Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rankings Rankle Site Selection Magazine Critics

It's one of those feel good items that appears in the newspaper, a bit of positive news for the community. Like your city was voted Daffodil Capital of Some Arbitrarily-Defined Section of the United States or your town has The Most Smiles Per Square Inch Than Any Other Town With Elm Trees.

Now I could say something about Plattsburgh being The Most Dogshitty Community East Of The Mississippi but that's a topic for another day. I'm here to talk about micropolitan ratings.

The term micropolitan, as defined by Site Selection magazine, refers to a municipality with a population of between 10,000 to 50,000 people that covers at least one county. And Site Selection is known to ranking micropolitans for being the best for economic development.

Recently Plattsburgh (which includes both city and town) ranked #25 on the 2010 micropolitan list compared to other such areas in the country. It has racked up some impressive ratings over the years on this list. According to the Press-Republican, Plattsburgh ratings have been: 2002 #3, 2003 #2, 2004 #4, 2005 #7, 2006 #12, 2007 #19, and 2008 #14. I couldn't locate a rating for 2009 but this list is still impressive.

But recently in the Press-Republican Speakout forum, a feature that allows people to anonymously comment on news topics via email, someone was unimpressed with Site Selection magazine and its rankings. Here's the comment dated 3/27/11 entitled "Magazine:"

Site Selection Magazine rates Plattsburgh #25. Whoever heard of Site Selection? With a worldwide circulation of 44,000, it just sits around the offices of those who advertise in it, and they use the rating system to generate more advertising revenue. Wake up, North Country, we are led by a bunch of snake-oil salesmen telling what we want to want/need to hear to keep our hopes alive. Meanwhile, our children leave town as fast as they can because this community offers them nothing.

Wow. Now there was a sour note in contrast to the praises being sung by Mayor Donald Kasprzak and Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Bernie Bassett for Site Selection magazine.

(No, I didn't write that Speakout. If I want to say something, I say it with my name in this blog.)

So the commenter raised some interesting points.

What is Site Selection magazine? Well, outside of a brief description in various Press-Republican articles, I didn't know. Time for some digging via Google.

At its website -- -- Site Selection describes its editorial mission as publishing "information for expansion planning decision-makers — CEOs, corporate real estate executives and facility planners, human resource managers and consultants to corporations. Our goal is to help the expansion planner do a better job."

Of course, in the world of big business, a company's structure can be like a set of Russian nesting dolls, one inside another. On the SS site I learned that besides being published by an entity called Conway Data Inc., the magazine is also "the official publication of the Industrial Asset Management Council."

And what is the IAMC? At its site -- -- the organization is described as "a member-focused association providing strategic insights, highest quality educational resources and exclusive networking opportunities for the leaders of the manufacturing and industrial asset management industry."

On IAMC's Officers and Board of Directors are individuals representing corporations like Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, DuPont Company, 3M Real Estate, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals Group, Kellogg Company and GlaxoSmithKline.

Exclusive networking opportunities, indeed.

The Speakout comment stated that Site Selection magazine uses its ratings to generate more ad revenue. I'm one of those readers who finds a problem when it comes to a certain type of article-ad placement in a publication. For example, there was a small local newspaper that used to have a half-page article featuring a business, talking it up. The bottom half of the same page was a display ad for the same business.

I've see this with national publications like a photography magazine that would have a write-up about a new camera and then in the same issue there's a full page ad by the company that made the camera.

The latest edition of Site Select is available online as a PDF file -- Flipping through it one notices a pattern: an article talking up Texas is followed by display ads related to Texas businesses and organizations. An article about big projects in Wyoming is followed by a full page ad promoting wind-farming in Wyoming.

Not to say that Site Selection is not on the up-and-up but it doesn't look that impartial with such an article-ad arrangement. The older issues of SS aren't available in PDF, just the articles, but I did find a special advertising section -- -- dated May 2003 entitled "Empires Big and Small" that discussed opportunities in New York State. One item of this feature was headlined "PARC Your Business in Plattsburgh," which tooted the horn for the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation. Now since this page was called a special ad section, I would assume the articles were advertorials, paid for by New York State or other governmental entities. Your tax dollars at work.

My Google search did reveal some interesting criticism of Site Selection. I came across an article dated May 1, 2008 -- "N.C. Business Climate Unworthy of Praise" -- talking about North Carolina being ranked for having one of the best business climates. In the piece -- -- the writer Brian Balfour stated:

"Site Selection Magazine is a publication targeted to economic developers' and location consultant types. In other words it is a cheerleader for corporate welfare.

