Things to do with kids in WNY

Jen from Random Daily Thoughts has returned from a vacation, and discusses places in WNY that her little boy would enjoy. She mentions Becker Farms, the Buffalo Zoo, and the Jello museum in Leroy. A commenter suggests the Niagara Aquarium. Good choices, all. Here are my faves - all kid-friendly: 1. Butterfly conservatory near Niagara Falls, ON 2. Well... Niagara Falls, ON and Niagara Falls, NY 3. On a warm day, I love to lie out on the grassy "beach" near Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown 4. A walk in Niagara-on-the-Lake 5. Science Museum of Buffalo 6. Strong Museum in Rochester 7. Window-shopping on Elmwood 8. Thunder Rocks at Allegany State Park 9. Ellicottville 10. Between February and April, you MUST try these pancakes: Arcade Center Farm Pancake House 7298 Route 98 Arcade 585-492-3821 (cash only) 11. Vidler's in East Aurora (and lunch at Tantalus (avoid dinner - service can get slow & surly)) Finally, if you need the scoop on local restaurants, there's fantastic restaurant reviews in the Spree, and Rapaport's got the closest thing to Zagat's in WNY.

Holt & CBC

As per the Buffalo Beast

RIP Terry Schiavo

Finally, she can. And, finally, a whole lot of "15 minutes" have now expired.


This story is an absolute tragedy. You think the Terri Schiavo case is a tragedy? This, to me, is worse. And if you really want to weep like a fucking baby, read and listen to the 911 call.

South Park on Schiavo

I don't know how many of you watch South Park, but it's still fresh, funny, and chock-full of oft-not-subtle social commentary. Last night's episode was no exception. Last night, when Kenny died, he went to heaven, and it was revealed that his prowess playing a heaven vs. hell videogame on his new PSP was a test by God; since Kenny is the only kid to reach level 60, he's the only one who can direct the forces of good to defeat the forces of evil. (Evil outnumbering Good by about a billion to ten thousand). But the doctors revived Kenny, but he was in a persistent vegetative state. They installed a feeding tube. As that was happening, Kyle, Stan & Cartman were having Kenny's will read to them. Kyle & Stan got all of Kenny's possessions except one; Cartman got the PSP. The last line of the will was "if I'm ever in a persistent vegetative state, I ..." and the last page was missing. Cartman instantly made up a story that Kenny had told him he didn't want to be kept alive (so he could get the PSP). Kyle & Stan launched a media campaign to keep Kenny's feeding tube in. Obviously, the angels are upset that their savior's soul is no longer in heaven, and they come to Earth to ensure that the feeding tube is pulled. Satan's minions, on the other hand, do what they always do: use the Republicans. Satan's boyfriend whispering lines to a Republican congressman on the Capitol steps. The climax: the two competing groups arguing with each other over Kenny's body. The lawyer runs in and exclaims that he's found the missing last page: If I'm ever in a persistent vegetative state, I... don't ever want anyone to show me that way on national TV. Kyle & Stan "learned something today."
Cartman was right, for the wrong reasons; And Kyle & Stan were wrong, for the right reasons.
And in so many words, the young men of South Park have distilled the Schiavo matter. PS: They pull the feeding tube, and Kenny uses God's golden PSP to direct the forces of good to defeat evil. PPS: Before you dismiss this as anti-anything propaganda, the guys who write South Park as pinko liberals, they're actually not.


I have no idea why the bloody thing keeps posting itself. I might use it from time to time when the notion strikes and I'm away from a 'puter, but if it takes 2 days to post and does so over & over, maybe I'll re-think that.


this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play


I know you find Joe Scarborough as irritating as I do. That's why you have to click this linky here and watch Scarborough battle scientific fact with wild-ass opinion. Guess which one wins?

Craig'll like this one

How do the Germans reconcile their love of automobiles with their environmental fetish? It's a tug-of-war that's been going on there for decades; hence, the creeping imposition of speed limits on autobahns. A report today (to which I'll link, but isn't in English) reveals that the opposition CDU have teamed up with the Green party to demand a ban on driving personal automobiles on Sundays. Why? In order to minimize diesel particulate emissions. I can't believe that the purported conservatives in Germany are proposing something so stupid.

The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race is the best show on television, IMHO. I don't really have time to summarize each episode. So instead, read Waveflux's extremely detailed synopsis of last night's goings on. As commentary, let me add that I'm thrilled that Ray & Deana are out. Ever since Colin & Christie, that show's had a villain team (remember Jonathan last season?) Ray was the villain this season, and he was a total prick to Deana. Good riddance. Rob & Amber I have a lot of respect for; they're playing the game better than, I think, any team that's come before. They'r really using the rules to their advantage, and the other teams are completely and detrimentally preoccupied with them. Rob Mariano is a brilliant strategist and extremely persuasive, and he and Amber have been getting along wonderfully as a team. That teamwork not only explains why I like them, but why they're doing so well.

More Buffalo Blogs!

Jag Skamtar is written by a Buffalo attorney who's learning Swedish. KT in Buffalo is brand new, and contains "musings on a variety of topics." Welcome to them both, and up on the blogroll they'll go...as soon as I can convince Blogger to work.

Bloggered again

I honestly don't know what's up with blogger, but I've been effectively unable to post since about 2pm yesterday. It's getting to be a bit frustrating.

"I didn't do it."

Nancy Naples is sounding a lot like Bart in the Simsons episode where he becomes a TV star for coining the catch-phrase "I didn't do it." She's not to blame for the fiscal crisis; She's not to blame for letting Giambra get away with raiding the surplus and tobacco money; and now, She's not to blame for having been wicked late on her taxes. Many times.
"Taxes for 1999 alone went unpaid for 18 months, gathering a late fee of $5,200"
Her excuse? My husband forgot to pay the bills. I can't imagine what my wife would do to me if I incurred a late fee of $5,200 like that.



I swear, I had about 3-4 posts ready to go, but Blogger either ate them or forbade me from logging in at all. This has been happening a lot lately, and it's getting realllllly frustrating.


The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups. "These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri," says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father. "These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!" Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish.
Ghoulish doesn't even begin to describe that.

Revitalize Buffalo

A promising group that is apolitical, and has a lot of great ideas, including the promotion of:

  • The urban experience;
  • Acquisition & renovation of a building to create a business incubator;
  • Photography
  • Music
  • Neighborhood revitalization/beautification

All they need is a group of motivated people who love Buffalo, want to keep people here, and attract people and business here. "Our vision is to help build a smarter and cooler Buffalo and to enhance the region’s profile as an exciting and vibrant community by mobilizing the bright, creative and hard-working people of Buffalo and the region." So, if you're bright, creative and hard-working (or think you are), please visit www.revitalizebuffalo.org and join. Their next meeting is Thursday, April 28, 7 PM at the Delaware Park Casino (behind Albright-Knox). Please sign up and attend.


Glad to see American pundits getting some work abroad. Apparently Zimbabwean dictator and all-around bad guy Robert Mugabe has hired Ann Coulter as an advisor:
'All those who will vote for the MDC are traitors,' state radio quoted Mugabe as saying to a ruling ZANU-PF party rally at Mutoko, 140 kilometers (90 miles) northeast of Harare.
Peas in a pod, she and he.

Pataki must be on the pipe

I mean, he must if he thinks he can be taken seriously as a presidential candidate in today's Republican Party. But News10 in Syracuse is reporting that NY1 is reporting (whew!) that Pataki will not seek a fourth term.
"News 10 Now's sister station New York 1 is reporting that Governor George Pataki expects to announce in the next few weeks he's not seeking a fourth term, and is instead deciding whether to run for president. Pataki is said to have knowledge that he's a long shot for the nomination, but thinks he could be the GOP nominee for vice president in 2008. "
A new Rocky! Whatever little Pataki accomplished when first elected have been long overshadowed by his willing participation in a sick system, which has made New York weaker, not stronger. He's a laughingstock in his home state -what makes him think that the good voters of New Hampshire or Iowa will pick him over, say, McCain? But: this would open things up for a primary between Nassau's Tom Suozzi and Saint Rudy of Giuliani. As Bill points out in comments, Suozzi's a democrat. Who knew?

50 Years of the BMW Isetta

Happy Birthday. Like the Vespa and the Fiat Cinquecento, the Isetta is a true icon of postwar Europe.

Some watchdog

Nancy Naples. Some watchdog. She's overseen years of budget mismanagement and malfeasance. Now, we find out she has paid her property taxes late more than once. Some fiscal watchdog.

