Tag Archives: buffalo niagara partnership

Would You Date This Man?

8 Sep

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We thought we’d help Dr. Rudnick of The Buffalo Niagara Partnership find his match by providing a little advice for his personal advertisement.

Must Hate Carl Paladino and Love Dogs

SWM with affinity for bowties seeks SWF who enjoys long walks on the beach, puppies, rainbows, rainstorms, and remaining silent during lenghty periods of economic and political upheaval.

My match should enjoy blowing up organized business groups to serve ego of herself and friends.  She should have a professional track record of accomplishing little while being paid much and be willing to blame anyone but herself for the mess which surrounds her.  Responsibility and accountability are for the little people.  You should also enjoy giving footrubs to local plutocrats and patting yourself on the back for no good reason.

Favorite Books:  Green Eggs and Ham, The Little Engine That Could But Was Too Lazy and Content To Bother

Favorite Music:  Loggins and Messina, Dan Fogelberg, Bread, Creed, Nickelback

Favorite Movies:  Big Top Pee-Wee, Failure To Launch, Doomed To Failure

Good luck, Andy!  Let us know how it all turns out.

You Know Who Needs Term Limits?

1 Aug

Here’s a question.

If I don’t like Chris Collins or any other politician who represents me or administers a government, I can participate in the political process in an effort to unseat him.  I can donate money to candidates, canvass, join my local committee, or run myself.   I know it’s hard to unseat and incumbent, but when the stars (and money) are aligned, it’s possible.

But the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and the alphabet soup of other, similar agencies that all trip over themselves and each other to attract businesses have proven themselves to be overall failures.  There’s no unifying theme, there’s no rhyme or reason to which agency handles what kind of project, there’s no one-stop shop whereby a company looking for economic development programs can go and get assistance.

We have a rudderless, aimless shambles of economic development entities with no unity and no plan.

The head of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership is Andrew Rudnick.  He makes a lot of money, and for what? What has our local preeminent chamber of commerce done for anyone lately?  What is Rudnick’s claim to business fame?

Compare Buffalo’s business development website and the BNP‘s with Toronto‘s.  Where is Buffalo’s “Agenda for Prosperity“?  You know, if you want to open a tchotchke shop and get a bank loan, you have to come up with a business plan for your tchotchke shop.  Buffalo?  No plan. No agenda.  No nothing.

(But if you want to do business with or in the city of Buffalo, get your checkbook out.  Make the check payable to “Mayor Brown’s Leadership Council“. That’s your business plan.)

Buffalo is generally a warm and inviting place, but when you start to challenge the primacy of entrenched power or business interests, they will try and destroy you.  Exhibit A is the BNP’s involvement and commentary on the Hamister / Golisano Sabres purchase.  If that didn’t unseat Rudnick, nothing will.

But local developer and perpetual gadfly Carl Paladino is making a lot of noise about Rudnick, and he may be gaining some traction.  Paladino isn’t a love-him-or-hate-him kind of guy.  He’s a love-him-one-day, hate-him-the-next kind of guy.  But he’s entertaining, he’s adequately self-funded to back up his bluster with action, and he’s right more often than not, even if he’s sometimes discourteous in his delivery.

Yesterday, the BNP bought a full-page ad in the Buffalo News to tout just how great it is.  If it was a food, it’d be a delicious pastry crust with a bullshit filling, right up there with Mayor Brown’s list of development successes, such as the insertion of a Tim Horton’s in a South Park Avenue gas station.  Artvoice’s Buck Quigley makes mincemeat of it here.

Here is Carl Paladino’s email missive from yesterday, addressed to Rudnick.  It’s hard to argue with any of it:

Hey Andy, Nice set up buddy.  The ad is a real piece of work, but the real beauty is in the timing.  I’ll bet your buddies Stan and Warren stayed up a night or 2 putting this little tribute of dribble together for you.  I wonder why they didn’t give you credit for allowing the sun to come up in the morning.  But of course, they didn’t write it.  You did.  And I am sure that you believe every word of it in your arrogant, condescending, myopic world of Andy. Continue reading

Paladino Responds To Buffalo Niagara Partnership

1 Aug

Normally, I leave the blind and uncritical parroting of Carl Paladino’s missives to the fine folks at Buffalo Rising.  However, this latest email which I received today was too good to pass up, so call me a parrot for the day.

