December 23, 2011

Schimminger's Problem

This piece in the Buffalo News a few days ago highlighting Assemblyman Robin Schimminger's bucking of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor Andrew Cuomo on two key policy votes touches on the possibility of repercussions against Schimminger by Cuomo in the 2012 election cycle. Cuomo had supposedly threatened to campaign against members of the Assembly GOP caucus if the group didn't vote unanimously for Cuomo's budget bill. Schimminger ended up being one of just two Assembly Dems to vote against the measure.

The vote, as the piece depicts, was quite out of character for Schimminger, who's primarily been a "go along to get along" type of guy during his 35 years in the Assembly. This anomaly, however big or small in the eyes of the beholder, has not gone unnoticed by the governor's office.

For the record, we like Cuomo - so far. He's gotten a handle on the state's budget woes and we like his take no prisoners approach to getting things done. Sort of like Eliot Spitzer and his "I'm a fucking steamroller" approach, but with a certain flair and panache that Spitzer severely lacked. Given the state of the state, we need drastic measures to be taken by people with the will, fortitude and vision to turn around the most dysfunctional state government in the country. That's why we know that, even with Tom Precious highlighting a potential election problem for Schimminger from Cuomo, the issue runs deeper than that.

Niagara Times has learned that some folks quite close to Cuomo have participated in discussions with North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, the popular Republican, about challenging Schimminger in 2012. While that news may come as a shock to some, it frankly isn't all that surprising given Cuomo's penchant for reaching across political aisles to accomplish what he wants.If Schimminger isn't with him, he's against him.

With New York State is going through a redistricting process that will see most Senate, Assembly and Congressional districts take on different shapes, the timing works. Schimminger currently represents most of North Tonawanda and the city and town of Tonawanda. With Silver controlling the Assembly redistricting, and Schimminger on the outs with him, there's a strong likelihood that Schimminger's district will look a whole lot different come petition time. Given the run Kevin Stocker took at him in 2010, combined with a much less politically-friendly district, Schimminger could be very vulnerable next year. Don' think for one second that these facts have escaped Mr. Cuomo's attention. 

December 14, 2011

Random Thoughts

Memo to headline writers at the Niagara Gazette: The use of the headline "NU shooting off target in loss to Drexel" is probably a little insensitive since it was run less than a week after a Niagara University student was shot and killed.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster dodged a bullet (see above) when the city council failed to garner enough votes to slash the salaries of City Administrator Donna Owens and City Engineer Jeff Skurka by $20k each. Dyster should get whatever he needs to get done before Jan.1st, when the dynamic of the council will change significantly.

We are very saddened by the death of Rocky, a Niagara County German Shepard police dog who fell to his death while searching an abandoned building in Niagara Falls on Dec. 4th. Condolences to the department and Deputy Craig Beiter.

Western New York got over $100 million in economic development funds and tax credits from the state, which is certainly good news. That being said, am I the only one who thinks there is WAY too much emphasis being put on the Buffalo Medical Campus concept? I hope I'm wrong, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Speaking of Buffalo, the city is getting $15 million in federal funding to return cars to a section of Main Street that had been blocked off for pedestrian-only traffic in the 80s. Rank that decision right up there with Urban Renewal. If you've ever walked that section of Main St, you know what a decrepit hole it is.

The Buffalo Bills suck. Now officially eliminated from the playoffs, that makes 12 consecutive seasons without a post season bid, the longest streak of futility in the league. But you keep BILLieving, Buffalo fans. Maybe someday the team's focus will be putting a competitive product on the field, not only their marketing efforts.

Speaking of Buffalo sports, Ryan Miller blows too. If Terry Pegula were dead, he'd be rolling over in his grave at the performance of this team.

Oh, and is anyone surprised that former Sabre Matt Barnaby has been arrested twice in the last month? He was a nutbag on the ice - do you honestly believe that his on-ice behavior and antics stop when he unlaces his skates? Domestic abuse and drunk driving. Of course, Buffalo sports fans will continue to cheer this scumbag wherever he goes, despite the fact that he likes to beat up women.

The Seneca Nation is currently holding back $350 million owed to NYS because the Senecas believe the state has violated their casino compact by setting up racinos at area racetracks. We agree with the Senecas and hope they hold out however long it takes to get the state to understand the meaning of the word "agreement".

If the GOP doesn't get a consensus-building candidate, Obamination will win another term. Romney sucks and Gingrich can't beat Obama.

Former NJ governor, US Senator and MF Global CEO Jon Corzine still can't explain where $1.2 billion in company funds went. This guy is so crooked, he almost makes me want to become an OWSer. Yeah....nevermind, I prefer employment, showers and to not be surrounded by the slime that has infiltrated this supposed OWS "movement".

December 12, 2011

Comptroller DelMonte?

Well placed sources have told Niagara Times that the former State Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, who lost to John Ceretto in 2010, is poised to become the next Comptroller on the City of Niagara Falls. This news, of course, will likely come as a shock to current Comptroller Maria Brown.

After losing to Ceretto, DelMonte has searched high and low for a job, to no avail. She's tried to call in every favor she possibly could, but no one has shown any inclination to help her. Frankly, this speaks volumes about DelMonte. Her adversarial and divisive ways of interacting with people have always been her Achilles heel, and that was proven in last year's election. Even since the election, she has shown what an petty tyrant she is, from wiping out all of her public files and computer records to her refusal to ever congratulate Ceretto to her most recent unintelligible rants on social media outlets.

Nobody wants to be associated with her, so no one has given her a job - thus the nearly 12 months of unemployment. That being said, the one ally she has kept close is Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, who barely squeaked out a win over Johnny Destino last month. While Dyster's own political capital is virtually non-existent, he does control a few jobs here and there, including Comptroller. That's where DelMonte comes in.

"Paul Dyster does like DelMonte, but more than that, he's afraid of her," said a source within the county Democrats. "He knew that if he didn't make this deal with her to appoint her Comptroller, she would not support him in the election. Given how close his race with Destino was, it looks like he made the right decision."

"The problem now for Dyster is that it's time to pay the piper," said the source. "Given the strength of Maria Brown's political connections, he will undoubtedly face some political pressure to leave Maria in place or find another spot in his administration for her." Brown is married to Pat Brown of Brown & Company, an accounting firm who has donated generously to local Democrats.

It will be interesting to see if DelMonte's postpones her retirement, which she filed a few months ago. Given her age and 30 years working off the public teet, DelMonte is poised to rake in about $60k a year, state-tax free, along with free lifetime health insurance. Would DelMonte have the audacity to take the city's six figure salary on top of the bounty she'll be reaping courtesy of the state? We'll likely know soon enough.

December 9, 2011

Dyster Fails to Deliver on Economic Development Funds

You'd be hard pressed to find many people in Western New York who aren't extremely pleased with yesterday's announcement that our five county region will reap over $100 million in state government cash and tax incentives for economic development. As we've stated many times, our region has failed to see the economic boom that much of the country has enjoyed over the past couple decades. While these funds are far from a panacea, they could give Western New York a nice little boost.

That being said, we believe we have found someone who is far from pleased with yesterday's announcement of funds for Western New York: Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. In a nutshell, Dyster got squatoosh.

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council made the pipedream Niagara Experience Center (NEC) in Niagara Falls a significant focal point of their presentation. Clearly that was to appease the incessant whining of Dyster to see this ridiculous $100 million waste of time, energy and resources come to fruition.

In the end, the NEC didn't make the cut, but Dyster's woes don't end there. From what we estimate, 22 different projects in Niagara County were approved for funding or tax credits. Of the 22, only one project submitted by the City of Niagara Falls was approved: $102,440 for LaSalle Waterfront Park. Frankly, that's pathetic.

That doesn't mean that Niagara County as a whole didn't make out quite well; we did. Three projects applied for by the City of North Tonawanda were approved for over $1 million. The City of Lockport was awarded over $900,000. Even Newfane got $63,800 to upgrade marina facilities. But it doesn't end there. NCCC got $2 million for its culinary school. Artpark got nearly $400,000 for improvements. The Niagara Wine Trail got $30k for marketing. The NFTA got $970k for a master plan for the Niagara Falls International Airport (which is in Wheatfield). The list goes on and on. Niagara Falls got dick. We're really starting to get the feeling that someone in Albany doesn't much care for the overbearing Dyster.

Other than the NEC, we don't know is what else the city applied for, and thus, what was rejected, if anything. Frankly, it wouldn't surprise us one bit if Dyster put all of his eggs in one basket, the NEC. He's just that arrogant and foolish.

As the Buffalo News piece states, a total of 720 projects were funded statewide, totaling $785.5 million in cash and tax breaks. Niagara Falls got one project for $100k. Coincidence? Doubt it.

December 8, 2011

Kudos to NY on Millionaire's Tax

I'm a Republican - always have been and always will be. I adhere to virtually every facet of the Republican mantra, including lower taxes and less government intervention in our lives. That's why some of my friends, both Republican and Democrat, seem very surprised that I would support the millionaire's tax in New York.

The measure, which passed the state legislature, will raise about $2 billion dollars in revenue for the state while implementing a minicsule tax increase on couples earning over $2,000,000 (a bracket I'll never see).  Those in my range, between $40k and $300k, will see a tax decrease. More than four million New Yorkers will see their taxes go down.

