New blog email

If you need to reach me, use: BuffaloPundit (at) gmail.com


Is this covered in "What to Expect The First Year?
(Batavia, NY, December 30, 2004) - - A Batavia man faces arraignment next week on charges he bit his baby son in the face. Police say 23-year old Michael Bennet bit the child because he would not stop crying. He was arrested after taking the tot to local hospital last month.
That's right. The sure-fire way to get a baby to stop crying is to bite him on the face. Slick move, ace. Sometimes I think there really should be a license to breed.

Ode to Dittoheads

Just a reminder -- some people reeeeaaaalllllyy need to up their dosage. Irony abounds, folks.

So very stupid

Look - I'm all for homeland security. I am not, however, in favor of random profiling of, say, people wearing headscarves. Hell, if we were going to profile terrorists, shouldn't we be stopping every nebisher-looking geek (like Terry Nichols) and every blonde, clean-cut army veteran (like that asshole from Wheatfield, McVeigh)? A group of local residents who happen to be Muslim attended a conference in Toronto this past weekend called "Reviving the Islamic Spirit." I guess that sounded pretty fricking creepy to some cretin or another. So, when people started crossing the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge on Sunday and declared that they had been attending the "Islamic Spirit" conference, they were immediately detained. Some for 6 hours. Many were natural-born citizens. Many more were naturalized citizens. Of the USA.
"An Islamic civil rights group accused United States border agents on Wednesday of religious profiling after dozens of American Muslims were searched, fingerprinted and photographed while returning from a religious conference in Toronto. Some of those stopped said they were held at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge for six hours or more with no explanation. A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection bureau, Kristie Clemens, said that agents had detained anyone who said they attended the three-day convention, titled 'Reviving the Islamic Spirit.' She said that such gatherings could be a means for terrorists to promote their cause."
OK, Ms. Clemens. Point taken. But - if that conference was such a concern, couldn't one of our crack intelligence agencies, like the CIA, have attended this conference? Don't you think the Canadians had someone monitoring this conference? You know - 9/11 was over 3 years ago. If Bush & Co. haven't gotten our intelligence agencies up to speed on the smart way to do stuff like this - i.e., gathering intelligence without turning the US into a police state for certain people - then what the Christ have they been doing?


TSUNAMI DISASTER FUNDRAISER For VICTIMS IN INDIA India Association of Buffalo, Hindu Cultural Center and AICF is organizing a fundraiser evening for the victims of the Tsunami related tragedy at the PALMS/Tandoori. This tragedy has affected millions of people in India, especially in regions of Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry, Tamilnadu & the Andemaan & Nicobar Islands. WHERE: The Palms at Tandoori's, 7740 Transit Rd., Williamsville, NY 14221 WHEN: December 30, 2004 TIME: 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm Hors d'oeuvres and snacks will be served. A minimum donation of $25.00 per person is requested. Make checks payable to IAB or HCS. Contacts: Sanjay Chadha 639-0298 chadhas@hotmail.com Shanti Bedmutha 636-5877 baidmnka@aol.com Vijayraghavan Chakravarthy 688-1635 vijay_chakravarthy@praxair.com Pratibha Chopra-Sukumaran 689-2835 pratibhac@adelphia.net Ravi Sabharwal 632-1112 Pravin D. Suchak 868-9150 pravin@localnet.com

Popular Culture

I'm taking a break over the next few days, so a lighter tack: 1. I am in the midst of playing GTA: San Andreas. This thing is pure art - a masterpiece. It is the best yet in the GTA series. My greatest joy? No more pauses for loading when you travel from city to city. The cities themselves are fantastic to explore. The tasks are challenging, but not insanely difficult. Yet. 2. In playing GTA: San Andreas, I have the ability to tune the stereos in cars and planes that I jack to various stations playing period songs from 1992-ish. I've mostly been tuning into Radio Los Santos, which plays gangsta rap. NWA, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg (back when he was still Snoop Doggy Dogg), and the like. Now, back in 1992, I was listening to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and was vaguely aware of NWA because of the furor caused by "F*ck tha Police". I didn't buy any, and I'm not quite sure I ever contemporaneously heard any gangsta rap from that era. I became fascinated with it because, (especially when paired with the game) it's a fascinating snapshot of Rodney-King-era Los Angeles. Not only that, but the music was waaaaaay ahead of its time. I mean, Run-DMC sounds pretty dated now, but the stuff on GTA off of Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" sounds like it could have been released yesterday. And it sounds better than most hip-hop that came out yesterday. It's strange (and somewhat embarassing) to come to appreciate music only 13 years after it came out. But I really got into the Beatles in 6th grade in 1979, and that was about 10 years after they broke up, so there ya go. 3. The best TV show is Amazing Race. Period. I love to travel, so I enjoy watching teams face challenges - both producer-created and culture-related. And, as far as AR6 is concerned, I just can't wait for Jon & Victoria to get eliminated. As a matter of fact, in the last 2-3 years, I've totally stopped watching practically all scripted television. I find most of it trite and repetetive. I can tolerate CSI, but only the Vegas edition. I watch Sopranos when it's on, and innovative scripted comedies like Arrested Development. My all-time favorite is Family Guy, which is returning to Fox next May. (I was a fan before the DVDs came out). As for reality, I like Survivor and (obviously) Amazing Race. I also eventually get sucked into every season of Big Brother. I don't like the dating shows. I don't like the work-out shows. I think "The Swan" is the most depraved thing on TV - even more depraved than PPV porn. I enjoyed the first 2 seasons of the Mole, when Anderson Cooper was the host. It was a smart and witty show. They ruined it when Cooper left for CNN, and now it's Celebrity Mole. I like Pimp My Ride. I can't tolerate Real World / Road Rules. Don't like Osbornes or any of the other B-list celebrity reality shows. I listen to Howard Stern every morning, and have done so since 1985 when I was driving a 1977 Toyota Corolla that only had an AM radio. He and his show is like family to me. I think Tom Bauerle is a pretty good host, with whom I agree about 70% of the time. I find Sandy Beach to be the voice of reactionary septugenarian Buffalonians. Think Teresa. And that laugh. Ugh. I think that our local news is horrific. If it bleeds, it leads. Then off to some national or world story that has little or no local impact. Enough with the tsunami, ok? I don't need the locals informing me about this. I don't need Pete Kenworthy or Lisa Scott telling me anything about the Ukraine. Cable news and the network newscasts can handle it, 'kay? I don't ever want to hear someone who drives an SUV complain to me about Bush or the war in Iraq. Ever. I drive two cars, each of which get 30 MPG highway. They're both safe as a house, and would amply protect me in a collision with an inattentive Hummer driver. I'll take good handling, quick accelleration, 5-star safety rating and traction control over ground clearance any day. Is this still on? Hello?

It's superficial, I know...but

This man is in desperate need of a makeover: Between the sideburns and the leisure suit with polyester tie, I swear that picture has to be from like 1977.

Great Minds think Alike

Bruce Jackson has this to say in wrapping up a piece lauding the Shared Border Management agreement:
Add to that the huge Bass Pro sports store going into the long-abandoned downtown arena and the decision by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York to put its new headquarters with 1200 employees in the long-vacant Buffalo Gas Light Co. Site across the street from city hall, plus the fact that the Bills have won six straight and may actually make it to the playoffs, and you’ve got a pretty good New Year’s package for the city of Buffalo.


