Archive | November, 2008

While I was in PST

30 Nov

Hillary Clinton definitely will be the next Secretary of State. Let the game of replacement dominoes commence.

Housing Activist Harvey Garrett was voted off the board of the organization formerly known as the West Side Neighborhood Housing Services. According to Artvoice, the Mayor’s office sent a bunch of lackeys to join the organization, giving them voting rights, and although 17 people showed up for the annual meeting, 37 anti-Garrett absentee ballots were presented. As one might predict in Buffalo, it all has to do with political power and who gets to control a large-for-Buffalo-pittance-elsewhere cache of cash. One might also credibly predict that all of this will have a negligible measurable effect. Except, of course, for the rile-up factor. If riling people up was an industry, Buffalo would be a boomtown.

Check out a new blog by Chris Hawley called the Hydraulics.

This is a blog devoted to the people, places, histories, news, and events related to the Hydraulics, Buffalo’s oldest manufacturing district and one of America’s most important industrial heritage sites.

Few people, even in Buffalo, are aware of what the Hydraulics really is. This blog attempts to unravel the mystery and tell the story of people and a place that might otherwise be lost to history. It will be a source of information on exciting, progressive efforts to revitalize and repurpose the district in the 21st century, and it will investigate challenges and opportunities the neighborhood faces today.

The Hydraulics is an industrial precinct about a mile east of downtown Buffalo founded in 1827 by the Buffalo Hydraulic Association, a private investment company that financed the construction of a Hydraulic Canal that powered mills, tanneries, and breweries assembled in the district from the 1830s onwards. After the 1840s, the Hydraulics was criss-crossed by an extensive network of railroads, the largest in the country outside of Chicago, that revolutionized Buffalo and transformed the neighborhood into one of the country’s premier manufacturing centers. By the late 19th century the district was a hotbed of industrial innovation and the test site for some of the latest ideas in architecture and engineering.

Buffalo’s weather is one of its best features.

Thinking Outside the Box

28 Nov

From the Buffalo Ruse:

The New York State Department of Transportation has issued a dramatic proposal to eliminate the Buffalo Skyway by the year 2019. Instead of demolishing the structure, as a recent urban renewal commission has suggested, The DOT’s plan calls for raising the City of Buffalo itself to match the highest point of the 110-foot tall Skyway…

…State DOT Engineer Evan Brady says that according to the current architectural drawings, the top floor of virtually every tall structure in downtown Buffalo would serve as the first floor after the City is raised. “We would have a dramatic underground network of Grade A office space absolutely unique in the entire nation.” The major exceptions to this are City Hall and the HSBC towers, whose entry floors will be the 14th and the 21st floor respectively.

At a hastily convened press conference held under the aging span, Congressman Brian Higgins and former ambassador to Malta Anthony Gioia both sounded enthusiastic about the proposal. “We’re talking about an engineering feat that would bring tourists from around the world,” said Higgins. “What other city in the world will be able to claim that it eliminated a towering eyesore by raising itself to the same level of that very eyesore?”

Writing this from the comfort of a place that is not just a tourist mecca, but actually has seen other economic sectors thrive in recent years, it’s poignant the shit we’re worried about in Buffalo.

Running Government Like a Business

28 Nov

The Erie County Legislature – dominated as it is by those bad ol’ Democrats – has passed a budget that seems to be better than that proposed by County Executive Collins.

They got rid of his proposed tax increase by cutting elsewhere, including fringe benefits for county employees and raises that Collins had proposed for department heads. At first blush, it appears to be a more fiscally responsible, businesslike budget. Not only because it gets rid of absolutely needless spending and an equally needless tax hike, but because it also restores funding for critical projects such as the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Collins’ budget had cut all funding for that project, which would have effectively killed it locally – county funding is a prerequisite to its maintenance.

From the Buffalo News:

To strip out the tax rate increase, which would have added $18 to the tax bill on a $100,000 home, legislators had to cut more than $8 million in spending.

They targeted money set aside for employee fringe benefits, arguing that Collins had budgeted more than needed.

They took away raises for select department heads.

They removed new jobs.

And they assumed the government would save $2.8 million next year by holding vacant posts open longer, rather than the $1.7 million that Collins assumed.

“We heard the community clearly,” said Legislature Chairwoman Lynn M. Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda. “They don’t want the taxes to be raised.”

Legislators also propose cutting $2 million from the $5 million to be set aside for court judgments anticipated against the county next year — the “risk retention” fund.

Legislators expect to return $280,250 to the Cornell Cooperative Extension, which was to receive no money in the Collins budget. Legislators also want to return $161,500 to the Soil and Water Conservation District, which Collins had zeroed out.

