Friday, September 7, 2012

Vescera, The Common Council, and Freedom in City Hall

Councilman Frank Vescera was censured by his colleagues on the Utica Common Council. He was also removed from all his committee positions. This, in response to his refusal to remove a small video camera from the table in pre- council meeting caucus.

Wait a minute! Are you kidding? In this era of You-Tube everything, direct from life to the internet recording, the Common Council has a problem with being taped? At an open, public meeting?

Just when you thought you heard it all in the Banana Republic that has become Utica, now even more freedom is being squashed in the Gulag that has become Palmieri's City Hall.

Just exactly what are the members of the Common Council afraid of? Why should they care that a man who tape records EVERYTHING should want to include the mundane roll call of legislation and mindless bickering that has become the hallmark of Utica government. I think I know the answer. Having sat in that room for six years as a common council representative, I have witnessed firsthand the way personal freedom of expression and beliefs are routinely squashed by the dictator-like mindset Utica officials.

You see, the people who sit in that chamber all have one thought burning at the base of their brain-that someday, they too can become mayor. That, when the citizens of the city discover the legislative brilliance that they bring to the floor, when their constituents realize that they have all the answers, they will be crowned king (or queen) of this dying city. No one wants to lets a pesky, intrusive thing like a camera record the truth- that not much brilliance occurs in city hall, that no one ever has the answer.

And then there is Frank. Angry, confrontational, and at times so off base as to have you wonder-is this guy living in the same place we are? Vescera has not always been an easy man to serve with. He does, however, have the distinction of being the singular person who is so polarizing, having such a take-no-hostages approach of doing business, that he ends up being the guy that most appeals to the frustrated, angry citizens of Utica.

At the heart of Vescera is a man who truly wants to accomplish things. The motivation behind his actions are sometimes blurry, but he shows no fear. What he believes, he is willing to fight for. That strikes fear into the hearts of his colleagues on the council. He is not a "team player." He stands on his own. That can be a good thing and at times it can be detrimental to his cause. It is always a quality unappreciated by elected officials with one eye constantly fixed on higher office.

So now, because he would not tow the line, he has been stripped, censured, discredited and neutralized by his co-members on the council. Or so they think. Because a guy like Frank never tows the line. He never makes a deal. He fights for what he believes in whether we agree with his cause or not. And I expect that he will dig his heels in even further to show Utica that he cannot be told what to do.

As a property owner in the district that he represents, I appreciate that demeanor. I want a guy to fight for me and my concerns without worrying if he is offending city hall. Unfortunately, he is alone in his quest. With the exception of Dave Testa and Jim Zecca, all the other members (Jerome Mckinsey was absent) voted to shut Frank down.

That's sad. City Hall has shut down all outside communication under the iron-fisted rule of Palmieri. His minions on the council must be doing his bidding in an attempt to rid him of his number one nemesis-Vescera. But, like all misguided attempts to squash open government through intimidation and brute force, it will not succeed. This administration will fail. The common council will spend it's time arguing about non-issues like recording meetings, and the city will suffer. Again.

I have not agreed with Frank Vescera on many, many issues. At times, I was not sure if he even belonged on the Utica Common Council.

Today, I have my answer. Keep on fighting Frank! The people of Utica will thank you and your two supporters on the council for keeping the light shining on the murky mess that has become the city of Utica!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Palmieri Administration-Asleep at the Wheel

Mayor Rob Palmieri has been in office 8 months. In that time, we have been patiently waiting for the vision of the man at the top to be articulated to the populace. What economic development initiatives are in the works? What neighborhood development plans are being discussed? How will the budget deficit be addressed? What does our future hold?

Who's to know? There are no press releases. No media briefings. Communication out of city hall has ceased.

But, we have sweeps! Yes folks, the weekly ritual of taking City Hall "on the road."The trouble is, it's window dressing, lipstick on a pig. The weekly photo-ops have now begun to include higher ranking officials. It seems that everyone wants to get in on it!

But the question continues to be: get in on what? What is actually being accomplished? None of the afore mentioned questions have been answered. It makes one wonder if anything will actually happen.

Syracuse vs. Utica

I am fortunate to have found a job in Syracuse. Going to work everyday, I get to experience the day to day excitement of the initiatives that abound in downtown Syracuse. Mayor Stephanie Miner is a smart, articulate and deeply involved leader in a city that desperately needed one when she took office. The relationship that she immediately forged with SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has resulted in an exciting and game changing project-The Connective Corridor.

