May 8, 2012

I'm Dave Mongielo, and I Approve This Message.

Perhaps you're familiar with Dave Mongielo. The auto mechanic has made quite the name for himself, these past couple years. After a ludicrous bid for town supervisor against incumbent Marc Smith, that saw voters reject him by better than a two-to-one margin, Mongielo decided his real beef was with the town's Republican committee—which, of course, had supported Smith.

Mongielo continues he desperate quest for relevancy, despite having the door shut in his face time and time again. Meanwhile, his business, which he's trying to sublet at a price of about $60,000 a year, continues to spiral downhill. Maybe when his business is gone, his wife is gone, his house is gone, and his tractor is gone (LOLOL!), he'll come to realize what's important in life.

But first, he has a message for Republican voters:

Now, we need to be very clear here: Niagara Times did not alter that video in any way. It was emailed to us by a regular reader. It seems Mongielo and Mike-the-EMT™ got a great kick out of making it, including a video effect the duo privately called "eight-pound water-head." It also seems that the video in question didn't set well with the South Lockport Fire Company, which, after becoming aware of it, suspended Mike-the-EMT™.

We'll let you, our readers, decided what it means about Mongielo, and about his views on the mentally disabled and the EMTs that protect local families. And, of course, we'll also let you decide what it says about The Man Who Would Be Supervisor.

May 2, 2012

Success as Defined by Paul Dyster

So Paul Dyster's grand vision of a holiday market in Niagara Falls, which cost $900,000, half of which was taxpayer subsidized, lost $31,000 when all was said and done. Council President Sam Fruscione wants answers to the debacle that drew few visitors and even fewer buyers. Dyster, in his infinite denial, had this to say to the Gazette:

“We think, overall, the market was a success,” Dyster said. 

Only in Paul Dyster's delusional world would losing money be considered a success. Is it any wonder that Niagara Falls, while having one of the highest property tax rates in the country, is broke? 

April 15, 2012

Happy Tax Day

“Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the Democrats believe every day is April 15.”

- President Ronald Reagan


April 4, 2012

Pet Peeves of Political Punditry

I was reading the Buffalo News story today about Kathy Hochul's "pivot" on Medicare compared to positions she took in the campaign. Look, if Kathy is smarter now than she was before when she was pandering on the Medicare issue during the campaign, great. But the language that is getting used in politics these days is one of my pet peeves. Such as:

1) Pivot: Ridiculous way of saying I changed my mind because I was wrong before and am smarter now. Or circumstances changed from what they once were. Pivot is an attempt to inoculate oneself from the infamous charge of....

2) Flip Flop: Who thinks the same away, every day for their whole life? People mature, circumstances change. They are definitely cases where people lie about where they stand and should be called out, but evolution of thought is something different.

3) Reset: Time to reset negotiations. Reset relations with Russia. Hit reset on Mid East peace. Just stupid pundit talk. People aren't your frozen can't just unplug and plug back in and everything is wiped out as if it never happened.

4) Transparency: This is a bogus creation of the media and so-called good government groups who don't really care about the outcome of an issue....they want to focus all attention on the process. Look, we need an honest and accountable government. But that doesn't mean that every friggin discussion needs to take place openly. That actually works against progress because people will be less candid.

5) Politicians as a "Brand": This is what we've boiled politics down to. The GOP brand is a tough sell for woman. The Democrat brand fell out of favor with independents. The Obama Brand, the Romney brand...blah blah blah. We're not talking Coke and Pepsi here folks. It's not a choice between iPhones and Droid. Buying into a brand is a terrible way to view governance.

Those are just some of mine. Feel free to send in yours.

March 27, 2012

We bet this story has a happy ending...

No doubt, you’ve heard the news out of Ontario: brothels are now legal.

We think the Buffalo News really dropped the ball with their headline writing, however.  For such a monumental occasion, they could have done much better.

We invite you, Dear Readers, to offer suggestions for better headlines here.  We’ll forward the best ones to the News.

March 16, 2012

Quote of the Decade

“I’m very concerned about disrupting what has been a very successful strategy for economic development in the downtown area.”

