June 30, 2007

How True It Is

"Most of the trouble in the world is caused

by people wanting to be important".

T.S. Eliot

June 29, 2007

Anello - NFR Battle

Visiting the Niagara USA Development Corporation website, the site says that "USA Niagara Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Empire State Development Corporation(ESDC), is solely dedicated to the support and promotion of economic development initiatives in Niagara Falls by leveraging private investment and encouraging growth and renewal of the tourism industry in the City of Niagara Falls".

What a terrific concept. After all, Niagara Falls is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, with approximately 13 million visitors per year. With most of the industrial base gone, it's only natural that tourism be the focal point of any economic resurgence that Niagara Falls may enjoy.

So, armed with the assistance of Governor Spitzer's economic development arm, the ESDC, what a great marriage we have: A city which is a world class tourist destination and a governmental body looking to advance that city. And they are "solely dedicated" to this cause! I am overcome with joy and anticipation of the
successes that are sure to follow.

So I peruse the Niagara Falls Redevelopment site, looking for action. "Press Releases". That's where I'll find the multitudes of successes enjoyed by NFR. Clicking on "Press Releases", I am overcome by the depths of news coming out of NFR. On the NFR site the are five press releases. Wow, stunning success. Not only five press releases, but five releases over the past 12 months. Those releases include the following:






Holy cow, you broke ground on Old Falls Street? Fabulous. Let me enlighten you: The only thing you've broken are the spirits of many people who entrusted you and put their faith in you to make a difference. Look out your window, besides a new bar (Niagara Falls really needs more bars) on Third Street, what other improvements do you see that you can take credit for?

In addition to the complete ineptness coming out of 345 Third Street, at least one employee has shown just how thin-skinned he is. Roger Trevino, Vice-President of NFR, went off to file a police report after Mayor Vince Anello used profanity while confronting Trevino after NFR locked city recreation officials out of a property that the city planned to use for a children's breakfast program.

Could this lockout be in retaliation to Mayor Anello cancelling the contract with NFR allowing NFR exclusive development rights to more than 140 acres in downtown Niagara Falls, 140 acres that NFR hasn't done squat with? If it is, that is a despicable action taken by NFR.

Kudos to Anello for standing up for the community and no longer tolerating the failed policies of the Niagara Falls Redevelopment Corp. As for NFR locking the kids out, I can only equate your actions to the Bad News Bears getting booted off the field at the Astrodome. In the words of Buttermaker, "Let them play"!

June 28, 2007

Fairport grads crash

I wanted to share this Democrat & Chronicle story. This is certainly one of the saddest stories I've ever read, and certainly puts many of the "pressing" issues in perspective.

God bless the families of these girls as well is the girls who witnessed this horrific accident.

June 28, 2007

'Hearts are broken': Crash kills 5 Fairport '07 graduates

The nine Fairport High School graduates had a day of relaxation planned: some sunbathing, some swimming, some boating.

With scorching temperatures expected to reach into the 90s Wednesday, a day at a Keuka Lake cottage seemed the perfect opportunity for the nine young women to relax together before they headed their separate ways for college.

But the outing ended in a fiery tragedy Tuesday night when a sport utility vehicle carrying five of the teens slammed head-on into a tractor-trailer in Ontario County, as the other four friends watched in horror from a vehicle following behind.

Killed in the accident were Hannah Congdon, 18; Bailey Goodman, 17; Meredith McClure, 17; Sara Monnat, 18; and Katherine "Katie" Shirley, 18.

The nine friends, who graduated a week ago today, were heading to the Goodman family's cottage in two vehicles.

The collision of the two vehicles was so forceful that both erupted into flames. The driver of the truck was uninjured.

A week ago, the nine young women — who had been close friends for years — walked across the stage as they basked in the formal pomp and circumstance of graduation at the Blue Cross Arena at the Community War Memorial. A future beckoned for each: One imagined herself teaching elementary school kids; another envisioned a career in communications; one already had marked the date for cheerleading tryouts at college.

However, friends being friends, they were not ready to leave each other. So they scheduled a return Wednesday to the Goodman family cottage — they'd also gone there after the recent senior dance — as a chance to spend what could be some final hours together.

David M. Laverty, 50, of Olean, Cattaraugus County, was driving the tractor-trailer west on Routes 5 and 20 when he saw the SUV pass another eastbound vehicle in front of his rig, Laverty told deputies.

Police said Laverty told them the SUV made it back into the eastbound lane, then crossed back over the center line and hit his tractor-trailer.

Keisha said the van that Bailey passed was driving slowly in the right lane. After almost passing the van, she said, it appeared Bailey may have thought the van was swerving toward her and she jerked back into the left lane, running head-on into the oncoming tractor-trailer.

Close behind in the other vehicle, the four friends could only watch in anguish as fire swallowed the SUV. The flames reached 50 feet in height, singeing electrical lines and burning through cable and telephone lines, Povero said.

The four were transported to the hospital, and released after doctors determined they were fine. Keisha said she hardly slept afterward, but found constant comfort Wednesday from her many friends. Whenever she began to cry — and that was often, Keisha said — somebody was always nearby to offer a hug.

On Wednesday, many families spent hours remembering the traits of their friends who had died. Among their recollections:

Before each competition, they'd lie on their backs, hands held, and listen to the song "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan.

Never did they imagine that their support of each other would be as needed as it is now.

"They were angels on earth," Paddock said. "Now they are angels in heaven."

June 27, 2007

One Loyalty

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.

But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all.

We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907

June 25, 2007

Lockport School District Vacancies

The news that 27 teachers from the Lockport City School District are retiring at the end of the current school year must have come as welcome news to those in the community that support smaller government. After all, what a tremendous opportunity to trim a significant dollar amount from the budget.

In addition, the tax savings would be sizable. After all, we have read incessantly about the Tax Foundation's findings that Niagara County is the highest taxed county in the country. And since my school taxes make up about 60% of my total tax bill, it only makes sense that a reduction in staffing in the district would lead to a lower school property tax bill.

Unfortunately, the district has no plans to eliminate any of the soon-to-be-vacant positions. Twenty-five newly hired teachers are already in place, and the district plans to hire two more special education teachers.

