Shorter Everything

1. Dennis Gabryszak is a creep who is accused of doing creepy things to at least 7 women, who have the courage to come forward and publicly air the ways in which this schmuck humiliated them. Gabryszak has not denied or otherwise addressed the allegations and is unfit for public service. 

2. It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up was the lesson learned during Watergate, and on Thursday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took 2 hours to explain how he was completely in the dark about some really despicable things that his very close advisors and confidants were doing. When his appointee to the NYNJ Port Authority, David Wildstein, resigned in December – a month ago – over September’s politically manufactured bridge debacle. For Christie to suggest that this is all news to him strains credulity. For him to suggest that he was completely in the dark about these things seems unlikely. Ultimately, if you surround yourself with petty, vindictive people, and you maintain a public demeanor that is, at times, petty and vindictive, you can hardly stand there with a straight face and claim that you are, like, totally shocked that people in your employ behaved in a petty and vindictive manner. 

3. Yesterday, GOP gadfly Michael Caputo was sitting in for Tom Bauerle on WBEN, and he had legendary dirty trickster Roger Stone call in – that’s quite a get. They talked about a meeting Friday put together in an effort to convince billionaire birther Donald Trump to run for Governor of the state of New York. Stone got it exactly right – Trump doesn’t have a chance. Ultimately, New York State is as blue as it gets, and while Democrats and left independents might consider a Republican who portrays himself as a centrist who is liberal on social issues (see: Pataki), there’s no way in hell any self-respecting Democrat would support a Donald Trump for governor – not after his dramatic and absurd lurch to the very fringes of the right wing in the last few years. For all the Freudian bleating about the NY SAFE Act, the metropolitan area around the five boroughs – how did Glenn Beck phrase it? Oh yeah, “they surround you”. 

4. Declared dead several years ago, it turns out that shared border management still has a pulse. Because Canadian border agents are now armed, like their American counterparts, one of the big obstacles to pre-clearing traffic on the Canadian side and eliminating the inspection booths on the American side has been eliminated. For now, it’s a pilot program and it’s only for commercial traffic, but if it’s successful there’s no reason why it couldn’t also be used for passenger vehicles, too. If that happens, all of the alarmist talk about the adverse health effects from idling traffic at a bridge crossing that has existed for 100 years can stop. I never quite understood how adding lanes to alleviate traffic congestion would aggravate health problems on the west side of Buffalo, nor did I understand why the anti-bridge rhetoric was effectively arguing for the complete removal of the bridge altogether. But hopefully the saga of the Hundredyearbridge will make a millimeter’s worth of progress. 

5. If your town government decides to hold a “public hearing” about a local controversy at 4:30 pm on a weekday, and doesn’t bother to invite representatives of the locality’s regional governmental entity, then it’s safe to say that the town government isn’t interested in dealing with conflict or problems. The one-party system in the town of Clarence is not showing itself to be particularly responsive or concerned about legitimate gripes from people in the northern flood plain.

Unbelievable. 

6. Chris Collins (NY-27) is playing to type

7. Subset cars: 

– did you know that it is perfectly legal for any American to import any car from anywhere in the world, provided it is 25+ years old? Not only legal to import, but legal to put on the road. Here’s a cool story about a dream come true

– I told you a few weeks ago to get yourself a set of snow tires. That’s not all. When it’s snowing and sloppery out, you should also (a) keep your washer fluid topped off; (b) keep an extra gallon of fluid in your trunk; (c) physically wipe the slop off your wipers every once in a while to keep them clean and clear; (d) take a squeegee to your front headlights at every fill-up to get the road sludge off of them and enable you to actually see at night. To that end, if your local Noco or whatever doesn’t keep a proper squeegee bucket around with some form of unfrozen cleaning solution, stop going there or complain. It is inexcusable in a cold climate. 

Have a good weekend!

 

 

 

Blizzard Things

The blizzard of 2014 showed that government can work. The way in which the county in particular handled the storm, public affairs, and its response was impressive. County leadership, led by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, used social media in particular in one of the most effective ways I’ve seen any local elected use it. Poloncarz was tweeting live updates from the county’s command center day and night during the storm, and was answering people’s questions and otherwise keeping us informed about conditions.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaquandor/11410257735/in/pool-buffalominute/player/

City government, however, was attempting to maintain a “business as usual” mode, not declaring driving bans while surrounded by them, and with Mayor Brown silent on social media. It led to a short-lived #whereisByron hashtag on Tuesday night, as people wondered where the Mayor was (answer: trying to get to Albany for a pre-state-of-the-state fundraiser. He didn’t make it.) 

