Archive | May, 2007

I Spel Reel Gud

30 May

Paul Clark is going to definitely make an excellent County Executive, seeing as he can’t be bothered to proofread the animated little banner ad that he paid Joe Illuzzi several grand to post:

Click for full size

HT AK in comments

Out of Line

30 May

Illuzzi has been posting an occasional series of biting cartoons attacking County Executive candidate Jim Keane. They’re pretty facile, but this one frame made me do a double-take:


First off, I don’t think there’s any fairness in the allegation that Keane is affiliated with or a member of the Ku Klux Klan, so we can dispense with that little bit of defamation. But what really irked me was the “Uncle Tom Section” in the back.

One of the black individuals in that box says,

Ol’ James sure looks good in white, don’t he?

I mean, why not dress them up in full minstrel gear while you’re at it.

Separated at Birth

30 May

Vladimir Putin

Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale

With apologies to the late, lamented Spy Magazine.

Today at 2pm on WNYM

30 May

On her stream/podcast, Michele Johnson will hold “activist hour”, featuring Bob Franke from the Grant/Ferry Association, Michael Gainer from Buffalo ReUse, Cindy of the Cazenovia St Block Club, Jessica B will talk about Buffalo Old Home week schedule of Events, and Michelle will update us on what Broadway Fillmore Alive is up to.

As an added feature, Michele will feature new music from TRONEZ.


30 May

Did you check out today?

Nurses Needed for Baby Mikey

29 May

Regular listeners of Christina Abt’s “Buffalostyle” show will recall the Mother’s Day show featuring, among others, Michelle Kasprzyk, whom Christina profiled here, and is in today’s Buffalo News.

The family is maintaining a blog about Mikey’s progress, but they still need in-home nursing assistance 16 hours per day.

Anyone who can help with names or information is urged to send an email to

Red Light Cameras

29 May

The City wants to install them at certain intersections, and the state legislature is balking; the bill is stuck in committee. I’m not a fan of traffic control cameras for two reasons.

Firstly, they take away the police officer’s discretion as to whether a ticket is given.

Secondly, they don’t target the offending driver; they target the car.

In a bow to some of the controversies surrounding red light camera programs, Buffalo has agreed that it would treat red light infractions as violations, like parking tickets, meaning that no points would be added to a driver’s license.

However, that means the car owner is legally responsible for paying the ticket, no matter who was driving at the time.

The city says it won’t photograph the driver but would record only the license plate from behind.

How soon before that’s amended to provide for it to be a no-points moving violation? Then on to points?

One Mile Over We’ll Be There and We’ll See You

29 May

Build the roundabouts. They’re exponentially safer.

GST Rebate Programme RIP

29 May

As of April 1, 2007, the Canadian Government’s GST rebate program is no more. You can still apply for the rebate on items purchased before that date, but everything bought since then is subject to the Canadian GST of 6%, and the Ontario PST of 8% on most purchases.

Erie County’s 8.75% sales tax is much more palatable than Ontario’s 14%, especially given that the Canadian dollar is almost at par with ours.

This means that it just got a lot better for domestic, local merchants.

The Buffalo News focused on the reasons why it’s difficult to attract big name chains to WNY, and that it has to do with moribund income growth.

On top of that, that weekly wage translates into a job that pays $35,828 a year, nearly $5,000 less than the $40,768 average nationally. That means workers in the Buffalo Niagara region are getting by on paychecks that are almost $100 a week smaller than the national average.

That may be, but those workers in the Buffalo Niagara region tend to have more buying power with that $36k/year than many of their peers. But those statistics become starker when you consider:

Without income growth, new retailers who move into the Buffalo Niagara market have to win their customers by taking sales away from the stores that are already here. Open a new store in a growing market like Phoenix, and a retailer can build a customer base partly from people moving into the area and customers whose per capita personal incomes are growing at close to the national average.

A retailer has to compete by offering better prices, better service, or both? I find it a bit hard to sympathize.

In a growing market, that rising tide puts a stiff breeze at a retailer’s back.

The reality here is that there isn’t much more money in the region now than there was in the mid-1990s. If you added up all the money people here make from their wages, the interest and dividends they receive, the Social Security they get and all other forms of income, it’s less than 1 percent more than it was in 1995 after you adjust for inflation.

In other words, the pie here is just about as big as it was a decade ago, while it’s 30 percent bigger nationally. That’s because we’re losing people, which reduces the overall amount of earnings here, while our wage growth lags behind as well.

Consequently, the pie in the Buffalo Niagara region was the 48th biggest in the country in 2005. Ten years earlier, it was the 41st biggest, according to recently revised statistics on personal income from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Indeed, as the region shrinks and its remaining population ages, we’re getting more of our personal income from government- backed programs, ranging from Social Security to a variety of social welfare programs.

That was the fastest-growing component of the region’s personal income over the last decade and those payments accounted for slightly more than 20 percent of the region’s personal income in 2005, up from just over 19 percent in 1995.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary in Buffalo-Niagara is $37,400. In Charlotte, it’s $39,710. In Cleveland, it’s $39,640. In Pittsburgh, it’s $36,700.

Based on that, we’re not horribly out of whack.

The metropolitan area’s cessation in the middle of our international crossings is somewhat artificial when it comes to matters economic. That’s why the DHS’s about-face on shared border management at the Peace Bridge, for example, is so troubling. There’s a market of over 5 million people within the Toronto area and Niagara Region.

So, is that information being conveyed when we sell ourselves to national retailers?


29 May

If there’s a market in downtown Buffalo for $400,000 – $700,000 condominiums (some with ginormous tax abatements), and there’s a market downtown for $600$1200 rental loft units, wouldn’t it follow that there’s a huge, untapped market for condominium units that cost between $70 – 190k?