Tag Archives: hypocrite

The Big Losers are Grammar and Logic

18 Dec

From the Buffalo News, here is the Buffalo Paladinoist Tea Party’s whimper of a “demonstration” that took place the other night: 

Seven or eight people with nothing better to do at 5pm on a weeknight than stand out in the cold and show pictures of guns and grammatically incorrect declarations to people. 

By contrast, the opening of a Popeye’s restaurant on Delaware Avenue yesterday saw a traffic nightmare and 2 hour-long waits. 

Of particular hilarity aren’t the gun huggers whining about the NY SAFE Act, bravely fighting off jihad and communism in the cold outside a Buffalo museum, but Carl Paladino himself holding up a sign reading, “no funding for dems”.  Here it is a bit closer, also via the Buffalo News

As I reminded you yesterday, Carl Paladino was until 2005 a lifelong Democrat. He gave the Erie County Democratic Committee $9,000 in just the past 12 months. He has donated hundreds of thousands to Democrats over the years, either directly or through his various business entities. He attended a fundraiser for Democratic Mayor Byron Brown in the last year.

Who’s the RINO now? 

Collins’ Food Stamp Cuts and Welfare for Billionaires

8 Nov

In September, Representative Chris Collins voted to cut $40 billion from the American food stamp program, which helps to feed underprivileged and poor Americans.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the House legislation would deny benefits to 3.8 million Americans next year and save $39 billion over 10 years, or roughly 5 percent of the SNAP program’s cost in that time. Enrollment doubled to 47 million in the wake of the Great Recession as incomes plummeted and more Americans qualified for benefits, which average $133 per month. Most beneficiaries are children, elderly or disabled.

Buffalo’s Delaware North is estimated to earn about $2.6 billion this year. The Buffalo News writes that Delaware North is looking to move its downtown Buffalo headquarters a few blocks over

Delaware North is asking for an exemption of $807,000 in sales tax for building materials, but it has been questioned by some critics because Delaware North is a global company with $2.6 billion in revenues. However, Richard M. Tobe, deputy county executive and chairman of the ECIDA’s Policy Committee, noted Thursday that the request is consistent with what ECIDA typically approves.

But the larger plan has faced heavy opposition because of the unusual nature of the tax assistance that Uniland, in particular, is seeking. Besides sales and mortgage tax breaks, the developer proposes paying full property taxes but diverting a significant portion of them to finance a five-level parking ramp and then getting reimbursed by the state because Uniland says the property qualifies for special brownfields credits.

Mayor Byron Brown and Representative Chris Collins wrote a letter together, urging the Erie County IDA to hook Delaware North up with some tax breaks: 

Byron Brown’s and Chris Collins’ letter to the Erie County IDA

So, Chris Collins opposes feeding the poor, but supports tax subsidies for billionaires to relocate to a new building a few blocks away, under threat of departure. 

Frankly, I think it would be tragic to lose Delaware North, but the chutzpah here is unbelievable. He’ll shut down the government to make sure you can’t get affordable, quality health insurance and then pretend he didn’t do just that. He’ll take food from the hands of the underprivileged and poor to help subsidize a billionaire. 

$807,000 is 0.031% of what Delaware North pulls in per year. These tea party princesses all think that charity should replace welfare. Maybe Collins can cover this out of his own pocket. 

Esmonde’s Exceptional Ethics

19 Sep

Let’s get something clear, here. Donn Esmonde is a hypocrite. He is a semi-retired former-and-current City/Region columnist for the Buffalo News. Donn Esmonde thinks your kid deserves a quality education, including (but not limited to) charter schools; however, that right to a quality education miraculously ceases to exist, in his mind, at precisely the borders of the city of Buffalo. To Donn Esmonde, there is no greater sin in the world than the sin of “choosing to live outside Buffalo city limits.” The evidence for this was most starkly measured when he devoted two or three columns specifically to convince Clarence taxpayers to do genuine harm to the quality of that town’s school district. He succeeded in this mission. 