With funding from Senator Chuck Schumer, Empire State Development Corporation and The NYS Dormitory Authority, the connection between University Hill and downtown Syracuse is a signature strip of cutting edge, cultural development. It will encompass the University community, city museums, theaters and galleries and shopping destinations such as Armory Square.

Lighted pedestrian pathways, outdoor seating, signage and landscaping will soon be complete and provide the Corridor with a distinct look. Bicyclists will soon find designated bike lanes in a bright kelly green along some parts of the corridor.

How did Syracuse become fortunate enough to obtain the funding for this project? The answer is simple-they asked for it. It was as easy as that. In response to their request, they received 10 million dollars from the federal TIGER discretionary grant.

What did Utica receive? Nothing. Not a dime. And, if you are wondering why, the answer is simple-we didn't ask for any.

The Palmieri administration let millions of dollars slip through their fingers. And, apparently there are no plans to request any money any time soon, despite the fact that Utica has one of it's own, Angelo Roefaro, in a top position in Senator Schumer's Syracuse office.

Palmieri has said that, "We've done everything in our power to put the brakes on spending. I can't stop a train that's been on the tracks over the last six or seven years." Unfortunately, that must also mean that we are also not able to ask for money in order to stop the bleeding. Former Mayor Roefaro said he would have pursued the TIGER funding if he was still in office. That could have been applied to the yearly 2 million dollar street paving mandate that Utica must adhere to. And, I believe if he was, we would have gotten that grant.

But the Palmieri team keeps going on sweeps. Municipalities across the state are tapping into sources of funding to help turn their communities around while our leaders pick up gum wrappers and cigarette butts.

Way to go Mayor!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Propaganda-Palmieri Style

Propaganda- "A form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position."

That's the Wikepedia definition of the term that has been used for years to describe certain political activity, where the desired result is to convince the populace that a particular initiative is having a desired effect.

"Quality of Life Sweeps." That's the name of the current propaganda program that Mayor Palmieri and his followers are using to convince the citizens of Utica that all is under control, that this new administration at city hall has all the answers.

Unfortunately, the citizens who inhabit the troubled neighborhoods used as the stage to present these sweeps are beginning to question the effectiveness of the operation. When will things begin to get better, they wonder? And, the uncomfortable feeling that they are being exploited has begun to creep into their thoughts.

When Palmieri and his entourage fan out across the particular area chosen for the weekly press event, plenty of cameras are present and taking hundreds of pictures for local news outlets and Facebook. Department heads, police and fire officials, codes inspectors, administration loyalists, all assemble for a good, old fashioned, feet - on - the - street mixer.. Children on their bikes circle the mass of important  looking people that will, for a few moments, turn their neighborhood into the center of the universe. For them, it's a chance to glimpse themselves later on the local news. Sometimes, for maximum political impact, a child is interviewed for the camera. They are always prepped to say how happy they are that the mayor and his team really, really care about them!

The adults of the neighborhoods don't always look so happy. Residents on parole or probation nervously eye the proliferation of badges gleaming in the hot afternoon sun. Timid faces peer out from behind faded curtains and tattered blinds, wondering what will happen next. Suddenly, a bullhorn appears! The Mayor is in full control now, barking orders to the sweating, casually dressed department heads, codes inspectors and DPW workers milling about.

Paint brushes appear, and the Director of Planning paints a fire hydrant! The Fire Chief rolls in in his magnificently appointed SUV, directing the parade of fire trucks. Police car sirens flash, streets get swept, doubtful residents are assured that this is "only the beginning." Palmieri, sensing that the excitement of the event is about to peak, seizes the opportunity to reaffirm his constituents that these sweeps will continue to unfold, week after week, until the city has been restored to it's former glory.

Then, as fast as they appeared, they are gone. The codes violations are written, the debris has been swept away, the residents have been warned to "stay positive and keep your neighborhood clean!" Everyone is confident that they have given the people what they want - responsive, pro-active government. Back to the air-conditioned comfort of city hall, they quickly resume playing solataire on their desktops, checking to see if the pictures that were just snapped are posted to Facebook yet.

