Don’t let the Recorder tell you that you have no say in what AIDA does

Posted: September 23, 2013 in Economic Development
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The publisher and editors at The Recorder – Kevin McClary, Kevin Mattison and Charlie Kraebel – are apparently ignorant of the definition of “Public Benefit Corporation.” In yet another scathing editorial about the mural situation released on Thursday, September 19, 2013, they assert:

The project has come to a grinding halt after Mayor Ann Thane and a few other city residents stepped in and demanded — even though they don’t own the building and have absolutely no say over it — that a mural on the second floor be preserved, claiming it has historic significance. (emphasis added)

That statement is at best a gross distortion.  No matter where you stand on this particular issue, you should not believe for a second that the public does not have any say in what AIDA does. Here are some facts:

AIDA was commissioned in 1973 as a Public Benefit Corporation.  The section of NY State law that recognizes AIDA reads:

For the benefit of the city of Amsterdam and the inhabitants thereof, an industrial development agency, to be known as the CITY OF AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY, is hereby established for the accomplishment of any or all of the purposes specified in title one of article eighteen-A of this chapter...Its members shall be appointed by the governing body of the city of Amsterdam. –  Source

Because AIDA is supposed to operate for the benefit of the people of the City of Amsterdam, board members of AIDA are appointed by the Common Council. That way, they are held accountable for the decisions they make.  Yes, AIDA has the authority to make the final decision on this matter, not the mayor. But as a citizen of the City of Amsterdam, whether you think the mural should be saved or not, you do absolutely have every right to have your say on this matter just as you do on any other matter of public policy. And the Common Council, as your elected representatives, should take everyone’s opinions into consideration when it comes to appointing new AIDA board members in the future.

  1. Bill Wills says:

    Tim I am going to test your belief that everyone has a right to have a say in the matter of the mural on the second floor of the former United Way Bldg. I asked the Mayor to note what historic significance the mural that was painted on the side of City Hall had. I did some research on both the painted City Hall Mural and the United Way Bldg. mural. Wesley Moat the so called artist of the United Way bldg. mural was an accomplished oarsman. The mural that was painted on the Historic City Hall has no historic significance thereby constituting as graffitti or defacement of an historic bldg.

    The point to be taken here is that before you pass judgement on others and their comments make sure that you leave yourself open for criticism on backing the position of an individual who’s artistic and historic knowledge is questionable.

  2. Tim Becker says:

    I’m honestly not sure I understand your point. Perhaps if you can rephrase, I would understand a little better.

    However, if you want to compare the mural painted on the outside of city hall to the one inside the building in questions, I have these thoughts…

    First, if someone were genuinely opposed to painting the side of city hall, I might debate against that position, however I would never in a million years tell that person they have “no say” in the matter. City Hall is a public property, AIDA is a public benefit corporation. Certain people are in authority to make decisions in those areas, but ultimately they all are accountable to the public.

    Secondly, I reject the idea that unless the artist of a work is known and is “famous”, that a painting has no historical value. That type of thinking is only applicable if you are going to sell a painting at auction. Even if Karin Hetrick never becomes a famous painter, if the mural is still there 100 years from now, city residents may decide they want to preserve it simply for what it is.

    • Bill Wills says:

      Tim, once again you missed the point. You cannot alter the appearance of an historic bldg. Without the approval of SHIPO. Again this is in reference to my statement regarding knowledge. Your position is that there should be some kind of discussion and/or debate which was not the case with the City Hall mural. Please take your blinders off and look at what’s happening to Amsterdam. There should be more discussion on economic progress than on whether two murals are historic or not. For example what happened to the revised zoning plan that some of us spent a considerable amount of time on.!

    • Tim Becker says:

      I understand your point better now that you have clarified it, thank you. Like I said, I honestly wasn’t sure what you were saying.

      And I like I said in my comment, I would never tell anyone they don’t have a say in what happens to the city hall building. If you think there should have been more discussion on it, I won’t argue with that. I think, actually, I do get your point. You shouldn’t assume I’m being partisan here.

      I know full well the real issue is not about murals. If you’ve really been reading the ideas in my blog, I have no idea why you would suggest I have “blinders” on.

      How Amsterdam grows economically is basically what I’ve been writing about for for several years now. I have advocated that the best route for Amsterdam to grow is to compete as a *city* and that involves preserving and building up our community culture, of which the mural is but one small part of. All great cities value this.

      You have advocated in past comments that we *give up* being a city (consolidation). And given that, it doesn’t surprise me that you don’t value this particular piece of our culture. I think the mural is somewhat of a litmus test as to how one views the future of Amsterdam. Do we build up our culture and identity as a *city* or do we give up and tear everything down to make way for big businesses to set up shop anywhere and take advantage of our water and sewage infrastructure? If you don’t see the influence of big money in the grand scheme of things in this region and how that plays out in little spats like the mural thing, I would suggest you check your own blinders 🙂

      • Bill Wills says:

        Thank you for your response. I believe we are both on the right track. However, I wonder why iinstead of putting out good ideas you don’t become more involved in implementing them as an elected official. We need a few good people.!

