February 27, 2009

GLOW Away

I openly chuckled yesterday when I opened the local periodical to see a letter to the editor submitted by four individuals who call themselves GLOW. They are the Chairs of the Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming county Democratic committees. The four got together to congratulate President Obama and Congress on the historic stimulus bill.

The reason for my jocularity is two fold...well, three fold, but the first doesn't really count, so we'll get that one out of the way: The name. GLOW is so inspiring, I wish that I was a Democrat living in one of those four counties just so that I could say I was in some small way a part of GLOW. It's even fun to say. Come on, say it with me...GLOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW. I've got goosebumps.

The second reason I openly chuckled is that it has obviously become so apparent that Niagara County Dem Chair Dan Rivera has become persona non grata in his own county. Rivera now must resort to bringing in chairman from outside of the county just to write a simple letter to the editor. How humiliating.

Lastly, I had to chuckle at the content of the letter. As we alluded to, the four banded together to congratulate their Dem brethren for the stimulus bill. In addition, they made a point of taking 26th CD Congressman Chris Lee to task for his "no" vote on the porkulus bill.

So let's take a look at some of the intricacies of the bill that you are not likely so see in the local paper. Earmarks totaled at least $3.8 billion - a figure used by the House Appropriations Committee, but the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense calculates that there are an astonishing 8,570 earmarks at a cost of $7.7 billion. Yeah, $7.7 billion. It's okay, you're allowed to be angry.

What are some of the earmarks? How about $1.7 million for "Swine Odor and Manure Management Research." That's on top of $1.9 million in each of the last two years, or nearly $6 million over the past three years. Worried about mosquitos? Fret no more. The bill includes $1.2 million in funding for mosquito trapping in Gainesville, Fla. Concerned about gang members in Los Angeles? Your Congress isn't, they're allocating $200,000 for a "tattoo-removal violence-outreach program" in Los Angeles to help gang members erase signs of their past.

Let's not forget about the Polynesian Voyaging Society of Honolulu. They received a $238,000 "earmark" in the bill. The group organizes sea voyages in ancient-style sailing canoes like the ones that first brought settlers to Hawaii.

Here's the problem: On January 6, President-elect Obama made the following statement: "We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review". So is Obama going to skate around his own rules by saying these $7.7 billion in earmarks have been reviewed or is he going to turtle to Congress like Claude Lemieux in a fight with Rob Ray?

Let's take the earmarks out for second. Under the current stimulus plan, the average worker will get $13 a week this year, dropping to $8 next year. Wow, hold me down so I don't hurt myself jumping around. Even if I do hurt myself, I know BO will be there for me. You see, he's set to unveil a proposal that sets aside $634 billion for health-care reform. Yes, $634 billion.

Obama and Congress are throwing around numbers that will put our country in debt far beyond any President in history. I'm assuming the four members of GLOW who are so quick to congratulate the President and Congress have no kids, because if they did, they would be crucifying Obama for this bill that will put my kids, their kids, their kids and their kids in debt by trillions of dollars. Yeah, that's worth celebrating.

And they have the gall to criticize Lee for voting against this disgustingly bloated-with-wasteful-spending bill? Come on, are the people really that incapable of seeing through this bullsh*t? Stay in your own counties, GLOW, you've got bigger problems to worry about than writing letters to papers in Niagara County.

February 26, 2009

Paterson's Need For Speed

We've frequently addressed the upstate/downstate disconnect in state government, which is even more pervasive given the Dems recent takeover of the Senate. The following story from politickerny.com illustrates the Republicans desire to spread stimulus dollars regionally thoughout the state while Paterson simply wants to get the dollars of the porkulus bill distributed, with virtually no plan to share the future national debt with those of us north of Westchester. The story follows:

Republican legislative leaders are raising concerns about regional balance for stimulus infrastructure money, which David Paterson and his top officials say has to be appropriated as quickly as possible.

Paterson, flanked by his top advisors Tim Gilchrist and Marty Mack, talked to reporters as well as to the leaders of all four legislative conferences about how the stimulus money will be spent.

"In light of what you said about speed, this should all go in a straight line as quickly as possible and maintain upstate-downstate balance?" asked Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco.

"I think it's critically important that this be driven by traditional shares," Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos said.