With that said, in light of the State of the State Address on Wednesday, where Andrew Cuomo again pointed to “too many governments” as the main reason why taxes are so high, there is no reason why we need to maintain a county government as a separate deliberative taxing authority. Since almost all of its tasks are ministerial in nature – mandates from Albany amounting to imperatives like, “feed the hungry”, “heat the homes of the poor”, “administer Medicaid”, “administer [insert state program here]”, and “plow the roads”, we don’t need a separate legislature and all of its ancillary costs in order to accomplish these basic tasks.

Speaking of the State of the State, Cuomo indicated that Buffalo will get a $100 million to research genome therapy. This is huge – the ability to treat disease by replacing defective genes is the next frontier in medical research. 

Doctor’s Orders

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

Mazurek v. Gabryszak, At Last

If you were paying attention to Tuesday’s blizzard, you may have missed the fact that a seventh woman has filed a notice of claim with the state, indicating her intention to bring a lawsuit accusing Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak (D-Creepytown) of sexual harassment. That woman is Kristy Mazurek, of the 2Sides political TV program and Steve Pigeon’s AwfulPAC

Mazurek worked for Gabryszak between October 2008 and June 2009. Her notice of claim is here, and it details similar types of lecherous, obnoxious, misogynist harassment that the other six women have claimed. 

The problem is that the statute of limitations for any claim Mazurek might make expired, at best, 2 years ago. She can bring the notice, and even bring suit, but there’s no merit to any of it. So, one can only surmise that it’s been brought to bolster the existing allegations, or to make an extra headline or two. 

But here’s something that’s been nagging at me. Of all the various and sundry complaints that have been brought against Dennis the creep, only one accuser made her allegations under oath.  Attorney Johnny Destino signed for Freling, Snickles, and Campbell. Attorney John Bartolomei signed for Trimper and Tardone, as he did for Mazurek. Only Caitrin Kennedy verified the allegations in her claim, under oath

I don’t think it necessarily means anything substantively, so I point it out for its own sake. What is notable is the fact that Gabryszak has been completely silent on the matter since it became a thing in mid-December – he has not even deigned to deny the allegations in any way. 

Village People

Old guys in cowboy hats pledging an “uprising” over the “homosexual” “agenda” being shoved “down [their] throats”. 

“The people of Utah have rights, too, not just the homosexuals. The homosexuals are shoving their agenda down our throats,” Former Graham County, Ariz., Sheriff Richard Mack said at the meeting…

…”State sovereignty supercedes what this judge did,” Mack said. “The Governor needs to get some courage and grip.”

Cherilyn Eager, one of the event organizers, said that people need to speak out.

“We need people to stand up and speak out. We need to get noisy. We need some outrage,” she said. “It is about the sheriffs now coming out to protect the people.”

Mack and Eager asked meeting attendees to call their local representatives and ask them to urge clerks to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

“The way you take back freedom in America is one county at a time. The sheriffs need to defend the county clerks in saying, ‘No, we’re not going to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals,'” Mack said at the meeting.

This should end well. 

 

Better to Make Money than to Spend it

Colorado is making money on recreational use and sale of marijuana

Nations have been waging war on “drugs” for decades now, and it’s been a complete disaster. Like waging war on “terror”, we are learning that you can’t just declare and wage war on something that has always existed, still exists, and will always exist. The war on drugs is destroying communities and poorer nations much more palpably than use of the drugs themselves would. 

Marijuana decriminalization has been gaining some momentum in recent months, because of all the prohibited drugs, it’s the least harmful. It comes from a plant that grows in the ground and, unlike substances like crystal meth, crack, or heroin, you don’t need an explosive laboratory to prepare it for use. The worst thing about marijuana is that it makes people sleepy, lazy, and hungry. Maybe it makes them act a bit silly.  Unlike alcohol, it doesn’t make them black out, pass out, belligerent, loud, or obnoxious. I’d rather encounter a stoner than a drunk any day, and the war on drugs has been disproportionately harsh on the poor and the brown. 

So, Uruguay, Washington State, and Colorado have decriminalized and taxed marijuana. Consumers can legally buy, consume, grow, sell, and possess small quantities, and all of it is healthily taxed by the local authorities. 

The arguments will come that decriminalization will be a slippery slope to the legalization of harder drugs, and perhaps this is a debate that needs to take place. But the amount of money spent on enforcing anachronistic marijuana prohibition laws that were brought about through an organized misinformation campaign is enormous, and perhaps it’s time for the people to have a smidge more freedom, and that a legal marijuana trade helps to fund government, rather than the status quo whereby the government feeds an illegal, violent black market. 

