Buffalo’s Outer Harbor: From Brownfield to Question Mark

Most everyone agrees that the Outer Harbor should primarily be set aside for parks and recreation. This includes the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, as well as local preservationist, environmentalist, and planning activists. But as with any proposal that has even minimal complexity, there is a Buffalonian blood feud brewing when it comes to the issue of development.

For over half a century, the people who run the airport, buses, and trolley also owned the land on the Outer Harbor. It fell into decay, disrepair, and parts of it were an environmental catastrophe. Anyone who cared agreed that the land was being poorly managed, and that it was a squandered opportunity.  In just the last few years, all that has changed, but it hasn’t been easy.

For instance, when improvements were made to access the Outer Harbor in recent years, the same people now fighting the idea of construction on the outer harbor were railing against enhancements to access it, claiming silly things, e.g., a bermed Route 5 off the Skyway represented a “wall” between Buffalo’s downtown and her waterfront – never mind the river and the grain elevators.

The Outer Harbor has now become an attractive, if unfinished, parkland enjoyed by thousands of people every year. The fought-over improvements to access Fuhrmann Boulevard, the attractive streetscape, and the new bike paths, beaches, and parks are the reason why. What was once a barren, poorly accessible wasteland is now an improved, accessible parkland.

Today, we’re debating whether people might someday live there, and whether there might be things to do there besides recreate. I’ve long advocated for careful development on the Outer Harbor to give people an opportunity to live, work, and play along one of the most attractive spits of waterfront land in America.

In the inaugural issue of the Public, Bruce Fisher makes the argument against development on the Outer Harbor, citing everything from the weather and wind to tax policy and housing values.  It was the weather that led a Giambra administration to recommend the construction of a domed amusement park just a decade ago.

About the weather and wind – Buffalo and her waterfront are not the most inhospitable places in the world. People live and buildings are constructed in the wind and cold throughout the world. If you take Fisher’s argument about how inclement the winter weather gets out there, then one would have to question the sanity of anyone living in places like Moscow, Helsinki, Stockholm, Reykjavik, Oslo, or other locations with climates as harsh – or worse – than our waterfront’s. After all, we’re talking about building attractive shelter, not a beachfront resort.

Fisher’s argument is more persuasive on the tax policy and housing demand front. He chips away at the notion that residents on the waterfront will contribute to the tax base, pointing out how guys like Paladino build new developments with massive tax breaks. However, an influx of residents to Buffalo’s waterfront contributes to local economic activity in other ways. Sales taxes and other fees for goods and services will find their way to Buffalo rather than wherever these hardy, weather-immune pioneers came from.

Fisher’s strongest point touches on the crisis of property abandonment throughout Buffalo. There are thousands of units of vacant, absent, or dilapidated housing throughout Buffalo’s neighborhoods, and prioritizing high-end luxury buildings on the waterfront when we have this other problem is, at best, unseemly. But the property we’re talking about on the waterfront is different from an east side bungalow in a few salient ways, not the least of which is the real estate mantra: location, location, location.

What of that location? Listening to opponents of development on the Outer Harbor, you’d think that ECHDC was planning to mow down all the wetlands and parks and put up a sea of parking lots and concrete bunkers. But look at the renderings – there’s nothing but parkland all over the place, even in the ECHDC plan. The most contentious proposal involves construction along the Buffalo River, opposite Canalside.  What’s there now, you ask? A parking lot for people’s drydocked boats and their cars; an eyesore.

Here’s a presentation showing the three alternatives that the ECHDC proposed. Almost all of the building they’ve been talking about is on parcels that are now either parking lots, drydocks, or dilapidated concrete parks. The impact to greenspace is de minimis.

Here is one of the ECHDC proposals. The development is limited to those areas that are already concrete lots, and it creates a huge swath of new publicly accessible parkland.

Here’s another view of what the ECHDC is proposing. This seems to track “Alternative B”.

For the areas they’re talking about developing, they’re already marred by crap. ECHDC seems to be saying, let’s replace the crap with something attractive and usable.

I think Fisher’s piece contributes positively to a debate that we should be having about reuse of the Outer Harbor, and the abandonment point is an interesting one. But right now the choices being pushed to the public are to either build nothing at all, or accusing ECHDC of wanting to build a sea of Waterfront Villages out there to encroach on Times Beach Preserve. However, that’s not what’s happening.