      • Tim Becker says:

        Well thanks, maybe I will consider that down the road. But I think there are plenty of ways I can put these ideas into action without being elected to a position. Involvement in the neighborhood watch for the past 5 years is one way I feel I’ve done that. There’s been small but very real progress made in the group I am in, alot of it can’t be documented though out of respect for people’s privacy. Raising a family here and building my business here are two other ways.

  3. diane says:

    Tim, Part of the problem with the city hall mural, there was no discussion. It was done and that was it. The mayor does not feel the need to get approval from the council for much of what she does with the city hall property, or the arts center. Communication is very important part of the success of any project 🙂

  4. karin says:

    The mural at City Hall was painted on a crumbling wall in the Rose Garden. Not on the actual building. The wall it was painted on was nothing but a large pile of fallen, broken bricks – that happened because of decades of neglect on the grounds of City Hall. The mural was painted to enhance the Rose Garden. Many people enjoy this mural, they have taken wedding pictures and high school pictures in front of this mural. The mural was painted with paint donated to the City Paint Bank and we used all of our own supplies. I remember Mr. Wills saying he thought the mural was very nice. I believe it was during a CC meeting. I can see the mural being called graffiti if it were splattered with obscenities and gang logos, but it is not. It is of a Tuscan Scene which blended with the Italian Rose Garden that was there originally. What a shame that some people can’t just enjoy the beauty in anything – but in the same breath can condemn the city for looking so ratty. It’s a shame that so many of our previous Mayor’s let the original Rose Garden become an overgrown mess and dumping ground for debris. I think the Rose garden is beautiful and it’s a shame that some of you don’t.

    • Bill Wills says:

      Karin all that I am saying if a big deal is being made to preserve our history with the United Way Bldg. mural, then a big deal should be made with preserving the historic nature of an acknowledged historic building and grounds. Did you receive SHPO approval to do the mural? Or like others in the current administration who go about disregarding our Charter, the laws of the State, and even State regulations in hope that due to the political favorite governor will never be caught or chastised.

      Yes I did say the mural was nice but I did not say it was appropriate to deface an hiistoric building. That wall should have been retored to its original state not painted over. It appears that those in power do whatever they want with disregard to the others and do not follow the standards that the rest of us do.

      • karin says:

        Mr. Wills, I personally would not have a problem if the wall was indeed restored to its original state of brick. Again, an outside wall that was covered to the top with trees, branches, out of control weeds, junk, debris, and crumbled mortar and bricks for decades. Which is now a lovely garden for the public to enjoy. Before the garden was restored, that area was just a dumping ground that no one cared about. If a lot of things around this city were made to be kept as historic markers, this city certainly wouldn’t be in the shape its in right now. That again would be decades of neglect by many people in office who obviously didn’t care what was becoming of our city.

      • Tim Becker says:

        I think “deface” is not the right word as it implies malicious intent and some sort of damage, and I’m sure you would agree that Karin did not have any malicious intent here, right Bill? The work that was done does not in any way prevent the wall from being restored properly at a future.

        Getting back around to my main point – we all have a right to voice our opinion when it comes to public policy – and AIDA’s operations *are* a matter of public policy. Obviously I don’t expect every official to do a straw poll before every little decision. But any *wise* official will take public opinion into consideration when making decisions because they know if they make too many unpopular decisions, they are going to get removed eventually.

        The Recorder however, seems to want to shut the discussion down for some reason. They are all but saying “STFU – we can have a say but YOU can’t” (as Flippin put it). And that’s wrong. I really start to wonder what the heck is going on over there when I read the same editorial 3 times, just rewritten with increasingly strident language – much like the anti-city marketing kick they were on a few years ago.

  5. […] Tim Becker at ParsNova disputes an interesting precedent in precisely who gets to weigh in on public…: […]

  6. Diane Smith says:

    What I would like to see is an end to the pointless partisan bickering and an emphasis on Amsterdam and its people. I don’t give a rat’s A if you are democrat or republican, but I do care that the city never moves forward because of politics and greed. We need economic growth, but we also need to be seen as a viable bedroom community for Albany. And that takes a good school district, good infrastructure, beautiful homes and an emphasis on the aesthetics of the city. I’ve always wondered about AIDA – there does not seem to be the level of accountability to the public that there should be, given that it is a Public Authority.

  7. […] historic preservation or the value in preserving the small-city character of our city and the best we can ever do is sheetrock. Or, that the governance of Amsterdam Muni belongs in the interests of the Golf Commission versus […]

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