November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

This historic proclamation was issued by George Washington during his first year as President. It sets aside Thursday, November 26 as "A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer."

Signed by Washington on October 3, 1789 and entitled "General Thanksgiving," the decree appointed the day "to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God."

While there were Thanksgiving observances in America both before and after Washington's proclamation, this represents the first to be so designated by the new national government.

After their first harvest, the colonists of the Plymouth Plantation held a celebration of food and feasting in the fall of 1621. Indian chiefs Massassoit, Squanto and Samoset joined in the celebration with ninety of their men in the three-day event.

The first recorded Thanksgiving observance was held on June 29, 1671 at Charlestown, Massachusetts by proclamation of the town's governing council.

During the 1700s, it was common practice for individual colonies to observe days of thanksgiving throughout each year. A Thanksgiving Day two hundred years ago was a day set aside for prayer and fasting, not a day marked by plentiful food and drink as is today's custom. Later in the 18th century each of the states periodically would designate a day of thanksgiving in honor of a military victory, an adoption of a state constitution or an exceptionally bountiful crop.

Such a Thanksgiving Day celebration celebration was held in December of 1777 by the colonies nationwide, commemorating the surrender of British General Burgoyne at Saratoga.

Later, on October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the observance of the fourth Tuesday of November as a national holiday.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November (to extend the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy). After a storm of protest, Roosevelt changed the holiday again in 1941 to the fourth Thursday in November, where it stands today.

November 26, 2008

ECFSA Proves Impotent

After Erie County's financial meltdown, the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority arrived with much fanfare at the end of the Giambra regime. Business experts from the private sector were on their way to save Erie County.

But now after several years of little action, the ECFSA has finally acknowledged that there is no solution available to local governments other than tax and fee increases. The ideas proposed by the control board include increasing fees taken in by the county clerk (which is a tax increase), a reduction in spending for parks and infrastructure (which is a short-term fix), cutting the risk retention fund (which is a risky short-term fix) and by BORROWING money. That is their advice? Borrow money?

And what was their advice on controlling labor costs, Erie County’s biggest expense? Nothing. The board acknowledges that “re-engineering employee wage and benefit scales” will be a challenge. Erie County has no power to re-engineer anything connected with public sector employee contracts. Impasse, fact finding, mediation and arbitration.

Governor Patterson can’t promise any relief whatsoever to the beleaguered property taxpayer without giving the local governments power at the bargaining table, something we'll never see given the new make up of state government.

Remember, the state needs to cut $15 billion in spending. God help all of us when Paterson's cuts to school districts start funneling their way to our tax bills.

November 25, 2008

Granto Finances Deserve Further Scrutiny

By all accounts, Niagara Falls School District Superintendent Carmen Granto is a well respected and well liked gentleman. But the ongoing release of the sordid financial details of his tenure as the district chief cannot simply be excused with his resignation.

In an analysis by the The Buffalo News, Granto was found to have used his credit card at will, with no limits. His expenses included limousines, golf outings and expensive dinners, with alcohol.

Unfortunately, the most recent indiscretions are far from the first. Both the state comptroller's office and the state education Department cite improprieties in the handling of the district's finances.

Granto, upon learning of the comptroller's recent audit, promptly announced his resignation. But why should it be allowed to end there? Why should we, the taxpayers, reward Granto with what will likely be a six-digit pension? What he has done here, with taxpayer dollars, is no different than what we read in the paper every day. Greed. Corporate greed. School district greed. The only difference is that instead of the shareholder and customers paying, we, the metaphorically speaking shareholders and customers, have been the ones paying the bill.

Like a typical public sector employee, Granto has that sickening mentality of entitlement. I'm sure he thinks he's been entitled to every inappropriate expenditure he's ever made. I mean, he is the Super of one of the worst school districts in the state. Why shouldn't he shower himself with limos, golf outings and top shelf booze?