Gilchrist explained that some of the stimulus money is specifically tied by the federal legislation to be spent in urban areas--this is the case for 30 percent of the urban transportation projects. "We have a challenge to obligate over $392 million in transportation improvement projects by June 17," he said.

Earlier this week, Gilchrist told a collection of municipal representatives that there were more project requests than money, and that transportation projects not already on a regional transportation improvement program would probably not be approved quickly.

Paterson said the money will be spent in a "transparent," "immediate," and "effective" manner. "We want as many eyes working on these projects as possible so that they move as swiftly as possible," Paterson said. "It will be my responsibility to make sure that we use it, because if not, we will lose it."

February 25, 2009

Consolidation Is Never Easy

The County Administration Committee heard back from a consultant and concluded that county-wide assessment is essentially a non-starter because the hurdles to getting there are too high. Boo frigging hoo. If it's a good idea, start finding ways to knock down the hurdles. Progressively reforming layers of government in NYS is not going to be easy but if we can't even get out of the starting blocks then how can we ever tackle the giant issues?

Let me be clear that I'm not glossing over some of the legitimate concerns of people. Ms. Kimble makes a good point about the county not wanting to add 34 people to the payroll to do countywide assessment. However, would the overall cost be more or less than what the towns and counties currently pay?

After all, it's not like the current system is all that good. Bill Budde, head of the county's Real Tax Department, has long been an apologist for the town assessors who are a mixed bag. Some towns get hammered with reassessments, others look the other way. And where the heck is Greg Lewis in all of this?

Once again, on a somewhat controversial topic that takes leadership, Lewis is no where to be found.

See, depending on the topic, Lewis either takes the "I'm the leader of this county and the man in charge." That's for the easy stuff that gets his mug in the paper.

Then, for the stuff that is actually important, Lewis morphs into, "I'm just guy a implementing whatever the big, mean county legislators tell me do." This is pretty much how he acts at budget time.

So, county-wide assessment goes on the scrap heap. Bill Budde can breathe easier.......don't want to upset the cushy applecart.

February 24, 2009

Self-Expression

I've never been much of a joiner, especially as a kid. I liked to do my own thing, and while we all have some desire to be popular, or at least accepted, I think our society puts way too much pressure on people to "belong".

Being on Facebook, I get an invitation to join some group virtually every day. I rarely accept those invitations, mainly because I don't want to be labeled as "being this" or "supporting that". But yesterday, I saw that a couple of my friends had joined a group called "Petition to get the group 'Soldiers Are Not Heroes' off of Facebook". I thought to myself, "that's an excellent group to join".

Then I thought about it. What this group is advocating violates the very fabric of what those soldiers are fighting for. These brave men and women have taken an oath to uphold the freedoms of this country. They've vowed to uphold our rights as provided in the Constitution, a document that allows groups like "Soldiers are not heroes" to exist.

Do I agree with the premise of the group "soldiers are not heroes"? Absolutely not. Do I agree with their right to exist in this country? Absolutely, and that freedom, the freedom for moronic self-expression, is what makes this country the greatest country on the face of the earth.

Ask a soldier; I think he'd agree.

February 23, 2009

Davis Making The Switch?

Back on February 6, we did a post detailing, among other things, a divide that has arisen within the Niagara County Democratic Party due to party boss Dan Rivera sicking the District Attorney on one of Jack Davis' supporters after his most recent Congressional run. Rivera had wanted the D.A. to investigate allegations of petition fraud.

We went on to state that Davis, one of the single largest financial supporters of the county Dems, was so infuriated with Rivera that he would no longer support the party financially. Remember that Davis gave the county Dems the hefty sum of $30,000 in 2007. In fact, we speculated that Davis would not only cease his financial support of the county party, that he may in fact re-allocate his hefty campaign contributions to the county GOP.

It appears that this scenario is much closer to reality than we would have imagined.

The Niagara County Republican Party held a fundraiser this past Thursday at Antonio's, and sources have told us that Jack Davis attended the event. If this is indeed true, this does not bode well for the county Dems. Davis has a boatload of cash and has shown that he is not afraid to spend it supporting political parties and candidates.

It appears that Rivera, because of his own personal battles, is once again putting Democratic candidates in the position of entering the campaign season without the backing of a major financial supporter.

Is it any wonder that Rivera is often referred to the Niagara County GOP's best ally?