Where is the billboard for this? Where are the public speakers? Where are letters to the editors? Nowhere to be found on all counts.

Why is this? Where is Edwina Luscks, the champion of smaller government (choke)? I'm going to take a shot in the dark as to why the "three minute crowd" will sit silent on this one: No cameras.

The Niagara County Legislature is an easy target. The meetings are televised, therefore the public comment session is televised. LCTV devotes four hours every Thursday night to legislative matters, WLVL talks about politics. It gives the publicity-starved three-minute crowd the opportunity to get their names out there.

School board meetings? Boring stuff. No one talks about school boards and the fact that their budgets are disgustingly bloated. It's not sexy.

But at least we know the six or seven people in the community who were ignored as children and are oh so desperately looking for the attention they never received as kids.

Immigration Reform

Although the previous post is a tongue-in-cheek look at headlines just 22 years into the future, there is cause for concern with many of the "headlines", such as the "Mexifornia" reference.

As Congress looks to enact the most comprehensive immigration reform package in decades, the airwaves are filled with rhetoric from both Republicans and Democrats as to why their package is best for the country.

But is granting amnesty to approximately 12 million illegal immigrants already in this country the answer? Hillary Clinton thinks it is. According to Americans for Better Immigration, Senator Clinton has earned a grade of D- for her position on immigration.

In fact, you can view Senator Clinton's immigration voting record by copying the following link into your browser: http://grades.betterimmigration.com/testgrades.php3?District=NY&VIPID=896.

The cost of illegals to our school systems is staggering. According to FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), the total K-12 school expenditure for illegal immigrants costs states nearly $12 billion annually, and when the children born here to illegal aliens are added, the costs more than double to $28.6 billion. New York's portion is over $3 billion.

This enormous expenditure of the taxpayers’ hard-earned contributions does not, however, represent the total costs. Special programs for non-English speakers are an additional fiscal burden as well as a hindrance to the overall learning environment. A recent study found that dual language programs represent an additional expense of $290 to $879 per pupil depending on the size of the class. In addition, because these children of illegal aliens come from families that are most often living in poverty, there is also a major expenditure for them on supplemental feeding programs in the schools. Those ancillary expenditures have not been included in the calculations.

The human cost is much greater. Each of the names that follow were murder or crime victims at the hands of an illegal: Kris Eggle, David Nadel, Tanee Natividad, Darlene Squires, David March, Barbara Vidlak, Tricia Taylor, Ron Cornell, Holly Swartz, Marjorie Monnett, Marjorie's son Bruce and Bruce's girlfriend Sierra Klug, six-year-old Jose Soto, Sister Helen Chaska, Oregon State Police Trooper Bret Clodfelter, Officer Sheila Herring, Angie Morfin, Laura Ayala, Dana Pevia, Sean Marti and his daughter Sage, 5 months old, Maria Suarez, Phoenix Police Officer Robert Sitek, David Lazarus, Officer Marc Atkinson and Christina Long. These are just the tip of the iceberg. The stories of these people and many more whose lives were destroyed at the hands of an illegal can be found at: http://www.immigrationshumancost.org/text/crimevictims.html

The link between illegal immigration and terrorism has also increased significantly. On Sept. 5, a man calling himself Miguel Alfonso Salinas was apprehended off a deserted highway near the U.S.-Mexico border. The tinted windows on Alfonso Salinas’ vehicle aroused the suspicion of Border Patrol agents patrolling a dark and desolate stretch of Highway 9, which runs parallel to the border and is the site of large numbers of illegal crossings.

The agents discovered three Mexican migrants in the vehicle with Alfonso Salinas. But what they discovered several days later made a far greater impression.

Alfonso Salinas was not who he seemed, according to U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security documents. He lied to the agents about who he was, where he came from and what he was doing.

It would take nearly a week of interviews with federal agents before Alfonso Salinas would give his real name: Ayman Sulmane Kamal, a Muslim born in Egypt - a country designated as “special-interest” by the United States for sponsoring terrorism.

As black and white as the issue seems, a change in United States policy on immigration would impact us right here in Niagara County. There are dozens of farms throughout our region that rely on illegals to farm their crops. If you aren't sure, take a ride out to Ransomville some day and watch the traffic in and out of Porter Country Mart or Rite Aid.

If these illegals are reclassified or deported, what is the impact on local farmers and the cost of doing business, and what would the impact be on the prices of produce grown locally? The cheap labor that illegals provide certainly saves us money at the grocery store.

Whatever the answer, the immigration reform package currently being contemplated by the federal government may have both national and local implications.


Ozone created by electric cars now killing millions in the seventh largest country in the world, Mexifornia, formerly known as California. White minorities still trying to have English recognized as Mexifornia's third language.

Spotted Owl plague threatens northwestern United States crops and livestock.

Baby conceived naturally; Scientists stumped.

Couple petitions court to reinstate heterosexual marriage.

Last remaining Fundamentalist Muslim dies in the American Territory of the Middle East (formerly known as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon).

Iran still closed off; physicists estimate it will take at least 10 more years before radioactivity decreases to safe levels.

France pleads for global help after being taken over by Jamaica.

Castro finally dies at age 112; Cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.

George Z. Bush says he will run for President in 2036.

Postal Service raises price of first class stamp to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesdays only.

85-year $75.8 billion study: Diet and Exercise is the key to weight loss.

Average weight of Americans drops to 250 lbs.

Massachusetts executes last remaining conservative.

Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil rights.

Average height of NBA players is now nine feet, seven inches.

New federal law requires that all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly swatters and rolled-up newspapers must be registered by January 2036.

Congress authorizes direct deposit of formerly illegal political contributions to campaign accounts.

IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75 percent.

Florida voters still having trouble with voting machines.

June 23, 2007

Citizen Activism

An individual who commented on one of the previous posts made an interesting observation that I'd like to expound upon. The comment had to do with citizens taking an active role in government, and how public speakers at local governmental meetings are more active than most of the people in the community.

I truly believe that it is not only our right, but our obligation to take part in the democratic process. Most local governmental bodies provide the opportunity for citizen input in some form or another, many of which we have the opportunity to view on local cable access.

LCTV frequently will air meetings from the Town of Lockport, the City of Lockport, Wheatfield, as well as Niagara County Legislature meetings. I believe that most elected officials value citizen input, when it is presented in a professional, courteous manner.