It's even more astounding that the members of the school board have known about the ongoing financial irregularities. Previous audits have been highly critical of the board for their lack of oversight. The board's response? Virtually nothing. How the hell any of them can actually be claiming to serve the public is beyond me.

Which leaves us with Granto. I have no idea what the law states is allowed when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars that one is charged with overseeing. But this whole thing flat-out stinks. The comptroller needs to get back in here to to determine if any laws were broken, and if so, an example needs to be made of anyone who knowingly allowed taxpayer dollars to be misused. Of course, you could just resign; apparently that exonerates one from facing the music.

November 24, 2008

Just How "Red" Were Those Blue States On Election Night?

When I think to all of our fathers and grandfathers who spent the 20th century fighting the spread of communism and its principles, it makes me sad that I have to be here for its spread in America. And it didn't get here through war or the nuclear bomb, like everyone expected and feared for decades - it came through our own election.

Now, that's not to say Niagara Times is jumping on the Obamunism bandwagon - this isn't a diatribe against him or his philosophies in general. It's about one piece of legislation that out there that he supports, though - the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). This legislation is as close to the Manifesto as America has seen, and the thing is - nobody knows it. We can understand the field day that organized labor is set to have with Democrats controlling everything, and we can respect the fact that union members and leadership worked very hard over the last decade to tip the scales in their direction. In that regard, the unions deserve to reap the fruits of their efforts.

But we should be very careful of what those fruits are. It's scary, because the House has already passed EFCA (which insiders pronounce "ef-ka"), and when then-candidate Barack Obama was asked if the bill would become a reality, he said, "The question isn't if, it's when." A Republican filibuster, which is not guaranteed, is the only hindrance left. America should be hoping that hindrance holds.

It astounds us that, regardless of how pro-union elected officials might be, they would throw their support behind this bill, as it is 100% against... Well, America. The American way. American values. Let me break it down for you:

First, it takes away an employee's right to a secret ballot when making the decision to unionize or not. Instead, employees working for a private company that are interested in unionizing would sign a card to denote their support. Sounds like a good time for those who believe in a "union-free" shop and don't put their name on a card right away - it's a good thing that union organizers aren't tenacious when it comes to this stuff.

Second - and if you thought the first part was bad, just wait - once the union collects enough cards and your employees unionize, your company has 10 days to begin negotiations. That's 10 days to determine what your employees' future will be and put an offer on the table. Wait, it gets better...

Then, you have 90 days to come to an agreement. You ask any CEO if you can come to an agreement with a union on a contract in 90 days and they'll tell you you're insane. Especially when the union doesn't necessarily want to come to an agreement, because...

If there's an impasse after 90 days, the negotiation goes into mediation, which has a 30-day deadline. After that deadline, the situation goes into mandatory arbitration, and if you know anything about arbitration... Let's just say the employer doesn't usually win.

So what does this mean? Essentially, the bill - in taking away the American institution of secret ballot from employees to ensure a smoother road to unionization - will force companies to be put through an expensive process that will ultimately end in the government telling private employers the parameters that they should be implementing in regards to their employees. That's right, under "ef-ka," the government will be dictating to private companies the wages they should be paying, benefits they should be offering, and every other aspect of their relationship with their employees. From what I know of American history, I thought in our country it was the market that determined those things.

"But business can't be trusted," you might say. "Look at the financial crisis and Wall Street corruption." Let's not forget that those abusing the system were headed toward a dramatic fall from glory before the government... yes, the government... stepped in to bail them out. We're seeing the same thing with the auto bailout - companies that have refused to change their ways are on the brink of devastation. There actually is responsibility out there in a market economy, and those who break the rules pay for their sins (Enron, Adelphia). Unless laissez-faire is actually truly dead.

You can argue that linking "ef-ka" to communism is a stretch. But Karl Marx believed in a system where control over industry was taken out of the hands of the bourgeoisie and given to the state. Without much spin, "ef-ka" seems to be a step in that direction.

