23 August 2017
Mayor Robert M. Palmieri
Office of the Utica Mayor
1 Kennedy Plaza
Utica, NY 13502
Dear Mr. Mayor:
Thank you for coming to agreement with the County Executive on the Parking Garage. You were right to hold out until you got the best deal you could for Utica. I was very pleased to hear that the parking revenue will be shared as I had suggested.
Over the last 24 hours, I have a number of conversations which dictate our way forward. Some of this will ask you to reach outside of your comfort zone but I know you will find success in doing so.
For instance, last night some members of the labor movement asked me if local hiring principles for construction jobs were going to be adhered to. This morning on one of the talk shows, County Executive Picente indicated that the hospital team had always followed those rules. However, we all have to go further. We need to make local workers aware that our focus will be on them and their financial success. There are some things we should all be involved in openly and publicly.
We all should be behind the message that the hospital is necessary. We cannot make the affirmative case enough times. Fortunately, here in the 22nd District, neighbors are starting to take this message to neighbors. The reaction I got last Wednesday night provided incredibly clarity. Once the affirmative case was heard, a lot of opposition drifted away. Infections need to be avoided, needless deaths need to decrease and patients in Utica deserve access to every positive development science can deliver.
At the same time, we should make sure everyone knows why the St. Luke’s site will not work. The cost at $1.3 million per bed is too high. The logistical chaos created is averse to healing. Those suffering from addiction should have a hospital within walking distance just in case the worst happens. Beyond all that, since no urban renewal is involved, the Senate Finance Committee is not interested in the St. Luke’s site.
We should all be against the proposed Constitutional Convention. In order Utica to succeed financially, our tourism game must be tight. That includes taking our addiction problem head on and making sure our city is seen as “welcoming”. A Constitutional Convention, the Trump supporters behind the No Hospital because they are uncomfortable with brown people effort will want one, could lead to the loss of civil rights via the spending of dark money for many in our community. That could be disastrous for us.
I personally know this technique works due to something else that happened after the County Executive got off the air. A local political leader called the same show with a number of legitimate concerns. Many of these concerns had been addressed via proposals others and I have made but they were not being talked about openly enough.
I called the political leader on the phone and went through the issues one at a time via the perspective of some of the proposals designed to counter the side effects of the issues. When I got done, you could tell he was much more comfortable with the entire effort. Of course he still has to be vigilant to make sure some of the proposals become actual law. However, he now knows that people are not just blindly supporting a hospital because they were told to. He knows that people are deliberately looking at “unforeseen circumstances”, even though we all may come to different conclusions at first, and preparing for what is to come. Every citizen should feel the same way that he does.
In the new Utica and the new Oneida County, we should all be in the practice of coming to as much consensus that we can find on a message and then rallying people behind the message. I know this is a new way of thinking for some, but as we become more tourism focused, it will become a necessity over time. We have to think of those who will follow our path, from today to Utica and Oneida County becoming real destination “musts” will take about 12 years, and prepare it appropriately for them.
If we do it right, you will go down as the Mayor who planted the seeds for our new tourism profile. If we do it wrong, you will be the person who squandered a great opportunity. I am one person counting on how much you love our city to keep you on the right path.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration in this matter.
Robert T. Oliveira
763 Mary Street
Utica, NY 13501