Archive | November, 2007

Fisher Price Moving Manufacturing Back To Buffalo?

20 Nov

fisher price motoring back to buffalo

In today’s Buffalo News, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY28) thinks she has the panacea for what ails Fisher Price and its parent company, Mattel.

The congresswoman said she was motivated to call (Mattel CEO Robert) Eckert after watching Mattel announce recalls due to excessive lead paint in toys produced in China. Slaughter said she felt the recalls have harmed the toymaker’s image.

“I told him if he wanted instant rehabilitation of his reputation, he would announce (toy manufacturing) was coming back to Western New York,” she said Monday.

Slaughter said she pointed out assets like the region’s work force, availability of fresh water and the possibility of cheap power, as well as legislation being worked on in Congress that could provide tax incentives for manufacturing.

Yeah, as soon as she can fix the onerous taxation policies, workers compensation laws, and make it competitive for Fisher Price to make toys here again, I’m sure they’ll move back.

Of course, moving back to New York does have its downside…as this article from The Buffalo News on November 20th, 2014 illustrates…

Amalgamated Toy Workers of America Local 93 says it will strike beginning at midnight tonight if talks with Mattel, Fisher Price’s parent company, don’t progress. ATWA local rep Jimmy Flaherty said, “Our demands for 3-hour lunches, $40 per hour to place the hats on the Fisher Price “Little People” and paid time off for hockey practice are reasonable and non-negotiable. Fisher Price? More like screw-the-working-man.”

A Fisher Price spokesman could not be reached for comment. No word yet on whether Fisher Price intends to go through with its “Little Striking People” or “Tickle Me Shop Steward” line of toys.

What are some other toys that Fisher Price could make to illustrate the plight of the working man? Coffee Break Barbie? Summer Hours Pooh?

Why Not a Personal Post to Jason Cozza?

20 Nov

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Well, you got my attention by flaming me on Buffalo Rising.

(I tried posting this as a comment on his site, but it never showed up, so I figured I’d post it where people might see it.)

What does 550 or 600 signatures mean in a community of 1 million (Erie County) or around 250,000 (City of Buffalo? A fraction of a percent, yet you claim it speaks for the whole community. Bullshit.

I never said “shut up and get something done.” I said why don’t you try backing up your argument with facts rather than hyperbole and emotion.

You have the nerve to question my character because I don’t blindly follow your point of view. I also don’t blindly follow what Norquist wants just based on who he is or with whom he’s affiliated.

I don’t think sticking trucks and commuters on a 6-lane boulevard is an improvement over the DOT plan. It’s as simple as that. So far, no one’s presented a reasonable argument as to why it’s better. But I hear a lot of comparisons to the Embarcadero and Gardiner Expressways, which is like comparing apples and anvils.

You criticize the fact that I live in Clarence and say that means I don’t really care? Are you fucking kidding me?

In 4 years of blogging and working as a political activist, I have done nothing but care about the city because believe it or not I’m one of the few suburbanites who realizes that the city drives the region. For you to so cavalierly dismiss me like that speaks to your character, not mine. It speaks to your arrogance, not mine.

If you think spewing hatred at suburbanites is somehow going to magically make the city improve, I have news for you – it won’t. In fact, it merely perpetuates a counterproductive status quo where suburbs hate city, city hates suburbs, and nothing gets accomplished.

But keep on arguing your point by insulting me and harping on emotion and people’s “extremely admirable” … “passion and energy”. Regardless of whether they know what they’re talking about or not, and regardless of whether or not they actually showed up at the public hearings for a project.

Caution. Congestion Ahead.

20 Nov

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Imagine an at-grade 6-lane boulevard with median & shoulder ferrying approximately 40,000 cars per day. Close your eyes and picture it. Then realize it’s Niagara Falls Boulevard between Maple and the I-290.

The DOT has elected, after several periods of public comment, environmental review, and scoping, to improve access to the waterfront by, in turn, improving access to and the design of Fuhrmann Boulevard.

The problem with transportation on the Outer Harbor has always been access; you can’t get there from here. It was never about Route 5 “cutting off” anything from anything. The plan moving forward will improve that access. The folks in favor of the Boulevard alternative don’t want a limited-access Route 5. They want a 6-lane boulevard with median. They claim that the boulevard is scaled better for an urban environment, that an “elevated” highway isn’t what vibrant cities build on their waterfronts, citing Toronto, San Francisco, and Chicago.

That’s fine. God Bless America that people can speak up and advocate for something they want.

