March 27, 2012

We bet this story has a happy ending...

No doubt, you’ve heard the news out of Ontario: brothels are now legal.

We think the Buffalo News really dropped the ball with their headline writing, however.  For such a monumental occasion, they could have done much better.

We invite you, Dear Readers, to offer suggestions for better headlines here.  We’ll forward the best ones to the News.

March 16, 2012

Quote of the Decade

“I’m very concerned about disrupting what has been a very successful strategy for economic development in the downtown area.”

March 15, 2012

Senecas' Gamble Backfires

The Seneca Nation of Indians is learning about the Law of Unintended Consequences this morning.
If you haven’t already heard, a deal between the New York State Assembly and Senate to pass several measures has already cleared the Assembly, and is likely to pass in the Senate as well.  The deal covers a lot of ground—including attacking bloated pension costs and establishing a statewide DNA database—but most interestingly, it allows for seven new non-Indian casinos in New York.
Truth be told, we were always somewhat favorably inclined toward giving the Indians a monopoly on gaming in New York.  We have always held the view that the native peoples of the United States were screwed by the federal and state governments repeatedly during the first 100-plus years of this nation’s independence, and that the abject poverty that grew out of the reservation system was less a reflection on the Indians’ way of life than on a paternalistic federal government.
The chance to get rich offering people a vice that was tightly regulated elsewhere seemed like a good way of making amends.
When talk of expanding non-Indian gaming at racetracks and elsewhere came along, we were skeptical.  Actually, we were inclined to think it amounted to the state engaging in what was once known as “Indian giving.”
We even understood the Senecas’ anger over those proposals.
The problem is, though, the Senecas sought preemptive revenge against Albany and withheld slot revenues due to the state and the host communities under the casino compact between the state and the Indian tribes—and in doing so, they ended up hurting the host communities, which had largely been on their side, and provided much of their customer base, far more than they hurt Albany.
As we said, we once would have defended the Indians’ gaming monopoly.  But today, we find ourselves cheering on Albany in this fight, because the Senecas actions hurt our region.
We’d love to hear what others have to say on this topic, though.

March 13, 2012

Niagara County Lawmaker to Washington: Can You Hear Me Now?

First off, we would be remiss if we didn’t note St. Bonaventure’s NCAA bid.  The scrappy little Catholic school certainly has brought distinction to itself this year, and has really been the best thing happening in New York State college basketball this side of Syracuse.  We wish the Bonnies well, although we’re really not quite sure what a Bonnie is.  Still, they’re representing WNY in the Big Dance, and we hope that March Madness goes a few games longer for them.
That being said, we’re really impressed with the stand that Niagara County Legislator John Syracuse has taken.  Syracuse is leading the fight against another taxpayer-funded giveaway: free cell phones for those with low incomes.  Syracuse specifically called out Congress, and by extension, the politically-endangered Kathy Hochul.  What’s somewhat surprising, though, is that Syracuse found a unanimous County Legislature lining up behind him on this issue.
The free cell phones stem from the FCC is abusing the hell out of a 1930s law that mandated a Universal Service Fee to run telephone lines to poor and backwards places, like the Tennessee Valley of that era.  The intention was never to hand out free cell phones to everyone receiving Medicaid, although that’s apparently what it has morphed into. The problem is, no one is regulating who's getting the phones, or what they're being used for.
Syracuse has previously distinguished himself by his willingness to take on fuzzy-headed liberal programs.  This is no exception.
Well done.

March 8, 2012

Phil Rumore is 100 Percent Correct

Yes, you indeed read that headline correctly. While we here at Niagara Times are often viewed as right of center, we prefer to view ourselves are the voice of reason and common sense. Now, those aren't words that many would associate with Buffalo Teacher Union honcho Phil Rumore, probably one of the most despised men in WNY.

Rumore led his union to reject a teacher evaluation plan that would include students who miss classes 20 percent of the time in those evaluations. The Buffalo News cried that the teachers rejecting this plan would cost the school district millions and added that it is the job of the teachers to make sure students attend class. That is probably the dumbest fucking thing I have ever read from idiots who write a lot of stupid things.

Why in God's name should teachers agree to be evaluated on anything beyond their control? I can understand using test scores as part of the equation to identify teachers who aren't making the grade. But we're talking about judging teachers on students who don't show.

