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.

28 Responses to “2008. It was a year.”

  1. hank December 29, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    “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.”

    Alan you forgot to mention that he opted out of public financing
    RENEGING ON HIS PROMISE NOT TO DO SO.

    Ever wonder from that how many more promises he will break? The AFL-CIO is beginning to wonder about how Barry O will get them what THEY paid for, the homosexuals are all a-twitter about Rick Warren, And the Out of Iraq Caucus isn’t exactly dancin’ in the streets.

    There were so many here who put their “HOPE” in Obama to end the wars. Heard much about that lately? And you WON’T. The Junior Senator from IL recently found out it’s not as easy to make decisions as it was to vote “PRESENT”.

    So if you see trade deals with China you don’t like because they’re putting unionized American workers out of jobs, you’ll know why—He’s got to pay off his contributors.

    If you see reduction or elimination of military assistance and foreign aid to Israel, you’ll know he’s re-paying Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Saudi Royal Family as well as Iran for their support.

    But, as long as you got what you wanted, what the fuck difference does it make, eh?

  2. mike December 29, 2008 at 11:18 am #

    hank you forgot he’s a muslum.

  3. Mike In WNY December 29, 2008 at 1:56 pm #

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

    That, to the nth degree, will be the definition of Obama’s presidency.

    BTW, laissez-faire trickle-down policies didn’t fail, governmental intervention and mismanagement of the economy failed. The result? Obama promising more intervention and mismanagement, aka escalation of commitment.

  4. Byron December 29, 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    I had almost forgotten about the “libruls are terrified of Sarah Palin” meme. Good times . . .

  5. Mary Kunz Goldman December 29, 2008 at 7:36 pm #

    Pundit, I am honored that my blog made your end-of-the-year retrospective! You can mock me any time. It’s good for business!

  6. mike hudson December 29, 2008 at 9:31 pm #

    this nonsense was important to you, personally?

  7. mike hudson December 29, 2008 at 9:33 pm #

    also, one should never us “enabling” and enabled” in the same sentence unsless one is a drug & alcohol rehabilition counselor.

    even then…

  8. Buffalopundit December 30, 2008 at 6:21 am #

    True. I didn’t proofread it that carefully because it’s a brain-dump of a post.

    Ultimately, however, one gets what one pays for.

  9. Chris O'Brien December 30, 2008 at 7:44 am #

    Not a word about UB 2020. As my high school daughter would say, “Epic Fail, Pundit.” (Though I am not really sure what that means…

    Gimme a second to get up on my shoebox…The single biggest economic engine in WNY ($1.5 billion last year), the best chance of our generation to truly revive Buffalo, starting with downtown campus, the only project with universal support from Business, Union, Republican, Democrat, public and private leadership and members…and there’s not even a mention?

  10. Restaino December 30, 2008 at 8:03 am #

    Anti-Deregulation Republicans are responsible for the mess we are in!! There is your year in review!!

  11. Byron December 30, 2008 at 9:20 am #

    I think you have an extra negative in there, Restaino.

  12. WNYPMH December 30, 2008 at 9:47 am #

    “BTW, laissez-faire trickle-down policies didn’t fail, governmental intervention and mismanagement of the economy failed”

    Trickle down policies didn’t work when Reagan tried them or since.

    As a matter of fact, every president that did their best to cut taxes for the rich ended up with a crappy economy….See Reagan, Bush I and Bush II….Clinton raised taxes and yet the economy was pretty good – Unemployment was low, investment in the Tech sector startups was high – (which, BTW is the biggest argument against higher taxes, that the investor class won’t invest, and yet they did)

    And…it was deregulation that caused much of the problems. When financial institutions are allowed to make a mortgage and then package it and sell it almost immediately, there is no impotus for them to make good loans, as they won’t have to live with the consequences. When investment houses are allowed to overleverage themselves on ultra risky very complicated things like default credit swaps…no good can come of it and ultimately it is the smaller investors that get screwed because they have so much less to lose, and when they lose they cannot recover from it.