According to the Wikipedia definition, "Propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience." The sweeps are purely propaganda in its most basic form. The administration, bereft of ideas on how to change the direction of a city in crises, has instead chosen to pursue a weekly event designed to give the populace the sense that all is under control, the problems are being addressed and will be solved.

"Propoganda often presents facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented." If the TV stations show it on the news, if the local papers print it, it's got to be working! That's the sentiment behind the sweeps. Roll out a weekly press event, keep the cameras going, show that things are happening. The people will believe anything!

That's how successful propaganda works. And, Palmieri has become a master at it. You have to give the guy credit. He knows how to work the media. He gets his people on the street, and he works them into a frenzy. Desperate to keep their jobs, Masters Degree holding individuals paint hydrants, office workers pick up trash.

One thing seems to be missing-results. What are the outcomes? How does a neighborhood change after one sweep? How much does it cost to deploy the legion of officials every week to be used as extras in what has basically become a constantly running re-election event for a mayor desperately looking for positive press?

When asked, the administration is mum. The shroud of silence has descended over city hall. We won't know what the results are-at least not until re-election.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Utica-The Right Direction

What direction should Utica be headed in? The answer depends on who you are and how the current conditions that exist affect your daily life. Direction is subjective-we need to all agree on where to steer ourselves before we can arrive at where we want to be!

In a recent magazine article, San Francisco based designer Ken Faulk talked about his home in that magnificent west coast city and compared it to his second home in Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod. "I don't know that I can define it exactly," he began, referring to P-Town. " I love it's history and it's rich heritage as one of America's oldest arts colonies."

He went on. "in a weird way, it's like San Francisco. Both are slightly ramshackle places surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Both are rogue-like places where an odd assortment of people manage to live together harmoniously. It could all go terribly wrong, but it doesn't."

Wow. Could that description not apply to Utica?  For years, I have marveled at  the breathtaking scenery of the Mohawk Valley that envelops Utica in a lush tapestry of green. The rolling hills, meandering Mohawk River, the historic Erie Canal, all contribute to the natural beauty that we sometimes don't take the time to notice and appreciate.

And, who can deny the ramshackle quality of Utica? In a way, it's what gives us the charm and uniqueness that communities like San Fran and P-town celebrate and use to their advantage. Nobody remembers Stuccoed strip malls and one Applebee's from another. Everyone remembers what we have-charming, slightly run down but none the less wonderful architecture and places in Utica.

And, dare I say, a place that celebrates and bestows celebrity status on "Rainbow," the corner guitar playing street performer, is a place that can boast an odd assortment of people! In a way, it's our best quality. It's what enables us to accept different people, cultures and lifestyles, and not only embrace them, but make them feel at home. Everyone who comes here almost immediately feels invested in the place. It quickly becomes their home, too.

As Mr. Faulk so eloquently stated, it could all go terribly wrong here in Utica, too. But, for some reason, it doesn't.

So, how does a city like Utica use it's strengths to turn itself around? Building on it's history, heritage, natural resources and great citizenry is a start. I will examine in future articles my vision for what Utica needs to do to become successful. Using the example of communities that get it, I will be able to eventually arrive at a plan of how to jumpstart future success.

It won't be easy. Nothing worth fighting for ever is. And, it won't come politically. It has to be grass roots. Elected officials have proven time and time again in our town that they just don't get it.

Well, there a lot of folks who do get it. Hopefully, some of them will make suggestions that can be included in my examination of the journey that we need to take-together-to save our hometown.

At the Tram, the wonderful coffee house on Lincoln Ave, owners Robin and Garret have an old book on the shelf. It's called, "What Utica Needs." Written in the 1960's, it examines the city in the context of what the conditions were then and what needed to be done to correct the mistakes that had been made.

It's a great read. Unfortunately, very few, if any, of the authors suggestions were listened to or acted on. The "power elite" at the time were as disconnected from reality as today's crop of politicos are.

It's time to turn it around. And, unlike the '60's, we have the power of the internet and social media to get our message out! What Utica needs is......a new direction!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Utica-Are We Headed In The Right Direction?

There has been talk for years about where Utica is headed, what it wants to be. Are we any closer to achieving that vision today?

Rob Palmieri has been Mayor of Utica for six months. In that time, the city has been waiting for something to happen. Waiting for a direction, a message, an initiative. Something. Anything.