Unfortunately, county legislature meetings have deteriorated into a dog and pony show dominated by a select few that are not addressing the legislature for the betterment of the community, but because they have an agenda of their own, and it has nothing to do with moving the county in a positive direction.

If you should go to a meeting, watch the interaction between the "three minute crowd" and the Democrats in the legislature. It's a joke. They get together, plot their strategies to rid the legislature of those evil Republicans, then parade the speakers to the podium to do the dirty work of the Dems. How these people don't see how they are being used by the Dems is beyond me.

Speakers will stand there, tell the legislature that they're dirty, crooked, don't care about their constituency, they've been bought off, they have no morals, essentially, that they are the unwanted offspring of Lizzie Borden and Charles Manson.

But in all of these accusations, has anyone ever presented a fact to substantiate an accusation? If Gerry Farnham is crooked, how is he crooked? If Harry Apolito has been bought off, who has bought him off and for what purpose? If you believe that Mike Hill doesn't care about his constituency, document your reasons. But nothing is ever corroborated. It's accusations and innuendo, and it's garbage.

If these people, Swan, Dickey, Hobel, Snelgrove, actually put there energy into something worthwhile, they might actually be effective public advocates.

Instead, they sit there in the audience, giggling and sneering while other members of the audience speak, showing a complete lack of respect for anyone and everyone who does not share the same hatred that they do.

It's disgraceful, unprofessional and down right pathetic. For me, it's passed the point of annoyance, now I simply pity them.

Congratulations, you've taken citizen activism to a new low.

June 20, 2007

County Legislator's Health Insurance

In the Buffalo News today, Tom Prohaska has written a story about Tuesday night's Niagara County Legislature meeting. In the story, Prohaska states that a "down-and dirty political brawl broke out" at the meeting.

I think to myself, maybe it's about dorms at Niagara County Community College, that seems to be a somewhat volatile issue. Maybe it's another slam on Henry Sloma, despite the fact that the IDA has enjoyed it's most successful year in history, Harry Apolito wants his resignation. Maybe the brawl is about the allocation of power received through the NYPA settlement, that's been in the news a couple times recently.

I was wrong on all counts. The brawl wasn't about anything that effects the residents of Niagara County. It doesn't effect our public safety, it doesn't effect Social Services, it doesn't impact the college and it doesn't effect our roads or bridges.

In fact, this "brawl" effects one person and one person only: Legislator Sean O'Connor.

Apparently Legislator Rick Updegrove followed through on a promise to increase the premium contribution those legislators who receive the taxpayer subsidized county health insurance must contribute. As a taxpayer, this is a good thing. The less money extracted from my pocket the better.

It seems that not everyone feels this way. "It’s politics at its worst,” O’Connor said. Politics at it's worst? Enacting legislation that reforms government and puts money back into the pockets of taxpayers is politics at it's worst?

“I have 22 years in", asserted O'Connor. Well, as the senior member of the Legislature, most of those years in the Majority, I guess we have you to thank for the Tax Foundation findings that Niagara County is the highest taxed county in the country.

As for the brawl, one person advocating on behalf of saving legislator's benefits completely startled me. An individual stood up at the podium during the public comment session and stated, "Talk about politics at its dirtiest. Mr. O’Connor should be grandfathered". Was this Mrs. O'Connor there to support her husband's benefits? No, it was Margie Swan.

Why would this startle me? Because this is the same Margie Swan that heads a group called the Niagara County Concerned Taxpayers. Can your hyporisy sink any lower? You lead a group that's sole purpose for existence is to advocate on behalf of the overburdened taxpayers of Niagara County, then demand the legislature keep intact the benefits of county legislators that will potentially cost the taxpayers of Niagara County hundreds of thousands of dollars. I cannot begin to fathom the depths of your hypocrisy.

It's unfortunte that the issue that evoked the most passion I've seen from Sean O'Connor over the past 20+ years is the one that effects his own wallet. If only he'd channeled that passion into something for the benefit of the people of this county, he just might have made a difference.

June 18, 2007


Is anyone surprised that Willis McGahee didn't show up for mini-camp in Baltimore? A leopard doesn't change it's spots, especially in a city with so many more women to impregnate.

Am I the only one who is disgusted with the Barnes Firm? When they (repeatedly) play the commercial espousing the fact that they have won their clients over $100 million dollars in personal injury claims, including $50 million from auto claims, they are bragging about how high they have jacked up your insurance rates. Yes, you and I paid that $100 million.

How about Peter Calieri's commitment to Lockport? I remember when he took the initiative several years ago and made his wonderful Village Eatery restaurant smoke-free. Now, he has closed the deal to make the former Davison Road Inn into a banquet hall, and has committed to opening a bar/restaurant/night club in the Ulrich City Center.

Speaking of investing in your community, major kudos to Ed & Diane Finkbeiner of Lewiston. The Finkbeiners are planning to construct a multimillion dollar luxury hotel with a spa and penthouse views of the Niagara River. A major endeavor indeed, best of luck!

Can there be a more disgusting breach of trust than Hugh Messer? Messer, a Niagara County Sheriff, was working as the school resource officer in Niagara-Wheatfield High School when he decided it was okay to have sex with a 16 year-old student, while on assignment. Thankfully he resigned from the department. I'll be looking for his name on the Sex Offender Registry.

The Niagara County Legislature is moving forward with plans to sell the Davison Road complex to Christian Academy of Western New York. Do we need to sell this large piece of land to an organization that is going to keep it off the tax rolls?

The lack of a public statement from State Supreme Court Justice Amy Fricano is appalling. Driving 60+ miles per hour in a heavily populated school zone, whether under the influence of any substance or not, must not be tolerated. If her silence is at the advice of counsel, I hope that when this issue is resolved, Mrs. Fricano has the courage to address the public.

Kudos to Kellogg Co., the world’s largest cereal maker. Kellogg plans to increase the nutritional value of cereals and snacks it markets to children. The company also said it will modify it's TV, radio, print & Web site ads that reach audiences at least half of whom are under age 12. If only the tobacco companies would follow suit.