"State lawmakers should be embarrassed about being ranked number one on this list because it merely reflects the extent that North Carolina needs to bribe businesses to locate here."

Balfour challenges Site Selection's methodology for rating “best business climate," saying that it really measures "which states are engaged in the highest amount of corporate welfare activity."

This does give an interesting perspective on Plattsburgh's high rating. The area is know for being economically depressed, meaning that many people are unemployed or underemployed. So Plattsburgh rates so high because it rates so low for decent employment and wages.

Like the Speakout critic says, many younger people are leaving the area because there's bupkis for professional employment -- unless you consider slinging burgers or working in a grimy factory "professional."

And getting back to that site criticizing North Carolina for making the Site Selection rank so positive when in fact it indicated how bad things were, the state willing to engage in "corporate welfare." Now when I hear that phrase I usually associated it with a liberal critic of American capitalism. But the web site is run by the John W. Pope Civitas Institute -- North Carolina's Conservative Voice.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Great Moments In Fiction Writing

When it comes to entertainment I'm not that critical, especially with the superheroic kind. Fantastic Four, Spider-Man -- I grew up reading that stuff, comic book adventures.

But as an adult I wince at some of the bad writing in those 12¢ wonders. Nowadays comic books are supposed to be more sophisticated, taking on pretensions like slapping a bunch o' issues into one book and calling it a "graphic novel." How dignified.

Even Marvel Comics has shed the "comic" part to become Marvel Characters, Inc. [TM]. Looks better in the stock market listings. Very dignified.

Superheroes are now more "adult." Their chroniclers strive to be modern Shakespeare's, delving so deeply into the human condition. That's nice.

But despite all the adultification and more erudite stories, most comic books still feature hack writing, even when the same material is reconstituted into a prose paperback novel, an attempt to be more literary (no four-color drawings and word balloons).

For your consideration. "The Ultimates: Tomorrow Men" by Jan Michael Friedman (Pocket Star Books - Marvel Press, 2006). It features various Marvel "Characters" [TM] like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. You know Thor, don't you, the Norse god with the big hammer and beard? Even though he hails from Asgard, a mythological character dating back to the days of the Vikings, he's now [TM] Marvel Com-- I mean, Marvel Characters, Inc.

As author of "Tomorrow Men," Friedman has his talents, but if you wanna get beyond bubblegum brigade readers (to use Stan Lee's term) you have to write better than this:

Page 45: Thor chuckled into his beard.

Page 96: Thor chuckled in his beard.

So does Thor chuckle in or into his beard? What else beard-wise does he do? Does he upchuck in or into his facial hair?

Such questions only arise from bad writing. And such questions also interrupt the narrative flow, wrenching the reader by his balls out of the fantasy world the writer has created.

After all, this work has the imprint of Marvel Characters, Inc. [TM]. One expects better ink from an Inc.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sign Of Spring: Rotting Halloween Pumpkins

These guys have been hanging around since October 2010. I'm waiting for them to melt in the warmer weather, sliming someone from their second story ledge.

Take Pride, Downtown Plattsburgh!

Click on image for larger/uglier view.

Deja Vu All Over Again

One definition of insanity is doing the same exact thing and expecting a different result.

Plattsburgh City is either insane or just plain stupid when it comes to its public library. Ignoring problems doesn't mean they will magically disappear.

Leaky ceiling. 3/12/11. Look familiar?

Check out this photo from March 23, 2010:

A year later and what has been done? NOTHING!

Deteriorating front steps to the library. 3/23/11. Look familiar? Check out this image from March 8, 2007:

Four years later and the steps are still falling apart. Band-aids don't work. Spend money now and fix the problems once and for all. Or let more taxpayer money be wasted again on half-ass patch jobs that cost much more in the long run.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Yesterday evening a supermoon rose into the sky.

And what was so "super" about it? Didn't it look like any other full moon?

Yes, except it was 12% larger and 30% brighter than your ordinary full moon crossing the night sky. Supermoon refers to an event when either a new or full moon is closest to our planet. What you see in my images hasn't been observed in 18 years.

Elitists in astronomical or scientific circles prefer the term perigee-syzygy over supermoon. Syzygy denotes full or new moon while perigee means closest approach to the earth. Same thing, fancier handle. Apparently the sci elite think that supermoon lends itself to rude childish jokes -- as if Uranus doesn't.

