August 29, 2008

Friday Ruminations

During recent discussions to trim hundreds of millions of dollars from the state's budget, many state officials focused on increasing their efforts to combat Medicaid fraud. Niagara County, through a state grant, is hiring a Medicaid fraud investigator. Afterall, Medicaid fraud costs the taxpayers of New York State billions every year. So when we saw that Judge Sara Sperrazza gave a woman who defrauded the state out of $323,000 in Medicaid payments, we wondered, why the hell bother? These weak-minded judges who refuse to send a message need to get the hell out of the judicial system.

Niagara Times has learned that WLVL's newsman Doug Young has been terminated by the station. Apparently leadership at the station didn't take kindly to Young calling Dialog host Scott Leffler an asshole last week - live, on the air.

First Niagara Bank is giving $250,000 to the Lockport YMCA to aid the Y's efforts to abandon downtown Lockport, just as First Niagara did years ago.

Christopher Roser is scheduled to take over as the Superintendent of the Lewiston-Porter School District. We've heard good things about Roser, but he will have his work cut out for him in bringing some stability and cohesiveness to a board that has been severely fractured for several years.

The Bada Bean coffee shop in Niagara Falls is closing shop, which normally wouldn't be big news, but it's the message of "political corruption, vandalism and backstabbing that is Niagara Falls" owner Debbie Kreiger is sending that will send some shock waves though city hall.

Simply saying that hurricane Gustav may approach the Gulf Coast is sure to send gas prices higher.

Liz Benjamin writes about the scrum on the floor of the Dem convention as delegates fought to get near Hillary Clinton. Maybe she's so popular because of the 200,000 jobs she created in Upstate.

Have a nice Labor Day weekend.

August 28, 2008

Kryzan Gets Into The Game

While Jack Davis continues to plow millions of his own dollars into his race to succeed Tom Reynolds in the 26th Congressional district, it appears candidate Alice Kryzan has decided to get off the bench and enter the game. Attempting to capitalize on Davis and candidate Jon Powers continuously attacking each other, Kryzan's public relations firm has come up with a witty, albeit effective television ad showing two men, obvious Davis and Powers lookalikes, in a verbal and physical altercation.

The ad, which follows below, has no sound for the last six seconds, but you can see Kryzan saying, "boys, take it somewhere else." If we get a cleaner audio version, we'll post it.

August 27, 2008

County Consolidates, Newlin Whines

Here's a little bit of advice to Lewiston Supervisor Fred Newlin: Keep your mouth shut unless you are 100% sure of what you speak. Newlin, who earlier criticized the state for reducing the number of polling places, has since found out that the state had nothing to do with the decision, Niagara County made the call.

The county, which is reducing the number of polling places because of rules governing handicap accessibility for voters and cost, has significantly reduced the number of polling places in the county's 12 towns. The cities will face a reduction next year.

Newlin, misspeaking earlier this week, overstated, "I guarantee you when Election Day comes there will be a lot of people who won’t know where to go to vote. It’s going to be mass chaos". Really, Fred? Mass chaos? Like when terrorists fly planes into buildings in the largest city in the country sending thousands of people fleeing for their lives? That kind of mass chaos? Or are you making a completely moronic overexaggeration?

Secondarily is the cost savings associated with the reduction in polling places. Virtually all county residents want to see a reduction in government. On these pages we've pushed for consolidation of the four water districts in Niagara County, consolidation of the three family courts in the county, and consolidation of the three DMVs in Niagara.

What do the two election commissioners do? Consolidate polling places. Fred Newlin apparently thinks the people of Lewiston are too ignorant to read their post card notifying them of their polling place. Nice call, Fred.

Stop the rhetoric. You either support consolidation of government or you don't. For Newlin, actions and words speak volumes.

As for the county, keep consolidating. Reasonable people respect your efforts. There are many opportunities for consolidation, one step at a time.