November 21, 2008

Maziarz Backs Byron Brown

Ever wonder why George Maziarz is considered a political genius and is so well respected by both sides of the aisle? Because he's always out in front and isn't afraid to take chances. See below:

If Senator Hillary Clinton is named as the next U.S. Secretary of State by President-Elect Barack Obama, then Governor Paterson should elevate Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown to her Senate seat, according to New York State Senator George D. Maziarz.

"First and foremost, Governor Paterson has a moral obligation to pick someone from upstate for this key position," said Maziarz. "We must have someone in the hierarchy of New York’s political class who understands the unique and severe challenges that face our region and is committed to addressing them. I believe Mayor Byron Brown would be best suited for that role.

"When Mayor Brown was my colleague in the State Senate, he was always willing to work with anyone, regardless of political affiliation, to get the job done. We worked together on several projects important to Niagara Falls and I appreciate his intellect and his ability to problem solve.

"But more importantly, the Mayor has been working hard to turn around upstate New York’s largest city. He has done a tremendous job in advancing economic development projects important not only to Buffalo, but to the whole region – things like the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, waterfront development and, more recently – and perhaps most significantly, UB2020.
To advance these projects and so many others across upstate, we need federal assistance and who better to advocate for the right policies from the federal government in the U.S. Senate than someone who has been on the frontlines. That is Byron Brown."

Town Supervisors Should Be Removed from Sewer District

So, the courts have ruled that the Niagara County Sewer district is essentially just another county department that falls under the control of county leadership and is not some quasi-independent fiefdom of town supervisors who have treated it as their own little playground for decades.

With that issue settled, I believe the County Legislature should immediately remove any town supervisor on the board who voted to pay Attorney Bob Roberson the $17K he ALLEGES...cough cough...that he is owed.

By rolling over for Roberson (who is partner with one of our favorites, Fast Eddie Shoemaker) these supervisors ignored their fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers in favor of old-fashioned cronyism. It's that plain and simple and they should be made to pay a price.

Remove them from the Sewer District today and send a message that Niagara County is serious about good government.

November 20, 2008

Political Theatre

Here's a video clip, compliments of Kyle Hughes at & Liz Benjamin, of some of the more entertaining moments of Tuesday's 90-minute leaders meeting, which might have been a total bust from a substance point of view, but was some of the best political theater I've ever seen.

While the opportunity to see this type of politicking may be common in the Albany area, those of us in WNY rarely get the opportunity to see this type of interaction.

The video is just under 19 minutes long, so settle in.

At roughly the halfway point, starting at 10:50, look for the verbal sparring between Skelos and the man looking to replace him, Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith.

Nov. 18 Leaders Meeting from on Vimeo.

November 18, 2008

Casino Cash Accountability

An interesting story in the Niagara Gazette talked about how the $18 million is casino cash seems to be dwindling pretty quickly. Council members were shocked...yes learn there wasn't much left in the kitty.

Now, to be fair, Niagara Falls doesn't control all of the cash. The school district, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, the NTCC, the NFTA (for the airport terminal) and Niagara County all get a scape. What bothers me is where is the public accountability for how this money is being spent?

I might be crazy, but I could have swore that part of the legislation required some sort of reporting back to the state on how the money was used and how that use is tied to economic development. Has anyone ever seen that report?

Isn't it fair to ask if casino money has been used for executive compensation at Memorial? Given the blistering state audit of the Niagara Falls school district, how about how the money was spent there?

Niagara Falls continues to just spend its money here and there with what appears to be little if any thought on how that money will actually produce jobs and economic growth. Mayor Dyster is not nearly the leader many thought he would be when elected a year ago.

So, does this report on use of the casino funds exist and if so, let's get a peek....then again, if you want to know where the casino cash is and prefer a visual aid, just go flush your toilet and all your questions will be answered.

Civic Facilities

The Buffalo News reports today that Tapestry Charter School is scaling back its plans for a grand expansion into an 88,000-square foot facility in North Buffalo. To most people – outside of faculty and families with students at Tapestry – this may not mean much. But the important thing that everyone should take note of is why.