June 15, 2007

The Tie That Binds

Watching and attending county legislature meetings, I have noticed something very interesting. In the gallery sit a variety of people. Some are there to be honored by the legislature, some are there because they believe in viewing government in action, some are there because an issue of interest may be on the agenda, and some are there simply based upon their hatred for the legislature.

This is not an issue of concern for me. What I do find fascinating is that many of these people contradict their "friends", and in some cases, themselves, at every single meeting, and these people continue to sit together, cheer together and interact with each other.

I watched a meeting where Margie Swan stood at the podium talking about saving Mount View and saving county jobs. Everyone cheered. Then, Edwina Lucsks stands up and talks about how Niagara County has the highest taxes in the country, that the county has too many employees, and that the county needs to cut back, reduce spending, eliminate waste, etc. Everyone cheered.

You cannot be further apart on an issue. I have heard legislators and the county manager say they only control approximately 21% of their budget, the other 79% is mandates. I've never heard anyone dispute that, so assuming it's true, the most significant aspect of the budget that the county can control is personnel.

Edwina stands up at every meeting and says there are too many public sector employees in Niagara County. The crowd cheers. Closing or selling Mount View will reduce the county work force by 200 employees. So closing Mount View will accomplish exactly what Edwina and the others seek. And the crowd cheers.

So, at this meeting, why did the crowd, the same people, cheer for both speakers? It's unfortunately very clear. They cheer two individuals on completely different sides of an issue because they despise the legislature, and that is the tie that binds them together.

Public speakers stand at that podium and hammer the legislature every meeting, talk about getting new people elected. But who the hell wants to subject themselves to the likes of you? I certainly wouldn't. In the City of Lockport, 5 out of the 6 Aldermen are unopposed. Is it a surprise to anyone that people don't want to run for office? If they turn on LCTV and see the public speakers, anyone in his right mind wouldn't subject themself to the garbage spewed at those meetings.

In the end, nobody wins. But, at least you get to go home and watch yourself on TV. You must be oh so very proud.

Pride in Taxes

As I often watch LCTV for various programming, including Legislative Journal and Niagara County Legislature meetings, I am fascinated by the slanting of the truth. Watching Tom Christy's PULSE last night, Edwina Luksck called into the show. Now, before I continue, I would like to make two statements, and I would like you to see if you can tell them apart:

1) Niagara County has the highest taxes in the country.

2) Niagara County's taxes are the highest in the country.

There is in fact a very distinct difference between the two. The first statement indicates that people who pay taxes in Niagara County pay the highest taxes in the country. It takes into account all taxing jurisdictions.

The second statement indicates that Niagara County, that being the government of Niagara County, levys the highest taxes in the country.

As we have heard, the Tax Foundation has determined that Niagara County has the highest taxes in the country when evaluated as a percentage of home value. My problem with this is twofold. Firstly, this is one gauge of taxation, and one seldom used by industry analysts when evaluating an area's tax impact. Unfortunately, a very few have taken this one very small nugget of information as gospel, and have gone so far as to make a billboard out of it, and spew it every Legislature meeting. It's unfortunate how some people are unable to think for themselves.

Secondly, those who eschew this information are missing the bigger picture. Yes, taxes are an issue, but they are an issue statewide. To assert that the tax problem is immune to Niagara County is downright idiotic. The issue that we should be promoting is that we have low property values. Unfortunately, there are those like Edwina that are simply sheep following a blind sheep herder. These are the people that, despite their assertions to the contrary, want to see Niagara County fail. It gives Don Hobel great joy when businesses that received IDA assistance go under.

Back to the two statements. As we all know, Niagara County does not have the highest taxes in the country. There are those who actually enjoy the Tax Foundation's "interpretation" of our taxes. It gives them something to chirp about. But the bigger problem is the way these people portray this interpretation. They espouse these findings as if the county's taxes are the highest. What you don't hear out of these sheep, and I mean Edwina, Hobel, Rosemary Warren, Margie Swan, Joanne Dickey, and the other idiots who think they're somebody because they shoot their big mouths off, is the fact that the school taxes are far and away the most significant portion of our school tax bills.

Why do you not see or hear them spouting about school taxes? The answer is very simple: There are no cameras at the school board meetings. They get off getting on. TV, that is.

Having a mind of my own, I wrote to New York State and asked for computed tax rates for all counties. Computed tax rates are the most accurate depiction of a county's tax rate per thousand. If we want to be objective, let's take a look at the tax rates for New York State counties.

YEAR MUNI_NAME Total Full Value Tax Levy Tax Rate ($000)