As with Bass Pro and other projects, my problem has to do with lies and hyperbole to make one’s point.

Buffalo Rising continues to be the online organ of the Waterfront Coalition, a collection of nonprofits who are pushing for the Boulevard Alternative for the Southtowns Connector. Take for instance this recording of a radio broadcast that Buffalo Rising helped to host on WBFO, featuring Buffalo Common Council member Mickey Kearns. I listened – with amazement that increased by the minute – to that broadcast, and gleaned the following information from it:

  • Buffalo is the 3rd poorest city in the country, so we’ll build a new city on our waterfront.
  • This is like the 33 and the Scajaquada. Taking down an elevated highway will lead to growth.
  • The DOT Commissioner is someone we shouldn’t listen to because she used to live in Massachusetts and worked for a Republican governor. But we should listen to “experts” like Wisconsin’s John Norquist, and Vermont’s SmartMobility.
  • You could barely hear Norquist because of the truck traffic on Route 5. So, we should bring the trucks onto a 6-lane boulevard because it’ll be better for pedestrians and less noisy.
  • Milwaukee and Chicago are developing because they took down their elevated highways.
  • If you live in the suburbs, Buffalo’s your city, says Newell. Therefore, they ought to force traffic onto surface roads in the city of Buffalo. If they won’t voluntarily use city amenities, we’ll change the roads to make them do so.
  • Wow, I’m sold. I have seldom seen a weaker set of arguments, and a longer set of obnoxious misstatements and untruths to promote a roadway alternative. The Southtowns Connector will not be the 33, the I-190, and Hitler all wrapped up in asphalt.

    Then, I saw this post by Buffalo Geek. Congressman Brian Higgins, who backs the current plan, is opposed to the Boulevard Alternative because it would be tantamount to plopping Niagara Falls Boulevard on the waterfront. Not so! claim the supporters. They point to the traffic numbers – about 40,000 cars per day – and have even argued that two-lane Elmwood handles just over half that!

    Well, the traffic figures bear out Higgins’ argument:

    Based on traffic data collection (March 2006), the average number of vehicles traveling the area defined by the current Southtowns Connector/Route 5 argument is 42,900 per day.

    Based on traffic data collection (March 2006), the average number of vehicles traveling the area hated by urban planners everywhere, Niagara Falls Boulevard between Maple Road and the I-290 is 38,000 per day.

    Now, plop in Kearns’ “new city” on the lake, and you’ve got a traffic nightmare every rush hour.

    One of the oft-repeated arguments for the Boulevard Alternative is that the 6-lane boulevard will free up more waterfront area land for development. O RLY? Looking at the Smart Mobility presentation commissioned by the Congress for New Urbanism, that isn’t really borne out.

    smartmobility.jpg

    The groups who oppose this plan, and the people who signed the petition, are well-intentioned but they’re arguing against the creation of the I-190 on the waterfront. Apples and oranges. This simply isn’t the unmitigated disaster that they say it is.

    The impediments to outer harbor development have been:

    1. NFTA control;
    2. Lack of political will; and
    3. Lack of demand.

    Not necessarily in that order. Route 5 is not the impediment to development, nor will it cut the waterfront off from anything. What it accomplishes is getting people to the waterfront – and downtown – on a 4-lane limited access highway that accommodates its traffic without shunting cars, trucks, and buses onto surface roads.

    I just wish the proponents of the Boulevard Alternative would stick to facts and leave emotion and nonsense out of it.

    Fiddling While Buffalo Burns

    19 Nov

    I decided to re-post this article from September as we seem to find ourselves in a similar pickle in regards to the current Route 5 issue that is burning up the Internet tubes here and at BRO.

    route 5

    basspro

    For decades, the opinions of the people were summarily ignored by city and regional leadership and the electorate rewarded the leadership for their disdain by repeatedly sending them back to office.

    Now, in 2007, there is a backlash to any project proposed by the elected leadership (or their appointed friends) and every swinging dick in Buffalo with an opinion feels that he/she must defend it to the end of time.

    Of course, those same elected leaders are now confused because, after all, they have been re-elected time and again on the “Screw the people, I’m doing what I want” platform.

    Thus, we have this type of nonsensical argument over Bass Pro and whether it will be located within 100 yards of a sacrosanct public space, whether the parking lot should be moved 100 yards, and whether or not Bass Pro or Cultural Tourism will save our waterfront.

    Just shoot me.