Tapestry was in the pipeline for IDA funding vital to its project. But a component of the state’s IDA legislation that would allow incentives for “civic facilities,” such as schools, hospitals and nursing homes, expired in January, and has become the center of a debate on the merits of forcing wage mandates on private businesses.

Labor has made passage of the IDA legislation – only including prevailing wage requirements, which are currently not a part – its #1 state priority (at least until Paterson started slashing their precious programs). But in order to keep the debate alive, the State Assembly is holding hostage the ability of IDAs to offer incentives to “civic facilities” projects such as Tapestry. Which means that in order to get what they want, they’re holding up putting people to work. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

We’re not talking pennies here....NYSDEC estimates that over $2 billion worth of civic facilities projects are being held up statewide. In this economy, where people are being laid off and there is great uncertainty about the future, is it worth it? How many jobs – most of them union jobs – would be created by a $2 BILLION investment in New York State?

The biggest irony is that the sponsor of the bill is Sam Hoyt. Why? Because not only is Tapestry Charter School in his district – but his children go there!!! Now, on one hand, perhaps Sam should be commended for not simply doing what’s best for his family (when has he?), but it seems there is a constituency that Sam should be fighting for. Parents and faculty, after years of fundraising and planning, should have plenty to say to Mr. Hoyt.

The state legislature needs to reinstitute the civic facilities piece, save the wage requirements debate for another day, and get people working. And hey – no programs have to get cut to make it happen!

November 17, 2008

Column As I See 'Em

Congrats to the Niagara County Leg for keeping spending under control. I don't know about you, but I could use a tax decrease. I just wish the school districts would follow suit. I know, I'm pissing in the wind.

The county's cost-saving measures will be fruitless when the lawsuit brought by a guy who was shot by a deputy is settled. The victim is facing no charges. Can you say "millions"?

Maybe the national GOP has taken heed of the results of the last two election cycles. They don't appear to be ready to bail out the auto industry. Many have said the Republicans need to get back to 'republican" values. Saying no to the bailout will certainly send that message.

Bills fans will be on display this evening as Buffalo hosts Cleveland on MNF. I'm not sure what the over/under is on arrests, but I'm going 35 (that includes game related DWIs, but most will come from idiot fans with beer muscles who start drinking just around the time this post goes up).

Whoever says that Buffalo is a dying city needs to take a ride on the 33 at rush hour.

Kudos to the Lockport Union Sun & Journal. All indications are that they are in fact literate, as two of their weekend editorials were directly inspired by Niagara Times posts. No need to cite us guys, we know who your inspiration is.

Sneak peeks of Black Friday are making their way around the Internet. So far I've seen nothing to indicate that retailers are slashing prices to encourage consumer spending. Saving $50 on a Garmin won't get anyone out of bed at 3a.m.

I know Blue is popular in WNY, but 50% of Labatt's U.S. sales are in Buffalo, Roch & Syracuse? That's stunning.

David Paterson is given credit in the local rag for being this "savior", but in reality, he's not proposing anything new. Among his planned "cuts": raising SUNY tuition and placing a "levy" on private health insurance plans. Nothing but a creative use of wording to cover up the use of the word "tax".

November 14, 2008

Friday Ruminations

All of this speculation surrounding Hillary possibly becoming Secretary of State under B.O. should scare the hell out of us Upstaters. After all, how could we replace her after everything she's done for us? Okay, if your colleagues at work are wondering what's wrong with you after you burst out laughing, I apologize.

Based upon the numbers, and not the results, from last week's elections, the Wall Street Journal believes that 2010 favors the GOP.

These bailouts, including the auto industry, are an absolute travesty. The market will, as it always has, correct itself. I didn't buy the house the bank said I could afford, I knew my limits. If you did, that's your problem, and now I'm bailing you out. You're no better than a welfare recipient sucking away my tax dollars.

B.O.'s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel apologized for his father's remarks. The apple doesn't fall from the tree. This guy is the epitome of a political hatchet man and will do little to be the advocate of change that B.O. won on.