February 20, 2009

"Subsidizing Loser's Mortgages"

This comes to us courtesy of our friends at Monroe Rising. In this video, CNBC’s Rick Santelli calls out the federal government's plan to reward those who bought too much house while those of us who've been responsible get screwed. Again. What is the message Obama and Congress are sending? Work hard, pay your bills on time, and you will be penalized by having your hard-earned money reward those who wallow in irresponsibility and have a total disdain for those who play by the rules. Goddamn disgraceful.

Enough Already

We've already gone on the record as against Niagara Falls Legislator Jason Cafarella’s ill-thought-out attempt to grab headlines by sponsoring a resolution to move the Buffalo Bills to Niagara County.

We thought this bad idea had died a few nights ago when the Niagara County Legislature’s economic development committee effectively spiked it in their collective end zone.

We were wrong.

Channel-surfing earlier this week, we found ourselves mesmerized by the corpulent visage of Glenn Fitzgerald, planted on Tammie Lee Demler’s couch on Channel 20. We’re used to Tammie Lee interviewing an assortment of community people for accomplishments great and small, and occasionally inane. But what was spilling out of Fitzgerald’s pie-hole astonished us.

You see, the brains behind “niagarabills.com,” little more than a front for selling T-shirts emblazoned with the logo for a team that never was, and definitely never will be, kept referring to his foray before the Leg as some sort of serious endeavor, even speaking for our county’s legislators, as if he knew their minds.

Of course, the only one this is even remotely true of is Cafarella, the author of the resolution that helped put Fitzgerald’s quixotic quest on the map, and no doubt is helping with his website’s T-shirt sales enormously.

And there was Fitzgerald talking as if he is now a partner of the Legislature, explaining their views on Niagara County’s relationship with our neighbor, Erie County. The best moment, though, was when Fitzgerald fumbled listlessly when Tammie Lee asked him where, exactly, he proposed building a new stadium for the Bills.

We’d laugh about this comedy of errors if it wasn’t really a tragedy. There are people in Niagara Falls’ 3rd district who placed their hope in Cafarella, that he would be a serious member of their county’s government, and that he would help improve their city’s condition, and its reputation.

Instead, he’s wasting his time, the legislature’s, and his constituent's, pimping for a bloated T-shirt pitchman.

This ridiculous premise has already gone on far too long. This isn’t a well-thought-out plan. This was just a moronic attempt by Fitzgerald to grab headlines, get on TV, and sell T-shirts, which the very green, very inexperienced Cafarella was all too willing to assist him in doing.

February 19, 2009

NYPA Chronicles II: The Insulting Offer

Depending on who you talk to, NYPA boss Richie Kessell is either an affable gentlemen who has been around long enough to know how to get things done or a political hack whose career has been based on kissing the hind side of whichever side is in power.

Displaying the more positive attributes listed above, Kessell decided that maybe NYPA didn't do enough in re-licensing for local communities not in the Niagara Power Coalition....communities like Lockport, NT, Amherst, etc.

So Kessell called a confidential, top secret , "no one can ever find out about" meeting within the past couple of months with his team and local officials to discuss NYPA doing the right thing for these communities and all of WNY. So far, so good, right?

Local officials were finally excited that maybe, just maybe, NYPA was going to be a partner rather than an adversary. At the meeting, NYPA put one take it or leave it offer on the table: they talked about low-cost energy programs THAT ALREADY EXIST and then offered to create a $5 million revolving LOAN fund for economic development projects.

The reaction from our local guys was somewhere between outright laughter and complete disgust at this ridiculous offer. And let me reiterate that NYPA did not want any of this to go public and made it clear this was the ONLY offer coming our way. After all, re-licensing is over, this is simply a goodwill gesture on the part of NYPA, they don't have buckets of money to just giveaway and my favorite NYPA-ism of all....they have a legal and moral obligation to protect their bondholders.

Well, needless to say, this offer was rejected. AND THEN JUST WEEKS LATER, poor NYPA gifted $750 million to Governor Paterson and his cronies to fill the state's budget gap. And the bulk of those dollars come out of profits made at the Niagara Power Project.

Mr. Kessell said this was the right thing to do and the $750 million really wouldn't have a negative impact on NYPA finances. And as for the precious bondholders? I guess they can go screw themselves now.

So, the best NYPA can do for the people impacted the most by the Project is an insulting $5 million loan fund, but they can turn 3/4 of a billion dollars over to the state without blinking an eye.

