Archive | December, 2008

2009

31 Dec

Happy New Year, everyone.

This will be the last post of 2008 – the 6,666th since the April 2005 switch to WordPress, for all you Satanists out there – and I guess I’ll be adding stuff to it as the day goes on.

Firstly, not that any of you care, but this instance of WordPress MU got upgraded overnight sometime and everything looks different. It’s like I’ve been flying a DC-3, and now have to get used to a 777.

Secondly, the Buffalo Ruse has posted its satirical “2008 headlines you wish you had never read“. My favorites:

BUFFALO PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD AMENDS CURRICULUM, ADDS: ‘FONDLING CERTAIN DISABLED CHILDREN OK’…’HETEROSEXUAL BASKETBALL COACHES CAN SLEEP WITH CONSENTING MINORS’…’CITY HONORS ENTRANCE EXAM NARROWED TO 1 QUESTION: ARE YOU FRIENDS WITH CHRIS JACOBS?’

and

MAYOR ATTEMPTS COUP ON NORTH BUFFALO’S COMMON COUNCIL SEAT; LOCURTO REBUFFS TAKEOVER BY MAKING AN OFFER MAYOR CAN’T UNDERSTAND: ‘LET’S WORK TOGETHER TO IMPROVE THE CITY’

and

GOVERNOR PATERSON ANNOUNCES NEW TAXES ON UPSTATE NY: ‘YOU’RE FIFTY-YEAR FREE RIDE ON NYC’S BACK IS OVER’

and

CAROLINE KENNEDY VISITS BUFFALO, MEETS PEOPLE SHE WILL NEVER HAVE TO SUFFER THE COMPANY OF EVER AGAIN.

UPDATE: Did you see this article about Chris Collins’ efforts to try and recruit Democrats to run against Poloncarz next year?

One thing people tend to forget about running X like a business is that CEOs of closely held private corporate entities don’t generally have to build consensus among anyone or otherwise convice anyone of anything. They can do whatever they damned well please, and that’s fine in that arena. It doesn’t necessarily work in a pluralistic democracy where that sort of behavior makes you enemies and paints an ever-larger target on your own back.

The whole point of an independent county comptroller’s office is that he is neither beholden to Collins nor to the legislature, and the current occupant of that position has not endeared himself overly to either side over the last several years. And because Poloncarz won’t reflexively go along with what Collins wants, he must be purged!

So, Collins tried to recruit Kathy Konst to primary Poloncarz next year. She refused. When asked to comment, Collins says…

The county executive confirmed the story during a recent interview. He said he wasn’t trying to take out Poloncarz as his potential rival for county executive in 2011; he said he was trying to replace a comptroller who constantly complains.

“The comptroller has not worked well with me. He has been crying to the skies that the sky is falling; let’s not pull any punches,” Collins said. “Kathy Konst was — and I say that in the past tense — someone I could work with, if nothing else.”

Collins can’t “work with” a fiscal watchdog who calls bullshit on his shenanigans. He needs a lapdog who will eagerly and silently do his bidding.

Given past fiscal crises and problems we’ve endured, I hardly think that’s a winning strategy for Mr. Collins. And that whole charade about not being a “chief politician” is a load of dung. It doesn’t get more political than Collins’ recent amateur Machiavellian antics.

But I guess 2009 will tell.

UPDATE: Don’t go up the CN Tower when winds are 60+ MPH. Just saying.

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Literacy Volunteers Scrabblefest – February 2009

30 Dec

Get details after the jump. Your company can sign up as a sponsor by calling Literacy Volunteers at 876-8991. Continue reading

2008. It was a year.

29 Dec

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

That’s how I started 2008. Unfortunately, we evidently are all filled with incredible amounts of, and/or tolerance for insanity. After all, within days we were still arguing over bermed expressways and Buffalo exceptionalism. But at least we had a cool outdoor hockey tournament as a distraction. On January 3rd, Obama won Iowa. The very next day, I entitled a post about Obama “the next President of the United States.” And I was right, bitches.

