Money, Money, Money

1. Anyone else getting the sense that the Cuomo billion for Buffalo is just a new way for our local Very Important People® to further enrich themselves and their friends on the public teat? We’re attracting a business from Albany?! What does Albany have to say about that? 

2. Congratulations to the Republicans + Tom Loughran for passing a 2013 county budget with an $8.5 million shortfall.  That’s just the kind of fiscal conservatism we need in Erie County. This is precisely the sort of “parental supervision” that the control board was put in place to provide, right? Oh, wait – you say the control board also has problems with what the Republicans and Tom Loughran did? Wait, you say that it’s somewhat suspicious that Amherst’s Democrat joined the Republicans and one of the few increases in the budget is for something called the “Amherst Symphony Orchestra”? 

While Democratic legislators tend to fight for things like funding the culturals and social services, Republicans tend to like things like road maintenance – things that the towns should be handling, but got the county to subsidize for them over the years. So now, with the budget as passed, the county executive needs to find $8.5 million worth of things to cut beyond what the legislature Republicans allegedly “cut” to eliminate the extra $18 additional bucks per year a $100,000 house in Erie County would have paid to help maintain a healthy cultural scene, and our roads.

I’m also especially disgusted by the Legislature’s right wing refusing to negotiate or compromise with the Democrats. As I pointed out yesterday, young Joe Lorigo should be held up for especial scorn for his ignorant, disingenuous statement about how hard people are fighting to raise taxes; Chris Collins went to court to raise them higher in 2008.  

Someday, Erie County will be free of the despicable stranglehold the Lorigo family holds over its politics. They are neither conservative nor proponents of good government, and they would rather promote an unbalanced budget than compromise and otherwise govern. 

The Comptroller’s office said Poloncarz’s budget is sound and reasonable. The control board conducted its own independent analysis, and found that Poloncarz’s budget is balanced and reasonable, and its board unanimously approved the budget and Four Year Financial Plan on October 26th.  By contrast, the control board’s chairman publicly expressed the control board’s concerns that the Republican amendments are unbalanced and unreasonable when he testified at the Legislature on December 3rd.

Here’s what Poloncarz said last night: 

…the Legislature has voted 6 to 5 to approve a 2013 Erie County Budget with the set of amendments proposed by Legislators Mills, Dixon, Hardwick, Lorigo, Rath and Loughran that we have talked so much about over the past week…

…Although I have earnestly kept the lines of communication open throughout this process in hopes of reaching a compromise that ensures the fiscally stability of the county and protects the programs and services demanded by the public, none could be reached.

In fact, earlier this afternoon, I proposed a package to Legislator Hardwick that would meet them half-way.  It cut the proposed property tax in half—to about $4 million, or 9 cents per $1,000—along with a set of difficult, yet real, cuts in discretionary spending to make up the rest.  I was told that it doesn’t go far enough to meet their definition of compromise.

So here we are.   Although the people spoke when they elected me as their County Executive, their voices have been muted by this Legislature.  And while the legislature has a role in the process, all I can say is that I am disappointed in its action.

I am disappointed that a majority did not agree that after closing more than $20 million of a $33 million gap with targeted cuts across the board, and a responsible use of fund balance—in order to ensure the quality of life programs and services mandated by the people remain, we needed to propose a small property tax increase to find that last $8 million.

I am disappointed that when it was clear they would not accept any property tax increase—no matter what—instead of proposing real cuts in spending to offset the loss of revenue, they, instead, chose gimmicks that look good on paper but do nothing to reduce our obligated costs—not a single dollar.

Throughout this process, no matter how many times they said it, their math simply doesn’t add up.  And their refusal to present a single piece of data in support of their claims shows me they knew that as well. It sounds eerily similar to the debate we recently witnessed on the national level: it all comes down to arithmetic and their numbers don’t add up.

I can accept that we have different opinions on how we should spend our finite resources.  But, I cannot accept a difference in facts on what we have to pay and what we don’t. 

Instead of doing what is right, though difficult, they chose to do what was easy and wrong.

They chose to adopt a budget that is not balanced—from day one—and a Four Year Plan that isn’t balanced today or in the future.

Throughout this process, we’ve fixated on whether or not there is or is not a property tax increase, on this number or that number but what we need to really ask ourselves about this budget is what have we accomplished?

