads away from the thousands and thousands of documented cases of sleeplessness, distraction, and more from the actual presence of the windmills. Of course, all power has its drawbacks and this is not meant to say that wind is any worse than other power sources. This is all an entree to the fact that these wind installations are disproportionately impacting poor “deplorable” families.

Here is a bit:

In lowa, a state that gets about a third of its electricity from wind, a three-turbine wind project being pushed by a company called Optimum Renewables was rejected by three different counties Fayette, Buchanan, and Black Hawk. In 2015, the Black Hawk County Board of Adjustment rejected the project after more than one hundred local residents expressed concerns.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has mandated that the state be obtaining 50 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030.1 But three upstate counties–Erie, Orleans, and Niagara as well as the towns of Yates and Somerset, have all been fighting a proposed 200-megawatt project called Lighthouse Wind, which aims to put dozens of turbines on the shores of Lake Ontario.” The same developer pushing Lighthouse Wind, Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy, also faced fierce resistance on a project in New York that aimed to put 109 megawatts of wind capacity on Galloo Island, a small island that sits off the eastern shore of Lake Ontario.” The project was opposed by the nearby town of Hen derson for years, and, in the documents it filed with the state, Apex neglected to report that bald eagles have been nesting on Galloo Island. That omission caused an uproar, and in early 2019 Apex withdrew its application for the Galloo project. 15 In April 2019, Apex announced it was also suspending work on the Lighthouse Wind project.
The media’s paltry coverage of the backlash against the wind industry is particularly obvious when looking at the Lighthouse Wind project. Even though the fight over the project raged for more than three years, and it was the highest-profile wind-energy project in New York, by mid-2019 the New York Times had not published a single story about the controversy.
– Robert Bryce, A Question of Power

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