Comedy in Albany

It's amazing, isn't it? How many times over the past day or two have you heard Albany pat itself on the back? Democracy In Albany describes perfectly what's going on:
"Imagine failing for 20 years at something and then bragging about finally getting it done....before its done."
That had me rolling.
After 20 years of abysmal failure, we should all pretend you [in Albany] are doing your jobs at the absolutely lowest standard since you've never been able to even reach that bar. Maybe we could be the "second worst legislature" in the country this year. Then we could really criticize some cynics. And now a word from our future Governor: "The assumption that Albany is broken is absolutely correct — and we need to fix that, if we don't reform the trilateral arrangement, we will have failed New York state."


Job Killing!

In a similar vein as before: Spitzer is killing no-fault insurance fraud jobs here. Here, he's quite obviously discouraging boiler-room operators, ponzi schemers, and other fraudsters from setting up shop in NY. If all greengrocers in NY are to be required to pay minimum wage and overtime to their workers, then the greengrocers will stop coming to NY. Here, Spizer is seen demolishing the marine steel painting industry in New York, by targeting this one guy in Williamsville who cheated the State Insurance fund. Finally, Spitzer is seen here chasing away the mattress-sales industry in New York by going after a company that ran phony sales.


The ice is melting.


Seems your humble correspondent got a bit hot under the collar and carried away with himself earlier today. Sorry 'bout that. But the commenter who sparked my ire has responded:
Sorry about the y’all, after living here 13 years out of 15 some things like y’all, sweet tea and BBQ are as natural as “pop” Errr pepsi … Mighty Tacos and of course wings. It isn’t pathetic, just taking on some of the local culture. I can still easily use the Buffalo phases “Dis and “dese “ (aka this and these) in any sentence. “you call dis pizza?”... “you call dese wings?”
This New York boy can sympathize there. When I get tired and lazy, my speech quickly regresses to a horrific NYC-style, swear-packed patois.
You can argue there are less people, but it seems services and spending are cutback at the same rate as the decline in population? Funny, looking at Erie County’s statistics, Government is the largest employer in WNY http://www.erie.gov/overview . Government agencies hold half of the top ten slots and provide 20K more jobs then the 5 top private sector jobs. Per the NYS labor statistics (1) Total government employment is 17.1% of workforce (take total private vs. total government). On the Erie County website, it shows government employment at 15.44% of the total (Source: NYS Department of Labor - July 1998 Data). Government employment rose almost 2% from 1998 to 2005 while population is down 20K from 1990 through 2000.
You're right about that, and I've commented about it before. I think it's depressing. But I think Buffalo is uniquely poised - right place, right time, to do something about it. But that also means that I can't really be bothered listening to the opions of the people who are leaving/have left. I came here voluntarily. None of that ingrained, institutionalized, special brand of Buffalo pessimism has infected me yet.
There has been relatively little discussion about the increased burden placed on Erie County government due to the reduced regional earnings and out migration of the best and brightest of our young. The region is getting older and less affluent, and this is causing fiscal burdens to the region’s residents. The same holds for other large upstate New York counties such as Monroe and Onondaga.
Groups like WNY Coalition for Progress and Revitalize Buffalo are looking to take steps - politically and through activism - to reverse the brain drain. As to my rant about local taxes being federal deductions:
Hmmm, you are correct, but is this good? There is a lot of debate around this topic and more then 1 proposal to due away with this deduction. If tax reform ever gets rolling, the “Blue” states are going to get hit hard if this reform is ever enacted. Personally I doubt it will ever pass, but it is something to keep an eye on. Personally, I rather take that money and invest it in equity in my house.
Sure. But in many instances, the whole "taxes are lower where I've moved to" argument can be fallacious. If a 4 bedroom house on an acre in Clarence goes for $300,000, and a 4 bedroom house on an acre in, say, Atlanta (or Boston. Or Chicago) goes for $900,000, are you really paying taxes that are significantly lower? Maybe a smaller proportion; but wouldn't the end numbers be pretty similar? The blue states are definitely in for a right reaming if Bush & Co. have anything to say about it. But politics is cyclical, and what goes around... The commenter goes on to rebut my mostly knee-jerk attack on Atlanta in particular and the sunbelt in general. (I have no love for the South: not its past, not its present). Sure, Atlanta's got parks. Sure, Atlanta's got museums. But looking at the package as a whole: Atlanta's climate, people, traffic, etc., I give the edge to WNY in terms of desireability. Even with high taxes and shit politicians.
Nothing arrogant in my post, and I don’t hate WNY, my family, still lives there, and I would too if it wasn’t for the politics of the place driving businesses and people out. I am also one of the few who actually DID move back to WNY after 15 years. I gave it 2 years but sadly, the economy was so bad I took another transfer back to Georgia. So I do have some real-life comparisons that I can make.
This place is what you make it. Some succeed, others fail. Like I said, I came here from elsewhere. I am optimistic and see only the area's potential, having not lived through its decline and failure. Is it hard for people to make it in WNY? Maybe yes, maybe no. I mean: did you come back to WNY with no job? Why 2 years? When I'm railing against out-of-towners' arrogance, I don't mean to personalize it against any one person or visitor or commenter. But I still cannot tolerate the utter hatred that many Buffalo expats have for this area - whether they realize it or not; whether they admit it or not, it's there. They think we're suckers for staying here and making a go of it. Maybe we are. But I refuse to think that way.

What's happening?

Atrios alludes to this today, and I feel it a lot from time to time, too. Today's one of those days. What's happening to America? I feel like I'm living in a different place, at a different time; that this isn't the USA in 2005. The Schindlers have exhausted their media circus, and now their daughter's hospice is a magnet for every wacko kook theocrat with no job and gas money. The President wants to make Social Security more fiscally sound by taking money out of the system. The Congress makes laws to make a political point about one dying woman, who is undergoing a process that's taking place throughout America every day; only without the same media scrutiny. Finally, now: the FCC isn't satisfied just to regulate indecency on the public airwaves, but thinks it should also be the final arbiter of good taste. The FCC also thinks it has the right to regulate indecency on pay cable like HBO and Cinemax, and possibly pay radio like Sirius & XM.
Leading lawmakers and the commission's new chairman have proposed a broad expansion of indecency rules, which were significantly toughened just last year. They are also looking for significant increases in the size of fines and new procedures that could jeopardize the licenses of stations that repeatedly violate the rules. Some senior lawmakers, including Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who heads the Senate Commerce Committee, and the commission's chairman, Kevin Martin, have suggested that it may be time to extend the indecency and profanity rules to cable and satellite-TV providers, which now account for viewership in 85 percent of U.S. homes.
What's happening? When do we reach the tipping point when the theocrats' influence finally peters out?


Does this thing still exist, or what?


Here is Free Buffalo's questionnaire in pdf format. This is how that paragon of political virtue phrased the question on Bass Pro:
Should Free Buffalo oppose subsidies and special tax breaks to Bass Pro? _____NO _____YES
That's it. No explanation, no discussion, no facts nor figures. Just a misleading conclusion and the solicitation of the reader's agreement. God forbid there be some contemplation and debate of the facts.

Elian Gonzalez can kiss my ass

Terri Schiavo has been in a persistent vegetative state for about 15 years. At a funeral, she told her husband, and was overheard by 2 witnesses, that she didn't want to be kept alive by machines. Her wishes have gone unfulfilled for 15 years. The matter has been tried fairly, and appealed, and then congress acted, and the courts acted again. It's over. Even the Schindlers acknowledge that. They're now faced with the monster that they've created: by publicizing and expolitatively politicizing Terri's plight, they've gotten in bed with some really bad, crazy characters. The Schinlders are now trying to rid themselves of these albatrosses. Unsuccessfully. In any event, now that the court cases have run their course, the right is on a hunt. A hunt for liberal hypocrisy. After all, what will Limbaugh and his clones discuss if the right doesn't find its liberal hypocrisy talking points right away? Horrors! Well, the Wall Street Journal is on the case. The liberals are hypcrites on the Schiavo matter when compared with Elian Gonzalez. Apparently. Well, check out this picture: Now replace Elian with Terri Schiavo, and the fisherman with Michael Schiavo - (do a photoshop in your head). That's what the right-wing wanted in this case. In the Elian Gonzalez case, the right sided with the mob that wanted to keep the child in America, despite the fact that he has a father, who wanted to return with Elian to Cuba. The Miami relatives publicized and politicized what should have been a simple family matter (sound familiar?) Once Elian's father expressed his wish to take Elian - his son - back with him to Cuba, the Miami relatives had effectively kidnapped the kid, AFAIC. In the Terri Schiavo case, the right sided with the federal government, Florida legislature and executive, and with the mob that wants to keep Terri breathing for breathing's sake despite the fact that Terri has a husband and guardian who wants her to be able to go in peace. In both cases; the "left" sided with the affected person's immediate family. Remember: in Terri Schiavo's case, you're stuck with your parents, but you get to choose your spouse. And also remember: the rule is that a Cuban refugee has to plant his feet on US soil in order to benefit from the special-and-unfair-rule that he can stay in the US as a refugee. Elian was plucked from the water. Under the law, he should have been returned to Cuba for medical treatment in the first place.


