Archive | November, 2007

“Made In America” – Town Hall Meeting in Buffalo

30 Nov

On Thursday Night, John Ratzenberger, host of The Travel Channel television show “Made In America” was in Buffalo at Ani DiFranco’s “Babeville” to discuss the slow death of America’s manufacturing base. WNYM was on hand to record the full event and we’d like to present it in its entirety.

Rather than boiling the issue of America’s decline as a producer of goods down to an anti-union/pro-union discussion, I’d like to point you in the direction of a comment made by BuffaloHodgepodge in this thread last week. I think it’s a good place to start the discussion…

For better or for worse, the issue actually has very little to do with either the manufacturer or the worker. It’s all about the consumer. The day consumers start lining up to spend 30-70% premiums on goods that are exactly the same except a “Made in the USA” label on it is the day consumer product and textile manufacturing returns onshore.

Or, a creative firm needs to create a luxury brand that allows it to serve a niche, profitable market at a higher price point. Appealing to patriotism has consistently failed as a marketing strategy – as shown by the Big Three automobile manufacturers since the 1980s.

What are your thoughts?

Random Thoughts: Baker’s Dozen

30 Nov

Today was a crazy day, and I’m looking forward to a crazy weekend. Therefore, with apologies to Dan Meyer, a couple of random thoughts:

1. It’s cold outside.

2. Listening to Sirius channel 32, I realized that I am very much sad that I’ll never see the Dead live again.

3. It’s my birthday Sunday, and I might have a birthday present for all of you that day if everything works out ok.

4. Sunday on Hardwick: Kevin Gaughan from 10 – 11, and Sam Hoyt from 11 – 12.

5. Santaland returns to the Chestnut Ridge Park next weekend and the week after that. Email me if you’re available to volunteer, and I’ll pass it on to the people organizing it this year.

6. Maria Whyte’s column in today’s News was an interesting take on the whole control board borrowing issue. If you haven’t read it, please do.

7. I don’t really care that certain of Collins’ campaign team are on the county payroll now, so long as they intend to remain on the payroll and do the people’s work come January 1st.

8. I don’t know about you, but the idea that the NYS Power Authority was busy using ratepayers’ money to make charitable contributions pisses me off. WNY pays higher-than-average electricity rates despite having Niagara effing Falls and its hydroelectric goodness in our own backyard, and NYPA should probably be abolished along with the other leech Authorities.

9. I’ve been shopping at the Circle-J. Have you? It’s fun!

10. Fed Up went to the Cliff Claven John Ratzenberger “Keep it Made in the USA” event last night at Babeland.

11. Geek turned me on to Yo Gabba Gabba, and now Mia loves it. It’s Dee-Lite meets Teletubbies:

12. Evel Knievel, RIP.

13. My hopes aren’t very high, but I really, really hope this works.

Dear Canadian Shoppers:

29 Nov

Thank you for shopping Erie County stores. You’ve not only helped us avert a projected budget deficit, but so much so that if the XSPAND tax lien sale doesn’t go through, we’ll still probably be in the black.

Love, BP.

Niagara Falls Judge Robert Restaino

29 Nov

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct decided to remove Restaino from the bench as punishment for a 2005 incident when the judge jailed his entire courtroom because no one would fess up to a ringing cellphone.

Read the whole decision.

I’ve been before Restaino only one time, on a civil matter, but I found him to be quite cordial, and he conducted his courtroom in a reasonable and respectful matter. It’s a shame that he snapped so badly that it cost him this job, and that this one incident relegates him to the “strange but true” category of news. Restaino intends to appeal.

Lynn DeJac

29 Nov

First, Anthony Capozzi ended his stint in a state penitentiary when it was discovered that Altemio Sanchez had committed the crime for which Capozzi was convicted.

Now, Lynn DeJac ends her stint in a state penitentiary after Erie County Judge D’Amico ordered a new trial for her based on newly discovered evidence;

This court must conclude that if the newly discovered forensic evidence was available at the time of trial, there exists a reasonable probability that the verdict in the defendant’s trial would have been more favorable to the defendant

Judge D’Amico should know
. After all, he presided over DeJac’s 1994 trial.

Although the District Attorney opposed the granting of a new trial, to his credit he did not oppose DeJac being released on her own recognizance yesterday afternoon. The jury didn’t convict DeJac of intentional murder, but instead had found her guilty of “depraved indifference” murder. The case law has changed in the last 13 years, and it is now the DA’s intention to re-try DeJac on the charge of 2nd Degree Manslaughter. If convicted, she gets credit for her 13 years served and will never see the inside of a jail cell again due to this particular charge.

If acquitted, it will be a bittersweet victory for DeJac, no doubt. No one can bring back her daughter, who was likely killed by a man who is immune from prosecution for it. At least she will be able for the first time to visit her daughter’s grave. No one can give her back those 13 lost years, either. She returns home penniless, returned to a world much-changed since 1994.

If you want to see what it looks like when someone learns that a 13 year-long nightmare has come to an end, check out the video at Channel 2’s website. It’s really quite moving. I wish Ms. DeJac the best of luck in the future, and I hope she can pick up the pieces of her life and move on.

Salvatore’s Italian Gardens

28 Nov

You’ll like their food, regardless of their style.

Return of Another Cult Car

28 Nov

BMW Isetta?