When the Roefaro administration imploded in 2011, it unwittingly laid the foundation for the eventual election of Palmieri. For some mysterious reason, Roefaro fired Palmieri and then dropped out of the race. Palmieri took advantage of this opportunity, ran for the seat, and was actually elected to replace the man who fired him!

The question is this: was Palmieri ready to become mayor? Did he have the chops necessary to take control of a city with the depth and complexity of issues that confront Utica?

After six months in office, I think we have our answer.

Economic Development

Utica has been in crisis since the downtown retail and business exodus that began in the 1950's. The cheap and abundant suburban land that developers took advantage of signaled the death knell of Utica's reign as the retail hub. First, came the New Hartford Shopping Center, then Riverside Mall. Finally, the Seneca wetlands were drained for Sangertown Square. Throughout those critical years, none of the Mayors of Utica or the people who worked for them were able to articulate a plan to counteract this disinvestment with a vision for downtown. So, we demolished buildings in the hope that developers would see that we too had land to develop.

It didn't work.

We were left with a battle scared landscape that made the city seem even more abandoned, even more hopeless. Architectural treasures that gave us our distinctive identity were destroyed in the hopes that someone would come in, develop the empty land and restore prosperty. Developers did not want anything to do with Utica. Oneida County Planning gave its stamp of approval to any and all sprawl development in the former farmlands and orchards that surround Utica, so there was no reason to look at the city anymore as a place to invest.

Is it all that different today? City Hall is silent about the future of downtown. The Masterplan sits on a shelf gathering dust, the street lights throughout downtown are in various states of disrepair, the vacancy rate of storefronts is silent testimony to a city that no one is willing to invest in. If there is a plan to help stimulate downtown and promote growth, no one knows what it is. Even the 5.2 million dollar parking garage money is shrouded in secrecy. How will it be spent? And where? More importantly, who will benefit? Secrecy. Lack of transparency. That seems to be the hallmark of Palmieri's city hall.

Public Safety

Rob Palmieri is dedicated to public safety. And why not? Throughout the years, Utica has built a police and fire department second to none in the state. Mayors of the city can assure its citizens that, no matter what, they will be safe. That translates well during an election campaign.  Palmieri knows this. And, his experience throughout the years working with public safety has, he claims, given him the experience necessary to handle these departments.

Has it? Utica spends almost all of it's resources on public safety. The problem is, we cannot afford it. We have not been able to for many years. Does Palmieri really know what to do to stop the hemorrhaging and streamline public safety into a manageable entity that the city can afford?

If the first six months of this administration is any example of what we can expect for the next three years, it appears that we will be paying for the same level of staffing that we have today. Maybe more.


The Palmieri administration love it's sweeps, a weekly feel good photo-op that shows the citizens that city hall is connected, that it cares. Week after week, we are treated to sweaty department heads trudging through the mean streets of our most marginal neighborhoods, picking up gum wrappers and squinting their most concerned looks for the cameras that follow their every move. Facebook posts hundreds of these photos for all the "Friends" of the administration to follow. The only problem seems to be this: what are the outcomes? Where are the stats that justify this weekly parade of public servants cataloguing the problems that confront our city? Does anything actually get better or is this just an exercise in marketing an administration that is long on talk and short on solutions?


A city like Utica needs to be lead by someone with bold vision. Ed Hanna had vision. Unfortunately, his investments in our city were not sustainable. Tim Julian started out with vision, but lost it after his second term. Dave Roefaro had vision, but unfortunately it was not his, so he could not maintain it.

That leaves Rob Palmieri. What is his vision? Where does he see our city headed? The biggest problem with our current mayor is, no one knows. He does not share. He won't tip his hand. His vision, if he has one, is that it's good and we are gonna like it. No need to share it. We might ask questions. We may not like everything he wants to do.

We may even have our own ideas for the direction our city is headed!

Utica, our poor little beat-up hometown, has been ruled like a banana republic for years. The natives have sat back and let city hall dictate for so long, we don't remember what is was like to have a voice.
The city slides further into decline, and  we wait for salvation. Our tax dollars are spent faster than the comptroller's office can collect them,  and we hope for a solution. The city gets a little more out of control and we say, maybe this time they will fix it.

