March 31, 2008

The Clinton Myth

This is a very interesting story from www.politico.com entitled Story behind the story: The Clinton myth. The following is the article in its entirety:

One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.

Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party’s most reliable constituency.

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.

People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.

As it happens, many people inside Clinton’s campaign live right here on Earth. One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives.

In other words: The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe.

The real question is why so many people are playing. The answer has more to do with media psychology than with practical politics.

Journalists have become partners with the Clinton campaign in pretending that the contest is closer than it really is. Most coverage breathlessly portrays the race as a down-to-the-wire sprint between two well-matched candidates, one only slightly better situated than the other to win in August at the national convention in Denver.

One reason is fear of embarrassment. In its zeal to avoid predictive reporting of the sort that embarrassed journalists in New Hampshire, the media — including Politico — have tended to avoid zeroing in on the tough math Clinton faces.

Avoiding predictions based on polls even before voters cast their ballots is wise policy. But that's not the same as drawing sober and well-grounded conclusions about the current state of a race after millions of voters have registered their preferences.

The antidote to last winter's flawed predictions is not to promote a misleading narrative based on the desired but unlikely story line of one candidate.

There are other forces also working to preserve the notion of a contest that is still up for grabs.

One important, if subliminal, reason is self-interest. Reporters and editors love a close race — it’s more fun and it’s good for business.

The media are also enamored of the almost mystical ability of the Clintons to work their way out of tight jams, as they have done for 16 years at the national level. That explains why some reporters are inclined to believe the Clinton campaign when it talks about how she’s going to win on the third ballot at the Democratic National Convention in August.

That’s certainly possible — and, to be clear, we’d love to see the race last that long — but it’s folly to write about this as if it is likely.

It’s also hard to overstate the role the talented Clinton camp plays in shaping the campaign narrative, first by subtly lowering the bar for the performance necessary to remain in the race, and then by keeping the focus on Obama’s relationships with a political fixer and a controversial pastor in Illinois.

March 28, 2008

Naiveté

I've come to the conclusion that, in some areas of life, I must be pretty damn naive. You see, I've never solicited a prostitute. But after some of the past year's events, I'm beginning to think that I'm in the minority. Now, don't get me wrong. I know guys who venture off for a little foreign culture at the ballet from time to time, but personally I could take it or leave it.

But over the past year, we've seen our esteemed former governor toppled for his unquenchable thirst for high-priced hookers. Whether the money laundering and bank fraud allegations stand up is another story. We now have a governor who has admitted multiple sexual indiscretions. Locally, we've had multiple massage parlor busts with some high profile individuals not only patronizing the establishments, but local politicos providing material support for these establishments.

I never knew that there was a massage parlor in Lockport, not far from where I live. In fact, I would go by the location where the Lockport parlor was located multiple times a week. Never gave it a thought. But when these busts were announced, four locations were shut down. There must be a serious demand for these "services" if there are that many parlors in our community.

Some will say that prostitution is a victimless crime. Tell that to the women who are brought to this country and forced, yes forced, to work in the sexual slave trade.

As for me, I kind of like being naive on this topic. Although I haven't consulted her on this specific topic per se, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that my wife is also fine with it.

March 27, 2008

Passport Debacle Raises Concerns

I'm not a conspiracy theorist sort of person. I don't think everything the government does smacks of "Big Brotherism." But I am concerned about what happens to all of that "private information" we give up on a regular basis on a host of forms for different reasons.

It seems as if all too frequently that there is a story about some company having to send letters to customers because there was a breech in the company's security and personal information, like credit card information or social security numbers could have been stolen.

I get pretty teed off when I read that stuff. But then a story comes along like the one about contract employees at the State Department illegally reviewing the passports of all three presidential candidates and I get even more spooked.

In case you missed it, at least four State Department workers pried into the supposedly secure passport files of presidential contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain. Condoleezza Rice has promised a full investigation and telephoned the candidates to apologize personally.

Is nothing safe any more? Can any $7 an hour employee have access to our most private information?

March 26, 2008

Rumor Mill

Niagara Times has learned that a piece is being worked on by a member of the media that will expose the significant philandering that has become part of the Albany culture. The story is said to focus on unseemly behavior by both Democrats and Republicans, as well as members of the State Assembly and State Senate.

But we have to wonder-is this the world we now live in? Is this what is now perceived as commonplace in a post-Spitzer and current Paterson world? Watching Fox News last week, they said that most people don't really care about extra-marital affairs.