(Brings to mind a story. Back in the dim past when I was in college, I was a reporter on the student newspaper. I had to get up early one Saturday morn to conduct an interview an astronomer lecturing at the campus, an assignment handed down by my editor. The astronomer was an OK guy but I was tired and a bit snarky. This astronomer and two of his colleagues had recently discovered rings around Uranus. So I asked the inevitable question. I noted that the astronomer preferred the pronunciation "YUR uh nuhs.")

And to round out your supermoon knowledge: There's speculation that the increased gravitational pull of the moon during a supermoon event is responsible for natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis but nothing has been proven. The consensus is that there is no connection.

NOTES ON IMAGES: The shot of the moon and the "UFO" (the lights atop the towering pole in the downtown Plattsburgh parking lot) was cropped but the size of the moon wasn't changed. The only other photo-editing was adjusting the color balance of the moon (I hate a blue moon). The images with the clock and signposts involved composite images and level adjustments. Due to the limited depth of field, I shot a series of images, the foreground object in focus, then the moon in focus, and combined the in-focus images into one. Fill flash was used for the foreground object. And, yes, I did enlarge the moon a bit when after I pasted it in but not that much, placing it in the same location. I think I'm allowed 12% on 12%.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Video Link For Nerds

If you're a nerd -- especially one with a sense of humor -- then you might enjoy this link:

If you're not a nerd -- Beware!

Solution To The Dog Problem

For too many years I've documented the dogshit problem in Plattsburgh, especially at my blog Dogtown 12901. It's a problem that city never acknowledges. Maybe the thinking is that if you don't see it, it's not there. Unless you step in it and have to scrape off your shoes.

A college professor specializing in quotidian metaphysical studies, Dr. I.M. Farout, says he has the answer.

He explained to the possible solution to me during a recent interview. As he sucked on his pipe, the air in his office permeated with a strange odor suggestive of South American hallucinogens, Dr. Farout said the answer lay in a variation of feng shui (pronounced fung shway). Feng shui is a Chinese form of aesthetics that tries to relate man's environment with nature.

For example, the location of furniture in someone's living room could have good feng shui, explained Dr. Farout. Putting a chair near a large window where sunlight comes in would be better than in a darker corner of the room where artificial light is needed. Working with nature is important, trying to receive positive qi (or what the hippies used to call good vibes).

So how does this tie in with the dogshit problem in Plattsburgh?

Dr. Farout says that dogshit is a part of nature. There should be no problem with it being found every fifteen feet in any direction in the city. One must accept the cycle of nature. He advocates a variation of feng shui called dung sway, letting dogs shit wherever they want.

I asked Dr. Farout how this was any different than what the city was doing, just ignoring the problem. I never got a reply because he had put down his pipe and was snoring.

Maybe next time.

[Note: Dr. I.M. Farout shouldn't be confused with Mike Royko's Dr. I.M. Kookie. ]

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bang! Too Bad – It’s Just An Accident

Around 4 PM today I was walking along on a sidewalk when a young woman backing out of her driveway in a SUV almost struck me. Obviously she wasn’t looking, didn’t care. I was lucky; the only thing that was broken was my umbrella.

I contacted the Plattsburgh City PD and after a while an officer arrived on the scene. I explained the situation to the officer. I was walking down the sidewalk when the minivan sped out of the driveway. The driveway is over 20 feet long so she had plenty of room to build up speed.

I looked to my left side, spotted the vehicle, fell back, my umbrella clipping the minivan.

I yelled at the driver but she yelled back at me as if I was at fault. She wanted to get into a shouting match, maybe more, but I held back, deciding there was a better way to deal with the matter. (Or so I thought.) Then she left. A neighbor heard what happened and came out. The neighbor told me who the driver was someone who always backed out of the driveway at a good clip without looking.

Apparently the driver lives in the same apartment with people who have been disturbing the area with loud parties and a barking dog at night. Plus throw in the usual Plattsburgh decoration, dogshit.

I told the police officer that I had been putting up with the noise and dogshit problems for some time and didn’t bother to call, but this incident I couldn’t ignore.

According to NY State law, said the officer, he couldn’t do anything. It was just an accident. He said he couldn't give her a ticket for unsafe backing. From what I gathered I had more of a case if I pursued the noise violations. The officer said I could pursue the matter of my broken umbrella in small claims court.