    Yes, regulation is necessary so that he big guy who can weather the storms cannot toss the little guy overboard. Regulation is necessary because when money is the barometer of success, there are no holds barred, and regulation is necessary because corporations are not human beings and they have no conscience whatsoever.

  13. mike December 30, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    hudson your buddy judge Restaino and your enemy mayor vince are still feeding at the public tit, i guess once one gets a taste they never leave. still waiting for carman’s soft landing after getting kicked out of the school district.

  14. Russell December 30, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    Mortgagors have packaged and sold mortgages for decades. This wasn’t something that changed recently under Republican deregulation. If they didn’t, only the very wealth with FICO scores over 740 would be able to get mortgages. There’d be no money available to lend and no way to cover risk.

  15. Restaino December 30, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    OOOooopss!!! I meant de-regulation republicans

  16. Ethan December 30, 2008 at 3:03 pm #

    I bet Spitzer didn’t send you his holiday card.

  17. Jim Ostrowski December 30, 2008 at 3:14 pm #

    I love it. The liberal corporate state, 1917-2008, is crumbling as we speak but liberals are in total denial.

    What you have to understand that what passes for conservatism today is simply a variant of liberalism. Today’s conservatives believe in taxing and spending and inflating, spying on dissidents, and fighting wars for the sake of democracy. Nothing the odious Woodrow Wilson (who charted our present course), wouldn’t have endorsed. The Republican Party, if TR is any expert, was founded as a “progressive” party against the bad old Jeffersonians. It has had maybe two conservatives as Pres. ever–Harding and Coolidge.

    Laissez-faire? That went out 100 years ago. The last remotely LF Pres. was Grover the Great.

    Reagan raised taxes seven times. He added gov. employees, inflated the currency, created new bureaucracies and increased spending. Watch what they do, not what they say.

  18. Jim Ostrowski December 30, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    “[I]n the days of Abraham Lincoln [the Republican party] was founded as the radical progressive party of the Nation.”

    TR

  19. WNYPMH December 30, 2008 at 8:25 pm #

    @Jim Ostrowski – I always find your information interesting, but your arguments always make me laugh. There’s no Conservatives since Harding and Coolidge? A long time ago you mentioned that we haven’t had free markets since like 1870. I just don’t even know what to make of it. Are you are hanging onto age old definitions of things that have never actually existed. I mean really, is a definition valid if thing it defines doesn’t now or never really existed, or is then Conservatism and the free markets only a theory that has never been proven/realized.
    Just because your theoretical Conservatism doesn’t exist now doesn’t mean Conservatism doesn’t exist now, because here’s the truth….everyone doesn’t have to believe every tenet of every belief system for that system to exist. I am a Democrat who doesn’t believe in abortion…doesn’t mean I can’t still be a Democrat. I am a Catholic who believes in contraception…I am not planning on giving up my faith anytime soon. Textbook definitions don’t often work in real life situations, as things like Capitalism, Conservatism, Liberalism, even things like Communism don’t take into account human nature which includes things like greed, lust, vanity, egomania..which are things that make rational people do irrational things. Irrationality changes the rules, or causes situations that are not covered by the rules of the theory.

  20. Jim Ostrowski December 30, 2008 at 9:09 pm #

    Let’s keep it simple. When we do not have a free market economy, and have not had anything resembling a free market economy for many, many decades, don’t go blaming the free market for our problems, okay?

    Human nature and greed are the same throughout history and cannot explain the sudden collapse of the economy in October. Were people greedier or more human in October?

    Only a force that affects the entire economy differently at different times such as the Federal Reserve, can provide such an explanation.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/15/AR2008101503166.html

  21. WNYPMH December 31, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    Yes, let’s keep it simple. Conservatism exists today….not in the 19th century textbook form that you like to use as the definition, but Conservatism exists.

    Free markets also don’t exist in the 19th Century definition you have. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a free market system. Totally free markets are not possible because people are greedy.

