• The Rochesterian in Your Inbox:

    Join 643 other subscribers


Did you hear the good news? Charter Communications, Inc. is opening an headquarters in Henrietta and creating more than 220 jobs! The company, which just purchased Time Warner cable, will invest $2.9 million in the move.


Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Rochester to make the announcement.

Here’s what was not said.

The state is giving Charter up to $2,5 million in Excelsior Jobs tax credits, meaning the company isn’t investing much at all.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found the Excelsior Jobs program is riddled with problems. Companies collected money without creating the promised jobs. Among them was Xerox, which also got a call center on the taxpayer dime.

Some of these new jobs will be at Charter’s call center. While these jobs are important to individuals, they are bad economic development policy. Call centers notoriously have high turnover and low pay.

The headquarters will be in the Calkins Road area of Henrietta. The first bus doesn’t arrive until around 9 a.m. and the last one leaves before 6 p.m. This means workers will likely have to drive. Transportation is a huge barrier to employment for many people. If we are serious about reducing poverty, we should withhold incentives from firms that do not locate jobs near people or on high service bus lines.

Charter Communications is now the second largest cable provider in the United States. It earned several billion dollars in profits last year. It earns BILLIONS of dollars and wants our help building out an office in Henrietta?

Instead of us helping Charter, the governor should be asking Charter to help us. Hey Charter, will you provide fiber internet, a la carte cable packages and lower charges for equipment rentals?

We need the jobs, especially after Verizon’s announcement is will shut down its Henrietta call center, killing 600 positions. (That’s what’s wrong with the call center economy. There’s no permanency.) But instead of making the business climate better for everyone, the state bribes a select few. The end result is one of the slowest growing economies in the nation. This kind of corporate welfare is not working and it’s not reaching the area’s neediest citizens.

Meanwhile, our cable bills are remain high.

Cable BoxCall centers are bad economic development. The jobs don’t pay well and there’s little opportunity for advancement. There’s high staff turnover. Call centers are easy to open and close.

But none of these concerns stopped the state from awarding Time Warner Cable $3.1 million in tax breaks for a Buffalo call center that will employ 152 people.

This is a company that charges you $100 a month for cable and Internet service and raked in $21 billion in revenue last year.

The Buffalo News reports:

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, said such jobs typically pay an average of $15 an hour nationwide, or $31,200 for a 40-hour workweek. That means roughly two-thirds of the average salary would be paid for by tax credits.


Terence Rafferty, regional vice president of operations for Time Warner Cable, confirmed that other states were in the mix, with their own incentives.

Still, he said it wasn’t just the money. “Tax incentives are a business decision,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the people. That’s what makes a business great, the people, not tax incentives.

If that’s true, Mr. Rafferty, please give the incentives back to a community struggling to shore up its tax base.

The size of the tax breaks mean that like Xerox’s call center in Webster, the state could foot the bill for much of the cable giant’s investment. The state is paying rich companies to open call centers that don’t provide the stability needed to rebuild and revitalize the economy.


Links of the Day:


– I reported on the Regional Economic Development Councils failure to disburse money quickly to projects. The state says it doesn’t pay for projects until they’re completed. That makes sense. But when only $19 million has been disbursed out of $1.5 million, there are questions about what is being accomplished.

– Six in 10 children who have Medicaid did not see a dentist in 2011. Dentists often don’t accept Medicaid patients.

Heroin deaths spike in Onondaga County.

– The majority of service members who are sexually assaulted every year are men.

– A Hamburg mother is furious at a crazy teen party at her house that ended with the family car being stolen and set on fire.

– Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor made a secret visit to North Syracuse graduation ceremony.

Links of the Day:

– Time Warner Cable is experiencing an massive outage in the Rochester area. There are no numbers, but the issue appears to be widespread.

I was struck by how many people were complaining about not having television. I didn’t care about that! How do I get online? Fortunately, my phone is also a hotspot, but I have to be careful to not to eat too much data.

A new survey indicates I’m probably in the minority. More people would rather give up social networking than television. Obviously, people use the Internet for more than Facebook or Twitter, but the study shows people are still very attached to their TVs.

– Sex trafficking exists in Rochester. The Democrat and Chronicle looks at the case of Thomas Cramer, described as a “400-pound pimp.”

– The state trooper at the center of a prostitution probe has been in trouble before. He was suspended for hitting a woman while off duty.

– Buffalo area nuns are furious at the Vatican crackdown on American nuns.

– Governor Andrew Cuomo’s cool reception to campaign finance reform could be an indication he has an eye on the White House.

Irondequoit boaters…a scene from “Animal House?”

Links of the Day:

Time Warner Cable says the number of customers it has lost since dropping MSG is “insignificant.” Meanwhile, MSG refuses to stream Sabres games live on the Internet. The Buffalo News has a great question and answer piece on the status of negotiations. (They’ve made no progress.) Also, beware of switching providers to watch the Sabres:

When do MSG Net-works’ contracts expire with Direct TV and Verizon FiOS, the two other television providers  ?

That’s the holy grail of questions, for viewers.

If you switch providers, you could end up in the same situation eventually.


Neither Direct TV nor Verizon FiOS, when reached by The News, was willing to publicly state when their contracts with MSG expire.

– Rural/Metro Medical Services of Western New York faces questions about over billing and is under investigation by the feds, the Buffalo News reports. The highly critical pieces comes just as Rochester is getting ready to renew its contract with the Arizona-based ambulance company.

– It’s only a matter of time before New York State offers online gambling.

– There’s a push to legalize Mixed Martial Arts fighting in New York State. A heartbreaking story in the Chicago Tribune raises serious safety and liability issues.

– DiBella’s is growing! The chain ended 2011 with 23 stores in four states.

– The Onondaga County War Memorial has hosted music legends from Janis Joplin to Aerosmith. The Post Standard has a fun look back.

Links of the Day:

– Time Warner pulled MSG from its lineup, after failing to reach an agreement on how much the cable company should pay to carry the sports network. Sabres and Knicks fans are in the dark. Each side is blaming the other, according to a report in the Buffalo News:

The two sides have been arguing over how much Time Warner should pay to carry the MSG networks. Time Warner has said MSG sought a 53 percent increase; MSG said Time Warner’s offers are outdated and not in the ballpark with what other cable companies pay.

The delivery of niche channels like MSG still relies on the distribution power of cable companies. I bet channels and shows will be individual commodities in the future, perhaps accessible on your iPad or Internet-connected television. That could make these contract disputes a thing of the past and give consumers choice and control.

Fortunately for MSG-watchers, Verizon FiOs picked up the network recently. Rochester, of course, doesn’t have Verizon FiOs, to the lament of many.

– An awesome story in the Democrat and Chronicle details the revival of the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood. This is very real. A photographer and I drove down West Main Street last week and talked about the resurgence.

– Central New York’s Amish communities want their own school buses. The Syracuse Post-Standard reports on a battle between a school district and the Amish, who don’t want their children exposed to modern kids. The Amish also need to start school later because of farm chores.

– What’s more important? Chicago’s shipping economy or keeping the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes? Everyone who cares about the lakes should pay attention to this debate.

– Last week I called Rochester’s New Year’s party lame. Evidence surfaced yesterday that maybe it’s not so lame. Now I’m convinced it is indeed lame. Buffalo’s New Year’s festivities brought 100,000 people to its downtown. Wow. We have work to do, Rochester.