Tag Archives: Buffalo New York

How to Suck

28 Oct

Former WNYMedia.net writer and current fellow at the Atlantic Cities, Mark Byrnes (you may remember him from such blogs as “All Things Buffalo“), now expatriated to Baltimore, MD, comments on Brian’s thought-provoking postmortem on the big preservationist conference that rolled into town last week. I reprint it here because I think it’s spot-on, but also because it’s a very clear and concise rebuttal on the “at least they’re trying” coddling of mediocrity in which we engage too often here in Buffalo.

Let’s look at stuff done by local firms only so KPF’s courthouse design is excluded.

The two things that stand out to me as genuinely good architecture by a local firm is 285 Delaware (by HHL) and the Northhamton Lofts @ Artspace, also by HHL (although I believe they recieved significant assistance from a Toronto firm on that design). Cannon is technically local but they know their market well, they know Buffalo is fine with crap so they usually give their clients crap (I’m oversimplifying for the sake of my argument but w/e).

Niagara Center was right before Buffalo Rising, and if that site existed, maybe they would not have gotten away with such crap. But with that location and those clients and that scale of a project-its the most embarrassing building done in Buffalo in my lifetime.

And the Avant is an amazing project that you can’t question. But if you want to pick nits, the curvy form on delaware that pops out is awkward and could have been handled infinitely better (the original drawing was much worse). I feel bad critiquing it because its such a great project but there are some subtly laughable design elements inside and out to those who care.

But it’s not just architecture. Web design is awful in Buffalo because no one cares to pay for a good website, so the good web designers leave (12 Grain Studio is a rare exception). There are no standards for typography or print design in general (Hero, White Bicycle, Montague/Fraser/, Block Club, Martin Group are rare exceptions).

Basically, Buffalo’s problem is that no one is allowed to say that something sucks as long as someone really tries (see what happens when someone tells Newell on BRO that his writing is atrocious). I was not a good designer until I left because I couldn’t find people who had the background or the balls to tell me my stuff was shitty. No one felt comfortable telling me my writing needed serious improvement until I moved away. Buffalo needs to be okay with being told we suck as long as it comes from a good place that is meant to help point us in a better direction.

All of that is so incredibly true. Something to think about. Have a nice day.

TEDxBuffalo: SmartCode and Beer

28 Oct

Two great TEDx talks from TEDxBuffalo.  First, Ethan Cox from Community Beer Works talks about embeering America:


Next, Chuck Banas talks about the new Green Code that is being implemented in the city of Buffalo. This will represent the first overhaul of the city’s zoning and land use regulations in generations.  You can attend “Planning Day in Buffalo” this Saturday at a Green Code open house at Erie Community College’s City Campus, 121 Ellicott St from 9:30am – 3:30pm.  The code will be formally presented at 9am, 10:30am, and 1pm.


TEDxBuffalo: Stacey Watson, Drop In Nation

27 Oct

The videos from TEDxBuffalo 2011 are being uploaded to YouTube, and I’m going to post some of them here over the next few days. TEDx is about “ideas worth sharing”, and there were many presented at the Montante Center a few weeks ago.

This talk from Drop In Nation‘s Stacey Watson is perhaps the most compelling, relevant, and important given that day. It addresses the tragic state of education in the United States in general, and Buffalo in particular. There are thousands of kids dropping out of school and ending up on the streets with no education and fewer prospects. A lost generation of sorts. Watson is a dynamo who has devoted her life to changing that – to helping these kids get their lives back on track. In my opinion, her program is a model that could – and should – be replicated throughout the nation.

Drop In Nation‘s motto is “Innovate, Motivate, Educate”. You can donate to its mission via this PayPal link.