    Are people more greedy than in the past? I believe it is possible because there is much more possibilities with money. Technology also allows for more control/monitoring of your money making activities. Not to mention different ways to make money.

    Are people more greedy, possibly…and because of the obvious spoils of money maybe more people are greedy. Greedy people need rules to play by and government provides those rules.

  22. Jim Ostrowski December 31, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    Use the word conservative if you want but don’t use that word to make the point that smaller government failed when no conservative since Harding made government smaller.

    Your argument that free markets won’t work because of greed is not argument at all but an assertion. I would be happy to respond to an argument why that is so.

    The economy will be based on choice or force. How does the substitution of force for choice reduce the role of greed, whatever “greed” means.

    To me, greed implies wrongdoing to gain wealth. The classic form of greed is using the government to gain wealth. Crime would also fit the definition. Trade would not.

  23. WNYPMH December 31, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    1. There are more tenets to Conservatism than just smaller government.
    2. Not sure what the difference between an assertion and an argument is in this context. I believe that there needs to be rules of fair play in any “game” and the markets are definitely a game of sorts. There are competitors, strategies, and rewards. Please don’t mistake my argument for regulation with a desire for OVERREGULATION. I do not believe truly free markets can exist and I attribute that to people’s ability to put aside ethics in pursuit of profit….in my mind that is greed.
    3. My defintion of greed is placing the accumulation of wealth high enough on your list that you are willing to do things that are illegal, immoral, or destructive to others in order to achieve it. Because there are enough people out there that are willing to do those things, there has to be regulation to protect the people who want to accumulate wealth, but are unwilling to play by those unfortunate standards or lack thereof. I do not find fair trade (not NAFTA, CAFTA etc.) to fit the definition of greed. I do think that there is enough out there for everyone, and by talking about regulation and government intervention, I do not believe it is the job of government to keep failing businesses from failing…I was not a fan of the bailouts.

  24. Jim Ostrowski December 31, 2008 at 3:37 pm #

    The pure market is based on voluntary exchange of private property. Inherent in the concept is the prohibition of force and fraud since neither is voluntary. Any laws that do more than punish force and fraud, are themselves violations of property rights. They are a form of tax on wealth in non-monetary forms. They impose costs on all in the vain effort to prevent some from doing wrong. Laws against force and fraud are enough. Beyond that, the market itself can and has developed mechanisms to limit and punish wrongdoers. Fail to pay credit cards and the credit is cut off is one obvious example. Unlike many conservatives, libertarians have no problem with lawsuits to remedy wrongs and we prefer them to regulation.

  25. WNYPMH December 31, 2008 at 3:46 pm #

    Laws work before the bad happens. Lawsuits and sometimes lengthy appeals happen after the fact….Proactive vs. reactive. I’ll take proactive anytime.

  26. Jim Ostrowski December 31, 2008 at 6:32 pm #

    And regulations, aside from impoverishing us because they are hidden taxes, rarely work since they are formulated by corrupt politicians and enforced by lazy bureaucrats who have zero incentive to serve our interests. The promulgators and enforcers of regulations bear no personal responsibility for their work or lack of it. And there’s no way to change that or reform it. Legal power is a unilateral, not bilateral relationship. If we could strike back at the politicians and bureaucrats for their regulatory misdeeds, they would cease to be politicians and bureaucrats. Bottom line. My model works because it based on choice; yours fails because it based on force.

  27. Michele Johnson December 31, 2008 at 8:02 pm #

    Happy New Year..take some time and relax ..nothing much changes in the B~lo so my resolution is..look into the future for problems that have yet to appear and start fighting now..you may actually get somewhere that way!

  28. Marquil January 4, 2009 at 5:47 am #

    Tim Russert didn’t make your list? The personal tragedy aside, Buffalo lost a booster and a lot of free Sunday morning advertising. Western NY lost its only viable candidate for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat appointment (if you don’t count Ani DiFranco).

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