Revitalize Buffalo.org

This is a spinoff of the periodic Buffalo News feature "The Shrinking City." They figured "revitalize Buffalo" was more ... positive.

Read it and weep. No, really - Weep.

Here's Al DeBenedetti's sworn affidavit about Giambra's violation of the public meetings law.
8)That during said meeting considerable discussion and deliberation took place regarding disputed items contained in the tentative budget proposed by County Executive Giambra and the Legislature's amendments thereto. 9) That no members of the public were present at said meeting, nor were any allowed to attend. 10) That the said meeting ended when no agreement could be reached over the inclusion of patronage jobs for the County Executive in the budget.
Joel Giambra. Clowning around with your money so he can line his buddies' pockets.

Albany Shenanigans

NYCO's Blog updates us on goings-on in Albany. In a nutshell, it's more of the same, except lawmakers are making mouth noises about having "heard" the voters. Bullshit. Click the link for the gory details. Newsday published an editorial criticizing Albany for just not getting it. Calling the Buffalo News. Hello? Sorry. Everyone's out trying to reinvent Joel Giambra.


Maybe one of you native Buffalonians can answer this: Why is it that Buffalo drivers come almost to a complete stop before making a right turn, and then execute the turn with e x c r u c i a t i n g slowness?

Driving while chatting: unconstitutional?

I kind of had to laugh when I heard about this story. honestly, I thought the yahoos at WBEN had planted it. Buffalo Police Commissioner Rocco Diina's niece, Tracy, got a ticket because she was driving while using her hand-held mobile phone. Let's remember: this law went into effect in November 2001. It ain't new, and it ain't a surprise. Ms. Diina readily admits that she violated the law, but she and her lawyer Jim Ostrowski argue that the law is unconstitutional and is evidence of "creeping totalitarianism". Stretching credulity to its outer fricking limits, they said that the cellphone-while-driving ban is the beginning of a slippery slope to 1984-style totalitarianism, where your private life would be melded with, and indistinguishable from, the public arena. Poppycock. By that rationale, laws against speeding, laws mandating that you keep to the right of the double-yellow, why every law in the V&TL is evidence of "creeping totalitarianism" that threatens our very existence as Americans. Buy a headset and chat all you want. Don't waste the court's time - pay the hundred dollar fine.

Passive Aggression

I'm in a pissing match over on the WNY Coalition for Progress yahoo group with some guy who decided to attack me without naming me directly. Don't be passive-aggressive about it - just attack me. Point your finger at me and tell me what you think. It's about the "not a damn dime day" which I've taken to calling the "Brodo Boycott" or "Hooray for Leninism day". I'm being indirectly called out for not abiding by doctrinal homogeneity. I really can't take zealots. On either side of the aisle. Zealots don't see the forest for the trees. Zealots don't listen to reason. Zealots are counterproductive to whatever movement they want to advance, because the vast majority of Americans are not zealots and will resist zealous action and language. And I though progressive liberals were supposed to be so open to differing viewpoints and ideas. Instead, I get leftist Seans Hannity. How depressing.


State gas tax

A federal sales tax of 18.4 cents is imposed on every gallon of gas sold in the US. Then, each state has the ability to tack on some extra state sales taxes on top of that. this PDF chart shows that New York State imposes an additional, approximate 39.6 cent tax on each gallon of gas sold. (In January 2003, it was 33.55 cents/gallon.) The total amount of sales tax varies by county. So, New Yorkers pay a combined state & federal sales tax of 58 cents/gallon. Although RI, CA, NV, HI, and WI all broke 30 cents/gallon for state sales tax on a gallon of gas, New York has the distinction of having the highest state sales tax of all 50 states. Ed: Fixed link

Tax Freedom Day

Tax Freedom Day: "is the day when Americans finally have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year. In 2004, New York taxpayers had to work until April 27th, ranking it 2nd in the nation, sixteen days after National Tax Freedom Day (April 11th). New York taxpayers must work 46 days into the year just to pay their state and local tax bill which, at $5,320 per-capita, is the highest nationally. The Tax Freedom Days of neighboring states were; Pennsylvania, April 6th (ranked 29th), New Jersey, April 19th (ranked 3rd), Connecticut, April 28th (ranked 1st) and Vermont, April 10th (ranked 16th). " Are you outraged yet?

Metablogging alert!

This little blog made the paper in Syracuse. Michelle Breidenback of the Syracuse Post-Standard did a Christmas-day roundup of upstate blogs, and yours truly gets a nod. Cool! But I'm not THAT anonymous. A hunt around past postings would reveal my true, mild-mannered identity.

"Not one damn dime day"

There's some email spam going around promoting some idea called "not one damn dime day." Not only is it spam, but it's patently Marxist-Leninist and it makes me sick to my stomach. If you're opposed to the war in Iraq, there are lots of things you can do to voice your displeasure. Everything from a bumper sticker to your vote. Here's my take on "not one damn dime day" that I posted to the wnycoalition4progress Yahoo Group:
I’d like someone to explain to me how a boycott of local, privately owned shops and services is going to tell the “people in power” that be that the war in Iraq is illegal or immoral. Seems to me that such a boycott does a lot towards promoting a Marxist-Leninist agenda, and very little towards “reminding our religious leaders and our politicians” to end the war in Iraq Correct me if I’m wrong, but the owners of, e.g., Brodo or Spot coffee or even Wegmans are not the “people in power.” The only people this would hurt are the owners of your local shop/service and the people who work there. By the way – this country doesn’t have religious leaders. Only secular ones. If you have a religious leader, it’s because you choose to.

By the way - Marxism-Leninism is far more offensive to me than the war in Iraq. This war was entered into imprudently, and is/was planned ineffectively if not downright incompetently. Fortunately, it will someday end. For us, anyway. Thousands have died as a result of the war in Iraq. (Let's not forget that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, also died under Saddam Hussein's fascist regime).

Tens of millions of people, however, have been victims of Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist leftist fascism. Millions remain oppressed under the yokes of so-called "dictatorships of the proletariat." People throughout the world have labored and fought - at the risk of torture, imprisonment, and death - to overthrow the vicious communist regimes around the world. Some still do, in places like North Korea, PR China, and Cuba.

If you want to stop the war in Iraq, march, make phone calls, blog, vote, get involved.

Not shopping at Lord & Taylor isn't going to bring our troops home.


Merry Christmas

I don't know about you, but the Northtowns got a good 8 inches of fresh, powdery lake snow yesterday. What a beautiful sight. I love the snow. Merry Christmas, all.


