Chuck Swanick and Terribleness

Chuck Swanick skulked back into the private sector and out of government in the aftermath of the epic disaster that was the county fiscal meltdown of 2004 – 2005. He went back to his job with CSX, but saw an opportunity last year when State Senator Mark Grisanti voted in favor of same-sex marriage. 

The opportunity was that Swanick could be the conservative Catholic homophobic Democratic candidate and challenge Grisanti. He enlisted the help of local scheissmeister Steve Pigeon, fresh off of a cush State Senate job under his protege-turned-convict Pedro Espada. This means that every hack with a (D) after their name who has a beef with Len Lenihan’s Erie County Democratic Committee had been enlisted in the Pigeon/Swanick cause. 

Swanick, in expressing his disgust and opposition to same-sex marriage, quickly received the endorsement of execrable Ralph Lorigo-led jobs club known as the “Conservative Party” (which is famously inconsistent in its supposed automatic withholding of support for candidates who back same-sex marriage – see Kennedy, Tim). 

What’s so conservative about Swanick? His opponent, Mike Amodeo reminds us of that, as Chairperson of the Erie County Legislature, Swanick requested $4.78 Million for the Legislature’s 2004 budget. Included in Swanick’s bloated budget request were funds for 50 patronage employees. In addition, the Legislature stashed away another $2.7 Million for member items, more commonly known as pork projects. In comparison, the County Legislature’s 2012 budget is $2.96 Million, with no money allocated for member items. The Legislature staff has also since been right-sized to almost half the employees of the Swanick era

“On the eve of the Red/Green Budget Crisis, Chuck Swanick’s focus was on pork and patronage for his political fiefdom,” said his challenger, Amodeo. “Voters have no interest in returning to the days of wasteful spending.”

During Swanick’s tenure at the Legislature, Erie County’s cash reserves dwindled down to a paltry $4 Million. In addition, Swanick helped squander $250 Million of proceeds from the County’s tobacco settlement. Swanick also voted to allow Erie County to sell the Erie County Medical Center to itself, incurring another $200 Million long-term liability in exchange for an approximately $85 Million short-term benefit. New York State eventually determined that Erie County needed “adult supervision” and implemented a control board. 

“When Chuck Swanick left office in 2005, County finances were in complete shambles,” concluded Amodeo. “Chuck’s decision to campaign as a ‘fiscal conservative’ is an insult to every Erie County resident that had their library closed, services cut and taxes raised.”

Remember all that? You should. It’s what sparked a reasonably serious civic discussion about the future direction of the city and county, and started a local tax revolt of sorts as the county’s share of the sales tax inched up to avoid catastrophe. 

Swanick – a former Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat recently accepted two donations totaling $7,000 from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an anti-equality organization based out of Princeton, New Jersey. Since 2007, NOM has spent millions of dollars across the United States to restrict the rights of LGBT Americans, whom NOM Chairman John Eastman has referred to as ‘barbarians’.

Swanick, a 26 year career politician, also received a contribution of $16,800 from Sean Fieler of Princeton, New Jersey. Mr. Fieler, a major Republican donor and hedge fund manager, is chairman of the American Principles Project, whose founder is chairman emeritus of NOM.

 “I am deeply troubled to hear of Chuck Swanick’s taking of campaign funding from NOM, a hate group designated as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” said Bryan Ball, President of Stonewall Democrats of WNY. “Mr. Swanick’s blatant disregard for the equal rights and protections of every Western New York family he seeks to represent is an offensive assault on the right to freedom we value as Americans. The Democratic Party has always stood to aid the civil rights movement, and hate such as Mr. Swanick’s has no place in our great Party. I am proud of all who stand united against such divisiveness. Never should any part of our great Party support his actions.”

According to NOM’s own press release, the organization “intends to participate in legislative contests throughout the state as part of its $2 million commitment to make sure the voters of New York are able to vote to restore marriage in New York”.

Mike Amodeo supports same-sex marriage. He pledges to take on NYPA to ensure that western New York’s waterfronts continue to improve. He is against hydrofracking and the environmental risks that come from injecting bedrock with water and noxious chemicals to extract natural gas from it.  (Swanick essentially supports fracking). He supports term limits and changing Albany’s careerist culture. (Swanick is the opposite). 

Swanick isn’t a Democrat, and I don’t understand his return to politics, except by noting how he differs from the mainstream Democrat running against him. 