I've often said New York doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. While the increase on the wealthy would seem to contradict that premise, the state must take steps to alleviate the tax burden on homeowners and small business. This measure is a step in the right direction, buying Cuomo and the state legislature a little more time to address other, larger issues, such as pension costs and Medicaid.

That being said, we're still waiting for Cuomo to take a hard line on those issues, as well as mandate relief, Taylor Law, Triborough Amendment, Wicks Law and Scaffold Law. If you don't know what they are, take five minutes to educate yourself - you might gain a better understanding of why New York is among the most expensive states to do business and raise a family.

We've said it before, we like the direction Cuomo is going - anyone that can neutralize Silver the way Andrew has must be doing something right. However, like Denny Green of the Arizona Cardinals once said, we're not quite ready to "crown his ass" just yet. We are cautiously awaiting Andrew's next move, but skeptical of his willingness/ability to get the aforementioned abolished or even changed. Here's to holding out hope.

December 2, 2011

Schumer Absent on Baum/Pillar Closures

The news that Steven Baum Law Firm and Pillar Processing will lay off nearly 700 Western New Yorkers is a huge blow to an economy that has already taken more than its fair share of huge blows. For those unfamiliar with the situation,  Baum, who runs one of the largest foreclosure firms in the country, recently fell out of favor after pictures of employees mocking the homeless during a Halloween party showed up on the Internet. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac subsequently stopped referring business to the firm, forcing the shut down.

We do not for one second condone the actions of the employees; most of us are very fortunate to have stable employment and a roof over our heads. The actions of the employees was tasteless and insensitive to say the least. They should have been disciplined for the actions and provided sensitivity training in order to gain a better understanding of the difficulties millions of Americans face every day.

The bigger problem is the decision of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to pull their business from Baum and Pillar, sending 700 hardworking Western New Yorkers packing just in time for the holidays. This action is reckless and irresponsible, and will severely damage the WNY economy.

And where the fuck is Chuck Schumer? This guy, who manages to find his way in front of a camera with 200 miles of wherever he is, hasn't done a goddamn thing to rectify this problem.

Look....Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are FEDERAL agencies - Schumer is OUR United States Senator, and supposedly one of the most influential members of Congress. It's time he stop placating Liberal OWS  fakers are start taking real action to address the woeful WNY economy and this blistering decision by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to put yet another dagger into the heart of Western New York. Step up or step out, Chuck.

November 17, 2011

Falls Legislator's Hefty Paydaze

This story about the lavish benefit packages offered to City of Niagara Falls employees is a must read. It highlights the "opt out" agreement the city has with its unions, allowing city employees who don't take the city's health insurance to take a cash payment of over $9,000. That would be $9,000 in taxpayers dollars. For not taking health insurance. For taxpayers in Niagara Falls, the opt out option will cost over $420,000 this year. No wonder the city is the highest taxed municipality in the state.

Paul Dyster, for all his rhetoric, has had four years to get this raping of taxpayers under control, and he's failed. The only downside to the article is that they waited until after the election to reveal their findings, or the revelations may have cost Dyster his narrow victory.

It's also amazingly hypocritical that Dennis Virtuoso, Minority Leader of the County Legislature, has never said a word about this problem during his 20 years in the legislature. In fact, when Virtuoso's buddy Jason Cafarella sat with him in the legislature, Virtuoso sat silent.

Cafarella's manipulation of the system could not have been more egregious. A Niagara Falls firefighter, Cafarella took the county health insurance. This allowed him to get the $9,000 cash payment from the city. But it didn't end there; Cafarella's wife is a teacher. Because hubby was on the county's health insurance, wifey also pocketed $9,000 in cash, courtesy of the taxpayers. That's a cool $18,000 for the Cafarellas for not taking health insurance. And we never heard a word from Virtuoso or any of the other supposed concerned taxpayers who speak at the meetings. Could it be because Virtuoso, a city building inspector (you can see the fruits of his labor on any street in the city) benefited from the city's opt out throughout his 20 years in the legislature? Maybe a that's a question worth asking.

It will also be very interesting to see if recently elected Jason Zona, a Niagara Falls firefighter who ran his campaign on the issue of high taxes, takes the county's health insurance, thus receiving the $9,000 opt out from the city.

Either way, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the city. Taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize these outlandish benefit packages, especially in a city like Niagara Falls that is losing population by the tens of thousands. Of course, since Dyster is more concerned with a train station than actually making the city a better place to live, we won't hold our breath waiting for him to eradicate this outrageous expense.

November 9, 2011

GOP Once Again Sweeps Niagara County

The more things change, the more they stay the same. In what many thought would be a successful night for the Niagara County Democrats, the county GOP once again showed that they are one of the best political organizations in the state. Dan Rivera, Chairman of the county Dems, proved once again that he is utterly incompetent and incapable of playing with the big boys.

Across the county, the GOP was victorious. The GOP didn't lose a single seat that they thought might be in danger, while the Dems lost a slew of races that they thought they had in the bag. Briglio. Laible. Chapman. McCormick. Murphy. Rich. Zehr. Frazier. Pillot. D'Avolio. Czarnecki. Wallace. Schnitizer. All of them ran as Democrats, and all of them lost. And the list goes on.

Two of the more interesting outcomes are Murphy and Laible. Pat Murphy, running for County Clerk against Wayne Jagow, tried to capitalize on the Murphy name. It didn't work, as Murphy pulled just 37% of the countywide vote. The interesting take on this race is that Murphy took just one of 19 election districts in the City of Lockport, the supposed base of the Murphy political organization. The Murphy name clearly no longer carries any political weight whatsoever. Good ol' Matt's gotta be rolling over in his grave at that outcome.

The other one worth noting is Alicia Laible. The hand-picked candidate for Niagara Falls City Council by Mayor Paul Dyster, Laible lost to Glenn Choolokian. Make no mistake about it - that is a huge blow to Dyster. Dyster may have won his re-election, but losing Laible will significantly hurt Dyster. He already made enemies with Bob Anderson and Sam Fruscione, now he loses his majority on the Council. In addition, Dyster's 700 vote win is hardly a ringing endorsement of his tenure over the past four years.

In the end, the GOP is left with a 12-3 super majority in the county legislature and the county Democrats are once again rendered irrelevant. The GOP turned what was expected to be a good night into a phenomenal night. Dan Rivera is the gift that keeps on giving and should be recognized at the next GOP banquet as the "Republican of the Year".

October 13, 2011

Tucker Vindicated in Garbage Controversy

The news that Modern Disposal has picked up more than eight tons of recyclable materials in the city of Lockport's first two days of the city's new refuse program is an umitigated win for Mayor Mike Tucker. He has been raked over the coals for implementing the new garbage plan, mainly by a small group of loudmouth political wannabes who are less concerned with moving the city forward in a positive manner and more concerned with scaring city residents, particularly senior citizens, in an attempt to villify Tucker for their own political gain. Eight tons collected in the first two days is vindication for Tucker.

The city is way overdue in implementing this program. Recycling has been talked about in the city for decades. Phyllis Green, who had been highly critical of Tucker during their primary election, had 14 years on the Council to implement recycling. Despite the fact that she talked plenty about it during her years at city hall, she failed to act. Mike Pillot, Tucker's lone remaining election opponent, has been as loud as anyone in his criticism of Tucker's refuse plan. In fact, it's been the only issue that he's talked about. Pillot, who we freely acknowledge would be an absolute disaster for the city, had better come up with a new plan, though we are pretty sure he's not capable.

We hear that there are unresolved issues with the new plan, mainly people getting the wrong totes. If that's the biggest complaint the city will face, we're pretty sure the new program will be a resounding success. Not to mention that the city will save millions in personnel and legacy costs over the next ten years. Kudos to Tucker for having the will to implement what was a controversial move, especially in an election year, that will ultimately be proven to be a great decision for the community.

October 12, 2011

Greenway Commission Fails With N-W Allocation

According to the Niagara River Greenway Commission's website, "the commission shall develop a plan and generic environmental impact statement for the creation of the Niagara River Greenway that will": 
  • Designate the specific boundaries of the Greenway.
  • Create an inventory of existing park and other lands under the jurisdiction of the state, public corporations and municipalities.
  • Identify other lands that can contribute to the purposes of the Greenway.
  • Recommend how the Greenway could be linked to upland and interior communities in order to promote linkages to the River.
  • Evaluate how economic development activities in proximity to the Greenway can support and complement the Greenway.
  • Recommend cooperative efforts with the Province of Ontario and Nation of Canada.
  • Identify sources of funding.
  • Identify the ways for the Commission to work with municipal, state, and federal agencies, public and private corporations, not-for -profit organizations and private property owners and interests.
  • Make recommendations for the on-going operation and maintenance of the Greenway.
The reason I point out each and every one of these points is due to my confusion with the announcement that the Niagara Wheatfield School District has been awarded $6.1 million for campus improvements with funding from the Greenway Commission. 

According to the Buffalo News, the funding will cover a 1.5-mile nature trail around the perimeter of the campus. The project includes removing debris from the creek and plantings on the bank to stabilize it. The eastern part of the trail will be paved, while a loop off the main trail will include a “confidence course” to be used by physical-education classes and the Army reservists who already train on campus once a month. 