That’s frankly, what I am most disappointed about of all.  I am disappointed that instead of a budget that builds upon the many great successes we have had already this year, we now have a budget that takes us a step backwards towards the fiscal crises of years past.

Instead of moving forward on the many exciting economic development initiatives we have worked so hard on—and are beginning to come to fruition—we will be forced to shift that focus on correcting the structural issues within this budget and Four Year Plan in an attempt to stave off a hard control board.

This was entirely avoidable.  All it would have taken was one more Legislator to stand up and show the kind of leadership this community deserves from them.

In the coming days and weeks, I will begin to do everything in my power to rebalance this budget and the corresponding Four Year Plan. 

 The only thing missing from this scenario is a deep inhale of one-shot tobacco money.  Happily, Poloncarz will veto every spending increase that the right wing put in place. Yes – increase; almost $200,000 worth. They didn’t just make phony cuts on paper, they also increased spending on some items. Because protect the taxpayer. 

More despicable to me than bullshitting their way into an unbalanced budget is the legislature’s right wing refusing to compromise with Poloncarz. Compromise, as any political science professor will tell you, is what government is all about. Or supposed to, anyway. 

Of course, most local media are simply parroting the notion that your property taxes won’t be going up. Let’s don’t discuss what else is going on. Just keep it stupid and incomplete – the way you perceive your audience to be. 

Welcome back, Failboat. We missed you. 

The 2013 Erie County Budget: It’s a Thing

It includes everything the voters said they wanted. It includes a minimal property tax increase – smaller than what Collins imposed when he came to office. It takes care of new, expensive mandates from the state. It is in balance, and the control board has signed off on it. “It” is County Executive Poloncarz’s proposed 2013 budget.

By contrast, the Republican minority, joined by Democrat Tom Loughran, are pushing an alternative budget with no tax increase, but one that the control board is unhappy with, and one which will be woefully out of balance.

James Sampson, chairman of the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority, also told legislators that the control board has concerns over how the proposed cuts would impact the budget – including how jail overtime would be managed to stay within budget and how the county would meet additional projections for savings for vacant positions. The board last month found Poloncarz’s budget projections reasonable, but has identified potential “risk” factors in both Poloncarz’s proposed budget and the changes proposed by the legislators.

The stability authority operates currently in a “soft” advisory status, but its members could determine whether to remain advisory or increase its oversight to a “hard” control board if they find the budget is out of balance early next year.

“No one wants that latter option to happen,” Sampson said. “The county executive doesn’t. We don’t, and I’m sure the people and the Legislature don’t want to see the control board having to go hard again.”

Here, Poloncarz makes his final pitch for doing the fiscally right and responsible thing.

Republican Legislator Joseph Lorigo gets honorable mention for best demagoguery:

“Quite frankly, I’ve never seen people fight so hard to increase taxes.”

Well, he must not have been around when Chris Collins did so in 2008.

[From the Vault] Regionalism: Time to Party Like it's 1999

photo.JPGI’ve heard it said that Buffalo is where good ideas go to die. I don’t think of it like that.

Buffalo is where good ideas are made to inhale chloroform, dragged around to the back of the abandoned house, and murdered by status-quo driven self-interest.

Buffalo in 2011 (and 2012) is besotted with the same problems, the same issues, the same concerns, and – strikingly – the same debates it had a decade ago.  Save one.

Regionalism.

Regionalism was murdered in 2005 after being debilitated by people who have an interest in maintaining the status quo, and then unintentionally killed by a politically beleaguered Joel Giambra; it was manslaughter.  After all, during the last few years of his 16th floor Rath Building tenancy, Joel Giambra was political poison. If he was for pink bunny rabbits and sun-shiny days, polls would show that 20% of WNYers agreed with him, while 70% hated bunnies and sunshine, and a further 10% didn’t know.

But as wrong as Joel Giambra was about a lot of things, he was right about one – that western New York needed to seriously consider the implementation of regional, metropolitan government. The champion of this idea was Kevin Gaughan.

Gaughan recognized that regionalism – a concept whose entry in the regional socio-economic-political discussion began through a forum held in 1997 at the Chautauqua Institution – was a non-starter due to its support from, and association with the toxic Giambra.  He turned his attention to another crusade – the “Cost“, which studied and determined that we ought to remedy a symptom of too many governments in WNY – i.e., too many politicians and appointees – and begin eliminating villages and downsizing town boards and other legislatures.  That has been met with some success, more failure, and bypasses the disease itself.

