Here's Why Ithaca, New York is BAD for BUSINESS: A friendly warning from the Free Enterprise Alliance of Ithaca.
by Paul Glover
Are you considering doing business in Ithaca, New York? Not only is Ithaca located in the rust belt of notorious New York state, with high taxes, high utility rates and over-regulation, but it has the following special distinctions: Environmentalists here have stopped construction of four-lane highways essential to moving goods and workers. Ithaca is the only metropolis in this state isolated from the four-lane network. Bicyclists routinely clog the streets during rush hour with "mass bike rides" to protest automobiles!
Desperate for room to move through this narrow valley, business interests were able only to gain modest enlargement of the main arterial, whose "design year" (when traffic is expected to clog again) is only ten years away.
Take to the air? There is only one airline at the airport, and the only courier service recently pulled out.
Might you want to manufacture something someone could regard as harmful? You might want to speak with Therm, Inc., which manufactures jet engine components, about the damage to reputation they endure from constant picketing, prayer vigils, and bad press. Self-appointed environmental "activists" will snoop around your property looking for toxic discharge.
You might want to interview other local industries about public attacks on their racial hiring policies. African-Americans are virtually excluded from employment in industry and government, and are scarcely visible, even in retail. This creates explosive social conditions.
Ithaca has the highest crime rate in New York State, outside New York City.
You might want to ask M & T Bank about the welcome it received in 1994, when its racial lending policies were a matter of public debate. "Socially Responsible Investing" is quite the rage too, with Cornell now being subject to a critical review of its portfolio.
You might want to ask Wal-Mart, Taco Bell and McDonald's why they have either closed or not opened stores here. The renegade population prefers home-grown shopping, and has been quite hostile to several chains.
Nearly every store selling something "objectionable" has been picketed.
Even one of the local shops was shut down after two weeks of picketing for "unfair labor practices."
Try to fire someone-- there is an army of slackers demanding higher wages. Since Tompkins County's rate of unemployment is the lowest in New York State, try to HIRE someone! Unruly smart-aleck student "workers" are backed by the Tompkins-Cortland Labor Coalition. The Human Rights Commission is ready to defend the defenseless.
Who are these Ithacans? They are "knee-jerk obstructionists," according to Mayor Alan Cohen, and they've made life miserable for a generation of respectable people.
They have physically destroyed a bank (1972), sabotaged construction sites and billboards, smashed laboratories at Cornell, stolen military documents.
They have combined into dozens of "activist" ˘organizations. For such restlessness Ithaca was honored by the leftist publication Utne Reader as "America's Most Enlightened City."
Perhaps the police could control this? Ask cops what they think of the Police Community Review Board, which arrests officers for "abuses." During the Persian Gulf war, radical judges refused to prosecute radicals who took over the IRS office (the IRS office has since moved away to Syracuse, for your convenience).
Perhaps public officials could exert a stabilizing influence? Today, every City Council member is a radical disguised as a "democrat." The winner of the 1988 Democratic primary was Jesse Jackson. The socialist mayor for eight years was narrowly defeated by a Perot fanatic, because the socialist was not considered radical enough! Even Ralph Nader did very well here in 1996. The Tompkins County Board of Supervisors has burdened business with the highest sales tax in the region: 8%.
Perhaps the bureaucrats could calm things down. But like everything else, red tape is redder in this town, and planners steer construction and consultancy contracts to a handful of buddies.
These people are so contrary that they have set up their own independent bank, independent markets and unions, and even print their own money!
Maybe you could handle all this. You'd like raise your family in a small, wholesome city. But were you to visit the downtown Commons with your children, you'd be subjected to curses and abuse. Try to relax at home, and find your kids tuning in raw pornography on the local cable channel.
Send your kids to public school and they'd come home preaching love for nature. One of the high schools, in fact, allows its students to set policy and define the curriculum.
Your own home is not safe: there are frequent angry marches of "underpaid" union employees through Cayuga Heights, our loveliest district.
So maybe you'd escape to the countryside for a rest. Surrounded by wild soggy forests full of mosquitos and rabid raccoons, your family is likely to bump into gangs of nudists in state parks.
This is a country backwater, remote from serious culture. Like to dress well? This is the land of slobs. Suits and ties are openly laughed at.
Take solace in religion? Listen to pagan drums sounding from the hills.
There's still the cheerful sun, though, 51 days yearly-- fewer days than Seattle.
Glover was founder of Ithaca HOURS local currency, the Ithaca Health Alliance, Philadelphia Orchard Project, Citizen Planners of Los Angeles, and a dozen more organizations. He taught urban studies at Temple University and has written six books on grassroots economies. http://paulglover.org