Buffalo Quick Hits

23 Aug

All these ideas deserve a full post. Unfortunately, they won’t get them today. So here you go:

What the Buffalo News is up to: Rarely is editorial control so blatant in “mainstream” newspapers. But even the least attentive local newspaper reader will note that the Buffalo News has left the simple reporting of facts far behind in the continuing coverage of the City Grill shootings, and, for reasons of agenda alone, “new” trouble on Chippewa.

What is the coherent message here? Its safe to come downtown and drink, and it’ll be even safer if we move the bar time back to 2am. 

What other explanation can there be for a series of diptychs for the last week, highlighting not only the continuing investigation of the shootings at City Grill, but, mysteriously and simultaneously, crime in the entertainment district on Chippewa. This trend of stories came to a head on Sunday, when the News’ headline concerned the criminal backgrounds of victims of the shootings, while adjacently posting a large picture of an average night on Chippewa. The News is now taking heat for this tasteless, but agenda-directed, news story – papers are burning and more protests are planned. I feel badly for the reporters doing the editorial dirty work.

The two stories are related in several important ways: they cater to the scared white suburbanite (who hasn’t been in downtown Buffalo after dark in years anyway but does buy newspapers), and it furthers the agenda of editors who wish the bartime rolled back to 2am. Regular quotes from Buffalo insiders (such as Croce and Goldman) provide cover for some of the editorializing, but the worst of it can’t be disguised:

Some suggest lifestyle, associations may have put them in harm’s way

Eight young people who grew up on Buffalo’s streets were gunned down in a hail of bullets last weekend outside City Grill downtown, four of them fatally.

They left grieving families. Mournful friends.

And arrest and conviction records.

Who is making these suggestions? Since no one is quoted in the News article, besides a random professor from Hilbert (!), it must be the News itself. But the comingling of the stories ignores some very inconvenient facts. First, the shooting outside City Grill happened at 2:30 am, after patrons were removed from the bar at the new proposed bartime. Secondly, the shooting appears ever more to be gang related. While the News is quick to highlight this fact some of the time (“See, its safe to come drink if you aren’t in a gang!”), it hopes you don’t ask what gangs have to do with Chippewa. Which leads to the third ignored fact – no evidence is provided that arrests are up, crime is up, or violence is up on Chippewa. A series of anecdotes are presented, which could read like the police blotter of many city neighborhoods.

Large parts of the East Side are closer to City Grill than Chippewa. Let’s highlight some of the crime there, and how to fix it, where far worse is happening nightly that is much more related to the tragedy at City Grill. I know its not related to the 2am bar time agenda, but its where the facts should lead you.

Next up for the CEJ? IDA’s: Flush off its victory sinking Bass Pro, the Coaltion for Economic Justice has found its next target: Industrial Development Agencies. Specifically, the six in Erie County that provided $600 Million in tax breaks, of which they deemed $135 Million “wasted” because job creation totals were not met.

I will hand it to the CEJ on one note: they are ideologically consistent, and do target every capitalistic recipient of government money. I look forward to their continued investigations, where they discover the bloated union contracts, mandatory hiring policies, outdated regulations like the Wicks and Scaffold Laws, and government ineptitude that also wastes the taxpayer’s money and provides no public benefit. I won’t hold my breath.

While ideologically consistent, it is clear that the CEJ does not require anyone with a practical economics or business background to participate in their planning. The disconnect from reality is flabbergasting. And not just subjective reality, like my opinion that high corporate taxes and a bad business climate make NY a tough sell to companies for expansion (or even retention), thus requiring tax incentives. But I mean objective reality too – you know, that Great Recession thing made all sorts of companies miss their hiring goals. I wonder if the CEJ union allies realize their employers are being targeted for the waste of their retained and unmoved jobs – manufacturing companies with union workers being a major recipient of IDA aid, after all.

But do not fear! In the future centrally planned economy, there will be enough work for all, each according to their talents, when government provides both the supply and demand, and all hiring and production goals will be met! March on, proud worker!

A home for Rick Lazio: No one wants the Republican Primary to come more than Rick Lazio. Left to his own devices, he issues thoughtful policy recommendations, like a reformed unicameral legislature (do you know Alan’s article is the top Google search for “Lazio Unicameral,” and I had a devil of a time finding this platform plank on Lazio’s own site? Sad.). But faced with crazed charged from his Right, in the form of Mad Paladino, he tracks dangerously into the loonisphere himself.

We can hope that once Paladino is dispatched in September, Cuomo and Lazio will have thoughtful policy debates. I won’t hold my breath for that either. It’ll be nothing but chicken costumes and GZM (that’s Ground Zero Mosque. Libs – don’t hate the player, hate the game) til November.

I’m going to vote for Lazio in September. In a parallel universe, where Paladino didn’t run and Sarah Palin’s handlers never opened a NYT to discover that a YMIA was being put up in downtown Manhattan, I think a Lazio/Cuomo race could have done something constructive for the state. It was not to be.

But Lazio’s policy instincts are good, if his political ones are bad. He has a use in the public service. He is a worthy addition to government in New York. But where is the right place for him? Back to the US House? Cross ticket LG? Mayor or county executive of some ‘burb on Long Island? NYS Senate Majority Leader? I wish I knew, but more, I wish he knew.

2 Responses to “Buffalo Quick Hits”

  1. Colin August 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Great post, comrade. Well, 2/3 of it, anyway.

    • Brian Castner August 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

      Yeah, I know you’re disappointed about the Lazio campaign as well.

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