March 15, 2012

Senecas' Gamble Backfires

The Seneca Nation of Indians is learning about the Law of Unintended Consequences this morning.
If you haven’t already heard, a deal between the New York State Assembly and Senate to pass several measures has already cleared the Assembly, and is likely to pass in the Senate as well.  The deal covers a lot of ground—including attacking bloated pension costs and establishing a statewide DNA database—but most interestingly, it allows for seven new non-Indian casinos in New York.
Truth be told, we were always somewhat favorably inclined toward giving the Indians a monopoly on gaming in New York.  We have always held the view that the native peoples of the United States were screwed by the federal and state governments repeatedly during the first 100-plus years of this nation’s independence, and that the abject poverty that grew out of the reservation system was less a reflection on the Indians’ way of life than on a paternalistic federal government.
The chance to get rich offering people a vice that was tightly regulated elsewhere seemed like a good way of making amends.
When talk of expanding non-Indian gaming at racetracks and elsewhere came along, we were skeptical.  Actually, we were inclined to think it amounted to the state engaging in what was once known as “Indian giving.”
We even understood the Senecas’ anger over those proposals.
The problem is, though, the Senecas sought preemptive revenge against Albany and withheld slot revenues due to the state and the host communities under the casino compact between the state and the Indian tribes—and in doing so, they ended up hurting the host communities, which had largely been on their side, and provided much of their customer base, far more than they hurt Albany.
As we said, we once would have defended the Indians’ gaming monopoly.  But today, we find ourselves cheering on Albany in this fight, because the Senecas actions hurt our region.
We’d love to hear what others have to say on this topic, though.

March 13, 2012

Niagara County Lawmaker to Washington: Can You Hear Me Now?

First off, we would be remiss if we didn’t note St. Bonaventure’s NCAA bid.  The scrappy little Catholic school certainly has brought distinction to itself this year, and has really been the best thing happening in New York State college basketball this side of Syracuse.  We wish the Bonnies well, although we’re really not quite sure what a Bonnie is.  Still, they’re representing WNY in the Big Dance, and we hope that March Madness goes a few games longer for them.
That being said, we’re really impressed with the stand that Niagara County Legislator John Syracuse has taken.  Syracuse is leading the fight against another taxpayer-funded giveaway: free cell phones for those with low incomes.  Syracuse specifically called out Congress, and by extension, the politically-endangered Kathy Hochul.  What’s somewhat surprising, though, is that Syracuse found a unanimous County Legislature lining up behind him on this issue.
The free cell phones stem from the FCC is abusing the hell out of a 1930s law that mandated a Universal Service Fee to run telephone lines to poor and backwards places, like the Tennessee Valley of that era.  The intention was never to hand out free cell phones to everyone receiving Medicaid, although that’s apparently what it has morphed into. The problem is, no one is regulating who's getting the phones, or what they're being used for.
Syracuse has previously distinguished himself by his willingness to take on fuzzy-headed liberal programs.  This is no exception.
Well done.

March 8, 2012

Phil Rumore is 100 Percent Correct

Yes, you indeed read that headline correctly. While we here at Niagara Times are often viewed as right of center, we prefer to view ourselves are the voice of reason and common sense. Now, those aren't words that many would associate with Buffalo Teacher Union honcho Phil Rumore, probably one of the most despised men in WNY.

Rumore led his union to reject a teacher evaluation plan that would include students who miss classes 20 percent of the time in those evaluations. The Buffalo News cried that the teachers rejecting this plan would cost the school district millions and added that it is the job of the teachers to make sure students attend class. That is probably the dumbest fucking thing I have ever read from idiots who write a lot of stupid things.

Why in God's name should teachers agree to be evaluated on anything beyond their control? I can understand using test scores as part of the equation to identify teachers who aren't making the grade. But we're talking about judging teachers on students who don't show.

Perhaps what we really need is a parent evaluation system. Yes, let's start there. Let's fine parents who kids are chronically skipping. For those on public assistance, let's tie those monthly checks to student attendance. Let's put the responsibility for getting kids to school where it belongs.

Just imagine if you're a dance instructor, swimming coach, driving instructor, pick anything that trains people. Let's go driving instructor. You're going to be judged on how many of those assigned to your driving class pass their driver's exam. That includes those who missed 20 percent of your driving instruction...and maybe that's days you were teaching how to parallel park or three point turn. These people then fail their exam and everyone puts the blame on you. Does that make sense?

We need accountability in the classroom across New York State. But that accountability starts at home but the politicians won't say it. Phil Rumore did. Good for him.

March 7, 2012

Canadian Bacon isn't Pork

While we’d love to chime in about Super Tuesday’s results (a less-than-impressive showing by the frontrunner—again) we’d be remiss if we didn’t focus, instead, on a questionable move by the Cuomo Administration right in our own backyard.
The Buffalo News has reported that the Governor—whose is otherwise doing a decent job, in our view—has taken an axe to New York’s trade mission in Toronto.
Bad idea.                                                                                                                                      
We’re a bit parochial here, given our proximity to the Canucks.  But we also understand the value of drawing Canadian commerce to our region.
It’s so important, in fact, that the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency is making a renewed push for Canadian firms to come here, absent a push by the state.
With four international border crossings between Niagara and Erie counties, and no other bridge into Canada—the U.S.’s top trade partner—until you get to the St. Lawrence River, this seems like a blunder.  As the Buffalo News points out, New York and Canada exchanged more than $35 billion in trade last year.   And of that, $1.25 billion stayed in Buffalo.
Risking that to save $380,000 seems silly.  Surely, the Governor can find $380,000 in real pork to cut somewhere else—and leave the Canadian bacon alone.