August 26, 2008

Obama Would Obliterate U.S. Defense

Say what you will about George Bush, but the fact remains that there has not been another attack on American soil since 9/11 because of the defense mechanisms that he has put in place. Barack Obama, on the other hand, would like to completely decimate the defense systems of the United States, increasing our vulnerability. See for yourself:

August 25, 2008

Wilson Baseball Hazing On ESPN

All we can say is "wow". Yesterday ESPN aired the segment on the Wilson baseball hazing, which revealed some stunning revelations about the case, the lack of supervision of these varsity baseball players and how the victims and their familes become pariahs in the community when they reveal such incidents. The following is the segment:

August 22, 2008

Friday Ruminations

The turmoil surrounding NYS Assemblyman Sam Hoyt is getting even more nasty. Hoyt's camp is blaming his opponent for orchestrating the controversy. I could be wrong, but wasn't it Hoyt that made the decision to sleep with women that aren't his wife? The spin doctors can't get you out of this one, Sam.

A secondary effect of the Hoyt controversy is the battle between Buffalo News writer Bob McCarthy and blogger Joe Illuzzi, who released the sexually charged Hoyt emails. Those of us who read the Illuzzi letter accept his website for what it is, but it's disappointing to see someone of McCarthy's reputation and character get sucked in by Illuzzi. McCarthy writes of Illuzzi in today's column that he is a "blogger with a reputation for demanding money from politicians and a conviction for driving a bank robbery getaway car." Come on, Bob, stay above it.

The Molson Concert Canal Series wraps up with rocker Jeff Martin tonight. Congratulations to the city of Lockport Mayor & Common Council for a tremendously successful series. And an additional thank you to North Tonawanda Mayor Larry Soos for opening his big mouth just enough to have the series moved to the Lock City.

John McCain continues to gain ground on Barack Obama, leading to several prominent Dems to call on BO to choose Hillary as his running mate. What would we do without the 200,000 jobs Hil promised Upstate? Oh wait, that promise was made assuming John Kerry would be Prez.

Someone who signed up for the Barack Obama VP text reportedly received the following message: "Barack has announced his VP candidate choice, and wants you to be the first to know! We are proud to announce: John Kerry!" It was a hoax. Apparently it's not hard to do.

McCain's Denver office got a scare when they received an envelope containing white powder.

Niagara County Community College is moving forward with its plans to three-phased hospitality and tourism training center project in Niagara Falls.

Have a nice weekend.

August 21, 2008

D'Onofrio Nails Wilson's Hypocrisy

I had read the story on the ESPN website earlier this week, resurrecting the stunning allegations of physical and sexual assault on a Wilson High School bus. Then I read John D’Onofrio's column in yesterday's Union Sun & Journal. John, you couldn't be any more dead on.

Unless you've been living in a cave, you've undoubtedly heard about the incidents in Wilson which have lead to three varsity players being charged with third-degree aggravated sexual abuse, a felony, and misdemeanor child endangerment. Court documents say they inserted a foreign object into the rectum of a junior varsity male victim being held down on the floor of the school bus.

There can be no gray area here- if found guilty of these charges, these "kids" need to go to prison. As we've said before this "boys being boys" excuse has gotten pretty damn old. I looked up the definition of rape, and found the following at MedicineNet.com: Rape: Forced sexual intercourse; sexual assault; sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor. Rape may be heterosexual (involving members of opposite sexes) or homosexual (involving members of the same sex). Rape involves insertion of an erect penis or an inanimate object into the female vagina or the male anus. Legal definitions of rape may also include forced oral sex and other sexual acts.

Forcing an inanimate object into the male anus. Any questions?

D'Onofrio's column nails the character, or lack thereof, of many of the people of Wilson. These hypocrites told the media to stay the hell out of their town, going as far as saying that members of the media should be taken to the back of the bus. I cannot even tell you how how incensed I was when I first heard it, and am once again after reading it yesterday. Who would diminish what has allegedly happened to these Wilson boys by trivializing it with such a comment? And whoever made that comment drew applause from the crowd?

But after this, the people of Wilson, who earlier decried the media coverage of the incidents, decide to tell their story to ESPN for a story to be aired this Sunday at 9:30 - on national television. Simply disgraceful. Not disgraceful to the point that I'd recommend that YOU be taken to the back of the bus, but disgraceful nonetheless.