2006 MONTGOMERY 1,545,603,477 27,273,528 17.65
2006 ALLEGANY 1,487,476,836 21,781,291 14.64
2006 CORTLAND 1,698,123,252 22,830,419 13.44
2006 CHENANGO 1,670,579,130 20,999,094 12.57
2006 CATTARAUGUS 3,139,827,550 38,789,760 12.35
2006 SCHUYLER 799,193,680 8,420,647 10.54
2006 FULTON 2,316,461,434 23,628,893 10.20
2006 OSWEGO 4,142,136,979 41,818,318 10.10
2006 GENESEE 2,242,848,806 22,033,758 9.82
2006 SCHOHARIE 1,597,267,044 15,441,221 9.67
2006 WAYNE 3,862,809,185 36,657,918 9.49
2006 CHAUTAUQUA 5,623,636,707 53,350,209 9.49
2006 TIOGA 1,904,319,286 17,844,826 9.37
2006 ST LAWRENCE 3,913,564,622 36,312,754 9.28
2006 CHEMUNG 3,093,242,764 28,252,882 9.13
2006 CAYUGA 3,200,568,236 29,077,518 9.09
2006 JEFFERSON 4,263,118,806 38,198,518 8.96
2006 NIAGARA 8,351,224,386 72,680,456 8.70
2006 LEWIS 1,174,448,030 10,056,345 8.56
2006 STEUBEN 3,955,893,111 33,542,617 8.48
2006 MADISON 3,014,104,940 25,270,046 8.38
2006 ORLEANS 1,385,474,934 11,349,991 8.19
2006 MONROE 33,528,442,883 269,041,216 8.02
2006 WASHINGTON 3,168,870,404 24,568,570 7.75
2006 SCHENECTADY 7,525,987,718 58,259,535 7.74
2006 YATES 1,596,470,485 12,069,403 7.56
2006 BROOME 6,998,440,370 52,708,284 7.53
2006 LIVINGSTON 2,618,897,565 19,496,858 7.44
2006 ONEIDA 7,726,433,661 56,960,283 7.37
2006 SENECA 1,326,499,176 9,254,661 6.98
2006 ONONDAGA 20,357,273,151 135,822,317 6.67
2006 ONTARIO 6,125,859,491 40,561,816 6.62
2006 RENSSELAER 7,226,217,057 47,316,963 6.55
2006 TOMPKINS 5,022,740,606 32,238,239 6.42
2006 WYOMING 1,657,361,922 10,569,339 6.38
2006 FRANKLIN 2,496,502,095 15,679,651 6.28
2006 COLUMBIA 5,746,093,220 35,151,833 6.12
2006 HERKIMER 3,632,860,025 21,792,503 6.00
2006 SULLIVAN 6,569,928,302 39,135,203 5.96
2006 CLINTON 3,521,725,247 20,435,471 5.80
2006 DELAWARE 3,974,165,964 22,986,243 5.78
2006 ERIE 38,102,215,587 194,655,584 5.11
2006 GREENE 4,052,235,974 18,204,197 4.49
2006 ULSTER 16,302,335,603 65,659,635 4.03
2006 OTSEGO 2,976,866,263 11,567,891 3.89
2006 ALBANY 19,440,085,728 67,135,129 3.45
2006 WARREN 7,734,045,757 24,513,801 3.17
2006 ORANGE 32,599,344,908 101,535,721 3.11
2006 WESTCHESTER 161,724,491,511 492,668,805 3.05
2006 ESSEX 4,519,549,588 13,559,392 3.00
2006 DUTCHESS 29,588,132,867 76,228,394 2.58
2006 SARATOGA 15,367,646,796 36,651,914 2.39
2006 HAMILTON 2,425,234,520 5,171,047 2.13
2006 NASSAU 212,313,809,008 451,629,846 2.13
2006 SUFFOLK 250,479,032,863 514,222,751 2.05
2006 PUTNAM 14,264,305,474 22,746,480 1.59
2006 ROCKLAND 37,885,694,465 46,318,669 1.22

(Should this not format properly, the last number on the right is the tax rate per thousand.)

Obviously, we are not number one in the United States. Of course, some people won't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Niagara County looks pretty middle of the road, despite the pride some in the community take in the being number one in the Tax Foundation's interpretation.

June 13, 2007

Explore Buffalo Niagara 2007

On September 12th - 14th, an economic summit will take place in Western New York. This will be the largest economic development event ever held in our area.

This event was the braintrust of David Roll, Chairman of the National Electrical Contractors Association, Western New York Chapter Manager. Mr. Roll, who is close personal friends with Warren Buffett, approached Mr. Buffett about his idea for bringing CEO's from around the world to Western New York. Mr. Buffett agreed, and invitations were sent out to 1,000 CEOs from across the globe.

The focus of the summit is to promote to huge assets that this area has: an unlimited supply of fresh water and the availability of an abundance of low-cost power. In a United Nations paper I read, it was stated that "As has been said, without enough water or with reducing amounts of water economic development is not possible. Demand for water is growing in all sectors including the industrial sector".

In fact, there are companies in existence today that are in business for the sole purpose of selling water. One of these companies, Waterbank (www.waterbank.com), has found a successful niche market.

We have a tendency to underestimate the assets and resources that we have at our disposal here. This summit, will be a tremendous success. From what I have been told, there are already confirmed contingents from China, Russia, Japan, Germany and Canada. In fact, there is a group from Russia that will be lead by Former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev.

As much as the media tends to focus on the negative, which I believe holds this area back from success, I do give credit to the Gannett Newspaper Group for it's recent stories and editorial on the summit.

More can be found on this event at www.explorebuffaloniagara.com. They are looking for volunteers to make this event even greater that it is. Let's focus on the positives this area has to offer.

From a 2001 Time Magazine story:
August 5, 2001

Water has been called the oil of the 21st century. It is in ever shorter supply, and its price is rising in thirsty cities and farming regions from the Middle East to the American West. And what Kuwait is to oil, Canada could be to water. President George W. Bush suggested as much before last month's global economic summit, when he noted that "water will forever be an issue in the U.S., particularly the Western part," and added, "I look forward to discussing this with Prime Minister Jean Chretien."

That raised the hackles of Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson, who snapped that the Bush-Chretien discussion will be "brief." The Prime Minister "will tell the President that we have a policy of not exporting water, and that, I guess, will be it." Bush's casual comment, though, lent encouragement to a handful of Canadian entrepreneurs who for years have been promoting schemes to export their country's plentiful water. "It's going to happen for sure," says Gerry White, president of McCurdy Enterprises, a real estate and construction firm in Gander, Newfoundland. "Trying to stop people from selling water is like telling Saudi Arabia not to sell oil."

White is preparing to invest $24 million in a plan to ship 132 million gal. of pristine lake water every week via specially lined oil tankers to prospective buyers (whom he declines to name) in the Southern U.S. and elsewhere. Cana- da's provinces prohibit bulk water shipments, on environmental grounds. Still, White's prospects have improved with official hints that Newfoundland's ban might be dropped --and with court challenges arguing that such bans are illegal under terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Says Bill Turner, who runs Waterbank.com, an enterprise based in Albuquerque, N.M., that locates new water supplies for cities and industries around the world: "We're just at the beginning of the boom."

Even so, the dreams of an H2O bonanza can be maddeningly elusive. During the past half-century, there have been at least nine proposals for large-scale water diversions from Canada and Alaska, including a $100 billion megaproject to pipe water from James Bay in northern Quebec to the Western U.S. and a bizarre scheme for tugboats to tow icebergs to Mexico. Just three months ago, a Greek company, Aquarius Water Transportation, was in Houston trying to interest clients in pumping North American water into rafts the size of football fields and towing them to parched locales around the world--a method Aquarius uses to haul water around the Aegean.