But are our elected officials not held to a higher standard? Or when they screw up, is it simply sloughed off as them being human? This is not a gender issue, women are just as guilty as men, but in Albany, where the number of men greatly outweighs the number of women in office, it seems as if the men are the only ones getting busted.

Personally, I don't have any remorse for people who are caught doing things they shouldn't be doing. After all, they've made their bed, now they have to sleep in it.

March 25, 2008

Observations

The Democratic-lead minority caucus in the Niagara County Legislature would like to cap the tax on local gasoline purchases. We say it's about time. New York State capped the tax on gas at $2.00 per gallon over a year ago. Before the Leg makes such a move, we want to know what the financial impact will be and where that lost revenue will be made up from. As long as it won't be made up in my property taxes, go for it.

The vicious attack of a 12 year-old girl on her way to school in North Tonawanda is a parent's worst nightmare. We're going to go out on a limb and say that the perpetrator is likely someone with previous history of sexual deviancy. Not that it would or wouldn't have made a difference in this case, but it's imperative that parents know who is living in their neighborhood that should potentially be cause for concern. To view all registered sex offenders within one mile of a specific address in Niagara County, simply paste http://www.icrimewatch.net/index.php?AgencyID=54113 into your browser.

With the the decision by George Maziarz to remain in the New York State Senate and not seek the seat of retiring Congressman Tom Reynolds, the field of candidates is sure to get interesting. While the Democratic side looks relatively clear, our money is on David Bellavia of Batavia to get the GOP nod. Bellavia is drumming up serious support, and his record of military service is thought to nullify any advantage that Jon Powers may have as a veteran.

One has to wonder what Gary Parenti was thinking. Parenti was arrested on charges of impaired driving, driving without a license and running a red light. What's mind boggling is what the officers said lead to the arrest- when they first saw Parenti’s Ford Explorer stopped at a red light at 19th Street and Pine Avenue, the driver honked the horn, drove through the red light and was pulled over at 19th and Falls streets. Talk about drawing attention to yourself. Parenti is a longtime Democratic Party operative who lost a bruising battle for a New York State Assembly seat two years ago against incumbent Francine DelMonte.

Since the State Legislature passed legislation three years ago requiring districts to undergo a state comptroller’s audit and to tighten their internal checks and balances, more than 350 schools have been audited. Last year, the state completed 226 audits, including more than two dozen in Western New York. Another 200 audits are under way. Each of the state’s 834 school districts, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services and charter schools is to be audited by 2010. There are some common themes in the state audits released last year:
• 48 percent showed deficiencies in the process to make sure schools spend money appropriately.
• 41 percent found weaknesses in computer security.
• 24 percent found payments to school officials that were not included in their contracts.
• 10 percent found inappropriate payments to officials when they leave a district.

Once again, we have to ask: Where is the public outcry over these findings? If these findings were about the County Leg or a local municipality, there would be calls for public lynchings in the town square. But since the findings focus on the untouchable school districts, this story barely is a blip on the radar.

Lastly, a week after admitting that he had been unfaithful to his wife on multiple occasions, Governor David Paterson made another confession about his past, telling a television interviewer on Monday that he had tried both cocaine and marijuana. All of the sudden Governor Joe Bruno doesn't sound that far fetched.

March 24, 2008

Breaking News-Maziarz To Remain In Senate

Niagara Times has learned that New York State Senator George Maziarz will not seek the 26th Congressional District seat that Tom Reynolds will be retiring from. Although no decision has been made on who the GOP will support for the seat, Niagara Times has been told that the candidate will be a "hometown boy", meaning that a candidate will be brought forward from Niagara County.

With the decision by Maziarz, this certainly opens up the field of potential candidates. While the Democratic field seems to have fallen into place, we want to know who you'd like to see represent the GOP for the Congressional race.

Niagara's Road To The Frozen Four

This is a great time of the year to be a sports fan. Major league baseball starts this week, the NFL draft is nearly upon us, the NBA is heading down the homestretch, as is the NHL, with the Sabres fighting for a playoff spot. Of course, it's March Madness, a time when virtually every person you talk to has a college basketball "bracket" that they're following diligently.

But there is a different "March Madness" going on, one that centers on pucks, not hoops. Our Niagara University men's hockey team is in the NCAA tournament. The Purple Eagles, who finished the season with a 22-10-4 record, will face number one seed Michigan (31-5-5) on the road to the "Frozen Four". The two teams will face off at 7:30 Friday in the Times Union Center in Albany.