The package also includes improvements at the school’s stadium: a new synthetic track, bleachers, press box, concession stand and storage building. Also funded were new lights and security cameras in the school parking lots, and a new handicapped-access ramp to the building. In addition, the committee approved $134,000 for a portable outdoor ice skating rink in Lewiston’s Academy Park. 

I'm sure these are all worthwhile projects, but that's not the point. The Greenway Commission was established to create a world class greenway of trails and parks, and they've been given access to tens of millions of dollars to make it happen - dollars from the New York Power Authority that are generated by you and I, the ratepayers.

Maybe I'm being obtuse, but I fail to see how financing projects for a single entity, not something the general public can enjoy, to the tune of $6 million, fits into the Greenway's mission. I'm having an even harder time understanding how a new track, bleachers, a press box, concession stand and storage building fit into the scope of creating a world class greenway of trails and parks.

Frankly, this is another example of a bunch of bureaucrats who are charged with overseeing a huge pot of someone else's money, with no regard or responsibility for how it's spent. This allocation clearly falls outside of the goals and objectives of the commission, but since the body is not answerable to anyone, the money will flow without hesitation. Meanwhile, we the taxpayers continue to get screwed by a system that favors the select few. 

I may not be able to walk a beautiful new trail in Niagara County, but I'll be able to drive to Wheatfield to get a hotdog at their new concession stand. That seems like a fair trade-off.

October 4, 2011

Some Notes Collected.....

Some notes collected while wondering whatever happened to Ron Dawson.

* Watching these Wall Street protesters complain about not having jobs got me thinking.  If they are protesting all day that means they're not looking for work which means their not entitled to their unemployment checks.  Let's see someone enforce that.

* Didn't take Governor Cuomo long to back pedal on eliminating the eye test requirement for drivers' licenses.  I guess people smashing their cars into retail stores got his attention.

* What has Paul Dyster really done to merit re-election?  Conversely, what is the one thing Johnny Destino has campaigned on that would merit a vote for him?  Dyster is going to win this by default.

* This could be the most boring political season I can ever remember.

* Clearly, people in Lockport have higher expectations for elected officials than Niagara Falls.  Lockport has had something of a revitalization in recent years, but people almost voted Mayor Tucker out of office over a couple of issues they were very angry about.  In Niagara Falls, you apparently are considered a good mayor if the FBI doesn't have you under investigation.  That's one low bar.

* I  think it would be a dream story for local media hacks if a bully drove his car through a storefront.  I think it would merit round the clock coverage.

* Not that I'm particularly interested in Erie County politics, but the front page of Sunday's Buffalo News on  Chris Collins and the attorneys for the ECIDA was the most bush league piece of journalism I have read.  Shorter story:  Attorney hired by Collins charge less than previous attorneys but are making more because they are doing more work.  And they donated to him.  What this proves is when the Buffalo News turns on you, they will print anything to make you look bad.

* Dyster has the reverse with the Gazette.  Mark Scheer doesn't even bother to question if Dyster's plan to push today's pension costs off into the future to be paid for by future generations is good policy.  Instead, he lauds it.  Scheer must figure he'll be long gone from the Falls when the bill comes due.

* Heard on WLVL that Jim Klyczek's contract at NCCC was extended three more years.  I'm sure faculty union leadership has sent him a fruit basket and congratulations card.  More likely, they crapped their pants.

September 30, 2011

DMV Putting Driver's Lives at Risk

The tragic accident at an Amherst restaurant last week that killed two Wilson residents when a senior citizen driver drove through the front window of Cheeburger Cheeburger sparked a lot of debate about older drivers.  You heard many people saying that testing of older drivers needs to be increased and more needs to be done to keep those who have impairments off the road.

So, it's tragically ironic that the state DMV comes out and says it will no longer be requiring eye tests of drivers renewing their licenses?  Huh?!!?  WTF?!?!!?  Who would ever think taking AWAY a safety precaution is a good idea.  And clearly, this impacts older drivers who are obviously more likely to have failing eyesight.

Think about it.  DMV's response (though not directly related of course) to a 72 year old driver killing two innocent people eating a burger is to make it easier for those with failing physical abilities to get licenses.  Now, what would make DMV do something so fucking stupid.

Of course, the cynical among you would say it must be about money.  But how could this related back tot he almighty dollar?  Allow me to enlighten.  When you head over to one of Niagara County's DMV offices to do a transaction of some sort, the money stays in Niagara County coffers.  When you do a DMV transactoin on-line like vehicle registration  (which is totally more convenient) that money goes directly to New York State.

Well, because of the eye exam requirement, people need to go to the local DMV office every for their drivers' license renewal, hence the money stays local. But New York State wants the cash.  Hence, they eliminate the eye exam requirement so people can renew on line and Albany is fat and happy.

All of this would be well and good, a battle between dueling bureaucrats, except for that pesky fact that eliminating the eye exam will undoubtedly cost someone their life when a driver (most likely elderly) runs them down.  Governor Cuomo needs to step in and undo this but it's unclear if this is actually his staff's idea to help with the budget crunch.

There's an old saying for putting people at risk to make a few dollars...."blood money."  It fits in this case.

September 29, 2011

Manipulation of a Tragedy

The following are excerpts from the September 26th edition of the Buffalo News related to a vigil for Jamie Rodemeyer, the Williamsville North freshman who committed suicide after enduring incessant bullying from fellow students:

A group of mourners gathered on Allen Street and walked four abreast with candles down Main Street to Club Marcella. Some had come in by bus from the University at Buffalo. Some had bused in from Ohio. They wore lots of purple. Some wore Lady Gaga "Born This Way" T-shirts. Other shirts read "Some Kids Are Gay. That's OK" and "It Gets Better." Speakers in a brief program included gay marriage activist Kitty Lambert Rudd.

Here's the problem: A tragic set of events that culminated with the death of a promising young man has turned into a cause celeb for the gay community. Even worse, it has minimized the overall issue of bullying into a microcosm of sexuality instead of staying focused on the issue at hand.

Bullying sucks - we all agree on that. Those of us who haven't graduated from high school within the past 15 years have no concept of what kids deal with today. Sure, we were all bullied to some extent - I even endured a few wedgies back in the day. But we could escape - we could go home, pop in a cassette and put the troubling day behind us. Not today. Cell phones, computers, iPods, text messages, instant messages, Facebook, Youtube, MySpace, Twitter mean that every message sent gets to its intended destination in seconds. Then it gets to its unintended destinations.

The case of Jamie Rodemeyer is an awful, awful situation. The people who drove him to suicide need to answer for the actions and they should be held responsible in a court of law. If they are found to have contributed to this young man's death, they should go to jail. If teachers, administrators or counselors from Williamsville North are found to have been negligent in their responsibility to protect Jamie, they should be fired and charged. Messages need to be sent that bullying in any form will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

What people seem to forget is that New York State already passed a law dealing with bullying in 2010. The act aims to do nothing short of affording "all students in public schools an environment free of discrimination and harassment." The law covers harassment or discrimination based on "a person's actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex." That's nine different criteria that the state has identified.

Sadly, members of the gay community have taken this issue and made it about one: homosexuality. They've taken the death of Jamie Rodemeyer and are exploiting it to advance their cause of gay rights. They have completely lost sight of the fact that a young man's life has come to an end because of bullying, not because he was unsure of his sexuality. What if Jamie was bullied for being Jewish? Or disabled? Or overweight? Would the vigil have been held at Club Marcella, a well-known gay night club? Would Kitty Lambert, a leading activist for gay marriage, be speaking at the vigil? Would Lady Gaga be Tweeting about it? I don't think so.

Of course, some are going to read this and think it's some sort of anti-gay thing because frankly, that's what leaders of the gay community do - they twist words and circumstances in any way they can to suit their cause. Frankly, I don't give a shit what they think. A young man's life has come to a tragic end. Nothing will ever change that. Diverting attention away from that fact in an attempt to advance a personal cause is a goddamn disgrace. Kitty Lambert, who is nothing but a bully herself, puts herself out there as some champion of the people - a champion for Jamie Rodemeyer, when nothing is further from the truth. The media, when glamorizing people like Lambert in this tragedy, do a massive disservice to Jamie and his family.

Let's get our eyes back on what's important - eradicating bullying. The reason for the bullying isn't the primary issue - the act of bullying is. How are you going to change how someone "feels" towards a person? Frankly, in most cases, you're not going to be able to. But you can change how the person acts on those prejudices if we as a society send a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. Sadly, we've clearly got a long, long way to go.

September 21, 2011

NYPA Sucks

Kudos to Bill Ross, Renae Kimble and John Ceretto for basically telling the New York Power Authority to take their proposed rate hike and stick it up their ass at a public hearing yesterday.  It is time Gov. Cuomo turn both barrels on this Authority, eliminate the layers of six figure jobs and make the place run efficiently.

Chairman Mike Townsend should be immediately fired.  He led the way in agreeing to let New York State pillage the Power Authority for $550 million and had the gall to say it wouldn't really impact NYPA.  Now, Chairman Mike whines that NYPA needs rates increases to generate $480 million to be used to make the nebulous "improvements" at the power plants that we always hear about.  (I think improve means hire more cronies, but I could be wrong.)