Carl wrote a response to the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s full page ad in the July 31st edition of The Buffalo News. Click here for the full ad.

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Buck Quigley of our partner news site, Artvoice, wrote a cursory and snarky response to the letter earlier today.  However, Carl’s response was WAY more entertaining.

Hey Andy, nice set up buddy. The ad is a real piece of work, but the real beauty is in the timing. I’ll bet your buddies Stan (Lipsey) and Warren (Buffet) stayed up a night or two putting this little tribute of dribble together for you. I wonder why they didn’t give you credit for allowing the sun to come up in the morning. But of course, they didn’t write it. You did. And I am sure that you believe every word of it in your arrogant, condescending, myopic world of Andy.

Of course our community and its future should be in your hands. Who could imagine any other person leading us when for the past 25 years you kept your finger on the leadership group and at the same time abrogated any sense of leadership in advocacy. Ultimately allowing inept, incompetent and in many cases criminal political and elected officials to serve themselves at the trough and ruin any atmosphere or opportunity we may have had that would have been inviting to business and job expansion to our area. NYPA has abused us for years. Not a whimper out of you. Do you think when you take money from the State it compromises your ability to do the best for a community being strangled by the abusive Albany 2 step? How can you claim independence and objectivity when you go to extraordinary lengths to help the parasitic Montantes get unfair subsidies from the State to the detriment of others in your membership. How can you be objective with the press when you are so up the behinds of the Warren/Stan boys choir.

Would Albany be what it is today if we had effective advocacy shedding a light on the bad guys? Was your epistle to the membership last week an attempt to show on the record that you’re open to hearing and acting on input from the members?

Speaking of members why can’t you publish how many actual dues paying members you have that aren’t in it just for the health insurance? Did you lie when you told (Jonathan) Epstein (Buffalo News Business Reporter) 2200 people? Your ad says 2500 members. We can’t find them. I’ll bet the guys who signed the ad don’t even know how many members there are in the organization.

Do you think they have any idea how bad your staff morale problem is? Do you know how many of your former staff members have contacted me to offer their comments on your attitude and ability to judiciously lead? And don’t tell us that you and your staff are working behind the scenes everyday applying your technical know-how. We’ve talked to the staff. You’re infrequently around and give very little direction when you are. The office atmosphere is quiet chaos. And certainly you show us no credible track record. The list in the ad is not worth the time to comment on.

At 4:30 AM last week our honorable, chosen, idiot Sens. Antoine (just this side of plant life) Thompson and Billy (nothing going on) Stachowski sponsored a bill to allow NYPA to spread our WNY allocated power or the profits earned from its resale all around the state. That’s about $200MM per year that should have been used to support economic development right here in WNY. Where were you on that one Andy?

Maybe those who signed your ad find you tolerable. They hurt their public image when they went against their sense of good judgment and signed on. There is something severely wrong when people holding very responsible positions in the community act against their own principals and substantive values for the sake of loyalty and respect for one another. Most of the people in WNY don’t like you Andy. Stop putting good people out on a limb so you can hold on to something this important to thousands of people in the community. Its not about you Andy. Its about them.

It’s about that young person who was so discouraged that he or she had to leave the area and find his or her destiny elsewhere. I’m not blaming you for doing bad things. I blame you for doing nothing tangible about it and for not getting out of the way so someone else can try to stop the fall into the abyss.

I sincerely believe that Margaret, in assigning Epstein to the story, thought that the Rudnick debate had matured to the point that it was newsworthy and I’m sure she knew nothing of the ad. By the way, how much did the ad cost you? Who paid? Did Stan give his old “deep throat” buddy a discount or was it free? For years you have been a collector of power for the sole purpose of gathering information to pass on to the power elite including passing deep background information on every possible topic to Stan and Warren, information gathered from every organization that you sought to dominate from your seat of power.