Victor Getz' detritus

As we know, about 300 EC employees will be losing their jobs in the wake of the passage of the modified Green Budget. Modified in that Giambra's cronies and patronage hires get to keep their plush County jobs, while hard working, dedicated civil servants lose theirs. Giambra gets to keep his neighborhood buddy and man-of-dubious-or-unknown-qualifications Victor Getz on the payroll (at ECMC at a larger salary than he received as driver and gofer), while real people doing real work get shafted. Giambra has no shame. No scruples. No ethics. No vision. No conscience. No nothing. He's an empty suit, and everything he touches turns to dreck. Who would have thought that Masiello would get better results in 2004 than Giambra?
"I received my letter today that I don't have a job,' said Jim DiMaria, a Town of Tonawanda homeowner who has been with the county seven years and works as a welfare fraud investigator with the Department of Social Services. 'This is not the kind of news you want to get Christmas week,' he said. 'My parents are upset. My mom calls me up crying, saying, 'You don't deserve this, you don't deserve this.' I feel bad they're going through this because of me, even though it's not my fault. When you're a grown man, you don't want to have your mom crying for you, especially around the holiday time.' " ...DiMaria, the Social Services fraud investigator, pointed out that not only is more than 80 percent of his salary covered by grant money, but his department recovers $2 million to $3 million in misspent public money each year. Yet DiMaria is slated to lose his job while other patronage hires get to keep theirs. "That's what's demoralizing," he said.
Demoralizing, disgusting, and despicable.

Let's say, phenomenal news.

This is better than good news. This is phenomenal. BlueCross BlueShield is going to build its new headquarters at the site of the Buffalo Gas Light Co. near the 190 and Channel 7. The site is a brownfield, and will finally be cleaned up and remediated for the new construction, which will (thankfully) incorporate the remaining facade of the old Gas Light building that remains there. Hopefully, whoever decides to redevelop AM&A decides to retain that facade, as well.
"The former Buffalo Gas Light Co. site in downtown Buffalo will become the new home of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and its 1,200 employees. HealthNow New York, the health insurer's parent company, announced Wednesday it prefers the parcel at 249 W. Genesee St., next to the Niagara Thruway, for its headquarters. The company plans to relocate from 1901 Main St., next to Canisius College, to the downtown site by the end of 2007. The $100 million-plus project is billed as the largest private-sector development in downtown since construction of M&T Bank headquarters in 1967."
Buffalo, it's time to get optimistic.


2004 in Buffalo

All in all, we've had a pretty good year. Buffalo is one of those cities that portrays itself as the receipient of hard knock after hard knock. To a certain degree, that's been true. Lots of bad decisions have been made over the last several decades that have truly stunted Buffalo's growth and development. But it seems that this is slowly turning - in spite of our politicians' best efforts to maintain the status quo and hoard all the cash and goodies for themselves and their cronies. 1. Bass Pro. I don't oppose using public money to renovate a mothballed public structure. Even if it is going to be for private use. It apparently draws people to it like a mother effer. God bless Bass Pro, and I wish them much success. 2. Intramodal station. I'm all for consolidating rail, bus and parking in one structure. I'm also very much in favor of consolidating downtown parking into a handful of ramps rather than the myriad street-level lots/eyesores we have now. Federal money is funding this project, as well it should. It's about bloody time Buffalo got some federal assistance for its reconstruction. I hope it, with Bass Pro, helps to rejuvinate the inner harbor downtown area, which is now a concrete eyesore under the Skyway. 3. Mr. Higgins goes to Washington. I don't care if you're a (D) or an (R), this is undoubtedly good news. Higgins actually managed to wring some help out of perpetually dysfunctional Albany to help turn around the Waterfront. Gallagher Beach is his baby. He has been in the forefront of waterfront rejuvination and development, and without him there'd have been no progress whatsoever. The fact that he's now in Washington bodes well. Also - very influential Republican and Tom Delay's buddy Tom Reynolds promised Nancy Naples a seat on the congressional committee that doles out cash for infrastructure projects. Let's hope that - for the good of WNY and his constituency - he'll do the same for Mr. Higgins. 4. Giambra self-destructs. Turns out Dan Ward was right. Giambra's a clown and the worst type of scumbag politician. His days of pitting the suburbs vs. the city (which he helped bankrupt as Comptroller) are hopefully numbered. Red - Green technicolor budget crisis was the last straw that made WNYers realize just how bad he is. 5. Shared border management is a reality. Kudos to Sen. Chuck Schumer for really pushing this with homeland security. The neighborhood by the Peace Bridge will no longer have to deal with toll or customs delays. Those operations will be shifted to the Canadian side. This is also the first real concrete step in the direction of constructing a new signature Peace Bridge. 6. Allentown / Elmwood / Hertel. Just go there one day. Let me say this simply: GENTRIFICATION IS A GOOD THING. Hertel is bustling with new, exciting restaurants. Elmwood is every New Urbanist's wet dream. Allentown is still gritty, but places like Quaker Bonnet bakery and Aqua will help nudge it into respectability. 7. Geico. I don't care if it's in Amherst. 2,000 - 3,000 new jobs is a good thing. Not just a good thing, a phenomenal thing in this area. Why? Because they're not minimum-wage laborer jobs. They're not manufacturing jobs. They're 21st century service jobs at wages upwards of 35,000/year. An influx of middle-class folks and the availability of good service jobs at good wages on that scale will hopefully spark a bit more activity for other local businesses. That's all I can think of right now. But all in all, it was a pretty good year for Buffalo in 2004. I think there's some good times on the horizon and we won't have to keep hearing about Buffalo's glory days in the mid-20th century, but instead look forward to a prosperous 21st.

Good money after bad

It becomes clearer to me every day that the vast majority of the politicians that we elect to office in WNY are just plain stupid. I don't mean stupid, as in they do stupid things. I mean stupid as in they didn't score too well on aptitude tests. I mean stupid as in the only thing they're good at is gladhanding at chicken barbecues. Anyway, Niagara Falls is sitting on some casino cash. $3 million of it inexplicably goes to a NF Housing Authority. Tell me - have you ever driven through Niagara Falls, NY? Does it look to you like they have a housing shortage there? The Niagara Falls Reporter investigates what the NFHA uses the money for:
Casino cash money -- $1 million in 2004 and up to $3 million slated for 2005 -- earmarked for the Niagara Falls Housing Authority to renovate the dilapidated and dangerous Center Court housing projects, represents a classic case of throwing good money after bad, all agreed. So why would Mayor Vince Anello and state Assemblywoman Francine Del Monte be in favor of it? Maybe because it's not their money. The Housing Authority has proposed building 282 new units at Center Court, a crime-ridden slum originally erected during World War II as temporary housing for the families of returning servicemen. Astonishingly, the Authority plans to spend a mind-numbing $54 million on the project -- or $191,489 for each unit constructed.
Read the whole thing. It's truly mind-numbing.


Erie County's own Keystone Politicos.

Boy, will the fun never cease? Apparently, King Joel (whose political days are numbered) demands (!) that the Erie County Leg "reaffirm" its vote of 2 weeks ago on the increased sales tax. DeBenedetti is rightfully fuming at the patent illegality that led to the passage of the budget and sales tax increase, and he's also pissed off that Giambra gets to keep every single solitary graft-trough patronage position, while Giambra accuses DeBenedetti of being a hypocrite. Can we get some politicians who know what the Christ they're doing? Please?
Joel A. Giambra insists the Erie County Legislature reaffirm its sales tax vote by 5 p.m. Monday or he'll have to force "an enormous increase in the property tax" to support spending for next year. The county executive delivered his demand in a letter Friday. Buffalo Democrat Albert DeBenedetti said Thursday he would withdraw his crucial vote if the Legislature tried to ram through fixes to the 2005 budget without waiting until Jan. 1, as the County Charter requires. DeBenedetti said he also told key state lawmakers he's rethinking his vote to raise the sales tax by a penny to 9.25 cents on the dollar. Assembly Majority Leader Paul A. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga, and Sen. Dale M. Volker, R-Depew, won't push Erie County's new penny through Albany without a request from 10 of the 15 legislators.

