Archive | September, 2007

La Terra Promessa

30 Sep

cent'anni

On October 5th, at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, the Federation of Italian-American Societies of WNY will kickoff their 100th Anniversary (Cent’anni) with the world premier of “La Terra Promessa”, a film by Marc Odien of WNYMedia.net and Buffalo Icon Joey Giambra.

This film has been a labor of love for both Joey and Marc and serves as the official historical record of Italian-American culture in Western New York. “La Terra Promessa” details the history of the people, culture, faith, and family that distinguish Italian life and have made Buffalo such a wonderful ethnic city.

Please join us at the film and join the FIASWNY as they celebrate Cent’anni throughout the weekend with an original stage play by Neil Radice on October 6th and a Columbus Day Gala at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens on October 7th.

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“It’s about a city”

30 Sep

fs_53.jpg

Pano’s.

The mere mention of Pano’s Restaurant or owner Pano Georgiadis seems to drive the typical BRO reader into a frenzy of condescension and anger.

I’ll spare us all the discussion that will ensue if I discuss the merits of of Pano’s demolition of the building adjacent to his restaurant and instead focus on the plans he has for renovating his extremely popular restaurant on Elmwood Avenue.

Newell Nussbaumer wrote an agnostic thread without agenda about Pano submitting his plans for the renovation of his restaurant. However, the publishing of that post on BRO seemed to light the Bat-Signal for every armchair planner and condescending hipster in the Elmwood Village and beyond.

About 40 or so comments into the discussion, WNYM’s BuffaloPundit made an appearance and offered this bit of wisdom to counter the rhetoric about Pano being the devil incarnate and the presentation of this design being a critical juncture in Buffalo’s history:

Such heated discussion and vitriol over a diner.

It’s a diner, for f*ck’s sake. A diner.

To which Dave Steele rebutted:

No Pundit. It is a discussion about much more than a diner. It is a discussion about a city.

Is it really “about a city”?…

Of course it isn’t. What is about a city?

– As of 2006, 46 of the 76 Buffalo public schools were designated as failing or in need of improvement by the state or federal government.

– A violent crime rate that is more than double the national average and a property crime rate that is nearly double the national average.

– An economy that is dying on the vine.

– Corrupt politicians with their hands out at every turn and a “pay to play” economic development system in the City of Buffalo.

– Housing inspectors harassing citizens at the behest of [strike]city officials[/strike] anonymous complaints over gardens while large swaths of our built environment descend into arson and crime

– Members of the Buffalo Control Board who own homes in flagrant violation of city ordinances

Predatory house flippers picking at the carcass of our neighborhoods

Shall I go on?

For the love of fucking Christ, the number of curb cuts surrounding Pano’s, the size or presence of a strip of grass, the size and shape of the windows, etc…none of it matters without a concerted effort to rebuild the bones of this city. Arguing over the window dressing makes us look small, petty, arrogant, and reeks of a “Nero fiddles while Buffalo burns” mentality. When the city is again economically viable due to the loosening of the leash which Albany perpetually keeps wrapped around the neck of Buffalo, these types of subjective design arguments will no longer seem so vapid.

I would love it if as many people contributed positively to the issues that matter as do a thread about a diner at BRO. If that ever happened, Buffalo might actually begin to rise.

Michael Moore came to town

30 Sep

And all the College Republicans could settle on doing about it was to wear some lousy t-shirt.

I think this group of paragraphs is absolutely precious:

Leading up to the speech, UB’s chapter of the College Republicans contemplated mounting a protest outside the event but later decided against it, citing respect for the institution and a distaste for the act of protesting itself.

“It’s absolutely absurd that they would bring somebody like Michael Moore,” said Brad Latone, president of the UB College Republicans and a junior political science major. “His movies aren’t factually based, he doesn’t always tell the truth in his movies, and I just don’t think it’s the right person to bring to a distinguished speakers series.”

In preparation for Moore’s appearance, students had planned to dress up a classmate as Moore and embark on a guerrilla “mockumentary” crusade across campus. But the plan was reduced to a T-shirt with the phrase “Liberal Fascist” and a crude caricature of Moore wearing an undersized T-shirt bearing the slogan “No Fat Chicks.”

