October 31, 2008

Friday Ruminations

Unfortunately, another story you won't see in the local rags: The Buffalo metro area, which consists of Erie & Niagara Counties, outpaced 87 percent of the nation’s metropolitan areas in job growth during the past year. They obviously have a serious aversion to reporting good news, which is downright sad.

While many of us worry about the solvency of companies we either work for or have invested in, the employees of Exxon Mobil seemingly have little to fret about about. The oil giant posted its largest U.S. profit, $14.83 billion in the third quarter, breaking its own record. I'd love to be on the other end of that bonus check.

What does it mean when a 27-year incumbent calls on Clinton and Schumer to come stomp for his campaign? It means he's in big trouble, which is exactly where State Senator Bill Stachowski finds himself in his challenge from cold case detective Dennis Delano. This would be a monumental upset.

Speaking of Schumer, he pulled his "they need to address this" act last night on the news. When questioned about Exxon's profits, he stated something along the lines of "lawmakers really need to go after these big oil companies and their huge profits." Okay, YOU are the lawmaker. YOU go after them. We see this type of garbage with Virtuoso enough, now we're peddled this crap from Chuckie? Give us a break.

Reality Check: The Cost Of Obama's Pledges.

McCain will appear on SNL this week.

In case you haven't had enough of the presidential commercials this elections season, this is an interesting site called The Living Room Candidate which contains more than 300 commercials, from every presidential election since 1952.

Neither side in the Time Warner/LIN Broadcasting dispute would release details of the agreement that put WIVB back on the air in WNY, but you can rest assured, if TW is paying, we're gonna pay. Talk about legal extortion.

Lastly, today is not only TGIF, it's Halloween. So please, be careful this evening should you venture out.

October 30, 2008

Changes In Workplace Policy

In my role in Human Resources, I am often required to amend company policy as it pertains to employees as circumstances change. With polling data continuing to show Obama with a lead over McCain, I have been working to modify certain policies based upon the potential outcome of the election.

As of November 5, 2008, when President Obama is officially elected into office, our company will instill a few new policies which are in line with his new, inspiring issues of change and fairness:

1. All sales people will be pooling their sales and bonuses into a common pool that will be divided equally between all of you. This will serve to give those of you who are underachieving a "fair shake."

2. All low level workers will be pooling their wages, including overtime, into a common pool, dividing it equally amongst yourselves. This will help those who are "too busy for overtime" to reap the rewards from those who have more spare time and can work extra hours.

3. All top management will now be referred to as "the government." We will not participate in this "pooling" experience because the law doesn't apply to us.

4. The "government" will give eloquent speeches to all employees every week, encouraging it's workers to continue to work hard "for the good of all."

5. The employees will be thrilled with these new policies because it's "good to spread the wealth." Those of you who have underachieved will finally get an opportunity; those of you who have worked hard and had success will feel more "patriotic."

6. The last few people who were hired should clean out their desks. Don't feel bad, though, because President Obama will give you free health care, free handouts, free oil for heating your home, free food stamps, and he'll let you stay in your home for as long as you want even if you can't pay your mortgage.

October 28, 2008

Newlin Bags 37% Raise

Come on. Really? A 37% raise? As our country goes through its most difficult economic times since the Depression, Lewiston Supervisor Fred Newlin is granted a 37% raise? Kudos to Councilman Ernest Palmer for being the lone soul on the council to vote against this raise.

Families in our community are struggling, as they are across the country. A quarter of a million homes were foreclosed on last month. Corporations are laying of thousands of employees every day. People are going without health insurance because they can't afford it. Hourly workers are going without raises. The state of New York is looking at a multi-billion deficit next year, which is sure to trickle down to the counties and towns across the state. Seniors are worried about how they're going to pay their heating bills this winter. Golden parachutes are being decimated. Oh wait, that's a good thing. But the point is, this is not the time for a municipality to be handing out a 37% raise.

We don't begrudge elected officials making more money. Many of them are far underpaid for the service that they perform for the community. But in this case, it's bad, bad timing. In addition, questions are still lingering about the NYPA settlement and the fears that Lewiston received far less than they should have (see Massena/Alcoa).

