Esmonde Demands Magic

And with these passages

To me, it’s not about bragging rights, or to label schools as “good” or “bad.” It is not to prop up the wrongheaded notion that suburban teachers run laps around their city counterparts.

No, I like the rankings, which are based solely on test scores, for one reason – they confirm what education experts have said for decades: The biggest factor in how well kids do in school is not quality of teachers, variety of programs, class size, access to computers or how often pizza is served in the cafeteria. No, it’s socioeconomics.

Donn Esmonde (who is an Ass™) lays his anti-suburb prejudice bare with his dopey strawman argument. (Where have you ever read anyone write that suburban teachers are better than city teachers, much less that they “run laps around” them? Nowhere, you say? Me, neither.)

The city/suburbs performance divide underlines the grim reality of not just how racially segregated the region is, but – more to the point – how economically segregated it is. The median family income in towns housing the top five schools ranges from $84,155 (Aurora) to $98,914 (Clarence). Median family income in Buffalo? $36,700.

The researchers who wrote the Coleman Report would not be surprised. The landmark 1966 study concluded – with plenty of backup since – that the main factor in school performance is his how much money kids’ parents make and how educated they are. Period.

Yes, successful people with good educations place a high value on education and work hard to make sure their kids get a good one, too. But then, so do many poor people who want their kids to do better and have things that they themselves could never have. It’s a thing called social mobility – the American dream itself – and what do we make of these people who are low on the socioeconomic ladder, but want and demand better? And what of the teachers? Seems as if Esmonde takes a very complicated equation, dumbs it down, and denigrates teachers and poor families as hopelessly stuck. 

Of course, a lot of people – including, sadly, test-obsessed state education officials – do not factor socioeconomics into test scores. If they did, they would – and should – grade on a demographic curve. Instead, they see the numbers as “proof” that high-ranking schools have better teachers, superior programs or some magic juju that spurs students. Teachers in tax-controversy Clarence are just the latest to use the rankings to justify $90,000-plus salaries, raises and nearly fully paid health care.

As a veteran columnist and journalist for the sole daily paper in town, one would expect Donn to write truthfully. Had he chosen to do so, or decided perhaps remotely to be accurate, he’d know that the teachers have almost completely stayed out of the tax controversy in Clarence. The teachers’ union has been, alas, too busy determining which members would need to lose their jobs in the wake of the defeat of the crisis budget, rather than engaging in a massive PR blitz to justify anything to anyone.

Simply put, Esmonde’s assertion that Clarence teachers have been making any argument at all in recent weeks is a baldfaced lie, and an insult to them. He also repeats his newfound tea partyism to denigrate the notion that a teacher with 30 – 40 years’ experience are entitled to make a good living with decent benefits. (Teachers in Clarence toil for 20 years before they even hit $50k per year). He is scapegoating people who had nothing whatsoever to do with the cause of the budget crisis in the first place. What a despicable and detestable liar. 

I don’t want to diminish the good work that teachers do. But, for the most part, test scores are not about how good a particular school’s teachers are. Instead, they reflect the background of the kids they teach.

You just did, asshole. You should say these things to your teacher wife, to her face. 

Doubt it? Then imagine this: Take all the kids from, say, Buffalo’s Burgard High and send them to Williamsville East for a year. Take the Williamsville East kids and send them to Burgard for a year. You don’t have to be a school superintendent to guess what would happen: Test scores at Burgard would skyrocket, test scores at Williamsville would nosedive.

It would not be because the Burgard teachers suddenly upped their game, or because the Williamsville teachers lost their touch. It would be about who is sitting at the desks.

That’s why regionalism guru David Rusk has long pushed for fairer housing policies, to ease the overload of poor families in inner cities. Everything from mandated mixed-income housing in the suburbs, to sprawl-reversing business tax breaks, fuels the economic integration that would level the field in classrooms across the region.

Hypothetical. Theory presented as fact. Ignorance of the fact that (a) anyone can pay a cheap tuition and send their kids to any public district in NYS at any time; and (b) there was (may still be) a program whereby kids were bused from Buffalo into Amherst schools. I can’t find the name of the program, or whether it’s still going on, but there it is. 

Sprawl – the bogeyman for everyone who willfully ignores that North and South Buffalo are little more than, respectively,  Tonawanda and West Seneca that happen to be accidentally within city boundaries. Sprawl – the word people invoke to effectively demand a Maoist long march of families from the evil suburbs to the joyful city – just carry what you can and stay on the path, lest the comrade guard beat you with a bamboo shaft! 