Good News for Buffalo

This is actually very good news for Buffalo. In my opinion, it's tantamount to placing the cornerstone on the new Peace Bridge.
WASHINGTON - The United States and Canada on Friday announced a pilot project at the Peace Bridge that will shift U.S. Customs and Immigration officers to Fort Erie, Ont., where they will inspect all U.S.-bound cars and trucks.

This means that the primary and secondary inspections of vehicles entering the country being done on Buffalo's West Side will - at a date to be determined - be carried out at the big preclearance yard across the Niagara River in Canada.

Ideally, when the program is implemented, U.S.-bound cars and trucks will be able to roll across the bridge into Buffalo without stopping for tolls or inspections and proceed directly to the Niagara Thruway or into the city.

Besides making Buffalo a more convenient and economical entry point for commerce and tourism, the move will also sharply reduce pollution and noise from idling vehicles.


Light posting

Obviously, posting is light right now. Work obligations and so forth.


Waterfront Proposals

The 3 NFTA Waterfront proposals are now online in PDF format: WestEnd a Lakefront creative community (Ciminelli/Jerde) Outer Harbor Redevelopment Plan (Norstar) Buffalo Lakefront Development Team (Opus East/Uniland)

Dave Swarts on Thruway Tolls:

This goes back to August 2003:
Tolls within the commuting range of Buffalo amount to nothing short of a commuter tax on residents-except the money gets sent to Albany, rather than staying in the local community. Commuters must pay coming in from the northeastern boundaries of the county at the Williamsville toll barrier. Commuters pay coming from the south and west at the Lackawanna barrier. Commuters living on Grand Island pay. And what amounts to an admission fee to travel into the City of Buffalo, commuters pay at the Ogden St and the Black Rock barriers Tolls not only add an average of $100 to $200 per year to travel for Buffalo-area commuters, but the time factor must be considered as well. Motorists are frustrated by the delay in getting to work caused by the existence of tolls. Customers at our four Auto Bureaus regularly complain about the inequity of having to pay tolls compared with other urban areas in the State. No doubt the Thruway Authority will point to the E-Z pass as the solution to this problem, but the lines still exist and confusion runs rampant when lines are crowded and vehicles enter the wrong lane. The removal of the correct change lanes, forcing motorists into pre-paying E-Z passes for the privilege of using the Thruway, was ill conceived and has only exacerbated the frustration felt by daily commuters. Highway safety is another issue adversely impacted by the presence of tolls. Because the County Clerk's office issues drivers' licenses, effectively putting people on the roadways, I am deeply concerned about safety on our highways. The existence of tolls has artificially raised the number of trucks and motor vehicles on secondary roads, like Rt. 20 and Rt. 5 in Hamburg and Evans, as well as the inbound Rt. 33. Preliminary reports show that the I-190 has a higher number of vehicles traveling out of the city because the tolls at the Ogden St. barrier are only collected on the inbound traffic."


Adding insult to injury, the bastards at the NYS Thruway Authority want more money for a road that's long since been paid off. In the latest effort to avoid "killing the job", the Thruway wants to increase tolls by 25%. That means the $12.50 you pay right now to travel from the Williamsville toll to the Major Deegan in the Bronx would go up to $15.62. Along the way, you'll be jostled by trucks and stuck behind left lane bandits along the mostly four-lane highway. You'll have the pleasure of eating overpriced stale excreta at various Roy Rogers and Burger Kings. Don't forget the "discounted" gas at the service stations. And God forbid you break down on the Thruway - your AAA is useless. You have to pay a Thruway approved tow truck. I think that this passage from the Buffalo News' article was beautiful in that it summed up what Albany considers to be "commuter-friendly" or a reduction in fees or less of a shiv-up-the-rectum:
Additionally, sources said the agency, in an effort to expand the E-ZPass system, will propose a 10 percent discount for drivers of passenger vehicles who sign up for the program. That would mean, officials said, that a current $1 toll that would rise to $1.25 under the 25 percent toll hike proposal would be discounted to $1.13 for E-ZPass users. For commercial users, the E-ZPass discount would be 5 percent.
Hooray. And instead of eliminating the nickel-and diming of WNY residents trying to get to and from Buffalo and Niagara Falls, they'll offer us a "commuter discount." I.e., we will remain the only city in the State, apart from the woefully congested Manhattan, where you have to pay to travel downtown. They may move Williamsville tolls back to Pembroke or so, but they won't eliminate the Grand Island, South Buffalo, or Black Rock tolls.



I guess Buffalo has really joined the big leagues. We have our own craigslist now.

Rumsfeld Lied.

What the bloody hell else is new? Remember last week when that soldier asked Rumsfeld why they didn't have properly armored vehicles to, you know, save their lives, Rumsfeld excreted, "you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want." Rumsfeld also said:
the Army was working as quickly at it could to get armored Humvees to the front. It is "a matter of physics, not a matter of money," Rumsfeld said, adding that the Army was "breaking its neck." President Bush yesterday reiterated that "the concerns expressed are being addressed."
Oh, reallllly?

But executives at Armor Holdings in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as Army officials and members of Congress, said Rumsfeld's assertion that the protective equipment is being provided as quickly as possible is not true and added the company has been waiting for more purchase orders.

"We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month," Robert Mecredy, head of Armor Holdings' aerospace and defense unit, said in a statement. The company is producing about 450 armored Humvees per month, up from 50 in late 2003, when a sudden surge of attacks in Iraq exposed a lack of protective armor. The company says that by February it could be producing as many as 550 fully armored Humvees per month -- with armor plates on the sides, front, rear, top, and bottom -- if given the go-ahead. The company estimated it would cost the military about $150 million a year to pay for the additional 100 vehicles per month. The company said it also told the Army it could add new production lines and turn out even more vehicles

How despicable.

McCain on Rumsfeld

Back in 2000, I was a McCainiac. I don't think I am anymore, though. Anyway, I was very pleased to read this yesterday: U.S. Sen. John McCain said Monday that he has "no confidence" in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops. McCain, speaking to The Associated Press in an hourlong interview, said his comments were not a call for Rumsfeld's resignation, explaining that President Bush "can have the team that he wants around him." "I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops — linguists, special forces, civil affairs, etc.," said McCain, R-Ariz. "There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld on that issue." When asked if Rumsfeld was a liability to the Bush administration, McCain responded: "The president can decide that, not me." Translation: Rumsfeld sucks, and the President should get rid of him, but won't. I wish the Senator would pull out a bit more of the ole' Straight Talk.

Niagara Falls Reporter on Giambra

God, how I love these guys.:
"Yes, Giambra cried crocodile tears over the 400 jobs eliminated when legislators approved his 'green' budget without actually reading the details of the deal. He did not, however, explain where those cuts would come, or whether the positions getting slashed are even occupied at present. What was clear, however, was that the 20-plus members of either his family or that of his $81,000-a-year driver, Victor Getz, would remain on the county payroll, along with more than 100 other patronage employees. In a move symbolic of Giambra's accomplishment-free tenure, he announced that Getz would no longer serve as his driver. Don't worry, though. He's slated for another county job, with sources indicating that post will be at Erie County Medical Center at an even higher salary. By extending the deadline for approving a budget several times, Giambra and Erie County legislators got more face time than usual over the past couple weeks, with local media breathlessly reporting every non-event as if there were any chance whatsoever that Giambra's 'red' budget might actually go into effect. As he did when campaigning for County Executive as a visionary reformer, despite decades working as a key part of the City Hall machine that made Buffalo what it is today, Giambra played the Buffalo News and the city's broadcast media like a fiddle. "

Aquafalls is finally dead

In a coma since about 1999, the hole in the ground next to the Oxy building in Niagara Falls is finally to be filled in. Steve Pigeon, of all people, is involved in the project to rehab the building and fill in the Aquafalls hole with the one thing there's no shortage of in WNY. Parking.


