Archive | December, 2007

Merry Christmas, Everyone

23 Dec

Peace,

BP

Wanna Buy A Restaurant?

22 Dec

Picture_2.png

A friend of mine sent me a link to an ad on the Toronto Craigslist that he found to be quite odd…it was an advertisement for a “Free Restaurant Business, Great Location” in Buffalo.  The text reads as follows:

I am offering a turn key (~*super famous*~) restaurant in the heart of the Elmwood Strip. Business is ready to go and includes a full commercial kitchen, bar, plasma TV’s, Xbox 360’s, live Goatse shows, etc. All that’s required is to sign a lease. First one ready to sign gets the business FREE! If you sign in the next 24 hours, you can also have a complementary hooker! She’s guaranteed to be STD free, but the bathroom seats in the restroom aren’t…. just don’t tell the health department! haha!

Prime commercial property located in the heart of the “Elmwood Strip” section of Buffalo, NY (a one hour and fifteen minuet drive from Toronto so don’t expect many Canucks but expect plenty of blue collar scum). Buffalo’s Elmwood Avenue is an urban village (not to be confused with ghetto slums) that beats off to a different drummer. The Elmwood Strip is a neighborhood that attracts people who set trends rather than follow them. It’s swarming with hookers and blow, DAMMIT. Why do you think it’s called the Elmwood Strip?

Please call Mr. Krinsky at (917) 856-8088 Also you must carry a basket of saurkraut when you come to sign, while holding your own sausage.

WTF?

Click the small picture below to see the full size…

Picture_2.png

Anyone have any details on this?  I’m not interested in buying, of course,  I just wonder why someone would put something like that up.

Come for the Bargains, Stay for the Leg Irons

21 Dec

iceland.jpg

This story is an absolute outrage. Yet another in a laundry list in what Andrew Sullivan calls “Cheney’s America”. She’s also got a blog. In Icelandic, so have fun with that. In any event, the story:

During the last twenty-four hours I have probably experienced the greatest humiliation to which I have ever been subjected. During these last twenty-four hours I have been handcuffed and chained, denied the chance to sleep, been without food and drink and been confined to a place without anyone knowing my whereabouts, imprisoned. Now I am beginning to try to understand all this, rest and review the events which began as innocently as possible.

Last Sunday I and a few other girls began our trip to New York. We were going to shop and enjoy the Christmas spirit. We made ourselves comfortable on first class, drank white wine and looked forward to go shopping, eat good food and enjoy life. When we landed at JFK airport the traditional clearance process began.

We were screened and went on to passport control. As I waited for them to finish examining my passport I heard an official say that there was something which needed to be looked at more closely and I was directed to the work station of Homeland Security. There I was told that according to their records I had overstayed my visa by 3 weeks in 1995. For this reason I would not be admitted to the country and would be sent home on the next flight. I looked at the official in disbelief and told him that I had in fact visited New York after the trip in 1995 without encountering any difficulties. A detailed interrogation session ensued.

I was photographed and fingerprinted. I was asked questions which I felt had nothing to do with the issue at hand. I was forbidden to contact anyone to advise of my predicament and although I was invited at the outset to contact the Icelandic consul or embassy, that invitation was later withdrawn. I don’t know why.

Seriously, read the rest. Imagine the horror that this well-to-do Icelandic tourist endured because she had stayed in the US for 95 days in 1995 when she was only supposed to stay 90 days. Now imagine what non-well-to-do, non-Nordic visitors with minor past violations have to put up with.

What’s the point of claiming we stand and fight for freedom when we behave like a police state?

Luckily, at least her government knows how to behave.

Collins Appoints Deputy County Executive & Director of Six Sigma Implementation

21 Dec

Chris Collins has appointed the following:

1. Mark Davis is the CEO of the Talking Phone Book, and he will be Collins’ Deputy County Executive

2. Alfred Hammond, Jr. is the director of Six Sigma implementation, a new county department that will, according to Chris Collins in an interview yesterday with WNYMedia.net, be funded by a state efficiency grant issued by the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority.

We’ll be looking into these folks’ credentials, so if you know anything about them, have at it in comments.

On the Coalition of Enough Already

21 Dec

Two commenters in this thread, responding to the video contained therein, complained about it in an unexpected way. Paul Francis, whose arrogance and condescension know no bounds or apparent justification, wrote:

This forum is Buffalo’s official sounding board for mere commentators whose self-annointed pursuit is bashing the folks who do actually work hard advocating for the city. These commentators – oh wait, pundits – then sheepishly shrug their shoulders when those advocates savor a victory. Hopefully this knock on the Waterfront Coalition is one of those instances.

