Archive | March, 2007

County Republicans endorse Collins

31 Mar

From a GOP press release:

The Executive Committee of the Erie County Republican Committee today endorsed Chris Collins for County Executive. The Executive Committee voted unanimously to support Collins, who announced his candidacy earlier this week.

“Today the Republican Party in Erie County has endorsed a leader, entrepreneur, and reformer to become our next County Executive,” said James Domagalski, ECRC Chairman. “The other party will offer the voters another politician in November. Chris Collins is a business leader with a proven track record of success. The other party will talk about economic development. Chris Collins has personally created or saved over 500 jobs in Western New York. The other party will say they will reform government. Chris Collins has reformed several local companies, turning them into vibrant, customer based, profitable enterprises. The other party represents the status quo. Chris Collins represents a new generation of bold leadership that can and will do better for the people of Erie County.”

On Wednesday of this week, the ECRC County Executive Search Committee met and unanimously recommended Collins to the Executive Committee for endorsement. A day earlier, Collins announced his candidacy at Volland Electric in Cheektowaga. Just a few short years ago, Volland Electric was in financial distress before Collins stepped in to help stabilize the company, saving 110 local jobs in the process.

“Erie County needs a Chief Executive, not another Chief Politician,” said Collins following the endorsement meeting. “Politicians have controlled Erie County government for decades and they have continuously resisted reform and failed to create economic opportunity for our community. I know how to turn troubled companies around, and I think it is time to take the same approach and apply it to Erie County government.”

“We will do it by focusing on my three R’s – reforming county government, rebuilding our economy, and reducing taxes,” continued Collins. “Just like the three R’s – reading, writing, and arithmetic – provide a roadmap for a successful education, my three R’s will provide a roadmap for true change and prosperity in Erie County. I am grateful for the Republican Party endorsement and the strong support I have received from members of this Committee.”

Collins is married and has three children and one grandchild. He and his wife, Mary, live in Clarence.

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If it’s Sunday, it’s Hardline with Kevin Hardwick

31 Mar

This Sunday at 10am on WBEN 930-AM the Professor will be joined by Joel Giambra during the first hour, and Buffalo News political reporter Bob McCarthy during the second hour.

Sweet

30 Mar

Ricky Gervais. Madison Square Garden. I’ve got tickets.

And No One Wore Flannel

30 Mar

The ECHDC is taking this deal very seriously – holding meetings, wearing suits, and speaking in moderated tones about a project they’re very excited about.

I attended today’s press conference and ECHDC meeting, and my straight take on it is here. WNYMedia video:

If they can pull this off, it’ll be amazing. I love this project and I based on what I heard, everyone is doing all the right things with respect to its design and implementation. The real challenge will be to do this with the Skyway in place. That thing needs to go – not because it’s dangerous in the snow, but because it’s fugly and physically separates the city from its waterfront while also taking up precious, valuable real estate.

The $25 million to help prep the site and construct the building is a lot of money, and I’m sure many will balk at spending it. Point taken. But rather than the old deal whereby Bass Pro would pay a penny’s worth of rent per year for the Aud, the store will pay $300,000 per year for the right to be located in “Canal Side.” In addition, project developer Benderson will complete a mixed-use project on no fewer than four city blocks. Not one of those blocks has paid a dollar in property taxes to the city in 50 years. That’s about to change.

The idea is not only to give us locals somewhere nice to go along the waterfront, but to give Niagara Falls visitors somewhere else to go whilst on this side of the border. Hell, even Canadians will come there to pay our relatively modest 8.75% sales tax as compared with their GST/PST nut.

The design is no abomination, but pays homage to what the city looked like 150 years ago. I saw that some are decrying the fact that green space is being lost to this Bass Pro store, but people don’t generally come downtown for green space. Especially not in the wintertime. Public access to the waterfront is guaranteed with walkways and plazas. The overall project will also include a large marketplace for local merchants, an aquarium, and a museum.

This is a glorified outdoor mall, yes. But it’s the kind of thing that can really help revive a downtown that suffered rigor mortis decades ago. You want Buffalo to be a cool city with cool things to do? You build cool places to go. I think this project is wicked cool.

