One new job and a hot dog cart—that was Gene Hallenbeck’s idea of economic development during the St. Lawrence Cement fight, and apparently it’s still his idea now.
Here are the hard numbers, not from plant opponents, but from New York’s own Secretary of State back in 2005:
Like the Republican Secretary of State, plant opponents did the math:
- “The new Greenport facility would directly employ 155 individuals after construction. There are currently 144 employees at the Catskill facility and 10 at the Greenport facility. The proposal would result in a shift of labor, with 25 employees remaining in Catskill, and 130 at the Greenport site.”
It’s unfortunate that Gene is still pushing the same nasty and irrational line he unsuccessfully pushed from 1998-2005 during the SLC controversy.
- Existing jobs: 144 + 10 = 154
- Future jobs: 130 + 25 = 155
- Net new job gain: 1
Gene failed to grasp the facts then, and he still fails to grasp them now. Those black-and-white facts were that St. Lawrence was only going to create one single, new, measly net job for our community. All the jobs they were proposing already existed and were spoken for.
Now, I once asked Gene face-to-face why he was so big on the cement idea, since he was already retired. He stated that he wanted “to run a hot dog cart” at the plant’s entrance. That was his big idea for saving the area.
And all that needed to happen to fulfill Gene’s dream? More kids needed to get asthma. More adults would have to die prematurely of heart attacks. And a 400-foot tower with a six-mile plume surrounded by a 1,200-acre mine had to plopped down in the middle of our county.
That’s all.Meanwhile, as Gene has continued to bellyache about the one lost job and his long-lost hot dog cart, others have actually taken responsibility themselves to start businesses which take advantage of our 21st Century economic situation.
Gene might admire, for example, the pluck an enterprising couple who opened a taco stand on Warren Street last Spring. It was a huge success. I don’t know whether any of the “tourists” Gene loves to hate patronized this couple’s cart. But many of us full-time residents did—and there was usually a long line, long enough that local bands started playing gigs next to the cart.
They succeeded because their food was affordable, fresh, and (unlike Gene’s fantasy hot dog cart at the gates of a long-gone cement plant) not a figment of their imagination. Apparently these entrepreneurs did well enough to take the Winter off in a warmer climate, and will be back in the Spring.
That’s called a good old American can-do attitude, Mr. Hallenbeck.
Those running their real-live food stand created two jobs for themselves last summer, thanks to their own initiative and hard work. And they did it without any arguments or pollution or headaches... like the one we had here over one new job, proposed a dozen ago by a major Swiss-owned polluter.
One wonders what it is that Gene Hallenbeck likes so much about foreign billionaires who have never set foot in the Hudson Valley, and dislikes so much about people who like our area enough to visit us and leave their money in our pockets.