Tag Archives: Esmonde

6038 Long Street in Clarence Center Does Not Belong To Everybody

20 Feb

Although I’m sure everyone’s got the best intentions, it’d probably be swell if everyone would just cool it with suggestions as to how to rebuilt or memorialize the site of the crash of flight 3407, also known as the Wielinski property.

They have insurance. Colgan has insurance. The Wielinskis have retained the law firm of Paul William Beltz to represent them for whatever legal claims they may have. It’s their property before it’s anything else, and as long as they own it, they have the absolute right to decide what, if anything, is to be done with it.

If a memorial is to be placed there, is the town supposed to buy the property? Colgan and then donate it to the town? Seriously – these grand ideas need to be thought through a bit.

And in the end, who are we to tell them what to do there? Who are we to bring a self-congratulatory TV show and media circus to town to saddle the family with a massive income tax liability? Let the family decide. Who are we to shame them or anyone else into placing a memorial on that spot? Yes, it’s sacred ground because so many perished there, but does that make the site of every traumatic death sacred ground requiring memorialization? Let the families decide. Let the neighborhood decide. Let the Wielinskis decide.

I don’t presume to know or give the answers to any of these questions. I don’t presume to tell the families of any of the victims what should be done. I don’t say Donn Esmonde is right or wrong, or that the Facebook groups and petitions to bring Extreme Home Makeover to town are right or wrong.

What I’m saying is that it’s not our job to decide what to do.

Before we start measuring the property for a memorial, let’s let these people mourn, then let’s let them decide.

Sweet Balance

28 Jan

When Donn Esmonde writes a screed about the Gillibrand selection that is every bit as bitter and angry as that of the downstate punditry, then you know that all is right with the world.

State of the Failboat

7 Jan

Today, Governor David Paterson is set to deliver his state of the State address. I have obtained an exclusive advance copy of the speech, which will be quite brief:


Remember how last year, Governor Spitzer took time from banging New Jersey hookers to give a “state of upstate” address? There will be no such address this year, as Governor Paterson likes to promote the notion that it’s one state, not two. Given the epic downturn in the financial markets and ancillary, allied fields, downstate is probably indeed getting a taste of how badly it sucks economically along the I-90 corridor.

Instead, Paterson will commence what is being billed as an upstate listening tour by way of several town halls. It is unknown where in WNY Paterson will appear, but the Rochester D&C hopes it will be more than just sound & fury, signifying nothing.

Meanwhile, although the Buffalo News’ top editorial does highlight the Brennan Center’s report redux from earlier this week, its marquee columnist puts up yet another whining-cum-back-slapping article about how he single-handedly saved, and will continue to save, the Erie Canal Terminus. Here’s what another columnist is writing about today; Michael Goodwin in the Daily News:

“Ladies and gentleman, it is my duty today to tell you the truth. The truth is that the state of our state is not so good. In fact, it’s downright lousy. It’s a mess and it’s getting worse.”

If Gov. Paterson really wants to shake the rafters in Albany, he should use those words to open his State of the State address. As we say in newsrooms, it would be a good story and have the added advantage of being true.

New York is a mess, certified and otherwise. Not only is it going broke financially, it’s morally bankrupt as well. Government of the people has become government of the few.

Corruption is so routine it is hardly noticed. A roll call in the Legislature could be a lineup from the local precinct. And Albany shrugs.

Too many insiders increasingly feel no obligation to the greater good. Government has become a pot of gold for special interests, with meager leftovers parsed out to those without connections. Formerly the Empire State, it is now derided as the Vampire State.

The numbers suggest the dimensions of the theft. Even as spending and borrowing rise, so does the deficit. How is it possible the state could have a deficit of $15 billion? Where does the money go?

Headlines from recent days provide infuriating examples. A bipartisan roster of political fixers got whopping payouts for guiding investment firms to their buddies who run the state’s pension funds. The firms got cash to invest and flipped a cut to the fixers. Taxpayers got screwed.