This will be no easy take for Niagara, as Michigan, which has won nine national titles, is the favorite to win the national title. They have 12 NHL draft picks on their roster. But, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.

In this day and age of spoiled professional athletes, many fans prefer college and high school sports. In a hockey crazed area like Western New York, the Niagara University Purple Eagles hockey team is a perfect fit for our insatiable desire for sports and that elusive championship that Western New York craves. Let's show our support for NU as they skate to the Frozen Four.

March 21, 2008

Run George, Run

The announcement by Congressman Tom Reynolds has the political world buzzing that State Senator George Maziarz will jump into the race as the GOP candidate. Maziarz has said he will take a little time to think this over and arrive at a decision in the near future, probably some time next week.

We only have one thing to say, "Run George, Run." Niagara County would have one of its own serving in Congress and no one would work harder for the people of WNY than George Maziarz.

All the Dem candidates are backbenchers...and Jack Davis is a whacko. We can't afford on the job training...our problems are too serious.

We recognize this is a tough decision, but George, we need you in D.C.

March 20, 2008

What is "American"?

West Herr Honda was welcomed into Lockport and Niagara County yesterday amid the usual fanfare of a ribbon cutting, the Chamber and some elected officials. West Herr is a phenomenal organization that treats it's customers with respect. I know this because I've visited several of their showrooms over the years, including the newest location a few weeks ago.

I didn't buy a car at that time, but really, I have no problem buying a Honda. Or a Toyota or a Nissan. I think, however, that I am in the minority in Western New York. In much of our area, if you don't drive an "American" car, you're looked upon as a pariah. I say "American" because these days, it's hard to know what is actually made where. Here’s a quick quiz. Which one of the following is a foreign-made vehicle?

A) BMW Z3
B) Mazda 626
C) Mitsubishi Eclipse
D) Nissan Quest
E) Mercedes ML320
F) Cadillac Catera

The correct answer is the Cadillac Catera, which is built in Germany by General Motors. All the others are built in the United States. GM also produces nine of its other current car and truck models in Canada or Mexico. Ford produces three models in Canada, and DaimlerChrysler produces at least five models in just Mexico and Canada.

On the other hand, the U. S. is now home to nine foreign-owned auto companies (Honda, Isuzu, BMW, Mercedes, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota) that build well over three million cars per year in this country. More than 40 models of foreign cars, minivans, SUVS and pickup trucks – are rolling off assembly lines at 15 plants in the United States so rapidly that last year brought an automotive tipping point.

For the first time, more foreign-brand cars sold in the United States were built here – 3.7 million – than were imported – 3.4 million – according to the Center for Automotive Research, a nonprofit auto analyst in Michigan.

The transplants are not just assembling cars here with foreign parts. The domestic content of the vehicles built here by foreign car companies is now 69 percent, only slightly less than the 78 percent domestic content of cars built in the U. S. by the Big Three.

In this global car market, it is getting harder and harder to tell the difference between an "American car" and a "foreign car." Is a Cadillac Catera built in Germany foreign or American? What about the Toyota Corolla built in California by UAW workers? What about the vehicles that will now be produced by DaimlerChrysler? What about Jaguars built in England as a division of Ford Motor Company?

If myths die hard, nowhere do economic myths about international trade die harder than in Flint, Michigan. Despite the increasing senselessness of trying to accurately define a "foreign car" in today’s global economy, several organizations in Flint have policies that accommodate "American cars" but strictly prohibit "foreign cars."

For instance, the UAW Local 659 in Flint has the following sign in the parking lot: The parking of any foreign made autos on Local 659 property is absolutely prohibited. Violators will have their auto towed at their own personal expense. Woodrow Stanley, when elected mayor of Flint in 1991, announced a similar policy for the underground parking ramp below Flint City Hall.

Would the UAW or the city of Flint actually tow or ban Cadillac Cateras from their lots because they are "foreign cars" from Germany, or Buick Regals because they are built in Canada, or GMC Suburban C1500s because they are built in Mexico?

It is hard to imagine that the UAW would really tow one of the 26 models built by U. S. workers for international auto makers, especially UAW-built vehicles like the Isuzu Hombre truck, Mazda 626, Mazda B-series truck, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Quest, Toyota Corolla, and the Toyota Tacoma truck. If you can not precisely define what a "foreign car" is any more, how can you ban them or tow them away?

