Archive | October, 2007

Tor-Buff-Chester, meet Schengen

31 Oct

Richard Florida, the “Creative Class” guy, argues that Toronto is the heart of a new megalopolis (think Wash-NYC-Bos) that stretches west to London, ON, east to Quebec City, and south to Buffalo and Rochester. He argues that megalopolises are the real economic engines throughout the world.

One thing he mentions is bizarre to me – that Torontonians view their city as second-rate. I can tell you that Toronto is as world-class as a city can get, and Buffalonians are blessed to live so close to it. Even if you never go. Because with the strong Canadian dollar now, and our comparatively low sales taxes, Ontario plates have become ubiquitous throughout Western New York, but I haven’t crossed the border since early July.

The heart of Florida’s Globe & Mail article:

All of this convinces me that place, not statehood, is the central axis of our time and of our global economy. What it means for Toronto is simple: A mega-region needs to think and act like a mega-region, not like a bunch of separate cities with empty space between them. For instance, Tor-Buff-Chester needs regional investments in transportation – a real high-speed rail line between all the cities, for instance, and one that crosses borders. Mega-regions benefit from global hub airports like Toronto’s Pearson, New York’s JFK, Chicago’s O’Hare or London’s Heathrow. Direct flights from Pearson to Asia are a major plus for the entire mega-region. But the best way to get around one is not by plane or car but by fast rail. Europe has this one figured out.

Fixing the border problem will be key. As an American and frequent traveller to the States, I know that much of the problem is generated by Homeland Security paranoia of American authorities. But the mega-region needs to pro-actively figure this out. There’s lots of coverage of long lines of Torontonians trying to get to Buffalo to take advantage of the strong loonie. But huge amounts of trade go through those borders, and the ability of business travellers to get quickly from one destination to the next is critical to economic success of mega-regions. Tor-Buff-Chester needs fast, safe and efficient border crossings. It needs to be a priority to show the rest of North America how it can be done.

Both the Canadian and the US governments have been playing games with cross-border travel since 9/11. Certainly we need the borders to be protected, but let’s not kid ourselves. For every 60-minute delay at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, there’s an unmanned border crossing between northern New York/New England and Quebec.

Florida hit the nail on the head with the high-speed rail idea. A MagLev or TGV type train traveling on a dedicated track at speeds of well over 150 MPH could whisk you from Buffalo to Toronto in less than an hour. Rochester’s high-speed ferry was a literal Failboat, but extension of high-speed rail means that Rochester is a little over an hour away. It’s currently about a 3-hour drive from ROC-YYZ, and about 2 hours from BUF-YYZ.

Either way, it’d be an easy commute, when you compare it to people who trudge two hours to Manhattan from places like Port Jervis or the Poconos.

The only thing, however, that would truly open up what Florida calls the Tor-Buff-Chester to joint development as a megalopolis would look a lot like the EU’s Schengen border regime.

Citizens of the EU do not have to submit to formal passport controls when crossing intra-EU borders. Instead, the member states executed a treaty whereby the border controls of the EU itself are harmonized and strengthened. Not only that, but member states are able to temporarily re-establish individual border controls when necessary, and their police powers are extended:

The agreement also includes consent to share information about people, via the Schengen Information System. This means that a potentially undesirable person cannot ‘disappear’ simply by moving from one participant country to another as each country will know the same about the person’s background. Previously, a criminal with police in hot pursuit would be safe once they managed to cross the border, but under the agreement, police from one nation can cross national borders to chase their target for up to 30 km (‘hot pursuit’). The officers either have to wear their uniforms, or their vehicles have to be marked as police vehicles. The officers may only use their weapons for self-defence.

It’ll probably never happen because the political will in the US and Canada will probably never exist, but if the two governments could reach an agreement to ensure that all visitors to the US and Canada are subject to identical scrutiny, and that information about possible terrorists and other undesireables can be shared between the governments – i.e., Homeland Security and Immigration Canada work on the same playbook – we could allow for free movement between the two countries.

Until that happens, the megalopolis of the future – stretching from Lake Erie to the St Lawrence River – will have a barrier down its middle.

Florida also maintains a blog at the Globe & Mail, so you can comment here.

One Week To Go

30 Oct

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Campaign stuff is generally covered here, so I won’t go into it here.

I’ll post about the whole experience of running at a later date, but I can tell you that posting will probably be lighter than usual over the next several days. Finding 5 minutes to scan the paper or teh internets, and then posting something pithy here has become somewhat difficult. I might be twitting more than I’m posting. Soon, twits will be embedded in the site.

Almost there. Almost there.

Jim Keane: Honorary Goo Goo Doll?