Kudos to Lockport Mayor Mike Tucker for his choice of Niagara Hospice as the beneficiary of the proceeds from his annual charity ball. I've personally been touched by the care that Hospice provides; their organization is second to none.

We called it: the deluge of ads from public sector unions protesting Gov. Paterson's proposed cuts has begun. A pathetic sense of entitlement indeed.

Mayors from around the state have launched a website to fight cuts to local aid.

The Niagara Gazette is dead-on with its editorial calling on the members of the Niagara Falls School Board to resign. Today would be good. It's called accountability and you failed. Take Granto with you.

Somebody needs to explain to me the hoopla over the Aud. Okay, some games were played there. Woopdefreakindoo. It's a damn building. Another sign of WNYer's inability to put the past behind them. Get over it and move on with your life. This idiotic story is getting more play locally than the economy.

We would be remiss if we did not thank our veterans since Veterans Day was earlier this week. Thank you for all you do and all you have done.

Happy Friday.

November 13, 2008

Cuts vs. Cuts

Question for the day: If a school district is facing cuts, is it better to cut teachers or is it better to cut programs? More specifically, which is better for the students? With Gov. David Paterson's intention to cut state aid to schools, we're going to find out which option is better. Of course, there is always the fallback option of simply continuing to raise school taxes, but considering that our county is already the highest taxed county (when taken as a percentage of home values) in the country, and based on the fact that the overwhelming majority of that ranking is driven by our ridiculously high school tax burden, one would hope that raising school taxes even higher would not be an option.

Traditionally when a school district is facing cuts, well, we all know the song and dance. The teachers rally together and strike fear into the community. They spew their propaganda about how these cuts will harm the children, how they won't be able to take field trips, how the extracurricular sports will be slashed, how the biology club won't have frogs to dissect, how the school newspaper won't be able to afford the paper to print on and so on and so on. The school administrators will talk about the need to cut positions.

So which is the lesser evil for the kids? If positions are cut, the number of children in the classroom will increase. I'm okay with that. When I was in school, classes had 30-32 kids per class. These days, classes have 23-26 kids per class. The kids in the larger classes usually turned out okay. Do they get as much one-on-one attention? Of course not. But as those of us in the private sector know, and something those in the public sector are amazingly incapable of comprehending, organizations are being forced to do more with less. It's not by choice, it's the harsh reality of difficult economic times. On the flip side, some will advocate cutting programs.

What you will never hear is concessions from the teachers. Not a willingness to take a zero percent pay hike and not a desire to contribute a few bucks to their health insurance.

Either way, the kids will get the short end of the stick. In all likelihood, you can include us, the taxpayers, in there too.

With some of our recent posts talking about consolidation, I've never heard of any substantive conversations about consolidating school districts. As we've stated previously, there are more kids in the Buffalo School District, which is a small city district, than there are in all of Niagara County's schools, and we have what, 11 districts? Someone in education please explain the efficiency in that.

So, prepare yourself for the onslaught of information, ads and protests. The coming weeks will be just like election season when SEIU, CSEA, UAW, CWA, NYSUT, AFSCME, the WFP and every other glutton sucking off the public teet comes calling for more of your tax dollars.

November 12, 2008

Parochialism, Day II

There are so many disturbing aspects of this article about the state's plan to transfer the duty of keeping track of births and deaths from the towns and cities, I'm not sure where to begin. Let's try with the overall resistance to consolidation that once again has reared its ugly head. The entire world is in economic crisis and learning to do more with less, except, once again, our public sector.

Historically town and city registrars have kept track of vital statistics, including copies of death and birth certificates, for which they charge $10 per copy. A state commission on government efficiency has recommended shifting those chores to county clerks’ offices and raising the fee to $30 per copy to pay for it. County Clerk Wayne Jagow stated, “At first glance, this looks like a good consolidating move,” Jagow told the Community Services Committee. “But I’m afraid it would have some negative impact on the towns and on the county and constituents.”