The Buffalo Tea Party: Blame the Poor

10 Oct
  • John Q Taxpayer <garjanb@msn.com> Oct 09 09:16AM -0700 ^
  • Erie County / Buffalo New York 2011 the party for the poor is over.
  • Here we are; after 134 years of taxpayer subsidized “life’ for the
  • poor, we have reached the end. Erie County New York where welfare
  • started in 1877, today 100% of property taxes collected are required
  • to pay for Medicaid (health care for the poor). The county now runs
  • all other services on sales tax revenue. The poor have run this county
  • into the abyss. Erie County once the proud home of a steel industry,
  • thousands of blue collar jobs, and most notable the genesis of the
  • electric power generation industry, sits upon the trash heap of
  • failed civilizations of the past.
  • We watched as the political fools of all stripes steered this once
  • great, beacon of light, into the darkness of socialism. Under the
  • euphoria of compassion Erie County political fools chanted, the
  • Marxist voodoo poison of “From each according to his ability, to each
  • according to his needs” Then these collective political fools invited
  • every feeble, lazy, ignorant, breeder from all over the world to come
  • here for some of that other people’s money.
  • We the taxpayers watched in terror while our hard earned money was
  • wasted on the lowest that society had to offer. “Why didn’t you
  • people speak up” an outsider says, “why this was robbery”. Yes it is
  • but,,, in the beginning it was such a small amount, we were so rich,
  • prosperous, and they said “be your brother’s keeper” the poor would
  • starve without your money, how could you wealthy taxpayers be so
  • cruel, it’s for the children, you know the children defenseless
  • children………….oh the poor say, is it that simple, I just hide my
  • laziness behind the children…… really that simple… just have more
  • babies and you will give me more money…… “From each (taxpayer you big
  • governmental fools will take the fruits of their labor) according to
  • his ability, to each, (me the poor) according to my (children’s)
  • needs.
  • I guess it is fitting that where the social welfare state started it
  • should find its demise. The taxpayers who had vision in the future are
  • long gone, to anywhere else, who could blame them. They now sit with
  • the conformation that the decision to flee Erie County was an
  • excellent choice. They visit friends and family here and behold the
  • decay caused by political fools past and present.
  • As political fools of today try to “fix’ the problem and balance the
  • budget, do they remember the Paul Revere’s of the past, saying “this
  • is not going to end well”, “the ship of Erie County is sinking, pull
  • in the gang planks and don’t let anymore on the boat or we will all
  • sink in the sea of red ink”, “we cannot afford to take care of all the
  • poor in the world”, but it is for the children……
  • So reader which path do we take? Soon the poor will consume 100% of
  • all tax revenues. More people will leave; housing values will fall
  • because taxes are too high, property taxes will fall because of the
  • falling house values. Taxes will have to be raised to keep the poor in
  • their demanded lifestyles, children will be born, the children…….
  • Or do the deaf political fools do what was called for decades ago and
  • reduce the burden on the taxpayers by cutting alms to the poor? After
  • all it is time the poor who created this mess, let them help fix it.
  • Will the current political fools have the strength to hold their
  • ground when the poor riot in the streets? Oh did I say a bad word? It
  • is a four letter word. SHHHHHHHHH JQT, do not say that word. What
  • readers are you still hiding from that word, isn’t that word the
  • reason we have been paying all those taxes to the poor? Like the
  • mafia protection money. The 1960’s when welfare exploded, riots in the
  • streets, pay us or die? Remember? If not look it up.
  • Am I making you uncomfortable, are you squirming in your chair?
  • OH John shut up.
  • Tax the rich more, take their money give it to the poor so I will be
  • safe…… just say it is for the children
  • John Q Taxpayer

The Food Truck Public Meeting: What to Expect

28 Sep

1. It will be in room 1417 of City Hall at 10am on Thursday September 28th.  In case the crowd is too large, there is a strong possibility that the meeting might be moved to the legislative chambers on the 13th floor.

2. You will have an opportunity to speak, if you wish.  Look for a sign-in sheet. There are no restrictions on who can speak, but it is likely that your comments will be limited in time, and that they be relevant to the matter at hand.  Tailor your remarks in such a way as to zealously advocate on behalf of the food trucks you love, while recognizing the legitimate concerns that existing brick & mortar restaurants have.  If you have specific recommendations or ideas, bring them up – don’t assume that it’s obvious, and don’t assume it’s already been thought of. If you have researched the matter and can point to specific provisions of actual laws that have been enacted in other cities, cite them.

3. This is not a bitch session. This is your opportunity to be heard with respect to some real, positive legislative change that will put Buffalo ahead of many other cities in the state. If you’re a Buffalo booster – young or old – this is a big deal.

4. Come with your mind open. Do not presume that all restaurants are opposed to food trucks. Do not prejudge what the councilmembers’ opinions or positions are. If someone speaks on behalf of a business association with which you disagree, listen respectfully. When you’re doing something novel – when you’re ahead of the times – there’s a lot of hand-wringing and anxiety that goes into that. Be respectful of others’ viewpoints, and expect them to be respectful of yours.

5. The matter is not going to be resolved tomorrow.  You will not walk out of there having witnessed a new food truck law being debated and enacted. This is just one part of a lengthy process, which will continue to evolve and be discussed and debated – both privately and publicly.

6. The meeting will be live-streamed. Look for it here at WNYMedia.net.

Rewind: Good News for Buffalo (2004)

28 Sep

This is actually very good news for Buffalo. In my opinion, it’s tantamount to placing the cornerstone on the new Peace Bridge.

WASHINGTON – The United States and Canada on Friday announced a pilot project at the Peace Bridge that will shift U.S. Customs and Immigration officers to Fort Erie, Ont., where they will inspect all U.S.-bound cars and trucks.This means that the primary and secondary inspections of vehicles entering the country being done on Buffalo’s West Side will – at a date to be determined – be carried out at the big preclearance yard across the Niagara River in Canada.

Ideally, when the program is implemented, U.S.-bound cars and trucks will be able to roll across the bridge into Buffalo without stopping for tolls or inspections and proceed directly to the Niagara Thruway or into the city.

Besides making Buffalo a more convenient and economical entry point for commerce and tourism, the move will also sharply reduce pollution and noise from idling vehicles.

(Originally published on December 18, 2004).