As early as mid-January 2008, we were already openly mocking Bashar Issa. His decision to treat his laborers like shit sort of helped hasten his departure. He did not, however, fly out via Skybus, which announced Columbus – “Toronto/Niagara“, but went belly-up before a single flight arrived or departed.

During the heat of the primaries, I managed to tear myself away from the Clinton-Obama aggression and write what I thought were pretty decent posts about Buffalo and WNY. The problem is that I can do and re-do the same post over and over again, ad infinitum, every year or every week, and it won’t make a stitch of difference. I loved this post, as well, and I think Paterson’s budget might just render the million taxpayer march a very do-able proposition. And the ones I do after going away, reflecting on Buffalo’s very deep tolerance for failure and mediocrity? Ah, those rock.

Could be worse. I could be Al Coppola.

On January 16th, Spitzer gave his state of upstate address. A few months later, he was gone.

The Peace Bridge should not be expanded, and a second span should not be built there. So sayeth the commonest of Common Terns. A new span is needed at Queenston-Lewiston, which offers the most direct highway-to-highway crossing in Western New York. And would it kill them to put up a welcome center on the New York side, for Christ’s sake?

We didn’t make it to Detroit in January, but we made it to Buffalo’s auto show in February (part 1 and part 2).

Buffalo is extremely proud of the B-Kwik Tim Horton’s expansion on Seneca Street. I mean Talkin’ Proud.

Lynn Dejac was exonerated in her daughter’s death after spending a decade in prison for it.

Co-working was a novel concept I wrote about in February. Now? WNYMedia.net rents space in a co-working space on Niagara Street. Which beats the shit out of the fact that the beleaguered pump & dump owner of AM&A actually listed the f*cking thing on Craigslist earlier this year. Craigslist, along with used tchotchkes.

Buffalo still needs a six-word motto. But at least it’s got sense of place (barf).

If Jon Powers’ failed candidacy for Congress accomplished nothing, it kicked Jack Davis out of the political system in Western New York. Good riddance. My favorite day? Exposing Davis’ payoffs to bribe his way onto the Independence Party line. The most notable part of that entire yearlong race, however, was this game-changing ad.

Of course, the biggest story this year that wasn’t Presidential-election-related, was our own Client 9, Eliot Spitzer, and his epic hooker fail. Governor Paterson assumed the helm of the Failboat on March 17th. We had an economic fail in October, which was sort of predicted in this post.

This video was one of the most important of 2008.

Mary Kunz Goldman started a blog
. I have not mocked it. Yet. The Broadway Market continued to undergo epic upheaval, as it tries to remain relevant, perhaps its status as an enclave of mostly long-gone Polonia needs to be re-examined. As early as June, the automotive chickens began roosting as gas soared to well over $4.00 gallon – and has since amazingly reverted to $1.80/gallon in a matter of a handful of months. Amazing what an economic meltdown will do.

Tom Suozzi and his commission recommended a tax cap – yet another great idea that will never, ever be implemented by the selfish, back-asswards state legislature. They have too much fun spending and borrowing to limit their revenue stream like that.

June saw the end of the Clinton – Obama primary battle, and Hillary Clinton set a precedent that McCain later echoed – her greatest moment on the campaign trail seemed to be her concession speech. In the end, she miscalculated that “experience” would trump “change” as a rallying cry this year. McCain gave his first speech of the general election, looking frog-like in front of a weird green screen. It set the tone for a poor campaign. Obama then opted out of public campaign financing, thus enabling him to raise an unprecedented sum of money that enabled him to take on all comers and do something that no Democrat had been able to do in recent memory – compete everywhere.

In the meantime, the Livery building acquired a name as it crumbled, became a cause, and was ultimately saved by Sam Savarino.

Tor-Buff-Chester was coined by Richard Florida, the now-Toronto-based urbanist guru, and is an idea whose time has come. Downtown saw the unveiling of the Erie Canal terminus park, which is a rare Buffalo triumph.

Buffalo got an economic development czar, and Tom Golisano started Responsible New York, which had a “meh” effect on local elections. Just ask Mesi, Konst, and Kavanaugh. (Indeed, the campaign waged on Kavanaugh’s behalf begat a new phrase I’ll use).