Battlezone: Webster Block

Late last week, two proposals to redevelop the Webster Block – across from the First Niagara Center and Canal Side – were put before the public. Physically similar, the major differences between the two plans is that one includes publicly accessible indoor ice rinks, costs more money, will take longer to build, and relies more heavily on public money. 

Submitting the two proposals for public vetting and comment, for the use of land the City currently holds, is laudable. However, I will be not at all surprised to see it devolve right into bitter litigation, because of the ease with which that can happen, and stymie the whole project. It’s cost of doing business in our so-called “lighter, cheaper, faster” placemaking/crowdsourcing development culture in contemporary Buffalo. It’s also why our skyline has not changed significantly since the 1960s. 

First, the Sabres’ proposal. Costing over $123 million, with a promise of 450 permanent jobs, “HarborCenter” is projected to open in mid-2015, include two ice rinks, and rely somewhat heavily on public incentives and subsidies, although the exact figure hasn’t been determined.  It features a sports bar, hotel space, retail space, and a 965-space parking garage. 

Next, here’s a proposal put forth by “Webster Block, LLC”, a joint venture led by Carl Paladino’s Ellicott Development. It features retail space, residential condos, a hotel, office space, and 1,089-space parking garage. 

 

Recognizing that design is largely subjective, I somewhat prefer the Paladino proposal. I don’t like the overuse of brick in every new development save the Avant, and these two proposals incorporate that. The archways over the street-level retail in the Paladino plan, along with the awnings and other features one typically sees in big-city urban developments appeal to me. I have seen some criticism about the visibility of the parking ramp in the Paladino proposal, but the Sabres’ renderings seem to conveniently omit that, so Webster Block, LLC gets points for transparency on that point. 

But the brick-and-windows designs are, to me, so late-80s post-modern. The clean simplicity of the Avant should be a model for contemporary high-rise design in Buffalo. This all looks like an NYU or BU dorm, ca. 1986. 

Aside from money and the need for subsidies, the major difference here is the Sabres’ inclusion of two rinks. I think it’s a pretty neat idea, especially if there’s non-hockey related just general skate time available to local and visiting families. Adding amateur hockey space to downtown is clearly a positive, and would be a great asset to have to attract league play and tournaments to downtown. 

But either way, Buffalo wins. This isn’t currently a site, but a blight; another surface parking lot in a city jam-packed with them. It’s the site where the Adelphia Tower was supposed to go – first 40 stories, then 15, then zero as Adelphia went out of business, in disgrace during the last decade.  Anticipating complaints about parking – of course you need parking. It’s not the existence of parking that’s bad, but its visibility and use – a surface lot is an utter waste of space, but a parking garage nestled within a larger project and hidden from view is an absolute necessity. Anticipating complaints about the historic nature of the site of some sort, any such complaints would be disingenuous nonsense. No one moaned about historical significance during the decades during which it was a parking lot. Is someone going to complain that it should be a replica of the original Webster Block? A low grouping of brownstone warehouses

Either proposal would enhance the area around the Arena and Canal Side. Either proposal would be a net plus for the inner harbor area of downtown Buffalo. Either proposal would be a welcome change from the status quo. We have to get past the mentality where one person can halt civic progress for the public benefit with one lawsuit. I wonder if we’ll get there with this project. 

Looking up Main Street 1905 (Shorpy.com)

If you want to add your two cents, you can email the city at websterblockrfp@city-buffalo.com.

#BuffaloOpeningCeremony

Late Friday, as viewers in the United States began watching an Olympics opening ceremony that had literally just ended in real time (#NBCFail), @BuffaloJill on Twitter imagined out loud what a Buffalo Olympic opening ceremony would look like. Hilarity ensued. 

 