Funny Pics / What Im talking about

The Erie Canal is swell and all, but historically appropriate signage really isn’t the tippy-top problem on people’s minds right now. No point worrying about what’s at the pretty canal when you have no job and you’re eating squirrel.

One thing is for sure, Albany ignored numerous chances and opportunities to get its collective act together, and now we all have to suffer the consequences for their greedy, power-hungry, selfish, short-sightedness.

(BP’s note – everyone who thinks that the use of the term “fail” is overdone or out of vogue is missing the point; the very beauty and essence of one word, a sentence all its own, that so perfectly describes New York State and WNY. You miss the easy, apt metaphor of the listing ship teetering between hope and despair. All hail the first use of the Failboat for 2009.)

Shorter Donn Esmonde

26 Oct

There is probably no bigger, wider asshole than Dale Volker.

Remember When Dale Volker Argued With Donn Esmonde?

6 Oct

Yeah, so do I. This video is jam-packed with win – from the Black Rock Toll closure ceremony October 2006:


Shorter Esmonde

27 Jul

Seriously, though – what “price” are casino foes paying for “telling the truth”? That people disagree with them? That their funding is being scrutinized?

The litany of negatives that go along with a casino development in Buffalo are often weighed against the positives, and the ultimate balance is somewhat subjective. Even Esmonde acknowledges some positives from a casino project. But what’s often repeated by opponents is how the money will be taken out of the community. Really?

Aren’t the Senecas part of the “community”? Don’t they spend their money in the same places as you or I? Aren’t they Western New Yorkers just as much as Stan from Lancaster or Johnny from Niagara Falls? Haven’t the Senecas been just as economically downtrodden as any other minority?

The Senecas and their defenders don’t promote the casino as being the savior of Buffalo, so opponents’ arguments to the contrary are beside the point.

There are myriad businesses in existence in this community that are probably a net drain on society and the economy. This may just be another added to the list. So?

One of my biggest problems with the whole Seneca casino deal is that there was no public input. I’d much prefer that the state constitution is amended to permit legal, tightly regulated, taxed class III gaming in New York State. At the end of the day, however, we elected the politicians who cut this deal with the Senecas. No one elected its opponents.


27 Apr

Donn Esmonde’s column examines the subject of indecency during prime-time television. Specifically, he was watching an episode of the alleged sitcom “Two and a Half Men”, and characters therein used the word “balls” when referring to their testicles.

The word “balls” can also be defined as “courage”. Is it as indecent when used in that context? Is “he’s got a pair of balls on him” more or less indecent than, “I got kicked in the balls”?

The FCC’s indecency rules apply to on-air programming between the hours of 6am – 10pm, and prohibit the broadcast of:

Material is indecent if, in context, it depicts or describes sexual or excretory organs or activities in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium. In each case, the FCC must determine whether the material describes or depicts sexual or excretory organs or activities and, if so, whether the material is “patently offensive.”

When assessing whether it is “patently offensive”, the FCC uses a three-prong (heh) approach:

(1) whether the description or depiction is explicit or graphic; (2) whether the material dwells on or repeats at length descriptions or depictions of sexual or excretory organs; and (3) whether the material appears to pander or is used to titillate or shock.

It was once thought that the indecency rules applied only to George Carlin’s “Filthy Words”, all of which depict sexual or excretory functions or activity using “swear” or “curse” words as commonly understood in our society. The FCC has expanded that definition. Although “balls” is not one of the seven dirty words, the FCC has expanded the definition in a vague, unpredictable, and overbroad way. In other words, using the word “penis” could be found to be indecent if the use of the word wasn’t clinical, but used to titillate or shock. So, Oprah could get away with it, but Howard Stern couldn’t. But the word “penis” itself, while it may describe a sexual organ, is not “patently offensive”. I think the FCC has gotten away with murder on this topic for far too long.