Although it was the council that approved this raise, Newlin should have had the courage to stand up and say that this is not the right time. Unfortunately, apparently, it's sometimes very difficult for some people to do the right thing.

October 27, 2008

NYPA's Kessel Saying The Right Things

Looking back, we were practically giddy over the fact that a Western New Yorker was named to head the New York Power Authority. After all, Roger Kelley was a Kenmore native, so naturally he could understand the need to refocus NYPA's priorities on this area, instead of taking the massive profits and power generated at the Lewiston facility and "reallocating" them to other parts of the state. Sadly, our hope was misguided as Kelley never showed an inclination to do much for Western New York and Niagara County.

Fast forward to the recent announcement that Richie Kessel will take over as the head of NYPA, and the fear that the former head of the Long Island Power Authority will further diminish NYPA's focus on our region. Thankfully, we may be wrong.

Kessel is saying all of the right things as he travels throughout Upstate, including a willingness to reconsider the program that allocates low-cost power for local industry as well as consider keeping more of the revenue generated by the Niagara Power Project in the region. A fantastic concept since most of the authority’s profits in recent years have been generated right here at the Lewiston facility. Unfortunately for us, the proceeds have been used mostly to benefit interests outside the region.

Kessel goes on to say, “NYPA can be one of the major economic engines in Western New York if we put our mind to it. I think there are some huge opportunities.” Well hallelujah. Either he gets it or he is damn good at telling people what they want to hear. Either way, we will remain hopeful that Mr. Kessel is a man of his word. Of course, his qualifier of "if we put our mind to it" scares us a bit, but we will place our faith in Mr. Kessel's apparent willingness to do what is right for our region.

October 24, 2008

Friday Ruminations

When will it be okay to say goodbye to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center CEO Joe Ruffalo? Can this guy be anymore of a disaster at the helm? After blaming everyone under the sun for his failures, who's left to blame? Fire him. Today.

When the Obama camp talks about "change you can believe in", I wonder if these are the changes they're referring to. This is quite a disturbing story out of Pittsburgh that involves an Obama supporter carving a "B" into his victim's face. UPDATE: It is being reported this afternoon that the victim made up the story.

Former Niagara Falls Mayor Vince Anello's days as a free man may be numbered as the FBI's investigation into government corruption appears to be focused on Anello. Vince is a heckuva nice guy, we wish him well in his possible legal battles. But if he's found guilty, justice must be served.

Lawyers for David Paterson's top administration aide Charles O'Byrne claimed Wednesday he failed to pay taxes for five years because he has "non-filer syndrome." It really is amazing how stupid these people must think we are.

A Buffalo News analysis shows that Senate candidate Joe Mesi received about $37,000 from individuals or groups who in one way or another have ties to organizations that support same-sex marriage rights. In June, during an interview on WBEN radio, Mesi said he opposed same-sex marriage. He's reaping the financial rewards of his flip-flop.

In what may be the most idiotic argument ever made on the floor of the county leg, two legislators stated that it's sexual discrimination to equalize the salaries of the county's four coroners. The coroner in the district that would have a salary reduction is currently vacant.

For a candidate that won her primary election on the heels of a commercial showing her disdain of her opponents continued sniping at each other, Alice Kryzan has certainly sunk to a new low. Not one of her ads says anything about her platform, just misleading attacks on Chris Lee. Alice, take it somewhere else.

Lastly, get out those snow brushes. The first large snowfall of season is likely to hit next week. In case you've forgotten how to drive in the snow, please find a refresher here.

October 23, 2008

9/11 Holiday Pay

When I first heard this story, I thought it was a joke. Unfortunately, it's not. Police in Peabody, Massachusetts, are asking for holiday pay on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. A proposed new contract between the city and the police union would make the anniversary a paid holiday. The proposed contract still needs budgetary approval from the city council. Officers would receive an extra 25 percent pay for working September 11.

Representatives of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers and the International Union of Police Associations told The Salem News they knew of no similar contract provisions in any other city. The New York Police Department, which lost 23 officers at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, does not recognize the day as a paid holiday.