Make no mistake – the “Donn Esmonde is an ass” series stems directly from that, and if I wasn’t writing for Artvoice it would be named something profoundly more profane. Esmonde went on and on about the evil, greedy teacher’s union while failing to disclose that his wife belongs to one. He went on and on about how unconscionable it is for union workers to enjoy good wages and benefits, given that he and his wife have enjoyed union benefits for most – if not all – of their work-lives. He went on and on about these things without disclosing his own conflicts and biases. 

I don’t write about stuff in which I have a personal financial interest without disclosing it. 

Part of Esmonde’s shtick has been to promote the advent and growth of charter schools within city limits. In some instances, charters help kids in underperforming traditional schools to get a good education. In some instances, charters help the wealthy and well-connected families living within the city to provide their kids with a suburban school experience without packing up boxes and renting a U-Haul. In some instances, charters simply fail

Whatever. You do what’s right for your kids and their education if you care enough and have the means to do it. There’s no second chances, and you don’t have the luxury of waiting around for stuff to get better. You move to where schools are good, you apply for a charter school, you get your kids to take entrance exams for schools that need it, you go parochial or private, or you just stay put and try hard to make sure that your kid’s education – and every kid’s education – is as good as it can possibly be.  These are not just personal choices, but societal ones – as a general rule, we want well-educated kids because the alternative is horrible. For everyone. 

I don’t begrudge any parent’s choice regarding what he thinks is best for his kid. So, what does undisclosed bias have to do with anything? 

In 2000, Esmonde wrote a column about the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s effort to help charter schools in Buffalo start up.  

The Tapestry Charter School was one of Buffalo’s three finalists, but didn’t make last month’s final cut. Tapestry’s Steven Polowitz said their grass-roots effort could have used a Partnership loan fund.

“I can’t say for sure it would have made the difference (in getting a charter),” said Polowitz. “But it would have eliminated a significant question.”

In 2007, he wrote a column blasting a tax incentive given to big-money waterfront condo owners

“This is not a marginal neighborhood where you’re trying to induce people to buy [with tax breaks],” said community development attorney Steven Polowitz. “How do you reconcile giving away the store for high-end condos in a coveted area?”

In 2011, Esmonde again pimped the charters as a way to bypass failing Buffalo schools. 

“Charters are the only option that lets you make the fundamental structural changes that give these schools the best chance for success,” Steven Polowitz said.

Polowitz is a longtime charter advocate who 10 years ago co-founded the successful Tapestry charter. He is now with Chameleon Community Schools Project, a nonprofit that develops charter schools. Polowitz laid out a charter turnaround plan for James Williams just before he left as superintendent. Interim successor Amber Dixon said she is open to the charter option. I think she — and the School Board — ought to be.

These seven schools need more than cosmetic surgery. That translates into — among other things — a longer school day; smaller class sizes; an expanded school year; more classroom aides; social workers and counselors on staff; and keeping the building open for everything from after-school tutoring to child care. It will not happen in a district where contract rules stifle options and slow-track change. It only comes with restriction-lite charters.

“You can interchange parts,” Polowitz said, “but if the fundamental structure remains, it won’t make much difference.”

In fairness to Buffalo teachers, counteracting the baggage of broken homes and battered neighborhoods these kids carry into the classroom is a near-impossible job. Schools, to some degree, don’t “fail”; they simply get overstuffed with desperately needy kids. Which is why it makes sense for hurting schools to be taken over by the academic version of a SWAT team: flexible, fast on its feet and able to use every educational weapon, from alternative curriculums to business partnerships.

If schools are reinvented as charters, kids stay in the same building. Teachers either move to another school or reapply for their jobs, likely with similar pay and benefits — but without seniority and job protection. Granted, charters are only as good as the people running them. But if you need change — and these seven schools are at cliff’s edge — charters are the Extreme Makeover.

In 2012, Esmonde effectively dedicated an entire column to Steven Polowitz hagiography

“We are concerned about education in the city,” said Steve Polowitz, “and have been for years.”

Polowitz is part of the pack of reformers who are trying – against all odds – to transform two of Buffalo’s 28 failing schools into public charter schools. The folks behind the nonprofit push are taking fire from a Board of Ed that has yet to grasp the enormity of its failing-schools crisis. On the other parapet is a teachers union determined to protect its ever-shrinking turf.

If every verbal blow the reformers have taken were a punch, Polowitz would be a walking bruise.