    Maybe it’s me, but I really don’t give a rat’s ass if Bass Pro builds a store in Buffalo nor do I care if Tim Tielman’s Disney-fied version of Buffalo’s canal district gets built.

    I just don’t care anymore.

    These projects and issues are mere distractions from the real problems our city faces as it attempts to move forward.

    I don’t have the kind of time that Tim Tielman does to sit around on my ass and wish for a return to Buffalo 1912. I don’t have the time to wonder why people won’t spend $75,000 to rehab a house in the most economically depressed neighborhood in America. I don’t have the time nor inclination to demand that white people get a Buffalo version of “Tavern On The Green” and classier places to urinate whilst munching wine and cheese at Shakespeare in The Park along Bill Hoyt’s lake.

    I want people to demonstrate as much indignation that the City of Buffalo public school system is crumbling. I want people to fight against the political intransigence and corruption that creates this “everyone fight over the crumbs” mentality. I want comprehensive regional planning, lower state taxes, a region which empowers a free market to provide opportunity and possibilities. I want to live in a Western New York where people like Dale Volker, Robin Schimminger, and David Franczyk are considered unqualified to serve in public office.

    I want a REAL “New Buffalo”…one that sees the big picture and stops infighting.

    If we lived in a city that valued 21st century economic development, that shook off the mortal coil of a union-era work ethos, and worked for real, demonstrable political change…we would create an environment in which waterfront development would be a competitive scenario.

    Companies would clamor to serve the needs of Buffalo FARL (Forest to Allen, Richmond to Linwood). We would have neighborhoods that gentrify because market forces demand high end retail and services. We would have people as invested in the improvement of our school system as they are in the demolition of a Medina Sandstone porch on Elmwood or a six lane boulevard vice a highway with access roads.

    If and when that happens, we’ll finally be moving in the right direction.

    Until then, keep fiddling while Buffalo burns.

    Let’s Go To Air Gordon For A Traffic Report In The Year 2017

    19 Nov

    “Volume delays can be expected on the Southtowns Connector, your best bet is to head over to the I-90 and catch the I-190…”

    That’s pretty much what you can expect to hear on your morning commute into the City in the year 2017 (estimated time the alternative boulevard plan will be built).

    Based on traffic data collection (March 2006), the average number of vehicles traveling the area defined by the current Southtowns Connector/Route 5 argument is 42,900 per day.

    Based on traffic data collection (March 2006), the average number of vehicles traveling the area hated by urban planners everywhere, Niagara Falls Boulevard between Maple Road and the I-290 is 38,000 per day.

    If the alternative boulevard plan as advocated by NMG, CNU, BRO, The Waterfront Coalition, and others were put into place; it would share many things in common with this backed up swath of suburban roadway:

    40 MPH, Six Lanes, medians, and traffic…lots and lots of backed up traffic. Also, the area along Route 5 is scheduled for significant industrial buildup over the next 5-10 years, so you’ll be seeing an increase in commercial truck traffic along this route.

    niagara falls boulevard

    Enjoy your new urbanist waterfront paradise.

    Be Buffalo

    18 Nov

    New blog on the block. Check it out.

    The Complaints Choir of Buffalo & WNY

    17 Nov

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    If there’s one thing this community should have it’s a complaints choir. Chicago has one. Pittsburgh has one. Buffalo, of all places, is ripe for one.

    Here’s a trailer that the Chicago group made

    And in Canada

    Birmingham, England (I want my moooooney back!).

    We could pull in suggestions from people, get them to rhyme, put them to song, and have a gala recital and maybe raise some money for a good cause.

    Reducing Waste

    16 Nov

    How about a GPS black belt?

    Islip on Long Island installed GPS devices in all city vehicles to ensure that city workers were using city vehicles on city business.

    Islip saved nearly 14,000 gallons of gas over a three-month period from the previous year after GPS devices were installed. Nolan said that shows that employees know they are being watched and are no longer using Islip’s 614 official vehicles for personal business.

    That’s a savings of about $40,000, give or take. A year’s salary in these parts. Erie County ought to stock up on these things immediately. This guy in Williamsville should put in a bid.

    The Los Angeles Auto Show – a recap

    16 Nov

    Two street-legal rallye cars debuted in Los Angeles this week.

    The new Subaru WRX STI boasts a 2.5L engine that puts out 305 HP and 290 ft-lb of torque.

    The new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X boasts 291 HP and 300 ft-lb of torque.

    Which would you go for? BHP or torque?