Going back to the first paragraph of this post, I think it's clear Kessell is a hack.

February 18, 2009

Honoring Pfc. Albert Jex

As you have undoubtedly heard, Lockport lost one of its own two weeks ago when U.S. Army Pfc. Albert Jex, 23, was killed when a suicide car bomber struck a U.S. patrol in northern Iraq.

The public is being asked to honor our fallen hero by participating in a Military Stand along the funeral procession route to the church tomorrow, Thursday, February 19th at 9:30 a.m. Community members are hoping to have the streets lined for the entire route.

If you are planning to attend, please try to bring a small hand held flag. Organizers also encourage any children that may attend receive instruction ahead of time and be supervised, so they show the silent respect appropriate to this solemn occasion.

The funeral procession route: Leave Prudden & Kandt at 9:30 on Thursday morning; Genessee Street to Washburn St; Washburn St to Main St; right onto Main St. Proceed past the Veterans Memorial to Mt Olive church for the ceremony. The burial will take place in Cold Spring Cemetery. Albert will be buried with full military honors.

UPDATE: The time, as noted above, has been changed from 10AM to 9:30AM on Thursday morning.

February 17, 2009

The NYPA Chronicles

So the New York Power Authority, which said it could only do so much (or really so little) for our community during the re-licensing process suddenly is more than happy to voluntarily turn over $750 million to the Paterson Administration to help fund more state spending. Great.

Our most precious resource is being sent to the great black hole in Albany and once again WNY'ers are being told to sit quietly and take it. We'll, WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!!!!!

But rather than rail against Paterson and downstate and Albany and blah, blah, blah, we are going to point our poison pen right at NYPA.

You see, we get lots and lots of emails from whistle blowers, union friends, community activists and others about what goes on inside the Lewiston plant and how NYPA leaders, the local HR director (this guys seems to be a real piece of work) and others just turn a blind eye to it.

We also know that local media people across WNY are regular readers of this site. So we are going to start to print some of the more outrageous things that have been sent to us and let the local media go digging for the truth.

Take this one rumor floating around: The old ice boom was made out of all cedar wood. One day it suddenly walked away from the plant. NYPA had a pretty good idea who took it but rather than prosecute the theft, they let it be known that the boom could be returned, no questions asked. How nice of them.

So, miraculously, the boom walked it's way back to NYPA, except it was missing one of its cedar logs. And what became of this particular log? Well, rumor has it that it is can be found in Lewiston as the new dock for a NYPA employee who has since retired. Nice, real nice.

And trust me, while the story above might seem like small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, I know it will send shock waves from Lewiston to Albany to White Plains because it shows we have good sources and NYPA folks know this is just the beginning. Wait 'til we get to their security, their process for emergency management, race relations, protecting children at their community events and so much more.

Hang on folks, this is going to be a fun ride.

February 13, 2009

Disaster Strikes WNY

Our very deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the victims on Flight 3407 that crashed in Clarence last night.

As we all know, Western New York is a very close community. As devastating as this disaster is so far, the full depth of of this tragedy will likely be felt as the names of those on board are released.

Prayers to all of those impacted and may God watch over you.

February 12, 2009

Oz Dream Has Become A Nightmare

In July of 2005, the first public rumblings of a theme park coming to Niagara County started to make their way around the region. In April of 2006, nearly three years ago, the local newspaper ran an editorial touting the virtue of the "Magical Lands of Oz Project". This project, which is to cost upwards of $1 billion, has been talked about for years. Wheatfield Supervisor Tim Demler has forever taken any opportunity he can to talk about his vision for the Oz-based theme park. Even in the 2006 editorial, Demler is quoted as saying, "The project has been moving steadily".

Fast forward to February 2008. In another US&J story about the time frame for the theme park, Wheatfield Town Attorney Bob O' Toole is quoted as saying, "We’re certainly not talking a year or two down the road, but I don’t think we’re talking tomorrow or the next day, either". It's a year later, Bob.

In the same piece, Demler states, "People have every reason to be cynical, but in the near future, they’re going to be pleasantly surprised". Okay, what do you consider the near future, Tim?

We apologize for being cynical, but we've had enough broken promises in Western New York. In addition, this theme park idea was conspicuously absent from Demler's 2009 state of the town address. The transcript of Demler's speech, which appeared in the Wheatfield Tribune recently, made no mention of this grandiose plan to create the theme park and its 5,000 accompanying jobs.

