Archive | November, 2012

On Smashing the Plutocracy

30 Nov

From CBS News, our budding banana republic plutocracy/kleptocracy unravels itself:

An interview with Lloyd Blankfein is as rare as a look inside the Goldman Sachs money machine. He showed us one of seven trading floors at his Manhattan headquarters. Goldman is one of America’s most successful investment banks. It had net earnings of $4.4 billion dollars last year. When we asked Blankfein how to reduce the federal budget deficit, he went straight for the subject politicians don’t want to talk about.

BLANKFEIN: You’re going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people’s expectations — the entitlements and what people think that they’re going to get, because it’s not going to — they’re not going to get it.

PELLEY: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?

BLANKFEIN: You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. … So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.

Blankfein is CEO of Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street institution that was about as deep into the Wall Street scandal and collapse of 2008 as could be.  Goldman Sachs received a $12 billion TARP bailout related to its holdings in then-defunct insurer AIG. Goldman Sachs repaid the government through a sale of equity in April 2009

Despite the fact that it’s become quite evident that Wall Street is Washington’s puppetmaster, and not vice-versa, Blankfein now has the audacity to come to Capitol Hill to lecture the government about good governance and how we need to aggressively cut so-called “entitlements” like Medicare and Social Security. As if caring for the sick and elderly was some sort of societal ill, while committing fraud against one’s own customers is perfectly reasonable, and the sanctions wrought therefrom a mere cost of doing business. 

Here’s what America’s favorite socialist Senator, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders has to say about it all. Thing is, he’s right, and the plutocracy must be exposed and, frankly, smashed and replaced with the representative democracy the Constitution guarantees. 

AV Photo Daily 11/30/12

30 Nov

[avphotodaily]8204405948[/avphotodaily]

EPA Smart Growth Awards 2012

29 Nov

The EPA named its best smart growth projects of 2012, and named for “honorable mention” is Buffalo’s Larkin District

Community organizations and a local developer partnered with the University of Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning to help revitalize the Larkin District, an old manufacturing site located one mile from downtown Buffalo.  Architectural students worked with the developer and the city to create a master plan for an urban village that now features new office space, restaurants, apartments, parks, and plazas. New sidewalks, lighting, crosswalks, bicycle lanes, and bus shelters reduce pollution from vehicles by making other transportation choices more appealing.

No word on what award the South side of the Larkin’s nouveau office park may have won. 

But I was more intrigued by this

Overall Excellence
BLVD Transformation Project, Lancaster, California
The redesign of Lancaster Boulevard helped transform downtown Lancaster into a thriving residential and commercial district through investments in new streetscape design, public facilities, affordable homes, and local businesses. Completed after eight months of construction, the project demonstrates how redesigning a corridor guided by a strategic vision can spark new life in a community.  The project has generated almost $300 million in economic output and nearly 2,000 jobs.

Take a look at the “before” image; it literally looks exactly like almost ever major thoroughfare in western New York. Transit Road, Main Street in Williamsville by way of example could be improved dramatically: 

Scumbag Buffalo

29 Nov

The “Scumbag Steve” internet meme

Scumbag Steve is an image macro series featuring a kid with a sideways fitted cap standing in a hallway. The overlaid text generally centers around unethical behavior regarding drugs, partying, and other hedonistic behaviors.

Example: 


See more on Know Your Meme

Yesterday, in light of the horrible stories about awful people doing terrible things, Tom Dolina from Tommunisms was good enough to create a “Scumbag Buffalo” meme blank, replacing “Steve” with City Hall – the background, the hat worn at a rakish tilt are all there. Here are some examples

   

   

   

 

 

 

 

AV Photo Daily 11/29/12

29 Nov

[avphotodaily]8195054023[/avphotodaily]

Illuzzi’s Former Site

28 Nov

After gossipy muckraking political payola specialist died a few months ago, his website URL went up for sale. PoliticsNY.net was on the market for $3,000, according to the Massachusetts-based URL resale company I spoke with. Someone snapped it up, and a relaunch is apparently in the works for the very near future. 

No word yet on who bought it, but the site now features this image: 

Anyone notice what’s missing in that picture? 

Follow along on Twitter @politicsny

Illuzzi's Former Site

28 Nov

After gossipy muckraking political payola specialist died a few months ago, his website URL went up for sale. PoliticsNY.net was on the market for $3,000, according to the Massachusetts-based URL resale company I spoke with. Someone snapped it up, and a relaunch is apparently in the works for the very near future. 

No word yet on who bought it, but the site now features this image: 

Anyone notice what’s missing in that picture? 

Follow along on Twitter @politicsny

Heckuva Job, Humanity

28 Nov

1. Just after 9:00 am yesterday, a 24-year old woman was driving her SUV while drunk. She crossed the center line and plowed her SUV into a Pontiac sedan driven by a 31 year-old mother. The impact split the sedan in two, critically injuring the driver and killing her beautiful 7-month old baby, Baylee Marie Dion. 

How many more lives need to be destroyed before selfish, reckless assholes decide that it’s a bad idea to get behind the wheel when they’re drunk? How many more babies need to be homicide victims before some people get it through their thick idiot heads that maybe you don’t get drunk when you have to drive somewhere. The woman who killed Baylee was stopped for DWI in 2009. Our society glamorizes going out and getting hammered. Hooray us. 