“Housing policy is school policy,” wrote Rusk in a still-relevant 2001 report on Erie County schools. Inner-city classrooms “cannot overcome the many problems and minimal home support many children bring to school … With 80 percent poor children, you aren’t going to ‘fix’ the Buffalo schools.”

There is no reason for suburban teachers to check the school rankings and feel smug. Just as there is no reason city teachers – of whom my wife is one, although not in a classroom – to feel defensive. But given what is at stake, I think there is every reason to understand what these test scores are really about.

Good to see Esmonde finally owning up to the source of his anti-suburb / anti-suburban school animus. But this entire column is based on a false premise of crowing teachers. Quite the contrary, I haven’t seen any crowing about much of any of it, anywhere.

Some places do. There is a growing national movement to economically integrate schools. Studies show that poorer kids do better when surrounded by Hollister-wearing classmates. The upscale kids, in return, get the diversity benefit – hugely touted as a selling point by colleges – of meeting kids from a different background. It works all around.

Check the school rankings, if you insist. But if you want to put any weight behind the numbers, I think you first have to level the playing field.

Esmonde doesn’t detail what the hell he’s talking about. Which is it – redistributing poor kids into rich schools and vice-versa, or a unified Erie County school district? Since more kids in wealthier towns tend to come from families that value education, we should better integrate them with kids who come from homes with no such value in schooling, and what will happen, precisely? The kids who come from homes where no one gives a shit will somehow magically excel? 

If you present the problem as being one of fundamental socioeconomic divergence – whereby one population is rich, white, and cares about schools – and the other is poor, black, and doesn’t care about schools – what specific solution does Esmonde provide here, except to bus poor kids to rich districts and vice-versa? If the socioeconomic problem is so stark, shouldn’t we be talking about much, much more than a long bus ride? Aren’t there systemic, societal problems that go deeper than “sprawl” and ‘teachers are greedy’? 

Socioeconomic factors matter, but the worst school district has the 2nd best high school. How can that be possible?

Well, it’s possible because socioeconomics are just part of a larger, more complicated equation – not the sine qua non of school or student success, as Esmonde suggests. That equation is made up by home makeup, parental education (which is the most significant factor in predicting a child’s educational achievement), parental values and expectations, but also good teachers and quality programs. Programs that kids who come from poor or middle-class homes need more than the richer kids whose families can afford private replacements. 

A correspondent tells me that Amherst’s Windermere elementary school is a Title 1 poverty district, and 40% of kids there are ESL or in special education. Socioeconomics without parental involvement, however, aren’t a predictor of success, and that parental involvement is the bigger factor. By no means should anyone reduce or discard the importance that an inspiring teacher can have on a kid’s education and lifelong success. Without parental support, involvement, and valuing education, even the best teacher will fail. 

Buffalo itself is segregated into families that care and families that don’t. Does Esmonde recommend kids who did poorly in school or have a track record of being absent more than present come in to City Honors to maintain the equality he demands from suburban districts? No, of course not – City Honors is the school for Buffalo’s elite and Esmonde would never dare to upset them or their suburb-in-the-city existence. He is one of them. Imagine if someone had suggested they simply arbitrarily mixed in some kids from Burgard at City Honors, as Esmonde recommends? Why not? 

The key isn’t money – the key is whether the family values education as a path to lifetime success. Because what we’re talking about is social mobility and improving upon one’s family history, and to that end, Esmonde gives up on the poor from uneducated households and assigns to them a lifetime of failure and misery that could only be alleviated if you move them in with rich white people. What a cop-out. What a capitulation. 

My God, Donn Esmonde is an Ass.™

The Clarence School Decline Ends Today

I have written extensively about the Clarence schools budget crisis in previous weeks.

(Local AFP Activist behind Anti-School Direct Mail in Clarence)

(Your Concerned Stock-Photo Neighbors in Clarence)

(Vote “YES” For the Clarence School Budget on May 21st)

(Clarence Voters Teach Students a Lesson)

(AFP Takes a Victory Lap)

(Open Letter to Donn Esmonde)

(Unfair Blame and Facile Hypocrisy)

(An Education in Education)

(Clarence’s Teachers are Indispensable, Not Disposable)

(Thank You, Mr. Vertoske)

On Wednesday morning, the various factions came together to urge a “yes” vote on the revote budget, slated for Tuesday June 18th. This is without a doubt a win for the community – to end the fighting and come together to prevent further harm.

That same evening, I appeared on WBBZ-TV‘s “Political Buzz” program, which airs Friday night at 7:30. We extended the half-hour talk a bit, and that segment is now on YouTube:

Today, Business First revealed that the Clarence school district had slipped from 2nd place to 3rd. When I bought my house in 2002, Clarence was the number one district in all of WNY. Beginning in 2003, it maintained a decade-long run at number 2, behind only Williamsville.