It's just a completely absurd response. Every consolidation effort will affect someone, likely in a less than pleasing way; that's the nature of consolidation. But the long-term benefit, savings to the taxpayer, is the goal. How Jagow is unable to see the forest through the trees is beyond me.

Dennis Virtuoso had a similarly ridiculous justification for not supporting the consolidation effort: “This would be a tremendous...inconvenience for the taxpayers who would have to drive halfway across the county.” Really? People have such a frequent need to get copies of death and birth certificates that it would be a tremendous inconvenience? That is the mentality of a small-minded, regressive thinker.

As we've said before, we have huge consolidation opportunities staring us right in the face. There are three family courts in Niagara County. Why? If you live in Erie County, which is more than double the size of Niagara, you have one family court, and its in downtown Buffalo. We have four water filtration facilities in Niagara, all of which operate at less than 50% capacity. And three DMVs in a county the size of Niagara is completely idiotic. The average person goes to the DMV once every EIGHT years. How the hell is that a hardship?

Consolidation of these redundant operations would save the taxpayers of this county millions of dollars every year. Unfortunately, the parochialism that is so pervasive in this area will continue until someone who's not worried about his or her re-election has the courage to bring these consolidation efforts forward.

Don't hold your breath.

November 11, 2008

Parochialism Strikes Again

"Niagara Falls always seems to pay everyone else’s bills, “ said Niagara Falls Councilman Sam Fruscione in a recent story related to the NTCC and the fact that Niagara Falls contributes the largest amount of bed tax revenue.

Here we go again with the small-minded, parochial thinking. This agency was created to consolidate two tourism agencies duplicating each others’ work and save the taxpayers money. Although there are serious questions regarding the leadership of John Percy, the NTCC has accomplished just that.

However, when the crybabies running Niagara Falls feel as though they are not getting every penny they “deserve”, they like to play the victim and accuse others of living off their money.

First and foremost, I have never heard a single elected official in Niagara Falls acknowledge the aid they receive: federal, state and county. We all contribute, folks. But even more obnoxious is the fact that you, the county taxpayer, pays to house, feed and clothe their criminals, the county taxpayer pays to defend their indigent criminals, the county taxpayer pays to prosecute their criminals, the county taxpayer pays the Medicaid bill for every Niagara Falls resident receiving this aid, and the county taxpayers pay for the safety net welfare benefits, in their entirety, for every welfare recipient denied federal assistance.

But most offensive of all is the fact that the City of Niagara Falls is now receiving almost $20 million a year in casino revenues while the rest of the county shares virtually nothing. And while the rest of the county taxpayers wait for that money to be used for its intended purpose, economic development projects that will ultimately benefit the entire region, we have yet to see a single job created.

Eventually, somebody will be smart enough in Niagara Falls to demand an accounting of casino revenues and blow a hole in the City budget large enough to drive a truck through.

November 10, 2008

Legalized Gaming

Congratulations to the Seneca Nation for their success in casino gaming. They've created a fantastic environment for the gambling enthusiast, with a first-class hotel, a multitude of quality restaurants and all of the amenities that accompany a casino. In addition, they've committed to the construction of a 52 story hotel that would dwarf the current 26 story building, which is already the tallest hotel in Niagara Falls. Whether the construction of that hotel will be delayed given the current economic conditions remains to be seen.

We've always supported a casino in the Falls. There is a natural draw of over 10 million people every year. We're less likely to think that Buffalo should have a casino, since a casino in that city is much more likely to prey on the local residents, as opposed to the Seneca Niagara, which derives much of its revenues from gamblers from outside of the immediate area. The Senecas themselves have stated that they have no intention of marketing the Buffalo casino to areas outside of the region.

The Native American-run casinos in Western New York have been a great success for the tribal nation. They've reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues over the past several years. As part of the casino compact, approximately one-eighth of the slot machine revenues are given to the host community, which is Niagara Falls. From that revenue, various portions are given to the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, the Niagara Falls International Airport and the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp.