WNY Coalition working groups

Click here to see the proposed working groups for the WNY Coalition for Progress. As I've stated very clearly, I have no interest whatsoever in the working groups proposed for the National issues category. Honestly, I just think that all of the issues listed - like free trade, federal election reform, energy, gay rights, and abortion are amply being handled elsewhere by national groups with a national reach. I am, however, very interested in the Regional/local categories:
  • State/Local Election Reform
  • Cross Border Issues
  • Employment Issues/Working Wage
  • Local Fiscal Policy
  • Medicaid Reform
  • NY Tax Reform
  • Buffalo Media Accountability
  • City-County Consolidation/Gov't Accountability
  • Reform Albany
  • Low Cost Utilities (possibly merged with national "Energy & Environment")
  • Education Reform
  • Development
  • Infrastructure/Transportation
  • Downtown Development
  • Various County Groups (Erie County, Niagara County, Southern Tier, Eastern Counties)

Why? Because WNY is in dramatic need of help right away. Because the group is supposed to be nonpartisan, and these local concerns cross party lines. The stuff being considered on the national front is, quite frankly, way partisan.

I'm a moderate. A centrist with a liberal social outlook but a conservative fiscal & government operations outlook. Abortion should be legal and taxes should be low. Church & state need to be separated by a high wall, and a minimal medicaid copay to ensure that the system isn't being abused isn't such a bad idea.

As Craig at Buffalog mentioned, although I'm ostensibly a liberal and he's apparently conservative, on the local/state/regional issues, I think there'll be a lot of agreement.


From the other end of the political spectrum...

I surfed over to this blog, which I've never seen before, after seeing a link to it from NYCO's blog: Buffalog - a Buffalo-based blog with a conservative slant. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


The wingers have lost their frickin minds.

The Olympic opening ceremony, apparently... ...was indecent. Methinks the backlash will come soon against these freaks.
"In response to one or more indecency complaints, the Federal Communications Commission has asked NBC to send it tapes of its coverage of the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies in Athens, the network confirmed late yesterday. Ironically, the night before, NBC's Summer Games coverage was named the family-friendliest special of 2004 during WB's broadcast of the sixth annual Family Television Awards. The awards are given by the Family Friendly Programming Forum, a group of 46 major national advertisers working to encourage networks to produce more family-friendly prime-time fare. "
Time to surf on over to the PTC and see what form letter Bozell had his wacko cult members send out.



It seems Oneida County also raised its sales tax rate to 9.75%. So, Erie County will have the second-highest sales tax in the USA. Small consolation. And, by the way, I'm not mad that the Leg didn't pass the red budget. I'm not mad that services have been restored. I'm mad that they decided to tax you and me, and refused to abolish patronage jobs.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass, Joel.

Who's looking out for you?
"Yesterday was a sad day for the taxpayers of Erie County," said Legislator Elise M. Cusack, R-Amherst, who voted against the budget and the tax increase. "Our leadership chose to conduct business as usual and squandered a tremendous opportunity to reform our government." The public is the victim, said Legislature Majority Leader Lynn M. Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda, who pushed for a sales tax increase that could be shared with local governments, then voted against the budget when she found it larded with pork and patronage. "Why would the public have any trust in the system if we just go back to status quo?" Marinelli asked. "We did not vote to continue doing county business as usual." Finance and Management Committee Chairman Albert DeBenedetti, D-Buffalo, joined her to oppose the budget. It was a rare instance when they broke from the Democrats' eight-member majority to side with a majority of Republicans on a contentious matter. They were outvoted by the six remaining Democrats and Republicans Charles M. Swanick of Kenmore and Jeanne Z. Chase of Evans. Marinelli says the Legislature's procedural rules were broken, and DeBenedetti hinted at legal action. He has sued before over perceived violations and always lost. But a moderate Republican, Barry A. Weinstein of Amherst, also said the vote could be subject to a court challenge. "I have a very hollow feeling," Weinstein said, minutes after voting against the budget and the sales tax, which needs approval from the State Legislature before it can be implemented. He, too, called it business as usual. Will the government cinch its belt as a sign of good faith for the residents who will pay a higher sales tax? Well, County Executive Joel A. Giambra won back the 200 suspected patronage jobs that Democrats deleted as a shot across his bow when negotiations started to build last week. "Those are positions that were needed," he said Thursday. The top staff can retain take-home cars, the Legislature still has its ratio of six staff members for every lawmaker. And pork spending remains, though it falls from $180,000 per member to about $150,000, legislators said. That means lawmakers can parcel out up to $150,000 to scout troops, fire departments, town festivals and assorted causes whose organizers will thank them publicly for their generosity. Budget Director Joseph Passafiume figures a medium-income family in Erie County will pay $230 more each year to county government with a new penny on every dollar of goods purchased. Residents will also pay more for certain services at the county clerk's office and a 35-cent charge on cellular phone bills. There are sacrifices for government officials, and one involves Giambra and Victor M. Getz, his senior executive assistant, driver and patronage czar, who earns $81,000 a year. "Vic Getz will no longer be driving me," Giambra said Thursday in a post-game analysis of the vote. With Getz a lightning rod for critics of wasteful spending, Giambra said he will now request that a sheriff's deputy drive him and provide security - "the common practice in many governments such as the City of Buffalo," he said. Getz will be reassigned to another job. Meanwhile, about 400 workers will be laid off, a far cry from the 3,000 that Giambra predicted he would dismiss had his "scorched earth" plan been adopted. Budget documents show the layoffs - about 4 percent of the county payroll - are scattered throughout many departments, with no unit suffering too heavily. "Make no mistake, this is a very painful document," Giambra said Thursday. "It will be painful for citizens who will see a reduction of services and it will be especially painful for the hundreds of county workers who will have to be given pink slips only a couple of weeks before the holidays."
Translation: You need to be my friend if you expect to feast on the public trough. Disgusting. Kudos to the folks who care & are looking out for us.


Here's a picture of a scary & sad clown: Giambra is unapologetic and combative. He is a bully - and not a particularly bright one, at that. He's going to Albany to scream and yell about Medicaid reform? He's going to get laughed at. Honestly, there's already FixAlbany, which is working to ... well, fix Albany. Why won't Giambra lend his efforts to that group? Because he's not running it, that's why.

Sinclair Broadcast Group update

Many WNY households may have recently received a coupon mailer courtesy of WB49. We first began getting these when WB49 introduced its local 10pm news broadcast. You'll, of course, remember Sinclair as the right-wing broadcaster which announced it would produce and show a hit piece against John Kerry about a week before the election. There was a tremendous outcry about it all. The mailer I got this week? One of the sponsors of it is the ...wait for it... National Edition of the Moonie Rag (Washington Times). Birds of a feather, what?