March 1, 2012

Ceretto Smacks Down DelMonte...Again

In a move that is sure to have former Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte devastated, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has approved John Ceretto's recommendation of Renae Kimble to the Niagara Falls Water Board.

Renae Kimble is hated by Francine DelMonte. This appointment, in my opinion, signifies the "end of an error" in Niagara County politics. That being Ms. DelMonte's political career.

Not only is her rival getting an important appointment, but it is reccomended by the gentleman who beat her for the Assembly seat she thinks belongs to her, and still lists as her employer on her Facebook page. It was supported by three local Democratic Councilmen, all whom she has tried to get rid of.

Finally, the appointment was made by Speaker Sheldon Silver, whom she has devoted her entire tenure in the Assembly too, often times ignoring the needs of her constituents to make him happy.

So either Speaker Silver insulted Francine on purpose, he didn't care, or Francine told him she was done.
So, now Francine can continue being an unemployed person and collect her fat pension she took for her years of screwing Niagara County and leave us all alone.

My Mid Morning Brain Dump

Welcome to my brain dump where I give my gutshot reaction to all that's going on:

1) It's about time Kathy Hochul got grilled for her position on forcing the Catholic Church to abandon its principles. Maybe her free ride in the media is coming to an end.

2) There's a strong rumor going around that Antoine Thompson may run again for State Senate once the lines are finalized. Did I miss the clamoring of public uproar calling for the return of, know a return to the good old days when Antoine was in office? Didn't think so.

3) Amy Witryol is soliciting funds for another run against State Senator George Maziarz. Yawn.

4) Francie Delmonte appears ready to run again as well. See #4.

5) Looks like Louise Slaughter may be kicked out of WNY in redistricting. Good riddance. Redistricting could prove to be very good for Niagara County if the county is fully united in one Congressional district.

6) Several sources have confirmed that Paul Dyster finally attended the Niagara USA Chamber dinner this year, with close to 500 people in attendance. The Niagara Times has been critical of Dyster in the past for failing to attend this major business event. Maybe Paul is smartening up.

7) Don't count me among those who are happy that the Maid of the Mist lost its contract for the Canadian side to a California firm. The Glynn family which owns the Maid have been community stewards for a long time and are good people. Let's hope they can survive on the American side.

February 27, 2012

Why We Call Pigeons Rats With Wings

One day, a father rabbit and his son are in the forest having a lunch. A pigeon lands and asks for some food, at which point the father rabbit shoos the pigeon away and says “the pigeon is nothing more than a rat with wings.”

The son asks his dad why other animals always say that about the pigeon. And so the dad tells him this story. The pigeon had once been very influential in the animal kingdom, but some of the animals grew tired of his crazy leadership and threw him out of his influential office. The pigeon was then always on the periphery, causing chaos, but still wielding some influence. The pigeon even made some new friends out of those who used to oppose him.

Within the animal kingdom, there was another small group that could wield some influence as well. They were called the Conservation Club. The Conservation Club originally stood for the idea that any animal who worked hard should be able to enjoy the fruit of that hard work and believed the government of the Animal Kingdom should stay out of animals’ lives.

Over time, the Conservation Club started to change. The local chapter of the Club was taken over by rats – and everyone knows how filthy rats can be. These rats still talked about the Old Conservation Club principles, but they were really interested in making money and getting jobs and appointments for other rats – like the lead rat's girlfriend. They only used their principles when it suited them to cut another deal and make more money.

The pigeon had done many backroom deals with the rats and neither could be trusted.

Enter into the mix a surprise election where a Heroic Hare wins when nobody thought he could. This Hare was very green in political world, but tried to be principled whenever he could. 

One of the hot issues at time involved animals who chose to live a different type of lifestyle than others. The Lion, who ran the Kingdom, decided these animals, although making different choices, deserved to be treated fairly like other animals. The Lion needed the Heroic Hare’s vote to make that happen and after much soul-searching, the Heroic Hare agreed.

This really angered the rats in the Conservation Club. They were mad at the Heroic Hare for his vote and said they might not support him in his next election. This was strange because the Rats supported others who voted the same way – but that’s the way it is with the rats.

This is where our story gets strange. The pigeon was one of the animals who lived the alternative lifestyle that the Heroic Hare had help defend. Yet the pigeon now smelled opportunity to hurt the Hare in favor of an animal that the pigeon controlled – which is what we call a Pet. So the Pigeon got together with the Rats to back Pigeon’s Pet. Pigeon turned his back on all the animals with alternative lifestyle and stabbed his friends in the back. He wanted money and power like the rats, which is why we say the Pigeon is nothing more than a rat with wings.