Here's the problem: We're fighting over scraps. No one disputes the success of the casino here in Niagara Falls. Many will argue the point that it should not be run by the Senecas. There is no logical reason that the State of New York should allow public corporations the opportunity to set up gaming in the city. It works, and we know it works, but we're left with a few crumbs after the Seneca Nation takes is massive profits.

In order for there to be legal gaming, the state would have to pass a constitutional change in two separate legislative bodies, then the legislation would go to a referendum. As the state faces a multi-billion budget deficit, many believe that the public would quickly authorize slots and table games to get state revenues and stimulate job growth.

Unfortunately, the soonest that such a proposal could be on the ballot is 2011, but the state can put the legislation in motion now. It only makes sense. Let's give the people of this state the opportunity to decide if they want legalized gambling. Donald Trump need not weigh in.

November 7, 2008

Friday Ruminations

The Niagara Power Coalition is close to settling a lawsuit brought by former Executive Director Mark Zito. We say it's about time. There would not be an NPC without the efforts of Zito, and the actions by the coalition towards Zito that precipitated the lawsuit are disgraceful.

For those who believe that Obama is non-political, his choice of Rahm Emanuel should be an immediate wake-up call. This guy once was so upset with a Democratic pollster during a congressional race that he mailed him a big dead fish. Let the political games begin; and it won't be for the faint of heart.

Some people love NCCC Prez Jim Klyczyk and some don't, but the fact that enrollment is at an all-time high is indicative of his leadership.

Congratulations to each of the winners in Tuesday's local elections. Now it's time to go to work.

The casino compact related to the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls contains very specific language on how casino revenues are supposed to be allocated. The crux of the language states that the revenues are to be spent on economic development efforts. How allocating $3 million in casino revenues to subsidize low income housing is economic development is beyond me.

I've got mixed feelings on federal prosecutors deciding not to bring charges against Eliot Spitzer. Yes, his punishment in the court of public opinion has been harsh, but if he allegedly broke the law, he should be tried accordingly.

This is a fascinating article detailing the infighting between the McCain and Palin staffs.

We've been saying it for a year and a half, but obviously some people in Western and Upstate New York didn't give much thought to how much we have to lose with the Downstate Dems gaining every power position in state government. The Buffalo News reinforces our position.

Today is of course TGIF, enjoy our last bastion of nice weather.

November 5, 2008

The Bush Legacy

I'm always annoyed that in today's 24/7 media we begin to write about legacies way to soon. After all, a legacy is something for history to decide once some time has passed and events in the here and now can be viewed through a less passionate prism. So, the ultimate decision on President Bush is still years away.

But politically speaking the day after the historic election last night, the Bush legacy is the end of at least this edition of the conservative movement and the destruction of the Republican party. It begins with the wrong information on the Iraq war, cascades into Hurricane Katrina and ends with the financial collapse and government bailout. In between, there were a host of other missteps....firing U.S. Attorneys, leaking Valerie Plume's name etc.

But more than that, it's the arrogance to change direction in the face of mounting criticism. There's a fine line between the courage of one's convictions and being unable to adjust when what you're doing isn't working. Bush is definitely more the latter.

Tie that together with the ultimate greed of Tom Delay and the corporate executives who lined their pockets while Rome was burning and you have the seeds of a GOP disaster...and disaster in so many ways that was well deserved.

The collateral damage of the rejection of Bush are things like the Senate Republican Majority in the Senate, Ernie Palmer locally (congratulations to Jim Voutour who will be a good sheriff) and several GOP Congressional seats in NYS that are gone forever.

There's losing and then there's historic wipeouts. George Bush wiped out the GOP.

November 4, 2008

Anything For Political Gain

Of course today is election day. As we stated yesterday, we hadn't planned to do much prognostication of today's results, other than the Lee/Kryzan race. Unfortunately that changed when, while driving to work this morning, I heard an interview that has me completely infuriated.

