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The Morning Grumpy – December 2nd

2 Dec

All the news that’s fit to read during your morning grumpy.

1. I’m always on the lookout for interesting and innovative ideas to improve Buffalo. Other rust belt cities are implementing big ideas to solve their problems and I like to keep an eye on how we can try similar programs here. I’m intrigued by the idea of The Live Detroit Fund.

The fund is a $250 a month rent subsidy that’s being offered to 25 young adults in 2012. It is a $100,000 fund raised mostly by the community, including Detroit “expatriate events” in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

In exchange, the funded individuals will be asked to help bridge the gap between big ideas and local talent. For instance, each renter will be required to host a series of monthly events to connect people around town. They will be asked to serve as connectors, influencers, and catalysts for change. It’s quite simple and I look forward to seeing how it works.

Is it bribery to offer straight up cash in order to bring our young talent back home? Absolutely, and I think it’s brilliant.

2. So, this happened yesterday.

“Bringing Huntsman Back” by Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman‘s daughters.

I have officially decided the end of America is nigh, I’ve got August 3rd, 2013 in the office pool.

3. As the Christmas shopping season heats up and you’re torn between shopping at the mall or local vendors and confused as to whether or not the Niagara Falls Holiday Market of Confusion is worth your time, take a minute to consider the five greatest toys ever. Sometimes less IS more.

Here at GeekDad we review a lot of products — books, toys, gadgets, software — and I know it’s impossible for most parents to actually afford all of the cool stuff that gets written up. Heck, most of us can’t afford it either, and we’re envious of the person who scored a review copy of a cool board game or awesome gizmo. (Disclosure: that person is probably me.) So while we love telling you about all the cool stuff that’s out there, I understand that as parents we all have limited budgets and we sometimes need help narrowing down our wishlists. So to help you out, I’ve worked really hard to narrow down this list to five items that no kid should be without. All five should fit easily within any budget, and are appropriate for a wide age range so you get the most play out of each one. These are time-tested and kid-approved! And as a bonus, these five can be combined for extra-super-happy-fun-time.

I’m not suggesting you give any of these things as actual gifts to your children, but I am encouraging you to think smaller. Encourage imagination and creativity, lean on experiences as gifts. I don’t offer this encouragement as some twatty religious scold trying to remind you of the “reason for the season“, but as a Dad who thinks we all need to chill the fuck out with iPads and XBoxes for our 5 year olds.

4. It’s the 10 year anniversary of Enron filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Enron scandal drew attention to accounting and corporate fraud, as its shareholders lost $74 billion in the four years leading up to its bankruptcy, and its 22,000 (now former) employees lost billions in pension benefits.

My, how time has flown! It seems like it was just yesterday that we were all fleeced by the wunderkinds of Texas energy. The scandal led to some significant financial reforms (most notably Sarbanes-Oxley, which Republicans now seek to repeal). Hey, I wonder how things are going for Andrew Fastow, the man who designed all the illegal accounting mechanisms and false financial reporting structures which led to the downfall of the company? Not too shabby, thanks for asking!

December will be a watershed month for Andrew Fastow. He celebrates his 50th birthday on Dec. 22. The 10th anniversary of the bankruptcy of his former employer, Enron, is Dec. 2. And his prison sentence ends on Dec. 17. That last date will be more of a formality – he’s been living at home for several months under in-home detention, an option the Bureau of Prisons offers for nonviolent offenders.

At some point in the last few months, Fastow was allowed to move into the same house he, his wife and their two sons lived in before Enron’s collapse. The two-story brick house is in the Southampton neighborhood, is valued at $944,000 on county tax rolls.

Fastow is allowed to leave home for work, medical and religious reasons, but he must keep in contact with prison officials and will have to have regular contact with a probation officer over the next two years. His total sentence will end up just short of five years and three months. Fastow is now working full-time for the law firm that represented him in civil matters over the last decade, partner Lee Kaplan said, “We just gave him a raise, but he’s making far less than his talents are worth.”

So after being held directly responsible for the then largest corporate bankruptcy in history and the destruction of the financial health of tens of thousands of people, he gets 5 years in prison, keeps his million dollar house and is doing legal work? Good deal if you can get it, I’ll bet there are neighborhood weed dealers who would kill for a sentence like that.

5. I finally finished chugging through the report on public library management issued by the UB Regional Institute (released in June…screw you, it IS about libraries for chrissakes) and I think its a worthwhile read.

The report explores various structures for funding and governance of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Libraries and examines models used elsewhere. As you might remember, the future structure of the library system was a big issue during the recent Erie County Executive election. Outgoing Executive Collins favored the creation of a special library district which Artvoice’s Buck Quigley referred to as “thick headed

Whereas incoming Executive Poloncarz favored a more traditional structure as outlined in his 19 page position paper which was probably read by no one. I’d like to expand on the issue a bit as library structure is a huge issue for a wide number of people in our community. I think I’ll ask Geoff Kelly for a little space in the print edition to do so. I’m sure this is akin to asking your high school newspaper editor for column space to run an expose’ on the nutritional quality of school lunches, but I’ll give it a shot.

Facts Of The Day: December 2nd, 2010: Rep. Charlie Rangel financial misconduct, also for grotesque sloth whilst napping. December 2nd, 2001: Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. December 2nd, 1993: Drug kingpin Pablo Escobar killed by security forces in Columbia.

Quote Of The Day: “Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.” – Ambrose Bierce

Song Of The Day: “Caravan” by The Band with Van Morrison

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