The little hare nodded as all of this sunk in. As Father Rabbit hopped away for a second, the Pigeon landed again looking sad. The little hare hopped over, and he and the pigeon started laughing and talking. The little hare decided to share some lunch with the pigeon. Maybe his dad was wrong about the pigeon.

After they finished eating, the Pigeon flew away and from up above in the sky crapped all over the little hare. Father Hare hopped back and smiled.

“I was watching you over there and wanted you to learn for yourself. The pigeon will always crap all over his friends.”

Houghton's History Lesson Gone Awry

We all agree that the decision by the Niagara Falls Republican Committee to host a going away party for John Gross, who is facing 33 months in federal prison for rigging bids and evading income taxes, was very poor judgement. In fact, this blog was one of the first to jump on board to condemn the choice.

David Houghton, chairman of the Niagara Falls Democratic Committee, finally jumped on board with this letter to the editor in yesterday's Buffalo News. Frankly, we don't have a problem with Houghton trying to capitalize politically on the flub, that's part of living in the political world.

What struck us is the amount of space Houghton devoted to reliving the story of Mark Scott, a former Niagara County Legislator who was convicted of taking thousands of dollars in bribes from businessmen looking for special favors from Niagara County government. Scott admitted that he took bribes for almost his entire nine year tenure as a legislator.

When U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara sentenced Scott to six months in federal prison, he called Scott one of the worst examples of political corruption in Western New York. The judge told Scott he would have been hit with a much harsher sentence if he had not served as an informant against other politicians for the FBI, State Police and Internal Revenue Service. 

I'll give you three guesses who Scott served as an informant against, but you'll only need one. John Gross. 

This snippet from Houghton's letter caused me to laugh out loud:

Possibly the worst damage he (Gross) caused was helping corrupt our government by bribing a Niagara County legislator, thereby stealing from all of us our right to open and honest elected officials.
They (Republicans) have no qualms with the fact that the man they so readily honored was previously convicted of bribing a public official, as well as other felonies. The position that this official held was that of Niagara County legislator, a position that this same Republican Party endorses candidates for.
This is where Houghton can't leave well enough alone. Instead of simply sticking to the topic at hand, Houghton thought he'd get cute and give us a history lesson. The problem is, the person that he repeatedly refers to as the recipient of the bribes, Mark Scott, was a Democrat. 
Yes, Gross did some bad things. As a businessman, he gave bribes and engaged in bid rigging. He clearly deserves to go to prison. Scott, who was the majority leader of the legislature, took the bribes. That is a violation of the public's trust that dwarfs the actions of Gross. For all of Houghton's rhetoric about honesty and openness from the Republicans, it's very convenient for him leave out the fact that the beneficiary of Gross' ill gotten gains was a Democrat. Sadly, it's emblematic of Houghton's incompetency. 
Houghton wraps up his letter with this nugget:
For too long, the City of Niagara Falls and Niagara County as a whole have earned a reputation for corruption. Perhaps sometimes it has been earned, perhaps sometimes not. However, for one of the two major political parties to so blatantly choose to honor a repeat felon is not only embarrassing to our whole community, but it also helps to further an image of corruption in our city and county. 
We agree with Houghton on one point, Niagara Falls has earned a reputation for corruption, and rightly so. Mike Hudson at the Niagara Falls Reporter has covered and exposed that corruption time and time again. What Houghton fails to acknowledge is that the overwhelming majority of corruption in this county has in fact been initiated in Niagara Falls, a city that has been dominated by Democrats for as long as the city has existed. 
Houghton is the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black. Did the NF GOP screw up? Yes, they did. But don't all of the sudden claim to get religion when your party, the Democratic Party, has been at the helm of the massive decline of what was once one of the greatest cities in the world. It's hollow, it's shallow and it's a million miles away from accurate. 

February 24, 2012

Rumor: Violante Says No Charges in Casino Incident

Sources are telling Niagara Times that Niagara County District Attorney Mike Violante will not be pressing any charges against any of the parties involved in incident at the Seneca Niagara Casino. Stay tuned.

Three Cheers for Danny Weiss Who Says It All

Niagara County Conservative Party Chairman Dan Weiss "Says Not So Fast" on Swanick Endorsement for Senate

Until new legislative redistricting lines are approved by the Legislature and the Governor and withstand a court challenge, Mark Grisanti still represents part of Niagara County and still has the full support of the Niagara County Conservative Party.

“We would like to say we are shocked and dismayed that Erie County Chairman Ralph Lorgio has cut a side deal with ultra-liberal Steve Pigeon so Pigeon’s protégé Chuck Swanick can get the Conservative line, but the sad fact is the Lorigo abandoned Conservative principles long ago in exchange for patronage jobs and legal clients. He is an embarrassment to the party.

