February 26, 2010

Friday Ruminations

You've certainly heard about the latest mess Governor David Paterson finds himself in. What's even more interesting to follow is the rhetoric that follows from his Democratic colleagues in the state legislature. Take for instance, this gem from Syracuse-area State Senator David Valesky: New York State needs strong leadership. I am increasingly concerned about Governor Paterson’s ability to provide that leadership. Way to go out on a limb, Dave. Are you also concerned about the ability of rain to be wet?

Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel of Harlem, one of the most powerful members of Congress, looks like he's going to be joining Paterson on the sidelines....not soon enough as far as we're concerned. Rangel knowingly accepted Caribbean trips in violation of House rules that forbid hidden financing by corporations. Between Rangel, Paterson & Monserrate, we've got a new group of Three Amigos. Once thug Kevin Parker is convicted, they'll really have a party on their hands - women are advised to stay away.

New York State GOP candidate Rick Lazio is dead-on in his calling for presumed opponent and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to recuse himself in the investigation into the allegations against Paterson by the A.G.'s office. The entire planet knows that Cuomo is running against Paterson (though we wholeheartedly agree with Paterson's assertion that Cuomo needs to stop slinking in the shadows and to publicly state his positions on the issues). The last thing we need is a political hack like Cuomo overseeing the investigation of the man he will be challenging.

We're also highly sick of Harold Ford Jr. who for the past month and a half has been traveling the state speaking to any and every club, group, organization and association that will have him under the guise of "exploring" a run for Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and acts like a duck, it's a duck. Stop this charade and announce your intentions.

Antoine Thompson, teen power-lifter. Just watch it.

On the website of the local rag, the current poll question reads: It appears the last leagl hurdle has been cleared for Walmart to finally proceed with the proposed supercenter. Are you in favor of the store or not?

February 25, 2010

Falls Dems Fail to Save Dyster From Disastrous Photo Op

Word reaches us this morning that Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster’s dog-and-pony show at City Hall Wednesday night didn’t quite pan out. Back in the ‘60s, some hippie asked “What if they held a war and no one came?” Well, the apropos question to ask in Dyster’s case would be, “What if a failed politician held a photo op and no one came?”
OK, in fairness, that’s not really true. Niagara County Democratic Party lapdog Mark Scheer rushed down, reporter’s notebook in hand, hoping to write a story pleasing to his political masters, so he and a Gazette photographer were in attendance at least. But, by the account he published this morning, even Scheer had a hard time keeping a straight face, admitting “The mayor’s night in didn’t exactly pack them in at City Hall. But Mayor Paul Dyster said residents will get more chances to join him for private conversations in the future.”
What Scheer doesn’t write, but a source inside City Hall tells us, is that Dyster actually had to order City Manager Donna Owens to work the phones to bring warm bodies in as part of a last-ditch effort to save the photo op.
Of course, Owens’ dialing was a partial success, as she managed to bring in some “fresh” faces, like “local historian” Paul Gromosiak, a Democratic Party hack. And no, we’re not being mean by describing Gromosiak as a Democratic Party hack. The media have done as much themselves, referring to him in print as “Paul Gromosiak, a Falls historian and a Dyster supporter.
Not that Gromosiak was the only Democratic Party faithful dragged out to save Dyster from drowning: “Cayuga Drive resident” Vicki Johnstone-Graf was also in attendance, urging Dyster to try to turn Niagara Falls into Dollywood North. No, really. Of course, the Gazette really shortchanged a woman as accomplished as Ms. Johnstone-Graf. They failed to mention that she’s a top official with what is probably the largest labor union in the city.
Dyster’s failed photo op is very telling. Now, no one in their right mind believes city residents are content, considering this happened the same day someone sprayed a city house with bullets like something out of Beirut. So, the only reasonable conclusion is that people now realize that, with Dyster, all they’re going to get is a bunch of empty promises, airy rhetoric, and another two years of watching their city disintegrate around them.
Who wants to come out just to be a prop for another Dyster photo op?
EDITOR’S NOTE: I know some regular readers of this blog might have expected me to comment on the allegations swirling around Governor David Paterson this morning. The truth is, I’m not entirely sure what to think yet, except the obvious: coming so recently after the State Senate booted out girlfriend slasher Hiram Monserrate, strong allegations that Paterson and the New York State Police intervened to cover up violent domestic abuse by a top aide can’t be a good thing, either for Paterson, politically, or for New York State. We’ll be following this story closely, and will offer more commentary in coming days, but we want to watch for the dust to settle. But again, this doesn’t bode well for Paterson’s survival. Or that of yet another political hack State Police superintendent.

February 24, 2010

Demler Needs A Reality Check

It's been a heck of a week for former Wheatfield Supervisor Tim Demler. First the Buffalo News carries a story about Demler, through the town, providing cell phones to members of his family. Demler attempted to rationalize the giving of the phones to his friends and family by stating that the town actually made money by handing out the phones. Do you think he actually believes the bullshit that he spews?