Hell, some bloggers are actually out fighting for this town. None here!

The notion that I’m not out fighting for this town is the biggest pile of horseshit I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t mind taking that hit from someone who actually has a record of some sort of activism that trumps mine. But who the hell is Paul Francis? What’s his record? Who is he to dismiss my record? For four years – a time when there were only a small handful of blogs in this town – I’ve been promoting the city and talking it up.

Harvey Garrett has also engaged me in comments and in email, and we’ve gone back and forth and reached stalemate with respect to the merits of Route 5, but he is very offended by the satirical video because it mocks people who are concerned citizens. He writes,

What happened to you two (and WNYMedia)?

Now, if you’ve already been to Geek’s site, and are thinking, “Pundit’s ripping off Geek’s idea“, you’re kinda right. But I haven’t really responded on my own terms, so apologies for the duplication.

Harvey tells me that we crossed the line. That we “took it too far”. I responded, “Being racist or defamatory or bigoted would be taking it too far. Making fun of a group’s political position is not.”

Here’s how I responded to Harvey’s query as to what “happened”:

  • What happened to me is that I’m sick and tired of having reasonable development plans that are in motion stymied by a vocal few.
  • What happened to me is that I’m sick and tired of the city being held back by taxes, obstructionism, poor image, and dumb politicians.
  • What happened to me is that I’m really trying to maintain a positive attitude about a place that argues more about Basses Pro and Routes 5 than about ways to grow the economy so that everyone can win.
  • What happened to me is that I’m tired of being told that I’m part of the problem or otherwise neanderthal because I refuse to go along with someone else’s notion of what’s right. Or because of where I live.
  • What’s happened to me is that I’m annoyed when people take a position and then insinuate that it is beyond reproach and should not be subject to high school mockery because the targets are “concerned citizens.”
  • What’s happened to me is that I don’t anymore have the stomach to hear Mickey Kearns talk about building a “new city on the lake” when a vast swaths of the existing city are empty or emptying.
  • What’s happened to me is that I’m a lawyer, and the first thing I look at when arguing an issue is whether the person has met applicable deadlines. The Waterfront Coalition did not. Game over.
  • Or would, say, Tim Tielman or the Riverkeeper enjoy it if I started a coalition calling for the immediate implementation of Bass Pro on the Central Wharf building in spite of the 2004 master plan, etc., because I think that’s a better idea. Or would they mock the living shit out of me? Because if I did do that, believe me – they wouldn’t deign to call me a “concerned citizen” or “activist”.

    Like a lot of people in this town, I get up in the morning, get my kids ready for school, say goodbye to my family, go to work, do the best job I can, have lunch, go back to work, do a good job, drive home, see my wife & kids, play with my kids, have dinner, watch TV, pay my taxes, pay my bills, do chores, go to sleep, lather, rinse, repeat. I could just end it there.

    But I also get active in the community. I singlehandedly organized a well-received & attended discussion panel on Bass Pro. I helped organize screenings and panel discussions on Darfur, on the media in America, on the future of politics, on Wal-Mart’s affect on communities, on the Iraq War. We co-sponsored “The Cost”. On top of that, I sacrificed a great deal of time and money to run for elected office, something from which I’m still recovering, and I’m considering becoming active in Clarence town government.

    That might seem like a weak resume to some who do far more good than I, but I’m as much an activist as any of the people on that waterfront coalition, and through the work that I’ve done and the things that I’ve advocated for, I have earned the right to tell it like I see it, and to criticize whatever I feel like.

    Others have suggested that this is merely part of an ongoing, nonexistent war between WNYMedia and Buffalo Rising.

    Let’s examine.

    Buffalo Rising is a local media outlet which, like the Buffalo News, is not above reproach or criticism. When they post something I find silly or comment-worthy, I’m going to do so. Buffalo Rising generally eschewed politics throughout its history. Until recently, that is. In the last couple of months, it has become the Komsomolskaya Pravda – the official organ – of the Waterfront Coalition. Buffalo Rising has staked out and promoted a distinct position on a political issue. I have found the arguments made and the language used to oftentimes be worthy of critique. I have commented there, and here, about it. Because I generally comment about politics and media in Buffalo, what Buffalo Rising has done with the Waterfront Coalition is, essentially, a perfect storm of comment-worthy material on this issue. End of story. Anyone reading more into it is flat-out wrong.