Parking lot restrictions against foreign vehicles should be seen for what they really are: modern, automotive Jim Crow laws that discriminate against certain Americans based on the national origin of their vehicle. Although these restrictions may have made sense to some people in the past, they have no place in a global economy where trying to even define a "foreign car" can drive you crazy.

Drive through the Lockport Wal-Mart parking lot. It is filled with American cars. Walk into a Wal-Mart. It is filled with Chinese products. People who would never in a million years buy a Chinese car are filling their carts with Chinese products.

Those who believe that Delphi is an American corporation are living in a dream world. They would cease their U.S. operations in a heartbeat if they could, while moving all operations abroad. The lines between domestic and foreign become more and more blurred with each passing day. That, my friends, is why I would have no problem buying a Honda.

March 19, 2008

Hillary's "Super" Problem

The following is a NY Post story on the potential impact of Spitzer's resignation on the Clinton campaign:

Just when Hillary Rodham Clinton finally got her own wandering husband reined in, another man's catting around ensnares her campaign. With Eliot Spitzer's fall from office, Clinton will lose one of her most famous superdelegates - those party bigwigs across the country who could ultimately determine the outcome of this too-close-to-call primary fight.

As governor, Spitzer was automatically one of these free-agent delegates to the Democratic convention. He has always been included in the Clinton campaign's superdelegate tally. If he's out of office, he loses that privilege, and it goes to his successor. But since Lt. Gov. David Paterson also is a superdelegate for Clinton, his vote is already included in Clinton's total.

In addition to narrowing Clinton's slight 247-211 lead among superdelegates, Spitzer's hooker scandal also reopens Clinton's own history with sordid philandering. "This is a distraction sandwich. This is the worst thing that could happen to her," said Arnie Arnesen, who hosts a political radio program in New Hampshire.

The talk of impeaching Spitzer only reminded people of the grand impeachment trial of Clinton over his relations with intern Monica Lewinksy, observers said. "The men in her life - her husband and her governor - caused her the same problems with all these distractions and they both have the same problem," Arnesen said.

As far as Clinton joining the chorus of those who demanded Spitzer's resignation? "She can't because of Bill," Arnesen said. "She knows the story too well. When it comes to sex and man, what can she say?"

March 18, 2008

Observations

Politics at all levels can get quite unseemly. Take the mess in Lew-Port School District in which former board member Ed Lilly has filed a libel and slander suit against former president David Schaubert, former member Louis Palmeri and current member Michael Gentile. But really, if every elected official or public figure sued someone because he/she didn't like something that someone else said him, we'd need even more lawyers.

It's funny that the opposition is once again lining up for fight against a landlord licensing/registry program for the City of Lockport. You need a license to drive, to fish, to sell alcohol, to be a contractor. Hell, you need a license to own a dog. The city's housing stock has taken some serious hits over the years. Not that we generally advocate more governmental regulation in our lives, but this is a good thing that the Mayor and Council must have the courage to move forward on. One also has to wonder what the landlords who oppose the program are so afraid of.

We like David Paterson and wish him the best with the huge challenges that lie ahead for him, including getting a ratified budget by April 1. But the day after delivering one of the most passionate and entertaining speeches we've seen in awhile from any elected official, much of the media coverage if focused on Paterson and his wife's admission of extramarital affairs in their marriage. We hope this is not an omen of things to come in the next nearly three years.

We at Niagara Times receive a fair amount of "tips" via email, and encourage readers to continue to send them. Some are legitimate and some send us on a wild goose chase, like the one last week telling us about a local official who had allegedly been arrested the night before. After a fair amount of digging, we found no basis for further inquiries.

It's great to see Lockport native John Murphy, himself the pedigree of a great political family, back on the air in Western New York. Watching sports during the 6 o'clock news just wasn't the same without his smiling face. Welcome back, John.

From what we've seen, there may be a show of support for Legislative Journal and Tom Christy at tonight's County Leg meeting. What will be interesting to see, however, is if the support is for Christy or for the show. Many of the message boards and comments here on Niagara Times have centered on how his removal is a violation of free speech. So we're assuming that the supporters want continued access to local officials in some form, regardless of who the host is.

We're a little curious as to why no one has called out Niagara Falls MMC CEO Joe Ruffalo after he was accused by facility employees of admitting to them that their 12-bed unit was not scheduled for closure because too many clients lacked insurance, but rather because closing it represented “the best way to get media attention.” This after putting on a dog & pony show accusing the county of being responsible for his fiscal mismanagement.