A union representing 24,000 NYPD officers has tried during contract discussions to get extra pay for anti-terrorism work in the years since the September 11 attack but has been unsuccessful. Patrolmen's Benevolent Association spokesman Al O'Leary said the pay would be more appropriate than extra pay for one day.

No members of the Peabody force were killed on September 11, but some went to New York after the terror attacks to help the city recover.

October 22, 2008

12 Days Of Jeanneret

Enjoy this compilation of some of Rick Jeanneret's best calls & Sabres highlights. I know, it's not a political post, but sometimes work gets in the way.

October 21, 2008

Casino Revenues

Buffalo News writer Tom Prohaska wrote what I'm sure he thinks is a comprehensive story this weekend about the Niagara county's share of casino revenue. In the story, Prohaska details the county's plan to create a formal policy on how to spend the $873,000 it received earlier this month from slot revenues at the Seneca Niagara Casino.

Prohaska takes a very sarcastic tone on the county's previous allocation of $103,000. He goes on to talk about pork, literally and figuratively, while showcasing some of the previous contributions. Those included money that was sent to Lewiston, Ransomville, Barker and other locations for small local improvement projects. A motorcycle rally was funded, as were Old Fort Niagara, the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial Commission, the Niagara Community Center, the Aquarium of Niagara and Twin Cities Community Outreach in North Tonawanda. There also was a $2,500 appropriation for Niagara University to conduct a feasibility study of a proposed tourist trolley between Niagara Falls and Lewiston.

The casino compact specifically states that the casino revenues are to be used for economic development. Do the above allocations fall into that category? Some I'm sure will say yes, while others may disagree, but that's not the point.

Prohaska does this story on how the county will spend its share of the casino revenues, but has never spent one second doing an analysis of how the city of Niagara Falls is spending their casino revenues. Revenues that have approached $50,000,000 over the past three years. I guess the county spending $873,000 in casino revenue is worthy of a story, but Niagara Falls getting $50 mil isn't.

We'll sum it up for you. Niagara Falls is spending an overwhelming portion of their revenues on projects that have nothing to do with economic development. Instead of investing in shovel-ready properties, which are extremely attractive to potential employers, the city is spending its casino dollars on avoiding insolvency. They're spending it on public sector contracts that it cannot afford without the casino dollars. They're spending it on a paid fire department with a tremendously bloated budget. Abolish the department and make it volunteer.

There has been no accountability of Niagara Falls share of the casino revenue. Fifty million versus $800,000 and the $800k gets a large story, while the $50 mil gets not a mention. Is there anyone out there who can write an objective piece? More importantly, is there a reporter out there who has the cajones to actually do some research before writing a story?

October 20, 2008

County Public Works Facility

We've touched on this topic before, but we once again need to express our opposition to the county moving forward with County Manager Greg Lewis' plan to build a $40 million public works shrine. The heart of our concern is plain and simple: the cost.

When Lewis first brought forward the idea of a new public works facility, he estimated the cost at about $15 million. As we now know, the cost will be nearly triple that. Amazingly, no one from the county legislature has questioned, at least publicly, this massive inaccuracy on Lewis' part. If I were to go to my boss with an estimate for work, and that estimate came in $25 million off, I can assure you that I would have some serious questions to answer. Not Lewis, he just goes about his business with no ramifications whatsoever.

Now, the Leg is considering a $6.7 million bonding package that includes $1 million of the $2 million design costs of the public works facility. We don't have issue with the county borrowing money since their debt load is so low. (Watch Wheatfield, with $22 mil in debt, that financial bubble will be exploding in the not too distant future). But moving forward with this project when it hasn't even been said how it will be paid for is ridiculous.

In light of the massive fiscal crisis we are facing on a state and national level, this project needs to be put on hold. Yes, the current facility is insufficient for current and future public works needs. But why not look at refurbishing the current location? Legislator Danny Sklarski stated, in light of the current fiscal climate, "I think we need to sit back and wait for the dust to settle”. We couldn't agree more.

October 17, 2008

Silent Dispatch Debate Heats Up

We had planned to run our customary Friday Ruminations, until we saw the story in the Buffalo News today related to the use of "silent dispatch" by the Niagara County Sheriff's Department. As you may recall, we posted a detailed story earlier this week related to the practice and touched on the problems associated with the use of silent dispatch.