The talking is over now Andy. Its time to poll the community not only on you, but since the News has reared its head, we’ll expand the target. We’ll ask the people of Western New York to send us all a very clear signal on whether they are happy not only with the Stan and Andy show but also with the other status quo advocates in the community. Take a rest for a week. You’ll need it.

Carl is mad for a lot of reasons. Primarily, that Carl Montante and Uniland get sweet subsidies and benefits that he and his company, Ellicott Development, do not. While some of his motivation is undeniably selfish, he also loves this region like so many of us and is frustrated by the lack of leadership.

It would appear that Paladino is ready to start a war with Rudnick and the BNP. Whether or not the comission of that war or the ultimate result benefits anyone outside the elite is hard to determine. But, it will be good political theater.

Unshackling Business Sector Shenanigans

12 Jun

It was certainly an eventful day in New York’s ongoing Senate coup saga, replete with hidden keys, locked drawers, lawsuits and one of the new “coalition” Senators contemplating a flip back to the Democratic voting bloc.  However, there was just as much excitement in the private sector as a slew of news erupted in a massive shakeup of corporate interest and advocacy groups.

New Florida resident, Tom Golisano, continued his efforts to shake up government in his former home state of New York by joining the Unshackle Upstate coalition.  As a quick aside, I’ve always found the term “Unshackle” to be quite comedic and odd.  A coalition of millionaires shuffling between their corporate offices, expensive import cars and suburban McMansions like slaves in shackles, just begging to be cut loose.  I digress…

Golisano has pledged his support to Unshackle Upstate as it has broadened its coalition to include business groups in Westchester, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.  Golisano did not say what amount his financial support for the organization would amount to, just that he would help “however he could”.

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Over on the Buffalo Niagara Partnership blog, they laid out what Golisano joining their organization means for the effort and informs the reason as to why the BNP and Unshackle Upstate have had mild success to this point.

It’s clear in Albany that politics comes first – and forceful politics backed by money and manpower can be unbelievably influential in shaping policy. Take a look at the Working Families Party of New York’s web site – which promotes the state’s pro-labor, high tax agenda… It literally spells out how the game is played. So, in order for Unshackle Upstate to play the Albany game, we need to coalesce with people and organizations who have like principles and goals: lower taxes, smaller government and fiscal accountability. Mr. Golisano is one of those people, and we’re happy to welcome him as a member of Unshackle Upstate. Building the coalition of individuals, employers and groups that want to see change in Albany raises awareness, raises resources and, ultimately, raises clout.

There seems to be a sudden realization that after 16 years of advocacy, the BNP could rival a grassroots organization like the Working Families Party if they had some money at their disposal.  Isn’t this the organization that has the President and CEO of every major regional corporation on its Board of Directors?  I have to wonder about the effectiveness of an organization of well-heeled millionaires who can’t seem to outpoint the plucky hippie unionistas of the WFP.  Seems like a leadership problem to me…or the most uncoordinated and helpless millionaires in the nation.  It’s yet another WNY organization that measures success by its efforts and not results.

No wonder local developer and agitator Carl Paladino is calling for Rudnick’s removal as head of the BNP.

“It’s time for change,” said Paladino, who has repeatedly condemned the Partnership — and Rudnick specifically — for failing to aggressively advocate on behalf of downtown Buffalo. “We will form another Buffalo-area chamber of commerce and seek to provide the business services that are expected of a chamber of commerce, as well as advocate for a community that lacks any sense of leadership. We are sick and tired of waiting for the Partnership … or anyone else while our community continues to fail.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Rudnick pulling Golisano and his fat Florida wallet into the equation will stifle any dissent that may have resulted from Paladino’s efforts.  Bad timing, Carl.  Also, bad timing because it would appear that Rudnick’s friend, benefactor and fellow Harvard alumnus, M&T Bank CEO Bob Wilmers is heading back to Buffalo.

Wilmers resigned his position as Chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation today, barely one year after being appointed to the position by Governor David Paterson.

Just one year after becoming the state’s economic development czar, Robert Wilmers is stepping down from the post, the latest in a growing line-up of officials departing the Paterson administration.