Meet the 2011 BMW Isetta:

Point / Counterpoint with Trey from Elmwood & Lancaster Stan

28 Nov

You might recall our suburban correspondent Lancaster Stan.  Stan is now joined by urban hipster correspondent Trey from Elmwood in a new podcast series we call “Point / Counterpoint with Trey from Elmwood and Lancaster Stan.” 

Today, Stan and Trey take on the downsizing of Route 5.

Point/Counterpoint – Borough-ing To A Bigger Buffalo

28 Nov

I think this short audio file sums up the debate so far on regionalizing Buffalo…


Point provided by Elmwood Trey

Counterpoint Provided by Lancaster Stan

lancaster stan

Wow. A City/Suburb Post. Yay.

28 Nov

The endless bullshittical sniping between suburbanites and city people is so tiresome and so yesterday. At least, it should be.

This Buffalo Rising post proposed a novel idea towards the city of Buffalo absorbing the inner-ring suburbs as “boroughs”, kind of like New York City. It would probably require a constitutional amendment to accomplish, but it’s that kind of thinking that I like to read about. Unfortunately, some of the comments devolve into sheer nonsense.

The most fascinating comment so far is one psychoanalyzing the myriad evil and semi-evil reasons why people would deign to live in a suburb.

A Buffalo Rising commenter calling himself “wizardofza” suggested that the reasons why people might opt to move to a suburb for the school district are racists or xenophobes.

I’d also love to see merged school districts as well, but face it, the majority of metro residents Buffalo are either racist or xenophobic. Their view of the city and its school district is that of a nasty cesspool that needs to be quarantined off from their happyland.

Sadly, racial/class-based fear is the #1 obstacle to regional consolidation.Most of the suburban municipalities are at least 96% white and the people there intend on keeping it that way.Segregation here is still a harsh reality. If we’re going to achieve baby steps toward regional consolidation, it’s best to leave out the powder-keg issues for now.

And then, perhaps coming to the realization that his comment was a gross exaggeration, amended it thusly:

The majority of residents in Buffalo area are either:

1. Racist- This is a very small percentage but still existing among older folks and some families in very working class pockets of the city and white ethnic inner-suburban areas.

2. Xenophobic – This would be the majority. They don’t hate (or see as inherently inferior) anyone based on their race or social upbringing, but want to live as far away from the perceived problem as they can. Xenophobes want a predictable living environment with neighbors just like them and their families.

Racism obviously exists, and unfortunately always will. The “xenophobe” criteria is somewhat sillier, since no one can ever guarantee in any way, shape, or form, a “predictable” living environment with neighbors “just like them.” There is more to diversity than just the color of one’s skin.

3. Those who are respectful of the city’s cultural heritage and feel pity for the city and its problems but don’t want their own families/children to have any part in it.

4. Those of us who put up with the annoyances of city life because, in the end, the perks and amenities of living in the city to us outweigh the negatives.

I suspect your friend who couldn’t take it anymore and bailed the city was teetering between #4 and #3. I doubt he moved out because of the stupid parking ticket blitz. In the end for that person the annoyances outweighed the amenities of city living.

It’s sad these days that city living has been relegated to a lifestyle choice. Though, when gas prices go up even further this will start to change.

Like gas prices going up to $3.40 have obliterated SUVs and pickups from our roadways?

I’m curious as to how many city people who are so quick to heap scorn, derision, and hatred on people who have the unmitigated gall to not share their choice of living within city limits actually have kids in school? And how many of those kids go to private or parochial schools? Seriously, these arguments and blanket accusations against people keep this region down just as viciously as high taxes, bad politics, and elevated highways.

You go to Chicago or New York or Boston, and do you think people have these endless, pointless bitchfests between city and suburban people? It’s so counterproductive and in a lot of cases hypocritical.

I wonder how many of the holier-than-thou set who heap scorn, derision, and hatred on suburban people live within a few blocks of the tony Elmwood Strip or boho magnet Allentown? And how many live in suburban-in-all-but-boundary North Buffalo? Seriously, if you’re in any of those neighborhoods, you have very little business indeed criticizing suburbanites for their alleged demands of homogeneity. (Note: the Amherst town supervisor is every bit a minority as the mayor of Buffalo).

I was once in my 20s and early 30s, living within the limits of a city and enjoying that lifestyle to the fullest. But when you have a kid, your primary focus in life is that kid / those kids. Those kids are not arbitrary statistics to their parents – they are the future and your flesh and blood, and you want the best for those kids. And if someone decides that those kids ought to be in a different school district, and you have the ability to make that move, you do it because you have little room for error.

Or if you choose to stay and have the wherewithal to send those kids to Elmwood-Franklin or a charter school or Nichols or St Joe’s, you do that. And if you choose to send them to Buffalo Public Schools, you do that too.

It’s nobody’s business but the parents’. Period.

Because those kids have one and only one shot at getting a good education, and you do whatever you can to ensure that they get it. Nowhere is perfect – not Clarence Schools, not Orchard Park Schools, not private schools, and not Buffalo public schools. But you take your best shot at what you think is best.

If people love living in the city, more power to them. If people choose to live in the suburbs, more power to them. The point is that they have made a very difficult choice indeed – choosing to stay in an economically backward and depressed area in the first place. The entire region is in shabolic condition economically, and we ought to be trying to do what we can to work together to move it forward, not taking potshots at each other to prove who’s got a more accurate moral compass based on their selection of home location.

There are just under 381,000 households in Erie County, therefore there are just under 381,000 different reasons why people choose to live where they do.

Maybe a little less inane finger-pointing and name-calling from both city and suburb at each other would do the region a whole lot of good.

(Photo from