There's a story in today's WNY Media Network about more nefarious job-killing by that notorious Marxist-Leninist Eliot Spitzer. Of course, I'm being sarcastic. Here's the story:
"Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today announced that Dr. Dawer Nadi, who practices on Webster Avenue in the Bronx, pleaded guilty to fraudulently billing Medicaid for dental services rendered to a patient who had died before the claimed 'services' were rendered. Nadi, 46, of 29 Terra Mar Drive in Huntington, Long Island, appeared on March 22 before Bronx Criminal Court Judge John N. Bryne and pleaded guilty to first-degree offering a false instrument, a Class E felony. In addition, Nadi agreed to repay $400,000 to the Medicaid program to resolve allegations that he was reimbursed for services not rendered to Medicaid recipients over a seven-year period. "
According to the logic of the Spitzer-haters, this action will only discourage dentists from setting up shop or staying in NYS.

Cheap Power

Niagara Falls is being exploited for energy, and we're not reaping the benefits locally. Donn Esmonde comments on the fact that the NYS Power Authority's license to sell Niagara power is up for renewal. It's time to change the deal so that it benefits us, and not some jackasses in Albany or elsewhere.
"We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make our natural resource work for us. The New York State Power Authority's 50-year license to sell power generated from the Falls expires soon. It wants a relicensing deal. It's a chance to claim what we deserve - more cheap power from our own resource. 'We need something dramatic to help us,' said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo. 'This is our best opportunity to revive the economy of Western New York.' The roadblocks to economic rebirth are high taxes and utility costs. It's why we can't keep or lure businesses. Businesses mean jobs. Jobs mean our kids don't leave and departed friends can come back. Heavy industry here already gets cheap power from the falls. So do some cities and towns. They want to keep what they have when a new 50-year deal is cut in 2007, and they should. But we deserve more. Florida used its warm climate to build a tourist industry. We should use the cheap power from the falls to rebuild our economy. Instead, the authority pads its profits by auctioning power that should stay here to users across the Northeast. 'The authority is exploiting our resource for their economic benefit,' said Higgins, 'while undermining our vitality.' "
You know, say what you want about Brian Higgins, but he's in Washington and he's really looking out for Buffalo on honest-to-goodness, day-to-day, bread-and-butter issues. Where the f*ck is Tom Reynolds, and how has he helped his constituency, lately?

Spiralling upwards...again

I posted "Spiralling upward" a few days ago, and an interesting discussion has taken place. Here's one comment:
... The person quoted in the article is JUST the kind of person y'all should be listening to. Remember, as people leave your taxes will continue to increase to make up the slack.
Except that there ought to be less people who need services, arguably. And spare me the "y'all" schtick. If you're a Buffalonian living in Atlanta, "y'all" is merely a pathetic attempt to fit in.
Heck, I save over 6K each year in taxes by living anyplace besides WNY... I use that 6K to buy products and services from locals to keep the Georgia economy working. Imagine if every home owner in WNY had an extra 6K to spend, the WNY economy would be booming.
Maybe you're right. But you know what else? That property tax and other state taxes that you pay are a straight deduction off your federal return. New Yorkers pay less federal tax and/or get a larger refund than people in other states due to our local tax burden. (Not saying that's necessarily good - just a fact)./
If I stayed in WNY, that 6K spent would have been spent on goverment services that I do not use, and have no need for.
Yeah. Who needs parks, museums, roads, filled potholes, and plowed roads?
so, ignore these people, and remember last person to leave Buffalo, please turn off the lights
I cannot tolerate the arrogant pricks who leave WNY, and then express nothing but hatred and disdain for their native region. If you hate it, fine. Just STFU about it, 'kay? Some of us prefer to live in an area chock-full of cultural attractions and natural wonders. I'll take the Albright-Knox over the Coke museum, thanks. Some of us enjoy dry, sunny summer days that seldom hit 90, instead of hot, sticky, muggy 100+ degree days. (That electric bill you have for running the a/c all year 'round whittles away at your precious 6k fictitious number). Some of us enjoy a comparatively traffic-free commute to work over the snarled stop 'n go you get in places like Atlanta. Some of us enjoy a complete lack of natural disasters (except the infrequent snow dump); no earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, or tornadoes. Some of us recognize that WNY isn't perfect, but we're willing to work hard to make change for the better. But if you choose to leave and then express hatred towards WNY when you've gone, don't let the door hit you on your ass on the way out.

Wacky comparisons

I heard two over the weekend: First, I heard Michael Jackson claim to be "just the latest of several "black luminaries" to be unjustly accused, citing former South African president, Nelson Mandela, and former heavyweight boxing champions Muhammad Ali and Jack Johnson as others." That's right, Michael. You're a political prisoner fighting against apartheid. That's equivalent to being an (alleged) pedophile. Asshole. Lastly, I heard a lot of "commentators" and "news" programs basically say in so many words that Terri Schiavo was Christ-like. While I sympathize with her and her entire family (husband and parents), and while I wish her nothing but good, I don't think comparing her to the Messiah is really probative of anything.

Dyngus Day

I must confess, I never, ever heard of this festival until I moved here in 2001. If you have no idea what it is, check out this website by Marty Biniasz: www.dyngusdaybuffalo.com.



Some kid came up to my kid today and said: If you do something bad to someone, all you have to do is pray to God and you'll be forgiven. Maybe some of you are saying, "awwwww. How sweet." I wanted to barf. Those, frankly, aren't the "values" I'm teaching my kid. Our values are: If you do something bad to someone, show them that you're sorry. Don't just pay lip service - really and truly show and tell them that you're sorry. God doesn't enter into it. And I don't need fricking 8 year-olds proselytizing to my 4 year-old. But it explains why people are so rude nowadays - nary a thank you, seldom a please. Hardly any holding open of doors, rare use of turn signals. But it doesn't matter how you actually treat others - as long as you pray to God, I guess, you'll be forgiven. I want to barf. Oh, yeah. Happy Easter.

Spiralling upward

And if you former Buffalonians who are so wicked concerned about what's going on here came back and opened so much as a dollar store and employed so much as one person, all those little economic boosts would have a big benefit for those of us who are trying to make a go of it here. Come back and help, or leave. But don't lecture us from the palm trees and warmer strip malls.

Medicaid Cap

Don't know if this is earth-shatteringly good news or not, but it's a start.
The State Legislature has agreed to put a three point five percent cap on how much counties have to pay for the health care program for the poor. Erie County Executive Joel Giambra has repeatedly blamed the high cost of Medicaid for the county's budget problems. Giambra called the agreement "a partial victory" for his joint effort with other county executives to seek Medicaid reform.
The leg says that it'll then be up to the counties to control costs, to which HRH Joel I replies that the counties just do what Albany says. Which is true. But it seems to me they can do what Albany says more efficiently and with less waste. This'll nick $15 million off of the 2006 budget.


The Office

The American version of the best-sitcom-since-Fawlty-Towers, the Office, debuted last night. It could have been a disaster. It could have been an embarassment. Instead, it was absolutely smashing. Steve Carell is brilliant, and the rest of the cast seem to be great. The first episode pretty much mimicked the premiere episode of the British series. What was great was that Carell didn't just do a David Brent impression. He took the character, Americanized him, and made him his own. I'm a fan.

Scandal du jour

The watchdogs at WNY Media Network have apparently uncovered yet another potential scandal - this one stars Joel Giambra, Patrick Ruffino, and their RENEW NYS PAC.

Last resort? Be an idiot.

This one guy at the Jim Ostrowski enrichment society has finally figured me out.
"It has just occurred to me; you are a plant. You are from the Giambra administration, or perhaps the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. Maybe you are Joel Giambra himself. Buffalopundit? C'mon Joel. How was your Florida vacation?"

Happy Easter

Busy couple of days. Blogging will be lite. We had a good meeting, good discussion & good turnout at last night's WNY Coalition for Progress general meeting. According to Craig, who can probably be credited with accomplishing Buffalo's first liveblog, the Revitalize Buffalo meeting was refreshing and positive. I will be at their next meeting. Cheers to Democracy in Albany for the kind words & nice plug.

Light posting

Busy couple of days. Blogging will be lite. We had a good meeting, good discussion & good turnout at last night's WNY Coalition for Progress general meeting. According to Craig, who can probably be credited with accomplishing Buffalo's first liveblog, the Revitalize Buffalo meeting was refreshing and positive. I will be at their next meeting. Cheers to Democracy in Albany for the kind words & nice plug.