He is 61, a rail-thin attorney with silvery hair and impeccable school-reform credentials. Eleven years ago, he and four others founded Tapestry Charter School. It is arguably the most successful charter in Buffalo. The public charter school, which since expanded through high school, last year got 1,200 applications for 200 spots.

Here’s a dissenting voice

After all Polowitz and Co. are all ready running Tapestry Charter School, you know the one with the fewest students receiving reduced price lunches of any school in the city limits, the school whose students must have private transportation, wink nudge, and we know who that’s going to keep out of the lottery don’t we ? Essentially this guy and his crew are running a private school full of middle to upper middle class kids with the ever present charter spectre of “counseling out” a.k.a. “expelling” any kid who shows a learning, emotional or behavioral issue. If you can shoot fish in a barrel your aim doesn’t have to be all that good.

Who is Steven Polowitz? Damned if I know, except from these Esmonde columns, a guy who helped start Tapestry Charter School, and someone who is a “community development attorney.” Just, y’know, random school advocate guy. 

Random guy? 

Donn Esmonde and Steven Polowitz (and their wives) are co-owners of a property in Spring Hill, Florida, just north of Tampa. 

While Esmonde touts his city-resident cred, he co-owns a very suburban, very sprawltastic single-family home in a subdivision outside of Tampa, Florida. It’s unit 12 in that particular subdivision, and has a market value of around $86,000, but possibly as low as $75,000 – it’s okay, though – the mortgage is for $66,000. With an area of just over 2,000 square feet, the house was placemade in 2004 and began to matter for Esmonde and Polowitz in 2010.  The annual property taxes are a low $1,400, and the home has 3 bedrooms. Here it is: 

Could use some better landscaping. Maybe some flowers or something. 

Sadly, the previous owners bought the place for $210,000 – Esmonde and Polowitz got it for a steal, and the prior owner took a hit of $130,000 at the time – in fact, Deutsche Bank moved to foreclose on the property in 2009.  The previous owners were a husband and wife from Buffalo who owned a paving company here, and their 2005 mortgage was for $168,000 – twice what the property is now worth. 

I don’t care about Donn Esmonde’s sprawly vacation home, or that his kids went to an exam school (away from the riff-raff), or that he is a massive hypocrite who harbors a geographical animus towards children. But one would suppose that, if I was to write a glowing blog post about someone with whom I co-owned a vacation home, I’d let you guys know about it one way or another.

Donn Esmonde hates the suburbs, except when he lives in them.  

Donny Kissinger

9 Jun

Only the severely deluded would agree that it’s a good idea for Buffalo and New York to enlist Donn Esmonde to mediate a high-stakes dispute between the State of New York and the governments of Canada and Ontario. What would we do without his measured tone and earnest concern? For starters, we’d probably have a bridge by now. After advocating for a signature crossing 13 years ago, Esmonde has spent his time since then criticizing everything about Peace Bridge expansion.

Peace Bridge Night -  Old Lights

Actually, today’s column is one, long concern troll.

Esmonde assigns every stitch of blame for the current fight over the bureaucracy and management of the bridge to Governor Cuomo and the American members. As if it doesn’t take two sides to maintain an unreasonable squabble, and as if the Canadians hadn’t had their share of bad behavior – including One saying sexist things against a female American bridge official.

Back in 2000, Esmonde was on the side of the New Millenium Group and the people in Buffalo who demanded not a twin span, but a signature bridge – a bridge that would stand out and be not only functional, but beautiful. The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (PBA) had decided in 1994 that it would build a companion span. Twenty years later, there is still the one steel bridge, and the American plaza still looks like an unwelcoming toll plaza. I wonder how Esmonde feels, writing about the same topic he did in 1997? Yet after pimping the signature span in 2000, he went to denigrating waterfront champion Congressman Brian Higgins in 2008.

When a bridge fell into Lake Champlain, Albany undertook an audit and review of other bridges. It deemed the steel Peace Bridge structure unsafe.

Why did Donn Esmonde support the lawsuit to bring about a “signature bridge”, and now supports people threatening lawsuits to block construction of the signature bridge?

Which is it, Donn? “Better bridge” or no bridge?