It does not appear that the current crop of "Leaders" will be doing any fixing any time soon!

Utica-Condition still critical!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Historic Old St. John's Honors Utica Monday Nite Founder Lynn Mishalanie

Even though the much loved "Utica Monday Nite" series came to a close this year, the Sacred Music Concert Series, long a Monday Nite favorite, was ressurescted by The Historic Old St. John's Choir on Monday, June 11, 2012.  Rev. John Buehler, Pastor of the downtown landmark, planned the concert as a way to pay tribute to UMN founder Lynn Mishalanie.

 The stunningly restored interior of St. John's was cooled by it's new central air conditioning unit, to the delight of the near capacity crowd seeking relief from the late spring heat that unexpectedly took hold in the city. Many familiar faces, some stalwart UMN volunteers, others dedicated attendees, filled the church in anticipation of the musical selections to be presented by the Choir of St. Johns. Lead by longtime music director and organist Angela Nassar, the concert was opened with "Joyful, Joyful ,We Adore You (Hymn of Joy)" by Ludwig Van Beethoven. One selection, "The Prayer," by Carol Bayer Sager and David Foster, was powerfully presented by soloists Jill Bush and Patrick Marthage. The appreciative audience rose to it's feet for a standing ovation at the conclusion of the song, and would not sit down before the two dynamic soloists took a bow. The Battle Hymn of The Republic concluded the concert, but not before Rev. Buehler rose to present Lynn with a huge bouquet of white roses edged with red. According to Father, Historic old St. John's had been a part of the UMN Sacred Music Series since it's inception. The choir felt that there was no better way to show their appreciation to Lynn for all that she has done to promote the arts than to use their gifts and talents to honor her.The concert was their way of saying "thank you" for all that she has done to promote arts in the Utica area and for giving sacred music a venue to be heard by all.

 Lynn graciously accepted the bouquet and, not used to or being comfortable with such a show of love and appreciation from the community, thanked everyone for the honor that they had bestowed upon her by being present for not only that night's concert, but for the entire fifteen years of UMN.

 And then it was over. As the crowd filtered out of the church, I could not help but feel the huge loss that our city has experienced with the end of UMN. Yes, the program's mission was to promote the arts and celebrate the tradition of Monday night downtown shopping that existed for decades in Utica. But, it was so much more! Utica Monday Night was an economic development tool. By putting Downtown Utica on a stage every Monday, we were able to show that the city was clean, safe, friendly, and open for business! No other local marketing program did as much to promote the city as did Lynn and UMN. Over 40,000,00 calendars were printed and distributed throughout the region every year to promote Utica and UMN. The "Cultural Corridor, " a term crafted by Lynn to give our region an identity, exposed the amazing talent and diversity of the arts in our community.

 Initially, local government "got it" and supported the program. As the years progressed, the angry, suspicious and mean spirited tenor of our politicians began to peck away at the funding. Local corporate support began to diminish as well. By 2011, Lynn, with UMN deeply in debt and the economic downturn being used as an excuse by elected officials to pull all funding, decided to close the curtain on the 2012 season.

 The enormity of the loss of UMN is not even yet known by those who benefitted from it. The city has lost it's only true marketing and promotional vehicle. The citizens have lost a reason to explore the city every Monday night. The elected officials congratulate themselves and wax on about how they are "cutting costs and keeping us safe." But, at what price?

 During WW2, with bombs dropping over London, and with the treasury nearly empty, advisors to Winston Churchill suggested cutting all funding to the arts. Close the museums, shutter the theaters, end all the concerts. Save the money for what was "truly important."

 Mr. Churchill refused. His reasoning was clear and simple. "If we do that," he stated, "then what are we fighting for?"

 Where is our Winston Churchill?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saturday Demolition Strikes Again In Downtown Utica

The Bleecker Street block that was the subject of controversy due to the sketchy purchase/demolition arrangement crafted by former Mayor Roefaro was hastily demolished yesterday by the city. Apparently, Mayor Palmieri decided to allow his Engineering and DPW staff to assemble on a weekend to smash into obvilion yet another downtown building. It reminds me of the destruction of the Albert Hotel that was carried out in much the same way.