WGRZ then picked up the piece. Demler once again attempts to defend the practice of giving town cell phones to his friends and family, but at least this time admits that "it was a bad judgment call". Ya think?

To top it off, WIVB had a story about buried ammunition in the backyards of homeowners in Wheatfield. It seems that about 11 years ago, ammunition, some of it still live, was buried in the yards of some town residents, and the DEC is now investigating this. Demler refused to comment on this one, so we'll add a little insight. Around 1999, the town bought tons of dirt to be used to fill in certain easements around the town. Instead, Demler directed town workers to place the dirt in planters and such around the town.

Problem was, the town ran out of the dirt that was supposed to fill in low spots. So Tim made a deal with a contractor who could provide low-cost dirt to the town. Demler never asked where the dirt came from. Turns out that this dirt was actually excavated from the property owned by a former ammunition manufacturer in the county. And it was loaded with live ammunition.

Now, since the dirt has made its way into the neighborhoods around town, Wheatfield has a problem on its hands.

It will be interesting to see if the DEC investigators are able to pull the history together. Knowing Demler, he likely made sure that any and all records of the transactions have disappeared.

What's sadly comical is that Demler continues to act like all of this is someone else's fault. He goes on TV with that smug little smile that he uses to seduce married women, thinking that it will make him believable. Even Monday, after the reports of the cell phone abuse started to come to light, Demler posted the following on his Facebook page: "Another GREAT day on the radio--12:15 1340 AM, (everyday). Good ratings ! Today is my Tracy's birthday--Nice dinner & lots of fun and thank you to Channel 2, Truthful story & exposure of the MORONS running our party & running our town---into the ground! Only 2 years of Cliffe & Helwig & New Taxes, I Hear there is some trouble coming for a certain attorney and some councilmen & missing water money? Stay Tuned!!"

I'm not what Channel 2 piece he saw, but the one I watched did not show him in a positive light - not by a long shot.

Considering that he is currently under investigation by the District Attorney, Attorney General, Comptroller and now the DEC, maybe it's time he learn the word "responsibility". He can go around claiming that all of this is politically motivated, but at some point, it all comes back to him and the way he conducted himself during his 14 years in office. The sooner he realizes this, the sooner he'll come to grips with what his future holds.

February 23, 2010

Soos Still Out Of Touch

As if the thrashing he received in November's elections wasn't enough to send a message to former North Tonawanda Mayor Larry Soos that the taxpayers had enough of his shenanigans, Soos is looking for new and innovative ways to stay on the public teet. Yes, just seven weeks after finishing his term as one of N.T.'s most underwhelming mayors in the city's history, Soos has filed for unemployment insurance through the city.

I hate to be the one to break the news to Soos, but elected officials who lose an election are not eligible for unemployment benefits. How he would not know this is somewhat curious. The other option is that he did know, but chose to move forward with the application anyway, hoping no one would catch on. Neither scenario paints a positive picture of Soos.

Of course, this is far from the first time that Soos has shown that he's out of touch. After all, it was Soos that gave us the infamous line while appearing on LCTV that the people of North Tonawanda are happy with their taxes, as seen in the video below. That video and quote were a big part of the campaign against Soos throughout last year's election. And on election night, Soos was baffled as to why he had only garnered 35% of the vote.

Soos should look at it this way: he was fired for cause by his employer, the people of North Tonawanda. You can't get unemployment insurance if the actions that got you fired harmed your employer deliberately. Obviously that's the perception that the people of N.T. had of the former mayor on election day.

As for Soos, well, you keep on being you, Larry. In the meantime, we'll hold on to that $400 a week for someone who legitimately needs it. Of course, maybe that Hope & Change thingy will work some of the stimulus funds your way. Hey...you never know.

February 22, 2010

NCCC Faculty Living In A World Of Denial

When I read this story in yesterday's Buffalo News about Niagara County Community College President James Klyczyk's desire to get a hold on the "unsustainable" salary levels at the school, my first thought was, "good luck with that Jim....the self-indulgent staff at NCCC aren't going to give up a damn thing".

The reporter articulates the usual points you'd find in any story about an overpaid, overstaffed and underwhelming public sector union. The college drives the point that salaries and benefits need to be brought in line, and the union leader cries like a little bitch that someone dares to attempt to infringe upon the very livelihood that his poor, poor members have worked so hard to achieve while sitting at a desk.

Look....just because you can't get a job in the real world and figured that it'd be easier to go teach Marketing 101 at an obscure community college, that doesn't mean anyone owes you a goddamn thing. There are thousands of people across the Western New York community that can do exactly what you do. I'd go as far as to venture that if Klyczek were to fire every single member of the faculty and replace them with a new set of applicants, the college, and the students, would not miss a beat.