Hmmm, I'm no fancy, big city lawyer like Chairman Mike, but let's try this logic.  If I didn't give New  York State $550 million, stolen from the Power Projects in Niagara and Massena, I probably would have the $480 million I need to upgrade these facilities since $480 is less than $550.  Makes sense to me. Perhaps they don't teach that in law school.

NYPA should eliminate the layers of patronage in PR, marketing, security guards who really don't secure anything other than a fat paycheck while eating donuts at the front counter, etc.  (why does a power company that already has a market for all of its power and is a government agency need any of that) before it asks for another nickel.

Governors come and go.  People change.  But NYPA still sucks.

September 15, 2011

Post Election Wrap Up

I think overall I did pretty well in most of my predictions, though I may have been off on some of the percentages.  It was clear in Niagara Falls Dyster, Virtuoso and Anderson would win.  Choolokian ran a close third.  I called the LaSalle seat correctly.  I nailed Wheatfield but that was shooting fish in a barrel because there was no way Tim Demler was making a comeback.  But we could spend hours talking about how smart I am.....well, maybe a few minutes at least...but what's the fun in that?  So let's take a look at a couple where I really whiffed.

1) Catchpole loses to Zona:  In retrospect, I should have seen this coming mainly because the mayoral primary in Niagara Falls would bring out Zona's people while the Town of Niagara had very little reason to go to the polls.  Catchpole is a fresh, likable face who I still believe can win the general election if Town of Niagara voters turnout in healthy numbers.  These primaries are always about turnout which leads me to....

2) Mike Tucker in big trouble in the GOP primary.  I have a few golden rules in politics and one of them is that hate and anger are much better motivators than love when it comes to voting.  There is strong contingent (the size of which is debatable) who are pissed off at Mike Tucker over the new garbage plan and reassessment.  They showed up and voted and they probably cost Tucker the election.  This is not an endorsement of Phylis Green it's an anger vote.

Now, the good thing about anger if you're Tucker is that it is hard to sustain.  Once we get into the meat of this campaign, Lockport resident are going to have an "oh shit!" moment when they realize there is the very real possibility that either Green or Mike Pillot could be Lockport Mayor and both are bat-shit crazy in their own way.  Once that light bulb goes on, Tucker wins it off the minor party lines.  And if Tucker does pull out the GOP primary race, he'll be fine one on one with Pillot.

That's my take on primary day.  Onto November!

September 12, 2011

From the Department of Irony

Paul Dyster must be nervous because someone just forward me his pretty sizable television media buy for his campaign.  What I found deliciously ironic is that Dyster bought several spots on Fox News, the media outlet that Democrats like Dyster love to hate.  And what about MSNBC, the liberal channel that is clearly right in line with Dyster's liberal views.  He bought nothing, nada, zip.

So, Dyster is hoping the Fox crowd will back him and is ignoring the MSNBC crowd.  Of course, given MSNBC's rating, everyone else is ignoring it too.

September 9, 2011

Primary Election Preview

With the Primary Election just a few days away, there are several races that we're going to take a look at and make our much anticipated prognostications. Okay, so maybe they're not "much anticipated", but they're fun nonetheless.
  • Let's start in Wheatfield's GOP primary, where Tim Demler, perhaps the biggest slime ever to grace local politics, is once again hoping to make himself relevant. Despite the fact that every audit and review of Wheatfield's finances over the past two years shows gross malfeasance on the part of Demler, he's come up with a way to blame everyone and anyone he can for his massive mismanagement of the town. This guy has never understood the concept of taking responsibility for one's own actions and never will. He'd sell his mother for a nickel to get back into any position of relevance. Bob Cliffe crushes Demler with 68% of the vote.
  • County Legislator - 5th District. Brittany Catchpole and Jason Zona square off in a Dem primary for the new seat composed of Niagara and Niagara Falls. Catchpole is an 18 year-old fireball who has met with Andrew Cuomo. Jason Zona is a thirtysomething firefighter who loves to post pictures of himself drinking, partying and flipping the bird on social media pages. They say that girls mature faster than guys. We have living proof in this race. Catchpole wins 53-47.
  • County Legislator - 6th District. Dennis Virtuoso takes on Kari Ann Bullman for the new 6th District seat in a Democratic primary. Virtuoso is the epitome of what is wrong with politics. He not only plays partisan politics, he consistently throws his own party and his supporters under the bus in order to ensure his own political survival. Case in point, his resolution to eliminate health insurance for county legislators was conveniently brought forward after Virtuoso made sure he got his health insurance paid for life by taxpayers. If the county legislature has any sack, they will not only pass Virtuoso's resolution, they will eliminate the benefit for all legislators, past and present. Despite the fact that Virtuoso's 20+ years in the legislature have coincided with the period of Niagara Falls' greatest decline in history, his name ends in a vowel so he'll win with 63%.
  • Lockport GOP Mayoral Primary. Incumbent Mike Tucker is being challenged by 143 year-old Phyllis Green. Green has openly stated that the only reason she is running is to screw with Tucker, knowing she has no shot to win. Classy actions from a seven-term council member. So much for caring about the best interests of the community. Tucker wins with 67%.
  • Lockport Democratic Mayoral Primary. Jack Smith and Mike Pillot square off for the Dem nod in the Lock City. Pillot has brought nothing of substance to the campaign in terms of solutions to what he believes to be the city's problems. Smith is a bit more articulate, but his Nixonian secret recordings of the council's executive sessions is a massive violation of the public's trust that will not be rewarded with a primary win. Pillot takes it with 56%.
  • Niagara Falls Democratic Mayoral Primary. Paul Dyster is facing a four-way primary with challenges from John Accardo, Carnell Burch and Norton Douglas. Dyster has been an unmitigated disaster during his first term in office, but none of the other candidates have run a campaign effective enough to beat him in the primary. Dyster wins the primary with 40%.
  • Niagara Falls City Council. A five-way primary for two seats, Robert Anderson, Candace Corsaro, Glenn Choolokian, Alicia Laible and Don Zambotti face off in this Dem primary. Anderson is a lock. Choolokian and Laible will fight for the second seat. We say Anderson and Choolokian take the two seats.  
  • County Legislator - 13th District. Incumbent Keith McNall is being challenged by city council member Andrew Chapman in this GOP primary. Chapman has done nothing to win this contest, while McNall has been working hard to take the primary. McNall take it with 64%.
  • Niagara County Family Court Judge. Kathleen Wojtaszek-Gariano takes on Jeremy Schnurr in the Dem primary. Like Chapman, Schnurr has done nothing to win this race. Wojtaszek-Gariano crushes Schnurr with 70%.
  • Niagara County Legislator - 4th District. Christian Green takes on Duane Thomas in this Dem primary for the right to succeed Renae Kimble. Green is supported by Kimble while Thomas' support comes from Ken Hamilton.  While this one hasn't garnered much attention, this is a very interesting contest to follow. Green, bolstered by Kimble, takes it with 58%.
  • Niagara County Legislator - 3rd District. (Added late, thanks Jessica!) In the GOP primary for the seat, Cheree Copelin is being challenged by former NF City Council member Mike Gawel. While Gawel thinks his stint in federal prison for money laundering and tax fraud is not cause for concern, the voters will think differently. Copelin is sharp - she takes the primary with 59%. In the Dem primary in the 3rd, Matt Cole squares off against John Briglio. Cole's comment in Sunday's Buffalo News that "The county taxes are criminal. I’m running to do something about it" shows just how clueless he is, as the county tax rate is only about $7/$1,000. What's criminal is that a candidate for county legislature wouldn't know that. Briglio takes the primary with 62%.
No matter who you support, get out and vote on Tuesday if there's an election in your community!

September 7, 2011

Why No One Runs for Office

I've had many conversations with people over the years about the lack of good people from all walks of life and all ideologies stepping forward to run for local office.  The conclusion always seems to the same:  who wants the hassle.  After all, no one ever got rich serving in the county legislature or on a town board.  It's rarely a stepping stone to bigger and better things.  For the most part, it is a labor of love.

Which brings me to last night's Legislature Meeting and one of the three-minute crowd, Joanne Dickey. The rules are you can't single out individual lawmakers.  So rather than name names, she used descriptors like Delphi retiree, etc.  This is obvious a violation.

Now, if you step into the public arena, you're going to need thick skin.  That's just the way it goes.  The media, political campaigns, opponents will all get their shots in.  But there comes a time when decorum has to rule and that should be when the Legislature is in official session trying to conduct business.  Legislators should not have to be subjected to insults and other nonsense from gadflies like Dickey who get off on berating lawmakers then heading down to Friendly's with the other losers to gloat about it over milkshakes.

This complete lack of respect is why people don't want to run for office any more and you end up with the Dennis Virtuoso's of the world...who incidentally loves to play to the three minute crowd.

August 30, 2011

Virtuoso's Legacy

Word is that Niagara County Legislator Dennis Virtuoso has put in a resolution eliminating the health insurance option for members of the legislature. Let's forget for a second that Virtusoso has accumulated 20 lackluster years in the Leg, thus ensuring that he has the option of taking health insurance, paid for by taxpayers, for the rest of his life. The real conversation is about what's going to happen next.