    So, yes the video was silly, but we thought it was funny. We fully expected that many people would find it dumb and unfunny, and that’s fine. Hell, half the skits that make air on SNL suck eggs. The notion that we shouldn’t have done it because it’s mean to well-meaning people is unpersuasive.

    Merry Hanakwanmas!

    21 Dec

    sovietchristmas.jpg

    It’s been a decidedly slow news week around these parts as it would appear the politicians have taken some time off from their typical daily displays of incompetence to share a bit of the Yule Log and a nip of egg nog.

    sovietchristmas2.jpg

    So, why don’t I do the same? I know my family likes to celebrate the holiday season perusing our collection of Soviet Christmas Cards and sharing a some of the ol’ fascist fruitcake. How about you? What are some of your family traditions? What did you have on your Christmas list this year? What are you getting for that special concerned citizen on your list?

    Disappointment is my muse

    21 Dec

    high_ground_of_an_argument.png

    So, in a thread over at Pundit’s blog, Harvey Garrett took serious umbrage with our satirical video that featured Alan and I as activists.

    It was a sophomoric, satirical parody of an issue Alan and I had seriously debated and discussed on both of our blogs and on other local sites of interest.

    At the conclusion of five issue specific postings by me, two from Alan, one interview with Brian Higgins, attendance at a Waterfront Coalition press conference, several phone calls with Harvey, and dozens of comments on a site we dare not mention (less the whiners come out)…we were a little tired of the topic. It seemed as if we were screaming common sense into the void and all we heard back was emotional dissonance.

    So, we felt we had talked enough. Marc Odien and I went to a press conference on the waterfront held by the Waterfront Coalition that lasted 45 minutes. Seven members of the Coalition spoke, as I recall, as did Mickey “gearing up for my Higgins primary election” Kearns. It was so cold, windy, and miserable out there that the hard drive on our camera froze and our footage was lost. Seriously. Over a couple of slices of crappy pizza at the office, we decided to re-film the press conference in our own way and have some fun.

    I knew when we posted it, the comments would range from “Hey, that’s funny” to “Alright, that was lame. Don’t quit your day jobs.”

    I didn’t suspect the following comments:

    Paul Francis writes:

    This forum is Buffalo’s official sounding board for mere commentators whose self-annointed pursuit is bashing the folks who do actually work hard advocating for the city. These commentators – oh wait, pundits – then sheepishly shrug their shoulders when those advocates savor a victory. Hopefully this knock on the Waterfront Coalition is one of those instances.

    Hell, some bloggers are actually out fighting for this town. None here!

    Our self-anointed pursuit is to comment on things we find interesting and add to the discussion. Which we did on this particular issue ten times and with a podcast. We do not sheepishly shrug our shoulders, we doubt the outcomes and the means with which these Pyrrhic victories were achieved.

    Paul is referencing our positions on Bass Pro (Just build it already) and the Outer Harbor (just build it already). Honestly, I have never seen more self congratulatory backpatting as I saw after Higgins and Brown announced that Bass Pro would be leaving the Central Wharf and be moved to the Auditorium site. An “agreement” to which Bass Pro has not publicly nor formally agreed to. The incongruous and illogical mockup of foam that was hastily crafted out of a wet dream does not reflect what could or will be built on the Inner Harbor.

    Also, we’re not out fighting for this town? Seriously??? That’s the best you’ve got? When Marc Odien started WNYMedia.net in 2003, it was the only local outlet specifically designed to be the voice of the people. In 2004, Marc started community activism on the network with his event at the Central Terminal called “Rock, Rap, and Register”, which was designed to educate and register voters prior to the 2004 Presidential election. Marc has produced two critically acclaimed documentaries on voting and predatory house flipping and been an arbiter of progress and dissent since blogs were “underground”.

    Proactively, members of this network and the company that owns it have managed/marketed/directed/participated in four well attended and well covered regional public forums on county government, regionalism, urban sprawl, and waterfront development.

    We’ve served on the boards/served as directors of/or materially supported: the WNY Coalition For Progress, Buffalo Old Home Week, Revitalize Buffalo, Broadway Fillmore Alive, Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, Broadway Market, Housing Court Liaisons, Parkside Community Association, Community Music School, Buffalo ReUse, Buffalo Micro Parks, BANANA Rallies, Free Buffalo, Free New York, Primary Challenge, United Way, American Red Cross, YMCA, and the list goes on and on.

    Several of our bloggers have run for public office, we are affiliated with progressive blogging politicians like Mark Poloncarz and Cindy Locklear and we work with the City/County governments and public authorities to increase access to information. We have provided an outlet for discussion of politics and community affairs, created some controversy ourselves, and have been lauded as a leader in citizen journalism.

