The Morning Grumpy – July 20th

20 Jul

I think it’s about time that we caught up with Erie County Executive race…

1. The latest campaign finance reports came out last week for both County Executive Chris Collins and his opponent, County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz. Collins currently has an election war chest of $1.6Million while Poloncarz has raised about $150,000. However, the analysis should not stop there.

Collins has been raising money for this race since 2007 and has brought in an average of $2,500 per day so far this year while Poloncarz has brought in an average of $2,400 since he announced his campaign two months ago. Mark still has a steep climb on fundraising, but he’s just getting started. Since Kathy Hochul was outspent nearly 6-1 in the NY-26 special election, it’s clear that money can’t always buy an election.

2. Collins has shaken up his campaign staff and “demoted” adviser and noted election loser Chris Grant and brought on former WGRZ red coat Stefan Mychajliw to handle public relations and act as the campaign spokesman. Mychajliw is a competent and ethical guy, which will immediately separate him from the rest of the Collins team. We’ll have fun with Stefan throughout this election season, you can be certain of that.

3. Earlier this month, Mark published a comprehensive study on our library system, “Libraries: An Economic Engine for Our Future”. In the report, he writes,

Collins created a funding crisis by specifically targeting the county’s library system for drastic cuts at the same time he refused to spend tens of millions of dollars of federal stimulus assistance and increased the salaries of some of the county’s highest paid employees. For the 2011 budget, Collins cut $4 million from the Buffalo and Erie County Library System. After public outcry and hard work by our legislators, $3 million was restored to the 2011 budget.

Later today, Mark Poloncarz will be releasing his plan to manage Erie County’s Medicaid program and we should expect a similar level of detail about his plan. Mark is taking a rare step for a local candidate, he is specifically detailing his proposals and offering insight into what a Poloncarz administration would look like. No nebulous promises or catchphrases like “running government (like a poorly run and inefficient) business”. It’s pretty refreshing.

4. At a public cabinet meeting yesterday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plans for the remainder of the year.

Cuomo said the long-awaited regional economic development councils will be unveiled this week. The 10 councils will compete for $130 million in grant money, with money going to the organization with the best plan for spurring job growth.

The governor also said he plans to launch a new advertising campaign called New York Is Open For Business, designed to attract companies to the state.

I’m interested to see what the Buffalo Niagara Partnership will propose as their plan for spurring job growth. In the past, they have demanded drastically less government regulation and massive government spending for public projects while completely ignoring the cognitive dissonance of those positions.

5. In a newly released Pew Research poll, 71% of Evangelical Christians say the greatest threat to their religion is secularism. In other news, the sky is blue and 100% of atheists think evangelical christians are batshit crazy.

6. As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I’m braced for months of retrospectives, memorials, and analysis about what the tragedy meant to America. I’m hopeful that this anniversary will force America to take stock of where we are, the freedoms we have surrendered for “security”, our foreign policy, our attitudes towards one another, our legacy of torture, and the country we have become.

One of the most interesting pieces of comprehensive social, political, and economic analysis should come from the RAND Corporation and is scheduled to be released on July 26th. I’m interested because the RAND report will influence Washington in a very real way and will serve as foundational research for other think tanks and analysts.

7. The tenuous balance of leadership between non-profit foundations and urban leadership is rearing an ugly head in Detroit. Can foundations be the basis for a city-wide recovery plan? A fascinating analysis featuring many similarities to the struggles that Buffalo faces.

Can foundations and local government work together in a public-private partnership aimed at reversing the downward trajectory of one of the nation’s most troubled cities without ending up at loggerheads? Can private foundations, accustomed to operating often with a large measure of immunity from the public (and the press), participate in a process requiring accommodation of the pressures and dynamics of local politics?

We face these same questions in Buffalo.

The history of urban renewal in Detroit still embitters much of the city’s population, for whom memories of entire neighborhoods being displaced to make room for highways, automobile plants, office developments, and more, linger. The goal of the Detroit Works project is to create livable neighborhoods with a critical mass of residents, as opposed to the structure of many of the neighborhoods right now, which are a mix of scattered occupied buildings, multiple vacant buildings, and rubble-strewn lots left over from demolition.

Sound familiar? The ongoing struggle for recovery in Detroit mirrors our own in many ways. We should be collaborating on solutions for our common problems and exporting them to each Rust Belt city. A collective effort which utilizes the distinct advantages and resources of each city and region to create a coordinated response to urban planning challenges. How about it Mayor Brown?