Lastly, Barack Obama has a problem. The following is Obama's preacher and has been for the past 20 years. In case you haven't seen in, here it is.

March 17, 2008

Stand By Your Man

Over the past week, we have watched incessantly the indiscretions of now former Governor Eliot Spitzer played out on every media outlet. Today, there are new shocking allegations regarding former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey. Much of the media coverage mentions former Idaho Senator Larry Craig. Virtually every time any of this trio are mentioned, they are pictured with their respective spouses.

Like many others, we wonder what motivates these and other women to stand with their husbands after such a horrifying betrayal. Analysts say a political spouse is part of a team, and when she's standing before the cameras - even silently - she is taking one for the team. Part political theater, part open-air therapy, these excruciating public confessionals demand three things of the spouse: to hold her family together at a moment of crisis; to support the person she supposedly loves; and to provide a least a shred of future political viability for her man.

As one pundit said, "This is the scandal. As for how spouses behave during these crises, it's none of our business. Absolutely none of us can know how we'd react in that situation or judge others."

Whatever the reasons, many believe that these political wives deserve kudos for working through their difficult times, while others believe they're crazy for putting themselves through such a dog and pony show. Either way, it makes for great TV.



March 14, 2008

Christy's Departure

Much has been written on the pages of Niagara Times relating to Tom Christy, the now former host of Lockport Cable Televsion's Legislative Journal. Christy, who hosted the show for the past 10 years, had become a lightning rod of controversy for his left-wing political views on the LCTV Government Channel.

Unfortunately, with his departure, Christy is showing little of the class that that he so often tried to portray on the show. He's going out with comments like, "This is 1,000 percent political.” Really? LCTV Producer has a different take, simply saying this week he was no longer interested in doing that particular program. All things come to an end. M*A*S*H* ended. Seinfeld ended. Cheers ended. Television shows run their course, and 10 years is a nice run, then they end. No whining, no conspiracy theories, they simply end.

Instead of accepting the end in a dignified manner, we're getting, “The people at LCTV aren’t interested in the people. The people at LCTV are just interested in the government officials" from Christy. Classy. And a hell of an insult the the hundreds of people who have volunteered their time and money to LCTV and all of the individuals and groups that have had their programs on LCTV's three channels. But LCTV doesn't care about people.

By the way, John Benoit, chairman of the local commission that oversees LCTV said Christy disagreed with LCTV management’s push to present programming on the governmental channel as it is intended by law, that is free from opinion and focused on issues of importance to the government. Unbiased commentary, Tom. It is required by law. Christy thinks he's above the law and the rules don't apply to him. Sounds vaguely reminiscent of another public figure who found himself booted out of his position earlier this week.

Christy has the option of doing a show on Channel 20, which is public access open to anyone. We would encourage Christy to re-create his former show on that channel, where we have said all along it belongs. As far as his removal from Channel 22, we congratulate the LCTV Board of Directors for having the courage to enforce the law.

March 13, 2008

Is Beilein's Appointment in Trouble?

Is Sheriff Tom Beilein's apppointment as Chairman of the State Commision on Correction now in jeopardy? This could be one of many casualties of Governor Spitzer's fall from grace.

Sources have told us that incoming Lt. Governor Paterson has put a hold on all and everything that Spitzer had in the pipeline, including appointments. As a matter of fact, while Beilein's new position requires Senate review and approval, the appointment had not yet been sent from Spitzer's office to the Senate.

Certainly this is unfortunate and has nothing at all to do with the Sheriff's record or qualifications.

And of course, one would expect that Beilein will still be the choice for the post, the question is just how long will it now take. I don't see how Beilein gets in before summer.

Plus, incoming Governor Paterson has not exactly had a warm and fuzzy relationship with the law enforcement community so who knows if he will appoint a Sheriff to post or if Beilein even wants to be part of that administration.

The bottom line is that Beilein, at least for now, is collateral damage of Client #9.

March 12, 2008

Day One

I imagine we're all getting a little tired of Client 9 stories and the continued relevations about Gov. Spitzer's double life. So, let's look ahead to Day One of the Gov. Paterson Administration.

I must admit, I'm not overly familiar with him, but word on the street is that he is genuinely liked and respected by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

So, in order to help Governor Paterson get his Day One started off on the right foot, we should offer him some advice. I'm going to give a few of my own suggestions and then want to hear from you.