The union's chief propaganda minister, Joe Colosi is having nothing to do with Klyczek's idea of reigning in salaries. "From our perspective, the administration is just asking for too much in the way of change over one contract", said Colosi. Well Joey, I've just appointed myself the head negotiator for the people of this community, and I'm telling you that you're asking for way too much from the taxpayers of Niagara County.

As nauseating as having to read about the leeches in the story is, the public comment section that follows the story is even more sickening. Obviously someone from the union made the phone call initiating the phone tree. Undoubtedly the message was to get on the Buffalo News message board to defend their existence. It is filled with comment after comment by the staff.

Comments include "the faculty would have been more than willing to work with the college to save money", "had Klyczek been more reasonable during our first round of negotiations, the faculty could have made some concessions", "the money problem is not with teachers it is with administration", "Where does it all go? Answer not to the teachers", "Its called "socialism", coming soon to your profession curtescy of the Buffalonews" (and yes, they spelled courtesy the way it's in the quote!), "President Klyczek has created a toxic and hostile environment at what used to be a great place to learn and teach", "Klyczek talks out of both sides of his mouth patronizing an outstanding and deeply committed group of professors", "Klyczek has created a vast divide between administration and faculty" and "Good will and good faith at the college is a thing of the past, a tradition that Klyczek ignores and is doing his best to destroy".

Fuck all of you whiny fuckers. Nobody owes you a fucking thing.

We're going to help Klyczek take care of this mess - go Ronald Reagan on their asses. Like Reagan did to the air traffic controllers in 1981, Klyczek needs to fire the whole damn bunch and start over. If air traffic can go on unimpeded after all of the controllers were shitcanned, I think Niagara County Community College would be just fine.

Is it dramatic? Sure it is. But we, the taxpayers, are not going to tolerate this bullshit anymore. Obama is spending trillions, the state is billions in debt, school taxes are out of control and the only one getting screwed is the taxpayer. Enough is enough.

February 19, 2010

Wine In Grocery Stores A Horrible Idea

As Joe Olenick of the Tonawanda News covers in this piece, Governor David Paterson is once again proposing the sale of wine in grocery and convenience stores as a part of his 2010-11 state budget. Paterson estimates that the change in state law will generate an additional $162 million in revenue for the state. It's a bad, bad idea, especially for Niagara County and our economy.

As anyone who is familiar with the grocery industry knows, virtually every product in a grocery store is placed there by the manufacturer at a cost. Products that are placed at eye level, the premium spot to appeal to the consumer, generate the highest revenues for grocery stores. Therein lies the problem.

Grocery and convenience outlets will have a specific, limited location for wine, and that location will go to the highest bidder. Giants of the industry, companies like Gallo Winery, Constellation Brands, Bronco Wine Company and The Wine Company, as well as foreign wine manufacturers who have the resources and desire to enter the U.S. market, will buy their way into that limited space, and the local manufacturer will get squeezed out.

Local wine manufacturers have invested millions of dollars into cultivating the wine industry in Niagara County, and that industry is thriving. Wineries such as those that are part of the Niagara Wine Trail are a crucial part of the local economy, and they rely on locally-owned wine and liquor stores to promote and sell their product. Never in a million years will these locally grown brands have the financial resources to be able to compete with the industry giants for that crucial shelf space. If the local wineries can't sell their product, they won't have a product. VoilĂ  - it's the end of a vibrant contributor to the local economy.

In this case, Paterson is offering a short term solution to a long term problem. Not long after the increase in revenue that would be generated, revenue that barely puts a dent in the state's $8 billion budget deficit, the reality of closed liquor stores, abandoned wineries and thousands of lost jobs will set in.

One could also question Paterson's motivation on this issue. Is it a coincidence that shortly before proposing the notion of selling wine in grocery stores, he received $25,000 in campaign contributions from a large liquor-industry distributor? Considering the dire straits of his fundraising efforts, it would hardly be a stretch to state that he is motivated not so much by what is in the best long term interests of the state, as opposed to his own short term goals as a politician.

New York's wine regions cross the entire state. Unfortunately this legislation, in addition to being proposed by Paterson, is being driven by Democrats from New York City, an area not exactly known for its wineries. But to get it passed in the State Senate, one of the five upstate Dems is going to have to break ranks with his party. Let's see which one, in reality it had better be all five, who has the balls to do the right thing.

February 18, 2010

R.I.P. Chris Richbart

We'd like to take a moment to express our condolences to the family and friends of Chris Richbart, the Director of Niagara County's Office of the Aging who passed away last week.

Chris was dedicated to serving the senior citizens and elderly of our community and did so as avidly as anyone who has held the position.

As we all know, Niagara County has an aging population. Chris very quietly touched the lives of thousands of people across the county, working to address their issues and to improve the quality of life of so many without fanfare and accolades. He will be missed.

Chris was 44 years-old and leaves a wife and four children.

February 17, 2010

DelMonte Town Hall Turns Ugly

Word has been pouring into Niagara Times over the past 12 hours of accusations of thuggery and intimidation at the hands of Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte at her Town Hall meeting at the LaSalle Branch of the Niagara Falls library last night.

