Tag Archives: City Grill

Surrendering to Rich Newberg

26 Aug

Accused City Grill gunman Riccardo McCray – the man without a face – worked out a surrender to police at Channel 4’s studios yesterday with the help of community activist Darnell Jackson. It was somewhat of a bizarre spectacle, and some Tweeters speculated that the selection of WIVB was, in part, a middle finger to the Buffalo News.

I don’t know if I would use Rich Newberg as a middleman to surrender to the police. What would you do? (UPDATE: If you vote “other”, please put the name in comments!)

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Buffalo Quick Hits

23 Aug

All these ideas deserve a full post. Unfortunately, they won’t get them today. So here you go:

What the Buffalo News is up to: Rarely is editorial control so blatant in “mainstream” newspapers. But even the least attentive local newspaper reader will note that the Buffalo News has left the simple reporting of facts far behind in the continuing coverage of the City Grill shootings, and, for reasons of agenda alone, “new” trouble on Chippewa.

What is the coherent message here? Its safe to come downtown and drink, and it’ll be even safer if we move the bar time back to 2am. 

What other explanation can there be for a series of diptychs for the last week, highlighting not only the continuing investigation of the shootings at City Grill, but, mysteriously and simultaneously, crime in the entertainment district on Chippewa. This trend of stories came to a head on Sunday, when the News’ headline concerned the criminal backgrounds of victims of the shootings, while adjacently posting a large picture of an average night on Chippewa. The News is now taking heat for this tasteless, but agenda-directed, news story – papers are burning and more protests are planned. I feel badly for the reporters doing the editorial dirty work.

The two stories are related in several important ways: they cater to the scared white suburbanite (who hasn’t been in downtown Buffalo after dark in years anyway but does buy newspapers), and it furthers the agenda of editors who wish the bartime rolled back to 2am. Regular quotes from Buffalo insiders (such as Croce and Goldman) provide cover for some of the editorializing, but the worst of it can’t be disguised:

Some suggest lifestyle, associations may have put them in harm’s way

Eight young people who grew up on Buffalo’s streets were gunned down in a hail of bullets last weekend outside City Grill downtown, four of them fatally.

They left grieving families. Mournful friends.

And arrest and conviction records.

Who is making these suggestions? Since no one is quoted in the News article, besides a random professor from Hilbert (!), it must be the News itself. But the comingling of the stories ignores some very inconvenient facts. First, the shooting outside City Grill happened at 2:30 am, after patrons were removed from the bar at the new proposed bartime. Secondly, the shooting appears ever more to be gang related. While the News is quick to highlight this fact some of the time (“See, its safe to come drink if you aren’t in a gang!”), it hopes you don’t ask what gangs have to do with Chippewa. Which leads to the third ignored fact – no evidence is provided that arrests are up, crime is up, or violence is up on Chippewa. A series of anecdotes are presented, which could read like the police blotter of many city neighborhoods.

Large parts of the East Side are closer to City Grill than Chippewa. Let’s highlight some of the crime there, and how to fix it, where far worse is happening nightly that is much more related to the tragedy at City Grill. I know its not related to the 2am bar time agenda, but its where the facts should lead you.

Next up for the CEJ? IDA’s: Flush off its victory sinking Bass Pro, the Coaltion for Economic Justice has found its next target: Industrial Development Agencies. Specifically, the six in Erie County that provided $600 Million in tax breaks, of which they deemed $135 Million “wasted” because job creation totals were not met.

I will hand it to the CEJ on one note: they are ideologically consistent, and do target every capitalistic recipient of government money. I look forward to their continued investigations, where they discover the bloated union contracts, mandatory hiring policies, outdated regulations like the Wicks and Scaffold Laws, and government ineptitude that also wastes the taxpayer’s money and provides no public benefit. I won’t hold my breath.

While ideologically consistent, it is clear that the CEJ does not require anyone with a practical economics or business background to participate in their planning. The disconnect from reality is flabbergasting. And not just subjective reality, like my opinion that high corporate taxes and a bad business climate make NY a tough sell to companies for expansion (or even retention), thus requiring tax incentives. But I mean objective reality too – you know, that Great Recession thing made all sorts of companies miss their hiring goals. I wonder if the CEJ union allies realize their employers are being targeted for the waste of their retained and unmoved jobs – manufacturing companies with union workers being a major recipient of IDA aid, after all.

But do not fear! In the future centrally planned economy, there will be enough work for all, each according to their talents, when government provides both the supply and demand, and all hiring and production goals will be met! March on, proud worker!

A home for Rick Lazio: No one wants the Republican Primary to come more than Rick Lazio. Left to his own devices, he issues thoughtful policy recommendations, like a reformed unicameral legislature (do you know Alan’s article is the top Google search for “Lazio Unicameral,” and I had a devil of a time finding this platform plank on Lazio’s own site? Sad.). But faced with crazed charged from his Right, in the form of Mad Paladino, he tracks dangerously into the loonisphere himself.

We can hope that once Paladino is dispatched in September, Cuomo and Lazio will have thoughtful policy debates. I won’t hold my breath for that either. It’ll be nothing but chicken costumes and GZM (that’s Ground Zero Mosque. Libs – don’t hate the player, hate the game) til November.

I’m going to vote for Lazio in September. In a parallel universe, where Paladino didn’t run and Sarah Palin’s handlers never opened a NYT to discover that a YMIA was being put up in downtown Manhattan, I think a Lazio/Cuomo race could have done something constructive for the state. It was not to be.

But Lazio’s policy instincts are good, if his political ones are bad. He has a use in the public service. He is a worthy addition to government in New York. But where is the right place for him? Back to the US House? Cross ticket LG? Mayor or county executive of some ‘burb on Long Island? NYS Senate Majority Leader? I wish I knew, but more, I wish he knew.

