A Pledge I Cannot Sign

11 August 2017

President Shawn Corrigan

Better Utica Downtown

333 Lafayette Street

Utica, NY  13502

Dear Mr. Corrigan:

I would like to thank Better Utica Downtown for the positive energy the group has contributed to the city of Utica as a whole.  Many people have become engaged in city issues who would not have without your efforts and that is a good thing.


It has come to my attention that you have asked candidates to sign a Pledge indicating that they will not support a Hospital in Utica’s Downtown proposed location and would rather see the hospital built at the location known as the St. Luke’s site.  I am sorry, but I cannot sign your Pledge for a number of reasons – some have nothing to do with you.


First and foremost, your Pledge does not make an affirmative case for a new hospital.  Currently, hospitals in the system are unable to ward off infection as well as newer hospitals can.  Currently, patients die while being wheeled to a different floor in order to be operated on.  Currently, modern robotics are not being used in our operating issues due to power and other logistical concerns.  Currently, ER triage has a layer of complication a new hospital would fix.  These are just some of the issues that cause a new hospital to be mandatory.


Beyond that, your pledge brings up the insult that is the St. Luke’s site.  At $1.3 million per bed, the building cost is too high.  Logistical issues will cause great harm to those already healing at the St. Luke’s location.  When we dig under St. Luke’s, we will find wetlands instead of actual water systems which can be used exactly in the same way that the city of Providence used theirs.  Most importantly, the St. Luke’s site fails the “urban renewal” test and therefore will never get funded.


Any candidate who signs this pledge has lied to the citizens of Utica since that site will never be considered.  I do not believe that lying is a good way to get elected.  It should be noted that most of the candidates who have signed the Pledge already are devotees of Donald Trump and therefore have no problem with lying.  They also indicate they have no idea how Albany politics work.  See my previous sentence.


However, signing the Pledge causes more issues than just the content of the Pledge itself.  It would put any candidate in association with Jim Brock.  Mr. Brock gave contributions, via real estate donations, to both the Tenney and Trump campaigns.  No Democrat should align with that.


Yet magically it manages to somehow get worse.  Mr. Brock is a gay man in a gay marriage who supports candidates who would not allow gay people to enter same sex marriages if they could change the law.  Mr. Brock supports candidates who feel it is quite all right for the government of Chechnya to force gay people into internment camps.  Mr. Brock supports candidates who support white supremacy and violence against “Social Justice Warriors”.  In other words, Mr. Brock supports candidates who support violence against people like me.  How any social Liberal, not to mention any gay person, can stand next to Mr. Brock is absolutely beyond me.  There has to be a line somewhere.


Then there is the involvement of Brett Truett.  Like Mr. Brock, Mr. Truett seems to practice, “I don’t want to visit a hospital where I have to drive by brown people” in public while carrying out a different policy at home.  When Donald Trump had his “grab them by the pussy” quote exposed, candidate for Congress Martin Babinec was using Mr. Truett’s building.  Mr. Babinec was asked to fire two white nationalists working on his campaign team who had ties to Trump.  He refused.  Mr. Truett was then asked to evict Mr. Babinec over the incident.  Mr. Truett refused.  How any woman can stand next to Mr. Truett is again beyond me.  However, Mr. Truett’s sins also delve into the personal as well as the political.


Late last year, Mr. Truett starting making noises about starting a Tour Bus company.  Because Mr. Truett has been successful, he finds it ok to make lots of noises about lots of things he never follows through on.  Do a quick internet search and you can find all kinds of ideas registered in his name.  The problem was this time, he took a senior citizen for a ride, pun intended.


Mr. Truett had already chosen to go into another direction with his choice for tour bus tour guide but he still wanted to get the information from this senior citizen.  I had told Mr. Truett at the time that I did not have time to take any meetings unless I knew a guaranteed payoff was down the road.  Mr. Truett shook on that.  While he told me that money was coming, for the senior citizen seeing these bus tours come to fruition was a lifelong dream.