Delmonte, who held the third in a series of four meeting across her district, apparently brought an army of young punks whose sole purpose was to inhibit the ability of Francine's constituents to ask her any questions she deemed inappropriate.

She started the meeting by introducing a young man who we're told was there to videotape the meeting as part of his college government class as "a republican photographer". No one knows how the hell she came to that conclusion.

Things deteriorated from there.

In acts of intimidation that would have made the old Local 91 proud, DelMonte strategically positioned her goon squad around the room. Her Legislative Director, Nicky Melson, then directed the punks via text message where to stand and what to say. Melson, at DelMonte's direction, moved the team about the room with the explicit purpose of impeding the videotaping of the event. At one point, we're told, one of DelMonte's guys made physical contact with the young man attempting to video the public meeting. This is after repeatedly intentionally standing in front of the young man, forcing him to move his position multiple times.

DelMonte, obviously rattled by questions asked of her at the two previous town hall meetings, placed her goons throughout the room. When constituents would ask questions, the goons were literally shouting down the persons asking the questions. It was described to us as "a sickening display by DelMonte and her minions to kill the democratic process".

Now, we've made no secret of our disdain for DelMonte, so some may state that we're giving just one side of the story. But from what we're told, a reporter from the Niagara Gazette was at the meeting, and the methods employed by DelMonte, Melson and the rest of the goon squad were far from subtle. It will be very interesting to see if the Gazette actually has the balls to report on what everyone else in the room saw as plain as day.

It's obvious that the prospect of the upcoming campaign season is already getting to DelMonte, and it's only February. If these are the tactics that she is going to employ for the next nine months, she has lost the right to hold public office. Let's hope the people of the 138th Assembly District agree.

February 16, 2010

Gazette Piece A Disservice to Race Issues

Yesterday's Niagara Gazette article about minority hiring in the City of Niagara Falls was an interesting look at current and past hiring practices within the school district, the police and fire departments and within the city itself. The piece also incorporates commentary from members of the minority community, including Rev. Harvey Kelley, the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church on Buffalo Avenue and Bill Bradberry, chairman of the city’s human rights commission and president of the local chapter of the NAACP.

The piece looks at a plethora of statistical data, breaking down the employment ratios of each of the entities by race. It also includes statements from leaders of the city, the police and fire departments and the school district. The common theme throughout the piece is that each of the entities must to a better job of increasing minority hiring. We agree - the employees of a municipality should represent the population of the municipality.

What the article fails to address is why the city, the school district, the police department and the fire department do not have the level of minority employees that mirrors the make-up of the population. At no time does it appear that any of the reporters who contributed to the story, Mark Scheer, Rick Pfeiffer and Nick Mattera, asked the question that needed to be asked to complete the story: "To what do you attribute the disparity between the community's population and the lack of minorities on each of the entity's payroll?" It's not exactly irrelevant, and frankly, it's disingenuous not to ask the question. Yes, it's easy to fill columns and columns of a newspaper with facts and figures, but it does little to get to the heart of the issue.

Maybe minorities are not applying for positions. Maybe they are aware of the positions, but are not interested in working for any of the entities. Maybe the residency requirements discourage people from applying. But more likely than not minorities in the city are not applying for any of these positions because we've cultivated generations of welfare recipients who find it easier to stay home and have the taxpayers subsidize every aspect of their lives.

As the piece states, "Bradberry believes the city could do a better job of promoting the availability of jobs to minority candidates and should be doing more to help minority candidates navigate their way through the Civil Service process. " Why? Do you believe that minorities are less capable of finding what jobs are available and applying for those jobs than whites? Because that's certainly what you're implying when you state that a group of people should get extra help based solely on the color of their skin.

If last year's presidential election taught us anything, it taught us that any person, regardless of race, creed, color or religious belief can become the most powerful man in the world. No one is denied the opportunity to be anything he wants to be. But no one should be giving anyone anything. I go to work every day and I don't ask anyone for a handout. Why should someone, simply because of their race, get help navigating his way through anything? Everyone has the same opportunity. If one person takes advantage of the opportunity and one person doesn't why should the person who doesn't get on iota of sympathy?

The blame doesn't lie with the respective administrations. It lies with a society and a culture that not only discourages people from going out and being productive members of society, but rewards them to stay home, reproduce and continue to burden society. Until that mindset changes, along with the sense of entitlement that accompanies it, puff pieces like the Gazette story do nothing to address the issue. And that's a shame.

February 12, 2010

DelMonte's Twisted Justifications

We've talked several times about Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte's stealing of the county's share of the casino revenues and diverting them to Niagara Falls for, as she claimed, road repairs. Other cities and towns had used their share to fund tourism and economic development initiatives across the county. Delmonte has stood by her decision, despite the fact that the city has used the share that was taken from the county for very similar purposes, including a New Year's Eve ball drop and a series of concerts.