1) Under promise and over deliver. Yes this is a cliche, but Paterson would do well to avoid the Spitzer "I'm gonna change the world on my own" sort of hubris. Instead, just get some stuff done.

2) Related to the first one, tone down the political rhetoric. David Paterson is a partisan Dem like he should be. But Spitzer made overt political warfare a 24/7 sport. Tone it down until after session.

3) This is the speech of your life, make it a good one. Talk about moving past bickering and warfare. Find a tactful way of saying you're not always the smartest guy in the room. Show some measure of respect for the Legislature while challenging them to do better.

There's my free advice.

March 11, 2008

Spitzer Should Resign

We've been critical of Governor Eliot Spitzer on the pages of Niagara Times before. His bully tactics and self-proclaimed "f-ing steamroller" approach have gotten him into more than a few disputes during his first year in office. But he went to Albany with resounding support from the people, and he deserved the opportunity to change the dysfunction of Albany.

That opportunity is gone. With the sordid details of Spitzer's personal life coming to light, Spitzer must resign. It's not "only" that he solicited a high-priced hooker. He has broken the law, allegedly, by paying the prostitute to cross state lines.

The bigger problem for Spitzer, politically at least, is if he should try to weather the storm, he has become politically impotent. As one Assemblyman said yesterday, no one would dare to stand with Spitzer. He cannot govern.

While we have disagreed with Spitzer's approach and some of his policy decisions, we take no joy in what has transpired. Whether you like him or not, this is a very sad day for New York. The coverage that this story is not the kind of attention we need.

One cannot help feel bad for Silda Spitzer and their three teenage daughters. To see your husband's and father's personal life played out all over CNN, Fox News and every other news outlet must be devastating.

All three of NYC's tabloid newspaper are calling for Spitzer to resign. If he doesn't impeachment proceedings will begin.

A sad day indeed.

March 10, 2008

Bush Endorsement Of McCain

We at Niagara Times feel that John McCain is a viable candidate for the Presidency, as are Senators Obama and Clinton. But one really has to wonder what McCain is thinking in reaching out to George Bush for an endorsement. As the AP writes, "The Bush endorsement has baggage, reminding voters of the drawn-out Iraq War and the nation’s economic woes under the unpopular GOP president."

Bush's overall job approval rating has dropped to a new low in polling as 78% of Americans say that the national economy is getting worse according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. Among Americans registered to vote, 18% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 78% disapprove. Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as President and 77% disapprove.

And you want his endorsement why?

March 8, 2008

New York Times Editorial

We've addressed our concern with the State Assembly, Senate and Governor's office all being controlled by one party. Unfortunately, it is often sloughed off as political rhetoric, and not a legitimate concern. So when we came across this New York Times editorial, we thought it may be of interest. Here it is in its entirety:

March 8, 2008
Editorial
A One-Party New York State

Democrats in New York are only one Senate election away from full control of state government. This could be a chance for one party finally to break the gridlock and start getting things done. In Albany, however, the idea of one party in total control, even a party with many promising goals, should stir great public concern.

It would be tempting to bid good riddance to the Republicans who have held power in the state. Senate Leader Joseph Bruno, who is under investigation by federal agents, has long held fast to business as usual. Rather than work to reform the way campaigns are financed, for example, he mocks the very idea.

The trouble is, the Democrats need a counterweight. The ideal way to achieve that would be for moderate Republicans to adopt a mop and a broom as official symbols and become the party of reform. They could vow to clean up campaign finance and put in place tough new rules about legislators’ outside employment.

Democrats, of course, argue that they are the reform party. But as Danny Hakim reported in The Times recently, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, while standing firm on his promise to cap contributions to his own campaign at $10,000, has routed larger dollops of campaign money to the state Democratic Party, which he also controls. That party money was essential to the Democrats taking a Senate seat last month in a strong Republican area upstate.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the state’s other top-ranking Democrat, has chosen a member of his law firm to lead a state panel that chooses judges. He also refuses to disclose the details of how much he earns as a lawyer and who his clients are. Neither official has broken laws, but if the Democrats want voters to hand them one-party rule in November, they need to earn it.

That means upgrading the rules on ethics and elections. The governor should urge the Legislature to create a nonpartisan legislative redistricting commission, like the one Iowa uses. Fair mapmaking is a fundamental route to better government. New York is also long overdue for campaign finance reform. It needs a system with public financing, tighter limits on contributions and more transparency on reporting.