But why would we prohibit any development on these dilapidated, eyesore parcels in perpetuity based on current real estate and economic conditions? Cities all over the world have re-shaped their waterfronts in part due to the introduction of things to do and places to go. If the conditions are inhospitable in the winter, some shelter makes sense. Expanding Metro Rail down to the Outer Harbor makes sense. Even if ECHDC was to simply plan and zone the buildable parcels, get utilities down there, and then let private developers have at it through a transparent public auction, would that be a net negative for Buffalo?

Maybe now isn’t the best time to build out there, but someday it might be. We should be careful about planning how it happens, but it should be allowed to happen.

The Public: Now Open

Congratulations to the staff, administration, and writers at the Public, which hits local newsstands today.  It features bylines like Niman, Kelly, Lowinger, Fisher, Perla, and other names you’ll recognize. Check out their website at www.dailypublic.com

 

Weppner: We’re On a Mission from God

It took Kathy Weppner over a week to get around to thank her volunteers and the people who cast a vote for her. A modicum of decorum and grace would prompt someone in her position – having been blown away by a popular incumbent – to do the thank yous sooner than this.

While Weppner made a campaign issue about how Higgins “refused” to debate her, she made it clear through her campaign’s tweets and other declarations that they knew full well how to get in touch with Higgins and his people when it suited their needs.

As of this writing – a week after Election Day – Weppner has not called to concede or congratulate the victor, nor has she publicly congratulated Congressman Higgins in any way.  Instead, petulance:

So, here is Weppner’s “thank you”:

The signs are finally all down and eventually things will return to “normal.” I wanted to say thank you and tell you all how much it meant to spend the last eight months with you. The decision to run was a quick one and I decided early on that money was not the thing that would win this. The numbers are reality. So I would talk about our country’s tremendous debt, economy, immigration, Obamacare and all of the issues that Mr. Higgins is on the wrong side of, with as many people as possible.

Is Higgins on the “wrong side” of the issues she lists? 71% of the electorate seemed to disagree with her conclusion.

I want to thank all of the Democrats I spoke to all summer. Most of you were very polite and many more appreciated the information. My reports on these issues will remain up on my website. Candidates must respect the voters. Those running for office should consider their rights, as Americans, to be given the information so they can make educated choices when electing their leaders. A Republic depends on these leaders being of great character and of integrity in order for the Republic to remain.

Her “reports” staying up on her website means that pre-2014 Kathy is gone. No more “Str8t Talk” website or radio archive. Her past will remain sanitized for her protection. She talks of candidates respecting voters; that’s nice. But they should also respect the voters’ intelligence.  I’ve got loads of evidence that she didn’t – that she was more than willing to spout falsity and nonsense in order to score points in a quixotic battle in a Democratic district with a popular incumbent.

The privilege of running for office was unexpected at this time in my life and I continually prayed for God to send me the people needed to help me do this. It started with Laura and continued to build a group of people who were unlike any I have experienced. They gave up their beautiful and fleeting summer days and weekends, to walk lawn lawn fetes, parades and festivals 305 times. Thank you so much! The campaign was going to be about conversations. Hopefully those conversations were carried over to kitchen tables and family rooms.

And blogs. But watch this: it’s not Kathy’s fault she lost. It’s your fault.

There are solutions to the problems we are facing but we must fix ourselves in order for these problems to be fixed. This will not be easy. One third of the people who voted wanted solutions to our national problems; two thirds just don’t believe we have these problems. Lack of information caused by filtered news is a serious problem.

Seldom have I seen such self-important, arrogant delusion.

All summer long I heard from fans of Mr. Higgins about his great conquest and development of our waterfront. The truth is that it is because of Mr. Higgins we have the highest electricity rates in the country instead of the lowest. His fans don’t know this. This impacts every Western New Yorker every month when they pay their bills. We all have less money in our wallets because of him and it is for the next fifty years. Shame on him. This lump sum payment for him to use, instead of cheap electricity for all of us everyday, has given him the ability to buy all of his elections with no bid contracts and developer friends who employ his friends and relatives. This is all taking place while the country is in trouble and the world is on the edge of evil winning out over good.

Well, no, dummy. We don’t have the “highest electricity rates in the country” because of Brian Higgins. New York was  already paying high electricity rates before Higgins forced NYPA to reinvest a ton of that money here in western New York. But, as point of fact, Hawaii has the highest electricity rates in the country, and customers of Con Edison and other companies pay much higher rates than Niagara Mohawk and NYSEG customers. As a federal representative, he has little actual ability to dismantle a New York State public authority, but he certainly has the clout to force changes.

The country is always “in trouble” depending on which paranoiac you listen to, and the notion that “evil” is “winning out over good” is downright idiotic. A veritable electoral trouncing has taught this woman nothing.