Her hypocrisy runs past deep, straight into the abyss.

Subsequently, an astute follower of this blog told us that at DelMonte's Town Hall meeting in Newfane Wednesday night, she blamed the county's lawsuits against NYPA and the City of Niagara Falls for equitable distribution of the casino revenues as the reason that the festivals and events that had previously benefited from the casino revenues will now suffer from a lack of funds. She stated to someone who had questioned her on the issue, "if the county stopped spending money on litigation, they'd still have money for the festivals. Your issue is with the county".

This is problematic for her. She is stating publicly that she opposes the county's litigation efforts to reverse the state's $550 million sweep of New York Power Authority funds, revenues that are primarily generated on the backs of Niagara County residents. If she opposes this litigation, she supports the sweep. That's sickening, and she's sickening for putting the interests of Sheldon Silver and his New York City pals over the interests of the people who put her pathetic ass in office.

Her actions of snaking the minuscule share of the casino revenues away from the other towns in her district and re-allocating those dollars to Niagara Falls are nothing but a great, big F*** YOU to those towns. And she has the nerve to blame the county legislature, the only governmental body in this county looking out for her constituents. The irony is that she is blaming the county for initiating legislation caused by her actions. How she fails to see this and how she continues to deny her role and responsibility in this is mind-boggling.

Fortunately, the voters in this state are starting to wake up, as evidenced by Republicans winning three of four special Assembly elections Tuesday. The voters are beginning to understand that one party rule is a bad thing. They see that having every statewide elected official, the Senate and the Assembly under the control of the Democratic Party is a disaster.

Delmonte knows that she's going to have a problem in November, that's why she's out there holding this series of town hall meetings - she knows that it's time to get into election mode, that she has plenty of damage control to do to try to justify her horrible decisions. Unfortunately for her, some pretty prominent names are being floated about as possible challengers. Fortunately for the voters, they'll have the opportunity to dump DelMonte. Let's hope they don't blow it.

February 11, 2010

Thompson's Actions On Monserrate Simply Despicable

We've talked about New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate before, including pieces here, here and this post, in which we speculated as to whether Senator Antoine Thompson would support Monserrate, the lawmaker convicted in the assault on his girlfriend. In case you don't recall, he was charged with slashing his girlfriend's face with a broken glass and then forcibly pulling her down a hall on the way to the hospital.

Two nights ago the Senate voted to expel Monserrate. When we got word that Thompson was one of a handful of Senators who opposed the expulsion of Monserrate, we immediately began a post condemning Thompson. As more news of the vote became public, some confusion arose on our end as to whether to not Thompson had supported or opposed the expulsion vote. Apparently, we were not alone. In fact, it seems that Thompson himself is unsure of how he voted.

As this piece by Tom Precious of the Buffalo News states, two times after the vote Thompson told the media that he "did not vote yes", obviously leaving just one other option, that being that he voted no. But the record shows Thompson as a "yes" vote, meaning that officially, he supported the expulsion. So why was he telling the media that he opposed the expulsion of Monserrate when he was recorded in the affirmative? Because he misspoke due to his being tired and groggy.

Even as Precious sought to get clarification on his vote, Thompson continued to wallow in the world of ambiguity, saying "I voted for the bill even though I thought the due process [for Monserrate] should have played out". Thompson opposed the resolution, but was unable to make his way to his chair to cast his overwhelming support for his colleague who slashed his girlfriend's face, requiring 40 stitches. What an inspiration.

Antoine Thompson attempted to deceive the Senate, his constituents and the people of the State of New York. His excuse of being tired and groggy is despicable. If he is not up to the physical and mental rigors of being a state senator, he should resign. In addition, he continues to fail the people he was elected to represent, repeatedly casting his votes based on his desire to curry favor with the New York City-based leadership that leads his caucus, as opposed to what's best for his district.

The public comments in the Precious piece are harsh, but they express the ongoing frustration that the people of the 60th Senate District have with Thompson. We share that frustration. Thompson has shown time and time again that he is unfit to serve in his current capacity. He is widely believed to be the least intelligent person in the Senate, and he does little to dispel that image. If the Democratic Party endorses him for another term, it will be an injustice to the people of the district. If the voters are idiotic enough to send him back to Albany, they deserve what they get. Unfortunately, the rest of us will suffer for it.

February 10, 2010

Gibbs' Action Classless

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is a classless piece of shit. Taking a page out of a 5th-grader's handbook, Gibbs mocked Sarah Palin by writing a list of words on his hand. Yes, Palin had written some words on her hand at a Tea party event, but seriously, what is Gibbs hoping to achieve by stooping to such a low level?

Did she leave herself open to some criticism? Sure, but it should be on Saturday Night Live, not at a White House press briefing. This is another show of arrogance from the Obama administration, and one more reason for people to be completely disgusted by the people Obama has chosen to surround himself with.