Yet those familiar with the internet’s Way Back Machine can still access Gaughan’s arguments for regional metropolitan government.

One of the opinions I’m most known for is the idea that county government ought to be abolished. It was done in 1997 in Massachusetts, which recognized that county government largely adds no value to the work already done by cities, towns, villages, and – most importantly – the state.

We have so many redundant and needless governments in western New York that the regional is factionalized and fragmented.  The Balkanization of western New York helps ensure that there is no unified plan – with a set vision, and a series of distinct goals – for moving a region into a 21st century reality.

We rely on the Sabres and the Bills to keep convincing ourselves that this is a major league city. It isn’t. Our infrastructure planning assumed that the City of Buffalo and Erie County would grow to a population of over 2 million people. It hasn’t; it’s shrunken. People clamor for change, yet moan about its actual implementation. As if by abolishing a village government you abolish the village itself and displace its people.

We are the ultimate hoarders; hoarders of pointless governmental entities that add no value to the civic equation. Why? Could it be as simple as my hypothesis – that there are too many people dependent on the maintenance of the status quo to permit change to be implemented?

It’s time for us, the people of Erie County and western New York, to start talking again about looking forward.  The governmental number and structure of the 50s needs to change, or this region will continue to decline.  The age of industry has given way to the age of knowledge and information.

The city of Toronto, Ontario is a municipal entity comprising over 2 million people. It has a directly elected mayor and a unicameral legislature made up of 44 councilmembers representing a geographical constituency. In 1998, Toronto and six surrounding municipalities joined, making up the amalgamated Metro Toronto. Buffalo also has a changed demographic reality, one that could do with some radical change.  You mean to tell me that 45 elected officials to handle a population of 900,000 isn’t doable? Western New York has 45 separate and distinct governments, comprised of well over 300 elected officials.

This is the first in a series, and it’s my hope that we can re-spark this discussion and come up with ways to implement and design this new reality for western New York. I sincerely think that by making this switch to metropolitan government is the best chance for lurching us out of a 50s growth & infrastructure mentality that has been an anachronism for decades. This is an idea that will be fought tooth & nail by those who benefit from our stagnated status quo, but some of their points will be valid and need to be addressed.  I hope to conclude with an action plan that will enable people to lobby, advocate, agitate, and cajole for this idea.

Downsize? Let’s downsize from 45 to 1.

Sometimes, old forgotten ideas are worth reviving.  Let’s do that.

The foregoing article was first published on March 8, 2011. Unfortunately, it didn’t really become a “series”, and that’s my own fault. Maybe by re-publishing it here, thanks to the archives of my old 2006 – 2011 posts that is now back online, I’ll remind myself further to pursue this line of thought and debate. 

[From the Vault] Regionalism: Time to Party Like it’s 1999

photo.JPGI’ve heard it said that Buffalo is where good ideas go to die. I don’t think of it like that.

Buffalo is where good ideas are made to inhale chloroform, dragged around to the back of the abandoned house, and murdered by status-quo driven self-interest.

Buffalo in 2011 (and 2012) is besotted with the same problems, the same issues, the same concerns, and – strikingly – the same debates it had a decade ago.  Save one.

Regionalism.

Regionalism was murdered in 2005 after being debilitated by people who have an interest in maintaining the status quo, and then unintentionally killed by a politically beleaguered Joel Giambra; it was manslaughter.  After all, during the last few years of his 16th floor Rath Building tenancy, Joel Giambra was political poison. If he was for pink bunny rabbits and sun-shiny days, polls would show that 20% of WNYers agreed with him, while 70% hated bunnies and sunshine, and a further 10% didn’t know.

But as wrong as Joel Giambra was about a lot of things, he was right about one – that western New York needed to seriously consider the implementation of regional, metropolitan government. The champion of this idea was Kevin Gaughan.

Gaughan recognized that regionalism – a concept whose entry in the regional socio-economic-political discussion began through a forum held in 1997 at the Chautauqua Institution – was a non-starter due to its support from, and association with the toxic Giambra.  He turned his attention to another crusade – the “Cost“, which studied and determined that we ought to remedy a symptom of too many governments in WNY – i.e., too many politicians and appointees – and begin eliminating villages and downsizing town boards and other legislatures.  That has been met with some success, more failure, and bypasses the disease itself.

Yet those familiar with the internet’s Way Back Machine can still access Gaughan’s arguments for regional metropolitan government.