At the end of the post earlier this week, we stated that we had a seven page document written by a member of the New York State Police detailing the pratfalls of silent dispatch and we were deciding how to proceed next. After some of the mainstream media picked up our story and ran with it, we figured our role was done, and there was no need to post the document.

That changed when we read current Sheriff candidate James Voutour, a 15-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, tell a bold-faced lie to the Buffalo News. The Buffalo News story states, "Voutour, chief deputy in the Sheriff’s Office, says the agency doesn’t engage in silent dispatching and that Palmer has manufactured the issue...", adding "“It’s ridiculous.”

Now, you may not know about the practice of silent dispatch, you might not like the practice, you might not condone the practice, you might not believe in the practice, but goddamit, do not stand there and tell me a god damn lie like I'm a complete idiot.

Voutour accuses candidate Ernest Palmer of "manufacturing" the issue. For the record, the numbers on each individual occurence on the report start with a date, all of which pre-date either of the current Sheriff candidates, virtually decimating the point of Palmer manufacturing the issue since neither of them were candidates when this was written. The document, minus identifying markings:
(Click each page to enlarge)

October 16, 2008

Battle For Control Of State Senate

We like to think that we were the inspiration for columnist Tom Precious' recent story in the Buffalo News detailing the the potential impact of the Democrats winning the majority in the upcoming New York State Senate elections. After all, much of what Precious wrote about has been touched on this site several times over the past year. The article is a must read.

The fact of the matter is that the Dems getting control of the Senate, the Assembly and the Governor's seat is a nightmare in itself. But add in Tom DiNapoli, Andy Cuomo, Malcolm Smith, Tom Duane and the rest of the Democratic power base that is completely centered around New York City, and the GOP losing control of the Senate eliminates the necessary checks and balances and gives the NYC Dems absolute power. And what do we know about absolute power? It corrupts absolutely.

In case any of you have forgotten the immortal words of idiot State Senator Kevin Parker when attempting to defend his position as to why Upstate does not deserve any of New York Homeland Security dollars, please view the below video.

October 15, 2008

Playing The Blame Game

There is much blame being tossed around for the financial crisis that is plaguing our country, much of which is directed at George Bush. This video sheds some light on the dialogue leading up to the most recent events:

October 14, 2008

Silent Dispatch

The information that is revealed at election time is often quite interesting. Case in point: The Niagara County Sheriff's Department uses a system that is referred to as "silent dispatch" when sending out certain calls. Apparently silent dispatch is used when dispatchers do not want a call to go out over the normal communication method, radio. Silent dispatch allows the dispatcher to send a communication directly to the sheriff deputy's in-car computer, so people who may be listening, those with scanners, including other law enforcement agencies, cannot get the call.

From what we have learned, the use of silent dispatch was implemented to stop other law enforcement from "jumping" county deputy's calls. Supposedly there are turf wars between the different law enforcement agencies related to who exactly is going to get the calls, and thus the glory, when 911 emergencies arise.

This is obviously something the general public does not hear too much about. There may be "no harm no foul" in such a public policy; unless that policy places the public in danger, which we have learned that it has.

About three years ago, there was a very high profile local case involving a teen aged girl and her brother. We will leave out the details, but both of the siblings were severely assaulted. Eventually, a passerby saw one of the victims running from the scene of these horrific crimes and called police. When dispatching the call, the NCSD used silent dispatch.

Here's the problem. There wasn't a Sheriff anywhere in the immediate vicinity, but there was a Niagara Falls Police vehicle less than two minutes away. Now, there is no insinuation that any police agency could have prevented these horribly traumatic events from occurring, but as anyone who has been a victim of a crime knows, seeing those flashing lights and hearing those sirens can make all the difference in the world. As anyone in law enforcement knows, response time may make the difference in whether or not an assailant is captured or not. Because the NCSD used silent dispatch, Niagara Falls didn't get the call, just county deputies. This use of silent dispatch delayed the nearest law enforcement agency from responding immediately. That is an absolute travesty.