8. Apropos of nothing, here is a picture of Grimace eating a child.

9. I’m a podcast fiend, especially podcasts from comedians. I’ve been a longtime fan of Marc Maron’s WTFpod, Sklarboro Country, and others. But, my new love is Mohr Stories from Jay Mohr and produced by the good people at SModcast. Jay Mohr NEVER shuts up and this podcast is a window into his empty, yet hilarious, soul. Give it a listen.

10. This trailer is the first glimpse of One Day on Earth, a movie shot by thousands of filmmakers in every country in the world on a single day: October 10, 2010. The trailer alone includes footage from 90 individuals and organizations.


Have a day!

14 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – July 20th”

  1. peteherr July 20, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    I think it’s hilarious that when polled 47% of Evangelicals think the influence of Islam is hurting them while only 10% believe that Catholic influence is hurting them. Do a lot of potential Evangelicals sit at home and decide between Christianity and Islam?

  2. MJC July 20, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Can we find a graphic indicating what percentage of Evangelicals are former drug addicts, philanderers and/or criminals who became converted through either prison or a 12-step program?

    Latching onto junkies (our weakest citizens) through 12-step programs was a stroke of genius for organized religion.

  3. Nick July 20, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    “In other news, the sky is blue and 100% of atheists think evangelical christians are batshit crazy.” lmfao! thanks. I needed that. I second the motion.

  4. Leo Wilson July 20, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Don’t leave out the Friends of Bill, MJC.

  5. Jesse July 20, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Just for thought: Detroit and Buffalo were not built by collaborative efforts between “stakeholders” and accommodation to local politicians, civic groups, blah blah blah.  Ridiculously rich white guys paid for the government they needed for cover to build their empires.  And it worked.

    Why do we think that kind of way will work to ‘restore’ either place?

    • Christopher Smith July 20, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      Unfettered development and planning centered around the grand plans of rich white guys resulted in decades of economic expansion and nearly full employment in the rust belt. Now, those jobs have been lost to automation and foreign nations and the rich white guys have pulled up stakes leaving an environmental and infrastructure mess behind.

      The detritus of that strategy now makes it near impossible to allow new strategies and new business to take root. It is the responsibility of government to again provide the infrastructure, guidelines, and plans which can lead to private investment. See, when Henry Ford built his plants the first time, it was on ground that wasn’t previously tainted by industrial waste and empty housing. It was greenfield development and his investment was met with infrastructure investment from local governments.

      New sewer and utility lines need to be constructed, roads rebuilt, zoning codes developed, public transportation repaired, incentives aligned, and livable communities designed. Those things don’t happen on the whims of private investors, they are the responsibility of government.

  6. bud boomer July 20, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    If you haven’t subscribed to the “The Best Show on WFMU” podcast, do it right now. Scharpling and Wurster are brilliant, plus tons of great recurring guests like Patton Oswalt, Paul F Tompkins, Todd Barry, Ted Leo, Aimee Mann, etc……….

  7. Jon Splett July 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    I think it’s kind of funny the people who brought us mega churches with mini-malls inside of them are scared of consumerism. I think what they really mean is they’re worrying about having to compete for disposable income with consumer culture. I mean, Christianity is really just a great marketing and merchandising plan centered around some book about a Jewish zombie. I’d start to worry when people began moving on to new, more exciting brands too. Their franchise is stale and the last time they tried to put out a sequel, they ended up with Mormonism. You can only reboot the concept so many times before people lose interest.

  8. Jon Splett July 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Oh and off topic, but how do I link comments with the little bar at the bottom of the site so I can get points for them?

    • admin July 20, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      If your logged into facebook, it should calculate your points for you. Oh and It also recalculates points hourly so they wont always show up immediately

  9. Jon Splett July 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    It’s giving me points for check ins but not for commenting.

    Running Chrome if that matters

  10. admin July 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    It was set to 1 point per comment.  We bumped it up to 5

  11. Leo Wilson July 20, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    @Chris, it’s an interesting conundrum. It is the duty/responsibility of government, yet WNY’s government is notoriously non-productive, nearly paralized and seldom able to overcome even the single, whiney obstructionist. Most of us can count on them to first stall until its so late that any motion that might preclude death is an unexpected surprise, then do its best to step on its own feet to stop anything from happening at all.

  12. Jesse July 22, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    Out for a day so I am behind.

    Original Boom days: Private investment followed by public infrastructure (built at the behest of said private investor).  Imagine the shitstorm if the rich guys tried that around here today.

    Dreamy dreams for future boom days: Public investment followed by hopey dreamy dreams of private investment.  Seems to be working out great so far.

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