    We are progress and change, bitches. You might not like the kind of progress we represent, but we have tens of thousands of people who read our sites each month that seem to dig it. We’ve earned the right to have a little fun now and again.

    I’m disappointed that I have to write this post. I’m disappointed that a simple disagreement on an issue brings out condescension from a self appointed arbiter of what “new media” is and should be.

    Harvey Garrett writes:

    What happened to you two (and WNYMedia)?

    What happened is that Harvey doesn’t like our previously well described positions on the issue at hand, that’s what. A plan has been agreed to, evaluated, and sent our for bid. A group of people collectively decided that they did not like that plan. In this situation, the burden of proof is on the challenger who wishes to disrupt a completed process to justify said disruption with an argument more finely tuned than “Expressways are bad, we don’t like them”.

    The waterfront coalition and those who claim to speak for them are engaging in what economists call “uncertain predictions”, those which we can not specify a reliable distribution of probabilities. The sum of the argument against the approved NYSDOT plan is emotion and opinion, not fact.

    At it’s very essence, at it’s very core…the WC is a group of people who don’t deem this particular type of progress to be good progress. Really, it’s all quite subjective.

    They deem it to be inadequate progress whereas I deem it to be completely satisfactory. Why is that? Because no one can clearly demonstrate how the current DOT plan disincents progress, development, or removal of the skyway with any reasoned logic, facts, or probability. The coalition believes that the current plan is “bad” and they believe it will lead to the extended life of the Skyway. There is no objective reality in that assessment, they just think its bad. Just as Higgins, Pundit, and I think it’s not.

    It would be educational to determine what it is they want to accomplish on the waterfront. Access? Pedestrian friendly? Development? What else? Once that is determined, the burden of proof is on the WC to demonstrate what in the current plan or the NYDOT boulevard alternative plan either incents or disincents any of those goals from happening.

    If the current plan can be objectively determined to disincent those critical factors from being accomplished, we have a discussion. If not, we have a subjective argument over what you like versus what I like, which is pointless.

    Much like the effort I have spent in combating someone’s “disappointment” in my progressive and community driven organization.

    Revitalization

    20 Dec

    With a hat tip to All Things Buffalo, check out these hilarious shirts:

    New York State: Fail

    20 Dec

    failboat.jpg

    The Thruway Authority has unsurprisingly voted to increase tolls along the stretch, claiming that fewer motorists means less toll revenue. Oh, and we need to improve the roadway and pay for the Erie Canal to the tune of $80 million/year.

    It now costs $18.50 to get from the Major Deegan to the Ripley exit; $16.66 with an EZ-Pass discount. A discount that the Thruway is, incidentally, cutting in half.

    All I know is that when I cross the border on Route 90 into Erie, PA, the road is not only smoother and maintained better, but it’s also gratis.

    That’s so I can have the privilege of paying 6% sales tax on my purchases (7% in Philly & Pittsburgh) – except for most clothing – in a state with the 20th highest combined tax burden in the country. (New York is number 2).

    And that’s what’s so frustrating. An entity that gives its employees and members free rides on the Thruway, and other perks, spends an inordinate amount of money on self-maintenance. The State DOT is fully capable of maintaining a toll-free state Thruway. The Thruway is one Authority we can do without.

    Also – why exactly does the Erie Canal cost $80 million per year to maintain? Are there no savings that can be wrung from that figure?

    If we had a tax burden similar to Pennsylvania’s, don’t you think the state as a whole would be significantly better off?

    Ethanol on the Waterfront

    19 Dec

    cornfuel.jpg

    The South Buffalo ethanol plant on the water is going forward.

    Some see this as a positive.

    Perhaps. But being less energy efficient than gasoline, and significantly less efficient than diesel, Ethanol and E85 are not, I think, the answers to our energy needs.

    Furthermore, ethanol plants stink. Literally. Not only do they emit an alphabet soup of volatile organic chemicals, but

    Much of the objectionable odor from ethanol plants comes from drying the leftover corn mash after the ethanol has been separated. While bad odor does not mean the emissions are hazardous to the health, the odor can be irritating to some individuals.

    Sure they can (and most likely will) install some sort of emissions control equipment, but the plant will nevertheless be within 400 feet of homes, and not at all far from the already Skyway-blighted, political-stasis-ridden Canal Side project.

    The prospect of shopping at Crate & Barrel while inhaling rotting corn mash, acetaldehyde, acrolein, and formaldehyde seems somewhat off-putting.

    Maybe that’s why most ethanol plants are in rural areas. You know, where the corn is?