Meetups today

Tonight at 7pm, two groups have meetings. I'd like to be at both, but will have to opt out of one. Firstly, the WNY Coalition for Progress will be meeting at room 415 of Buff State's Campbell Student Union at 7pm. Kevin Gaughan will speak at 7:30 regarding his OneBuffalo consolidation movement. [Update: Gaughan can't make it.] Also at 7pm, Revitalize Buffalo will be meeting at Spot Coffee at Delaware & Chippewa. I hope that the word is getting out on this group. They ought to use a radio station like Kiss 98.5 or 103.3 the Edge to promote the meeting, because I get a sense that 18-30 year olds are their target audience. WBEN ain't gonna cut it for them, but it probably wouldn't hurt, either. In any event, I met one of the representatives of Revitalize Buffalo last week, and I'm very interested in their movement. Hopefully next time around, the meetings won't conflict. The first step to changing Buffalo is to show up and get loud. So, show up & get loud.

CBC Grand Jury

Illuzzi reports that a sitting Federal Grand Jury will begin hearing evidence in the Erie County CBC resolution matter Monday.
Sources continue, 'the hard drives of selected staff members have been seized.' It is unclear whether the grand jury will hear from Legislature Clerk Kevin Kelly on Monday."

Bass Pro Delayed?

Via the Buffalo Blogger, I find this Channel 7 story, which says that the Bass Pro deal is ... delayed. It doesn't go into any more detail than that. What happens next? Jim O gets a quote like this:
“You can't hand out piles of cash to a wealthy corporation and take that money away from people who are struggling to survive in this area,” said James Ostrowski, freebuffalo.org
That statement is wrong. Twice. Bass Pro is not being handed piles of cash, and Jim Ostrowski knows it. He's smart enough to read the MOU, and comment on it accurately, but he won't. What's sad is that he's deliberately misleading people about this deal for his own personal and political gain. Is he the spokesman Buffalo's downtrodden taxpayers need? I think not.

Buffalog Doppelgänger

Since Buffalog's Craig and Buffalog's Craig are cool with each other, up on the blogroll goes the Other Buffalog.

Schiavo & Conservatism

William F. Buckley is genteely outraged by the religious whackos insisting on Terri Schiavo's continued existence, despite her own wishes. Andrew Sullivan also decries what he calls the "conservative crack-up". But the most outraged, and most eloquent conservative expressing disgust at the patent use of Terri Schiavo as a political tool by the theocratic right, is John (don't call me Juan) Cole.
When Terri Schiavo is finally allowed to slip past her cruel fate and move on to a better place, she will not be the only one to have died this month. At another gravesite, this marker should be erected: Barry Goldwater's Conservatism in America 1964-2005
Hopefully, l'affaire Schiavo will help the republican party shed the theocrats and the rest of the loony right fringe.

Bass Pro gets another vote

Upon reading today's article in the News, Craig has decided that it's worth supporting. I agree and applaud his decision. But what of freebuffalo's all-but-inevitable opposition to Bass Pro?
"I think that opposing Bass Pro, if it comes about, will be a tactical error (I 'voted' against opposing it by the way.) The government's contribution (to the best of my knowledge) consists in infrastructure improvements and not in operating subsidies. Perhaps a technical distinction to some but enough for me to still support it. Bass Pro will be huge. It's worth it. "


The New York Times has a story today that is quite sad, IMO. It's a story about 14-year-old hockey players taking a fricking game a liiiittle too seriously. Ok, fine. No kid wants to lose a game, and it's great to have a hobby. That's not the sad part; the parents are what scare me.
"'You don't want to be the father of the kid who screws up,' said Bruno Odoardi, whose son, Nick, is a Royals' defenseman. 'And believe me, on this team they let you know.' Mr. Odoardi, who owns an auto repair shop, is one of many Royals parents who spend several nights a week in ice rinks and have invested tens of thousands of dollars in their sons' hockey careers. "
Imagine if that much time, money, and effort was spent on the kid's studies?

Bass Pro: 1st hand account

Quick: which exit off the Thruway is Auburn, NY? I don't know, either. But the manager of the 85,000 SF Bass Pro in Auburn came to Buffalo to tell us how that one store is transforming that town.
In Auburn, which has a population of 27,000, the Bass Pro outlet has single-handedly transformed the nearly vacant Fingerlakes Mall, located on the city's outskirts, into a retail hotbed, according to Bulkley. 'A year ago there were maybe six tenants in the mall. Now it's nearly 100 percent full and you can't find a parking place on weekends,' he said. 'Even in the middle of winter, they are coming in from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Montreal to shop at Bass Pro.'
People from Mass., PA, or Quebec don't come to Cheektowaga to shop at Dick's, nor to Tonawanda to shop at Galyan's, by the way.
And those visitors also are spending money and time at other Auburn-area businesses and attractions, boosting revenues for established stores, and reeling in a laundry list of new retail and hospitality companies. Bulkley said the Bass Pro store often finds itself providing 'concierge services' to its thousands of out-of-town customers, directing them to local food, lodging and entertainment. 'They come for Bass Pro, but they look for other things to do while they are in the Auburn area,' he said. "
And let's not forget: the Bass Pro in Auburn is about 1/3 the size of the one in the Aud, which will boast a hotel, restaurant, and museum.

Buick or Pontiac?

GM's Vice Chairman and guru Bob Lutz said one has to go.
"GM's Buick and Pontiac are both 'damaged brands' due to lack of investment over the years, and GM is working to correct that with an array of new vehicles coming to market, Lutz told a Morgan Stanley automotive conference in New York. "
I vote Buick. The average age of a Buick owner is 67. It's trying to reposition itself as an alternative to Lexus, but there's no way in hell Buick could come close to that prestige or quality. At least Pontiac has the pretty nice G6, the hot Australian GTO, and it's shed the Aztek.

Armed insurrection

The assholes who gave Buffalo bad publicity with the Spring of Life are now calling on Bush to use military force to stop Terri Schiavo's wishes from being carried out.
"Early this morning, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta denied Terri Schiavo's parent's application for a stay of her sentence of death. The ruling was based on arcane matters of law and jurisdiction-heady subjects that only lawyers and judges understand. While the law may be complicated and hard to understand, the reality is that an innocent woman, who has committed no crime, and is only dependent upon others to give her food and drink, will soon be dead.
Trans: We're too ignorant and lazy to figure out what all those federal judges are talking about, but we've got OPINIONS. And you know what they say about opinions.
Her mother and father, sister and brother love her-have cared for her and ministered to her. Her estranged husband has constructively abandoned her-yet still claims control over her life. Her situation is pitiful, and we as a people have failed her miserably. Our instinct ought to be to rush to the side of an ailing, dying fellow human being. We should be willing to sacrifice to provide her aid and comfort, but instead, we debate, litigate, and posture.
Trans: "What's the laaaawww got to do, got to do with it?"
In the wake of the failure of the courts and legislatures to save Terri Schiavo from a national experiment with Euthanasia, we are here at the White House and at the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee because there are yet two men in this country that can save Terri Schiavo's life; President George W. Bush and Governor Jeb Bush.
Translation: Whaddayamean, this sort of hard, personal decision happens every day? Whaddayamean science says she's not suffering because she has no cerebral cortex and, thus, cannot feel anything?
As citizens and people of faith-we implore, beg, nay... insist, that you brothers, so distinguished by their singular accomplishments and political leadership-use the Constitutional powers of their respective offices to interpose yourselves and deploy the police services at your disposal and take Terri Schiavo into your protective custody, direct that her food and water be restored to her, and save her alive while the lawyers debate arcane matters of jurisdiction and jurisprudence. For God's sake, take pity, have mercy, and please do not delay in saving Terri Schiavo's life."
Translation: Send in the police, army, national guard, and the Iraqi Republican Army, if you have to. So long as you ensure that Terri Schiavo continue to live and be used by us as a poster child for our anti-individualist, theocratic cause. Honestly, aren't there fates worse than death? Hasn't Terri Schiavo arguably been the victim of such a fate for 15 years?



A quick welcome to Buffalo News readers and to Scoobie Davis surfers. Stay around, join the fun. Also - I have another writing gig at the Buffalo Spree.


Craig mentions this today, and I've brought it up before. People derisively refer to a state in which I lived for almost half my life as "Taxachusetts". Would that New York could be so taxing. Sales Tax: Massachusetts: 5% New York: 4.25% + county sales tax (in Erie Co., 4%) Property Tax: Erie County, NY: approx. $20/$1,000 assessed value Boston, MA: approx. $11/$1,000 assessed value Income Tax: New York: 6.85% for earning over $20k (7.375% if over $100k; 7.7% if over $500k) Massachusetts: 5.3% flat tax According to the National Tax Foundation, Massachusetts reached tax freedom day on April 18th, (the national average is April 11th), and its local/state tax burden is just under the national average. New York is the second-to-last state to reach tax freedom day; on April 27th, and its local/state tax burden is the highest in the nation. New York ranks 49th in business climate friendliness. Anyone who earns over $20,000 pays the highest income tax rate of 6.85%. The upstate blog notes that Massachusetts (no red-state backwater, that) has got its head screwed on straighter than New York even when it comes to Medicaid.