Personally, I've never thought this project would get off the ground. When you put guys like Rick Burch & John Simon in a room together, little good is likely to come out of it. But for the good of the people of Niagara County, someone either needs to come clean with the future and progress of this project or stop jerking our chain. We don't need anymore unfulfilled promises.

February 11, 2009

Not-for-Profits Can't Keep Their Head in the Sand

Catching up on some article I missed, I read the story over the stalled merger of Niagara County's three United Ways. Seems that Lockport and Niagara are ready to go but Tonawanda is holding out.

How, in this economy, can that possibly be? For too long, not-for-profits have avoided making the kind of tough decisions that have to be made by private companies. Let's be honest, while many of these organizations provide very worthwhile services, there is definitely duplication which means precious donated funds are being wasted.

After all, does every not-for-profit need someone to watch the books? Why not combine those services? What about marketing, p.r., etc? The opportunity for sharing costs are plentiful.

Yet, you hear the same old arguments time and again, like in this article from the guy running the N.T. United Way. We don't want to lose our community focus, we've been here a long time, people count on us, blah blah blah.

The fact is you can better deliver on your mission when you have a cost effective and efficient organization. It's this attitude that also permeates government and stops worthwhile consolidations and shared services -- moves that could reduce taxes on all of us.

I know when it comes to giving my dollars to good organizations from now on, I am going to start taking a closer look at their operational efficiency. I donate for the good of the community, not to feed organizational bureaucracies.

Kudos to Lockport and Niagara United Ways for knowing they need to change.

February 10, 2009

Hiram "Ginsu" Monserrate Still In Office

Odds are that you haven't heard of an individual by the name of Hiram Monserrate. This is not surprising since a search of all three of the Greater Niagara Newspapers shows no such name in their archives.

So who is Hiram Monserrate? Monserrate is a guy from Queens (that would be in NYC for those who are geographically challenged) who was arrested in December on second degree felony assault charges after allegedly stabbing his girlfriend in the face with a broken glass (her facial injuries required 20 stitches). He is also a former 12-year police veteran. Oh, and by the way, he was elected to serve in the New York State Senate in November. And he's still serving in the Senate.

The new Majority Leader of the Senate, Malcolm Smith, has not said a word about Monserrate. He has not censured him, he has not taken away any of his committee assignments and he hasn't even suggested that Monserrate should stay away until after his case is adjudicated. Why? Because Monserrate was part of the Gang of Three that we heard about after the election, the group of renegade Senators that threatened to create their own caucus unless Smith caved into their concessions. Allowing the Gang of Three to create their own alliance would have kept the GOP in the majority, so Smith sold his soul to the Gang of Three to gain his majority. This is the scenario that screwed long-time Buffalo Senator Bill Stachowski out of his rightfully-due chairmanship of the very powerful Finance Committee.

But taking the politics out of the equation, how the hell can this guy continue to hold office? Not one Democratic Senator has said a word about this situation. HE SLICED HIS GIRLFRIEND'S FACE WITH A BROKEN BOTTLE, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE!!!!!!. Not one of his Dem colleagues has the sack to stand up and tell this guy to stay the hell out of the chambers until his case is settled? Not one of these "men" has a mother or a sister or a daughter that they can stand up for?

And where the hell is NOW? This organization's soul existence is to advocate for women's rights. They have also been disgustingly silent on this issue.

Personally, I find women abusers the lowest form of scum, right next to child molesters. This guy, if found guilty, needs to rot in prison. Better yet, give me five minutes with him. I have a feeling that we could have a very "productive" interaction.

Of course, that scenario will likely never present itself. But it's not too late for Malcolm Smith, he who refused to enter a Niagara County Democratic Party fundraiser because of allegations of male on female abuse, to do the right thing. Smith, who on the now famous Youtube video of the county Dems fundraising fiasco said that he is a believer in acting in the best interest of women, has proven no better than Monserrate by allowing him to sit in the Senate chamber and in his caucus.

In fact, let's show that youtube video. At about the 4:45 mark, Smith feeds his line of bullshit about caring about women, stopping the abuse, etc. It picks up again at about the 6:20 mark. At the 7:50 mark, Smith says "it's easy to do the right thing". Obviously when your fragile majority is on the line, it's not that easy.

