Archive | March, 2008

Congestion Pricing comes to New York City

31 Mar

The New York City Council passed a home rule measure 30-20 (yes, there are 50 legislators on New York City’s council). Now it moves on to Albany. Under the plan, pioneered in Singapore and popularized in London, motorists will be charged $8.00 to drive south of 60th Street in Manhattan. Trucks will pay $21, and this will be in effect Monday through Friday, 6am – 6pm. It is expected that congestion pricing will not only help lower traffic congestion, but also raise close to a half billion dollars per year.

Niagara Falls

31 Mar

Saturday. The weather was a bit chilly, but not ridiculous. It was sunny, for a change. There were loads of people on the Canadian side sightseeing, shopping, and otherwise enjoying themselves.

After crossing the border, I noticed that Frank Parlato’s flash cube was dead.

But the fact that there were no cars parked in his makeshift parking lot one block from the Niagara Falls State Park made the Rainbow Mall all that much more visible.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the second building in from the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, New York. Welcome, friends.

Recall that, pursuant to its contract with the city, Cordish is supposed to maintain this mall as a “first class” facilities. At this point, it’s not first class. It is, instead, akin to being on an empty plane that’s been stripped of its seats, carpeting, upholstery, and amenities. And smeared with feces.

FAIL at IKEA

31 Mar

Saturday we took a ride up to IKEA, and given that Mia is now out of the crib and in a regular bed, we decided to buy this lamp for her room so that she wouldn’t hurt herself on a hot bulb.

We plugged it in, and after a few minutes the switch became extremely hot, and finally the entire circuit blew. Not just blew, but upon turning it back on at the breaker box, the circuit just doesn’t work. Period.

I got online to get the customer service numbers for IKEA, and it took me to the US site. Here’s the lamp:

lampus1.JPG

But the price seemed strange. I then checked the Canadian site. Here’s that:

lampcd.JPG

So, not only did I get hosed x2 with respect to the price of the lamp, but now I have calls in to electricians to come fix my house.

Thanks, IKEA!

Litigation Stew at a Roiling Boil

31 Mar

This reminds me of dealing with Santaland the first in 2005.

We were given very specific parameters in terms of what we could and couldn’t do, lest we make the laid off workers and their union very angry. I made numerous calls to AFSCME, and not one of my calls was ever returned. Frankly, that in and of itself made me want to say, “screw them”. I mean, if you have a beef about it, why do I have to hear it second or third-hand. At least have the decency to tell me over the phone or to my face that you oppose volunteers bringing Santa to Chestnut Ridge.

Mentholatum Corporation wants to donate a playground to the County’s Chestnut Ridge Park at a cost of $23,000. Setting up a playground (and doing cleanup) takes labor, and the problem is that any such labor is supposed to be peformed by union workers, and cannot (under the Taylor Law) be done by volunteers.

AFSCME’s John Orlando has threatened to sue the county if it permits volunteers to do cleanup work at Chestnut Ridge Park. On Hardline with Hardwick yesterday, Collins said, “sue me”.

This is a blockbuster PR opportunity all around.

Mentholatum wins for being a good corporate citizen.

The Collins Administration wins among a large swath of the population because it’s willing to go into combat with the union representing most county workers; a union with which Collins is going to have to negotiate a new contract shortly.

AFSCME will win among the large labor community in WNY, but I suspect that its stance – albeit legally justified – will render it a laughingstock among the community at-large, and will hand Collins a huge PR victory, and a lot of clout going into labor negotiations.

Of course, AFSCME will probably argue that Collins’ violation of the Taylor Law frees it from that same law’s prohibition against striking.

Looks like it’ll be an interesting year, indeed. I just hope Chestnut Ridge Park gets that new playground. Some of the play equipment there contains heiroglyphics, I think.

Statler on Hold

30 Mar

The Buffalo News’ Sharon Linstedt reports that Bashar Issa has put his Statler renovation on “hold”.

In reviewing my British – American English dictionary, I find that “on hold” translates as “over”.

An employee of Issa’s BSC Development Buffalo LLC, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that, although redevelopment is being halted, Issa “is not going to walk away” from the building.

“He made the point he is not selling the building and is not walking away,” the employee said. “He had a loan deal that didn’t pan out, and he will look at Plan B and Plan C. It’s not a dead project.”

The BSC Development staff member also said current vendor contracts will be honored and the halt in renovations will not affect tenants or the Park Lane Catering’s event schedule in the Statler’s Golden Ballroom, and Terrace and Rendezvous rooms.

I think it’s safe to say that Issa was and is in over his head. It’s one thing to build a project or two in your hometown (each of which was overbudget and late), but it’s a whole different thing to do a massive renovation of a local icon in a shrinking Great Lakes city across the ocean. Progress has been slow, Issa got himself embroiled in a nasty labor dispute, and it became increasingly clear that expectations were probably too high indeed.

In any event, I hope Issa can execute plans B – Zed, and we should bear in mind that what little progress he’s been able to accomplish in the Statler is greater than any progress the prior owner had been able to accomplish. But the notion that this young man from Manchester was going to single-handedly show Buffalo a thing or two seems to have been quite overblown indeed.

Game Seventy-Seven Open Thread: Canadiens at Sabres

28 Mar

In the early days of the Open Thread Era, we traditionally would dedicate each open thread to a former player who had worn the jersey number that corresponded with the game. The choice at #77 is not a difficult one…Chris “Hands of Stone” Gratton or Pierre “I’m here to bugger your wife” Turgeon. I think Pierre wins this one going away. Any special Turgeon memories you’d like to share?

As to tonight’s game, the last time Les Habitants visited Buffalo, the team and fans were riding high after a dominating win over the Predators in which new addition Steve Bernier acted as a one man wrecking crew. Unfortunately, the Habs took the Sabres to school in a dominating win in which they pounded the team up and down the ice and walked a way with a 6-2 victory.

Now, the Sabres find themselves in tenth place, five points behind the Flyers for the final playoff spot. Tonight is a must win for the Sabres, can they nut up and pull it off or will the Canadiens school the Sabres again?

730PM start on MSG.

A Cure for What Ails Us

28 Mar

Esmonde writes about Governor Paterson’s recent trip to Buffalo. It’s interesting that Paterson now quips about being on the “we need cuts” side of the budget process after so many years of being on the “over my dead body” side, and concludes:

“We are going to have to truncate some of our support [for Buffalo],” Paterson said. “[The mayor] and I talked about some revenue-raisers for Buffalo . . . to decrease the necessity of the state [aid].”

It means another kneecapping to a hurting region. It means more pain for the chronically afflicted.

Although this particular horse has been dead for many years, it could use one more smack with a two-by-four:

The best revenue-raiser would be to halt the unfunded mandates, lower taxes and fees everywhere, and make the region far more economically attractive than it is now.

See? How simple is that.

*Buffalopundit and WNYMedia do not condone the beating of horses, dead or alive.

One-Stop Shopping

28 Mar

The Eastgate plaza on Transit Road in Clarence.

Featuring Super Wal*Mart, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Linens & Things, and, evidently, Jimmy’s Cocaine and Ecstasy Emporium.

Stranger and Stranger

28 Mar

Rumors are swirling that a longtime local Assemblyman will soon announce that he does not intend to seek re-election.

Buffalo Twitter Meetup Tonight

28 Mar

Reminder that tonight is the Buffalo Tweetup at the Buffalo Brewpub (Main & Transit) at 7pm.