One of the opinions I’m most known for is the idea that county government ought to be abolished. It was done in 1997 in Massachusetts, which recognized that county government largely adds no value to the work already done by cities, towns, villages, and – most importantly – the state.

We have so many redundant and needless governments in western New York that the regional is factionalized and fragmented.  The Balkanization of western New York helps ensure that there is no unified plan – with a set vision, and a series of distinct goals – for moving a region into a 21st century reality.

We rely on the Sabres and the Bills to keep convincing ourselves that this is a major league city. It isn’t. Our infrastructure planning assumed that the City of Buffalo and Erie County would grow to a population of over 2 million people. It hasn’t; it’s shrunken. People clamor for change, yet moan about its actual implementation. As if by abolishing a village government you abolish the village itself and displace its people.

We are the ultimate hoarders; hoarders of pointless governmental entities that add no value to the civic equation. Why? Could it be as simple as my hypothesis – that there are too many people dependent on the maintenance of the status quo to permit change to be implemented?

It’s time for us, the people of Erie County and western New York, to start talking again about looking forward.  The governmental number and structure of the 50s needs to change, or this region will continue to decline.  The age of industry has given way to the age of knowledge and information.

The city of Toronto, Ontario is a municipal entity comprising over 2 million people. It has a directly elected mayor and a unicameral legislature made up of 44 councilmembers representing a geographical constituency. In 1998, Toronto and six surrounding municipalities joined, making up the amalgamated Metro Toronto. Buffalo also has a changed demographic reality, one that could do with some radical change.  You mean to tell me that 45 elected officials to handle a population of 900,000 isn’t doable? Western New York has 45 separate and distinct governments, comprised of well over 300 elected officials.

This is the first in a series, and it’s my hope that we can re-spark this discussion and come up with ways to implement and design this new reality for western New York. I sincerely think that by making this switch to metropolitan government is the best chance for lurching us out of a 50s growth & infrastructure mentality that has been an anachronism for decades. This is an idea that will be fought tooth & nail by those who benefit from our stagnated status quo, but some of their points will be valid and need to be addressed.  I hope to conclude with an action plan that will enable people to lobby, advocate, agitate, and cajole for this idea.

Downsize? Let’s downsize from 45 to 1.

Sometimes, old forgotten ideas are worth reviving.  Let’s do that.

The foregoing article was first published on March 8, 2011. Unfortunately, it didn’t really become a “series”, and that’s my own fault. Maybe by re-publishing it here, thanks to the archives of my old 2006 – 2011 posts that is now back online, I’ll remind myself further to pursue this line of thought and debate. 

Right to Know

The attorney representing accused child murderer asked city court Judge Diane Wray to close yesterday’s felony hearing to the public. It was an unusual move that I’d suspect more and more criminal defendants may seek out. Up to the judge’s discretion, the defendant “must demonstrate to the court a strong likelihood that evidence relevant and admissible would prejudice the defendant’s trial if it were disclosed to potential jurors”. 

I can’t imagine that any of the facts already known and released – how the boy, Abdifatah Mohamud, was seen running from the stepfather just hours before his killing; how the killer tied the boy up to a chair, gagged him with a cloth, duct taped his mouth, and beat him repeatedly with a blunt, wooden instrument until dead; and how the homicide was because Abdifatah was supposedly a little behind in his homework. All of those facts are relevant, admissible, and would prejudice a jury against the accused. 

Some judges have been permitting reporters to record the audio and/or video of court proceedings, and some also allow live Tweeting and other forms of electronic insta-reporting. Perhaps this was an effort by the defendant to prevent any of these from happening. 

This is a solid First Amendment issue – as is, quite frankly, the default prohibition against cameras in the courtroom – that should be resolved in favor of the public’s right to know. 

Occupy the ECIDA

In order to dissuade Occupy Buffalo from “creating a disturbance”, which is newspeak for “exercising their first amendment right to free speech in front of a public entity”, the Erie County Sheriff’s office overloaded the library auditorium with Deputies.

Occupy Buffalo issued the following on its site:

Slumlord Carl Paladino has a net worth of $150 million, and yet he wants more taxpayer money so he can make a profit by turning his dilapidated Greystone Manor into an upscale apartment building that none of us could ever afford to live in. Moreover, once the renovations are done, no further jobs will be created from this endeavor. It is all about Paladino making a profit at the taxpayers’ expense.

