Tag Archives: protection money

The Esmonde Template

7 Oct

Sunday brought us a treat – the quintessential Donn Esmonde congratubatory piece. The foundational document. The template. The “we the columnist” from the tea party champion.

It has everything – Tim Tielman, “lighter, quicker, cheaper”, Mark Goldman, and a generalized thesis whereby the general public is populated by cretins who are just now awakening to the genius of the positions of Esmonde and friends. 

All in all, it reinforces the accuracy of some of my theories. For instance, the one where preservationist hero Tim Tielman is the capo of a local preservation racket. Just hire the right people, and suddenly preservationist opposition to whatever demolition or renovation project you’re proposing simply evaporates. The Neighborhood Workshop Thuggery.

I know Esmonde has recently written two concern-trolls regarding the Buffalo Schools – one whereby our self-hating, upper-middle class, elitist white guy hero feigns outrage at racism in the board of education, and another where he knows better than the school district’s superintendent, who quite literally has what amounts to an impossible job. I’m sure Buffalo School Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown enjoys having a failing school district to run on the one hand, and racist assholes gunning for her removal every. few. weeks, on the other. Esmonde whitesplains all of this for our benefit, ignoring the fact that he voluntarily abandoned his education bona fides when he touted his business partner’s charter school chops, and decided that it would be perfectly swell if Clarence schools’ quality was degraded. 

Want to develop Canal Side? You’ll have a lot of problems from Mark Goldman & his crew unless you spend six figures of public money to hire Fred Kent & Partnership for Public Spaces to educate you on “placemaking” and benches. (Placemaking is the wholly unscientific theory that people will go where other people are. The thing it omits is what it was that attracted the “other people” in the first place.)

Want to develop the Larkin District? Hire a planner well-regarded in preservationist circles to promote the project, and retain Tielman’s company, too, while you’re at it. Suddenly, all your problems will disappear.

Someone explain to me how this is any different from paying protection money to the mob to prevent that same mob from blocking your project and seeking injunctive relief. Don’t want Tim Tielman organizing a picket of your project? Put him on the payroll.  You tell me what that’s called

Lighter, quicker, cheaper brought one restaurant and some Adirondack chairs to Canal Side. Everything else – everything – is temporary, slow, or transient. Go down there on a rainy Sunday and – if you’re not interested in getting wet, and you’ve already seen the Naval museum,  I challenge you to find something to do other than have a beer at Liberty Hound.  It should have shops, cafes, restaurants (plural), maybe a museum or gallery – things more compelling than a temporary stage and “flexible lawns”. Solar-powered carousels don’t count (this was a real suggestion – as if a kid gives a crap about the sustainability of a carousel’s propulsion fuel). 

The Cobblestone now has a restaurant, the Helium comedy club, a casino, and a bar or two. It’s walking distance from Canalside, but the Harbor Center construction makes it difficult to reach.

I wonder if Goldman or Tielman are partners with Esmonde in some business endeavor? Tielman has degrees from SUNY Binghamton in art history, political science, and geography. I don’t know what Tielman’s profession once was, but it looks like he took a hobby and parlayed it into a well-paid position as the community’s gatekeeper for preservation issues. Must be nice. 

Protectioneering

12 Jun

From the Buffalo News, with respect to a State DOT plan to get traffic moving better around the Peace Bridge and out of Front Park:

Maria Lehman, the state’s project manager for the Peace Bridge, said after the formal presentation that construction would take about a year, would cost $20 million to $22 million and would be paid for by state and federal funds.

She added that all the land involved in the project is owned by the DOT or the Thruway.

“The ingress and egress as it stands right now is very complicated,” Lehman said. “It looks like spaghetti. When you have a backup at the intersection and trucks are backed up, it’s very difficult to get in and out.”

After the presentation, Tim Tielman, executive director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, History, Architecture and Culture, questioned the need for the project.

“This situation has been there since the Thruway was constructed,” he said. “There’s been a 2 percent annual decline in traffic on the bridge since the ’60s. In the light of that, wouldn’t it be a better use of public funds to not do this at all?”

From January – May of 2013, 2.2 million vehicles crossed the Peace Bridge.  In 2003, 7.2 million vehicles crossed. Traffic eroded slowly  until the economic meltdown of 2009, when it dipped below 6 million. In 2010, it began to rebound, rising above 6 million. It increased again in 2011, and stayed essentially even in 2012. Chances are that traffic would increase if there was more capacity, quicker screening, more lanes. Backups at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge during any peak time are utterly outrageous, and trucks can’t cross anywhere else.  Incidentally, the Q-L Bridge was built in 1962, which would have alleviated some of the traffic volume at the Peace Bridge. I don’t see why rejuvenating the park and making the traffic pattern less complicated shouldn’t happen. 

Looks like the State DOT didn’t pay its protection money. (Reference here and here)