The people suffer from no debates to participate in, a newspaper that picks the winners and assures victory and television studios that do not report on the candidates. They all come together to actually cover races where their chosen candidate is behind but otherwise not. This only gets fixed if we fix it.

Whaa whaa whaa. I’ve heard less whining from Caillou. There was a debate. Government AP students ran it.  Weppner whined  and was rude about it, never missing a chance to don the mantle of victimhood. No one reported on this race in any serious way because it was an incredible joke, and the results proved that.

Thank you to every Western New Yorker for sharing a part of your summer with me, but especially those who walked literature, made calls, and prayed incessantly not only me but for our country. We will continue to pray for our leaders. Throughout history, those who live under the threat of genocide, starvation and terror, have always prayed that Americans would show up to save them. We were the world’s hope. We cannot become the hopeless.

Finally, I want to thank my wonderful family. God blessed me with parents who loved me dearly, embraced how very different I was and were and are always there. Mom and dad I hope I have your energy when I am eighty. Eighty years old and walking door to door and in parades all summer. To my “Once in a lifetime,” husband who talked me into running: I can’t believe God sent you into my life at 17 and how amazing you are. I am so blessed to have you each and every day of my life. Thank you for loving me so much. To my beautiful children who put t-shirts on and walked with me and recruited friends when necessary, I love you all so much. Thank you!
God Bless You and may God watch over us.

Thank God indeed. Thank God this clownshoes campaign is over and everyone can get back to the important work of calling into Limbaugh and WBEN to regurgitate crap that a simple visit to Snopes would disprove.

Armistice Day / Veterans Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Limbaugh To Defend Horrible Reputation

Rush Limbaugh is offended that the DCCC quoted him in some fundraising promotions. He’s threatening to sue for defamation.

The problem with that is that misogynist drug addict Rush Limbaugh would need to prove that his reputation has been harmed.

 

WAT?

On November 10, 2014, I resigned as an Artvoice contributor. My first post there was posted on November 21, 2011.

I had a great deal of fun there, and it was great to be part of such a well-respected publication. I will forever be grateful to Jamie Moses, Geoff Kelly, and Buck Quigley for letting me write under the Artvoice banner.

So, we go from independent 2003 – 2005 to WNYMedia.net 2005 – 2011, to Artvoice 2011 – 2014, and back to independent for now.

But if you like your profane opinions a little left-of center, stay tuned.

 

The Western New York Tea Party: Rebuked

Western New York’s Tea Party is as horrible electorally as it is with respect to policy. They lost yesterday, and they lost big. 

Carl and the Conservative Fusion Party

This tea party crowd, which accuses everyone who doesn’t think like they of being “sheeple”, circulated a list of Conservative Fusion Party candidates for whom to vote, without explanation or argument. Just a straight “C” ticket. There is no thought there, just blind following and demands of ideological purity. Politics is, at its heart, a game of compromise. When you foreclose that possibility, you’re bad for America, and you’re going to lose, sooner or later.

Astorino’s WBEN-Mentum 

Local delusional hate radio, which was so deep in the tank for Astorino that it became self-parody, spent all afternoon yesterday using callers to its own radio shows as a representative sample of the electorate. It claimed that Cuomo suffered from an enthusiasm gap, and predicted a wild and unexpected win for its chosen candidate. Last week, during what’s supposed to be the straight morning news program, Astorino’s daily schedule was a news item. Cuomo’s schedule was not given equal time.

WBEN is not “NewsTalk” or “News Radio” or, God help us, the “Voice of Buffalo”. It is a right-wing talk radio station; Limbaugh & his clones, all day. It’s not even the official organ – the Komsomolskaya Pravda – of the Republican Party anymore, having firmly aligned itself with Lorigo’s Conservative Fusion Party and the tea party. Everything that this crew falsely accuses the Buffalo News of being, it is

Not only did Cuomo win with ease, Erie County went for Andrew Cuomo for the first time. It was never even close, and people should think about where they get their information. 

Str8t Talk About Weppner

For a year that brought about a nationwide Republican wave, Brian Higgins did quite well, thankyouverymuch. Higgins will return to Congress with yet another mandate – 69% versus 31% for the tea party.

In a what, now?

Kathy Weppner lost, and so far none of her (or her shills’) social media accounts contain anything except venom, vitriol, and victimhood. Don’t be surprised – this is a woman so self-absorbed and obsessed with portraying herself as a victim, she couldn’t even muster a “thank you”, instead denigrating and insulting the students who asked her relevant questions at the St. Joe’s debate.  