“We can understand that some Conservatives are upset about Mark Grisanti’s vote for gay marriage, but we need to look at the totality of his record. Chuck Swanick is a political opportunist and a fiscal nightmare who ran Erie County into the ground. He is exactly what we do not need. And his mentor Steve Pigeon is a cheap political hack that lacks any true conservative principles.

“I’m also appalled at the lack of understanding of political ramifications statewide for this move that could see a return to downstate liberal control of the Senate. This again proves Lorigo stands for nothing but his own personal gain.

“And let me make one more point. Should the current lines stand and Senator Grisanti’s seat is wholly contained in Erie County, I will send my Conservative committeemen into Erie County and support either an Opportunity to Ballot for Mark or an alternative conservative candidate. That is how disgusted I am with this Chuck Swanick/Steve Pigeon endorsement.”

Idiot? We spell it L-O-R-I-G-O...

We have had any number of misgivings with legislative decisions made by Sen. Mark Grisanti.  While we really never had really deep feelings about gay marriage, we had many qualms about the bill voted on by the State Legislature. 
That being said, the decision by the Erie County Conservative Party’s chairman—who, in his day job, is an attorney with an unimpressive record, and in his post as party chairman has spent most of his time sucking up to Carl Paladino instead of advancing conservative principles—to endorse a Democrat instead of Grisanti smacks of desperation.
Apparently, Ralph Lorigo desperately needed some newspaper headlines, to prove he’s still relevant.
Way to make yourself into a news story, jackass.  If Lorigo’s actions cause the GOP to lose the State Senate, and a bunch of downstate buffoons like Malcolm Smith & Co. to once again gather up the reins of power, Erie County Conservatives had better demand answers from their chairman.  Then, they should demand his head.
Politics is a game of tactical considerations in pursuit of strategic victory.  Mark Grisanti may have an imperfect voting record, but he ensured the Upstate-friendly GOP maintained power.
Ralph Lorigo may have just given these buffoons power again:

Sharia Law Hits the Philly Suburbs

We honestly planned to offer up some insightful opinions about Niagara County this morning.  That is, we intended to do so before we stumbled upon the following story:
A Muslim judge in Pennsylvania – who scolded a local atheist for offending Islam, called him a doofus and accused him of “using the First Amendment” to madden Muslims – dismissed harassment charges against the Muslim defendant who purportedly choked the atheist during a Halloween parade.
District Judge Mark Martin brought a Quran to court and told the alleged victim, American Atheists’ Pennsylvania State Director Ernest Perce V, “I think you misinterpreted a couple of things. So before you start mocking somebody else’s religion, you might want to find out a little more about it. It kind of makes you look like a doofus.”
The judge added, “I think our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to p— off other people and cultures – which is what you did.”
Okay, we’re Christians, and we find some of what the more vocal element of the atheist community doing these days to be offensive as well.  Shutting down Christmas and Hanukkah displays, for instance.  Really confrontational billboards that mock our religion.  But never have we thought about physically assaulting atheists, in part because we’d expect any sitting judge—Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Jew—to throw our ass in jail if we did.
Apparently for Judge Martin, his own beliefs (multiple sources identify him as a practicing Muslim) trump that silly, dusty old piece of paper they wrote a few miles down the road in Philadelphia.  We happen to have a copy, and we’re trying to find the part about the First Amendment being restricted if exercising it pisses people off.  (Mind you, that amendment also protects freedom of religion—although, apparently not in Judge Martin’s courtroom.)
Instead of following the Constitution, though, Judge Martin takes a broad view, and ponders what would happen to the victim in other countries: 

February 23, 2012

Hochul Sacrificed Niagara for LeRoy

Certain things really get under my skin. People who don't bother to put their turn signals on. Belly button lint. Breaking a shoe lace. Cellino & Barnes driving up insurance rates while portraying themselves as some kind of modern day Robin Hoods. Dirty silverware in a restaurant. Anything out of Obama's mouth. Same for Charlie Sheen. Losing a sock in the dryer. Nose whistling. Bicycles with baskets. Duane Paddock's hair. French people. Sunken sofa cushions. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

At the top of the list is people who take credit for something they didn't do or misrepresenting what they did do as something it's not. Like the segment last night on the news about people who lie about military service (see Stolen Valor), people in this day and age have taken the little white lie or offering partial truths to a new extreme. I'm not talking about a little embellishment on a resume, going a few miles over the speed limit, or calling in sick to work after a night on the town. I'm talking about flat out lying or misrepresenting the truth in order to make yourself out to be a hero.