February 9, 2010


Our Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama, does not have the common courtesy to properly pronounce the word "corpsman" when trying to express condolences for an American soldier killed in combat. Obviously the person feeding his teleprompter doesn't review the lies, errrr, script with Obama before he opens his mouth. How disgustingly disrespectful.

February 8, 2010

Let The Rhetoric Begin (Updated)

(Update: Boy, my post below already has generated some interesting email. From Newfane, one person told me that the principal at Newfane Elementary has issued a directive to teachers that NO STUDENTS ARE TO BE RETAINED. Furthermore, teachers are not to raise the issue of any special education testing with parents either during conferences. The speculation is that the school board apparently will balance its budget on the backs of children who actually need the help.

Well, this is what you get when you have a school board member who complained that her son had to do school work over break and then he gets busted selling pot in the school parking lot just a few weeks ago. What's the saying that the fish rots from the head down.)

Education is important
. I think you'd find few people who would disagree that statement. But in the face of Governor David Paterson's proposed budget cuts to education funding, the rhetoric and hyperbole are in full swing.

In the Lockport School District, where preliminary reports indicate that the funding cuts would lead to the elimination of 23 jobs and the closing of one elementary school, Superintendent Terry Carbone is urging the public to contact state legislators to ask them to reject the proposed reductions. Carbone went on to say that passing the cuts would "put our most natural resource, our students, in jeopardy." Fire up that hyperbole train, Terry.

Sadly, anytime a school district is faced with a budgetary issue, it always seems to be putting the students in jeopardy. Frankly, I'm goddamn sick of it, and I don't think I'm alone.

First of all, consolidation of the Lockport School District is way overdue. Eight elementary schools in a community the size of Lockport is completely ludicrous. Christine Neal was the only superintendent in the history of the district who had the courage to broach the topic of consolidation, and she was run out of town by a group of gutless cowards.

Secondly, the district has continued to add personnel at an alarming rate over the past decade, despite a declining population and student enrollment.

Thirdly, why does it always have to be the kids to take the hit? When was the last time anyone ever heard a district official or a teacher's union say "hey, we know things are tough, we won't take a pay raise this year to help out the district"? Ummmmmm, how about never.

Fourthly, we all know that the tax burden in Niagara County is heavy. We also know that the overwhelming majority of that burden is driven by school taxes. No one cares, as Carbone says, that "per-resident tax rate has not increased in the past six years". We care about right here and right now.

She reminds me of the Niagara County Legislature back in the early 2000's when after raiding the fund balance to keep the tax rate down for six years, they raised taxes 22%. No one cared about the six previous years, they just knew that they had to choke on a massive increase because of the financial smoke & mirrors game. Think about that before you try to use that as a rationalization, Terry.

The New York State teachers' union (NYSUT) is the most powerful lobby in the state. They raise and spend millions of dollars in elections, and they threaten candidates with their endorsement or lack thereof on a regular basis if a candidate does not bow to their pressure. Meanwhile, the taxpayers continually get screwed. By the way, New York State spends more per student than any other state in the nation on education, but regularly finishes in the middle of the pack when compared to other states. This state is the epitome of the old saying "throwing good money after bad", and it needs to stop.

I don't care if the Lockport School District cuts 100 jobs and closes five schools. And yes, I have kids in the district.

I am sick and tired of hearing how devastating it will be to the kids if they have more than 17 kids in a classroom. When I was in elementary school, we had 30 kids in a classroom, and most of us received a sufficient education. When this "standard" of 20 kids in a classroom became acceptable, I have no idea, but it's garbage. I'm going to go out on a limb and prognosticate that it was driven by NYSUT.

The bottom line is that every district in the state will be impacted by budget cuts. How they handle it will tell the difference. As a taxpayer, I'm telling the district that I cannot shoulder anymore of this burden. Do what you need to do to keep any tax increase to an absolute minimum. And don't fret so much about the kids - they're much more resilient than you give them credit for.

February 5, 2010

In Buffalo, Crime DOES Pay

In a ridiculous puff-piece for something called the “CEO Buffalo: the Center for Employment Opportunities in Buffalo,” Buffalo News reporter Lou Michel breathlessly informs us: “‘They love the routine. They like getting up in the morning and working, cashing the check at the end of the day and going home,” [Jeff Conrad, director of CEO Buffalo] said.”

Oh…did we mention who “they” are, as in “they love the routine”? Uh, that would be criminals. Paroled convicts. Felons. Scumbags who have stolen, bludgeoned, defrauded, raped and murdered their way into New York State’s prison system.

The article, accompanied by a well-lighted photo of Conrad and a grinning Ralph F. Smith, doesn’t really ponder the terror that the clients of this million-plus-dollar employment center put in the hearts of their victims. It just dryly notes that Smith, for one, “served three years in prison on a robbery conviction.” But Lou Michel doesn’t bother to ask Smith’s victims what they think of Smith’s new found opportunities.