Back in the early 1990's, the Albert Hotel in Downtown Utica was an imposing structure. Located on the east side of Genesee St, it was attached to the north wall of the Masonic Temple. The front of the structure was a solid red brick facade trimmed with granite. It housed two basement level store fronts. One of these was the wonderous "Littlecote Hobby Shop" located in the left side shop. As a child I spent many an hour in that shop purchasing the tiny bottles of "Testers Ply" model paint and other accessories needed for my latest creation!

 Upstairs was the "Christian Science Reading Room." Two pink damask chairs flanked a mohogony table with a brass reading lamp with a green toile shade in the front window overlooking Genesee St. The mise-en-scene was so inviting, I was always tempted to go in, sit in one of those chairs, grab a book and acquaint myself with the teachings of that religion! I never did, however.

Up the remaining stairs and through the towering double walnut front doors with etched glass panels  was the Albert Hotel. Housed in a gargantuan renaissance revival mansion that had been converted in the post war (WW1) building boom, the Albert was a gracious and elegant residence that catered to travelers and long term residents. Its enormous rooms still boasted the rich details of the Victorian era in Utica. Carved marble mantelpieces with plate glass pier mirrors above, walnut pocket doors with fancifully etched panels and floor to ceiling, shuttered windows greeted guests looking for lodging.

By the 1990's the hotel was not in operation and the storefronts were empty. In Utica, that seems to be all the reason you need to justify demolition. Unlike other cities that use their historic buildings to spur renewal, we demolish ours. The Masonic temple decided it needed parking. The city initially rejected their plan, saying that the building was indeed important, historic, and should be preserved.

The solution? Knock it down anyway. But, do it on a Saturday, when the media is absent and downtown is deserted.

That solution was ressurected yesterday to eliminate the Bleecker St block. Sneak it through on a Saturday, when the city is unaware and maybe no one will notice. But people do notice. And, they continue to be disgusted by the apparent lack of concern over the systematic dismantleing of our city by elected officials that come and go-but leave a wake of destruction that we may never recover from.

The Bleecker St. building was actually four buildings constructed over the years, joined together as was the custom before codes and zoning laws created the open, wind swept desolation of the modern era. The original building, located in the center, was an 1840's era grange hall. In the 1870's, the front steeple-like entrance was removed and the strorefront facade added to create an expansive mercantile block. The smaller side wings, actually stand alone structures, were added later as well.

Throughout the years many notable businesses occupied the block. "Winners" ladies apparel was an early tenant that lasted for many years. In the '80's the wonderful "Serendipity,"a novelty food and gift shop occupied the small single storefront on the east. The building also housed many antiques and collectable shops over the years, providing downtown with the kind of retail tenants that every successful small city tries to nurture and preserve.

Not in Utica. When the building was sold several years ago, the tenants were removed, the building was haphazardly boarded and left to rot. And rot it did!

The original structure was the one that failed. Because of defered maintenance, with the city apparently looking the other way, the structure fell into ruin and the grange hall roof collapsed. In Utica that can mean only one thing-imminent demolition.

The huge cost of tipping fees and labor  that it will eventually cost us, the taxpayers, for the demolition, could have been invested in another approach-selective demolition. Remove the original hall, preserve the store fronts and side wings, and create a courtyard where the original building stood. Grant money could be used to finance the project. In fact, the building was on the list of  potential projects that  the Main St. grant that was already received identified and could have helped finance.

Not in Utica. We don't follow the successful models of other cities that get it. We are still in the 1970's, when demolition was the redevelopment tool of choice. We are not even following our own Masterplan, which calls for the innovative type of projects that I have proposed here.

Utica has been at the mercy of mayoral administrations over the years that have, because of their lack of knowledge, incredible hubris, and apparent love of vacant lots, demolished much of what made our city great-it's amazing architecture.  The current administration has a vision for what downtown is going to be. Unfortunately, no one knows what that vision may be. A Saturday morning demolition hints at what that vision is. The continued demolition of our city will continue, and will happen when you least expect it.

What's next? HSBC? The New Century Club? The Cathoilc Women's Club?  The Charlotte St. block across from the courthouse appears to be the next group of buildings on the chopping block. When will we learn that a city is not made up of empty lots and surface parking strung between several banks and government offices? An exciting, vibrant city is made up of the kinds of businesses and occupants that the buildings we keep tearing down could hold.

But, not in Utica.

It seems that, the more things change, the more they stay the same.