[<a href=”http://storify.com/buffalopundit/buffalo-opening-ceremony” target=”_blank”>View the story “Buffalo Opening Ceremony” on Storify</a>]<h1>Buffalo Opening Ceremony</h1><h2>On July 28, during the Olympic opening ceremonies, Twitter user @BuffaloJill imagined what a similar event would feature if held in Buffalo. Hilarity ensued. </h2><p>Storified by Alan Bedenko · Sun, Jul 29 2012 04:13:35</p><div>What if Buffalo had an opening ceremony? What would we have? #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyJill</div><div>Vincent Gallo narrates. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyJill</div><div>.@BuffaloJill Wing-Bleu Cheese-Celery Race #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyChris Ryndak</div><div>Instead of lighting the torch, Trent Edwards checks down. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyJill</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Ralph Wilson lights the Ralph Wilson torch at Ralph Wilson stadium.Alan Bedenko</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Buster Bison and Chip interpret the closing of Bethlehem Steel through modern dance.Alan Bedenko</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony 1/8th of it takes place in Toronto.Jeremy White</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Tom Bauerle gives dramatic speech about cats, ghosts, implied bisexuality.Alan Bedenko</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony 50-foot tall puppet of the Lady In WhiteAlan Bedenko</div><div>Conehead would’ve given his guarantee on the Olympic torch. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyKevin Snow</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony AFSCME picket, inflatable rat on site.Alan Bedenko</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Ani DiFranco sings a medley of songs no one’s heard beforeAlan Bedenko</div><div>After years of planning, studies, etc & countless dollars spent the stadium is never built & the games go elsewhere #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyMark Poloncarz</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony stadium empties to reveal thousands of old shoes and clothing items left by "Team Canada"Jeremy White</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony is blacked out in BuffaloGeoff Smith</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony we actually hold two competing, simultaneous ceremonies, because someone pissed someone off once.Alan Bedenko</div><div>dignitaries arrive by driving cars into buildings #BuffaloOpeningCeremonya tramp abroad</div><div>We tailgate it. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyChris Ryndak</div><div>Lead all newscasts with first person who complains that there is nothing to do during Buffalo Olympics #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyAaron Mentkowski</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony sketchy guy invites the world to come work at Geico.Alan Bedenko</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony A drunken Pat Kane extinguishes the flame by dumping out his 40oz beer on it.Bobby Digital</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Lenny Palumbo writes something phenomenally homophobic about itAlan Bedenko</div><div>"Better Days" named official song. #BuffaloOpeningCeremony @createvidsKevin Snow</div><div>Goo Goo Dolls play a full four hours. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonySabres 101</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Carl Paladino lists athletes he doesn’t care for on top of his burned out buildings.DBUF11</div><div>Parade of Nations has to keep stopping at unsynched traffic lights. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyJill</div><div>@JeremyWGR Tailgating is recognized as an official sport. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyJeff Scharf</div><div>12 Led Zeppelin cover bands. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyScott Michalak</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony The team at NBC is replaced by a Buffalo all-star team comprised of Duke McGuire, John Murphy, and Rick JeanneretGeoffrey Blosat</div><div>A reminder to all medal winners: "Bum-bum-bum, we buy silver, we buy gold…" #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyTodd O. Massey</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony for those that don’t have a ticket, head to party in the plaza!DBUF11</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Pearl Street offers a discount on drinks with ticket to the opening ceremony.Geoffrey Blosat</div><div>Every visiting athlete comments on how ugly the city is. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonySteve O</div><div>Golisano holds U.S. team hostage until they agree to perform in Rochester for "one night only". #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyhippiegrrl</div><div>Irv announces lighting of Olympic Flame as "5 Alarm Fire in Orchard Park – details at 11" #buffaloopeningceremonyGlenMcDole</div><div>Keith Radford & Joanna Pisceri talk over the ENTIRE THING. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyTodd O. Massey</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Scott Norwood comes through the floor and kicks a flaming ball to light the torch but this time hits its on turfjason ziegler</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Greece is first team to enter. Buster Bison, armed with a squirt gun, obstructs pathJosh Veronica</div><div>Olympic torch used to make Chiavetta’s chicken barbecue. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonySabres 101</div><div>#buffaloopeningceremony we go til 4 in the morning. Then breakfast at PerkinsJoe Haniszewski</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony giant blow up beef an wecks and chicken wings appear in center of ceremonyjason ziegler</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony where pop officially replaces sodaJon Clark</div><div>Carl Paladino makes a speech to complain about all the foreigners &
amp;amp;quot;invading" his city. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyTravis Worth</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Irv Weinstein hands out 1 buffalo wing to each person coming into stadium to hold up during torch lighting.My Low End Theory</div><div>After #BuffaloOpeningCeremony is held east of Transit Road, @BuffaloRising commenters call it the "Clarence Olympics."Ra Cha Cha</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony subject to blackoutDarin Schwabe</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony During the Biathlon the crowd is heard yelling Shoot!Mike Ripley</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Scott Norwood goes wide right with torch, sets Lake Erie on fireian leggin</div><div>Crowd throwing their plastic beer cups at this shit. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyScott Michalak</div><div>Team Elmwood Village would protest any suburbanites and/or SUV drivers being allowed to play. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyCeeDee</div><div>Those who can’t get in have a Party in the Plaza #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyCasey Schroeder</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony the torch is lit by a drunk marshawn lynchJames Misercola</div><div>The Town of Orchard Park refuses to allow others to participate in swimming events #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyMark B</div><div>AMVETS outfits Team USA at #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyMarquil</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony everyone walks into the stadium and says "wait, why do you have O.J. Simpson on your wall?" #forrealthoughNick Veronica</div><div>biggest. tailgating party. ever. #buffaloopeningceremonyAndrew Haynes</div><div>Byron Brown has a field day with his giant scissors upon the opening of Buffalo’s olympic village aka Statler City #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyBennett Collins</div><div>People from Rochester say that they would have done a better job. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyThomas Mehs</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony listen to Matt Lauer continuously refer to it as "northern New York".Trlr</div><div>Only coverage it gets in local media involves investigation into the cost of parking. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyBradford Reid</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Everyone outside of New York State assumes the ceremony is occurring just a few minutes from New York CityChris Ceci</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Carl Paladino is awarded midnight permit to demolish Olympic Stadium just minutes prior to ceremony kick-off.Chris Ceci</div><div>Instead of Paul McCartney, Hit N Run Live from Cheektowaga town park #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyDennis Louis</div><div>Everything goes as planned and everyone gets upset that there’s nothing to get upset about. #BuffaloOpeningCeremony #NOOUTRAGEOUTRAGE!!!Buffalo Outrage</div><div>Terry Pegula blubbers at the sight of Usain Bolt. #BuffaloOpeningCeremony (hashtag corrected)Tim Graham</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony buffalonian athletes get nothing better than silverdk</div><div>1 person would complain 1 week before the event, Olympics are cancelled. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonySmokey Tokey</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony months after loss, Judge Bettmann says "yeah, it was a new record, but oh well. Oops."Tony House</div>