It gets worse: There is a seven page document prepared by the New York State Police that details the pratfalls of the NCSD using silent dispatch. In it, a vehicle accident is documented in which a male occupant burned to death in his vehicle. In this opinion, it is believed that the use of silent dispatch, and thus the delayed response in getting to the scene, is a significant factor in the death. We are working to get the entire seven page document.

The topic of silent dispatch came up recently in a relatively innocuous manner. Candidate Ernest Palmer mentioned it on a recent appearance on WJJL. From what we have learned, candidate James Voutour was so infuriated with Palmer having knowledge of silent dispatch, he called a meeting at the Sheriff's Department in which he not only addressed the shift currently on duty, he called in the afternoon shift early demanding to know who "leaked" the use of silent dispatch to Palmer.

He allegedly went as far as to single out two highly respected deputies, accusing them of being the leak, in front of a room full of their peers. This is problematic on multiple fronts. How can Voutour waste taxpayer dollars by calling in a second shift early? Secondly, how the hell is he allowed to conduct politics on taxpayer's time, in the department? If you're wondering how we know he was politicking, we've heard from multiple sources that he addressed Palmer by name, at one point calling him an idiot. Classy.

Obviously the use of silent dispatch is the biggest problem here. If this practice is putting the lives of the community in harms way, it needs to be eliminated. However, there are times when silent dispatch would be needed, such as a break-in in progress when silence would be needed should the perpetrators have a scanner. But for life saving circumstances? Please.

Review the policy, amend the policy, do whatever you need to do to make sure people's lives are not at risk. If the department doesn't and something tragic occurs, the department and those responsible for the policy will have serious issues.

UPDATE: Niagara Times has received possession of the document mentioned above. We are in the process of determining how best to proceed with the information received.

October 10, 2008

Hatch Act & Niagara County

Niagara Times has received a United States Office of Special Counsel opinion related to the actions of former Niagara County Sheriff Tom Beilein. The opinion cites multiple violations of the Hatch Act. Beilein skated punsihment of these violations based on the OSC's opinion that he had solicited advice from two attorneys that gave him bad advice. The opinion follows:

The Hatch Act restricts political activity of individuals employed in government agencies in connection with programs financed in whole or part of grants made by the United States. These individuals may not be a candidate for public office nor attempt to coerce covered employees for contributions.

Sheriff candidate Jim Voutour is the NCSD Chief Deputy. He has administrative and managerial responsibility of law enforcement and correctional services as stated in his job description. Those duties include: Establish policies programs and regulations; Supervise administrative functions of all divisions including care for inmates; Further recommends disciplinary actions on employees; and trains direct supervisors and evaluates officers.

Sheriff Beilein was found to have violated U.S.C. 1501(a) (1) and (a)(2) and (a)(3) of this act by the US Office of Special Counsel. He supervised investigators in the Drug Task Force Juvenile Bureau, Criminal Investigators, and Crime prevention office.

Jim Voutour supervises Investigators of Social Services whose funds come from federal monies. Additional areas financed by Federal money:

Investigator paid through the US Marshals Office.
Investigator paid through Drug Task Force
Investigator paid through Homeland Security
Federal Homeland Security money for training and Radio room installation.
Marine Division
Domestic Violence Unit
Victims assistance Unit
Crime prevention grants (Edward Byrne Criminal Justice grants)
Traffic safety grants/Traffic safety fair
Federal Marshal program of housing federal prisoners.

The county treasurer's office will show any federal money or grants.

Here's the question: Since Beilein was found to be in violation of the Hatch Act, does that make Voutour in violation? This is certainly a question for someone well above my pay grade, but one that certainly deserves an answer.

October 9, 2008

Accountability on School Boards

The State Comptroller released a blistering audit of the Niagara Falls School District, saying they overpaid Superintendent Carmen Granto and other employees by hundreds of thousands of dollars. The audit uses some of the strongest language I have ever seen, saying the district failed Niagara Falls taxpayers. Granto, who is moving toward retirement, has promised to right the ship before he leaves. He has always enjoyed a pretty good reputation for getting things done and being a pretty good fiscal hawk, but at the same time, the district has also appeared to be an insider's game. Stuff like this always begs the question of what the heck are the school boards doing.