August 20, 2008

The Day The Music Died

American Pie by Don McLean is one of the greatest songs in rock history. This is a very cool video dedicated to the song, while speculating what McLean was thinking about when he wrote it. Turn the volume up and enjoy...

August 19, 2008

US&J's Irresponsible Headline

Sometime over this past weekend, friends and family of a 21 year-old Lockport man suffered a tremendous tragedy when the young man fell to his death behind Urban Park Towers. I cannot begin to comprehend the magnitude of their loss and condolences go out to them.

From a media perspective, we are quite perplexed at the headline that the Union Sun & Journal chose to run after the tragedy was discovered. The US&J ran a headline of "Concert Goer Found Dead". Why? Was his death directly attributable to the concert? The answer is no. In fact, nowhere in the story does it say that he attended the concert. It says he was at Taboo. It says he was at Papa Leos. It says that he was at Gonzos. Someone I spoke to says he did not attend the concert. So what purpose is served by the paper to state the a concert goer was killed? Why not a headline of "Gonzo Goer Found Dead" or "Papa Leos Goer Found Dead?" Why is it necessary to repeatedly do everything within your power to tear down what is good?

The concert series has brought 10s of thousands of people to downtown Lockport, people who have never stepped into the city. Many in the community feel that this is the best thing that has happened to Lockport in decades. At the concerts and days after, people are still talking about the shows. REO Speedwagon drew 25,000 people. Simply fantastic.

What does the US&J do? They run a headline with the express intent of tearing down the concert series by attempting to connect this tragic death to the concert. There is no connection, and the actions of the newspaper are disgustingly irresponsible.

It's time that the people of the Lockport area start taking action. However, that doesn't mean you should call the newspaper - call their advertisers. Tell them that you will no longer patronize their stores because you are fed up with the irresponsible and destructive journalism practices at the Union Sun & Journal. That, I can assure you, will send a message to the malcontents running that rag of a paper.

August 18, 2008

Malcolm Smith Squeezes Lobbyists

We've talked about the fact that the NYS Senate GOP majority hangs in the balance, and why it would be a bad thing if the Democrats controlled the both of the state's legislative branches as well as the Gov's seat, especially when the Dems are heavily influenced by NYC interests. Not that we need any more of a justification, but the following story by NY Post's Fred Dicker scares the hell out of us even more. Here is the story in its entirety:

Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith told a conclave of lobbyists in Kingston last week that their clients would be shut out of a Democrat-controlled Senate in January if they didn't pony up large contributions now, a "shocked" longtime lobbyist has told The Post.

The Queens-based Smith, whose party is given a good chance by political experts of winning control of the Senate in the November elections, also made what the lobbyist called "an inappropriate and offensive" sexual joke about marital infidelity.

"It was a shocking set of remarks and people were looking around the room in disbelief," said the well-known lobbyist, who has strong Republican and Democratic ties.

"It was far more blatant a threat than anything we're used to hearing from many of the leaders," the lobbyist continued.

"The whole thing was incredible. Malcolm got up there and thanked everyone for coming and told them we should think of his fund-raising event as being like an IPO, an initial public offering.

"He said we should get in early because then it doesn't cost as much. The longer you wait to get in, he said, the more it will cost you and if you don't get in at all, then it will be painful after November, after the Democrats win the majority," the lobbyist continued.

"Then he referred to [Bronx state Sen.] Jeff Klein about four times as his 'enforcer,' who is going to be brutal, aggressive, about collecting the contributions, and that he was the one managing the IPO."

Linking campaign contributions to future government actions is illegal under New York law, legal experts told The Post.

The lobbyist, meanwhile, also said Smith, the married father of two who fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a woman other than his wife three years ago, made "an inappropriate and unprofessional" sexual innuendo at the event, a Senate Democratic golf outing at the private Wiltwyck Golf Club, attended by about 75 lobbyists who paid up to $75,000 each.

"The golf was called off because of rain, so the program was being shortened and the dinner was held early," the lobbyist recalled.