In Virtuoso's little game of political one-upsmanship, his bluff is about to get called. Not only is the Niagara County Legislature going to move forward with eliminating health insurance for current legislators, they are prepared to eliminate the benefit for retired legislators as well. That means people like Lee Simonson, Mark Scott (who was convicted of a felony for selling his legislature vote but still gets health insurance paid for by county taxpayers), Art Crusione (Virtuoso's uncle), and Sean O'Connor can all kiss their lifetime health insurance goodbye. They all think that their benefit would be grandfathered in and thus untouchable, but they'd be wrong. Recent court cases support the legislature's efforts to strip retired legislature members of benefits, if they are forced by Virtuoso. Apparently the Leg is willing to go all the way.

Virtuoso has never learned the old credo, "Don't start something you can't finish". He's opened a can of worms that he thinks is going to save him politically, while screwing his present and past colleagues. Considering he's brought this after he made sure his health insurance was taken care of for the rest of the life, Virtuoso once again showed his true colors - the epitome of selfishness.

Frankly, I could care less what they do with the benefit. For some, it's offered and they take it, while others don't have the need. Considering they only make $15k for all of the assholes and bullshit they have to deal with, a health insurance benefit hardly seems exorbitant, and they did eliminate the lifetime benefit some years back, which was a good move. But Virtuoso's move smacks of political desperation designed to save his ass and his ass only two weeks before the primary. It's sad and pathetic, and only reinforces Virtuoso's legacy as the most arrogant, self-serving individual ever to walk the through county hall.

August 29, 2011

DelMonte Puts in for Retirement

Niagara Times has learned that former Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte has filed her New York State Retirement System paperwork. DelMonte, who turned 55 this year, will walk away with a nice little pension, courtesy of you and I. With her 10 years in the Assembly and her 20 years working for Joe Pillitiere, DelMonte will be getting at least $60,000 a year, state-tax free, for the rest of her life.

The filing does raise some questions related to DelMonte's future. As we are all painfully aware of, DelMonte has made a complete spectacle of herself since leaving office. Unable to come to terms with the fact that she lost to John Ceretto, DelMonte has been showing up at events, press conferences, meetings and anywhere else she can think of to try to keep herself relevant. She loads her Facebook page with unintelligible ramblings about those who've done her wrong, and still maintains a DelMonte political website. All of this has led many to believe that DelMonte has been attempting to line herself up for a rematch against Ceretto. Her retirement sheds a new light on that prospect.

If DelMonte follows through with the retirement and runs for the Assembly, she will be expecting taxpayers to subsidize her double-dipping. You see, she can retire from the state, get her pension, and still get her full Assembly salary if she wins. I have a feeling residents of the 138th Assembly District would have a huge issue with that. The problem with DelMonte is that she's arrogant enough to think she can overcome the double-dipping in her attempt to regain the seat that she believes she deserves and is owed. Time will tell.

Our advice to DelMonte is to ride off into the sunset with just a little bit of grace and dignity. Frankly, people aren't talking about the way she's meandering her way around Niagara County, they're asking, "What the hell is she doing here?" You had your time, the people have spoken. Get over it.

If DelMonte has any interest in politics, other that her self-serving ambitions, she should spend some time trying to build a Democratic Party. She should try to get her lone Democratic ally left in Niagara County, Paul Dyster, re-elected. Sadly for county Dems, DelMonte has never been about party building. If she did, she'd have withdrawn from the Assembly race after she lost the Primary Election to John Accardo, instead of running a vengeful no-win campaign on the Working Families Party line that split the Dem vote, ensuring a Ceretto win.

Better yet, just take your pension and go. Clearly no one in state government is interested in taking care of DelMonte. There's no job for her at NYPA, USA Niagara Development, ESDC or anywhere else she's been angling to gain employment at over the past eight months. We hear Bradenton has some fine retirement communities. And they have pinochle nights on Mondays.

August 23, 2011

Days Gone By

Oh how I long for the days gone by, when the sun shone brightly, the grass was greener, the eagles flew higher and Francine DelMonte loved the Republicans so much that she not only posed for a picture with them, she actually put her arm around George Maziarz!

August 22, 2011

Seefeldt/Chenier Letter

There's been a fair amount of coverage of a letter written to Democratic Committeepersons in Niagara County by a former and a current member of the same committee, Linda Seefeldt and Pete Chenier related to the campaign of Democrat Patrick Murphy in his quest to unseat Wayne Jagow. I've read at least a couple of letters to the editor in local papers criticizing Seefeldt and Chenier for writing the letter, but hadn't seen the original anywhere, until a kind reader forwarded it along.

I'll let you judge for yourself, other than one small commentary. The letters to the editor that I've read seem to focus on one piece of the Seefeldt and Chenier letter, the part about political contributions. Several writers have asked, "Why is the fact that Pat Murphy hasn't given money to local candidates relevant?" It's very convenient how they've managed to extract one piece of the letter in their criticism of Seefeldt and Chenier in an attempt to minimize the importance of fundraising in campaigns.

Guess what - it is relevant and it is important. Last I looked, the Niagara County GOP had about $130,000 in it's campaign coffers and the Niagara County Dems had about $12,000. Don't hold your breath waiting for sweeping changes across Niagara County's political landscape this year.

Here is the letter:

August 17, 2011

Why Does NY Insist on Going Over the Cliff for No Benefit

I have never head of the The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative until I read today's Union Sun & Journal and once again I'm amazed at how dumb New York State can be.  It's a 10-state initiative that apparently began with Governor Pataki that seeks to reduce greenhouse gases by punishing coal plants.

Now, whether your a big old tree hugger or you have a tired fire in your backyard, I would think common sense would say that New York entering into these dumb agreements when states like Ohio and Pennsylvania do not is plain stupid.  First, any benefit to clean air for us is lost since the prevailing winds travel west to east and if these states don't participate, we still breath their dirty air.  Worse, we drive up New York energy costs and drive out jobs from New York for green ideas that matter little if the whole country isn't engaged.

Furthermore, the AES Somerset plant is Niagara County's biggest taxpayer and is already suffering economically.  If AES goes under you can surely bet you will see a significant increase in your property taxes and again, for what gain?  Outside of a few whackos, does anyone want to see AES closed?

Unless the federal government is going to impose this crap on everyone....which they will never do, especially in a recession....New York should stop shooting itself in the foot.  Follow New Jersey's lead and drop the RGGI.   Niagara County taxpayers would be grateful.

August 15, 2011

Someones Gotta Pay for Richie's Spending Sprees

Take two stories of late regarding the New York Power Authority.  One, former head honcho Richie Kessel seems to be in trouble for his exorbitant spending at the authority.  Seems once Richie got his hands on the checkbook the sky was the limit.   It's been reported that all sorts groups with ties to Richie benefited from his largess.  But that's only what's been reported.

Sources have told as that salaries for those to tow the company line have been going through the roof.  For example, we're told one of the local NYPA mouthpieces got a $30,000 raise.  Wow.  And we're also told, though we can't confirm, that some version of the the NYPA bonus pay program called variable pay quietly returned when none of the politicians were looking.

Take all of this and move to the next story that NYPA says it needs to raise rates next year on  its preference power customers...which  means you.  Well, no shit.  If they're lighting their proverbial cigars at NYPA with $100 bills someone has to pay the cost.  And we're the lucky suckers.  NYPA has been clamoring for a rate increase for several years and they are sure to cry poor this time.

Our only hope is that Governor Cuomo's folks clean house over there and do it soon.  While state agencies have been forced to downsize, the authorities have been left untouched.  It's time for that to change.  Start by cleaning out all the cronies Kessel brought with him from Long Island.  Until that's done, NYPA has no business raising rates.

August 11, 2011

Historian's Hypocrisy on Wallenda Walk

In many of the local articles I've read about Nik Wallenda's proposed tightrope walk across Niagara Falls, a local historian by the name of Paul Gromosiak opines strongly against the walk because he believes that daredevils cheapen the natural value of the falls. In a story in the Buffalo News, Gromosiak stated, "Does he contribute to the natural wonder or does he take it away? I think he takes it away."

It's interesting that Gromosiak would take such a hypocritical position on the proposed walk, considering that he himself has capitalized on stunts at the falls with a book he wrote on that same topic. Gromosiak's book, ironically enough, is titled Daring Niagara: 50 Death Defying Stunts at the Falls. Apparently in Gromosiak's world, profiting personally from the litany of daredevil stunts that have been part of the falls' history is okay, but actually supporting one that would bring hundreds of thousands of visitors, tens of millions of dollars and an amount of publicity to the area that could not be quantified is a bad idea.

In his book's introduction, Gromosiak ponders why men and women have risked their lives performing stunts at the falls. He goes on to write, "After reading about the stunts, walk by the falls and gorge to see the places where they were done. Who knows? You might see another one being attempted. Undoubtedly, it is only a matter of time before another person adds his or her name to the roster of Niagara's challengers".

Clearly I bolded that section for a reason; to highlight just how hypocritical Gromosiak is. He's using the falls to make money for himself, glamorizing the same stunts that he now condemns. His book is filled with pictures of funambulists as far back as Jean Francis Gravelet, who tightroped across the falls in 1859. All the while, he has the audacity to criticize the proposed walk.

My advice for Gromosiak would be to stop doing Paul Dyster's dirty work (Dyster still refuses to get behind the walk and didn't even attend a critically important meeting about the event last week with Wallenda , his people and other stakeholders), get behind the Wallenda walk or just shut your mouth. You can't have it both ways. And by the way, you're welcome for the pimping of your book.