As you can imagine, people email me all the time on different topics, yet the stuff that seems to come in the most often and invokes the most passion involves school districts and school board members. We had a recent post about the Lockport capital project and the fact it's being sold as not costing taxpayers anything when that doesn't seem to be the case.

We had emails about the lead problem in the Newfane Early Childhood Center and what appears to be a rather tepid response from that superintendent and school board. How in the year 2008 we can justify having lead paint in Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms is beyond me. The district should have abated this a long time ago.

And the emails I have received about the apparent conflicts that abound on the North Tonawanda School board that have several members kissing the super's backside to protect their self-interest are a fascinating read. Since I haven't confirmed the information, I'm not going to post (YET) what's been sent to me.

So folks, the biggest part of your property tax bill is school taxes and yet they appear to be the least accountable. Feel free to share your horror stories.

October 8, 2008

Third World Democracy

Think of all those years of Jimmy Carter flying around the world to ensure that emerging democratic countries held fair elections. Think of watching the news about some two-bit dictator who refused to leave even after he lost the vote. Remember when we used to say we're glad this isn't happening here.

First, this isn't another post about hanging chads in the 2000 election. This is about the state of American democracy right now and I'm afraid it's a pretty sad state.

The most galling has to be Mayor Bloomberg in New York City. I love the Mayor, think he's been amazing and would probably put a sign in my front lawn for him if he ever ran for governor. But the voters in the Big Apple have twice voted for term limits for the Mayor and Council. Bloomy is reaching the end and should ride off into the sunset.

But now Bloomberg thinks the limit should be extended by one term so he can run again and the main reason for this seems to be that only he...the Great Mike Bloomberg....can lead the city in this current state of fiscal demise. Now, when someone starts thinking they are only Moses to lead the faithful, I start thinking their ego may have run amok. It's the height of arrogance and Bloomberg is going to tarnish his image if he continues down this path.

Next, you get the Ohio Supreme Court ruling that people can register to vote AND then cast an absentee ballot on the same day in spite of the fact that the Ohio Constitution says you must be registered for 30 days before voting. Couple this with early voting in Ohio and the floodgates are open for massive voter fraud. ACORN, a lefty group already charged with voter fraud in other communities, is on the ground in Ohio.

Then, come back locally, to Democrat Senate candidate Kathy Konst apparently voting in the same election in both Florida and New York. Despite Konst's convoluted explanation, the evidence is pretty convincing. How can you run for office when you don't respect the integrity of the system?

I'm sure these little dramas are being played out in communities across the country from both sides of the aisle. It's depressing.

Just think of if this way: we supposedly live in a free market democracy. Well, thanks to Wall Street greed, the free market as we know it is dead for the immediate future. And now every election cycle there are more and more questions over the fairness of our elections?

It's starting to really feel that the great experiment known as America has crested and now like all great civilizations we are on march toward the history books.

October 7, 2008

Who Is "They"

I don't really mean to nitpick, but I'm going to anyway because it's not the first time that I've seen this individual make the same reference.

In today's Lockport newspaper, there is a story about the county bonding several million dollars to cover various aspects of the county's 2008 capital plan. The plan has been on and off the table as lawmakers seek to tweak what should and should not be in the 20 year borrowing plan.

What is disconcerting is the quote from Niagara Falls Legislator Dennis Virtuoso. Nearly satisfied with the changes made to the plan, Virtuoso stated, "“I’m glad to see they are doing it that way. If they are going to bond, at least do it right.” Ummmm, who is the "they" you are referring to, Dennis? Let me answer that one fer ya (as Sarah Palin would say). They, Dennis, is you. It's not me, it's not the department heads, it's not the bumbling idiot of a county manager, it's you.

To say that if they are going to bond, they should get it right is once again Virtuoso attempting to cover his own ass. He's done it for years and he does it very well. Amazingly, people seem to buy it. I saw him on that show that used to be on LCTV, the one with that goofy guy with the bad hair, and a caller was railing about taxes. Virtuoso went on about "them", obviously the majority, and the caller was buying it. I guess substance doesn't matter when you have a pretty smile and taxpayer paid for hair. But I digress.