So, who’s paying for this program? Well, you, of course. New York State’s dimwitted governor, David Paterson, just kicked $1.2 million over to CEO Buffalo to support its efforts to find cushy jobs for the criminal set. Of course, this $1.2 million for scumbag criminals comes along at precisely the same time Paterson is looking to ram through more income tax hikes, cut school aid, and tax every single ounce of non-diet pop you drink. But, hey, at least Ralph F. Smith “likes getting up in the morning and…cashing the check at the end of the day.” That’s what’s really important.

So, where did this idiotic idea come from, anyway? Well, the Erie County Democratic Party, of course. Denise O’Donnell, a Democrat Party hack from Buffalo, who is married to doughy State Supreme Court Justice John O’Donnell, was the visionary behind this soft-on-crime senselessness. Like her useless husband, O’Donnell is getting fat off the taxpayers with a government job her felon friends should consider applying for: she’s the Assistant Secretary to the Governor for Criminal Justice in the Paterson Administration.

Call us old-fashioned, but we always kinda figured that the Assistant Secretary to the Governor for Criminal Justice was supposed to be the sort of person who didn’t care to see criminals coddled.

Of course, in the idiots at CEO Buffalo, she has plenty of kindred spirits: “CEO Buffalo pays each worker minimum wage for four days of work a week, and on the fifth day the workers rotate into the office for employment grooming aimed at moving them into the private sector with lessons in job interviewing techniques and resume writing.”

“‘They work four days a week out in the field, and on the fifth day, they meet with the job coach, and she tries to find out what barriers would prevent them from succeeding in finding employment,’ said Conrad.”

Um, we’re going to go out on a limb and guess that the biggest barrier preventing them from succeeding in finding employment is that they’re criminals. And as an aside, do they really need help in resume-writing and job interview techniques? Because in a just society, they’d be filling out applications for the kind of jobs they are qualified for: dishwasher at Denny’s, grocery bagger at Tops, things like that. Why? Well, because THEY’RE CRIMINALS. THEY’RE BAD PEOPLE.

When George Pataki became governor, one of his first acts was to restore the death penalty to New York State. New York sure could use a governor with such a clear-eyed understanding of crime and punishment again.

February 4, 2010

Air Pelosi: Like a Frat Party from Hell

The inherent left-wing tilt of the mainstream media has been in full view this past week as the members of the Fourth Estate have, by and large, ignored a story about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that would have already brought down virtually any Republican politician guilty of similar behavior.
For those of us who pay regular attention to political news, this has been brewing for a good three years. Shortly after San Fran Nan became Speaker of the House, she began demanding military aircraft to transport her between Washington and San Francisco every weekend. A year ago, the right-wing activist lawyers at Judicial Watch made a bit of a splash by demonstrating through Freedom of Information Act requests that the Speaker was using military aircraft “like a personal airline.”
Well, now we know that the botoxed socialist has run up at least $3.2 million in charges to the American taxpayer (that’d be YOU) to fly her and her family off to various exotic and mundane locales. Actually, frequently the passengers being shuttled around were just her adult children—no Madame Speaker in sight, accounting for $2.1 million of that bill. It gets better, though: $101,000 of that pricetag is the bar tab.
A $101,000 bar tab over the course of two years: That means the average bar and grocery bill on Air Pelosi was a cool thousand bucks a week! Now, at Casa de Hobbes, we’re gearing up for Sunday’s Big Game. We’re planning on have quite a few friends over. And we went out and bought food, adult beverages, football-shaped chip bowls, plates with Colts logos, etc. and had a hard time spending more than $150. So, what kind of frat party from hell must she have been throwing week in and week out on the U.S. taxpayer’s tab to spend $101,000?
And come to think of it, why in hell are we responsible for her bar tab anyway? Did she only fly on ladies’ night? Or does the federal government pick up all of its employees’ bar tabs when they travel? Because, with the federal payroll beefing up to 2.15 million employees this year, that could get pretty expensive—and we’ll be sending our employment application in right away.
Watching government, we’ve learned that no party is immune from the piggy behavior of some of its elected officials. But it sure seems like Nancy Pelosi has an awful big sense of entitlement. And it irks us to no end that she expects us to pay for it, and that, other than Fox, no one in the news media seems to think this issue is worth reporting on.
Pelosi needs to be held accountable. We don’t know what this fall’s elections portend, but if the GOP does take back either house of Congress, we’d hope someone would decide to give Speaker Pelosi’s receipts the once-over.
We just hope the taxpayers don't end up getting stuck buying another round.

February 3, 2010

Why We Just Can’t Take Niagara Falls Seriously

Sometimes, an article like one in today’s Niagara Gazette just makes us repeatedly smack our forehead, roll our eyes, and debate whether to laugh or cry.

It seems that, and here, we’re going to just quote the Gazette verbatim, “According to a representative from the state Education Department, Mia Bianco, daughter of district Superintendent Cynthia Bianco, has been employed since August 2002 without meeting state teacher certification requirements.”