Paranoid Secrecy at City Hall? *Gasp*

12 Sep

They set up a public commission to review how the Buffalo police department is run. The police department and city government are stonewalling the commission, refusing to release crime data – data which other cities routinely make available to the general public.

Mascia said he spoke earlier in the week with Michael J. DeGeorge, who serves as a spokesman for both Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda and Mayor Byron W. Brown. Mascia assured Kearns that much of the information has already been compiled and will be released soon. But Mascia said DeGeorge added that the commissioner will refuse to release some information on the grounds that it is “sensitive.” Administration officials have confirmed several times in recent months that they intend to release some — but not all — data that has been requested.

“I can’t imagine how anything we requested could be even remotely viewed as sensitive,” Mascia said.

DeGeorge confirmed today that some of the data requested by the panel was available on Friday afternoon. What information is the department refusing to release? DeGeorge declined to get into specifics.

The Council created the study group to perform the first outside review of police operations in two decades. The commission has asked for information about job vacancies, the number of officers who are out on work-related injuries, manpower deployments in each of the five police districts and other data.

Seems reasonable to stonewall an independent commission that’s trying to lurch an important part of the city into the 21st century. It’s like shadow mayor Steve Casey says,

We try to be nice, and they attack us.

When has Steve Casey’s renegade camp of Collins Democrats tried “to be nice”?

Labor Day Weekend 2001

6 Sep

I moved to Buffalo exactly ten years ago this past weekend.

Are we better off now than we were then? Worse off?

When I moved here I knew nothing about this place except the stereotypes – the caricature of Buffalo and WNY. I learned quickly that we had a lot of bad politics, bad politicians, and bad policies. We have too many governmental entities that end up fighting with each other when they should be working in unity.

What I’ve witnessed in my first decade here is a lot of two steps forward, one step back. I’ve seen incremental positive changes, but the overall culture of political patronage and silly fights hasn’t changed much, if at all. In fact, in the past few months it’s gotten worse.

What will Labor Day Weekend 2021 look like?

Karla Thomas and the Truth

29 Aug

Karla Thomas is just the most vocal.

She’s just one of a number of people who have taken a bullet for the maliciously inept, political dysfuncitionocracy of Mayor Steve Casey and his willing, charming puppet, Byron Brown.

All of Buffalo’s many problems have a common denominator – politics. Karla Thomas? She was happy to be a well-connected Grassroots associate of Brown’s, content to take a cush patronage job for which she was arguably unqualified. She was happy to follow Brown’s and Casey’s orders, but up to a point. When she refused to play ball, she took a fall. It’s part of the quid pro quo.

Pay to play? Racist question, she says.

“Let me tell you something about that pay-to-play crap. Why did it not become an issue until a black man was mayor?” Thomas asked. “We all know what happens. And I don’t know why people are trying to act like they’re stupid now.”

So, it shouldn’t be brought up now because all the white Mayors did it too? It makes it ok?  Brown told us in 2005 that he’d be different. He was going to use CitiStat to set up a meritocracy and lurch Buffalo into modern times. In reality, Buffalo’s government remains firmly mired in the 1940s, and CitiStat is merely a pretext  – a basis for Casey and Brown to produce and disseminate televised show trials of the disfavored and disloyal.

Thomas repeatedly insisted that her public disclosures are not meant to embarrass the administration or get even with the man who fired her. She said her decision to remain silent during the height of the controversy proved that she was trying to remain “loyal” to a man who was her friend for decades.

Byron Brown and Steve Casey reign over a failed city, and a miniscule, shrinking political empire. They have brought little progress and made fewer friends. They have alienated the well-intentioned and insulted potential city benefactors. They have neither a vision nor a plan for the city – they lurch from political crisis to political embarrassment, and the concept of a “big picture” is unknown.

As it stands now, only the Green Code represents a fundamental, positive change that the administration has brought about, but it doesn’t excuse or justify the almost Stalinist style of governance.

#BuffCashMob: Nominations, Please

2 Aug

This past weekend, Chris introduced us to the #BuffCashMob idea, which he describes as

Rather than do the slacktivist thing, posting links to businesses we like and writing on their Facebook pages, let’s get out, en masse, and show them some straight up cash love. Buy their goods, pay for their services, patronize their establishments. And have a great fucking time doing it!

The goal will be to get 100 people to “flash mob” a local establishment to spend $10-$20 each on the goods and services offered. No discounts, no coupons, no special deals. Just spend $10 in their business.

Think of it as a reverse-Groupon. Instead of businesses offering crazy discounts to get people to mob their stores, the Buffalo hivemind is going to take the initiative and spend money for goods & services at posted prices. The best way to promote and grow Buffalo business is to support and patronize them.

The thought for the inaugural #BuffCashMob is that it ought to probably take place around 5:30 this Friday, perhaps at a local watering hole as a Twitter meetup happy hour. But really, what it is, is up to you. Fill out the form below or Tweet your nominations using the #BuffCashMob hashtag, or by @replying to the @BuffCashMob Twitter account. We’ll post a poll Thursday of the top three semifinalists, and announce the winner Friday morning.  Happy voting!