Why did the district slide to third place? It’s not from uncertainty arising out of the 2013-14 budget, and it’s not because of the current controversy. The Business First rankings take several objective standards into account, including (but not limited to) the last 4 years’ worth of state testing scores.

As Clarence faces down over $4 million in cuts to personnel, programs, and services, consider what it is that makes Williamsville number one. After all, Williamsville is also a relatively wealthy suburban district just like Clarence:

“We always do really well, but always think we can do better,” [Superintendent Scott Martzloff] said. “And that’s why we are on journey of continuous improvement. We continue to examine what we do, why we do it and how we can do it better for the future”…We’re certainly very fortunate to have highly professional and dedicated teachers in the district who work well with all of our students,” he said. “At the same time, we have students who are generally pretty motivated, parents who are supportive and our community really values and supports education. So we’re fortunate to have that right recipe.”

While Williamsville is seeking the right equation to get excellent results, Clarence has abandoned its hitherto-similar equation without a hint of concern.

While the defeated original, 9.8% budget itself contained $1.8 in cuts, the revote budget adds another $2.5 million in cuts, prompting school board president Michael Lex to declare that the district is teetering on the edge of “educational insolvency”. By that, he means that the district is meeting its financial needs only, but is not meeting the community’s educational and social expectations. He bluntly explained that the cuts to clubs and extracurriculars, amounting to a savings of $122,000 in teacher-advisor stipends, will reduce kids’ college opportunities.

With the revote budget, and the over $4 million in cuts, the tax levy will increase by 3.62%, well under the 3.79% cap. The rate will be $14.65 per $1,000 of assessed value; an increase of about $39 per year for a $100,000 house; approximately $3.25 per month.

But what’s gone now? The High School loses Art Partners, Chorus Club, Community Service Organizer, Drama Club, Environmental Club, Foreign Language Club, Future Business Club, Future Teachers Club, Garden Club, Helping Hands, History Club, Interact, Latin Club, Media Club, Orchestra Club, Reach Out Club, Scholastic Club, Stage Band (Jazz), Summer Band, Technology Club, Varsity Club, Asst. Musical Director, and Asst. Yearbook Advisor.

The Middle School loses the Art Club, Assets Committee, Chess Club, Clarence Service, Drama – Art Club, Drama – Dance, Home & Careers Club, Asst. Musical Director, Quiz Bowl, Science Club, Show Choir, Stage Band, Strategic Games Club, Student Leadership, and Vocal Pop Chorus

As time rolls on, the dramatic cuts necessitated in the 2013-14 revote budget will begin to be felt within the district, and reflected in the rankings. Increasing class sizes, cutting social workers and guidance counselors, and eliminating extracurriculars and sports programs is exactly what Williamsville and East Aurora aren’t doing. Instead, they’re striking a balance while we lunge into the unknown, possibly dropping right out of the top 10 when all is said and done.

A decrease to 3rd place is the result of the last 4 years’ cuts. This is what happens when you eliminate the Clarence student enrichment program – the pull-out for gifted and talented students that helped to challenge bright young minds. This is what happens when you reduce the number of reading specialists to help prepare for English Language Arts testing and general literacy, this is what happens when you begin to devalue the excellence you have, and you assume that it will just all play itself out. Down-vote-arrow-237x250

Clarence is third overall. It is also third in science, (up from fifth in 2012), third in English, (up from fourth in 2012), and fourth in math (steady vs. 2012).

While it is important to lobby for Albany reform and mandate relief, and while it’s important to begin planning now for a potentially darker fiscal future, we also can’t lose sight of the fact that teachers are doing more with less, and we simply cannot scapegoat them into bearing the brunt of this meltdown. Not every household in Clarence is wealthy enough to afford a private alternative to cut public school programs. Not every wealthy kid with a mom and a dad is a good and motivated student; more money, more problems.

We talk a lot about running government like a business. Forget for a moment all the financial arguments about per pupil cost, administrative efficiency, and the excellent results we get for lower taxes than most other communities.

Instead, consider this: what business do you know that is content with third or fourth place?

Dyster Refuses to Appear in Entercom Promotional Skit

This morning, our local morning conservative advocacy radio station “News” radio station ambushed Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster in-studio. Mohawk radio commentator John Kane was also in-studio because he happens to host a native American themed radio show on another Entercom-owned AM radio station, WWKB. (Kane’s is one of the only locally-produced shows on KB). Kane is outspoken in his support of Indian causes, and has been blisteringly critical of various New York State bureaucrats and elected officials. 

