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.