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The Morning Grumpy 12/23/11

23 Dec

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Keep it local, keep it just. That’s the goal of a new petition being circulated by local business organization Buffalo First. If public monies are to be used for waterfront development and our strategies are to be developed in a community-oriented manner, this idea makes a lot of sense.

Make local business the anchor tenant at Canal Side

When a community agreement is finalized, there will be provisions in place that make local business the backbone of real economic development at Canal Side. They are as follows:

1. Prioritize and set the goal for locally owned businesses at Canal Side at 50 percent.
2. Mechanisms to monitor compliance with local hiring and minority and women-owned business enterprise goals.
3. An individual to perform outreach with local and MWBE firms to ensure that they have the tools necessary to bid directly on ESDC contracts.

I support the provisions. They embody the desire to see our tax dollars used for the purpose of real economic development.

Local business and the entrepreneurial spirit should be the cornerstone on which all other development rests. I urge the ECHDC to swiftly negotiate an agreement that will make local business the anchor tenant at Canal Side.

2. Urban studies theorist Richard Florida asks, “How best to revitalize rust belt cities?”

Instead of spending millions to lure or bail out factories, or hundreds of millions and in some cases billions to build stadiums, convention centers, and hotels, use that money to invest in local assets, spur local business formation and development, better employ local people and utilize their skills, and invest in improving quality of place.

One leading economic developer, who has extensive experience in economic revitalization in the United States, Canada, and Europe, explained the shift in economic development toward older industrial regions this way: “Urban revitalization based on luring so-called big game projects no longer has a place in the advanced countries,” he said. “If economic developers want to do that today, they should move to China. That’s where all the big corporate projects are or are heading. Revitalizing older cities in North America and Europe increasingly depends on being able to support lots of smaller activities, groups, and projects.”

He talked about how efforts to support local entrepreneurship, build and nurture local clusters, develop arts and cultural industries, support local festivals and tourism, attract and retain people – efforts that he and his peers would have sneered at a decade or two ago – have become the core stuff of economic development. When taken together, seemingly smaller initiatives and efforts can and do add up in ways that confer real benefits to communities.

3. A Christmas message from the 1% to you.

Asked if he were willing to pay more taxes in a Nov. 30 interview with Bloomberg Television, Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman spoke about lower-income U.S. families who pay no income tax.

“You have to have skin in the game,” said Schwarzman, 64. “I’m not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system.”

Schwarzman is factually wrong about lower-income people having no “skin in the game,” ignoring the fact that everyone pays sales taxes, and most everyone pays payroll taxes, and of course there are property taxes for even the lowliest subprime mortgage holders, and so on.

Schwarzman probably himself pays close to zero in income tax – as a private equity chief, he doesn’t pay income tax but tax on carried interest, which carries a maximum 15% tax rate, half the rate of a New York City firefighter.

As usual, Taibbi does a great job making the case for the #Occupy movement better than they have done themselves.

4. If you laugh like I do each time someone mentions the “liberal media”, this story will come as no shock to you.

The U.S. media landscape is dominated by massive corporations that, through a history of mergers and acquisitions, have concentrated their control over what we see, hear and read. In many cases, these giant companies are vertically integrated, controlling everything from initial production to final distribution.

Click through for several educational and interactive charts. Corporate media has one bias, profit.

5. How is it possible that automakers in Germany can build twice as many cars as their American competitors while paying their workers twice as much?

As Michael Maibach, president and chief executive of the European American Business Council, puts it, union-management relations in the U.S. are “adversarial,” whereas in Germany they’re “collaborative.”

There is a lot of room for discussion on this one.

6. Finally, this is the best story of the week. Minnesota gay community apologizes to GOP state senator for ruining her marriage. Yes, really. This is great.

In a open letter to Koch — published in the local alternative newspaper, City Pages — Minneapolis resident John Medeiros has rendered an apology to State Senator Amy Koch “on behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota … for our community’s successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage.”

Koch resigned her leadership post in the state Senate last week amid allegations of an “inappropriate relationship” with a state Senate staffer.

The letter reads…

We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry. And we are doubly remorseful in knowing that many will see this as a form of sexual harassment of a subordinate.




Fact Of The Day: According to the California Academy of Sciences, only 59% of U.S. adults know humans and dinosaurs did not coexist. This, in part, explains why Michele Bachmann is a legitimate presidential candidate in this country.

Quote Of The Day: “I wanted an electric train for Christmas but I got the saxophone instead.” – Clarence Clemons

Song Of The Day: Let’s take a break from Christmas music and listen to “The Supernatural” from John Mayall and The Blues Breakers, classic gift wrapping music.

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]