They gave the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society another $34,500, which would bring its aid to $384,504 next year. The Hamburg Natural History Museum would again receive about $40,000. Several youth programs and cultural groups would receive bumps in county support.

While the annual battle royale over how to spend 10% of its own budget is starting to get old, I like that the Leg is challenging Collins on these issues, and on his priorities. So far, he seems to be for cutting everything except benefits and raises for his top deputies. That’s not change we can believe in.

The Thanksgiving Happy Dance

27 Nov

My two year old absolutely loves the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and he shows it with his happy dance.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Buffalo First?

27 Nov

Maybe it’s time to take the buy local angle in a new direction.

I was preparing to write a post on the proposed bailout of the automotive industry.  While I was doing some research about the impact of auto plant closures on rust belt cities, I came across this little gem.

Whenever the City of Lansing, MI buys something or hires companies to provide service, it will first look to companies who hire, buy their raw materials and contract other services within the city limits.

The official executive order can be found here.

Why not use the purchasing power of government to bring business into the city?  The City of Buffalo is not managed by executive order but, this might be an idea for the Common Council to take under consideration.

It’s not a mandate, but it does encourage local service providers and manufacturing companies to at least establish a nominal presence in the City of Buffalo.  Strenghtening our urban core is a must if we are to grow as a region, right?

You can tell me this idea is bullshit, but at least it’s a idea…

Happy Thanksgiving!

26 Nov

Marquil @

Achtung! Light Posting Ahead!

25 Nov

I’m always tickled by the dash alerts on my Volkswagen – the Germans instill a sense of urgency and command into everything. Tire Pressure Low! Service Now! Rear Left Brake Light is Out! Watch Out, Moose Ahead!

Today’s a travel day, and it’s busy for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, a cranky & sick 2 year-old, getting cats to the vet for boarding, making sure the heat’s down and all that other checking and double-checking you do so that you’re not at 33,000 feet over Missouri when you realize you left the door wide open, the alarm off, and the burners on.

Anyone with keys to the back end can feel free to post over the next couple of days, and I might check in from time to time from sunny California. Despite all the craziness, turmoil, meltdowns, and bailouts, I am tremendously thankful this year for my family & friends, my jobby job, and my snarky little blog here. Best to you & yours.

WNYM: In The Market For A New Hosting Partner

24 Nov and all of our affiliated sites (30 in all) have been hosted by Dreamhost since 2004.  During that time, we’ve had a bit of a rocky relationship with our hosting company.  Their customer service is legendarily awful, our uptime was sketchy through the second half of 2007, they have screwed up our billing a couple of times and they generally disdain criticism.

So, why do we stay?  We have an insanely good deal with Dreamhost and the low price we pay for a virtual private web server and database server have been enough to keep us onboard.  As you might notice from the lack of advertising on our sites, we earn our money through other business and one of those businesses is the provisioning of live streaming video for several clients.  We approached Dreamhost about setting up a dedicated video streaming server for live events, but they don’t offer it.  We went with another provider, MultiMedia Pros.  We’ve been happy with their customer service, but we want to stop streaming using Windows Media and move to Quicktime or Darwin.  MultiMedia Pros does not offer that capability.

After some long discussions, we’re formally in the market for a new webhosting partner.  Here is our criteria:

– Local, regional, or at least in New York State or Southern Ontario.  We’d like to make an attempt to keep it local. Phone and email technical support.

– Dedicated or Virtual Private Server Hosting with panel control for utilization and reboots

– Unlimited email and FTP accounts

– 30 Domains and 15 subdomains

– RTP/RTSP streaming server.  We need the ability to stream video in MPEG-4 and Quicktime

– Support for Joomla, WordPress, Gmail, MySQL, PERL, PHP, and some sort of version control software like Subversion.

There are some other requirements as well, but those are primary.

Each month, we measure our disk usage, bandwidth and streaming server use.  Here’s our rolling six month average:

117 GB monthly bandwidth

8 GB Disk Usage

10,000MB Streaming Video

I know what I pay for this on Dreamhost and MediaTemple as I have used and/or tried them in the past.  What’s the price for a local hosting plan for a site of this size?  Looking at Online Media and Buffalo Webhosting, it doesn’t appear they scale to that size…at least on their public quote sheets.

Anyone have a recommendation?  If I can’t find one in the next 30-60 days I think I might just build my own hosting facility.


24 Nov

It’s like a Canadian version of BBQ.

Evidently, there’s a restaurant on Adelaide in Toronto devoted exclusively to the art of mixing french fries, gravy, and cheese curds.

Breaking News!

24 Nov

The Vatican forgives John Lennon for saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus.

In 1966.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled activities.