In July, the shit hit the fan when a Federal Judge ruled that the Seneca Buffalo casino was illegal. Like with other never-ending, decade-long issues in WNY, (Bass Pro, Peace Bridge, e.g.)this is a yawn-inducing issue now. So much so, that opinion has given way – for me – to ambivalence. But people began to wonder what the Wendt Foundation was doing funding the anti-casino lawsuits. $2 million for Albany lawyers is a lot of money for a foundation whose aim is to promote education, the arts, and social services. In fact, it’s more than it gave to any such charity in recent years. When the question was raised, its rabid zealot defenders struck with charges of “swiftboating”. Bruce Jackson accused me of being part of a conspiratorial cabal, acting in concert to destroy the reputation of the Wendt Foundation. The fact that Jackson never contacted me to get a comment from me speaks to the quality of his alleged “journalism”, not to mention that what he wrote was ignorant, incorrect, and paranoid. Donn Esmonde, bold protector of the less fortunate, naturally came to the defense of the extraordinarily well-funded casino opponents.

So, it was quite fun to find out that the rabid zealot is a past recipient of Wendt funds, that his kids are among the listed trial counsel on the anti-casino lawsuit, and that the Wendt Foundation is a past investor in Harrah’s Casinos. None of that had ever been disclosed by Bruce Jackson, the rabid zealot, Casino obsessive who used the word “swiftboat”. Likewise, to this day the people who directly receive the millions in Wendt funds refuse to disclose how the money is spent, and who receives it. No one has ever bothered to explain why the Citizens for a Better Buffalo acts as a pass-through for Wendt funds, but isn’t a party to the lawsuit.

The funniest part of it all, is that contrary to what the hippie zealots might say, I’m not really a casino supporter.

In the summertime, it came to light that civilization had completely broken down on the bus to Wilson. Parents depend on teachers and coaches to, at a bare minimum, maintain the trappings of civilization so that bus rides and field trips don’t begin to resemble the Lord of the Flies. Epic fail. In Buffalo, meanwhile, teachers and administrators can run roughshod over notions of fairness and accountability, with complete impunity. Epic fail.

Bashar Issa came up again in August. Rumblings hinted to poor management. Shortly thereafter, Issa turned out to be a lot of sound and puffery, signifying nothing. Epic fail.

McCain picked Sarah Palin. She did a couple of interviews – one with Charlie Gibson, and one with Katie Couric. Epic fail.

We had Dale Volker engaging in never-ending thuggery, and David DiPietro deserved to unseat him, as did Kathy Konst later on. September saw the primaries roll around, and I made my endorsements here. Predictably, some asshole or another called my political know-how into question because my “predictions” were so off the mark. Problem is, they weren’t predictions – they were preferences.

In September, the entire economy burned out, and needed to be bailed out. The biggest welfare queens turned out to be investment banks on Wall Street, and we went all socialist in response. Thus was the entire conservative deregulation laissez-faire trickle-down movement decimated into obscurity. John McCain “suspended” his campaign to address the bailout. Obama called the bluff, indicating that a President should be able to do more than one thing at once.

In late September, the Great Lakes Compact was finalized, guaranteeing that our most valuable natural resource – even more so than oil – stays right here.

Also, we had debatez. Here’s episode 1, then the Vice Presidential Ifill Cavalcade of Bias, the Town Hall debate featuring McCain versus “that one”, and debate the third, which was good & substantive, except perhaps for JOE THE PLUMBERSZ!@@##@.

The result?

party1.gif

October was packed with stuff I won’t rehash here – most of it Obama vs. McCain. My endorsements were here. The election day post is here. The election results post is here. The Buffalo blogosphere reacted.

As one might expect, a bunch of credits and idiots instantly named Obama the next Stalin or Hitler. Stay classy, cons.

Rumors swirled that Hillary Clinton would be the next Secretary of State. I think Brian Higgins would be a great pick to replace her. Not, you know, that one.