Dyster wasn’t told there’d be a debate, wasn’t told he’d be attacked or criticized, and appeared simply to discuss the deal the Senecas reached with the State yesterday, which will release $89 million in withheld Seneca casino payments to the City of Niagara Falls. 

As with all litigation and adversarial proceedings, the parties were not seeing eye-to-eye during the process, and things were done and said that have now been excused, forgiven, compromised, and set aside. With yesterday’s settlement, Cuomo went so far as to acknowledge that the state had done the Senecas wrong, and everyone walked away happy with the outcome. 

Except John Kane, who spent the morning seated next to the Niagara Falls mayor, accusing Dyster of having behaved horribly, and otherwise relitigating the last several years’ worth of conflict that another Indian Nation had been engaged in with the State of New York and City of Niagara Falls. Dyster hadn’t come there to be insulted or falsely accused. 

No longer a News outlet, WBEN has actively made itself and its fellow Entercom employee part of the story. 

My God, the mullet : news ratio is way too high at Entercom. But surely the bright and intelligent folks who listen to conservative talk radio have nothing but reasonable, conservative things to say about it all? 

Chris Clinton and Edwin Rajewski obviously don’t like DEMONcrats like Paul Dyster, but they go so far as to change Dyster’s name to “Dykster”, invoking a word used to express hatred and homophobia to homosexual females. That seems irrelevant, doesn’t it? Given WBEN’s penchant for reading idiotic Facebook posts on the radio, (including, but not limited, to the tragic sadness of having morning straight-news anchor Susan Rose reading “el-oh-el” over the air), why weren’t the “Dykester” comments given that treatment? 

But lo, here comes Erie County resident and anti-Maziarz, anti-Cuomo concern-troll John L. “Rus” Thompson – the first name in compromise and diplomacy

What I know is that you usually show enough deference to an elected official to let him know when he’s walking into an ambush on live radio. What I know is that it is bad form to relitigate all the real and perceived slights you’ve absorbed during an adversarial process in public, on the air, the day after a compromise settlement has been reached; especially if the person doing the relitigating wasn’t part of the dispute in the first place. 

Mayor Dyster could have sat there and taken insult after insult from some radio guy doing promotion on Entercom for his Entercom show, but he was not wrong in getting up and letting the station know that he hadn’t agreed to that.

UPDATE: to underscore that this was little more than an Entercom-generated publicity stunt for a show no one listens to, read Entercom operations director (and Susan Rose’s husband’s) obnoxious admission that Dyster was ambushed, and praising his radio host for turning himself and the station into the story. 

Easy Money

niagara falls

Photo by William Smyers via Flickr AV Photo Daily Group

Dearest Friend,

My name is Mr.Samuel Frank; I am the son of the former minister of finance for the Lord Mayor of the City of Niagara Falls (USA). I am contacting you for a business transfer of a huge sum of money from a deceased account. 

Though know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that every document that will bring about the success of this transaction will be provided by an attorney here in Niagara Falls, and all will be well at the end of the day.  I decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction.

My father, the deceased person who died; died in a lorry accident while he held a cheque for US$89 millions in his personal pocket. I retrieved the cheque. 

Since his death, I have fled to Lome, Togo, but cannot cash the cheque in my possession because of the different modalities of bankings here. Your American NSA is tracking my every move and mobile phone activities.  We cannot release the fund from this cheque unless someone applies for claim as the next-of-kin to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines.

Upon this discovery, I now seek your assistance to stand as a next of kin to the deceased, as all documentations will be carefully worked to make you the beneficiary to the funds $89,000,000 USD which will be released in your favor as the next of kin, Because after twenty days the money will be called back to the bank bond treasury as unclaimed bills and the money shared amongst the directors of the bank.

So it is on this note I decided to seek for whom his name shall be used as the next of kin/beneficiary to this funds rather than allow the bank directors to share this money amongst them at the end of the year. It may interest you to know that we have secured from the probate an order of mandamus to locate any of the deceased beneficiaries.

Please acknowledge receipt of this message in acceptance of our mutual business endeavor by furnishing me with the following information if you are interested.

Your Full Name:_____________________
Your Complete Address:________________________
Name of City of Residence:________________________
Date of Birth (Day/Month/Year):__________________
Your occupation:____________________________
Direct Telephone Number: ____________________
Mobile Number: ____________________________
Fax Number:___________________________________

For our personal contact and mutual trust in each other I shall be compensating you with 50% of the above amount on final conclusion of this project for your assistance with bank modalities, and the balance 50% shall be for me, because I intend to retire after the conclusion of this transaction.