"Smith was up there joking about what was going on, about the dinner ending early, and then said something like, 'If anybody needs a permission slip for their spouse so that they can say you were here for a few hours more, I'll say you were here until 8. You're covered until about 8.'

"There was only one way to interpret that - cheating on your spouse - even if it was a joke," the lobbyist recalled.

Repeated attempts to reach Smith for comment were unsuccessful, and he didn't return messages left on his cellphone.

Curtis Taylor, his press secretary, also refused to discuss the specifics of the event, even though he was among those present.

August 15, 2008

Friday Ruminations

The nasty campaign between Jack Davis & Jon Powers for the 26th Congressional District seat continues to make headlines. GOP Chairmen from four counties also chimed in on Powers' record on War Kids Relief. Not shocking stuff, your usual political wrangling, until Erie County Dem Chair Len Lenihan joined the conversation. Lenihan, in attempting to defend Powers, said "I wonder how many people at that press conference put their lives on the line in Iraq." Okay, stop right there. If that's going to be your typical response every time someone questions your candidate, go bury your head in the sand for the next three months, because we don't want to hear it. Yes, he was in Iraq, but that is far from a qualification to be a Congressman.

Update: Courtesy of Buffalo Bean, we've come across the Jon Powers citation that he was given on October 23, 2004. The officer noted that Powers stated to him, "What are you f*cking looking at you motherf*cking cop?" And this guy wants to be a Congressman? Good luck with that. (Click on the citation to view).

Barack Obama's campaign issued a 40-page rebuttal to a new anti-Obama book.

This morning on the radio, two personalities were recapping last night's Bills game in Toronto. One described QB Trent Edwards' play as Elway-esque (a reference to one of the greatest QBs of all-time, John Elway), while the other said that Edwards looked like the second coming of Joe Montana, the greatest QB of all time. Nothing like over-exaggerating things, guys.

The fact that Niagara County Manager Greg Lewis had his credentials renewed by the International City/County Management Association made news this week. Obviously there's no connection between credentials and performance.

Mike Hudson details the dog days of 2007, when NT Mayor Larry Soos' wife wanted to sell hot dogs at the NT concert series. It's pretty funny, and knowing Soos, completely believable. What a dog-eat-dog world we live in.

The Niagara County Leg is set to consider a resolution to downsize the Leg - in 2011. They need to think about this one. The public defeated a referendum on this in '02. Maybe the public should have the opportunity to decide if they want to lose representation. Of course, this issue will be all the rage in the county now, while the other 20 layers of government, including 11 school districts, don't get a mention.

A couple of former Mt. View employees who were busted for cocaine possession earlier this year were in court recently. Makes you wonder if all the stories of sex and drug parties among the employees at Mt View were just stories.

White people are projected to lose the majority in 2042. Does that mean that I, as a white male, will be able to go before the Supreme Court and fight for my rights under Affirmative Action?

Good news that you'll never see in the three daily newspapers: Only 35 markets out of 150 across the U.S. showed increases in median prices in the second quarter and Buffalo was among those advancing, showing the stability of the WNY housing market. The WNY market increased 4.7 percent to $108,200, up from $103,300 in the same period of 2007. By the way, on Long Island, the second-quarter median price for single-family homes was $466,600; it was $479,800 a year ago.

Gov. David Paterson, while decrying the fiscal crisis that NY is in, is adding 45 troopers at a cost of more than $4 million to protect him. Do what I say, not as I do, huh Dave?

August 14, 2008

Public Sector Unions Begin Full Court Press

On the way into work this morning, I heard it and thought, "okay, here we go." Once I got into work, I read it in the Buffalo News. What is it? "It" is the massive media blitz launched by public sector unions across New York to put political pressure on elected officials who support Gov. David Paterson's proposed budget cuts and those who last week supported the property tax cap.

The radio ad was from SEIU 1199, the second most powerful public sector union comprised of health care workers. The ad had a voice-over from a senior and went on to say that she never thought the state would try to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, hospitals and nursing homes. Well cry me a freakin' river.