Perhaps what we really need is a parent evaluation system. Yes, let's start there. Let's fine parents who kids are chronically skipping. For those on public assistance, let's tie those monthly checks to student attendance. Let's put the responsibility for getting kids to school where it belongs.

Just imagine if you're a dance instructor, swimming coach, driving instructor, pick anything that trains people. Let's go driving instructor. You're going to be judged on how many of those assigned to your driving class pass their driver's exam. That includes those who missed 20 percent of your driving instruction...and maybe that's days you were teaching how to parallel park or three point turn. These people then fail their exam and everyone puts the blame on you. Does that make sense?

We need accountability in the classroom across New York State. But that accountability starts at home but the politicians won't say it. Phil Rumore did. Good for him.

March 7, 2012

Canadian Bacon isn't Pork

While we’d love to chime in about Super Tuesday’s results (a less-than-impressive showing by the frontrunner—again) we’d be remiss if we didn’t focus, instead, on a questionable move by the Cuomo Administration right in our own backyard.
The Buffalo News has reported that the Governor—whose is otherwise doing a decent job, in our view—has taken an axe to New York’s trade mission in Toronto.
Bad idea.                                                                                                                                      
We’re a bit parochial here, given our proximity to the Canucks.  But we also understand the value of drawing Canadian commerce to our region.
It’s so important, in fact, that the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency is making a renewed push for Canadian firms to come here, absent a push by the state.
With four international border crossings between Niagara and Erie counties, and no other bridge into Canada—the U.S.’s top trade partner—until you get to the St. Lawrence River, this seems like a blunder.  As the Buffalo News points out, New York and Canada exchanged more than $35 billion in trade last year.   And of that, $1.25 billion stayed in Buffalo.
Risking that to save $380,000 seems silly.  Surely, the Governor can find $380,000 in real pork to cut somewhere else—and leave the Canadian bacon alone.

March 1, 2012

Ceretto Smacks Down DelMonte...Again

In a move that is sure to have former Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte devastated, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has approved John Ceretto's recommendation of Renae Kimble to the Niagara Falls Water Board.

Renae Kimble is hated by Francine DelMonte. This appointment, in my opinion, signifies the "end of an error" in Niagara County politics. That being Ms. DelMonte's political career.

Not only is her rival getting an important appointment, but it is reccomended by the gentleman who beat her for the Assembly seat she thinks belongs to her, and still lists as her employer on her Facebook page. It was supported by three local Democratic Councilmen, all whom she has tried to get rid of.

Finally, the appointment was made by Speaker Sheldon Silver, whom she has devoted her entire tenure in the Assembly too, often times ignoring the needs of her constituents to make him happy.

So either Speaker Silver insulted Francine on purpose, he didn't care, or Francine told him she was done.
So, now Francine can continue being an unemployed person and collect her fat pension she took for her years of screwing Niagara County and leave us all alone.

My Mid Morning Brain Dump

Welcome to my brain dump where I give my gutshot reaction to all that's going on:

1) It's about time Kathy Hochul got grilled for her position on forcing the Catholic Church to abandon its principles. Maybe her free ride in the media is coming to an end.

2) There's a strong rumor going around that Antoine Thompson may run again for State Senate once the lines are finalized. Did I miss the clamoring of public uproar calling for the return of, know a return to the good old days when Antoine was in office? Didn't think so.

3) Amy Witryol is soliciting funds for another run against State Senator George Maziarz. Yawn.

4) Francie Delmonte appears ready to run again as well. See #4.

5) Looks like Louise Slaughter may be kicked out of WNY in redistricting. Good riddance. Redistricting could prove to be very good for Niagara County if the county is fully united in one Congressional district.

6) Several sources have confirmed that Paul Dyster finally attended the Niagara USA Chamber dinner this year, with close to 500 people in attendance. The Niagara Times has been critical of Dyster in the past for failing to attend this major business event. Maybe Paul is smartening up.

7) Don't count me among those who are happy that the Maid of the Mist lost its contract for the Canadian side to a California firm. The Glynn family which owns the Maid have been community stewards for a long time and are good people. Let's hope they can survive on the American side.