As most of us have most likely heard, three boys died in a tragic fire in Hartland last night. I cannot even begin to comprehend the depths of this loss to the family. May God look over them.

The problem is the interview on WLVL given by an individual by the name of Steve Wallace. Wallace stated the circumstances of the events with some detail. But then, inexplicably, he went on about Sheriff candidate Jim Voutour. Wallace stated essentially, "You should have seen Voutour out there (at the fire scene). The last thing on his mind was the election." Are you freakin kidding me? You are going to use the death of these three little boys to make a political statement? What kind of lowlife, piece of garbage are you?

To try to turn this tragedy into a political gain is without a doubt one of the most despicable and heinous acts I have ever seen in politics. Political races these days are filled with half-truths and misrepresentations. Unfortunately, we see more of this type of politicking than issue-oriented races. Media outlets were jammed with reports of attempts to mislead voters. But this is a new low. I literally am so enraged that I feel nauseous. I don't know who the hell this Steve Wallace is, but I hope I have the opportunity to cross paths with him.

When you die and are standing at the gates of Hell, Wallace, remember those three little boys whose deaths you diminished to mere political fodder.

November 3, 2008

Chris Lee For Congress

For the most part, we had planned to stay away from endorsing any candidates in this year's races, but we can't sit by and let the race for the 26th Congressional District seat go without interjecting.

Alice Kryzan won her Democratic primary against Jon Powers and Jack Davis because of one creatively produced commercial that took advantage of the testosterone-laced bickering between her two male counterparts. At no time did Kryzan articulate a position on any issues. But Kryzan, upon her victory, has completely and unabashedly become the antagonist that she so staunchly told to "take it somewhere else" in her previous ads.

Now, she may not have produced the attack ads on her opponent, Chris Lee, but she has not condemned them either. Lee, throughout the primary, had not stated a negative word about Alice Kryzan.

One of the most pervasive ads on behalf of Kryzan is the blatant misrepresentation of Lee employing people in China. This assertion is indicative of Kryzan's complete and utter lack of understanding of the global economy in which we live. From what we have learned, Lee's company made brake pads. Not for cars, but for major commercial machinery. His company, in their hopes of expanding in the global market, set up a manufacturing location in China. Not only is this NOT bad, it's the goal of every business in the WORLD that is looking to expand globally. Why? Because China is the most untapped market for goods and services in the world. With, what, 1.3 BILLION people, every company would savor the opportunity to tap this market. Not Alice Kryzan, because she has no comprehension whatsoever of what it is like to actually try to manage a successful business. (If I wanted to really get nasty, I'd talk about her law practice that failed and folded, but we won't go there.)

What Kryzan obviously is incapable of comprehending is that when a company expands its market, it becomes a stronger organization. Delphi is the perfect example. Because its U.S. operations suck so bad, it is only able to avoid bankruptcy because of the solvency of its international operations. By the way, if you think Delphi is an American company, you are delusional. They'd eliminate all U.S. production in a New York minute if they thought they could get away with it. That goes for all U.S. automobile manufacturers as well, but I digress.

As more "foreign" cars are made in America, in some cases more than "American" manufacturers, those staunch "buy American" folks always fall back on the claim of "yeah, but they take the profits back to their foreign country and invest it there". Really? So what if an American company sets up a manufacturing facility on foreign soil, would the same rule not apply? What if an American company sets up shop of foreign soil, expanding it's customer base, increasing profits, which leads to further investment in R&D, which leads to more jobs, etc, etc? Amazingly, Kryzan is trying to portray this as a bad thing.

I hope that my company goes out today and buys a subsidiary in another country. Why? Because I have enough business sense to know that if my employer is to compete in a global economy, we have to be GLOBAL. It's not rocket science, it's Business 101.

Kryzan has shown herself to be nothing more than a hypocrite who has little knowledge of issues other than those of a liberal trial attorney. We don't need anymore of those in Congress. Lee is a businessman who has successfully guided his company through the trials and tribulations that most growing organizations face.

Niagara Times proudly supports Chris Lee for Congress.