One-party rule in Albany could mean that important bills — on such issues as civil liberties and gay rights — long blocked by Republicans will become law. But giving one party so much power would require a leap of faith by voters. Now is the time for Democrats to show that this faith would be well placed.

March 7, 2008

Conflict Of Interest In NT

Sources have told Niagara Times of an interesting situation playing out in North Tonawanda. From what we have learned, a case was filed in the Supreme Court on 10/29/2004. The case involves North Tonawanda resident Scott Scibisz vs. City of NT, and centers around a claim of relief to recover money damages for personal injuries.

On the evening of Aug 1, 2003, Scibisz was participating in a softball game on a City operated field. While doing so, Scibisz was struck by a softball bat thrown by a fellow participant. In court papers, Scibisz' attorney alleges that the City of NT failed in its responsibility of directing, conducting, and supervising the participants and making sure that hazardous conditions did not exist and failing to make sure that the use and design of Felton Field, and in particular the players' bench area along the first base line, was safe for participants.

At face value, nothing out of the ordinary. Until one takes into consideration that, at present, North Tonawanda Mayoral Assistant Jeff Mis is still the attorney of record and representing Scibisz. Yes, Mayor Larry Soos' right hand man is representing a client in a lawsuit against the same city that employs him. That, my friends, is a serious conflict of interest.

This case is set to go to court on March 12th.

March 6, 2008

What If....

Since the inception of Niagara Times in June of 2007, we've covered many topics, although the focus has been local politics. From the outset, we stated that this blog tends to lean Republican. It's not that we agree with everything the party does, just as we do not disagree with everything the Democratic Party does. But, your political philosophies are your political philosophies.

While we have tried to refrain from being overtly political, there are those who contribute to this blog, and whether we agree or disagree, we greatly appreciate your participation, who believe we tend to lean too far one way or another on certain issues. This seems to be the case on one topic that often draws more comments from participants than other, the County Legislature. Many of the blog posts cover county politics, with post comments often firing at one another.

So we got to thinking: What if the party in control was different, meaning, what if the Dems held a 14-5 majority and the Reps were in the minority? Remember, it was the November 2003 elections that brought about the shift in control. Going into those elections, the Dems held a slim 10-9 majority. After the elections, the Reps enjoyed, I believe, a 13-6 majority.

So my question is, if the roles were reversed, and that scenario played out opposite, would the county be in a better position than it is now?

Personally, I believe that this imaginary scenario would be comparable to the Upstate/Downstate disconnect that we've addressed prior, with Niagara Falls playing the role of Downstate. My concern would be that too many county resources would be funneled to the Falls. Of course, I could be wrong.

But if you believe the county would be a better place with the Dems holding a 14-5 majority, or if you believe that things are better with the Reps in the majority, please share that as well.

March 5, 2008

Davis' Love/Hate With Powers

Congressional candidate Jack Davis is off to a roaring start, and he hasn't even announced if he is going to seek a third attempt at the 26th Congressional District seat currently held by Tom Reynolds that he has spent $5.6 million dollars of his own money to capture. It seems Mr. Davis cannot seem to make up his mind when it comes to potential Democratic primary opponent Jonathan Powers.

Davis recently stated about Powers, “I like the guy; I’d be proud to have him as a son". A hell of a compliment to state about your possible opponent. Unfortunately for Davis, things got a blurry when he followed up that statement with, "But my sons would be disinherited if they were pulling the stuff he did.” Huh?

Davis went on to say of Powers, other than his Army service as a captain in Iraq, Powers “has never had a real job. He’s unemployed”.

Talk about covering the full spectrum. Davis would be proud to have Powers as a son, but would disinherit him and he goes out of his way to point out his perspective that Powers has never had a real job. What a ringing endorsement for our young men and women who serve in the armed forces. In Davis' eyes, apparently military personnel never held a real job. So if I was a 20 year military man, is Davis saying that I never held a real job as well? An interesting perspective to be sure.

Davis has made strong indications of his intentions to once again enter into the race for the 26th. Davis, who turned 75 over the weekend, reiterated his commitment to spend $2 million of his own money on the race this year.

