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.