Tag Archives: facts

Clarence School Enrichment Fund : Fixing What We Broke

13 Aug

presentationGifft11Last week, the Clarence School Enrichment Fund presented a check for almost $40,000 to restore certain clubs and sports that had been cut in the wake of the Spring’s budget fiasco. That sum was paid to the Board of Education in order to enable those Fall semester activities to be able to prepare for a school year that begins in just a few weeks. The check was presented to the board by the CSEF board and by two little girls who raised money for CSEF with a lemonade stand. 

Unfortunately, an article in the Buffalo News that appeared the next day caused the CSEF some problems

More than 100 donors pieced together nearly $40,000 to give to the School Board on Wednesday night – enough to restore modified and freshman sports for the fall season.

At the time the check was presented, the CSEF had actually raised over $70,000. Only a part of that was paid to the district to ensure that certain sports and clubs would be restored. In fact, four clubs – science, foreign language, Latin, and technology – were funded with that money. All the Fall sports that had been cut were restored.  At last check, 250 families had joined the “1000 families challenge” where folks were asked to donate the difference between their actual tax bill, and what their school tax bill would have been had the 9% budget increase been passed in May. 

But [the CSEF cautions] that they won’t be around every year to close the gap between the programs that students want and funds the school is able to provide. “This is a one-year deal,” Cerza warned. “We’re going to have to find a way to get these things back into the budget.”

After this year, the organization will likely exist as a booster club to buy minor items like soccer balls and uniforms, but as for the teams themselves, “it’s going to be up to the school to reinstate them in the future,” he said.

Everything I’ve heard about the CSEF is that it was originally constituted not to fund picayune things like balls and uniforms, but big-ticket capital projects that the district can’t – or won’t – fund. The Foundation accelerated its fundraising efforts to expedite private funding – for only one year – of programs cut from the budget. It has consistently stated that it expects the district to restore these sports, clubs, teams, courses, and activities on its own next year. 

As of today, the CSEF has raised over $76,000 in just about 6 weeks, and people can now help just by dining at Brennan’s any Monday night – the restaurant will be donating 10% of the take every week to the CSEF

That will be the big danger – that the tea party forces that manufactured last Spring’s crisis will use the CSEF to argue that the district needs to divest itself of even more people and programs because the private sector can do it on its own. This is a battle for which the school supporters will be prepared. Business as usual isn’t. 

The Republican War on Facts

4 Sep

Since the Republican establishment has spent the last 20 years building a media infrastructure that supports lying, making the mainstream press cower against calling lies what they are. But the press is sick of being relegated to a press release transcription service, and is getting tired of being pushed around. “Fact checking” – especially in light of the brazen lying of the Romney-Ryan campaign – has become quite a thing, and the conservatives and Republicans are getting upset about it. They’re trying to label “fact checking” as somehow partisan. As Oliver Willis writes

For the media to note without equivocation that “water is wet” is a clear violation of the conservative-generated rules. The press must couch such assertions as “many Democrats and liberals say that ‘water is wet’” is the preferred construction. That way, Republican and conservative news consumers can simply dismiss what used to be objective fact as “Democrat talking points,” then turn to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to fill their thinkholes with ignorance juice.

All this sets up a great video of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria taking on conservative hostage-taker Grover Norquist, one of the most detestable ideologues in the country. 

Not a First

6 Feb

In an article in today’s Buffalo News, Maki Becker writes about how the Hassan trial has kept western New York riveted for the past couple of weeks.  She writes,

The entire back row of Franczyk’s courtroom is filled with reporters, about half of whom are quietly tapping away at laptops and smart phones to send real-time updates on blogs and Twitter feeds — a first for a Western New York courtroom.

Marc, Chris, and I have been liveblogging or live Tweeting from Common Council meetings, Erie County Legislature meetings (#ecleg) for some time.  We were live Tweeting stuff in Buffalo way before it was cool.

But the Hassan trial is not the first time a court proceeding in Western New York has been live-blogged.  I’m not claiming that this was the first, necessarily, but it clearly renders inaccurate the supposition that the Hassan trial was the first – I live-blogged the legal arguments before Judge Sedita on the Erie County Legislature downsizing suit four  months ago.

I generally don’t mind being treated like an amateur-hour pretender by professional journalists, but don’t say something is “a first” when it is, at best, a second. Accuracy and whatnot.

Propaganda: Emotion vs. Fact

5 Jan

Toronto recently elected a new mayor, Rob Ford.  He’s a pretty conservative guy and strikes me as being a Chris Collins type.  He’s not real popular with the intelligentsia, but average Joe Taxpayer loves him.

Anyhow, one of his initiatives has been to advocate against a transit plan that would have dramatically expanded the city’s light rail and instead call for a much smaller expansion of the city’s subway system.

A Toronto environmental group opposes this, and came up with this piece of simple, completely fact-based propaganda that struck me as very persuasive (via BlogTO).

When I think of the civic arguments we have in Buffalo about development, I wonder why it is that the groups who agitate the loudest seldom have the facts to back up their arguments.  As a specific example, I’ll bring up the arguments against the Route 5 Southtowns Connector battles from 2007 – the opponents of that DOT plan came up with the most disingenuous arguments based more on emotion than fact; (e.g., the bermed Route 5 on the Outer Harbor “separates downtown from its waterfront”)

You can’t really argue with someone’s subjective emotion, but you can argue with facts, and you’ll note that the BlogTO article linked-to above specifically mentions that some of the figures contained in that propaganda piece may be flawed or, themselves, disingenuous.

But we can argue about the way in which facts are presented, because after all, they can be determined objectively.

I think facts, presented simply, are much more persuasive and helpful than emotion.