If you're a county legislator, you're always a county legislator. You can't pick and choose when you want to be a county legislator. You're a county legislator when good things happen, and you're a county legislator when bad things happen. Virtuoso is definitely a guy I would never want to be in a fox hole with, because he is nothing but a coward looking to save his own ass over and over, even at the expense of those in his own caucus.

October 6, 2008

Investigator Suspended for Politicking

For the most part we've stayed away from the race for Niagara County Sheriff. That is not to say that we are indifferent to the race, we've simply been waiting for it to heat up. However, a string of events has seriously raised the issue of candidate Jim Voutour's judgement and the judgement of those who support him.

Several questionable actions by the Voutour camp culminated with the suspension of an Investigator with the Niagara County Sheriffs Department this past Thursday. The Investigator in question, who we have the name of but will not release, booked in sick from his job at NCSD on Thursday. Later, he was caught nailing Voutour signs onto a burned out vacant building in Niagara Falls, formerly Pharaohs Nightclub at Whirlpool and Cleveland.

He admitted his indiscretion and was suspended from the department. As if that's not problematic enough in itself, here's the bigger problem: Undersheriff Sam Muscarella not only suspended the employee, he came down on the employee's boss and another employee (both of whom we have the names of) who reported the incident, for not covering the matter up.

Muscarella must be exposed and he must be punished for his actions. Unfortunately, that is Muscarella's way, to punish the whistle blower. Muscarella is Voutour's biggest cheerleader, going as far as to write blatant lies in a letter to the editor.

Voutour, not surprisingly, has refused to condemn these actions. Why would he? He's busy placing signs illegally all across Niagara County, an obvious indication of his flaunting of the law. Hardly the characteristics we should be looking for in a leader.

Unfortunately, this is just another example of the stench that has permeated the Niagara County Sheriffs Department in recent years; a department that has been plagued by cover ups, scandals and millions in (taxpayer funded) lawsuits.

Voutour has been a part of that administration. Now he wants to lead it? Please. Leaders lead, they don't pass the buck, and they don't allow colleagues, irregardless of politics, to get railroaded by a vindictive Undersheriff who's too busy himself playing politics to know the difference between right and wrong.

October 3, 2008

Pat Brown...Is this Transparency?

The Buffalo News Editorial Board dropped the hammer today on the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission in one of the most stinging editorials I have read in some time. The News takes the Bridge Commission to task over their failure to make public the details of former Executive Director Tom Garlock's departure and the amount of his severance package.

First, we agree with the News 100 percent. The Bridge Commission is a public entity subject to Freedom of Information laws and as such, their stonewalling on providing the information is disgraceful.

What we find particularly interesting is that one of the commissioners who is stonewalling is Pat Brown. You may remember that Pat Brown is a certified public accountant who ran unsuccessfully for County Treasurer, losing a hard fought contest to Dave Broderick. Many have speculated that Brown will seek the office again.

Well, Pat, as a CPA, you are well aware of the need for accountability and transparency in government agencies. During your campaign, you talked about bringing professionalism to the Treasurer's office and being a taxpayer watchdog. Now that you have a position in government, as an appointee of Governor Paterson, we see that your rhetoric does not equal your actions.

Pat, how can you hope to ever be taken seriously as a candidate in the future with this on your record? As a CPA, how can you justify withholding information from the public, basing that on some technical reading of the law, when the morally correct thing to do is make the information public? Do you think it's right that the Bridge Commission operates in the shadows, away from the sunshine of public transparency?

The sad truth is Pat Brown, who ran from Treasurer as a respected private sector CPA, turns out is just another politician. But Pat, as my dad used to day, it's never too late to do the right thing.

October 2, 2008

School District Also Has A Bridge For Sale

The Buffalo News is reporting that the Lockport City School District is planning to spend millions on renovations to bring the high school into the 21st century at no burden to property owners. The improvements include complete renovation of the school’s technology wing, the creation of a performing arts center, including the renovation of the school auditorium and surrounding music rooms, the addition of about six special-education classrooms, the creation of a new fitness center, and the upgrading of science laboratories, windows for energy efficiency and kitchen facilities, in addition to other renovations.