When you've sold the sanctity of protecting women for the protection of your majority, Malcolm, you've already lost.

February 9, 2009

Niagara Bills? Idiocy In Action

When a friend emailed me about Niagara County Legislator Jason Cafarella's resolution to formally support relocating of the Buffalo Bills to Niagara County should the team leave Orchard Park, my email response was "that has to be the most moronic piece of legislation I've ever seen out of the Legislature". Is this really what you've been reduced to, Jason?

The Buffalo Bills will NEVER move to Niagara County. But, for fun let's play along. First off, where will the team play? I know there are some pretty decent stadiums in the county, but I don't think any of them can accommodate 70,000 people. And if there are any that can, I don't think there are any with luxury suites. So let's build a stadium! To give us an idea of the cost, we'll use Dallas. The Cowboys new stadium, which will open next year, will cost about $1.3 billion. Yes, that would be billion. Based on our tax rate, if each $650,000 equates to a 1% increase in the tax levy, taxes in Niagara County would go up about 2,000 times the current amount we pay just to fund just the stadium. Not a good starting point.

That stadium expense would be on top of the nearly $1 billion it will cost the new owner to buy the team from Ralph Wilson's heirs.

Erie County is on the hook for about $8 million per year to the Bills for expenses such as stadium renovations, so with a new stadium, we wouldn't have that expense, so there's a savings.

Seriously, this is such a ludicrous idea, I'm already sick of it. Stop with the bullshit feel-good resolutions and propose something substantive. If you can't think of anything, get the hell out.

February 6, 2009

NT Police Used For Political Intimidation

If the name Kelly Taylor sounds familiar, it should. We blogged about the North Tonawanda resident in January after she was charged with six counts of petition fraud. Taylor allegedly signed witness statements on nominating petitions for Congressional candidate Jack Davis containing signatures she did not actually gather herself. Unfortunately, Taylor was just one of several individuals that has been charged with similar offenses over the past few years.

I'll take a step back to give a bit of history. At one point, Taylor was quite close with Niagara County Democratic Chairman Dan Rivera, often acting as a "gopher" for Rivera. The two had such a close working relationship that Rivera arranged for a job with the Niagara County Board of Elections for Taylor.

Rivera and Taylor subsequently had a falling out and Taylor went to work for the Davis campaign. Her work with the Davis campaign ultimately lead to the charges of petition fraud that were levied against her. It was Rivera that asked Niagara County District Attorney Mike Violante to initiate an investigation into Taylor's petitions.

What differentiates this case is the manner in which it was handled by law enforcement. Those who were also charged with petition fraud (Bova, Lenhart, Reister), were phoned by law enforcement to come down to the police station to discuss the charges. Taylor, on the other hand, had North Tonawanda Police show up at her home, handcuffed her and placed her in the back of a police car. All of this in front of her family. For Taylor, it was likely the most humiliating moment of her life.

So why the differentiation in the police handling of the cases? Because Rivera conspired with North Tonawanda Mayor Larry Soos to arrange for the public humiliation of Taylor. Soos, at the behest of Rivera, used the North Tonawanda police to send a political message to Taylor from Rivera that if you mess with him, you will get burned.

This has created an even deeper divide within local Democratic circles. Jack Davis is livid with both Soos and Rivera, and is reportedly paying for a lawyer for Taylor. Even worse for Rivera, Davis, who gave the Niagara County Democratic Committee $30,000 in 2007, is rumored to be so infuriated with Rivera that he is considering aligning himself with the local GOP. This means that not only will the local Dems not be getting a portion of Davis' huge bounty, those dollars may very well be flowing to the campaign coffers of the GOP. That's a $60,000 swing.

The Dem candidates really need to think about that the next time Rivera decides to play hardball. They, once again, will be the ones who will pay the price when they don't have enough funds to see them through their elections.

February 4, 2009

The Biggest Losers

I must admit, I watch a plethora of reality shows on TV. It's not that I planned it, but each night, I play around on my laptop while my wife controls the remote. I'm not complaining, this scenario actually gives me the opportunity to watch certain shows without actually taking ownership of the fact that I watch certain shows. In essence, I just blame her when a friend calls and Top Chef is on in the background.