Via Fix Buffalo, I find out that there is: Craig from Buffalog and Craig from Buffalog This is the kind of stuff from which copyright and trademark issues evolve.

WNY Coalition for Progress Update

Please note that the WNY Coalition for Progress general meeting to be held this Thursday, March 24th at 7:00 pm will be held in the same building, but different room. The location is Buffalo State College Campbell Student Union ROOM 415 1300 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo, New York The Student Union is behind the main library which is behind Rockwell Hall. A map can be found here: http://www.buffalostate.edu/pdf/campusmap.pdf The student union is building 8A on the map. Kevin Gaughan will be present to discuss his onebuffalo movement. He is slated to speak at 7:30 pm

A Permanent Revolution in Education

Florence Johnson, the President of the Buffalo Board of Ed has a blog called "A Permanent Revolution" Education is the key to this region's future. It's quite obvious that Ms. Johnson gets it. Pay her a visit.

Are you in the syndicate?

Delay is drowning in a sea of scandal, and he's lashing out.
"'One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America,' Mr. DeLay told a conference organized by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. A recording of the event was provided by the advocacy organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State. 'This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others,' Mr. DeLay said. Mr. DeLay complained that 'the other side' had figured out how 'to defeat the conservative movement,' by waging personal attacks, linking with liberal organizations and persuading the national news media to report the story. He charged that 'the whole syndicate' was 'a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in.' "
That's right, Tom. By protecting the rights of people to choose to die with dignity, we are "destroying everything [you] believe in." Seeing as how Delay believes in large handouts, kickbacks, and payoffs, maybe he's got a point.

Edmonde hits it today

He nails it. Please go read his column this instant. The former Mayor of Milwaukee came to town last week and told us that we're not nearly as bad off as we think we are. He knows - he's been there, done that.
"'Even if your governments are stressed, your economy can still function quite well,' Nordquist said. 'You have to figure out how to regenerate your real estate market. That's what built the city in the first place.' Prime real estate is downtown and on the waterfront. The key to the waterfront is to connect it to downtown, to turn expressways into boulevards, to build bridges connecting downtown to the virtual frontier of the outer harbor lying just across the Buffalo River. 'You separated your downtown from the lake with that (Skyway),' Nordquist said. 'We took our (elevated freeway) down and replaced it with a boulevard, and the waterfront real estate values shot up.' We're frayed at the edges, but have good bones - the basics to build on: A downtown of great buildings. A waterfront of vast potential. Great commercial/residential strips on Elmwood, Hertel and in suburban villages, the kind that towns across America try to recreate. 'There's a depression people feel here,' Nordquist said, 'that isn't justified to the level that people feel it.' We have what it takes. And with Brian Higgins in Congress, we have somebody in the right place who knows what it will take. Higgins jump-started waterfront development with Gallagher Beach. He wants to build bridges and boulevards to reconnect downtown to the waterfront. It worked in Milwaukee. It can work here. "
1. Rip down the skyway and replace it with a drawbridge or tunnel 2. Cut & cover the elevated I-190 from about the Niagara Street exit to past Oak & Elm. By doing that, you reconnect downtown with the waterfront, and open up new land, and new opportunities.

Bass Pro

Craig and the Capitalist Radical have commented here (and elsewhere) that they oppose subsidies to Bass Pro. Great. Because there are no subsidies to Bass Pro. Here's what I posted to freebuffalo's forum in response to Jim O: I wish you'd stop saying there were [subsidies to Bass Pro]. Have you read the MOU? It's on-line. Do you think it wrong for government to build parking garages? Do you think it wrong for government to build train stations or metro stops that converge at the parking garage? Do you think it wrong for government to help pay to rehabilitate government's own mothballed properties? The only thing even remotely approaching a "subsidy" to Bass Pro is the $1.00/year lease (which is $1.00/year more than it's currently earning, by the way). Wouldn't it be more prudent to try to lobby the City to ensure that some sort of ground rent or PILOT payments are made by Bass Pro for the use of the Aud? Probably not, because that sort of thing isn't sound-bite ready. Jim O reveals himself to me to be somewhat of a phony. Before the MOU was released on-line, he said that a "little birdie" told him that Bass Pro's contribution didn't even approach the claimed $57 million. Well, it does. Page 6. We are not handing money to Bass Pro in exchange for nothing. We are not handing money to Bass Pro in exchange for a bait shop, either. We are spending money to improve the surrounding infrastructure to enable Bass Pro to come in and spend $57 million to build a superstore in a building that's been empty for almost 10 years. Bass Pro will also be giving to Buffalo the entire staff of the Great Lakes/Erie Canal Heritage Museum, which is being built by the Federal Government. If you're against government subsidies for museums, then I'm afraid there won't be very many museums at all. People ask why should Dick's or Galyan's be left high and dry in this deal? Because Dick's and Galyans aren't Bass Pro; they aren't nearly the draw that a Bass Pro is. Bass Pro:LL Bean as Dick's:Eddie Bauer. One is a rare tourist attraction; the other is in every mall. Because neither Dick's nor Galyans decided to make a $57 million investment in Buffalo's downtown core. Because Dicks and Galyans haven't made the leap to downtown at all. If Galyans wanted to build a store in the Main Place, it could singlehandedly transform that mall and possibly Main Street. But they didn't take the chance. Finally, again - Bass Pro isn't getting a handout. Period. Show me where they are.

It's all about perception

It is indeed. When you recreate in Florida the day after laying off 2000+ of your employees, that's perceived negatively. When you own a Corvette convertible and a pricey condo in the Keys on a $42,000 salary, and then deny it, that's perceived negatively. When you vote to raise the sales tax, yet are yourself late in paying sales taxes from your business to the state, that's perceived negatively. When you give Erie County's money to a local charity, which then funnels the money to your brother's defunct basketball camp in Texas, that's perceived negatively. When you're caught in about three separate scandals within the course of a month, and then claim you're being targeted because of racism, that's stupid and perceived way negatively. When you're the head of the county's budget and finance department, but you're persistently late in paying your own property and school taxes, that, too, is perceived negatively. And all of that makes us average citizens raging with fury. Good day.

Minor parties

The whole minor party thing in New York (Independence Party, Right to Life Party, Working Families Party) doesn't make sense to me. It's a concept called electoral fusion, which benefits the party, which gets perks and patronage in exchange for endorsements, and it benefits the individual endorsees because they get to run on more than one party line, and they get to count their aggregate votes. Only 10 states permit electoral fusion. So, 99.9% of the time New York's minor parties merely endorse candidates who are running already as dems or repubs. So what's the point? I'd be willing to be it's part money and part notoriety. I think it's idiotic and wasteful. Just one more bureaucracy. Just one more hand out. Just one more thing that the state and county boards of election have to deal with. It's no secret that Joe Illuzzi is very supportive of the Independence Party. Here's a quote from its chairman, Tony Orsini:
"I don't think we are going to be getting out ahead this year and saying we support a particular candidate unless we decide to support one of our own Independence Party members, which is also under consideration,' Orsini predicts. 'We are going to wait until we see what the Democrats and Republicans do first and then make our decision. That way we will have additional leverage."
That quote is made in this context: Orsini calling on people who want to run to go out there and just announce; "stop Monte Hall-ing it..." he says. "...take a chance!" Meanwhile, the IP itself isn't sticking its neck out until the major parties do so first. And the IP doesn't even have its own candidates to run yet. Pot. Kettle. Black. The whole thing just seems stupid to me.


Property taxes

D'ja ever sit down and figure out exactly what your NYS property tax bill amounts to?

I pay:

  • County tax: $4.04 / $1,000 assessed value
  • Town tax: $1.68 / $1,000
  • School tax: $13.21 / $1,000

That's a whopping $18.93 / $1,000 in my town.

How much in your town, New Yorkers?

Post to your blogs & comment here.

By way of perspective, in "Taxachusetts", I paid $10.37 / $1,000.

GOP rag says GOP Off-Track

The cyberrag Newsmax sports an opinion piece by John LeBoutillier, which exactly explains why the GOP in the federal legislature are all wrong: on baseball and Terry Schiavo.
Why, suddenly, do these congressmen in D.C. know more about this case – and about Florida law – than do Florida judges and doctors? How dare the too-ambitious Senate Majority leader, Bill Frist, a former heart surgeon, say that he can diagnose Terri Schiavo from a 30-second TV news clip? How irresponsible can you get? I can diagnose this: Frist has a terminal case of Potomac Fever! These Republicans – so-called ‘conservatives' – have now fallen into the habit of meddling in everyone's – and anyone's – business. They have opened Pandora's box: What internal family dispute cannot now be grist for their mill? A child custody case? A divorce that involves controlling shares in an important business? Disputed ownership of a valuable asset? Why can't – and why won't – the Congress now feel it is suddenly their business to intercede?
The GOP has become an extremist's hangout, and will implode sooner or later, just like the ultra-liberal left did many years ago. The center always wins. Always.