March 4, 2008

When Something Just Doesn't Seem Right

Like many of you, I peruse the local papers and try to catch television news to try to keep myself informed. Of late, I find my perplexed/disgusted/amazed yet not surprised/ by several things. So, I'm dedicating today's post to some of these things. Feel free to add your own:

1) This whole Lynn DeJac case. From what I can tell, at the very least her boyfriend was abusing her daughter, Lynn stayed out all night and left her daughter home alone and her daughter had coke in her system. Lynn ain't no Anthony Capozzi, a truly innocent individual. She shouldn't be lionized and I'm disgusted that she will profit from this episode.

2) Frank Clark. How in this day and age can you bungle so badly and then try to cover up? Crystalynn didn't die of a trace amount of cocaine. This is a disgusting abuse of power to save a faltering political career. Frank Clark is a bum who should be thrown out of office.

3) The State of the GOP: I almost feel bad for New York Republicans who to some degree are victims of changing demographics coupled with the disaster that is Bush/Cheney. As someone who has mostly voted Republican, I believe the GOP is now reaping what it has sowed. Robber barons in Congress more concerned with feeding corporate benefactors than working for their constituents, spending tax dollars at a pace that makes the most liberal of Democrats blush and a foreign policy that has blown through our nation's credibility like a crack addict with a $20 bill. If the New York GOP goes extinct, it can thank people like Tom Delay for the end.

4) This whole Dr. Williams, McKinley High, fired basketball coach, suspended player saga. The Buffalo News has this in their teeth and they aren't going to let go. Each day, more of this sordid tale becomes public. I don't pretend to know the truth...but when we people learn the cover-up is always worse than the crime.

Well, that's my initial thoughts. Let's see what you've got.

March 3, 2008

County Should Scrap Comprehensive Plan

We have to agree with the Greater Niagara Newspaper editorial to scrap moving forward with a county master plan. In the article, GNN states that "It looks like the Niagara County Legislature is keeping warm this winter. They’re doing it by putting your tax dollars in a big pile and them setting them on fire". Oh the drama.

While we agree with not moving forward with plan, we have different reasons. It's simply not worth the grief you'll receive. A comprehensive plan will dictate a blueprint for growth and development. From what we understand, the legislature has included all communities and every identified stakeholder group in the process. In fact, the title County Comprehensive Plan was changed to Niagara County Communities Comprehensive Plan to reflect the importance of inclusion of every community.

Last week Clough Harbor, the planners, held an informational session at NCCC to reach out to the community for input and feedback. What they got for their efforts were unfounded accusations by Larry Castellani showing a lack of expertise, an attack about their ethics and billing practices for consultants by Rosemary Warren, an accusation by Neil Richardson that the process is “a scam”, that the process should exclude traffic because “there is no traffic in Niagara County”, a question by County employee William Rutland demanding an explanation for the inclusion of the word “Communities” in the title, and the usual incoherent rant from Al Wroblewski about politicians. I have also heard, although not yet verified, that Larry Castellani talked about the loss of 500,000 young people from Niagara County over the last several years. I really hope that an instructor at NCCC did not say something so erroneous. (For those of you who don’t know, the entire population of Niagara County is a little over 200,000.)

Al Wroblewski nailed it when he said, “Why are we here?” Good question. Is this how we move our community forward? Not one single person in attendance offered any constructive input. Not one single person offered a single idea to help move this process forward. Did Larry, Neil, Rosemary or Al talk about preferred locations for business? Did they talk about strains on our infrastructure caused by residential development in Wheatfield and Lockport? Did they talk about the preservation of farmland and the use of natural resources? Did they talk about expansion or reduction of government services? Did they talk about public safety? No, no, no, no and no.

Folks, there is nothing easier to do than criticize other people's ideas. But the real challenge is to work with our communities to develop ideas that will create a real vision. Neil, Rosemary, Al and Larry are not members of that group that will lead Niagara forward. I am absolutely convinced that each of them used the session as nothing more than a forum to vent and satisfy whatever personal needs they have to make themselves look smart or important or to simply fill some void their lives. There is no other valid explanation.

Of course, somehow this is news. I was very disappointed to read the Buffalo News take on this and the amount of coverage dedicated by Tom Prohaska to those people who are not doing a thing for our county. When did Neil Richardson saying that we have “no traffic in Niagara County” become news? (Or at least news I would want to waste my time reading.)

So do yourselves a favor, save the $200k. If nothing else, you can spare yourselves from a few scornful, mean-spirited, albeit misguided, individuals and the oh so intense drama of an editorial board intent on focusing on nothing but the negative.