The newspaper story details how the most powerful public sector union in the state, NYSUT, is withholding support from more than three dozen state senators who last week backed legislation to hold the line on annual property tax increases. Can there be any more of a slap in the face to the taxpayers? Let me repeat that in case it wasn't emphasized enough: NYSUT is withholding support from more than three dozen state senators who last week backed legislation to hold the line on annual property tax increases.

The union's president, Richard Iannuzzi, said "This is really a moral issue". A moral issue? Are you freakin serious? And do you think the public is that stupid? The public sector unions are doing what they're doing for the children, for the seniors, for the disabled, for the indigent, for sick, for the poor...blah, blah, blah, blah. You're doing it because you're greedy scumbags who have no concept of the plight of the people of this state.

Stick your threats up your arse. Kudos to any state legislators who stand up to these goons.

August 13, 2008

Joyce Saga Closes, But Should It?

We've talked about Niagara County Coroner James Joyce before, stating that the county was right in creating a board of inquiry to probe Joyce’s connections with massage parlor owners ‘Alan’ Tsui and his wife, ‘Lisa’ Chong. Joyce apparently has chosen to avoid the inquiry by retiring, instead opting to take a nearly $30,000 a year pension from the state.

With his retirement, the board of inquiry will be terminated. The question is, why? If Joyce participated in illegal or even questionable practices while he served Niagara County, do we not still have the right to know that? Does walking away absolve him for anything he may have done wrong? Joyce had previously raised red flags when his relationship with an individual who turned out to be an FBI plant trying to get Niagara County officials to take bribes in the late 1980s was investigated. Now he's claiming ignorance, not knowing that these "massage parlors" were fronts for sex rings.

Chong, by the way, was convicted of human trafficking. It was James Joyce that had arranged to have former Sheriff Tom Beilein's picture prominently displayed in one of the massage parlor windows, obviously to present an image of police protection.

Every elected official in Niagara County is required to fill out some type of financial disclosure form, but the envelope is only opened in the event of an investigation. With Joyce's retirement, and subsequent skating of answering questions related to his relationship with the owners, we will never really know if he personally benefited from those relationships - unless he voluntarily releases the documents.

Retired State Supreme Court Judge Ronald Tills resigned his post as a hearing officer because of his alleged role in taking a local massage parlor worker across state lines for purposes of prostitution, but that does not mean he didn't face charges. If you've committed a crime, resigning from your job should not be a way of getting out it.

Continue with the inquiry. We have a right to know.

August 12, 2008

Barack Roll

This has no significance other than the fact that it's pretty damn funny....turn up the volume before you start the video.

August 11, 2008

NOAH's Plan Drives Up Costs

Do we need governmental bodies to pass legislation requiring that jobs in our community must be given to residents of our community? Elected officials in Wheatfield and North Tonawanda think so, and apparently officials in the city of Lockport and Niagara County are considering it as well.

While NT and Wheatfield have already passed the legislation, other municipalities are being urged by the Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope, or NOAH, to support NOAH's proposal to require contractors on city, town or county projects to hire at least 30 percent of their workers from inside Niagara County.

There's a problem with this type of legislation: It drives up the costs of doing business to taxpayers.

New York State has very specific bid criteria that municipalities must follow. That criteria includes a stipulation that the lowest responsible bid must be accepted for municipal projects.

If governmental entities are forced to use local help, it reduces competition, increasing the likelihood of higher bids, higher costs to the municipality, and thus, higher costs to you and I, the taxpayer.

This is not to say that we don't support using local worker for local jobs. But the law is very clear, and what this group is advocating is a violation of that law.

NOAH pins elected officials between a rock and a hard place because they tell people that if a politician doesn't support NOAH's goals, they don't support local workers, and that's a lie.

It is not the government's job to stimulate job growth, it's their job to create a business atmosphere that's conducive for job growth. Passing legislation that directly hinders that ability is bad for the entire community, even the workers that it is supposed to benefit.

Municipalities need to take a long, hard look at this before they jump in. Then they need to have the guts to tell NOAH that this is bad for the local economy and bad for the taxpayers.