Take for example Congresswoman Kathy Hochul. Since the LeRoy School District students started experiencing uncontrollable tics, Hochul has taken every opportunity available to get herself in front of the camera to portray herself as the savior for the people of LeRoy. As reports surfaced over the past couple of days of the EPA removing barrels of contamination from the Lehigh Railroad Derailment Superfund site in LeRoy, Hochul made sure the media hung on her every word as she took credit for the removal of the barrels, which are headed for a landfill in Michigan.

But before the barrels of contamination were rerouted to Michigan, they were slated to come to a landfill right here in Niagara County, and Kathy Hochul was leading that charge. Because she was so caught up in trying to take credit for getting the EPA to remove the waste, she didn't take the time to know where they were going - or did know and simply chose not to disclose it - she just knew that she'd look like a hero to the LeRoy community by having the contamination taken away.

The problem is, the waste was in fact slated to go to a site in Niagara County that is even closer to a school than it was when it was raising concerns in LeRoy. Now, we've subsequently learned that the material is not hazardous, but when Hochul was recklessly grandstanding about the materials being removed, she did not know this. You can blame it on inexperience or you can blame it on arrogance. Either way, her actions are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

If Hochul is going to gain the trust of the people of Niagara County, which is a big if, she'd better learn to do her homework, and she'd better learn that one segment of the district is no more important than another. We're not going to be treated as second-class citizens by anyone. Otherwise, she's no better to us than belly button lint.

February 22, 2012

Save the Date!

Though we don't have details as of yet, Niagara Times has learned that the Niagara Falls Republican Committee will be hosting a "welcome home" party for Vince Anello. To save money, the organization will be serving leftovers from the John Gross "going away" party.

Pacino, in the Role of a Lifetime

How we missed this piece in yesterday’s Buffalo News is beyond us, but it really is worth the read.

L’affaire Grisanti, as told by Hollywood (just a snippet to whet your appetite):

So now, it’s thought by pols that Grisanti’s involvement in all this badly besmirches him as a candidate when his seat comes up for re-election in November.

Maybe so.

Not in the movie version, it doesn’t. In that one, Mark Grisanti is played by a young version of Al Pacino, Maria is played by Marisa Tomei, and he’s known as a state senator who voted his conscience, Frank Capra-style.

And then he’s known as the kind of barroom peacemaker who will, nevertheless, do and say just about anything to rescue his wife from under a pile of angry people when she’s in the process of getting a concussion on a casino floor.

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” it’s not.  But it still would be an Oscar contender. 

February 21, 2012

A Small Price to Pay

The Niagara Gazette has a knack for writing stupid things, but this line from a recent editorial praising the NFTA exposes the chink in their intellectual armor:

[NFTA bus] riders overwhelmingly agreed that a 25 cent increase in the cost of a bus ride is a small price to pay when compared to the significantly larger problem of finding a way to get to work, school and other engagements. … We’re grateful that the NFTA recognizes severely cutting bus routes would, at its worst, isolate residents in poverty-stricken pockets of our cities, further exacerbating a generations-long problem of income inequality in the region.

We agree that a 25-cent increase is small price to pay, especially when the NFTA’s plan is to ask the taxpayers to subsidize your cheap ride to the tune of an extra million bucks a year. Because hey, you know, the best way to end multi-generational poverity is more government subsidies for the poor.

The rest of us—those of us who will be forced to pay that tax, those of us who work, those of us who don’t live anywhere near bus lines—well, we’ll just shut up and pay $5 a gallon for gas plus your million buck bus fare.  Because someone has to get up every day and pay for your cheap ride.

February 20, 2012

Boy is Donn Esmonde Smart. Really Smart.

I rarely agree with Donn Esmonde's column in the Buffalo News and this past Sunday was no different. He generally lacks any real insight into an issue , but rather tends to kiss the ass of politicians who he thinks carry the water for his left-of-center agenda.

This past Sunday's column took a host of cheap shots at the Wallenda walk in Niagara Falls. It took Donny boy to point out that Niagara Falls needs much more than Wallenda's walk. Really, Don? You mean this one walk isn't going to turnaround decades of decay and corruption. Brilliant, simply brilliant!!! So to every town or city across the Country that puts on spectacular event to bring attention, interest and some economic activity to your community, you shouldn't do it because that one event won't solve all of your problems. Thanks, Don.

The real issue is that Don and a host of other green nerds have a problem with this event as in their bird brains this somehow cheapens the falls. If they really cared about this, they would demand that State Parks take out all of the parking and other structures in the Falls, return the park to pristine and push all commercial interest back into the City. But these guys never call out State Parks.

So instead, they climb on their soapbox and try to make a claim that one guy on one day walking across the Falls on a tightrope is the end of natural beauty as we know it. Paul Dyster actually holds this view but has had to hold his tongue. He hates the idea but knows that the public is vastly in support. He also hates the fact that George Maziarz and John Ceretto are the main reasons this is happening. So he gives lukewarm support, while making sure everyone knows he wouldn't support such events in the future. Thanks for that Paul.