Heckuva Job, W.

W. as in W. Mitt. He is so adept at diplomacy – he will so dramatically change Obama’s foreign policy – that he managed in just one day to epically piss off our country’s very closest ally. This guy is a trip

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/SherrieGG/status/228691144161243136″]

Climate Change Perspectives

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

The Dog-Whistle Election of 2012

It was reported yesterday that an un-named advisor to Mitt Romney complained to a foreign publication how President Obama doesn’t share or “appreciate” the shared “Anglo-Saxon heritage” of America and Great Britain. The Romney campaign itself later disavowed this unbelievably stupid comment, but that’s not dissimilar to a celebrity apologizing for an insensitive Tweet. 

You know they meant every word of it. They just realized that it was inconvenient. 

First of all, Anglo-Saxon Britain ended in 1066 with the Norman conquest at Hastings. Like their persistent use of “Soviet” and “Soviet Union” to describe the country known as the “Russian Federation”, the Romney folks need to brush up on their history. 

Secondly, this is all part of a wider theme that’s taken hold of much of the American right since Obama’s nomination and election. It all has to do with painting Obama as a foreign savage devil. How that characterization is made depends somewhat on the person making it, and the intended audience. It may also have something to do with the intelligence of the person making the characterization. 

For instance, the extremely dumb and ignorant – oft racist – will simply aver that the President is a foreign-born Kenyan who was raised at a madrassa in Indonesia as part of a worldwide Communist/Muslim conspiracy to take over the United States – a plot dating back to 1961 at least. People mildly more intelligent will simply “ask questions” about the President’s birthplace and loyalty. 

The less stupid will say they don’t doubt the President’s birth certificate is real, and “take him at his word” that he’s Christian. The scale slides as people more benignly accuse Obama of “not sharing our values”, or being “socialist”, or going around the world “apologizing for America”. 

All of it has a central theme of Republican omniphobia, and of being so fundamentally out of ideas – ideas that plunged the world into a couple of quagmire-y wars and a crushing, long-lasting worldwide economic crisis – that this is all they have to fall back on. Literal demonization of the foreign usurper President, and urging reversion to the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place. 

Obama may not be perfect, but he’s not a foreign Communist savage, either. Mitt Romney, however, is by no means the answer to any sane or rational question. 