My only pet peeve with the Mini was its tiny rear seat room. There goes that excuse.

"Bash Pro"

That's what Jim O calls it. He says only 280 people showed up in Blasdell on Saturday - a bunch less than the 400 that the media breathlessly reported last week. Instead of taking a live vote, freebuffalo had questionnaires that people could fill out regarding their opinion on Bass Pro. The turnout so far, therefore, is 21% of attendees. Thus: freebuffalo intends to oppose the Bass Pro deal because 16% of the members present at the meeting oppose it. That's pretty weak.

Swanick's Florida Pad

Illuzzi and wnymedia.net both note that Swanick is in the Florida Keys, relaxing on his $42,000/year salary. Must be nice. But Swanick claims not to own a home in Florida. Reeeaaaallllly? It's Charles M. Swanick, by the way. From Kenmore : 14217. In August 1994, Swanick bought a condominium at the Century Club South Condo complex in Key Colony Beach, Monroe County, Florida for $58,500 using a $15,000 private party mortgage; the unit # is not specified, but it's probably 104. In October 1995, he obtained what appears to be a second $13,500 private party mortgage on unit 104 through the condo association. In April 2003, Swanick sold unit 104 at the Century Club Condos for $97,000. A record dated April 2003 indicates that Swanick bought a condo at the Key Haven Condominium complex - unit 303- for $109,000. Key Haven appears to have the same street address as Century Club. Here's a 1BR condo that's on the market at Century Club North for $325,000. In 2004, Swanick's unit 303 was assessed at $125,000, and the property tax is pegged at $1,281. What a bargain. Check out this list of available properties in Key Colony/Marathon, Fl. Wow. So...if Swanick owns unit 303 at the Key Haven subdivision in Key Colony Beach, FL, why would he tell people he doesn't own a home in Florida? (Ed: fixed up the quote)

Before the Right pillories Judge Whittemore

Read something about him. Graham (D) & Mack (R) recommended him. Clinton appointed him. He was confirmed unanimously. He's no liberal. 'Nuff said.

Santorum's Talking Points on Schiavo

Here's the GOP's emotion-manipulation subject of the day.
"This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue. * This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida - has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats."
Compassion in action.


Just so everyone realizes, back in 1999, then-Texas-Governor George W. Bush signed this into law:
If the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient is requesting life-sustaining treatment that the attending physician has decided and the review process has affirmed is inappropriate treatment, the patient shall be given available life-sustaining treatment pending transfer under Subsection (d). The patient is responsible for any costs incurred in transferring the patient to another facility. The physician and the health care facility are not obligated to provide life-sustaining treatment after the 10th day after the written decision required under Subsection (b) is provided to the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient … Tx Health & Safety Code s.166.046(e).
It's known as the "futile care" law, and it permits hospitals to override the wishes of the parents, guardians, etc. regarding life-sustaining measures. There is a distinct possibility that Bush's futile care law killed a little boy who was born with a usually fatal type of dwarfism, but who was alert, conscious, and had survived for six months.
"Then at 2 p.m. today, a medical staffer at Texas Children's Hospital gently removed the breathing tube that had kept Sun Hudson alive since his Sept. 25 birth. Cradled by his mother, he took a few breaths, and died. "I talked to him, I told him that I loved him. Inside of me, my son is still alive," Wanda Hudson told reporters afterward. "This hospital was considered a miracle hospital. When it came to my son, they gave up in six months .... They made a terrible mistake." Sun's death marks the first time a hospital has been allowed by a U.S. judge to discontinue an infant's life-sustaining care against a parent's wishes, according to bioethical experts. A similar case involving a 68-year-old man in a chronic vegetative state at another Houston hospital is before a court now. "This isn't murder. It's mercy and it's appropriate to be merciful in that way. It's not killing, it's stopping pointless treatment," said William Winslade, a bioethicist and lawyer who is a professor at the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "It's sad this (Sun Hudson case) dragged on for so long. It's always sad when an infant dies. We all feel it's unfair, that a child doesn't have a chance to develop and thrive." The hospital's description of Sun — that he was motionless and sedated for comfort — has differed sharply from the mother's. Since February, the hospital has blocked the media from accepting Hudson's invitation to see the baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, citing patient privacy concerns. "I wanted y'all to see my son for yourself," Hudson told reporters. "So you could see he was actually moving around. He was conscious." Texas law allows hospitals can discontinue life sustaining care, even if patient family members disagree. A doctor's recommendation must be approved by a hospital's ethics committee, and the family must be given 10 days from written notice of the decision to try and locate another facility for the patient. Texas Children's said it contacted 40 facilities with newborn intensive care units, but none would accept Sun. Without legal delays, Sun's care would have ended Nov. 28. Sun was born with a fatal form of dwarfism characterized by short arms, short legs and lungs too tiny to sustain his body, doctors said. Nearly all babies born with the incurable condition, often diagnosed in utero, die shortly after birth, genetic counselors say. Sun was delivered full-term at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, but Hudson, 33, said she had no prenatal care during which his condition might have been discovered. He was put on a ventilator while doctors figured out what was wrong with him, and Hudson refused when doctors recommending withdrawing treatment. "From the time Sun was born ... he was on life support because his chest cavity and lungs could not grow and develop the capacity to support his body. He was slowly suffocating to death," Texas Children's said in a statement today. Texas Children's contended that continuing care for Sun was medically inappropriate, prolonged suffering and violated physician ethics. Hudson argued her son just needed more time to grow and be weaned from the ventilator.
I wonder if the lack of prenatal care was due to laziness or a lack of medical insurance? Why do I bring all this up? Because it's hypocritical for Bush (especially) to sign the Schiavo continuation-of-suffering-against-her-wishes bill, when he's also signed a law that killed a little boy against his parents' wishes. It should be the family - not the government (state or federal; courts or legislatures) that make these types of personal, private, emotional decisions.

Schiavo Primary Sources

I beg you to ignore CNNMSNBCFNC, etc. I beg you to please ignore the semi-informed WBEN, and the local news on the Schiavo issue. All of them are operating under the assumption that the horror isn't the fact that this woman with no cerebral cortex is being kept alive against her will, but that this person who has no ability to feel feelings (including hunger and pain) will suffer when the feeding tube is kept out. Removal of feeding tubes from people in Terri Schiavo's state is a daily occurrence. It is humane; not cruel. In any event, I present you with the primary sources, which you can use to make up your own mind. Here is the final text of the bill Bush signed into law at 1:30 Monday morning. Here is the motion filed by attorneys for Schiavo's parents, the Schindlers, in federal court as a result of the federal congress' grant of subject matter jurisdiction in the federal court. Here is the federal judge's decision denying the Schindlers' request for temporary injunctive relief. Next stop: Federal Court of Appeals.

Free enterprise

Yesterday, I scoffed at NYS GOP chair Minarik's statement that Eliot Spitzer is a "job killer". Scoff. Craig, on the other hand, reacts positively to Minarik's characterization.
Good. I know it should be obvious. I mean, even Hannah the BuffaDog knows that Spitzer is deeply distrustful of free enterprise, but I wasn't too sure if the Republicans had picked up on it.
Spitzer is not distrustful of free enterprise. Spitzer is distrustful of cheating, deceitful businesses that commit fraud upon innocent consumers. But I guess to Minarik and his gang, that _is_ free enterprise. I think it's more pro-free-enterprise to pursue businesses that don't play by the rules and thereby obtain an unfair advantage over the poor schmuck who is fair to his customers and competitors.

All Fools' Day

Democracy In Albany notes that the folks in Albany trying to pass an on-time budget have missed their self-imposed Monday (yesterday) deadline to finish budget talks. DIA calls it "comedy". I think "tragedy". Potato, potahto. But how painfully ironic is this year's NYS Budget deadline: April 1st. How extra-special-super perfect.