The City Grill Shootings and What Now for Downtown #Buffalo

16 Aug

According to the Buffalo Police Department’s website, there have been 32 homicides in the City of Buffalo so far this year, not including the tragedy that happened this past weekend outside of City Grill on Main Street in the faintly beating heart of downtown Buffalo. Four people’s lives were taken after a couple of parties got shut down at City Grill, and someone outside fired a 9MM into the crowd. 8 people were shot.

The next morning, Buffalo cheerleaders were wringing their hands over how such a tragedy might play in Amherst, and whether it would harm efforts to revive Buffalo’s downtown – namely, Canal Side. Of course, this was a senseless tragedy that was anything but random. It’s interesting to watch the city police come face-to-face with the “Stop Snitching” ethos that’s so prevalent in the African-American community. Responsible voices cry out, “if you know something, say something!” but in the meantime, the police are busy arresting the wrong guy.

I’m not a cop, nor a sociologist, so I’m not going to criticize the police, or that they have no residency requirement. I’m not going to make snarky comments about Derenda’s first real test as commissioner and how he’s doing. I’m not going to rail against the Brown administration and how it routinely plays down crime statistics. I’m not going to write a tome about how the Black community can make its neighborhoods safer, or better cooperate with police.

Instead, I’m going to focus on the suburb/city split and Canal Side and how this shooting may or may not affect them.

Any suburbanite whose confirmation bias about the perceived safety of downtown Buffalo is strengthened by these shootings needs to take a step back and look at what happened. This was a targeted, reactionary shooting – not something random. Downtown Buffalo is hardly a shooting gallery on a regular basis. If anything, it’s a ghost town – a wasteland peppered with a small handful of bars.

There’s been something of an interesting intersect as to how these shootings are being linked in to the public discord over Canal Side. The Fisher brothers, Tielman, and others want Canal Side to be a parkland or a museum or something else that cannot be called a “mall”, because malls are the absolute worst thing that man ever created, or God ever permitted to exist. The suburbanites who would be expected to patronize such a “mall” are now chattering about how Buffalo is very dangerous, so they’ll spend their money in Cheektowaga instead.

It is a perfect storm of status-quo for Buffalo. One asshole with a 9MM did more to ensure that downtown remain lame than any obstructionist lawsuit or prejudiced suburbanite could ever do.

I made the point on Facebook and Twitter that “The City Grill murders aren’t going to hurt any downtown #Buffalo renaissance. It’s the lack of non-drunken things to fucking do.” One person commented with this:

Babeville (TWO floors of performance venues, independent of each other). Hallwalls. WNY Book Arts Center. (Also the new home of Just Buffalo.) Squeaky Wheel. Starlight Studio. The newly revived library. Washington Market. The Canal museum-y site. The Mansion. The Avant. ChocoLogo. The OTHER chocolate-based place whose name I always confuse with CL, neither of which is the Chocolate Bar. New Era. All the co-op housing I scoffed at when it first opened but is completely filled.

That’s just the last few years and thus does not include CEPA and the rest of the Market Arcade building, Irish Classical, the ongoing restorations to Shea’s, Spot Coffee (as social venue), Old Editions, Mohawk Place (you don’t actually have to drink when you’re there, you know)…

I replied with:

An impressive list, but of those, I don’t think a single one is open past 5pm on any regular basis, and a few of them may stretch the definition of “downtown”.

It went on from there, with Chris Smith arguing that there’s nothing impressive about that list, and

It’s a list of things that are mostly open during the day…several of which are not open to the general public all of the time. It’s a depressingly small list of incremental improvements that have happened over ten years and which serve a very specific demographic group.

Once the argument turned with the person who made the Babeville, et al. suggestions writing,

are any of you haters doing a fucking thing to make downtown better yourselves? If not, allow me to suggest a number of cities where you might be more welcome.

I was out. It’s done. I wrote one sentence decrying the fact that there is nothing to do in downtown Buffalo on a nightly basis that doesn’t involve getting hammered and then driving home, and I get the “what are YOU doing? You should just move!” argument.

Well, what I’m doing is spending my money in other parts of the city, and in the suburbs, and other places where there are things to do. The beauty of something like Canal Side is that it could be the spark that sets off a fire of entrepreneurial development downtown. If it had actual things to do that would make regular people come downtown, then other businesses could fill it in, as well as the immediate surrounding areas to support the foot traffic that hadn’t been present on Main Street downtown in generations. Maybe Bass Pro wasn’t going to be the silver bullet everyone thought it’d be, but do you have any better suggestions? A museum or park isn’t going to bring a mass of people downtown on a regular basis. An IKEA? Forget the fact that IKEA is never going to come here, or the fact that there’s an IKEA about an hour up the QEW. If you think the Tielman clique had a conniption over Bass Pro, just wait to see what they’d have to say about IKEA – which is the biggest of big boxes. Wegmans? I can’t begin to understand why that’s a good idea. Put a Wegmans downtown, sure. Put it near some other new lofts or apartments, great. But on the waterfront? What’s next? A massive Dollar General?

Given that no one will ever agree on what should go into Canal Side, and given the fact that the obstructionists will continue to obstruct forever, whatever happens there should be organic growth, and there needs to be an incentive to do so. I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again – if you want the foot of Main Street to be a mecca for people again, then a portion of downtown needs to be converted into a sales-tax free zone. It is a reverse Empire Zone – instead of the businesses getting the incentive, the consumer gets it directly. People would complain about how unfair it would be to other businesses. Perhaps. But the fact that Pennsylvania’s gas and clothes are less expensive is unfair to Chautauqua County gas and clothing retailers.

Downtown is dead because downtown is dead. If you want downtown to live again, improve the business climate and make it especially attractive.