Well, it’s “no bridge“. Esmonde has spent the last decade lauding anyone with a white beard and a lawyer. We don’t need any peace bridge expansion, he now says.

After 20 years of plans, a new Peace Bridge will remain unbuilt — pragmatically, I think, in light of declining traffic and questionable economic boost.

Esmonde calls for the PBA to fix itself, and fast – to de-escalate the fight. But why do we need a separate authority for the Peace Bridge, on the one hand; and the Niagara County crossings on the other? Couldn’t the entire thing be made “lighter, quicker, cheaper” if we only had one authority for all the crossings? Is there something special about the Peace Bridge? Is there something inadequate about the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission that it couldn’t expand and change its name to “Niagara Frontier Bridge Commission” or something?

Donn Esmonde usually becomes verbally turgid over the phrase emphasized in the preceding paragraph. But after almost 20 years of waiting for increased Peace Bridge capacity, Esmonde says we shouldn’t rush these things. What?

And our own little Kissinger – how diplomatic has been towards the Canadians? How about this column he wrote just 2 years ago, expressing how “disillusioned” he was by Canadians down here for a hockey tournament, (what else?), and some drunken brawls (of course).

Whatever happened to the polite, humble, rule-respecting folks we thought we knew? Where were the civic-minded citizens who dutifully wait at the street corner when the traffic light is red, even when no cars are coming? Wherever you are, we want you back…

…I talked to workers at a downtown bar/restaurant that will remain nameless, to protect the place’s cross-border business. By tournament’s end, they had disdain for all things emblazoned with a Maple Leaf. The main complaint, and this is not new, is a lot of Canadian hockey fans are awful tippers.

“They would have a few beers and leave like a quarter or 50 cents,” said one bartender, who for job security reasons asked that his name not be used. “Servers said they were getting two-dollar tips on a $25 check.”

OK, chronically bad tipping is not cause for a diplomatic crisis. But multiply it by a few thousand visitors, and you leave behind a lot of irritation.

Donn Esmonde as diplomat. I’ve honestly never heard anything so ridiculous.

This is part of an ongoing AV Daily series, “Donn Esmonde is an Ass

 

Gingrich Family Values

19 Jan

Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory. – John Kenneth Galbraith

As Newt Gingrich rises in the polls, becomes the darling of the less pragmatic, ideological right, it’s easy to forget just what a detestable person he is. There’s his inner hypocrisy and his inflated sense of self-worth and importance, there’s his casual demagoguery and epic fits of pique, but there’s also Newton Gingrich the person. We know that he left his first wife as she was recuperating in the hospital after uterine cancer surgery, and we know that he fought her so hard on a financial settlement that she was left almost destitute for a time. We also know that he left his second wife shortly after she was diagnosed with MS, at which time he told her about his 6 year-long affair with a much younger staffer, Callista, is future ex-third-wife. 

Newt’s second wife, Marianne, has claimed that she could end Newt’s political career with one interview. 

Marianne just gave ABC a two-hour long interview, set to air as soon as practicable.

And that’s the sticking point. Newt is doing reasonably well in South Carolina, and the primary there is scheduled for  Drudge says that ABC was agonizing over whether to air the interview before or after the primary – after all, a televised interview has a different effect than one from a magazine.

So, is ABC right to air an interview about a Presidential candidate on the Thursday night before a primary being held on Saturday? Of course they are. It’s news that’s relevant to the election, to the primary, to one of the candidates. What difference does it make if they air something that affects the South Carolina primary as opposed to Florida, which comes next?

What it all means for me, however, is that Newt Gingrich is the living, breathing proof that family values are of no importance whatsoever to contemporary Republicans or conservatives. “Family values” is something to be used as a sword against Democrats and homosexuals. It’s ok if you’re Republican.

A Walking Hypocrisy

15 Oct

Adam Serwer wraps up Paladino nicely:

…a wealthy, hypocritical homophobe who wants to legislate “family values” while having a kid out of wedlock, talks up fiscal prudence while getting millions in government subsidies, and chuckles at racist jokes with his friends, he’s what liberals would come up with if they were trying to paint a nasty, reductive caricature of what conservatives are really like.