August 10, 2011

Some Notes Collected......

Some notes collected while wondering whatever happened to Steve D'Anna.......

*  I'm hearing rumblings that that an alliance of folks across the political spectrum are smelling blood in the water when it comes to Dennis Virtuoso.  Between a new district and general voter disgust, Dennis faces a very serious test.

* The results in Wisconsin last night that saw the GOP beat back an attempt to recall several members for their collective bargaining votes got me to thinking that recall elections aren't a really good idea.  I remember when Gray Davis was bumped from California for the Governator and at the time I thought that was a little bizarre as well.  Unless those elected do something illegal or unethical, shouldn't the results of an election stand?  If you don't like what they do, vote for someone else next election.  Politicians are already too timid to make tough decisions....this will make it worse regardless of where you stand on issues.

* The new teacher's contract in Lewiston seemed to be an exercise in reasonable compromise that saw raises in turn for givebacks and a pretty good deal for taxpayers.  I was struck by the fact that the deal goes back to 2008 but no teacher will receive any retroactive pay.  Are you listening NCCC faculty union?  No retroactive pay.  Kudos to those hardworking public employees in Lewiston who understand the need for shared sacrifice.

* I couldn't disagree more with Norton Douglas, candidate for Mayor of Niagara Falls, who believes that Dem Boss David Hougton's effort to knock African American candidates off the ballot wasn't race related.  Douglas, who is African American, seems naive.  While I doubt Hougton was being overtly racist in his challenges to African American candidates, the net result of his action would have been only one African Amercian candidate left for all local offices in the Falls.  Houghton had to know this and went ahead any way.  This is called de facto discrimination and is just as bad.

* Score a win for Sen. Grisanti and Assemblyman Ceretto on expanding the USA Niagara boundaries over the objection of Mayor Dyster and USA head Chris Schoepflin.  I'm not sure what this gains in the long run, but it does send a message that the Cuomo Administration really likes Grisanti.

* Tim Demler gets knocked off the Dem line.  Tim, don't go away mad, just go away.

* Has anyone seen Congresswoman Kathy Hochul anywhere in Niagara County since she got elected?  I guess the drive from Hamburg to Niagara is just too far to make it worth her while to visit constituents.

* I miss poking fun at Greg Lewis.  I really do.  Perhaps I need to talk to somebody.

August 5, 2011

Incompetence Squared

Just when you think Democrats in Niagara County can't get anymore incompetent, David Houghton and Paul Dyster put their heads together to form what can only be described as an awful Abbott & Costello routine.

Last week, Houghton, Chairman of the Niagara Falls Democratic Committee, and Dyster, temporarily the mayor of Niagara Falls, strolled into the Niagara County Courthouse together to file a slew of lawsuits against a multitude of candidates for office. Houghton, doing Dyster's dirty work, filed lawsuits to throw out the Democratic petitions of mayoral candidates John Accardo and Carnell Burch, the Conservative petitions of Accardo, council candidate Glenn Choolokian, council candidate Bob Anderson and the Democratic petitions of Matt Cole, who is running for county legislature against John Briglio.

According to state Election Law, Houghton needed to commence the action by July 28th. What this means is that he would have had to serve the papers on the candidates and the county Board of Elections by midnight on July 28th.  What he actually did is filed the lawsuits on the 28th, but he and his co-conspirators did not serve the respondents until the 29th, 30th & 31st. Houghton et al did not commence their actions in a timely manner. That is what we who follow politics call a major screw-up.

This is not rocket science. The law is very clear on the procedures in place when one party tries to boot another party off the ballot. To be so incompetent on such a massive scale is simply astounding. Of course, given Dyster's abysmal history of governing, no one should be surprised that he would oversee such a colossal failure.

Dan Rivera, Chairman of the county Dems, isn't without culpability either. Rivera, who works for a law firm, actually served papers to some of the respondents.

We'll never know if Houghton and Dyster would have been successful in their efforts to knock Accardo, Burch, Choolokian and Cole off the ballots, because their inability to follow simple instructions once again got the best of them. This may be a hard lesson to swallow come September 13th.

August 1, 2011

Houghton Has Much to Learn

The recent charge by Niagara County Legislator Renae Kimble of Niagara Falls that the Niagara Falls Democratic Committee is systematically attempting to eliminate all of the African-American candidates for citywide offices in Niagara Falls is a lesson in how not to respond to the media when questioned about something that is potentially extremely inflammatory.

When pressed on the matter, Niagara Falls Democratic Committee Chairman David Houghton responded with this gem: “She’s being racist". As my kids say, that would be a big, fat FAIL. Kimble has been one of the strongest advocates for the African-American community since I can remember. To make such an accusation does not help the matter. And if Houghton thinks that making such a statement helps his buddy Paul Dyster going into the primary election, which is six weeks away, he's delusional.

Here's some free advice for Houghton: Don't pick up the phone for the next six weeks if you don't know who is on the other end. You clearly are incapable of handling yourself in such a pressure-filled situation. But, should you find yourself in an inescapable position in which you are forced to answer such a question again, go with this: "I respect Ms. Kimble's position on this issue. She has been a fierce advocate for our city and the African-American community during her 20 years in the county legislature. The Niagara Falls Democratic Committee has worked with candidates of all races, creeds and ethnicities for many years and will continue to do so in the future." Then shut your pie hole.

I mean, seriously, what are you thinking, Dave? Did you come up with that gem on your own or did you consult with Dyster first? Whatever the reason, you need a boatload of work on how to deal with the media - especially if you're going to tangle with someone as experienced as Kimble.

July 22, 2011

I'm Jay-Z, And I Approve This Message

I'm on Facebook. Many of my friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances are on Facebook. I don't post much, but I enjoy the seeing what people I don't get to interact with on a regular basis are up to.

With half a billion users worldwide, Facebook has become a social media phenomenon. People share their experiences, pictures, life stories and so much more. Sometimes, however, people aren't too smart with their use of Facebook. Take for example the picture below. The individual below (on the right) is Jason Zona, candidate for Niagara County Legislature.

Now, I could go on a long diatribe about what a bad idea it is for a candidate for elected office to post a picture of himself in a casino, holding a beer while giving the finger, but I won't. Instead, we'll simply use this as an example of what not to do when entering the political arena. (We blocked out the faces of his friends).

July 20, 2011

Paul Dyster, USA Niagara and the Culinary Institute

Paul Dyster is a moron.  There is no other way to put it.  In today's Niagara Gazette, there is an article about the USA Niagara meeting that took place yesterday.  Senators Maziarz and Grisanti showed up along with Assemblyman Ceretto to question some things.  Dyster said Maziarz' questions were nothing more than sour grapes because the Senator didn't want the Culinary Institute in Niagara Falls and it came any way.  Dyster some how implies that he won this one over Maziarz.  That is nuts.

First, Maziarz did indeed think Lewiston would be a better location and who would disagree that Lewiston is much more desirable.  But the Culinary Institute is much too big for the Village and would have actually ripped a apart much of which makes Lewiston so charming.  Once everyone recognized this, the idea was dropped.

Maziarz also said that building in Niagara Falls is damn near impossible and he has again been proven right.  The culinary should have been opened two years ago, but no site could be found.  If it wasn't for the innovative approach of NCCC President Jim Klyczek this thing would be dead.  Klyczek figured out how to get David Cordish to donate the Rainbow Mall to the college.  Klyczek should be honored as the top economic development official in Niagara Falls and given Peter Kay's salary to boot.  Outside of some funds, Dyster has been more of a nuisance than a help on this.

Last, if Maziarz was truly against the project it would be dead.  The County Legislature had to approve NCCC's land acquisition and lease and they did.  Remember, the Legislature has a Republican Majority aligned with Maziarz.  NCCC's trustees had to greenlight this.  The Majority of that board is close to the Senator as well.  As a matter of fact, at the time of all of this, Marvin Maziarz, George's brother, chaired the board.

Insiders told me that the Trustees have erupted numerous times over Dyster's attempt to co-op their project.  Trustee Gina Virtuoso (Dennis's wife) has had to go the Mayor numerous times and tell him to tone it down before the other trustees go public.  That is why Dyster has been sent from the podium to the audience on any press events with the culinary of late, like the Seneca Gaming Corporation event where the SGC made large contribution to the institute.

Dyster just can't figure out that his role is to do all the little things like pave streets and pick up garbage that make the city desirable for investment.  Instead, we have melees on Main Street and cyclists falling into uncovered manholes.  I guess you can't blame Dyster for tying to glom onto the one good thing happening in Niagara Falls in the Culinary.

Well, that's not fair.  It is also good news that the Merani family will put a TGI Friday's restaurant in their new hotel, the former Crowne Plaza.  Dyster was pretty excited about that......but then again, he lambasted the NCIDA for assisting the Merani family in their acquisition of the hotel.  Yep, I said it once and I'll say it again....good stuff can happen in the Falls if you can keep Dyster and his bumbling fools out of it.

July 14, 2011

D.A. Needs to Investigate Nixonian Tactics in Lockport

Although not much surprises us much in politics, we occasionally see things that make us shake our heads. One of those instances has arisen in the past 24 hours, during which time multiple sources familiar with the situation told us that City of Lockport Alderman Jack Smith revealed to the council that he has been secretly recording executive session meetings of the city council. Smith, who is abandoning his council seat in a run for mayor of the city, has been secretly recording the council's executive sessions for the past year.