Erie County Charter & Code

In case anyone wanted to find it, here is a link to select Erie County Laws, including the County Charter. Brave County Legislators DeBenedetti and Marinelli stood up for the people of Erie County by refusing to vote for a budget that increased the sales tax yet failed to eliminate wasteful pork and patronage. Kudos. Lynn Marinelli Al DeBenedetti


WNY Coalition for Progress

We have a blog. WNY Coalition for Progress. http://wnyc4p.blogspot.com


Thus spake Justice John Marshall. How right he was. Well, New York is destroyed. The Buffalo News, which has been carrying Joel Giambra's water for him for half a decade or more, says this:
The Erie County Legislature narrowly approved a 2005 budget late Wednesday after negotiators agreed to let Buffalo and Erie County's towns and villages share $12.5 million in new sales tax money. As a result, libraries, parks and golf courses should remain open. The zoo won't have to adopt away its animals and public safety won't be imperiled, at least to the extent it would have been had the so-called "red budget" been adopted by default early today. County Legislature Chairman George A. Holt Jr., D-Buffalo, said he and County Executive Joel A. Giambra seized upon the $12.5 million figure in discussions through the evening. The amount was crucial in order for lawmakers to approve a new penny on the sales tax, which they did, 10-5. The agreement would require the layoffs of 400 county employees, Giambra said in remarks following the vote, in which some lawmakers said they were dissatisfied. The final agreement was negotiated by a select few, and members had no time to read its provisions before voting on them.

Only 400 employees? How many are there, exactly? I'd like to know.

"I have a very hollow feeling. It's very business as usual in Erie County," said Legislator Barry A. Weinstein, R-Amherst, who voted against the sales tax increase and against the final budget as well, saying the entire process may have been flawed and not in compliance with the County Charter.
I sympathize with Legislatore Weinstein. Oh, how I do. The budget itself passed 8-7, ahead of the midnight deadline.
Legislature Majority Leader Lynn M. Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda, and Finance and Management Committee Chairman Albert DeBenedetti, D-Buffalo, also voted against the budget. Aides said the package restored Giambra patronage jobs deleted by DeBenedetti's committee Friday. Back in the budget is Giambra's senior aide, driver and patronage czar, Victor M. Getz. "I think the public will be furious when they find out the county executive still has an $81,000-a-year driver," DeBenedetti said.
Furious doesn't even begin to describe my reaction to this news, Legislator De Benedetti. I am beyond outraged that King Joel Giambra's patronage lackeys, cronies, refugees from the dreaded private sector who exist to suck on the government teat are maintained (and given raises) in the budget, while some minor, token cuts are made elsewhere, consisting of people who are qualified for their jobs.

However, DeBenedetti and Marinelli voted along with the Democrats' eight-vote bloc to raise the sales tax to 9.25 cents on the dollar come March 1. Only two Republicans joined them: Jeanne Z. Chase of Evans and Charles M. Swanick of Kenmore. With 10 votes, the request can go to the state legislators representing Erie County, who will present a measure in Albany to approve Erie County's higher sales tax. "This budget crisis has been a hard lesson for our community," Giambra said. "There is no free ride. There is no easy vote. . . . We have made tough choices and made deep cuts, but we have preserved priorities."

Let's be honest. Giambra's sole priority is the preservation of his fiefdom and the permanent employment of his fricking schoolhouse chums. What a thief. What a crook. And worse than that, he takes us all for ignorant rubes.

The final package looks more like the "green budget" that Giambra had drafted but did not propose because he lacked assurances in November that sales tax income would be available. Giambra in early November asked legislators to raise the sales tax by a penny, to 9.25 cents on the dollar, to generate $109 million in 2005 and protect county services, until the next budget crisis hits in a couple of years. The eight Democrats who control the County Legislature were willing to approve the sales tax with a proviso: Some of its proceeds - $14.9 million and not a penny less - must be shared with the City of Buffalo and other municipal governments. The concept of sharing, and that amount, kept Democratic lawmakers and Giambra at an impasse for days.

"We've got to get real about how we provide services," Giambra said at a news conference Wednesday night, mentioning that Erie County has more levels of government and taxes than it needs, and he didn't want to share new money with them.

Still, he said that in recent negotiations he offered to share $3.5 million with Buffalo and $3 million with Erie County's 27 towns, 16 villages and two other cities. Then he upped the offer to $10 million, according to a worker present at a negotiating session Tuesday. Then, just before 11 p.m., officials said Giambra and Holt had agreed to share $12.5 million, with half going to Buffalo and half to the towns, villages and other cities. Lawmakers still had to meet late Wednesday, or early today, to formalize the agreement and meld the new money into a new budget to be drawn for 2005, with haggling expected over positions to restore. It looked as though the sales tax formula would be approved by the eight Democrats and two Republicans, possibly Chase and Swanick. Few Republican lawmakers supported the sharing concept and the higher sales tax, so when Democrats forced a test vote on the tax and their sharing formula Wednesday afternoon, the package gained only eight votes, not the 10 it needs. Seven Republicans voted against it, even those willing to raise the sales tax if the government cuts its size.

"We have to do more with less. We have to reduce the expense side of this ledger," said Steven P. McCarville, R-Orchard Park. He said he couldn't ask taxpayers for more if the county was going to then spread the money around.

"That is business as usual in Erie County," he said. "The budget amendment process these last six years has been a 70-page, non-negotiable package, and this needs to be replaced with an open, bipartisan process," said Weinstein, who reviewed a bumpy six years of fiscal miscues courtesy of the Giambra administration and legislators, too, at times.

"This is a historic moment for the Legislature," he said, "and I hope that the Legislature rises to the occasion." He voted against the package. Democrats presented their most impassioned speeches, showing all eight were willing to raise the tax though they had wanted no more than five Democrats to take the political risk with five Republicans.

"The American people need to live, love and laugh," said Mark J.F. Schroeder, D-Buffalo, invoking the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. "That is not what has been happening in Erie County over the last 30 days." He asked legislators to approve the increase and the sharing formula, which would have given $7 million to the City of Buffalo and $7.9 million to 27 towns, 16 villages and the two remaining cities. The Democratic bloc radiates from Buffalo. Five of its eight members are from districts touching the city. They reminded the packed chambers that Buffalo has gone nearly 20 years without income from the penny added to the sales tax in 1985. Now Buffalo neighborhoods need the help.

And we should be ashamed of this debacle.

I'm outraged. You should be, too.

