(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.
"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?
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.Indeed.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
"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. "
- 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
- 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.
"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.
"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.
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.
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.
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."
And we should be ashamed of this debacle.
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.
"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.
"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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Written comments and e-mails need to be submitted by December 31, 2004 to be incorporated into the record.
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.
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.