The loss left her somewhat speechless, 

Some tea partiers thought that hers was a “brilliant” campaign. I guess, insofar as it was the most popular WNY comedy act in recent memory. But she only just outperformed the last two tea party activists who ran against Higgins, and she ran a campaign based on resentments and urban legends. 

Weppner is the very embodiment of the low-information talk-radio caller / Buffalo News commenter who regurgitates Twitchy and Fox News talking points. Her wealth and shamelessness enabled her to mount what was, in the end, a nasty and whiny vanity campaign. Maybe at least she can now return all of her radio and blog archives back online for everyone to read. 

Panepinto & The Law of Unintended Consequences

Did you need more evidence of how – despite their deep gun fetish – the tea party can’t shoot straight?

It rejected Republican Mark Grisanti and instead backed Kevin Stocker. Stocker rejected the tea party – its titular head Rus Thompson especially. So, the tea party’s own candidate rejected them, they had burned all their bridges with the establishment’s Grisanti, and all of this led to a Panepinto win and a Democratic pickup in the state Senate

Great job, guys!  Congratulations, Marc Panepinto!

Republican Pickup in Cheektowaga

Hah

Paladinocrats Lose

You don’t go from being a Paladino stooge one day to being a Democrat the next. Johnny Destino was a homophobic Paladino stooge a couple of years ago, and ran this year as an endorsed Democrat. The voters rejected him.

In NY-27, Jim O’Donnell was MIA. He complained that he couldn’t raise money, but that didn’t stop others from doing it for him, but he refused. What really irked me was that he was rude or dismissive to people who offered to help him out. He was prone to outbursts of anger, and simply didn’t bother to do even the free, little things that could have earned him some free media – or at least a Facebook share. 

We also learned on Sunday that O’Donnell was an aide for the 2010 Paladino campaign. If you’re going to strike out in politics, and you scan all the races available to help out, and you land on the homophobic promoter of racism and pornography, don’t come asking Democrats for support without disclosure and vocal rejection. I wrote my own name in for NY-27, but perhaps for the first – likely last –  time, I wished Team Collins good luck. At least Collins is honest and consistent about where his loyalties lie. 

Anyhow, thanks for reading. 

Buffalopundit Endorsements 2014

Caveat: Artvoice does not do political endorsements. Nothing written in this post should be interpreted, construed, or cited as an endorsement by the owners or editors of Artvoice itself. This endorsement is mine alone. No person or campaign has directly or indirectly paid for or otherwise sponsored any post or endorsement.  I do not know whether any candidate or party has ever paid for an advertisement in Artvoice, nor would I be in a position to know. I am an independent contractor and have no involvement or employment with Artvoice or its advertising or editorial staff. Any questions or issues can be directed to me at buffalopundit[at]gmail.com. I recommend you click the links – especially in NY-27. Now, on with the countdown. 

United States Congress (NY-26): Brian Higgins

I did this already, I’m sure you all know.

I posted it here just a short week ago

Kathy Weppner talks nonsense, her utterings, laughable; 

Congressman Higgins belongs in the Capitol

United States Congress (NY-27): No Endorsement

I admit that this pick came to me as a shock, 

but I got information I can’t simply mock.  

It shows that the Democrat, not long ago, 

worked for the campaign of Paladino

He helped with debate prep – and this made me cross –

he helped Carl defame a planned downtown mosque

Chris Collins is there, and he’s one of the worst. 

But principle matters; it ought to come first. 

Chris Collins? You kidding? At least he’s consistent. 

Not “Democrat now!”, but once Carl’s assistant

The incumbent, he voted for Cruz’s shutdown, 

harmed our economy and then, like a clown, 

claimed to be against it, despite his own vote

And (of course) blamed Obama, repeat, edit, rote. 

But Collins was for it, before he was not; 

he blamed the “extremists”, rejected the plot

Although Collins’ tenure has been ineffective

I won’t back a Carl guy, he must be rejected. 

Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New York State: Cuomo/Hochul

Listen, Cuomo’s got flaws, and of that I’m aware. 

But Rob Astorino I just cannot bear.

His running mate –  Hochul – I respect a great deal,

and the great things he’s done for our region are real.

The Buffalo Billion and Startup New York,

should not be dismissed as cheap welfare and pork.

Never before has an Albany pol,

done this much for Buffalo, as I can recall.  

I do want to see much more effort to end

corrupt fusion and graft – those Albany trends. 