The Federal Judge in Florida to whom the Schiavo case has been assigned has refused to grant a temporary injunction to force insertion of the feeding tube. From what little I could glean from our execrable 24-news channels, there appear to have been three main arguments that the family made; 1. That Terri's 1st amendment right to religious freedom is being violated; 2. That she is being denied equal protection of the law; 3. That there is an imminent risk of irreperable harm, and that she would succeed on the merits at trial, which would result in permanent and perpetual injunctive relief. The problem for Terri's parents is that the defendants in the case are Terri's husband and legal guardian, and the hospice in which she exists, (I would hardly call what Terri is experiencing "living"), are not state entities. Therefore, the constitutional arguments don't apply. I know my post is incomplete, and I'll post anew when I've read the decision, but thank God that we have an independent judiciary that is unswayed by political machinations and prejudices. When the whole federal case - which is an illegal and unconstitional construct by Congress - is through, and the same result is reached as in Florida, what will the religious fundamentalist theocrats do then? Is a theocratic revolution in the offing? I think the Schiavo matter just may be the tipping point that turns public opinion against the theocracy that the entire right wing noise machine wants to foist on America. I feel so very deeply and strongly against the creeping intrusion of relgious dogma and orthodoxy into American polity, that I would sooner emigrate than live under the type of Talibanic regime envisioned by the likes of Bill Frist, Tom Delay, and others. Lucky for me I live in a border town.


What M&T has to say

You have to hand it to M&T. They're a big regional bank, and growing. They have made a commitment to stay in WNY, and to be a good corporate citizen. Via Kevin at the TalkArena.com, I find some strong words in M&T's 2004 Annual Report. (Link to the Annual Report).
As important as it is for M&T to begin to do business in high-growth areas, and as pleased as we are at having begun to do so, it would be just as significant for the company were our historic markets somehow to rouse themselves from their economic doldrums. It is unlikely that this will happen, however, until steps are taken to reduce the tax burden and attendant bureaucracy whose weight inhibits growth in payroll, income and population. The details of the burden are telling. As much as upstate New York trails the national average in positive indicators, such as those cited above, it leads in levels of taxation. Indeed, local government taxes as a percentage of personal income in upstate New York are fully 35% above the national average, a level higher than any state except New York as a whole (including downstate). In contrast, central Pennsylvania - a market in which the Allfirst acquisition has increased M&T's presence - stands 31% below the national average in the bite taken by local taxes. This is just one of the many reasons we are more hopeful about that region's economic prospects. New Yorkers, in contrast, are both paying high taxes and getting less than they should for their money. Consider two crucial areas of the state budget - spending on Medicaid health care assistance for the needy and on public education. Together, these two areas themselves account more than half of total New York State government expenditures. Medicaid spending in New York State alone - driven by generous benefits - is nearly equal to that of California and Texas - combined. The program’s costs are, in part, passed on to local governments, where the high levels of taxation noted above in turn inhibit job formation. New York State also spends 51% more than the national average on the per pupil cost of education but attains worse-than-average results (on average, a 1007 composite on the Scholastic Aptitude verbal and mathematics tests, compared to a national average of 1026). Among the other side effects of all this has been population flight, especially among the young – hardly a positive trend for industries such as ours. Over the period 1990-2003, the upstate population only barely held steady – growing at an annual average of just .1%. Even that small increase masked a far worse population problem – the decline in the number of young people. From 1990 to 2003, U.S. Census Bureau data show that the number of upstate New York residents aged 20-34 declined by 323,836 or 19%. This 1.6% annual decrease was eight times the .2% average yearly decline for the U.S. as a whole. Indeed, the upstate New York region alone accounted for fully one-fifth of the 1.6 million total fall of U.S. residents in the 20-34 age group during the period 1990-2003. In contrast, the new M&T markets – such as Maryland and metropolitan Washington, D.C. (including fast-growing northern Virginia) – gained population at an average annual rate of 1.3%. Overall, New York State ranked 44th among the 50 states in population growth.
When one of the last major corporations based in WNY starts pointing this shit out to every one of its shareholders, one would hope that New York's leadership (not to mention WNY's) would pay attention and listen. But you know and I know that they won't. After all, Wilmers offered to pay the entire salary of the best schools superintendent for Buffalo schools that money could buy. And they nixed it.

Why Schiavo?

Here's the answer, via Oliver Willis Pandering to the theo-fundie vote. That's what it's all about. Watch Santorum, Frist, Delay, et al. trip over themselves to out-fundie the next. Honestly, it's the saddest display I think I've ever seen. Go and read "Trial by Legislation".


Last week, the Niagara Falls Reporter published an op-ed and a column, both of which were harshly critical of Erie County's refusal to pass Giambra's penny. Here's what I wrote in response to Croisdale's column:
The residents of the state of New York pay the highest taxes in the nation. Our sales taxes are among the highest, and our property taxes are disproportionately higher than the national average. Upstate New York, in particular, bears a remarkably heavy tax burden due to Albany’s exceedingly generous and expensive Medicaid coverage, and our bloated public employee payrolls. The ratio of local government workers to population in upstate New York is more than 25% above the national average. New York’s Medicaid program costs more than that of Texas and California combined; each state has a larger population than New York. Erie County residents’ property taxes are 42% above the national average. The question isn’t whether we were unreasonable to demand that our sales tax remain at an already-bloated 8.25%, but why Erie County can’t make do with the generous tax revenue it already receives from us. What’s distressing is that Giambra lowered our property taxes by over 30% since 1999, but he used rainy day funds to cover the shortfall. Now that the tobacco money and surplus are exhausted, Giambra’s mismanagement is coming back to haunt him. Had he engaged in a more moderate, systematic, and thoughtful reform and downsizing of government, we’d be better off today. Had he kept property taxes about where they were and avoided dipping into the surplus, we’d be better off today. Had he been serious about competently managing Erie County, we’d be better off today. Instead, he steered us into an emergency situation that called for radical and drastic action. Raising the sales tax – a regressive tax that disproportionately hurts the poor more than the rich – was not the solution in this case. Because Giambra did not competently manage the county’s finances, and because he didn’t downsize and reform government before it became an emergency, many people were laid off and many services cut. While on a personal level, all of these layoffs and service cuts are regrettable and painful, they have finally prompted people throughout Western New York to look at their governments and tax burdens with a more critical eye, and demand that government fix its own house before it again comes around to the taxpayers with a cup in its hand. In fact, there is no need for county governments at all. These bloated, redundant, patronage-ridden entities double the state’s own sales tax, and perform services that could just as easily be performed by the state or localities. Massachusetts permitted counties to be abolished in 1997, and many did so. Massachusetts boasts a flat 5.25% income tax, a 5% sales tax, and lower property taxes than New York. Compared to New York, that’s plain dreamy. The duties that Massachusetts’ counties performed are now handled by the state or towns. We can do the same here. The State DOT can create regional entities to maintain roads and bridges. The locally elected officials like the clerk, sheriff, and DA could still be locally elected, but their staffs would be state employees. Parks would revert to the towns in which they are located, or to the state. Social services would be handled by local branches of state offices. There’s no need at all for county government. Let’s get rid of it, and the local sales tax surcharge.
Update: Here's this week's article.

Call me now for your free reading!

I could be the next Miss Cleo. Only without the fraud. Predictably, FreeBuffalo will be opposing the Bass Pro deal. There you have it. A local activist group with growing clout spitting in the face of $57 million in private investment in downtown Buffalo. Granted, they had a vote, and 45 people voted to oppose, and 10 voted not to oppose. 4 were undecided. I wonder if this will change Craig's mind? How does that add up to 400, which was the reported number of meeting attendees?

George Holt is desperate

Our buddies at the WNY Media Network reveal the bleatings of a desperate man. Holt says that he's the subject of a "modern day lynching." He blames the folks at Channel 2 for being behind it, because they're... ...wait for it.... racists! Too bad for George that he's waist-deep in shit that he shat for himself. Buh-bye.

Job killer! Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Fa fa fa fa ... fafafafafa fa better... Anyway, republican joke Minarik says Spitzer is a job killer because he has the audacity to target business that operate above the law, in a deceptive and unfair way. The New York State republican party: objectively anti-reform, and pro-deceit. Unfortunately for Minarik, the facts are that statewide unemployment is down, compared with last year. HT to Nyco.


Esmonde does one of his funny-style pieces today about the TP issue in the Rath. I agree - I'd rather have rejected the Charmin proposal to spare us more national embarassment. That's the story: not the tax revolt, but the lack of TP. Hooray for us.
"It would be funny if it didn't hurt. The health commissioner was on TV the other night, assuring folks that there would soon be toilet paper in the county office building. It's like living in a banana republic. "
Whaddaya mean "like"?