Neil Garvey Foundation for the Arts: Fundraiser Tonight

Neil Garvey was an attorney, but much better known as a local theater icon – he frequented the footlights of the Kavinoky, Irish Classical, and Shakespeare in the Park, and was a firm believer that the arts were a critical component of our society.  He passed away earlier this year, and his friends and family have devoted themselves to keep his memory alive. 

Established in 2012 by the family and friends of Neil Garvey as an independent organization to foster artistic endeavors throughout Buffalo and its surrounding communities, the mission of the Neil E. Garvey Foundation for the Arts is to empower and financially assist artists across all disciplines and, thereby, to promote the betterment and cultural growth of Western New York.

Tonight, just before the premiere of Shakespeare in the Park’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an inaugural fundraiser for the Garvey Foundation will take place. 

When: July 26, 2012, 5pm until the show opens

Where: the Marcy Casino in Delaware Park

Info: Your ticket will settle your hunger, quench your thirst and keep you laughing! There will be raffles and a 50/50 and food will be prepared by Rich’s Catering.  Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by calling the Shakespeare in Delaware Park offices at (716) 856-4533 or by filling out the form, here!

Corporate Welfare King Complains About Socialism; Obama Looks Forward

A couple of weeks ago, President Obama gave a speech in Virginia where he somewhat clumsily made the assertion that even self-made businessmen didn’t get successful on their own. They had teachers who inspired them, firefighters and police who protect them, roads that help them engage in commerce, and that ours is a society in which we are somewhat interdependent on each other; i.e., “government” to help private enterprise thrive. It is thus everywhere, despite the current fad among some to denigrate government and everything it does. Fox News is, naturally, at the forefront of this phony nontroversy, even trotting out a couple of little kids to discuss how N0bama is nationalizing their lemonade stand, or something. 

So, Mitt Romney – who purports to be a self-made businessman, facts notwithstanding – put out this ad: 

Jack Gilchrist, the New Hampshire business owner Romney features in that ad, is right out of Republicanland central casting. He whines that the President is “demonizing” people like him, who, with his father, built his business, “through hard work and a little bit of luck”. Also, the black Kenyan guy doesn’t “believe in America”. So, there’s that. 

Yet Jack Gilchrist didn’t just get where he is thanks to hard work, luck, teachers, roads, and civic protection services. He also got there thanks to thousands of socialist government dollars

In 1999, Gilchrist Metal received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority “to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment,” according to a New Hampshire Union Leader report at the time…

Last year, Gilchrist Metal also received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008, according to a government web site that tracks spending.

Gilchrist also is a recipient of an SBA loan of about $500,000, with matching funds from the federally-funded New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.  In other words, Gilchrist got where he is thanks to hard work, a little bit of luck, and over a million dollars in federal and state corporate welfare. Out of all the businesspeople available in the country to use to send this message, Romney’s campaign didn’t even adequately vet their Obama-hating generic middle-aged blue-collar rich guy. 

By contrast, in the wake of the Aurora shootings, the Obama campaign took the opportunity to speak frankly to the American people about what’s really at stake in this election, and he also directly addressed Romney’s clumsy rejection of civic society: 

Laws, Shrinks, Neither?

In the wake of the Aurora movie theater massacre, do you: 

1. Think that we need to strengthen and expand some sort of gun control; 

2. Think that someone should have pulled a concealed gun on the shooter and stopped his rampage; 

3. Think that this isn’t about guns, it’s about the stigma and poor funding/coverage for mental health care; 

4. None of the above – we demand answers and reaction to tragedies like this, but they are exceedingly rare, despite our ridiculously overviolent gun culture, and sometimes motivated psychopaths will engage in this type of behavior, regardless of medical or legal intervention. 

Ironic Criminal is Ironic

Remember this guy? He was all over Channel 4 and the Shredd & Ragan show: Shredd & Ragan show about a month ago, expounding on how black people were ruining the old First Ward, etc.  How minorities should stay on their own side of town and not “wreck” South Buffalo neighborhoods.  

Turns out, the proud South Buffalo racist guy is William Shanahan, and he’s not only in jail, he’s a convicted felon

“Scheme to defraud” in the 1st degree involves a systematic, ongoing effort to defraud or obtain property under false pretenses from 10 or more people, or fewer depending on the value of the property and the age of the victim. This is a class E felony. 

Robbery in the 3rd degree involves “forcible stealing” through the use or threat of physical force on a person to take his belongings. According to the New York State Penal Law, this is a class D felony.  

Irony is a guy who complains about “the minorities” and their crime ruining neighborhoods, yet is a convict himself. 

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