Now, that in itself is bad enough, but this paragraph compounds the stupidity: “District Superintendent Cynthia Bianco said the issue surrounding her daughter was an oversight and that she was fully qualified to work in her capacity with the district.”

Uh, an eight-year oversight? Really? You mean to tell us that the district superintendent doesn’t know the state requirements for district employees and doesn’t know whether her own daughter meets those guidelines?

Okay, either Bianco is a really bad superintendent who doesn’t know the rules that apply to her own educational staff, or she wants us to believe she has no idea about her own daughter’s educational attainment. Neither is a comforting prospect. One is incompetence, the other, well, we’ll let our readers choose whatever word they’re most comfortable with.

We always shied away from criticism of Niagara Falls Superintendent Carm Granto, even though his hiring practices, which amounted to turning an entire school system into a friends and family jobs program, were repugnant. We didn’t shed tears when he went down for his lax accounting practices, but we didn’t pile on, because, frankly, Granto probably did about as good a job as anyone could, given the inherent problems of the Falls District.

But his legacy is that, like something out of a bad Third World banana republic, his own sister took over the district when he left in disgrace. And she then, apparently, decided that the rules only apply to other people—not members in good standing of the friends and family program.

Yesterday, we read that the Niagara Falls School District was aggressively pursuing several more employees who violated the district’s residency rules, and we generally applaud that action. However, if the choice is competent employees who actually meet the criteria to teach, but live outside the district, or unqualified friends and family who happen to live on the right side of a line on a map, we’ll take the former.

February 2, 2010

NYPA Still Doesn’t Get It

We were dismayed to learn that our old friend Richard “Call me Richie” Kessel’s BS hasn’t changed much, even with Sen. George Maziarz in a position to really start having an impact on his decision-making process. The problem is, he started so many bad processes in motion before Maziarz became head of the Senate Energy Committee that it’s going to take some serious efforts to rein him in.
Oh, sure, Richie told us back in July that he really, really wants to help Niagara County. He really, really wants to help us reap greater benefits from the power generated here, using our natural resources. It’s just that old habits die hard.
And taking care of his old buddies on Long Island is Richie’s oldest habit of all, dating to his not-so-long-ago tenure heading up the Long Island Power Authority.
It seems that, back in December, Richie decided it would be a great idea to give away some more of the hydropower produced here in Lewiston to downstate interests. Local leaders like the Legislature’s Economic Development Committee Chairman Rick Updegrove, Chairman Bill Ross, and Economic Development Commissioner Sam Ferraro are trying to persuade NYPA to provide a little more energy for things like local economic development. The county’s “Empower Niagara” program has helped create a significant number of local jobs. So did NYPA acceding to demands that it help entice Yahoo! and Globe Specialty Metals to our region. The net effect has been hundreds of jobs coming to the region.
When local officials approached NYPA for a couple more megawatts, they were told sorry, no deal, there’s none to spare.
So how the hell does Richie justify giving power for free to a federal agency? This isn’t some business that is looking at its balance sheets. It’s a big, politically-protected federal laboratory run by, of all things, the U.S. Department of Energy. And Richie decides to give them low-cost electricity. To us, that seems like giving ice to an Eskimo.
To make matters worse, though, Richie only scheduled hearings on this matter in Long Island. Yeah, there will be some useful introspection there. That’s sorta like the cops asking a mugger if he feels like his victim had enough money in his wallet.
This week, Maziarz called out NYPA and demanded local hearings, and given his new oversight role over energy issues in the state, we’re willing to be he gets his way. He’s right to do so. But that’s only half the equation.
If we get our hearings, local residents need to turn out in force and make sure Richie delivers on his promises. And they sure as hell need to tell Richie that Barack Obama’s Energy Department doesn’t need free electricity.

February 1, 2010

Dyster Hardly Pushes The Envelope

This is likely to shock a few people, but we'd like to commend Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster for his "I don't quit"-themed speech last week. Dyster had better not quit, because the city is in rough shape.

In his State of the City, Dyster acknowledged that the city “still has a way to go.” He also promised not to "neglect the many areas that still need to be addressed.” That's going to be a long list, Paul.

We've been critical of the city, and rightly so - there have been a multitude of failures and few successes to look back on. But the reality is that it is important to our region to have a thriving city, and Dyster knows this. That being said, he's got his work cut out for him. Words are easy to deliver, results will be much more of a challenge.

We would have liked to see more substance in Dyster's immediate future plans above his intentions to continue road repairs, but that's about as far as he went. What he needs to focus on, and we've said it before, is cultivating an atmosphere that will turn the day tripper into the overnight tripper. That will not be an easy task, but it needs to be a priority.

He also needs to get tough with the real estate speculators who own too much property in the city, and are doing nothing with it. The continued sight of a vacant Third Street is downright depressing.

Dyster set the bar - not too high, but he set it nonetheless. We're willing to give him the opportunity to jump over it....for now.