Although bottled water is already a $30 billion global industry, the technological challenge of shipping bulk quantities of freshwater between distant points and distributing it to customers has so far stumped some major would-be players. For example, Azurix, a water-retailing company and a subsidiary of the energy multinational Enron, is struggling. "Enron thought it could use its expertise as a commodity trader to market water like energy," says Debra Coy, a water analyst with Charles Schwab. "But water is more complex politically."

Just ask President Bush. Or the municipal leaders of Webster, N.Y. In March the tiny village (pop. 2,500) just south of Lake Ontario placed ads in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times offering to sell 2 million gal. a day of "crystal clear well water." That bit of enterprise earned an icy reprimand from Michigan Governor John Engler, former chairman of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, who reminded village officials that the eight Great Lakes Governors were "required to approve all diversions and exports of water" from the U.S. section of the Great Lakes basin. "There are places even in New York State that are crazy for water," steamed Mayor William Ruoff, who added that inquiries had come from as far away as Texas and Switzerland. "Why shouldn't we help them when we have water to spare?" Not to mention village coffers to line. At current bulk-water prices of $2 per 1,000 gal. for shipping within the U.S., Webster stood to earn as much as $2 million a year from the scheme.

Opponents say it's not the profit they object to but the precedent Webster's plan would set. The Great Lakes basin contains 18% of the world's freshwater, though that doesn't necessarily mean there is water to spare. In a 1999 report, the U.S.-Canada International Joint Commission warned that levels in lakes Michigan and Huron had dropped 22 in. from the previous year--"the most precipitous drop in recorded history," says the ijc's Frank Bevacqua--and last year the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that levels would fall an additional 2 ft. by 2030. A prolonged dry spell has hurt, but water consumption is also rising.

Until now, the most effective limits on the water trade have been economic. Compared with the costs of shipping freshwater by sea, "it's still cheaper to get freshwater by other means, even by desalinization of seawater," admits Turner of Waterbank.com. But Turner, who is assembling a consortium of Mexican municipalities to import water from the U.S., adds that aging infrastructure and mounting worries over contaminated groundwater are helping make larger ventures worthwhile.

Schwab's Coy estimates that the world market for private distribution of water, and the bill for wastewater treatment, now amounts to $300 billion annually. The market has already attracted global giants like Monsanto and Vivendi, and more are expected to enter. Johan Bastin of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development noted in 1999 that "water is the last infrastructure frontier for private investors."

Experts say public-subsidy schemes often give water to farms and industries for as little as $16 an acre-foot when it's worth as much as $400 to municipal water systems. That encourages uneconomic uses of the precious resource. Water consumption in the U.S. averages 100 gal. a day per person, nearly three times the European average. Coy predicts that once private buyers and sellers are allowed to determine a market price for water, international trade in the commodity will boom.

Gerry White of McCurdy Enterprises is preparing for that day and thinks it's not far off. He's planning to build a five-mile pipeline to carry water from Gisborne Lake to Newfoundland's southern coast, then pump it into tanker ships. White estimates it will cost less than a penny a gallon to get water from the lake to his potential buyers. Bulk water now sells for about 2cents per gal. in the U.S. At 66 million gal. a shipload, twice a week, that's a lot of pennies.

June 11, 2007

Hypocrisy Part III

The Confer letter is the epitome of hypocrisy. The original was printed in it's entirety, with no editing, to allow readers to draw their own conclusions. Now, I'd like to expand on those two documents. Among the statements in Confer's "guest editorial" (how someone gets to be a "guest editor" is beyond me. Maybe the ability to string a few words together into a sentence classifies someone as a "guest editor"), Confer says, "As we’ve so painfully discovered over the past few months, industrial development agencies do much more harm than good".

Well Bob, how much harm was done to "us" when your company applied for and received a $2.2 million IDA package? I cannot even fathom the fact that this guy has the nerve to utter a single negative word about IDAs.

Confer says "As was made so readily apparent here, IDAs tend to abuse their power to offer tax cuts". Well Bob, why is it that you weren't complaining about the IDA abuse of power when that power was lining YOUR pocket to the tune of $2.2 million?

He later says "When all is said and done, it’s these unfortunate taxpayers who then have to shoulder an unwelcome and unfair burden when properties come off the tax rolls because the IDAs allow it". Hmmmmmmmm.

Bob, if you do not believe that the taxpayers should not have shoulder the load for these incentive packages, feel free to take that $2.2 million, divide it up by the number of households in Niagara County and send each and every one of us a check. Otherwise, it would appear that you are being, how should I say it - a hypocrite.

Now the best part: Confer wrote this "guest editorial" (I'm sorry, I just can't stop laughing), just tearing IDA's apart, on January 22, 2007.

Amazingly, he sent the other letter to the IDA on July 19th, 2005 praising the hell out of the IDA and the work they did for him and his company. Among his quotes, Confer says, "The tax abatement and PILOT package that you have given Confer Plastics is very important to our expansion". Wow, that certainly doesn't sound like the same guy who wrote a "guest editorial" blasting IDAs.

Confer goes on to say "we value everything your organization does to market and improve the county". Keep in mind, in his "guest editorial", he said "this truth is best exemplified locally by the AES giveaway, which in the whole scheme of things represents only the tip of the dirty IDA iceberg". Well Bob, I just took a look beneath the tip of that dirty IDA iceberg, and I saw you and your company lurking under the water.

June 7, 2007

Confer's Hypocrisy Exceeds Even Rivera

On January 22, 2007, Bob Confer wrote the following article in the Lockport Union Sun:

CONFER: IDAs do more harm than good
By Bob Confer / Editorial ContributorLockport Union-Sun & Journal

— As we’ve so painfully discovered over the past few months, industrial development agencies do much more harm than good. It was “our” IDA that took the act of taxation without representation to the extreme and gave one corporate entity — AES’s Somerset facility — unprecedented preferential treatment that included a behemoth Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) granted without the standard obligations of required job growth and investment. This odd deal that was purposely and deviously devised in contrary to the norm was also ironed-out in near-secrecy and its end results will be detrimental to all of Niagara County’s taxpayers…citizens and corporations alike.