ERIE COUNTY HAS THE HIGHEST SALES TAX IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. If you work for a living, you should be outraged. If you owe your job to your wits, experience and hard work, you should be outraged. If you didn't get your job simply because you knew the right people, you should be outraged. If you're one of the 400 or so Erie County workers cut from the budget that passed last night, you should be outraged. If you ever had the thought in your mind that Joel Giambra was different - that he was forward-thinking and had the best interests of the people of Erie County at heart - you should be outraged. If you thought that the EC Legislature hearings held over the past few weeks actually meant something - and you thought that your voice would be heard, you should be outraged. If you thought that the County would take this very good opportunity to reform itself to avoid future fiscal crises, you should be outraged. If you thought that County government was run more democratically and fairly than Albany, you should be outraged. The red budget was defeated. A form of the green budget won. A bastard form of it. In certain ways, the budget that they passed last night at 92 Franklin is worse than both the green and red budgets. Why? Because it retains the tax increases and raises for patronage cronies of the green budget, and brings about no reform whatsoever. I'm glad the libraries will stay open, and I'm glad that Sheriff funding will be maintained, etc. That's great. What I'm outraged about is this: THEY DID NOT CUT ONE SINGLE, SOLITARY PATRONAGE APPOINTMENT. YET THEY INCREASED THE MOST REGRESSIVE FORM OF TAXATION - OUR SALES TAX. Every patronage appointment should have been cut. Every one. There are 950,000 residents of Erie County. You know - Switzerland offers its citizens universal health care. Yet their sales tax (VAT) is about 7.25%. They're managed competently, in a fiscally responsible & conservative way. New York is a banana republic where every politician has his own turf to protect to the death, and they don't care if they ruin the whole goddamn state, so long as their turf gets funded and protected. By the way. The average sales tax in the US is 6.25%. New York State sales tax is 4.25%. The counties get to add to that figure. Based on the Sales Tax Clearinghouse's figures, ERIE COUNTY HAS THE HIGHEST SALES TAX IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Please call your Erie County Legislator to express your outrage.


Oh - by the way - there's no budget yet.

Erie County Legislators and Joel Giambra can't come up with a compromise on the extra penny per dollar that we're going to have to for just about everything in Erie County. The whole thing is beyond embarassing. Folks, New York is a banana republic. We need fundamental, earth-shattering governmental reform so very, very badly. The Ukraine has its sh1t together more than New York. So help me, any and all big-ticket items from now on will happily be purchased in Monroe, Genesee, and/or Niagara County. By the way - Eliot Spitzer has announced his bid for the governorship in 2006. Let's see if he's got a strong governmental reform platform (please please please). After 10 years of Pataki & business as usual, it's quite clear he couldn't care less about reform. At all.

Bass Pro = Big Mo?

Yes, according to this piece in today's Buffalo News.
"Fresh off landing a gigantic Bass Pro Outdoor World store, a contingent of Buffalo officials traveled to New York City on Tuesday in search of additional retail catches. Mayor Anthony M. Masiello joined Timothy Wanamaker, head of the city's Office of Strategic Planning, and four development staff members in stalking retail prey at the International Council of Shopping Centers fall meeting in Manhattan. 'I'm here to tell our story of momentum, investment and excitement, and we're getting a very warm reception,' Masiello said. Wanamaker, who has represented Buffalo at past meetings of the group, said last week's Bass Pro announcement has ncreased interest in the area. 'There are key retailers we've had difficulties getting a meeting with in the past, and now they want to see us,' he said. 'When you tell people Bass Pro is coming to town, it opens doors.' "
Maybe this is just the Buffalo News trying to prove how right it is, but if this is true, it's good news for Buffalo.


Budget deadline today.

Today's the day. Today's the day that the County Leg has to pass an Erie County 2005 Budget. Will they reject Giambra's red/green budget ploy, which was designed to continue his "divide and conquer" ethos? Will Mr. "No Handout/No Bailout" be seen at Chef's today, eating his words? Will the Leg discover that traffic lights have three phases, and pass a yellow budget? Folks, New Yorkers' taxes are 72% higher than the national average. 72%. People wonder why Erie County is hemmorhaging people and why it's hard to attract business? Take a look at that 72%. County government is overweight with patronage hacks and cronies whose jobs are dependent on nepotism, favoritism, etc. There needs to be a black Tuesday today, where all the patronage jobs are abolished. We need a house-cleaning that gets rid of the provisional workers who haven't taken their civil service exams. We need to jettison the dead weight that does duplicative work. How dare County government demand that everyone - rich and poor - dig in for another penny per dollar for every sale made, or service rendered in the county, while the extended Getz family gets to stay out of the dreaded private sector. This morning on WBEN, they interviewed some half-wit who wanted Giambra to get his penny, but didn't want the money shared with the City because they have such bad fiscal problems. What has Joel Giambra done, exactly, in the last year to merit people's confidence in his fiscal competence? Kudos to some people who still have brains:
"But five Republicans are also seen as necessary for a deal. Most observers see neither Legislator Elise M. Cusack of Williamsville nor Legislator Denise E. Marshall of Lancaster, both Republicans, as voting for a tax hike under any circumstances. Instead, both have proposed cutting $108 million (the amount generated by the extra percentage point of sales tax) that includes eliminating county automobiles, consolidating departments and eliminating patronage posts in the legislative and executive branches, as well as all pork barrel spending.
That's the spirit. Fight the power. Fight against the entrenched who think their jobs are an entitlement. CLEAN SWEEP.


Waterfront Development

My idea would incorporate the San Diego Seaport Village model with Legacy Village outside Cleveland:

Outer Harbor Development

Is it right for us to thank the NFTA for finally getting off its rear-end and introducing some proposals for Outer Harbor Development? I mean, they should have done this eons ago. Well, there will be a public meeting at WNED's studios on Lower Terrace in Buffalo on Saturday December 11th at 9am. Here's the press release:
  • Waterfront Development Concepts to be Presented at Public Meeting Community is Invited to Attend and Comment Buffalo, NY . . . The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced that a public meeting regarding outer harbor waterfront redevelopment has been scheduled for Saturday, Dec.11, from 9 a.m.-12-noon at WNED, 140 Lower Terrace, Buffalo, NY. (across from the Adam’s Mark Hotel). Three teams made up of national and local firms who responded to the NFTA’s Outer Harbor Development Request for Proposals will each give a 30-minute presentation regarding their concepts and vision for reconstructing the outer harbor, followed by a question and answer session. The following teams will be presenting: Ø Jerde Partnership, Ciminelli Development, O & Y Enterprises and Urban Engineers Ø Norstar Development, Mathews Nielsen, Foit-Albert, Jaeckle Fleischmann and Mugel LLP, Watts Engineering, and Bevlar and Associates Ø Opus East LLC, VOA Associates, BIDCO Marine Group, Harris Beach, LLP and Uniland Development Luiz F. Kahl, NFTA chairman said, “This meeting will provide a forum for the community to see and learn about what the three development teams envision for our waterfront and at the same time offer their suggestions and comments regarding the presentations.” The evaluation committee consisting of representatives from the NFTA, state, county, city and the business community will be in attendance at the presentations. Jon B. DeVries, Principal and National Director of the URS Corporation will moderate the presentations. The URS Corporation was selected to assist with the process because of their extensive experience helping cities around the world with projects the scope of Buffalo’s outer harbor site. In an effort to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to be informed about the presentations, the entire program will be taped and released to community television access channels. Airing dates and times will vary depending on the availability of airtime at the various channels. Starting Monday, Dec. 13, a condensed version of each of the three proposals will be available for viewing online at www.nfta.com (Outer Harbor Development), at the central location of the Buffalo and Erie County Library and at the Earl W. Brydges Public Library, Niagara Falls, NY. Written comments may be submitted to the NFTA attention Property Division, 181 Ellicott St. Buffalo, NY 14203, or e-mailed to outerharbor@nfta.com. Written comments and e-mails need to be submitted by December 31, 2004 to be incorporated into the record.
Personally, I think that the outer harbor should be designed as a mixed-use urban village, incorporating the ideas of New Urbanism. It shouldn't be another office park. It should have character - cobblestone streets and brick fronts. It should have integrated, convenient underground parking. The NFTA should without a doubt extend Metro Rail to this new community. There should be ample retail and restaurant space. There should be easy access to a waterfront promenade/boardwalk & fishing pier. The possibilities are limitless.