2. During the course of a home invasion burglary on Buffalo’s east side, the 3 thugs beat the 96 year-old victim. I mean, you’re already violating his property, why not violate his personal safety, right?  To top it off, civic leaders responding to the horrific beating had to put out a call for area residents to set aside the general rule of “no snitching”.

I’m sure that the elderly resident was just jumping up to physically threaten three young men, right? The beating was totally necessary in furtherance of collecting a few tchotchkes, right? Happy Holidays!

3. A mother in Niagara Falls left her 2 year-old and the child’s father in the car while she ran into the store to get something. As she shopped, a drive-by shooting happened to erupt outside, and a bullet hit the child in the face. People are now discussing whether the 2 year-old was the intended victim. Perhaps someone will come forward in the Falls to provide law enforcement with some information.

Niagara Falls is the place where nothing good ever happens, it seems. Gynophobic newspaper editors, a city that gave up a swath of downtown to a casino that isn’t paying its debts, streets paved with depleted uranium, no jobs, vast poverty, dysfunctional government, waste, fraud, and corruption. ‘Tis the Season!

 

If anyone can photoshop the scumbag Steve hat onto a picture of a Buffalo, I’d love that. Thanks.  Thanks to Tom Dolina for assisting with the “Scumbag Buffalo” meme. 

AV Photo Daily 11/28/12

28 Nov

[avphotodaily]8204997798[/avphotodaily]

Meanwhile, an Ontario Judge Kicks Rob Ford Out of Office

27 Nov

Although Ontario is right here in our own backyard, we think about it when it comes to sport or culture or shopping, yet most of us are blissfully ignorant of Ontario politics.  Yesterday, Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland ruled that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford be removed from office for violation of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.  Text of the decision is below. 

Ford wasn’t immediately dismissed; the removal is stayed for 14 days. Ford plans to appeal the ruling

For the uninitiated, Ford is a Tory from Etobicoke, a western suburb that is part of the City of Toronto. His family owns a label company there, and he entered politics as a Toronto city councilman in 2000. He was elected Mayor in 2010 as Torontonians sought to reduce fraud and waste in city government.  He positioned himself as a populist conservative, attacking perks in members’ budgets and calling for removal of long-termers in the council. He became mayor on a platform of “putting people and families first, focusing on the fundamentals, reducing waste, and eliminating unnecessary taxes.”  Think of him as a portlier, blue-collar Chris Collins. 

Like Collins, Ford has a reputation for being arrogant, ignorant, and disrespectful.

Ford’s removal from office had nothing to do with his fiscal conservatism, and everything to do with arrogance and ignorance. In early 2010, then-councilman Ford sent letters on official City of Toronto letterhead identifying him as “Etobicoke North Councillor” soliciting donations for his private “Rob Ford Football Foundation”. He collected just over $3,000 from donors, including several city lobbyists, clients of city lobbyists, and a company that did business with Toronto. His colleagues in the council sanctioned him and ordered him to pay the money back, and a taxpayer lawsuit was filed. 

“In his letter of response to the complaint, Councillor Ford wrote, ‘I do not understand why it would be inappropriate to solicit funds for an arm’s-length charitable cause using my regular employment letterhead,'” Leiper quoted him as saying.
 
Ford had said there was “no basis in policy or law” to stop him from fundraising this way. However, Leiper said she had advised him in December 2009 and in February 2010 that he shouldn’t fundraise in this way.

After the decision yesterday, the plaintiff’s counsel indicated that it didn’t have to be this way

“It is tragic that the elected mayor of a great city should bring himself to this,” Ruby said. “Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford. It could have so easily been avoided. It could have been avoided if Rob Ford had used a bit of common sense and he had played by the rules.” 

As Globe and Mail columnist Marcus Gee explains

What they missed was a dangerous strain of arrogance. This was the mayor who called senior civil servants to his office to demand paving and other repairs outside his family business in Etobicoke. This is the mayor who used publicly paid workers in his office to help coach his high-school football team. This is the mayor who called the head of the Toronto Transit Commission to complain about a late bus that had been pulled out of service to pick up his football players. And this is the mayor who wanted the city’s accountability officers reformed out of existence when some of them questioned his conduct and policies.

Here was a guy who ran as a man of the people but acted as if he were above the limits that apply to ordinary mortals. For Rob Ford, the rules were always for somebody else. Nowhere was that clearer than in the case that led to Monday’s damning court judgment. While he was still a lowly member of city council, a position he held for a full decade, the city’s Integrity Commissioner found that he had used his status as councillor to solicit funds for his private football charity. Among the donors he approached were lobbyists and a company that does business with the city. The commissioner found that seven lobbyists or clients of lobbyists who had donated to the football charity had either lobbied Mr. Ford or registered an intent to lobby him.

The danger is obvious: if a lobbyist does a favour for a councillor – even if it means donating to a good cause – he might expect something in return. Mr. Ford, who rails about corruption at city hall, should have seen that.

Instead, he brushed off the complaint.

In Toronto, they remove their elected officials for perceived conflict of interest over $3,000 to a personal football charity.  Anyone get the sense that, under those rules, practically every politician in western New York would be removed?  It comes as no surprise that Canada is the 10th least corrupt nation in the world, while the United States can manage 18th

Rob Ford Conflict of Interest Decision