As was made so readily apparent here, IDAs tend to abuse their power to offer tax cuts. Realize, though, that the problem is so much deeper than the symptoms allude to. In the bigger picture of all things governed this power is improperly granted in the first place: It truly is taxation without representation. A board of individuals is appointed (typically upon cronyism) by elected officials who then sever their ability to regulate taxation by granting to this board the ability to say who receives tax cuts and how big these tax cuts should be. The powers afforded by the legal structure of IDAs gives them an ability to do as they see fit with absolutely no accountability to the governments who empowered them or to all of the taxpayers affected by their decisions.

When all is said and done, it’s these unfortunate taxpayers who then have to shoulder an unwelcome and unfair burden when properties come off the tax rolls because the IDAs allow it. This ability to (un)tax at will is just one example of what’s wrong with IDAs. Their problems are many and far reaching. Two of the biggest flaws of IDAs are their negative impact on tax bases due to job flows and their ability to mask what’s wrong with local and state governments. It has been a normal occurrence over the past couple of decades to watch companies and jobs flow from one state to another. They move from depressed places like New York to areas that they consider Lands of Promise, such as “business-friendly” states like South Carolina or Texas.

In the past, most companies typically never would have made such moves, but they do so quite often now thanks to the pervasiveness of IDA’s and economic development agencies. These IDA’s are now anywhere and everywhere as each locality, even towns themselves, seem to have one. With a cornucopia of taxpayer-funded giveaways (which can fund a move) and less-taxed or tax-free properties available at their disposal, the IDAs bait the profit-hungry companies into their lands. Therefore, any “victories” claimed by an IDA are errant boasts, for they typically cause a huge loss in taxes and jobs someplace else, maybe some state far away, or maybe even in the neighboring municipality.

Somebody someplace is getting hurt by an IDA.These competitive packages offered by IDAs also do a favor for the governments who empowered them. The packages end up being Band-Aids, having the subliminal ability to mask what’s wrong with government (namely high taxes) and eliminate political accountability. New York’s economic development circles perfectly exemplify this effect. We are the highest taxed state in the nation yet still have decent amounts of new development in certain locales because IDA packages take away — at least for that company — the competitive disadvantage that New York has. If IDA packages were not offered, New York’s tragic business environment would be made apparent and development would not occur here.

This psychological tool shows why IDA’s tend to remain so popular with many politicians: it offers them a crutch that can save face and allow them to continue with their lack of fiscal prudence and high spending habits. In the end, it’s easy to see that IDAs are more of a drain on an economy than they are economic saviors. This truth is best exemplified locally by the AES giveaway, which in the whole scheme of things represents only the tip of the dirty IDA iceberg. Sadly, it’s this sort of iceberg that may one day sink the veritable Titanic known as the US economy.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda

Ironically, Confer also sent the following letter to the Niagara County IDA, which you may view by clicking on the letter:

Fire Department Fills Pool

A 12-year old Lockport girl has lymphoma, and Make-a-Wish intercedes to see what they can do to make this girl's life just a little better. She doesn't want a trip to Disney, she didn't want to meet an astronaut, she didn't want to meet Britney Spears. She wanted a pool. Not an elaborate pool, just a nice size above ground pool.

So through Make-a-Wish, Colley Pools of Hamburg donated a 24-foot pool, Home Depot donated a fence and volunteers from Fox Fence and Local 91 erected it. What else would they need? Simply enough, they needed water.

So Mayor Mike Tucker, after being approached by several people, makes the call to fill the pool. Wouldn't you know, people called to complain. Anonymously. Wouldn't you think that if you saw a firetruck at a house, filling a pool, that there would need to be some special circumstance? Apparently some in the neighborhood immediately jumped to the conclusion that the fire department was up to no good, and that's unfortunate.

This girl has been fighting lymphoma, wants a pool, and all the City of Lockport has to do is fill the pool to make this girl's wish come true, and people call and bitch.

If you are one of the unfortunate souls who did make a call, I just have one question for you: How the hell do you sleep at night?

That being said, I hope to God that you or a loved one never find yourself in the same position as this little girl and her family.

June 6, 2007

Upshaw Should Resign

Former Buffalo Bill Joe DeLamielleure has been an outspoken critic of National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) head Gene Upshaw. DeLamielleure, a Hall of Famer who played 13 years for the Bills, is concerned with what he feels is a lack of concern on the part of Upshaw to address life after football. He was quoted last year as saying, "Our pensions suck, plain and simple."

How does Upshaw respond? He says "A guy like DeLamielleure says the things he said about me; you think I'm going to invite him to dinner? No. I'm going to break his . . . damn neck."

In defense of Upshaw, the numbers indicate that progress has been made for NFL retirees. Upshaw has negotiated pension increases for retired players in each of the last four collective bargaining agreements. The benefit credit per season for players who played in the league before 1970 has nearly quadrupled in the last 13 years.

So why the over-the-top reaction? Why threaten DeLamielleure? Is this what your $1,000,000 a year job has taught you? Is this indicative of how you handle conflict?

I personally find Upshaw's comment disgraceful. In the new Roger Goodell era, and his unbending Code of Conduct for NFL players, it will be very interesting to see how he handles this situation.

June 5, 2007

Dan Rivera's Hypocrisy

As I read the press release announcing the slate of candidates being put forth by the Niagara County Democratic Party, I cannot believe the level of hypocrisy that Niagara County Democratic Chairman Dan Rivera has reached.

Let’s review for a moment. In February of this year, Rivera forced Lewiston resident Elaine Pienta out of the race for 12th District Niagara County Legislator because of her financial woes. Apparently Pienta filed personal bankruptcy in 2005, and Rivera felt that the bankruptcy may be a political liability for Pienta.

So what does Rivera do? He goes out and recruits not one, but two candidates for Niagara County Legislature seats, both with a bankruptcy on their record. Personally, I do believe that management of one’s personal finances is important when evaluating which candidate I will support. If you can’t effectively manage your own assets, how can I trust you to manage mine?

However, the bigger issue here is not the individual’s finances. The issue is the inconsistency in Rivera’s message. Pienta is out of the picture because of her BK. But it’s okay to endorse Merrill Bender and Charles Dahlquist? Why is that, Dan? Could there be a bigger issue here? Could it be that Pienta refused to submit to your heavy-handed methods?

According to the Buffalo News, at the time Pienta went public with a complaint that Rivera had treated her unfairly, Rivera told The Buffalo News, “As Democratic chairman I will vet anyone who expresses an interest in public office with the same rigor I apply to our political opponents. I will not endorse a candidate who, for whatever reason, cannot meet what I hope and expect are the exacting standards of the voters of this county.”