Guys like Esmonde talk about supporting the Falls but they don't believe it. They support people like loser Assemblyman Sean Ryan who wants to close Niagara Falls International Airport when it's finally starting to bring results. This proves again they want all the economic and commercial benefit generated by Niagara Falls to reside in Buffalo.

In the end, Esmonde and his ilk don't live in the real world where you need to hustle to make a buck and things just don't happen. They want to sit in their ivory towers and opine on the way things should be and criticize those who don't share their worldview. But Don is really smart in this regard -- his nonsensical worldview has made him a nice living.

February 16, 2012

RE: Giving the Guy Who Beats Up Women Credibility

Avenger’s post from this morning is some of the edgiest journalism we’ve seen about the Grisanti Imbroglio.  And that’s a sad commentary on the state of WNY’s media—once again outperformed by our humble blog.
As Avenger alluded to, Eric White’s rap sheet only gets a passing mention in the Buffalo News—or anywhere in the Buffalo media, really.  The WNY media are, by and large, much more willing to insinuate racist behavior by Mark Grisanti—despite an absolute dearth of evidence to back up the charge—than willing to point out the questionable past of an accuser who belongs to a once-victimized group.  (In fairness, though, after what happened to the Buffalo News a couple years ago, one can understand local media being gunshy.)
The problem is, that’s not the only instance of dishonest scumbags coming out of the woodwork in this sordid mess to try to damage Grisanti and personally profit—and it’s not the only instance of the WNY media ignoring any aspect of the story that might paint Grisanti’s accusers in an unfavorable light.
We’ve never been big ArtVoice fans—too leftwing and too, well, artsy for our tastes—but the story unearthed by Alan Bedenko, of a pathetic wannabe politico using Friday’s scuffle to attempt to extort a high-dollar job out of Grisanti, should be the lead story on tonight’s Channel 2, 4 and 7 newscasts.
Anyone care to take odds on whether they pick the story up?

Giving the Guy Who Beats Up Women Credibility

I've found this whole episode with Senator Grisanti and his wife being attacked quite fascinating. The facts of the incident now seem pretty straightforward and now we're engaged in a game of spin. Are there three sides to every story? Sure. Is the truth somewhere in the middle...well in this case, I think the truth is much closer to Senator Grianti's version of events. Now, based on what assumption would I make that claim?

I have two solid reasons for that. First, when it comes to one's actions, past performance is indeed an indicator of future results. The antagonist in all of this, Eric White, according to the Buffalo News, did a year in jail for beating up his girlfriend. That closes the case for me.

And in what fucking world does a guy who smacks around a woman still earn the title of "prominent Seneca businessman"?  Prominent? This guy should have been ostracized to the point where his moniker should be "disgraced Seneca businessman".

Now, I should be able to close my case right there. But let's go one step further. When you are losing the court of public opinion and need to change the narrative quickly, what should you do? Well, you consult the "Al Sharpton Book of How to Change the Narrative" and accuse someone of dropping the mack daddy of all no no N-bomb.

And what did Eric White's supporters do two days later? Accuse Grisanti of using that slur against a guard. Really? There's nothing on the audio that proves that, but the dutiful scribes in the local media still reported it. The person hurling this charge wants to be the next Seneca Nation President so he probably gains some points on the Reservation by being a vocal defender of White. I guess that's politics.

All sarcasm aside, I feel bad about how much this nonsense has probably hurt Seneca relations with the rest of the community in Western New York. I've had more people say to me that it's time to get rid of the Seneca casinos and follow Governor Cuomo's lead. I'm not sure that's a good idea, but sentiment is hot right now.

Furthermore, painting all Senecas with a broad brush is simply wrong. In the end, one lunk-head whose ethnicity is incidental made a stupid move that led to a melee. That's all this should be. But it's become much more and the repercussions from Niagara Falls to Albany will be felt for some time.

February 15, 2012

Romney's Problem

Let's get one thing straight: I despise Barack Obama. In my eyes, he does not possess a single quality as a politician that appeals to me. I think he's a liar, a cheater, a bully, and epitomizes everything bad that comes to mind when I think about Chicago politics. His "Hope & Change" mantra in 2008 has turned out to be nothing more than a campaign slogan that millions of people bought into, but he has failed miserably. In a nutshell, I would vote for virtually anyone but this charlatan in November.

That being said, the Republicans clearly have a problem. Because none of the potential nominees have been able to ingratiate him or herself to Republicans, we've seen most of them, at some point over the past few months, lead the polls among GOP voters.