I’m aware how law enforcement can be limited by its options at times. But still, if I had been hit, seriously injured or killed, it would just remain a little accident?

The incident occurred near the Oak Street Elementary School entrance on Margaret Street. Kids from that school do use the same sidewalk. The crosswalk from the school is just a few feet away from the driveway where I was almost hit.

Over the years there have been other incidents where I was almost struck by a careless driver. With each incident I had the right of way on a city crosswalk.

Motor vehicles operators are told to practice defensive driving. Pedestrians in Peeburgh should practice defensive walking.

The quick and the dead.

[Note: This post was revised at 6:34 PM, 3/11/11. Edited for clarity, typos fixed, other details added.]

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Flubbing The Forecast

Why does WCAX-TV keep showing botched clips on its weather forecast subchannel?

The embedded video shows a WCAX-TV weather forecaster Dan Dowling messing up his line, walking off screen, and then returning to try it again. It aired today in the evening -- repeatedly.

What's amusing about this clip is that it wasn't live, it was recorded and put in rotation on the WCAX sub-channel 3.2 . Apparently no one at Channel 3 in Burlington, VT believes in doing a retake, replacing the flubbed forecast with an error-free one. This clip could've have been edited, cutting out the misspoken line in the beginning.

This isn't the first time I'm see a bad clip repeated on 3.2 . About a couple of weeks ago another forecaster, Sharon Meyer, had her own problematic segment that was shown more than once. Unfortunately, I didn't catch it in time to record it but it was funnier than this one. In the botched take Sharon walked out but the blue screen in the background didn't show the temps. She stopped, complaining that her clicker didn't work. She walked off, came back, and started the forecast again, this time the proper background showing up. Suddenly she decided nothing was working and so she walked off, disgusted, leaving some dead air behind. If anyone has a copy of that one, please share.

OK, TV reporters are human and make mistakes. But why keep running a ruined take over and over again? Digital ain't that hard to edit or redo. That's the kind of unprofessionalism I would expect from WPTZ, Plattsburgh's TV station.

Monday, March 07, 2011


Six months of winter. Major snowstorms in March. Gee, what's not to like?

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Justice For Christopher?

Christopher Rigsbee and his injuries right after an assault back in November.

Early morning, November 19th, 2010. The Plattsburgh City Police Department is contacted after Christopher Rigsbee and his girlfriend are assaulted on the street.

What lead up to the assault? Chris and his girlfriend were walking to a friend's house when some people on a porch taunted Chris, calling him "faggot" and "queer." Chris verbally confronted the group and they physically responded, knocking out three of his teeth, stomping his head in the pavement.

That brutal attack occurred over three months ago. What has happened since then?

Apparently not much. No arrests have been made. No follow-ups in the local media or any statements from the Plattsburgh PD. No mention of the case at the police department Web site (, not even a request for information from any citizens who might know something. On February 3rd a public demonstration had been scheduled near the location where Chris and his girlfriend had been assaulted but it was canceled.

Is the story slipping down the memory hole?

I hate using unnamed sources but...

According to a source aware of the situation, Chris has been trying to work with the police. The PD asked him to cancel the February 3rd rally because it would interfere with their investigation. Chris agreed. Two weeks ago the detective working the case was going to contact Chris for a meeting regarding the progress of the investigation. That meeting was canceled. The detective was supposed to contact Chris last week but once again, nothing.

The source says that Chris is considering legal action if the Plattsburgh PD doesn't respond to his inquiries. Even though he was the victim, Chris had to file a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request to get information from the police, paying a $25 fee out of his own pocket. The police have a month to reply to his FOIL request.

I hate using the word on the street but...

Some cynics think the PD is trying to delay taking any direct action, hoping that Chris will give up and let the matter just fade away. Why? According to the cynical speculation, one or more of the attackers has connections. Also, it's rumored that one attacker is a college student with a scholarship that he might lose if charges are made.

The Plattsburgh police are known to be tight-lipped about their operations. Even local reporters have problems getting details on investigations. The PD claims that revealing out too much info will interfere with ongoing cases. In too many instances, anyone making inquiries is told to file a FOIL request, being forced to work through the bureaucracy and waiting for results, if any. For the most part, so it's said, the media just give in and let the PD have its way.

Speculation and rumors spread, an example of poor public relations for a city department that is supposed to be serving the community. And while investigations have to be thorough, some wonder why this one has gone on for so long without any apparent movement.