Apparently, the standards you set for your candidates are quite different than the standards the voters of this county expect.

In addition to the hypocrisy shown by Rivera in evaluating the financial backgrounds of candidates, Rivera also has a short memory when it comes to party affiliation.

I remember not too long ago when Rivera sought to solicit and support “pure Democrats” in response to certain Democrats choosing to caucus with the Republicans. In fact, I recall a time recently when members of the Majority Caucus were actually sued by the Niagara County Democratic Chairman over the fact that Dems actually sat with Republicans. Do you know who paid for the defense of this lawsuit? The taxpayers paid for it.

Imagine the absurdity of the Democratic Party suing members of their own party for putting their party affiliations aside and working together for the betterment of the community, and the taxpayers footing the bill.

Now, Rivera has chosen two candidates, ironically the same two candidates that have a history of financial woes, who are registered Republicans to run against incumbent Republicans, with the intention of caucusing with the Democrats. For the record, I don’t have a problem with the strategy; the Republicans have been doing it successfully for some time. The problem, or the hypocrisy, is the fact that the Demos have taken every opportunity to criticize members of their own party who have chosen to work together with the Republicans, and even went as far as to file a lawsuit against them.

If Rivera believes that the people of this county lack the intelligence to see through his hypocrisy, he is very much mistaken.

June 4, 2007

Hillary's Campaign Theme Song

As I said in my initial post, I'd like to periodically mix in a little humor. So, what better place to start than with Hillary Clinton.

Apparently the former First Lady has been conducting an online survey to determine what her campaign theme song will be for the upcoming Presidential election.

After mulling several possibilities, and being the classic rock music fan that I am, I have narrowed my choices down to the one that I feel best summarizes Mrs. Clinton's run for office:

Highway to Hell, by AC/CD
Feel free to add your own suggestion.

Roger Kelley to Head NYPA

I must say that I am quite optimistic about the appointment of Roger Kelley to head the New York Power Authority (NYPA). In case you missed it, Kelley was recently appointed by the governing body of the State Power Authority to succeed Tim Carey, who began serving on the NYPA board as a trustee in 2000.

The reason for my optimism is that Kelley is a Western New York guy. He works in Lockport and lives in East Amherst.

There are multiple NYPA sites across New York, but none with the power generating capability of the facility in Niagara County. With the massive amount of power generated through the Lewsiton facility comes massive profits. Unfortunately, this power and these profits are often used to subsidize business interests outside of Western New York.

Elliot Spitzer has promised to revitalize the upstate economy. He designated an Upstate Chair of the Empire State Development Corp (ESDC), Daniel Gundersen, as well as an Upstate headquarters in Buffalo. Although Gundersen has been vitually invisible in Western New York since his appointment, the appointment of Kelley, Spitzer's choice to head the authority, is a positive step.

What Kelley brings to the table in terms of experience is unquestioned. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from Northeastern University in Boston and has subsequently worked in the private utility business for 33 years, including stints at New York State Electric & Gas Corp., Empire Energy Corp., Commercial Union Energy Corp. and LS Power Corp. before joining Fortistar in 1992. He has been senior vice president and chief technical officer for the past decade.

What Kelley brings to the table in terms of value to Western New York remains to be seen. While he has been very guarded in his initial comments to the press, he is quoted as saying “the power authority at the end of the day is the New York Power Authority, not the Western New York Power Authority”, I for one am hopeful that Kelley will in fact bring a local perspective to the position.

June 1, 2007


It seems that politics is the primary topic on message boards these days, so it's only logical that we start there. For the record, I am a registered Republican, but I am a moderate Republican. I have voted for Chuck Schumer for Senator and I have voted for George Bush for President. Does that mean I love Schumer or Bush? Of course not, it simply means that at that moment in time, they were who I believed to be the superior candidate in their respective races.

Speaking of the presidency, is there, or has there ever been, a candidate that invokes such emotion as Hillary Clinton? Not that I have been around for centuries, but since I've been following politics, I have never seen a candidate that is either so beloved or so bemoaned as the former First Lady.

For me, as a Republican, I was not overly enamored with Bill Clinton. But, as I try to be objective, I know that he did a pretty decent job in the White House. Conversely, I do not believe that Bush is as evil is the media makes him out to be. The fact is that this country is a safer country with George Bush at the helm than it would have been with John Kerry. Do I agree with every facet of the Iraqi war? Absolutely not, but answer this question: Has this country been attacked since 9/11? Of course the answer is no.

Would I prefer to see the $800,000,000,000+ that has been spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan be reinvested in our country? That's not an easy answer. Obviously it would seem to be, but the $64,000 question is: What price are you willing to put on your personal safety and security?

Again, I'm not saying I support the war or that I am opposed to the war. What I am saying is that are in fact two sides to every issue, and civil discourse is a good thing.

Back to Hillary. As I said previously, I am not a fan of hers, but it amazes me how passionate people are about her. If you're a Hillary supporter, please share with us what you believe she brings to teh table as a candidate and why you believe she would be a good President. If you are not a Hill fan, please feel free to jump in as well.

Welcome to Niagara Times

Greetings people of Niagara County. I have started this blog because I believe that rational conversation is key to progress. As I was researching blogs, I came across one person's interpretation of "civil discourse", and it read, "it means not threatening people; not silencing people; not mistaking ad hominem attacks for “debate;” giving people the benefit of the doubt if they haven’t been behaving like overgrown 2-year-olds; and remembering, first and foremost, that behind the words on the screen is a person with feelings".

I also believe that many of the local message boards have become stomping grounds for individuals with a hidden agenda. I have seen many attacks, accusations, threats, and some very punishing comments made. This serves no good purpose. I would like this blog to be a free exchange of ideas, discussion of news events, and maybe some humor mixed in.

I have no financial interest, political interest or interest of any other kind in the success or failure of this blog. I simply would like the people of this county to have a forum that is not dictated by the interests of a newspaper group, a radio station, or the hidden agenda of any persons or groups.

With that, I shall make the first post in the history if the Niagara Times blog, I hope you enjoy visiting the site.