August 8, 2008

The Doors Are Opening

The Doors, or should we say Riders On The Storm, are coming to Lockport tonight.

From the Canal Concert website: Doors founding members Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger have chosen ex-Fuel lead singer Brett Scallions to front their project Riders On The Storm, filling the void created when The Cult's Ian Astbury departed the group last month. "Brett is on board and we are glad to have him, he has a great voice and a lot of charisma," states keyboardist Manzarek. "Jim Morrison can never be replaced, but this project has never been about that," expressed guitarist Krieger; "It's about giving a voice to the body of work we created with Jim in a live setting."

Brett Scallions departed Fuel in early 2006 after fronting the multi-platinum act for over a decade. The rock band best known for the hit songs Hemmorage, Bittersweet and Shimmer, tried in vain to recruit American Idol's Chris Daugherty as a replacement. Scallions has moved on from the band, and looks forward to working with Manzarek and Krieger. "Having an opportunity to share the stage with these great musicians is more exciting than anything I've ever done. I'm so proud to be a part of this," declared the vocalist.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Doors. The Venice Beach, California, based band released their first record in 1967. In February of 2007 the band was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and a star of The Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

Here's just a little taste of what you can expect to see and hear should you trek to Lockport for the concert this evening:

August 7, 2008

Powers Needs To Come Clean

With allegations of wrongdoing flying from both sides in the race for the the Democratic nod in the 26th Congressional district, things are bound to get even more ugly. Niagara County Dem Chair Dan Rivera wants the District Attorney to investigate Jack Davis' petitions and Davis is accusing Jon Powers of never holding a real job.

As ugly as this race has become, what will be the downfall of Powers will be War Kids Relief. This is an non-profit organization that Powers started to shield Iraq’s youth from the influence of Islamic radicals. On the campaign trail, he has continuously touted his plan to raise as much as $7 million for Iraqi orphanages and youth centers.

War Kids Relief has raised between $150,000 and $250,000 over the course of its existence. Much of the money raised has been dedicated to paying Powers, including $77,000 over 18 months. Now, anyone who starts a non-profit and commits to making his cause successful is certainly entitled to pay himself accordingly, but you damn well better make sure that the overwhelming majority of the money raised is getting to its intended benefactors, in this case, children.

This is where Powers has a problem. The people of our community donated significant sums of money to fund this cause. What do those people have to show for donating their dollars? A few soccer balls and backpacks have made their way to Iraq. That's disgraceful. Powers has since found it quite easy to play the blame game for his inability to make War Kids Relief successful, even blaming Congress for not funding the initiative, but he has not publicly addressed why the bulk of the money has not made it to the children. He needs to.

You cannot raise money under that guise of benefiting children then pocket the money. What's the difference between that and walking door-to-door for Juvenile Diabetes then taking the money to pay your own "salary"? None.

Powers needs to come clean on this and come clean now, otherwise he is finished. There can be no greater political sin than using the premise of helping children to line your own pockets.

August 6, 2008

City of Buffalo Dedicates a Street "Tim Russert Way"

As we reported back on June 13, WNY took a hard hit with Tim Russert's passing. Tim Russert was a quality reporter that appealed to those on both sides of the aisle. He reported the news as best he could and without alterior motives. Today the City of Buffalo dedicated a street "Tim Russert Way" in his honor, for being what one man described "Buffalo's greatest ambassador".

http://www.buffalonews.com/home/story/408459.html

August 5, 2008

Texting & Medicaid

A recent topic on a local radio show involved a discussion regarding proposed measures in other parts of the country that will make it illegal to text message while walking. This is in response to an alarming number of persons being provided emergency care for injuries sustained while doing just this.

The show’s hosts, and the majority of listeners, felt that we, as Americans, should have the freedom to do stupid things, including texting while walking. My initial reaction was to agree.

However, other peoples’ stupidity costs all of us money and I wanted to take a minute to reflect on the costs to taxpayers of other peoples’ stupidity.