Some questions I asked:

Byron, how important was the 30-day deadline to get this done, and how about auctioning off the contents of the Aud?

Eric (Recoon from Benderson Development), what the heck is a “special tenancy?”

A recording of the entire press conference is here.

Corruption

29 Mar

The Bush Administration has been using the GSA (General Services Administration) for political ends. Specifically, a meeting of GSA managers included a powerpoint presentation explaining how best to distribute GSA funding so as to help turn certain congressional districts from (D) to (R).

Because we’ve returned to that quaint anachronism of “checks and balances” as set forth in that other quaint anachronism the “Constitution”, tough questions are being asked, and lame answers are being given.

GSA resources should be spent where they’re needed. Not where they’ll most help the Republican agenda.

Watch Brian Higgins go:

Spree

29 Mar

1. Check out the 27 must-visit restaurants in WNY as decided upon by Spree writers.

2. Barry Muskat has an exquisitely written roundup of the now-deceased Elmwood / Forest hotel. Bloody BANANAs.

3. Jen14221 checks out some local blogs, and some not-so-local ones, too.

4. I have a review of the Bistro Europa on Elmwood, as well as the premiere of my car column, including a roundup of the Detroit Auto Show and a review of the Saturn Outlook.

5. What wine to drink with Buffalo food.

Router Follies

29 Mar

After 4 days and about an hour with Apple technical support, I returned the not-working-properly Apple AirPort Extreme router, received my refund, and purchased a D-Link 801.11g router. Its price was 25% of that of the Apple, and it works perfectly, right out of the box.

Iran

29 Mar

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Iran’s M.O. when dealing with international issues hasn’t changed much since 1979. Problem? Take hostages!

What’s amusing to me is that Britain is having none of it and has proven through GPS that its troops were well within Iraqi territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, engaged in a UN mission.

I can’t fathom why Iran pulled this stunt, but it’s not great PR.

10:34 Update

29 Mar

On the Mayor Brown’s car got stolen story:

The thief who stole Mayor Brown’s sport utility vehicle probably had a key, Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said today.

“I guess it would appear that’s a distinct possibility,” Gipson said as he mentioned that the steering column of the Chevrolet Equinox had not been damaged … one way thieves override the ignition system to rip off a car.

Gipson also said there was no discernible sign the Chevrolet Equinox had been broken into.

The “thief”

– had a key
– didn’t damage the glass or the steering column to get in or get it started
– was driving towards the Mayor’s house at the time the accident happened
– got out of the car and walked towards the Mayor’s house after the accident happened.

Somehow doesn’t seem to me to be some random grand theft auto.

Bass Pro Deal to Be Announced Friday

29 Mar

Brian Higgins is confirming that the Bass Pro deal is signed, and will be announced on Friday.

I actually spoke with a representative from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and Bass Pro on Tuesday, and you can get some more details about that here.

UPDATE: From the Buffalo News:

The agreement forecasts a spring 2008 construction start, with Bass Pro and other retailers opening by mid-2009 on the five-acre site, which is bounded by Scott and Main streets, the historic Commercial Slip and the Buffalo River.

In addition to construction of a Bass Pro store, designed to resemble a circa 1800s commercial building, the plan also calls for an adjacent cluster of retail shops, linked to a 300-car parking garage.

An Erie Canal/Great Lakes Museum, waterside promenade, public plaza, and a linear water feature on the former site of the Prime Slip are also part of the blueprint.

Under terms of the predevelopment agreement, Bass Pro would receive $25 million in public funding to open a waterfront store. Bass Pro would be required to pay a common area fee of $300,000 a year to help support the Erie Canal Harbor district.

The deal also provides the city with $10 million to pay for demolition of the vacant Memorial Auditorium, which had long been the hoped-for site of a Buffalo Bass Pro Shops store.

Buffalo-born Benderson Development will act as the project’s developer, overseeing construction of the outdoor store and additional retail on the waterfront site, as well as mixed used projects on the Aud site, Donovan State Office Building site, and the vacant Webster Block, in front of HSBC Arena.

The development process “will necessarily” include fresh environmental impact studies to evaluate the feasibility and appropriateness of bringing the mix of retail, entertainment and historical venues to the site, according to the harbor panel source.