30 Oct

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I wonder if Jim Keane called Robby Takac or John Rzeznik and asked permission to steal the melody from their song “Better Days” for his latest commercial. I also think it’s pretty humorous to tap into the emotional currency that the Sabres generated with that video during last seasons playoff run. People finding your campaign to be soulless and floundering? Lets subconciously remind everyone how hopeful we were during the Sabres Stanley Cup run last year!

Jim Keane Version

Goo Goo Dolls/Sabres Version

Chris Collins At Clarence Candidate Forum

30 Oct

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While Channel 2 was more interested in the fact that Jim Keane didn’t show up and there was little reported on the substance of the evening, we captured the entirety of Collins’ appearance at the Clarence Candidates Forum.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=363719&server=vimeo.com&fullscreen=1&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=c9ff23
Chris Collins at Candidate Forum from WNYMedia Video on Vimeo.

Vote Alan Bedenko

30 Oct

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Last night, our very own Buffalo Pundit appeared at a candidates forum in Clarence, NY. He had the opportunity to answer questions from the community while sitting side by side with 18 year incumbent Mike Ranzenhofer.

We had a camera on hand to capture the event.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=363752&server=vimeo.com&fullscreen=1&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=c9ff23
Alan Bedenko For County Legislator from WNYMedia Video on Vimeo.

Jib Jab Halloween Greetings

30 Oct

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The guys at JibJab have expanded past their typical political satire animations into holiday greetings…this is their first effort.

http://www.jibjab.com/v/208029

Banality of TV News

30 Oct

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Last night, I attended and participated in the Clarence candidates’ forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Because Chris Collins was also there, some press showed up. There was Chrissy Casilio, daughter of a Clarence Town Councilman and occasional Bauerle call-screener there getting tape for WBEN. There was Scott Brown, following Collins around like an albatross. There was Channel 4’s Alysha Palumbo. I watched her story later that night. The only thing of interest?

Collins showed up but Keane didn’t.

Well, last week Fedup and Geek went to a candidates’ forum in South Buffalo, and Keane was there, but Collins wasn’t.

So, where was Alysha Palumbo in her red pantsuit reporting breathlessly for a full 3 minutes about Collins’ absence from that forum?

What can we learn from this? One of two things (or maybe both):

1. They had a scheduling conflict;

2. Collins realizes that going to South Buffalo to troll for votes is a non-starter, and Keane knows that going to Clarence to troll for votes is a non-starter. Home turf an’ that.

I have an idea for a news station: WBFD.

You’re Playing Kindergarten, He’s Playing in the Big Leagues

30 Oct

Bill O’Loughlin left not one, but two voice messages for a couple who apparently slighted the candidate at their country club. Something about O’Loughlin getting their retention pond cleaned out and all they did was send a letter! And “Bob” needs to get “Marilyn” to leave Bill & his wife alone because they only get to go out a couple of times a week. The candidate implores Bob to “get your spouse under control”.

To me, there is no better comedy than hearing the automated voice of the answering machine cutting off a nasty tirade. It happens on the Stern show all the time; you hear someone going off, followed abruptly by “to erase or forward, press one” is gold.

But O’Loughlin wasn’t quite finished. He called back and specifically informed Bob & Marilyn that they’re not high income enough for him to bother with, and that he doesn’t want their money, and he doesn’t want their vote.

Gosh, one would think he was Fed Up or something.

Erie County Legislature 11th District – Normentum!

29 Oct

As a resident and prime voter, I like to think that I am pretty tuned into the political news in the 11th District in Erie County. Just when I thought the election for Erie County Legislator was decided after Lynn Marinelli handily defeated Joel Feroleto in the Democratic primary last month, I learned just how wrong that assumption was.

Ernie Norman, or as “Normaniacs” in the Parkside ‘hood like to call him, “Normentum”, has launched a fierce challenge to a well entrenched incumbent. The sheer populist fervor that surrounds his campaign has imbued Normentum with a disdain for the typical trappings of a political campaign. Things like signs, literature, door to door visits, phone calls, mailers, commercials, websites, interviews, or any indication that he is anything but a picture on Erie county GOP website are but a mere distraction for Normentum.

Normentum

None of this means that his campaign isn’t a serious, well-coordinated, stealthy, viral marketing campaign headed up by that guy who lives in the hole by the railroad tracks in North Buffalo. No sir, Normentum is not just a placeholder on the Republican line, he’s a threat to the political status quo in Erie County.

I was able to track down the elusive candidate for an exclusive interview. I had hoped to learn from the Master how we can win an election by essentially staying home. It’s an enlightening and educational two minute interview with the man who will change the face of Erie County forever.

Marketing mp3 Players

29 Oct

Here’s Apple’s ad for the iPod Touch.

It’s based on this ad, created by an 18 year old British kid, who posted it to YouTube:

Microsoft’s Zune used the same song in an ad last year. Compare the Apple ad to Microsoft’s.

HT TUAW