They all have their hook, whether it be Amazing Race, The Bachelor (and you chuckle at me for watching a show with 20 hot ladies and one guy?) or Project Runway (they're MODELS!). One that I find quite inspirational is The Biggest Loser. If you haven't seen it, teams of two obscenely obese people compete against other teams of two obscenely obese people to see how much weight they can lose each week. If you don't cut the fat, you can be voted off by other contestants. I actually think of these 400+ pound people working their massively over-sized hearts when I'm running on the treadmill. I figure, if they can do it, well then so can I, dammit!

So last night, while watching The Biggest Loser with a bag of Lay's, a glass of Squirt and a few Andes mints, I was very inspired. But the show ended, and I was forced to find something as enticing. For some God-awful reason, I stopped on channel 22, LCTV. Now, I rarely ever watch the county leg meetings anymore, but this time I was inexplicably drawn to it, like a moth to a flame.

Little did I know that I would be tuning in to see the evening's second installment of The Biggest Loser. Except this one was The Biggest Losers. And although this evening's contestants, Dan Rivera and Margie Swan, could certainly use a stint on the NBC version of The Biggest Loser, they get the evening's award based on an entirely different set of criteria.

Rivera, head of the Niagara County Democratic Committee, the same committee that has wallowed in failure, disarray and controversy every second of Rivera's tenure, had to be physically removed from the chambers because he was unable to avoid personal, libelous attacks towards a member of the legislature. When he was warned to stop, he continued on, raising his voice in a cowardly attempt to be heard above the chairman of the legislature. It's amazing that Rivera has the audacity to give ANYONE a lecture on character and ethics. Did you forget that you were fired from your place of employment for using confidential company resources to dig up dirt on a political enemy? What about the repeated charges of petition fraud within your committee under your watch? Moronic hypocrite.

Following the Rivera fiasco is MallowMar-gie Swan. She gets up to rail on the legislature for its hiring of County Manager Greg Lewis, repeatedly stating that Lewis was brought in to close Mt. View. This prompted the always cool Renae Kimble to rise to her feet and metaphorically bitch-slap Swan for her ridiculously inaccurate statements. Swan was so uncomfortable, she looked like she was going to vomit on the lectern. It was classic TV. I'm actually kinda looking forward to the replay. What the hell is wrong with me?

February 3, 2009

Public Sector Goons

Because we're a bit pressed for time this morning, we're going to share with you a story about the sickening tactics used by public sector unions to attempt to threaten and intimidate Governor Paterson. The story is by Daily News Albany Bureau Chief Ken Lovett.

ALBANY - A war of words erupted Monday between Gov. Paterson and the health care industry over proposed cuts to hospitals and nursing homes. A TV ad decrying the cuts even featured a blind man in a wheelchair asking the legally blind Paterson, "Why are you doing this to me?"

Paterson's health commissioner, Richard Daines, a Mormon, shot back by quoting scriptures.
"There's a passage in Jeremiah that says something like, 'Foolish people who even having eyes do not see.' I think we're really concerned about people who have the eyes to see the problem and aren't choosing to see them."

The entire story can be found here.

February 2, 2009

Has Lewis Already Packed It In?

Niagara County appeared to be well represented at newly appointed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's first visit to Western New York. Gillibrand held a round table discussion with various elected officials and key stakeholders on Saturday at the UB Center of Excellence in Buffalo.

Representatives from Niagara included Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, Senator Antoine Thompson and County Legislator Clyde Burmaster.

What is curious is the absence of County Manager Greg Lewis, who was invited to attend. Just the day before, I had spoken to someone from the county who stated that Lewis had committed to participating in the round table discussion.

Now, we all know that Lewis' is looking for the first train out of Niagara County, and that's just fine with me. But, this guy is under contract and must continue to act in the best interest of our county. Maybe he has a legitimate excuse for missing the event, maybe he doesn't. Right now, we do not know.

Someone in the county legislature needs to stand up at the next meeting and ask Lewis where he was. A face-to-face meeting with our newest Senator is invaluable in cultivating the absolutely necessary relationship building that is so critical. Again, if Lewis had a reasonable excuse to miss this opportunity, that's fine.

Unfortunately our fear is that Lewis has already packed it in. He knows he's a short-termer, and he's not doing anything more than he absolutely needs to. That, my friends, is exactly why we need to know why he wasn't there. And if our fears are confirmed, he needs to be excused from his employment with the county.