Good Riddance, Fred Phelps

21 Mar

A busy week with late nights, so posting has been regrettably light. So, with the weekend approaching, I leave you with these thoughts: 

1. While Mark Croce may have a right to charge up to $75 for a day’s worth of parking at the corner of Blight and Squalor, Buffalo is not a $75-per-day parking city. We don’t have a parking shortage, nor do we have any particular need to restrict access to our downtown, so something like Uber’s “surge pricing” – something else we don’t have in Buffalo –  is a ridiculous notion.

The barrage of counterarguments from people upholding the right to cheat tourists was astonishing.  Airline fares! Hotel rates! Well, sure. But Croce’s lot was charging 1500% more than a regular Thursday, and double to triple its usual “event” rate. “They could just drive around” is the method suggested for tourists unfamiliar with downtown Buffalo to find something else. True, I guess – that’s should maybe be our local tourism slogan to replace “For Real” or “Sense of Place”.  “Just Drive Around a Bit” that doesn’t make an outrageous markup any less so. Most of the lots – including the FN Center’s own directly across the street from the arena – were $20 for the day. If you were willing to walk a bit, they were less. But part of that “choice” is predicated on you being somewhat familiar with where you are and how to get around. I can’t imagine why anyone would pay $60 to park outside in the Buffalo snow, and the law might not consider it to be gouging under the law, but I think it’s someone taking unfair advantage of visitors who simply don’t know that $60 is an outrage to park around here. Or that we have plenty of other choices. Or that we have a Metro Rail. I argued about this with people on Twitter, and was truly surprised by the number of people defending Croce’s right to charge whatever he wants. Well, sure, I guess. But does that make it right? Or does your humanity, good neighborliness, and sense of fairness demand that visitors not be gouged by a greedy millionaire? Welcome to Buffalo! If the government doesn’t rob you, our business oligarchs will. 

But seriously, if it costs less to eat the ticket you get from parking in a “No Parking” zone than in one of Croce’s lots, the rules of “basic economics” are out the damn window. 

2. Last night the Blue Bash to celebrate the 2014 Undy 5000 and the Colon Cancer Alliance was held at Artisan Kitchen & Baths. While colon cancer is the 2nd deadliest cancer in America, affecting thousands of people every year, there’s such a phobia and stigma attached to it that people are dying needlessly. Early detection is the difference between life and death; survivor and victim. My wife is a cancer survivor and we are raising money for the CCA to help its mission, part of which is to provide free colonoscopies to people who cannot otherwise afford them. Please consider donating anything you can at this link. 

3. Looks like a lot of local school districts – Orchard Park, Ken-Ton, Depew, Cheektowaga, Sweet Home, and Buffalo, to name a few – are undergoing the same gut-wrenching budget crisis this year that Clarence underwent last year, and there’s more on the horizon.  When Clarence’s budget was in trouble last year, the board tried to pass a 9% increase to maintain the status quo. The vote failed, and the curriculum was gutted and electives were eliminated. Some in WNY pointed and laughed. Sprawly, tax-averse Clarence kids got what they deserved, some argued. Well, the hurt is getting spread around while Clarence’s crisis appears to be over. If we can’t adequately fund our schools and instead prioritize things like handouts to businesses and pothole repairs, then our priorities are beyond screwed up.

17 Responses to “Good Riddance, Fred Phelps”

  1. UncleBluck at 8:22 am #

    I guess its no worse than overselling & gouging your understaffed/unprepared New Years Eve party……

    • rastamaniac at 7:28 pm #

      Can we give him some tax breaks for repping Buffalo with such class?

  2. Marc Rebmann at 9:05 am #

    Complaining about parking is so Buffalo it hurts.

    • Alan Bedenko at 9:40 am #

      Yes, it never happens anywhere else. Because we’re a special snowflake.

      • rhmaccallum at 3:09 pm #

        Imagine planning on going out to dinner with the wife. Some great places in the city, but great places in the suburbs too. Difference is the suburban restaurants have free parking. Hmmm….where to go.
        Now imagine a city (Buffalo) suffering from sprawl, taking an economic beating because the suburbs have garnered all the shopping and have comparable restaurants and bars…with free parking.
        Now take a minute to consider what would be in the best long term interest for the City of Buffalo. Free parking or cash cows for Croce and Paladino?

      • Michael Rebmann at 6:53 pm #

        IMO, the better restaurants are in the city and parking isn’t a problem, except for Elm wood. I hate the parking situation in that area.

      • UncleBluck at 9:18 am #

        Not true. The suburban restaurants are just as good if not better and there are many more of them and you don’t have to pay to park, you don’t have to endure the panhandlers…etc……

      • Michael Rebmann at 9:29 am #

        I have never paid to park while dining in the city. Parking fees are only in effect during daytime business hours, not when people are typically going out for dinner. The panhandler issue is a big canard. Yes, there are a few, but the problem barely qualifies as a nuisance. Most times, people will not be bothered by a panhandler.