If this proposal is acceptable by you, please endeavor to contact me immediately. Do not take undue advantage of the trust I have bestowed in you, I await your urgent mail now to my private email richardson_frank@msn.co.uk

Best Regards,

Mr.Samuel.Frank

Donny’s Style Manual #1: Non-Sequitur Tielman Invocation

I have absolutely nothing negative whatsoever to say about Bernice Radle and Jason Wilson.  I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the Buffalo Young Preservationists, who are fighting for what they believe in, (even if I occasionally disagree with them). 

But because Donn Esmonde is an Ass™, I have negative things to say about his profile of them; to wit, does Tim Tielman pay Donny a stipend for mentions? WTF does Tielman have to do with anything to do with these two 20-somethings? Is that how he earns his living? Because as far as I can tell, he has no visible means of support, yet is able to not only afford a home and food, but even a bus. 

There are a lot of so-called activists in town who are opaque about what they actually do for money, but at least Radle and Wilson have proper jobs, on the books, and try to save buildings and neighborhoods in their spare time. Not only that, but they hold degrees and jobs that have something to do with planning and preservation

To my mind, Radle and Wilson have infinitely more educational and professional bona fides to talk about planning and preservation matters than the guy who runs a protectioneering racket. After all, neither Bernice nor Jason have taken developers to court, but excepted the ones who hire them as “consultants”. 

NSA and Emoleaks

Yesterday, Chris Smith and I joined Brad Riter to discuss and debate the NSA leak controversy.  Here it iscourtesy of TrendingBuffalo.com

Protectioneering

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)

Shared Border Management: They Choose Not To

The United States Government claims that it just can’t implement any sort of shared border management with the Canadians along the length of the Niagara River. The American personnel from the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) allegedly cannot be permitted to work on the Canadian side of the border because of two factors – their firearms, and the requirement that American inspection personnel be able to stop, question, and fingerprint people who make a U-Turn before entering a US customs plaza that is on Canadian soil. Because liberty. 

The fact that Southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area has millions of people, and represents a tremendous market opportunity for western New York, we are stymied by Washington’s and Albany’s unwillingness / inability to help integrate the region.  We can’t get shared border management approved when the real discussion should be about a customs union with Canada

Two solutions have been proposed for this very simple solution to the problem of Buffalo’s West Side and Front Park – the first is the “embassy” solution, whereby an American entry inspection plaza in Fort Erie is legally considered to be United States soil, and the second is the “airport” solution, whereby travelers are simply pre-screened by American personnel authorized through treaty to operate on foreign soil. Pre-screening takes place in myriad Caribbean and Canadian airports, so that flights from those countries can arrive at US airports and be treated as domestic ones, easing the burden on CPB here at home, and widening the number of airports that can be served. 

You know what else? Look at this picture: 

That’s a sign in the Dublin airport.  Dublin, Ireland, European Union. There are CPB personnel in Ireland – across the Atlantic Ocean – who are there to pre-screen travelers to the United States. They do it in Toronto, too. 

 

The shared border management idea was first proposed and rejected under President George W. Bush and his Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff in 2007. The Obama Administration killed the idea in 2009 after briefly toying with it earlier that year

If we can accomplish this across the ocean, certainly we can get it done across the Niagara River? 

Donny Kissinger

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

 

Standards

In an exercise in facile nonsense, local Republicans Nick Langworthy and Chris Grant criticized Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz today because Poloncarz took to Twitter and Facebook to criticize the fact that JPMorganChase is closing a call center in Albion (Orleans County), eliminating 400 jobs. The Republicans played a bit of “gotcha” with Poloncarz, who accepted campaign cash from JPMorganChase in past races, and demanded that he return it for some unstated, obtuse reason

It only makes sense if these Republicans agree with Poloncarz, that JPMorganChase is a bad corporate citizen for announcing these layoffs – otherwise they wouldn’t be demanding he return anything. 

Yet Collins, who has said nothing in public about the loss of jobs in his district, owns between $100,000 – $250,000 in JPMorganChase stock, according to OpenSecrets. Certainly, he will show solidarity with 400 of his constituents who are about to lose their jobs by divesting himself of these holdings. Right? Yet, oddly, there seems to be an eerie silence on this question. 

I think owning $100 – 250,000 worth of stock in a corporate bad actor is worse than taking $3,160 from them to win some elections. 

Republicans remain silent on the fact that Poloncarz not only accepted over $3,000 in campaign cash from JPMorganChase, yet still felt comfortable criticizing them harshly.  I guess it shows that Poloncarz’s opinions and positions are not necessarily stifled or silenced by campaign contributions.

Isn’t that a good thing

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