When a person is distracted and walks into the street and is struck by a truck, these are just some of the costs incurred:

The police that arrive and investigate are paid by the taxpayer;
The ambulance and crew are paid by the taxpayer;
Any disruption in traffic causes lost time and fuel;
Emergency room medical care is often funded entirely by the taxpayer;
If the stupid person was working, there is probably a workers’ compensation claim;
If the stupid person is disabled, there will be a claim for social security, funded by the taxpayer;
If the stupid person tries to sue the truck driver, the lawsuit will be heard in a court funded entirely by the taxpayer, from the judges to the security to the court clerks.

You have an absolute right to be stupid, but not at my expense.

Medicaid

A recent story in the Buffalo News states that Western New Yorkers seeking to spend down or transfer assets to qualify for Medicaid funded nursing home care are finding it increasingly difficult because of changed rules, and a new law will make it even tougher.

Advocates say the changes will return Medicaid’s focus to the poor and disabled, while critics say the new policies force parents to spend down their life savings after years of paying taxes.

I will start with the premise that our healthcare system in this country is broken. I will not try to fix it in this blog.

However, until the cost of healthcare is affordable to every person in this country, we need to decide how the taxpayers will pay for peoples’ care today.

To remain eligible for care for her husband, one woman removed herself and her husband from their parents’ wills, paid off the family house and put money in a trust. Now the taxpayers will foot the bill.

We are in a financial crisis and tough decisions need to be made. This is one of those tough decisions. Given the fact that Medicaid represents a significant portion of our tax burden, should a family that failed to purchase insurance coverage for long term care be allowed to “spend down” assets and put this burden on the taxpayer?

Or if we, as a society feel believe that we should not force people to use their savings, how much are we willing to pay in taxes to subsidize this?

August 4, 2008

Is Downsizing Good for Democracy?

I have been following this little saga playing out in West Seneca where local gadfly Kevin Gaughan is calling for downsizing that town's council from 5 to 3. I used to think Gaughan had something to offer in the debate about shrinking government to reduce costs but this latest move confirms he is a publicity seeking kook.

After all, there is no real savings in reducing the number of town board members by two. So, then, is the argument that smaller council will be more efficient? And if so, how? By limiting dissension and debate?

Democracy is meant to be sloppy and messy at times. But that's the price you pay to give the average joe a say in the way things happen.

What's even more disturbing is that I'm told this effort is really a battle between warring factions in West Seneca politics. One side that is on the outs thinks it can gain a majority with a smaller council. This is totally undemocratic and really a disgrace to our way of life.

It reminds me of those who call for downsizing the Niagara County Legislature. I'm not saying 19 isn't too many, but this idea we should reduce to 9 or 11 is to take representation away from all of us.

I'm sure a lot of dictators have come to power promising more efficiency by getting rid of those pesky elected boards. Don't be fooled by dupes like Gaughan who are pawns in a sinister political game.

August 1, 2008

Paterson's Public Enemy

In response to Governor Paterson’s action to preserve the power of Buffalo’s control board, the president of the Buffalo Teachers’ Federation, Phil Rumore, vowed to target any elected state official who does not vote to veto Governor Paterson.

Paterson’s argument is that local municipalities may feel some budget pressure and could use the assistance of a hard control board to help control spiraling labor costs.

We may feel some budget pressure? My school taxes have been crushing me for as long as I have owned my home. They represent our single largest source of property taxes and they are comprised primarily of compensation to the people Phil Rumore represents, who pay his salary with money earned from the taxpayers, the very people that he seems to hold in disdain.

So rather than spend the next several paragraphs criticizing Rumore and his juvenile tactics, I decided to present the top five comments that I have NEVER heard uttered by him:

5) We will work with our local officials to solve this budget crisis.

4) We will allow the city some flexibility with the manner in which it provides our benefits to save the taxpayers money, and we will ask for nothing in return.

3) We will do whatever it takes to help the community, even if it means concessions or a reduction in our lifetime health insurance benefits.

2) If longer school days will help the kids, then absolutely.

And the number one comment never uttered by Phil Rumore....

1) Eliminating MY job would save money and make sense.

Have a great weekend.