It doesn’t get more Pythonesque than that. Really, this could be in the Onion.

UPDATE: The article isn’t worded quite that well, but it appears that the college Republicans weren’t the ones who thought of the stunts & t-shirts. It was just “students”.

Buffalo ’63

30 Sep

More precisely, it’s a clip from the old show Route 66 that was shot in Buffalo’s Central Terminal in 1963. HT to Shades of Gray for the clip:

http://www.thebuffalotube.com/flvplayer.swf?file=http://www.thebuffalotube.com/flvideo/207.flv&autostart=true&showfsbutton=true

You know what today is

29 Sep

Iz Caturday Kthxbai.

i iz blogginz / leef IÂ alonze

Everett doing better

29 Sep

This was sent by an anonymous tipster, and underscores just how hilarious it can be when local news screws it all up.

Petro-axis

29 Sep

Venezuela and Iran are BFF. They added each other as MySpace friends and Facebook. (Ahmadinejad “poked” Chavez, I hear).

What a wonderful rationale for the US to find alternative fuels for our transportation needs, as soon as possible. The country, however, is completely backwards. We think that giving drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens is a huge public safety issue. Yet, we refuse to implement tougher mileage standards for cars – standards that Europe exceeded long ago – and we make-believe that corn is the answer to all our problems, and that we’ll all drive on into the future in a 10 MPG Chevy Avalanche running E85.

It’s 2007. Surely we can find something other than corn and petroleum with which to fuel the future of American transport.

More on XSPAND

28 Sep

Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz completed an analysis of past county efforts to conduct its own lien collections, and sent it to ECFSA Chairman Anthony Baynes. Click here for the whole thing in .pdf format.

The best the county was ever able to do on its own was 102.6% XSPAND is paying 105% What else do you need to know?

I Prefer Smartfood®

28 Sep

OK.

You’re aware of Illuzzi. You’re aware of Gramigna.

Welcome to the 5% of WNYers who give a crap.

Gramigna leaves Illuzzi. Over the past few days, a feud has slowly been brewing between the two.

(Joe, start using a blog template, so I can hyperlink directly to a particular article)

Now? Illuzzi has pretty much copied – verbatim – Gramigna’s report on last night’s Cuomo visit. But he did add “excerpts from published reports” at the very end.

Pass the popcorn.

Buffalo News to ECFSA: let’s privatize

28 Sep

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Color me surprised that the Buffalo News endorses selling a block of recent delinquent tax liens to a private corporation called “XSPAND”. Republican CE candidate Chris Collins opposes the deal because…

This proposal illustrates the incompetence of the career politicians and demonstrates the lack of any real business skill or experience. As a local businessman with more than 500 local employees, I would never think of selling my accounts receivable at a substantial discount for short-term gain. No person in the business world would.”

Really? How is it, then, that credit agencies continue not only to exist, but thrive. Particularly in this area.

Even Democratic CE candidate Jim Keane has criticized the deal

Keane sees it as a one-shot revenue source and wants the county, not a private entity, collecting property taxes, Van Every said.

It’s a one-shot this year. If we privatize the collection of delinquent 2007 liens, it’ll be a one-shot then. Etc., ad infinitum.

The legislature has already approved the deal 12-3. The Comptroller has said repeatedly that it’s a good deal.

Right now, the county can either privatize the collection of 2006 and some older tax liens, or shift the work in-house at significant cost in salaries and legacy costs. The county should show taxpayers exactly how many people it would take to do this work, and how much it would cost. Furthermore, the county should show us what its past success has been in handling these collections; I’ve heard it that, at best, the county was able to muster about $1.03 on the dollar in the past, which is less than what XSPAND is willing to pay.

The county gets all of the delinquent taxes paid, plus 5%. XSPAND assumes all of the risk that they’ll get substantially less, while keeping the ability to get 18% in interest and fees. If the taxes had been paid on time in the first place, the county wouldn’t have this problem. Plus, whether the county is able to actually collect the delinquent taxes or not, they still have to kick down to the municipalities and school districts.

This is a good deal, and people’s concerns should be allayed by a comprehensive review of the county’s own past efforts, and what it would cost to resume them. But privatizing these kinds of tasks, when possible and cost-effective, should always be examined and pursued.