We spent two whole days driving the senior citizen around listening to his stories.  Thankfully, the stories were amazingly cool but told in a monotone style which is why Mr. Truett wanted to go in a different direction.  On the morning of the 3rd day, Mr. Truett sent an email, not a personal conversation but an email, announcing that the idea was off.  Even though we had wasted two days on this false start, no money was coming.


When I did finally get to speak to Mr. Truett in person, he accused me of wanting to “shoot him in the face” in a delusional fashion.  This is the same stunt he pulled at the Master Plan Review meetings where he stormed out screaming about a conspiracy because Common Council member Joe Marino accidentally mis-collated some copies.  I expect to watch Mr. Truett walk out of everything he walks into.


However, all of that does not get us to the real issue does it??  Because I do not practice the Compare Politics Model, I do not have to be passive-aggressive.  I can engage in uncomfortable situations.  When I have a beef with somebody, I can announce it.  No target is safe.  We need to talk about what is really going on here and all those answers lead to deeply held emotions.


The first time I got a sense of that was when I was raising money for Art on Utica during the first go round.  We have been presented with another opportunity to bring an amazing act to the Train Station so this week we will be raising money again.  During that first go round, I remember two specific cold calls.  One was Metzler Printing and the other was a plumbing supply house.  In both cases, the decision makers were frozen by fear and indecision over a $10 ad.  That is when I first realized the potential emotional component.


For a moment, imagine you have a successful business in the area.  In this scenario, you are a whiz at what you do but your practices and systems are not exactly “modern.”  Maybe you went through a previous move and it caused chaos as well as a lot of money.  Just the thought of moving keeps you up at night.  It has nothing to do with infrastructure or “downtown character” or tax revenue.


Investigating your own situation reveals the same thing.  How long has your dad been approaching you and Karen about his vision of the downtown??  I am guessing at least a decade.  Each time, something else “came up.”  Maybe it was a new facility, maybe it was a seasonal thing, maybe you had to just run your business and do inventory.  Every single time you looked at dad and said, “Don’t worry dad, we’ll get to it”.


All that time, dad was getting older but it was not a concern yet.  All of a sudden out of nowhere, a proposal emerges to make what your dad wants an impossibility.  All of a sudden you realize how old he is and humans being humans, you have to start calculating how much time you have left.  Now, the math is not working.  You may not get it done in time for dad to see it.


This is one place where being mentally ill and an addict/alcoholic gives me an advantage over many other people.  Due to my diseases, I realize how many times I should have already died.  I cannot “push things off” because I am only guaranteed the 24 hours directly in front of me.  Anything beyond that does not belong to me.


Your dad’s vision has one other problem.  It does not fit an internet ready world.  In one part, it is genius; in one part it is logistically delusional.  It is akin to when Donald Trump says he will bring coal jobs back.  Do you know that more people work for Arby’s than in the coal industry and twice as many are employed by Kohl’s than in the coal industry??  That means you are 3 times as likely to have a job finding a lamp or producing the perfect roast beef sandwich than you are digging for coal.  What you dad believes can happen to the downtown is right up there with coal.  Maybe you want to break that to him before he reads this.


However, there is a genius part.  What your dad says about community and family and togetherness is amazing.  Instead of fighting off the hospital to preserve a dream that Amazon killed, why don’t you join with me in keeping your dad’s spirit alive by emphasizing community and family and togetherness??  To help everyone accomplish these things, I proposed:



Instead of keeping people sick and fighting over old buildings that did not become important until you realized your father’s vision of the downtown, circa 1973, was important, join me in doing what you claim to be for: Building a Better Utica Downtown and everywhere else.  I would happily name the BusinessShare Plazas after your dad since their mission is to promote family and togetherness and community.


From what I see and hear in the videos, I cannot imagine your father voting for any candidate he knew lied.  Since your Pledge relies on the St. Luke’s site, which is in itself a lie, don’t you owe it to your dad to change course??  We should honor him the right way.


Thank you in advance for your time and consideration in this matter.



Robert T. Oliveira

763 Mary Street

Utica, NY  13501



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