Frankly, Smith's Nixonian approach to governing is very disturbing. Executive sessions are confidential proceedings for a reason, which has been defined by law. While we're not going to speculate on Smith's motives or intentions, the fact that he is willing to stoop to such levels for what appears to be his personal political gain is unconscionable. It also completely undermines any semblance of trust within that room when council members get together to discuss issues which fall under the purview of executive session.

Smith needs to answer for this underhanded tactic; he owes an explanation to his colleagues on the council, and more importantly, he needs to explain to the people who elected him why he feels it's necessary to resort to secretly tape record these meetings. He also needs to explain to the voters who he expects to vote for him for mayor why he's done what he's done. Given Smith's track record, we won't hold our breath.

Nonetheless, we have serious concerns about the legality of Smith's actions. We strongly encourage Niagara County District Attorney Michael Violante to investigate Smith's tapings to determine if any laws have been violated. If nothing else, the public's trust in Smith has been violated.

All Hail Our Leader, Art Giacalone

So, a new Peace Bridge is dead.  After waiting more than a decade to build something better and more efficient, our community has finally thrown in the towel.  And who helped kill this plan...while none other than Art Giacalone,who killed the Verizon project in Somerset.

Now, it would be easy to tee off on Art as a piece of shit who makes his money by just opposing everything while purporting to do so in all of our best interest.  But, I'm not going to do that.  You see, maybe Artie is right.  He does indeed know better than all of us do.  We don't need jobs in Somerset from a environmentally-friendly data center.  No, we need to watch butterflies with old Amherst hags.

We do not need a new Peace Bridge.  We never did according to Artie.  We need better schools.  Yes, so children with a better education can move to places that don't hold back progress to find jobs since we don't have any jobs here.  In Artie's world, we should be able to turn all of WNY back to the way settlers found in about 100 years or so.

So, screw mayors, governors, legislators.  You don't matter.  Artie Giacalone will determine our future.  I for one welcome our new king.  All Hail our Leader, Art Giacalone.

The Politics of Indifference

The dog days of July are not a great time for politics.  While party insiders have been gather petitions, the vast majority of us are way too busy enjoying our summer to worry about political campaigns that are months away.  And yet, these sweltering days are very important because they tell us who we can expect to see running this fall.

From what I hear, we may see a lot of uncontested races this year across the county.  Candidate recruitment is tough and the average working person just isn't all that interested in running for office.  Quite frankly, I believe campaigns like the one for Congress a few months ago continue to turn people completely off.  Campaigns are boiling down to games of gotcha and incessant commercials.  When is the last time a candidate knocked on your door to ask for your support?

Like most areas of our society, politics has gotten lazy.  Those who do run don't really want

July 12, 2011

Poor State of Niagara Falls Roads No Laughing Matter

In a June 13th post, I mentioned how I was shocked at the poor condition of streets in Niagara Falls, far worse that I expected even with all the complaints local residents have made.  Now, those poor conditions have led to the loss of a life.  Kevin Johnson was biking down a side street and fell into a open hole where some repair work was apparently underway but the metal plate that was supposed to cover the gaping hole was not in place.  This is a tragedy for his family that was completely preventable.

Do you blame the contractor?  Do you blame Dyster's public works department?  Was this the work of vandals?  Investigations are underway and hopefully someone will be held accountable, though I'm sure that will be little consolation to the family.

In reading articles around this tragedy, you see the disgust people have about the crumbling infrastructure in the Falls.  People are fed up about the poor condition of streets and the fact that so little seems to be done about it.  Mayor Dyster can boast about setting paving records, but quite frankly, that seems very hollow. 

The Mayor has failed because he simply has not made repair enough of a priority.  Why do you give funds to a for-profit entity for concerts rather than put those funds into more road repair.  Same thing about a pointless train museum, questionable Underground Railroad, exorbitant salaries for sub-par department heads and on and on and on.  And don't forget about the Mayor being late to get his road projects submitted to the state back in the early days of the stimulus package when every locality in New York State was battling for critical funding.

Each of those dollars should have been spent making life a little better and a little safer for Niagara Falls residents who have to dodge craters every time they leave their homes.  Boast all you want Mayor, but you have failed miserably in one of the most basic responsibilities of your office.

July 6, 2011

Glory Days

Growing up in 1959 vs. Growing up in 2009

Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.

1959 - Vice principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car, and gets his own shotgun to show Jack.
2009 - School goes into lockdown, the FBI is called, Jack is hauled off to jail, and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors are called in to assist traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1959 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2009 - Police are called, SWAT team arrives, and arrests Johnny and Mark. They are charged with assault and both are expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't sit still in class, disrupts other students.

1959 - Jeffrey is sent to the principal's office and given a good paddling. Returns to class, sits still, and does not disrupt class again.
2009 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra state funding because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1959 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2009 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1959 - Mark shares aspirin with the school principal out on the smoking dock.
2009 - Police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1959 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2009 - Pedro's cause is taken up by local human rights group. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that making English a requirement for graduation is racist. U.S. Civil Liberties Association files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English is banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover Independence Day firecrackers, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, and blows up an anthill.

1959 - Ants die.
2009 - Homeland Security and the FBI are called and Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. Teams investigate parents, siblings are removed from the home, computers are confiscated, and Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls during recess and scrapes his knee. His teacher, Mary, finds him crying, and gives him a hug to comfort him.

1959 - Johnny soon feels better and goes back to playing.
2009 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in federal prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy.

I saw this posted on a Yahoo! message board and had to share it. Yeah, we've come a long way, baby.

July 5, 2011

Wallenda Walk

For those who have not heard, Nik Wallenda of the famous Flying Wallendas is hoping to walk a tightrope across the gorge in Niagara Falls. We think this is a great idea. Although the Falls draws millions of visitors every year, the new found publicity that such an event would generate would reinvigorate the tourism trade in Niagara Falls.

We're not alone in our support. The story has been covered by news outlets across the globe, and has received bi-national support from governmental and tourism entities on both sides of the border.

There are two people, however, that are opposed to Wallenda's efforts to bring worldwide publicity to the city: Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and some guy by the name of Paul Gromosiak, who the Buffalo News figured was quote-worthy for their story. Dyster, according to the News, is concerned that the event could be perceived as a "sideshow" to the falls. Gromosiak said that the idea would take away from the area's natural beauty. I'm sorry, what? A sideshow to the falls? What does that even mean? Of course it'd be a sideshow to the falls - everything is a sideshow to the falls.

Let's call this the way it is - former Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte is working furiously behind the scenes to kill this thing because current Assemblyman John Ceretto and Senator George Maziarz are the ones making this happen, and DelMonte can't bear the thought of Ceretto getting credit for it. She is lobbying a multitude of elected officials on this issue (as well as many others, despite a two-year lobbying ban for elected officials. I'm thinking this may be the first case for Eric Schneiderman's new anti-corruption office in Buffalo), and now she has Dyster doing her dirty work for her. It is politics at its worst and another attempt by DelMonte to stay relevant. As a side note, we hear DelMonte is wildly angry about Sam Hoyt getting his new gig from the governor, since no one is looking to help her out in her now six month+ job search.

Let's hope Dyster does the right thing for the city he supposedly represents and gets behind the Wallenda walk. Anything else stinks of corruption and desperation. Then again, it is Niagara Falls.

June 30, 2011

Screw You, Larry Quinn

These are exciting days in Sabreland as new owner Terry Pegula has unleashed the purse strings on the team and in doing so, unleashed a lot of excitement about the future prospects of the Sabres.  Fans are downright giddy that the old regime led by Larry Quinn is nothing but a distant memory.

But this post isn't about Quinn's failed legacy in bringing a Stanley Cup to Buffalo.  It's about his failed legacy on Buffalo's watefront.  Quinn attacked Senator Maziarz in Sunday's Buffalo News because the Senator had the audacity to question what appears to be some ugly conflicts of interest in efforts to develop (OK, stop laughing) Buffalo's waterfront.  The issues raised by the Senator which were initially reported in other Buffalo News articles revolve around favored developers and a questionable procurement process.  Maziarz is particularly interested because $100 million in NYPA money is committed to this effort and as we all know, Maziarz always takes an interest in how NYPA is spending our money.

But good old Larry has a problem with the head of the Western New York state delegation questioning any of this phony baloney.  Larry Quinn seems like one of these guys who believes he's always the smartest guy in the room.  So, he is appalled that someone would question the wisdom of waterfront decision-making.  Larry believes the Senator's inquiry will delay waterfront development......yes, years of tilting at windmills waiting for Bass Pro was OK, but making sure the integrity of public money is maintained, that creates unnecessary delay.

We urge the Senator to keep going.  We're all tired of insider deals that benefit a few.  And if this makes Larry Quinn unhappy, he can go screw himself like he screwed up signing Drury and Briere.

June 28, 2011

Practice What You Preach

The gay marriage debate has, for the most part, come to a close. While the legislation is sure to face some legal challenges, gay couples across New York State are rejoicing at the signing of  the bill by Gov. Cuomo. Of course, the cynic in me says that the group that is just as happy about the passage of gay marriage legislation as gays is divorce attorneys. They have just significantly increased their potential client base.