Back in mid-December, state Senator Liz Krueger introduced a bill to decriminalize pot sales to 21 year-olds, and possession for 18 year-olds. Small amounts could be traded, grown, possessed, and taxed. As of right now, it is estimated that marijuana is a $3 billion annual market, yet the government doesn’t get its cut. 

The Assembly bill is here, and the text of the identical Senate bill is here. As Governor Cuomo moves to minimally liberalize medical marijuana, catching up to many other states, perhaps it’s time to at least put marijuana decriminalization before the voters of the state.

It’s time the people made money off of this thriving market, rather than spending money trying, ever in vain, to stop it. 

Sloppery

1. I alternated between WBEN 930-AM, the Buffalo news station, and a Torontonian station, 680 News (CFTR) Friday morning. WBEN did the list of closings, traffic & weather, news, and featured several interviews with people who work outside, commenting on what it’s like to work outside (breaking – it’s cold when it’s cold, and hot when it’s hot). 680 went through its repetitive pattern of news, weather, traffic, sports, business news, and commuter issues. There was no talk of school or business closings. Just typical big-city news. It was a fascinating comparison. 

2. Cold feet? The warmest socks I ever owned were marketed in the US as “Swiss Army socks”. They aren’t anymore, but you can buy them online from the Swiss manufacturer, Rohner. The original is CHF 28 (about $32), and shipping is a flat $10.60 for orders under $160. I am still looking for an American retailer who carries them, but they’re worth every penny, IMHO. 

3. Even with very low temperatures, somewhere in Buffalo there will be a guy walking around today in shorts and boots. 

4. I coined a new word yesterday wholly by accident – “sloppery”. It is a portmanteau of “sloppy” and “slippery” and described the super-fine powder causing people with crap tires to slide around the roads Thursday and Friday. 

5. Speaking of which, get yourself some snow tires

6. My predictions for 2014 are contained in this article for the print edition of Artvoice

7. Trina Tardone and Emily Trimper, come on down! You’re the next contestants on, How Creepily Did Dennis Gabryszak Sexually Harass You?! (That makes 6 accusers. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; but where there’s a blazing inferno, shit’s going down.)

7. Nickel City Chef 2014 tickets go on sale today. They may already be sold out. 

 

Best of 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/masinka/11498001503/in/pool-buffalominute/player/

For me, the best thing of 2013 was, hands down, a good result from a horrible health scare in the family. Everything else pales in comparison. 

So, I asked people on Twitter to give me their best of 2013. Here’s what they said. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A protected user suggested: “BCAT opened, Start-UP NY announced, Harbor Center development, Riverbend project, and BNE made a Buffalo video people liked!”

 

 

 

Last – minute entries: 

– Bills stay (for a time).  Yeah, they lose, but we’d miss them if they were gone.

– Sabres change leadership.  No place to go but up

– Dinosaur Barbeque comes to Buffalo.  2014 will taste better than 2013

– Trader Joes comes to Amherst.  Ditto

– Unemployment rate in WNY dropping.  Good.  “nuff said.

– The Stock Market is UP.  Not bad for a Kenya – born socialist. 

– The Tea Party is DOWN.  Only took the near-bankruptcy of the US Government to do this, but hey – count your blessings.

And: 

Long Live TOY – Defending Children’s Theatre in the Nickel City is one of the most positive stories to come out of this region in years- which is why we decided to try and tell it in Documentary form.

Meg Quinn, TOY’s Creative Director and Co-founder along with others from the arts community fight the Collin’s 2010-2011 Cultural funding cuts in the midst of their 40th season.  The community rallied against Collins to help remove him from office and restore the funding.

Through the prism of a unique non-profit children’s theatre we see the impact and importance of cultural assets.

The film won two audience awards at Buffalo International Film Festival, and many were moved to tears at Sunday’s screening at the Dipson Market Arcade.

A positive story that few will probably see because it’s “just children’s theatre”.

Austin McLoughlin
Mary Beth Murray
Long Live TOY Producers

Long Live TOY – Defending Children’s Theatre in the Nickel City – (Preview Trailer) from AP McLoughlin on Vimeo.

I wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous 2014. If you’re going to be outside tonight for the festivities, please stay warm and safe. 

(The slideshow above displays photographs that talented WNYers have added to the AV Daily Flickr Group.)

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