After the election, I started looking at local stuff again. A hit & run at Main & LaSalle, a fugly hotel in Buffalo’s Waterfront Village, the treachery of the gang of three and the nonsense in the State Senate, Six Sigma efforts, Canal Side,

Finally, we at WNYMedia.net started “Patersonisyournewtax.com“, and a poem about the Collins vs. Leg lawsuit fun.

Wishing you and yours a happy and prosperous 2009.

Caroline, You Know, Kennedy

28 Dec

Ouch.

You know?

A Collins Carol

27 Dec

‘Twas 2008, and the county was screwed
the people were not in a holiday mood.
The taxes, they said, were quite high, thanks, enough,
and people agreed that the times were quite tough.

On a floor called sixteen, a man crunched up some numbers
Six Sigma, he thought, would drag us out of our slumber.
Amid raises for managers, programs were cut.
The lawmakers’ charges, he’d always rebut.

In order to pay for his raises so steep,
the people’d fish money from pockets less deep.
Thanks to meltdowns and layoffs – economy dire,
taxpayers had little up there to admire.

But lawmakers thought they could do him one better
and changed his proposals – some letter by letter.
They cut all the raises, revived some dead funding,
and wondered, who died and made this guy the king?

On the floor of sixteen, Collins grew quite enraged,
and the comptroller soon had to become more engaged.
Explaining to Collins his budget was faulty,
but not using language one might think was too salty.

He told the lawmakers that they were wrong, too.
Their outlook was based on too blissful a view.
A budget like theirs, higher taxes required,
a result that really quite no one desired.

The leg passed its budget, some vetoes were used.
The leg overrode some, those cuts they refused.
Then from the Rath Building arose some weird chatter.
The People then wondered, “NOW, what was the matter?”

It seemed a dispute had arisen quite great,
as to which branch of power could set the tax rate.
The executive said, he’s the man with the pen,
while the leg thought that it could. It told him, and then…

To court they all went, led by Lynn Marinelli.
against Collins and Green, (I saw her on the telly).
Judge Feroleto granted Lynn an injunction,
who argued that Collins had usurped a leg function.

Then Judge Peradotto, the leg soon lamented,
ordered that Collins’ bills could be printed.
So from Springville to Amherst and then Lackawanna,
we’ll pay more for less stuff, sort of anti-nirvana.

When green and red budgets were part of existence,
we complained and cajoled, and put up some resistance.
the problems keep coming, they should all feel shame.
For now everything new can seem old again.

Steve & Fido

26 Dec

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Cat Staff Meeting

26 Dec

This reminds me of the Far Side:

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Cloud Cuckooland

26 Dec

It is quite possible that, if pulled over for speeding in Zimbabwe, the police officer who pulls you over will also pay your fine.

Post-feature Brawl

26 Dec

WTF is up with fights and shootings at movie theaters in WNY on Christmas and other holidays? Just hire some off-duty cops to be present in the theaters on those nights, for God’s sake. It’s not that complicated

2008

26 Dec

As I’m preparing one of the last few posts I’ll be bothering to do during the slowest news weeks of the year, I’ll ask the few of you lurking around what you thought was/were the biggest stories or your favorite BP posts of 2008.

I hope your Christmas was joyful and peaceful, and thank you guys for your kindness, your discussion, and readership this past year. I’ve said it over and over again that I write this blog for my own benefit, as my own way of venting or commenting about random crap. The fact that you guys take the time to read any of it is humbling, and I am grateful.

We spent Christmas Day together opening presents, sipping homemade eggnog that was filled with win, I helped Madeleine – who is crazy about ancient Egypt – build a pyramid, and I helped Mia set up a massive Dora the Explorer playhouse. My wife tells me we went through about two dozen eggs, between the eggnog and the hollandaise sauce for breakfast’s eggs and roesti-like hash browns. I felt a personal sense of triumph when I managed to get my daughter’s PC to actually recognize and latch onto the house’s wifi (a frustrating rarity), and we entered in Webkinz codes and got her started on something called U.B. Funkeys, which are pretty neat, and are not pink and princessy for a change. Mia got an old-school Teddy Ruxpin, which she first dubbed “creepy” before she started playing with it with gusto.

It was a perfect Christmas, surrounded by my loving family, taking it easy, and celebrating.