    • rastamaniac at 7:27 pm #

      Ripping off tourists we fucking beg and blow just to come here is really cool though, Croce must be an awesome guy. More power to him and fuck you if you come here and get ripped off by a parking lot douchebag. And Don’t come back ok? There’s a chamber of commerce motto for ya.

  3. peteherr at 9:06 am #

    I 100% agree with Croce’s right to charge whatever the hell he wants for use of his lot. Here’s the thing I don’t understand. Why would he? Presumably, the guy is a smart business man. He owns a few things. Whether people park there or not, aren’t they going to see the sign, maybe toss a photo of the ridiculous price on Twitter or Instagram…spread the good news about how ridiculous Buffalo is? I have no idea how many spots there are in that lot. But for the sake of argument let’s say 500. And if he makes an extra $50 per spot, it’s $25K for a day. If people post the photos, share their gripes, and drive away one convention that might have come to Buffalo, that is way more than $25K in future business. It just seems like a short term strategy that has more negative long term results on the community, which will, in the long term effect both his and other businesses.

  4. Andrew Kulyk at 10:28 am #

    We put together and host an entire day of hoops, food, drink, pools and revelry every time there has been an NCAA event. It all starts with a breakfast that I host here in my home the morning of the event. This year we were nine strong. As for parking? Our guests either parked two blocks up Elmwood near 31 Club (free no meters), the ramp at Franklin/Huron ($6 all day), or valet parked downstairs at Embassy Suites ($10 all day). After breakfast we hoofed it three blocks over to Fountain Plaza and rode the free Metrorail.

    For our between sessions dinner we again rode the Metrorail round trip back to Fountain Plaza, and had a reservation for 9 at Dinosaur BBQ. As an aside, that place was chaos, but they got our party accommodated, we had a great meal and missed hardly any of the hoops action.

    There are options folks. You can park your car 10 steps away from the front door of the arena, and pay heavily for that privilege, or partake in the myriad of other options which are far far cheaper but might involve a few extra steps or a few extra minutes.

    • Alan Bedenko at 11:46 am #

      The lot that FNC operates directly across the street – i.e., much closer than the Croce lot – was $20 for the day.

  5. Michael Rebmann at 1:15 pm #

    1. Supply and Demand. Caveat Emptor. Nobody has a gun to their head forcing them to pay the high parking fees.

    2. About 5 years ago I had my first colonoscopy. Several large precancerous polyps were removed. I now go every 2 years for a colonoscopy. I urge everyone to discuss this with their doctor. The procedure is painless and the drugs are fantastic.

    3. The public education model is highly flawed and not one more penny should be spent on it. Fix it first by giving parents real choices for their child’s educational needs.

    • rhmaccallum at 2:40 pm #

      Those drugs are pretty good. I think it’s the same stuff I got when I had my vasectomy.
      I sang all the way home from that one.

    • rastamaniac at 7:25 pm #

      Yes like the great vouchers Pirush Jindall is handing out for schools who teach creationism and expel pregnant girls. Great stuff.

  6. rhmaccallum at 3:01 pm #

    3. The whacked out theory that you can freeze property taxes and not begin to starve schools is…well…not fit for print.
    That said, prior to being on a board in a rural district we had been working with a private educational research and policy group in Rochester, N.Y. It was interesting to note that expenditure on facilities had absolutely no correlation with academic results…and…that smaller schools actually cost less/student. Smaller schools also academically outperformed larger schools as a whole.
    A few ideas to reduce school spending:
    – End costly installation of things like all weather tracks. I believe all WNY schools have them now. It’s track. It’s jv and varsity level. It’s not the Olympics or the national’s.
    – See the above and think the same for artificial turf football fields.
    – Sporting events. One basketball game I attended recently showed how different these things have become since my day. A basketball coach? OK. An assistant coach? OK. But now add a second assistant coach, another teacher being the scorekeeper and two more teachers running the candy and soft drink stand. All getting a stipend. For each game. L:ets have a coach, one assistant, a student running the board for extra credit, and students running the concessions for extra credit or as a class requirement for business classes.
    – Take control of your coaches and athletic director. A football team has five practices/week as well as games. This, I was told by one athletic director, had to be done as number of practices was something required by league rules. Who makes the league rules? The league committee. Who is the league committee? Those self same coaches that make a stipend for each day, each practice!
    They’re kids. It’s a sport. It’s supposed to be fun. It is not supposed to be an income source for teacher/coaches and assistants. But it is. Go to three practices a week tops. Let the kids have some other activities…and some fun off school. If you want to be on the football team as things are now you can forget about those music lessons, maybe also being on the chess team and just about anything else. They’re kids! Remember that.
    I could go on but I’m getting myself all steamed up again.

  7. rastamaniac at 7:24 pm #

    Starving schools is the exact point of the tax cap. You don’t pay very close attention to Cuomhole’s ideas about education if you hadn’t spotted that strategy by now.

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