From the beginning of the campaign for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney has been the chosen one. But the flip-flopping of leaders among GOPers reinforces the fact that Romney just doesn't have what Conservative voters are looking for in a nominee. I'm not talking died-in-the-wool, hardcore Conservatives, I'm talking moderate Republicans who believe in less government intervention in our lives.

Personally, I've never cared for Romney, and I am the epitome of the Republican voter who has oscillated between virtually every GOP candidate at some point during the cycle (with the exception of Paul, who's just a nutbag). I was with Cain, I was with Newt, I was with Perry, I was with Santorum, and I was with Huntsman. The one guy I've never been with is Romney. He doesn't do it for me. Clearly I'm not alone.

Just yesterday, four national polls released show Santorum either leading or tied with Romney among GOP voters. From virtual obscurity, Santorum is overtaken Romney. While I would love to hypothesize that it has something to do with Santorum's conservative philosophies, the reality is that Santorum's surge has as much to do with GOP voter's lack of satisfaction with what Romney brings to the table.

In the end, I'll vote for the GOP candidate that gets the nomination against Obama, because Obama does not deserve another term. If that's Romney, so be it. But Romney, once considered a shoe-in for the GOP nomination, clearly has a significant disconnect with Republican voters, especially conservative Republicans. Whether or not he can bridge that gap remains to be seen.

February 14, 2012

Three Headlines

This morning, while perusing the Drudge Report—still required reading all these years after Matt Drudge broke the Monicagate story—we couldn’t help but fixate on three headlines, conveniently stacked by Drudge:

Worse than Carter.  There, we said it.

February 13, 2012

Falls GOP Out of Touch with Reality

There are so many adjectives that would suitably describe the decision of the Niagara Falls Republican Committee to throw a going away for a convicted felony, I don't know where to begin. Idiotic. Irresponsible. Unjustifiable. Incomprehensible.That being said, I've settled on one: bad.

In case you missed it, the Niagara Falls Republican Committee, in cooperation with Laborers Local 91, decided to put together a grand sendoff for John Gross, who is about to head off to federal prison for 33 months after pleading guilty to failing to report more than $240,000 on his income taxes, and mail fraud and bid rigging involving work that Gross illegally obtained and performed for two Niagara County businesses.  

I could care less what Local 91 does - they're not an entity that portrays themselves of the moral compass of the community, like GOP does. Local 91 doesn't have to recruit and elect individuals who are held to a greater standard than the rest of the community, like the GOP does. Local 91 doesn't have a responsibility in shaping the government in Niagara Falls, as the GOP does. They can honor anyone they want, and no one would say a word. The Niagara Falls, GOP, however, should have known better.

The justification by Niagara Falls GOP Chairman Bob Krause to honor an individual convicted of multiple felonies is almost as pathetic as the decision itself. Krause, in attempting to downplay the horrible decision stated,  "He's not an ax murderer".  Really? That's the standard in Niagara Falls when deciding who to throw a going-away-to-prison party for?

We all know that the Niagara Falls GOP is a pretty impotent organization. I understand that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is a significant handicap, but it seems that the NF GOP intentionally goes out of its way to use that handicap as an excuse for failure. If that committee is to ever become relevant, it must change its leadership and bring on people who understand not only the need for attracting and electing viable candidates, but understand honor, integrity and right from wrong.

February 10, 2012

Look for the Union Label!

Living in Western New York, we like to think we know a thing or two about union hijinks.  We even like to amuse visiting friends from Right-to-Work states by recounting the sad saga of Local 91.  It’s cheaper than renting “The Godfather.” 
But leave it to Albany—that peculiar city on the Hudson—to produce a story that is far more memorable:
The former leaders of a Rensselaer County jail officers union spent tens of thousands of dollars in union money for outings at top-scale restaurants, strip clubs, bars and to make contributions to political campaigns and organizations in which they had a personal interest.
The banking records reflect disbursements, ATM withdrawals and other transactions from a union account between 2006 and 2011. They show disbursements of more than $14,000 for unitemized expenditures that are listed in the records only as "donation." There are also roughly $8,000 in cash withdrawals from ATMs.
On Jan. 3, 2008, the records show, the union's debit card was used to pay for a $1,611.75 tab at Angelo's 677 Prime, an upscale Albany steakhouse. The same day, records show the union's debit card was used for $52.85 in purchases from Troy Food Mart; $81.83 at a Troy diner; $55 at an Asian-style restaurant; and a withdrawal of $103.50 from an ATM at a topless dance club, Double Vision, in Halfmoon.
Two weeks earlier, on Dec. 21, 2007, the debit card was used for a $62 purchase at Valenti's Pub in Troy and also for two withdrawals totaling $344 from the same topless bar in Halfmoon.
We just hope Double Vision is a union shop. Otherwise, this whole matter might be awkward.