So, the question is whether “balls” is patently offensive for the broadcast community (i.e., the whole nation) is an open one, and one would think that this question is one best answered by a judge or jury – not a small group of FCC Commissioners. Esmonde suggests that words like that shouldn’t be broadcast until 10pm to prevent him from embarrassment in the presence of his 12 and 15 year-old kids.

Under FCC rules, it is completely legal for broadcast television to broadcast the word “fuck” after 10pm, much less “balls”. But also, the indecency rules aren’t set up to protect dads from feeling uncomfortable. It’s specifically to protect tender young children from hearing dirty words during times they are generally awake.

But really, what’s indecent is that networks can put on utter dreck like “Two and a Half Men” on network television, that it gets high ratings, and wins Emmys. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who watches that. A 30-minute sitcom with a live studio audience making sex jokes? What is this, 1988?

Esmonde Wonders Where Higgins Went

2 Feb

Donn Esmonde dipped his pen in some serious condescension yesterday, and did his best Pete Seeger impression, asking “Where has Brian Higgins gone?”

Or was it an impression of Simon & Garfunkel with “Where have you gone, Brian Higgins?”

Either way, it was dripping with the kind of “tsk tsk” that, e.g., pops up on my blog whenever I write about a development issue, and my opinion is at odds with the cool kids’.

Donn Esmonde has found a new group of cool kids, and Higgins can’t be in the club. Why? Because he took a few positions with which they disagree. Esmonde takes three issues, expresses his disagreement with Higgins, and then throws the baby out with the bathwater, and suggests that people won’t be “supporting” Higgins in his re-election.

In effect, he’s pining for the ability to say the words, “Congresswoman Nancy Naples”.

I spoke with Congressman Higgins on Friday, and I’ll do a part 2 to this post and outline his point of view on Esmonde’s condescending, patronizing piece. But recall that the three issues Esmonde cites are:

  • Bass Pro on the Central Wharf
  • Route 5 / Southtowns Connector
  • Peace Bridge
  • He cites his new cool friends, Harvey Garrett and George Grasser, and Harvey says:

    “We need an elected official like Higgins, who will take on [state] authorities…But when you stand behind all the wrong stuff, you’re not going to get support.”

    When asked to comment on that quote, Congressman Higgins couldn’t remember precisely when, how, or if he ever had Mr. Garrett’s support.

    But as a preamble to my post recounting my discussion with the Congressman, let me leave you with a few snippets from the Donn Esmonde of the past:

    On October 10, 2007 – before the cool kids became cooler – Esmonde wrote glowingly about Higgins’ plans for Route 5 and the Fuhrmann, entitling his column, “Higgins’ plan gets us from here to there”.

    You can’t get there from here — from downtown to the lakefront. That is the problem that plagues us. Our greatest resource, our lakefront, is also our largest regret.

    The waterfront is Brian Higgins’ signature project. The congressman will not stop until we can get to the outer harbor without need of a compass, a global positioning device or a treasure map. That is why he carries drawings of a planned Olmsted-like parkway, with grassy medians and traffic circles, eventually connected by a ground-level bridge to downtown.

    “If we get this parkway, it enhances the commercial viability of downtown,” Higgins said. “Then you have a real waterfront city.”


    The model for Higgins’ vision — an idyllic parkway running parallel to a commuter road — is as close as Toronto’s scenic Lakeshore Boulevard and Gardiner Expressway.

    Despite the dueling visions, the ultimate goal of Higgins and Norquist is the same: Rid us of the Skyway and give us back our waterfront.

    “Building this [parkway] gives us more leverage to remove the Skyway,” Higgins said. “None of what I want to do will perpetuate the existence of the Skyway. If it would, I would not do it.”

    That is the plan. He will unroll it anytime, anywhere.

    That’s a far cry from the last couple of columns, which now heckle Higgins as being an anti-progressive neanderthal for carrying those same plans around.

    Where have you gone, Donn Esmonde?