    A car known to most Americans only through Playstation is the Nissan GT-R. 480 HP from a 3.8 liter twin turbo 6. Hi there. I’m fast.

    Unfortunately, Nissan really uglied up the Murano. What was once a pretty elegant CUV will now become downright Hyundai-esque.

    Volkswagen joins the CR-V / Rogue / RAV-4 party by introducing the Tiguan. It’ll start at $23,000 and a diesel version might be available in the not-too-distant future. For now, it gets the same TFSI 2.0L engine you’ll find in the Passat, Eos, and the GTI/GLI.

    VW also unveiled the Space Up! minivan concept which kinda sorta revives the dearly departed Microbus revival. What’s cool about this concept isn’t so much the idea or design themselves. It’s the fact that Apple and VW have been collaborating lately on cars, and rumor has it that all VWs will have touchscreen systems by 2009, and that they’ll be designed by Apple.

    Check out the dash images from Engadget. Looks like Coverflow to me.

    I Didn’t Know About It, Therefore It Didn’t Happen

    16 Nov

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    That’s essentially the argument of the “we hate the Southtowns Connector a few weeks and years too late” set over at Buffalo Rising. Best comment pair:

    Just listened to the Higgins Podcast on WNYMedia.net. I spent the entire time shaking my head. I started shaking my fist when he talked about how this project was open to the public… for public review. WHEN??? I never heard about it. Show of hands… who was aware of the public review period for this project? I don’t recall seeing that on the news.

    And reply:

    I typed “DOT public comment Route 5” into Google and found the answer to your question.

    http://tinyurl.com/34zzdy

    July 25th, 2005 it was released. Now I don’t monitor the NYSDOT webpage either for such events, but there are a number of organizations that should, like many of the politicians and community groups protesting now. Like I said, this is a terrible mistake, but this is the natural result of citizen apathy when it counts.

    Bingo.

    The only reason this got on anyone’s radar screen is because, as Denizen puts it at BRO:

    Perhaps this DOT plan is not the best possible plan, but it’s a little to late to completely change it because John Norquist waltzed into town a month or so ago with his own vision for what should be done.

    Seriously, who died and made John Norquist the ultimate arbiter of all things good and bad when it comes to transportation planning?

    If you want an excellent summary of why a bermed Route 5 running parallel to a boulevard-style Fuhrmann Boulevard, I’ll point you to Geek’s post from yesterday:

    The City of Buffalo, Erie County, New York State, and the City of Lackawanna have spent hundreds of millions of dollars remediating brownfields in the areas immediately surrounding the area in question. Development investments have been made at the Union Ship Canal, Lakeside Commerce Park, and reconfiguration of several acres of the old Bethlehem steel site as an area for future industrial use. The regional plan is to reinvent the outer harbor as a destination for manufacturing, multimodal transshipment, and industrial use. So, I ask you, why do we want to subvert all of that planning and funding to plop down an at grade 35 MPH boulevard in the midst of an area that will require major road capacity?

    So now that the DOT is pushing through a plan that it took almost 20 years to maneuver through a very laborious, open, and transparent process, it faces threats of a lawsuit and the most vicious epithet the non-professional urban paraplanners can come up with: invocation of the name of Robert Moses. They argue that the current plan “separates people from their waterfront”.

    How?

    Which people?

    Who’s living in the outer harbor right now?

    How does a bermed Route 5 that’s about 1/2 mile inland adversely affect anyone’s access to anything? As a matter of fact, that roadway will act as a nice barrier to prevent people along the waterfront to stare at remediated brownfields that are being turned into industrial parks and warehouses on the east side of Route 5.

    Furthermore, the time for advocacy was during the public comment period. I didn’t hear a peep out of anyone – certainly no multiple posts-cum-petition drive on BRO. During the comment period, a petition drive would have actually had an impact, and public opinion could have been mobilized in favor of a particular alternative. That didn’t happen. It’s happening now – a day late.

    If there is something – anything – that the DOT did improperly, then there’s grounds for a lawsuit. A lawsuit is the only way to block that project, and you need to show an imminent threat of irreversible harm, and a likelihood of success on the merits. That means you need a reason to sue – a cause of action. I’m unaware of any.

    Screaming and yelling 2 years too late isn’t going to do a damn thing.

    Either put up (file your lawsuit and order to show cause) or move on. Maybe take a ride down to the Outer Harbor and come back and tell me who’s down there who’s going to be “separated” from their waterfront.

    (Incidentally, the header image is poking fun at a comment that BRO contributor Elena Cala Buscarino left here).