The agency has seen its share of infighting, sources have said in recent months, with tension between the various upstate and downstate offices of the department. A source said recently that Wilmers also has expressed frustration with the musical chairs among high-ranking officials in the governor’s office over the past year — making it difficult for the agency to get adequate attention at the Capitol.

Wilmers tenure at ESDC has been a rocky one, with little to show in the way of success.  While Wilmers took over the organization during a period of national economic upheaval and a collapsing state budget, his tenure will be remembered as ignominious, at best.  Wilmers complained for years about the problems of doing business in New York and when finally given the keys to the FAILvan, he handed them back after a year.  Maybe working for free (Wilmers opted not to take a salary) creates an environment in which plutocrats like Wlmers walk away when the going gets tough, eh?

All of this amounts to what, exactly?  I think we can all get behind the idea that Albany is broken.  The legislative process is fundamentally flawed, special interests dominate the discussion and the tax rates are out of control.  It’s a morass of self-serving connected insiders who are ultimately pushing for their own personal agendas.  Now, we have a group of well-heeled connected insiders armed with the cash to tilt legislation in their factor through lobbying, campaign donations, advertising, clout and influence.

It’s really tough to decide who wears the black hats and who wears the white hats when we have public and healthcare unions advocating for an agenda which results in higher taxes and bloated government and a group of anti-union corporatists looking to maximize profits.  Who is advocating for the people who are not members of either interest group?

I’m loathe to say it, but maybe Carl Paladino is on to something…or maybe it’s time to look at doing things a different way.

The Bed Tax

18 Dec

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It is one of the most common refrains at the end of every year during the Erie County budget process.

“Fully fund the Buffalo Convention and Visitor’s Bureau with their full share of the bed tax”

Since I don’t like to hear a problem restated over and over again without the proposition of a creative solution, I’m going to offer one…because that’s how I roll.

Why should the CVB be funded out of a tax that is collected by Erie County? The revenue stream sources from the hotels themselves and the County simply acts as a pass through, while taking a piece of the revenue as a vig.

Why not abolish the bed tax altogether?

Poking around the CVB’s website, I came across a series of videos that were recently completed which help tell the story of Buffalo-Niagara. By the way, if you want people to actually watch these videos, shorten up the vignettes and post them on sites around the web, not just on your own.  The only people who will find these videos will be people who were looking for them in the first place, viral marketing 101.   I digress…

At the end of the videos, the message “funding provided by the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo” appears. This got me to thinking…clearly, there are other funding sources available that can be utilized to market the region. Reading through the Buffalo CVB 2006 Annual Business Review and their Form 990, the CVB accepted money from all the large foundations in Buffalo.

Rather than a lobbying effort centered on realizing a full share of the bed tax, why not argue to abolish the bed tax and move to a community funded marketing model?

The CVB is a 501c6 non-profit corporation and thus donations to the organization are not tax deductible. So, as a quasi Chamber of Commerce, they can move to a membership model that draws dues directly from the hoteliers and local arts institutions as the official marketing agency for the region. Require as part of membership that the hotels set aside the same percentage as they do today in taxes and give them directly to the CVB. Of course, the hoteliers will require transparent accounting and performance based budgeting to ensure their money is being spent properly. Something the County Legislature claims the CVB does not do currently.

Once the funding stream is in place, the CVB can continue to work with local partners to market the region. The percentage of revenue that will come into CVB coffers will be directly proportionate to the amount of revenue they are able to bring into the region as a result of their marketing efforts.

The CVB can enlist membership and support from local marketing companies like Crowley Webb, Eric Mower, and Stand Advertising to put together comprehensive plans for the region. They could also solicit small business membership and partner with BNE/BNP for funding from the business community. If we can get everyone pulling in the same direction, perhaps we’ll stop going in circles.

They can utilize local web/media talent from our universities to create viral marketing campaigns that create a people powered picture of Buffalo. Why use the county as a passthrough when a much more efficient model is available for implementation?

How will we pay for maintenance and operations of the Convention Center that currently comes from bed tax revenue? That’s the fly in my solution ointment. Erie County would have to move it into the general fund or work out a cooperative funding arrangement with the CVB wherein the County comes to the CVB for funding. See how I flipped it? Let’s talk about it.

Think differently.