Read the Primary Source

George W. Bush made much about the fact that the courts should operate on a presumption "in favor of life." Guess what? They do. I've downloaded and posted the decision from the first Schiavo case in 2001. Please go read it (word document)

More Schiavo

The invective of the radical right, which calls Michael Schiavo the devil, and a murderer, an abuser, an unfit spouse, a spendthrift, neglectful, exploitative, and a monster. The only thing they haven't yet figured out is to label him the antichrist. Methinks they dost protest too much. Did you know that Florida courts appointed a guardian ad litem for her, and that he reluctantly concluded that she has no consciousness at all? And the videos that everyone's seen are very misleading.
"She clearly does not consistently respond to her mother,'' the judge wrote in 2002 after hearing from five doctors with divided opinions. ``The court finds that based on the credible evidence, cognitive function would manifest itself in a constant response to stimuli.''
And the supposed "experts" who have drafted affidavits for Terri's parents & operation rescue are either not experts qualified to opine on this particular issue, or conveniently fail to give any opinion at all.
The conclusion the court came to is that, based on medical testimony and Terri’s CAT scan, her cerebral cortex has basically turned to liquid. The cerebral cortex is the seat of all our higher brain functions. Without a cerebral cortex, it is impossible for a human being to experience thought, emotions, consciousness, pain, pleasure, or anything at all; nor, barring a miracle, is it possible for a patient lacking a cerebral cortex to recover.
In any event, Findlaw has links to all of the primary sources for this story. Most significant of which is the Florida Court's 2003 decision. Read it. They're the only ones that matter in this case. All of the posturing and libel by the National Review, Weekly Standard, Worldnetdaily, CNS News, Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax, etc. means nothing. Where the parents and husband cannot agree on what Terri would have wanted, Florida law requires that a trial judge make a decision that the clear and convincing evidence shows Terri herself would have made. (Clear and convincing evidence is something more than a simple preponderance, and something less than "reasonable doubt.") The courts have had a fair and open hearing on this. All sides were presented and heard. Terri herself had a guardian ad litem to protect her interests, based on the unfounded allegation that her husband had nefarious motives. The federal government has taken Terri Schiavo's choice to die with dignity away from her. They can do the same to you. The federal government has ordered that a plastic tube be shoved into Terri Schiavo to keep her alive pending the outcome of a redundant and unnecessary federal court action. They can do the same to you. The federal government has injected itself into a deeply personal and private issue, mostly thanks to the politicization of the matter by Terri's parents. If politically expedient, they'll do the same to you, too.

A disgrace and a tragedy

Last night, while you and I were sleeping, our democracy weakened. This is a quick post before I go to work, but I'm simply outraged. Terry Schiavo told her soulmate, her husband, not once but repeatedly, that she didn't want to be kept alive by machines if something happened to her. Well, something happened, and she's been kept alive by machines for fifteen (15) years. Her husband has been offered millions to drop the case - he's declined. Her husband has been urged by Terri's parents to let them take care of her - he's refused. Why? Because it was her wish not to be kept alive like this - not by him, and not by her parents. But especially not by the likes of Bill Frist and George W. Bush. Nor Tom Reynolds or Brian Higgins, for that matter. Last night, both houses of our congress passed a law to keep Terry Schiavo alive artificially, and to send her case to a federal judge for yet more hearings. Vacation-lovin' George W. Bush cut short his weekend in Crawford to fly back to Washington so he could sign the bill into law at about 1:30 a.m. This is a president whose normal bedtime is 10pm. This unprecedented and cynical federal intervention into a family's private matter should be deplored bipartisanly. The federal government should not bust its way into this sort of issue, which has already been subject to hearings and trials and decisions and appeals, and even the macabre spectacle of the congress subpoenaing Terri Schiavo, whose brain is not functioning, to "testify" before a Senate panel. Macabre. I don't care if you're pro-life or pro-choice. I don't care if you're pro-death penalty or anti-death penalty. I don't care if you're Christian or Jewish or Muslim. For the federal government to intervene in this way is simply disgusting. It's a tragedy. It's also quite abusive to Terri Schiavo herself.


Free Buffalo redux

Free Buffalo had its second meeting on Saturday. Craig was there - go check him out if you want a first-hand account. I didn't go. I didn't go because of my belief, which I've stated here ad nauseum, that I think Ostrowski's ultimate desire is to create a libertarian utopia. His strident opposition to the Bass Pro deal and to the Geico deal merely compound my decision. 370 people on a Saturday morning is nothing to sneeze at, and the politicians ignore freebuffalo at their peril. I did like the quote where Giambra wants to convince freebuffalo that he's their greatest champion. That's quite literally the stupidest and most ridiculous thing I've read today. The primary challenge group seems interesting, but it seems to me they're just winding up to become yet another minor party machine. Not my cup of tea. Unfortunately for me, two groups have meetings on the same night; Thursday March 24th at 7pm. Western New York Coalition for Progress at Buff State's fireside lounge; Kevin Gaughan is expected to speak. Also slated for Thursday is Revitalize Buffalo, which was formed as an offshoot of the News' "Why Not Buffalo" series. Again: freebuffalo seems to me to be motivated more by a hatred of government and taxes, rather than a genuine love for the region. WNY Coalition for Progress and Revitalize Buffalo are, in my mind, coming from the right angle: a genuine love for the city and region, and a strong desire to see the region grow and improve.

So much to say...

Hack's hack Swanick went up to North Tonawanda (Niagara County) to renew his son's driver's license. Setting aside the fact that anyone with a computer and a dialup connection can get that accomplished on-line, Swanick merely adds insult to injury here. The clerk's office makes a commission from the state for every DMV transaction. That money then goes into the county's general fund. Swanick is part of the problem that got Erie County the crisis it enjoys today; at least he could reap what he's sown. Instead, he gave the cash to Niagara County (which, miraculously, also has an ever-increasing Medicaid burden, yet isn't in full crisis mode). I also hand it to former train engineer Chuck Swanick, who has enough free time to run up to the DMV at 8:30 on a weekday morning.

Just sayin'

If I voted for a sales tax increase - an increase that would give my constituents one of the highest sales taxes in the USA... ...and I made a big point about criticizing the fact that the sales tax increase didn't pass... ...I think I'd be paying my business' sales taxes ON TIME. I mean, I'm just sayin'...
Concerning the sales tax problems at his restaurant, Holt explained he and his wife decided in 2003 to expand their restaurant from a 21-seat hot dog stand to a 90-seat family restaurant. But problems developed from their lack of sufficient capital and soaring utility costs, he said.
I wonder what Holt's done about those soaring utility costs today?


A use for Niagara Falls' Airport

Niagara Falls airport is well-used for cargo & military, but is bereft of passenger service. I think BNIA is just fine, thanks, and see no reason to spend public money to reopen Niagara Falls as a full-service passenger airport. Craig convinced me of this. Charter flights are a whole other thing, altogether. I think the airport could handle charters as-is. Interestingly, Niagara Falls can accommodate just about any aircraft in the world. Including the Concorde. Including even the massive, double-decker Airbus A380. So it came as little surprise to see that Niagara Falls airport is being submitted to Airbus as a potential site for its US operation to build a future air tanker based on the Airbus A330. That would be so good for the Falls in particular, and the region in general. So very, very good.

Jimmy Griffin resigning

City Councilman and former Mayor Jimmy Griffin is stepping down. No reason is given, but he writes what sounds a bit too much like an epitaph:
Thanks for one hell of a ride. Grantland Rice, one of America's greatest sports writers and poets coined this phrase, "When the one great scorer comes to write against your name, he marks not that you won or lost but how you played the game."


Job Hunting

Jen needs a job. If you're in a position to help her, please do.

Shadenfreude delayed is shadenfreude denied

Hm. Well, the expected release wasn't released. What to make of that? I don't think it's good news for the protagonists in that saga. Not good news at all. It's especially bad news for the other lawyers who work there, who are not (allegedly) under investigation, and who are extremely anxious for this whole thing to be over. Bill from Outside Counsel is disturbed by the shadenfreude parade. He (rightfully) decries the apparent breach of confidentiality; there's no reason why these rumors should have happened in the first place. But that's not my fault or problem. The "coliseum atmosphere" surrounding the C&B rumors, isn't occurring just because everybody likes a bit of gossip. C&B are huge. They're ubiquitous. And if what I'm hearing is true, their fall will be crashing. C&B made not a few enemies during their rise to fame and glory. Those chickens are banging on the door, waiting to come home to roost. While I think Bill's sentiments are valid, I think they're misdirected. Sure, rumormongering isn't nice or professional, but mine is not always a nice, nor is it a professional, blog. But the real harm to the profession doesn't come from the speculation as to what C&B may or may not have done; it comes from the acts themselves. If the rumors are even half-true, then C&B has really harmed the profession, and the reputations not only of C&B lawyers, but of all WNY lawyers. We've got an image problem already. This isn't going to help. I don't think that treating C&B with kid gloves, or pretending the rumors don't exist isn't going to change that, either. Just my 2 cents, but I do so with respect for Bill's position & opinion.


Political Wire: Quote of the Day: "I think it's a nutty idea to fool around with the Social Security system and run the risk of [hurting] the people who've been saving all their lives.... It may be a new idea, but it's a dumb one." -- Vice President George Bush in 1987, quoted by the New Republic. "

Anything's Possible

How 'bout some fundamental reform, eh Senator? This whole thing reminds me of Dave Chappelle's "Black Bush" skit. Mars, bitches!