WNY Coalition for Progress update

There was a meeting on December 2nd (which I could not attend) of our nascent group. How shall it be named? Please vote now. The choices: WNY Coalition for Progress WNY Citizens for Progress Coalition for Progress WNY Alliance for Progress Americans United for Progress Vote via e-mail to Mark Poloncarz. Here is Mark's report on last week's meeting:

The second meeting of the new regional progressive organization was held on December 2nd and was attended by 45 people. After much discussion it was overwhemingly decided that the organization be non- partisan in nature and focus on progressive/democratic issues. A similar national organization would be the Center for American Progress, a progressive issue based group headed by Bill Clinton's former Chief of Staff John Podesta: http://www.americanprogress.org. While the organization would not endorse candidates, it will endorse and support progressive/democratic ideas. If the group moves forward a PAC could be created to endorse and help fund progressive candidates. It was also decided that a central Board of Directors/Executive Committee govern various working groups, which groups would be split into 2 general issue wings - National and Regional/Local. The working groups would review issues and present findings to the Executive Committee for determination on endorsement of issues. Ideas for working groups were thrown around and the following groups were suggested:

National - Progressive Moral Identification/Values, Federal Election Reform, Protect Social Security, Communication/Media Reform, Foreign Policy/Affairs, Healthcare/stem cells/prescription drugs, Free Trade Policies, Women's Reproductive Rights, Environment Regional/Local - State/Local Election Reform, Cross Border Issues, Working Wage, Local Fiscal Policy, Medicaid Reform, Taxes, Buffalo Media Accountability, City-County Consolidation, reform Albany, Low Cost Utilities, Education Reform, Development, Transportation, Downtown Development, Erie County, Niagara County, Southern Tier, Eastern Counties. Other working groups may be suggested, and I ask for everyone's suggestions on other recommended working groups. We will not be able to have a working group for every recommendation, but we would like to have a few working groups up and running in January. So please provide me your suggestions and let me know if you would like to sit on or chair any of the above recommended working groups. A provisional Board/Executive Committee will be in place by January. Though we have about 20 people interested in the board, if you have not yet notified me and are interested in sitting on the board please drop me an e-mail. At the end of the meeting attendees were asked to vote for a name choice. Out of the 18 suggested names the top 5 were:

WNY Coalition for Progress: 12 votes WNY Citizens for Progress: 8 votes Coalition for Progress: 7 votes WNY Alliance for Progress: 4 votes Americans United for Progress: 3 votes In order to put the name of the organization to rest I ask everyone to send me an e-mail with your name choice from the above 5 names., which will then be presented to the provisional board for final approval. Finally, while I have most members' addresses and phone numbers, I do not have everyones. So I ask everyone who has not attended a meeting and filled out an application to send me an e-mail with your address and home, cell & work numbers. As always, if you have any ideas or questions please feel free to drop me an e-mail, and if you want to review e-mail suggestions from members please click here: http://www.poloncarz.com/wnycoalition.htm.

Join now.


Joe Giambra and the Technicolor Budget mess

From former EC Deputy Executive Jim Keane:
County Executive Joel Giambra has just spent tens of thousands of dollars on a multimedia campaign to convince the community that Medicaid is entirely responsible for the county's fiscal woes. Nothing could be further from the truth.To be sure, Medicaid is a serious problem for New York State and its counties. Albany has an obligation to reform the program. But Medicaid has burdened counties heavily since the mid-1980s, and Erie County's worst fiscal crisis cannot be attributed to the ever-rising costs of Medicaid alone. It accounts only for a fraction of the blame. The responsibility for this crisis instead rests solely on the shoulders of Giambra and his disastrous fiscal policies. In 1999, Giambra rode a 30 percent tax cut pledge to victory. Dennis Gorski predicted that Giambra's plan would wreck Erie County's budget. The Buffalo News called it risky. Erie County residents are about to suffer the consequences. Consider this: Gorski left Giambra an $85 million surplus and $211 million won from his tobacco lawsuit. The $85 million is long gone, and the tobacco fund is nearly depleted. Erie County received an ill-conceived windfall of $57 million when Giambra sold ECMC to itself. That money is also gone, and the county now has a reported deficit of $135 million. Giambra's reckless spending also has added $238 million to the county's debt. That all adds up to a whopping $726 million. Since Giambra took office, Erie County's contribution to Medicaid did not increase anywhere near the $726 million. In fact, Erie County's cumulative Medicaid costs increased by only $252 million. While that is a lot of money, it's nowhere near $726 million and certainly doesn't account for the enormous budget deficits that have caused the county executive to call for over $100 million in new taxes per year. So what happened? Well, the county executive failed to match his tax cuts in 2000 with spending cuts. On the contrary, he went on a spending spree, padding the county payroll with hundreds of new jobs for his relatives, friends and cronies. He lavished himself and his appointees with new cars, refurbished offices and bought furniture that wasn't needed and cost too much. He purchased buildings and land from cronies that the county didn't need at inflated prices. He practically wiped out the county's reserves to pay for recurring expenses. And he failed to mind the store while the county's Aurora highway garage was looted. As I said at the outset, the Medicaid issue needs to be resolved. But it is hardly the cause of Erie County's catastrophic budget deficit. Giambra has mismanaged Erie County to the brink of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, county taxpayers are about to feel the brunt of his wasteful spending and fiscal gimmickry. Those terrible budget surpluses under a scandal-free Gorski administration - castigated as imprudent by Giambra and frittered away in barely five years - are looking better and better every day.
Does someone from the EC Republican Party, the National GOP, the Partnership or the News want to explain to me exactly how Giambra can, in good conscience, consider himself a Republican? He's a corrupt bastard. He needs to go. And Giambra - former Buffalo City Comptroller - had the nerve to institute a campaign of disdain and hatred toward the City of Buffalo, holding the County up as a model for good government. He has no shame.

Bass Pro

So, Bass Pro is coming downtown to the Aud. I honestly don't mind tax money going to refurbish the Aud, because it beats having it mothballed & doing nothing. Presumably, the taxpayers will get some benefit in sales tax and room tax. Something for Donn Esmonde to look into. He gets paid for this sort of stuff. I don't. I hope they're smart and do it in such a way to maximize the benefit to that area. Ripping down the Skyway would be good way to start. I am sick and tired of Tony Masiello looking like a putz, though:

Budget Meeting 12/1

I attended the EC Legislature's budget hearing in Clarence last night. It was very well-attended, not unsymbolically in Clarence's gleaming new library building. A lot of very intelligent, impassioned people spoke last night (including yours truly). You know, Giambra did this red budget-green budget nonsense to get people mad at Albany. I am mad at Albany. But I'm livid at him.

WNY Coalition for Change

Meeting tomorrow 12/2: Meeting tomorrow is at Room 412/Fireside Lounge in the Student center at Buffalo State College, not the Erie County Democrats HQ. Meeting starts at 7:00. For more details, see the full event listing: http://johnkerry.meetup.com/113/events/3590782/