According the the News, the board was told by its consultants that even under the current worst-case economic situation, the district could spend $21.5 million on renovations to bring the high school into the 21st century at no burden to property owners.

They said that if the board does everything it’s thinking about, including creating a new football stadium complete with artificial turf and renovating campus softball fields, the project could run up to $29.5 million.

The board expects to borrow $18 million to pay for the project at the low end, along with $3 million from its capital reserve fund and about $544,000 in state Expanding Our Childrens Education and Learning funds, which it is entitled to use. The state would reimburse the district to the tune of 80 percent of the cost.

Reading the above, did you catch it? Did you catch the statement that these are "renovations to bring the high school into the 21st century at no burden to property owners"? I did. And I heard it said on the radio this morning too.

If the district is borrowing $21 million, and using $3 million from its capital reserve, how is there no expense to the taxpayers? And the statement that 80% of the expense would be reimbursed from the state? Ummmmm, where is the state going to get that 80% from? The taxpayers.

This is the epitome of what is wrong with our school districts; a complete and blatant disregard for the taxpayer. To attempt to convey this renovation package is not impacting taxpayers is tantamount to perpetrating a blatant fraud against those same people.

There IS an expense to the taxpayer, whether it's directly through the school district's taxing jurisdiction or through the state's reimbursement, the taxpayer is paying for this project.

Do I want to see the district have updated facilities? Of course, I have two children in the district. But do not attempt to sell it to me as a "no cost to me" plan. It's bullshit and it's insulting to my intellect.

It's amazing that a week or two after the Tax Foundation's finding of Niagara County having the highest taxes in the country as a percentage of home vales this announcement of this multi-million renovation is announced, and not a single criticism will be found in the local rag.

Why? Because it's for the kids. Please. Stop the propaganda. We all know that the overwhelming majority of the reason for our ranking is our school taxes, but the idiots at local editorial boards are too stupid, too ignorant or too afraid to call it the way it is.

If you the district wants to make improvements, go for it. But while doing it, please don't tell me that the emperor is fully clothed. We know he, and you , are standing there completely naked. And if you're on the school board and don't know what that's a reference to, go back and re-take 6th grade English.

October 1, 2008

Obama Pulling Huge Numbers Among Blacks

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Barack Obama leads John McCain 95 percent to 2 percent among African Americans, a margin which, if it holds, would be a larger advantage than that achieved by any Democrat dating back to the first presidential network exit polls in 1972.

Ninety-five percent to two!! This is what is called reverse discrimination. Blacks are supporting Obama simply on the basis of his color. This is no secret and no one is trying to hide it. But God forbid that it was the other way around, God forbid that 95% of the white people were supporting McCain; there would be Hell on earth to pay. You'd have all of the black leaders out there decrying the white people and there racial biases. Farrakhan, Jackson, Sharpton, lead by Jeremiah Wright, the biggest racist of the group, would be leading the rallies against racism.

But the media won't touch it because they're cowards. I mean, when does it end? Why is it okay to have the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? Why is it okay to have the Black Entertainment Televsion network? Why is it okay to have a Miss Black America contest? Why is it okay to have the United Negro College Fund? Why do we observe Black History Month? Could you imagine if someone was to stage a Miss White America pageant? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? There would absolutely be mass crucifixions of whites, lead by the aforementioned four racists.

There are hundreds of organizations in the United States that are organized by race-the black race. This video depicts many of them and the double standard associated with creating these organizations based on the color or one's skin.

For shits and giggles, I'm going to ask for an application to a dozen or so of the organizations in the video. I want to see if they ask what race the applicant is. Will I not be allowed to join based on my race? Wouldn't that be discrimination?

Some will come on here and say this post is racist. You're dead wrong. It's about equality. Blacks want to be treated equally, but are voting for Obama based on one rationale and one rationale only-the color of his skin. Blacks say they want to be treated equally, then create hundreds of organizations that accentuate the fact that they are different.

And Affirmative Action, let's not forget about that one. The single most destructive program ever developed to assist blacks has become the Scarlet Letter for blacks.

All the while the liberal media allows these injustices to permeate our society because they are too afraid to call it the way it is. What a damn shame.