Transparency now is the name of the game, 

and Cuomo’s too secretive, to his own shame. 

After all that he’s done, though, I can’t just reject, 

Cuomo and Hochul, whom I hope you’ll elect. 

Attorney General: Eric Schneiderman

Did you see the debate? Whoa, that Cahill’s a twit. 

He screamed, interrupted, behaved like a shit. 

And kudos to Bob – wow! A substantive question!

I’m voting for Schneiderman this coming election. 

His office protects every one of us from, 

fraud and abuse, and the criminal scum. 

For those who take pills for pain they can’t stop, 

he set up I-STOP, so they can’t doctor shop

Schneiderman’s strong on consumer protection,

And Cahill deserves this year’s voters’ rejection.

State Senate District 63: Tim Kennedy

Given the choice between sellout or dummy, 

the outlook for voters just isn’t too sunny. 

Tim Kennedy isn’t my favorite guy

his opponent, however, should make you ask, “why…

“…would local Republicans beclown themselves so…

“…by running a guy who’d make Weppner say, ‘whoa’“.

Kennedy may have some bridges to fix, 

but Donovan? Please, voters, no, nada, nix

State Senate District 62: Rob Ortt

Oh, great. For fuck’s sake. What a choice – I’m aghast. 

Two Republicans, one Paladino backed last.

Ortt is the Mayor of North Tonawanda,

Destino’s a Dem whom I’m not wholly fond of. 

Paladino endorsed him the last time around

and that’s generally something I can’t just write down. 

Destino was backed by the goons who had tried

–  in a spurious way that I cannot abide – 

to smear Maziarz as a closeted gay

and failed, like the cretins they are, by the way. 

Ortt is a vet with conservative views. 

But defeated that Gia – so, he’s reasonable, too

When assholes supporting you campaign on hate, 

it behooves you to answer with outrage, and state

something where you reject their assistance and views,

and you do it quite loudly, and make it big news.

I’m sorry you didn’t, and I hope that you’ll scorn

that loudmouthed old hater who forwards horse porn. 

State Senate District 61: Elaine Altman

Hah! Mike Ranzenhofer? Career politician. 

Dear reader, what was his agenda or vision? 

Say “no” and do nothing, for 20-odd years? 

It’s time for a change, and it’s time to switch gears. 

Altman’s a teacher, she knows Common Core, 

and she’ll fight to fund schools, and absolutely do more

to help out a district that’s been represented 

by someone who’s done not a lot, I’ve lamented. 

Send a teacher to Albany!”, that’s where she belongs. 

Ranz’s tenure in government’s two decades too long.

State Senate District 60: Not Stocker

I mean no disrespect to Dem Marc Panepinto, 

I don’t mean to leave him out hanging in limbo. 

Think Again, Turn Away

A vote for the Dem would be great and just swell,

but Grisanti deserves to go back for a spell

As senator, he’s been unfazed and courageous. 

“Profile in Courage” would not seem outrageous. 

He helped us to pass same-sex marriage, and took

a risk to pass SAFE Act after Sandy Hook.

It showed us that people don’t need a damn armory,

and schools should be havens of peace and of harmony. 

So, whatever you do, and don’t think it’s a shocker

vote for anyone, just not the tea party’s Stocker

NYS Assembly 146: Ray Walter

Did you know that Ray Walter is in a real race? 

Against a young Dem with a fresh, stubbled face? 

I’m sure that Steve Meyer’s an earnest young chap, 

with ideas and energy. Aside from all that, 

I have to agree that he’s lacking know-how, 

and has yet to consider what furrows our brow. 

He’s just out of school, and has loads of more time, 

to get a career, pay some taxes and climb

up to a level where he really can get, 

the problems that we New York families fret. 

Ray and I see eye to eye on the tolls, 

that the Thruway Authority always controls, 

with antiquity formed in the shape of a booth, 

within it a person, who I doubt, in his youth, 

Imagined his life would be handing out slips.  

Yet throughout the world, the traffic just zips, 

through camera tolls without stopping to pay.

This dreary old system, it pisses off Ray, 

So, send my friend back to fight Albany pols, 

besides, the Assembly’s in firm Dem control. 

OTHER

For a number of races, there is no opponent. 

For a real democracy, that’s a missing component. 

For all of these races, you have a blank check,

vote whomever you please, except for Mazurek

I’ll note, on the side, that Ray Walter’s a friend, 

and he’s running against a young Dem 

 

But no matter what, do not let the time pass. 

Just remember to vote, and Donn Esmonde’s an ass. 

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