Frankly, I couldn't care less about this issue. If gays want to share in the bliss and angst of marriage, knock yourselves out. What I do find galling about this debate is the sickening inability of some people to win with grace. I've checked a multitude of websites, Facebook pages, message boards and the like, and the comments are ridiculous.

Supporters of gay marriage have a reason to celebrate - good for you. But why is it necessary to continue to vilify those who chose not to support it after the vote was affirmed? Is it not enough to simply enjoy your victory and move on? Apparently for many, many gay marriage supporters, it is not. The hateful comments about members of the state legislature who chose to stand by their convictions show a level of hypocrisy from supporters of gay marriage that is unfathomable.

Gay marriage supporters preached up and down about tolerance of others. Apparently that only applies to those who share their beliefs. Even after the vote, members of the legislature who didn't support the bill have been called, among many other colorful adjectives, intolerant, bigots, scumbags and racists. Just so I'm clear here, advocates of gay marriage are calling those who didn't share their views these hate-filled names. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. So much for a rational conversation on the issue.

It reminds me of the rookie who scores his first touchdown in the NFL, then does some embarrassing end-zone celebration, only to have the veteran teammate come over to him and tell him to act like he's been there before. What the veteran is saying to the rookie is to, even in victory and celebration, have a little class and don't rub it in the face of your opposition. The analogy plays in this gay marriage vote. Supporters who continue to vilify those who opposed the legislation are the rookie dancing in the end zone. Maybe in time they'll learn to win with dignity and grace, but the immediate post-vote antics of some leave much to be desired.

June 27, 2011

Niagara Falls Has Gotten Exactly What It Deserves

Read Denise Jewell Gee's column in today's Buffalo News.  It's titled "Niagara Falls Deserves Better Than It's Received."  It's a well-written piece about how New York State takes too much money out of the Park revenue and Casino without investing enough of it back in the helping the city.  No argument here in that regard.  But the central premise is that Niagara Falls is some innocent dupe being taken advantage of by others.  That's not accurate.

The old saying is God  helps those who help themselves.  Along those lines, what has Niagara Falls done to help themselves?  Government has been both corrupt and/or inept forever.  The local share of casino money and the NYPA settlement money have not appeared to produce job one.  Money is pissed away on Chritsmas bizarres and promises of some Undeground Railroad attraction run by someone on the city payroll who only seems to producing for himself.  Accountability over these funds is zilch.

When other try to help, there hand is slapped.  Take the County IDA which has actually had some success in Niagara Falls.  The Mayor and his minions attack the IDA for actually creating wealth and jobs, seemingly because they can't claim credit for it.

And overall governance of the day to day is a disaster.  The roads suck.  Water rates are astronomical but the politicians all lack the balls to call for shutting down the Falls Water Authority, laying everyone off and begging the county to take over.  Vacant, abandoned houses line the street.

Last, as I stated a few days ago, good things happen in the Falls when you can work around City Government.  The bottom line is that Falls does indeed deserve better but that has to start by getting their own house in order first.

June 22, 2011

Legislation Expanding USA Niagara's Footprint Raise Questions

Senator Mark Grisanti and Assemblywman John Ceretto are sponsoring legislation that would expand USA Niagara Development Corporation's footprint to include the whole City of Niagara Falls. Right now, USA Niagara's charge is to focus in the tourist district immediately adjacent to the State Park.  I'm told the legislators are doing this at the request of the Aquarium which is seeking state assistance.  I'm told Paul Dyster is actively fighting this and former Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte has made sure her old boss Shelly Silver won't move the bill.  So, if this is all true, it raises many questions:

1) Why would Paul Dyster oppose this bill?  He's the mayor of the entire city and if this measure leads to some economic growth, you'd think he'd be jumping for joy.  After all, his economic development record pretty much sucks.  Clearly Paul has some political motive to oppose this but I'm not quite sure what this is.

2) Why would Grisanti and Ceretto carry this?  Both are aligned with Senator Maziarz who  has made it pretty clear that USA Niagara has been a complete failure.  Does it make sense to expand failure?  Plus, Maziarz voted for the bill.    The only thing I can guess is that this is a actually a way to redefine USA Niagara's mission and perhaps encourage some turnover.    Maybe it's a way to make lemonade from an agency that only seems to give the community lemons?

3) How does any of this actually help the Aquarium secure the funds they need.  First, there is no money anywhere in the state.  Second, USA Niagara's track record is rather abysmal (Experience Center, anyone?) This seems like an attempt to show progress on a project that no doubt would be great but clearly has no momentum right now and isn't going anywhere any time soon. 

4) Did Delmonte really weigh in? If so, why?  And isn't that a violation of her two-year ban on lobbying.  Is DelMonte bound and determined to stop anything and everything that Ceretto tries to do? Is she really that petty and vindictive?  If these answers are all yes, then even I underestimated the depths she might be wiling to sink.

With session ending in the next few days, the bill appears dead for now.  But the questions it raises aren't going away any time soon.

June 20, 2011

Maybe There Is A Chance For the Falls

OK, I know that headline grabbed your attention and maybe you're saying to yourself, "Is Hobbes finally going soft."  After all, what would make me every remotely optimistic about the future of the Falls? Well, hold onto your hat because it was a Mark Scheer column in the Niagara Gazette.  Now, I know you're blown away.

Explanation:  Scheer wrote a nice little column about partnerships in the Falls.  More specific, he talked about how NCCC and the Seneca Nation were teaming up regarding the culinary institute and how it could be a win/win for both.  NCCC President Jim Klyczek said he hoped to partner with the DiCienzo family, the new owners of the new Sheraton Hotel, as well.

What got me excited is that the realization that good things can happen and the key to that is NOT involving Paul Dyster and his inept city government in any meaningful way.  Dyster opposed the IDA deal for DiCienzo. Dyster would be still be fighting with David Corsdish at the Rainbow Mall. Dyster likes train stations with no train traffic.  He simply has no sense of what it means to create jobs and is an obstacle to economic development.  But, if you can work your way around the obstacle, then you might have a shot at progress.

So, good work NCCC and Senecas.  Keep it up.  And keep the city at arm's length.

June 16, 2011

Punishing Students at NCCC

Today's Buffalo News article on the NCCC Trustee meeting was a little disturbing.  First some quick background.  The College budget needs to be approved by the County Legislature every year.  The County makes a financial commitment to the College called local share.  For the last several years, NCCC has requested an increase in local share while the county has kept it flat.  This year that scenario played out again.

So, obviously the College then needs to go back and tweak its budget for the increase in money it wanted from the County but didn't get, in this case $350,000.  Apparently, one option being considered is an increase in student tuition above and beyond the 4 percent that has already been approved.  What an outrage.

It's no secret that many students, especially from working class families, turn to community colleges as a less expensive alternative to begin their higher education.  Many of these families have been hurt very badly by this recession, many parents have lost their jobs and the prospects for the next few years don't look good.

With that as the backdrop, how in good conscience could the trustees ever consider a tuition hike?  NCCC needs to find other ways to cut their budget starting with the fat faculty contract.  It's no secret that NCCC President Jim Klyczek has been trying to reign in these costs, but the faculty in their ivory tower refuse to do anything to help. 

Just remember while your struggling, the NCCC faculty still have ELECTIVE COSMETIC PLASTIC SURGERY in their contracts.  While they whine about wanting fat raises and haven't had  a contract for years, they still have been getting step increases each year.  Have you gotten a raise every year since the recession hit?  I'm told they pay little to nothing for their gold-plated health insurance that taxpayers on the hook for until they die.   OUTRAGEOUS and THEY WANT MORE!!!

So, to everyone involved, don't punish the kids who are trying to build their future so the fatcats can have more.  A four percent tuition hike is more than enough.

June 13, 2011

Some Notes Collected....

Some notes collected while wondering whatever happened to Dan Mocniak….

·        Councilman Sam Fruschione is calling into question a “report” given by the Idaho developer who is supposedly creating a Christmas Bizarre in Niagara Falls.  Seems the report is light on details.  Does anyone at all think this crazy scheme will come to fruition and if it somehow does, if it will last more than one winter?

·        Speaking of crazy schemes, seems I haven’t heard from the Wizard of Oz amusement folks in a while.  I’m sure their financing will be happening any day now.

·        It may have taken 3 major accidents on Dysinger Road in 16 months to get the DOT to move toward action, but at least they are finally moving.  Congrats to Supervisor Mark Smith and Senator Maziarz on getting this addressed.

·        Speaking of roads, I came off the Robert Moses Parkway past the casino the other day and cut down 7th Street headed toward my destination.  For all those complaining about street conditions in Niagara Falls, your complaints are not nearly strong enough.  Unless b-52 bombers are hitting Niagara Falls every night, I have no ideas how those streets can be in such disrepair.

·        Michael Pillot’s entry into a Democrat primary against Jack Smith for Lockport Mayor is good news for Mayor Tucker.  Sources say Democrats have not endorsed in this race because while Smith should be the stronger candidate his council record is less than impressive which gives Pillot a chance in the primary.

·        History is indeed repeating itself in N.T. where the same cast of unsuccessful candidates are running again.  What’s the old saying….insanity is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting a different result.