If you want to know more about where your taxes go, then come to this meeting and find out. Occupy the economy!

Also, please be aware that armed security may be present at this meeting. This is the reality in which we live. They try to instill fear in us with the threat of violence. But it will not deter us from pursuing truth and justice.

The jobs created by these tax breaks are temporary construction jobs.

The ECIDA meetings – during which politically well-connected people decide how other politically well-connected people get to spend public money – do not provide for public comment. The public hearing on the matter took place on April 9th, during which people were permitted to speak. So, when the Erie County IDA votes to give multimillionaire land speculator Carl Paladino hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales and mortgage tax breaks – incentives that cost the people money – the people are required to sit silently. We don’t get to vote for the ECIDA members, and we get to comment only in a limited way.

Occupy is active as the lobbyists for regular people who are undeserved by this rudderless system of myriad IDAs, which seldom develop anything industrial, and who regularly poach WNY businesses from one WNY community to another. If we had one regional IDA, which sought to attract business and people from outside WNY, that would be great. So would an ida scheme that didn’t routinely substitute “residential” or “hospitality” for “industrial.” Occupy took similar action recently at the Clarence IDA, which has come under harsh state criticism for its practices.

It would appear that something is desperately wrong with that sort of system. Thanks to Occupy Buffalo for attending these meetings and questioning the ECIDA’s policy of subsidizing projects that generate few, if any, permanent jobs and likely would be completed anyway.

Today’s Things

1. The best thing to come out of yesterday’s Anderson Cooper / Dyngus Day flap? The Buffalo Outrage Twitter account. Check it out next time Buffalo gets indignant over real and imagined slights from national figures. 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/BuffaloOutrage/status/190103345762025472″]

I’d like to note that the point I made in my post about it yesterday – about my misgivings over the geography of the Dyngus Day festivities – was underscored by the fact that the Dyngus Day organizers held their faux-anger-at-Anderson press conference at Redlinski’s, which is not in the Broadway Market anymore, but instead located on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga. I was pleased that the organizers didn’t overdo the outrage, and instead took it all in good humor and invited Cooper to the 2013 festivities. 

As for the geography, upon some reflection, I do enjoy the use of the Central Terminal as Buffalo’s unofficial convention center – the convention center that is architecturally gorgeous and begging to be used. But parading through a devastated community that hasn’t been Polish for decades still seems borderline insulting, and that’s what I object to. If Polonia is so great, why’d all the Poles move? 

2. What happens when a cow walks into the road and causes an accident – can the cow’s owner be held liable for negligently allowing the cow to roam around freely? Not in New York, and the Third Department’s Appellate Division took an unusual step and referred a case to the Court of Appeals, asking the state’s highest court to change the law. 

3. George Zimmerman, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was charged yesterday with 2nd degree murder. The case is rapidly becoming something of a circus, complete with the involvement of despicable judgment debtor Al Sharpton. At its core, however, the question of whether Zimmerman’s killing of Martin was justified is one a jury should decide – not the police.  In Florida, 2nd degree murder does not require premeditation; instead, a person is guilty if he commits a homicide, “with a depraved mind showing no regard for human life“. To my mind, when Zimmerman made the decision to exit his car to chase Martin – who was not committing any crime – he forfeited any right to a self-defense justification. Being black, wearing a hoodie, and looking at the overzealous neighborhood watch guy funny don’t justify homicide.  

Either way, both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman deserve this to be a fair trial by an impartial judge and jury. 

4. Last week, Capital New York’s Reid Pillifant published excerpts from an interview he conducted with Gingrich supporter Carl Paladino. Some key passages from the pride of Buffalo: 

“Unlike these other pussies that are saying, ‘Oh, we don’t want to have a brokered convention, oh’—they’re a bunch of pussies, OK? Those are the ones that are the establishment boys that think they’re still viable with the people. They’re not viable with the people anymore. Those are the control boys. All they’re about is keeping the status quo and the status quo is not real anymore for the Republican rank and file nationally.”

and 

Paladino also criticized Romney for his offshore investments, which the Washington Post reported yesterday still aren’t fully known, because the campaign is utilizing an obscure exception in federal ethics laws.

“Yes, he may be doing it in the letter of the law, in hiding his money overseas, to not pay taxes to the government that he now wants to run,” Paladino said. “Sounds sort of like [Jeff] Immelt at G.E., you know, they hold all that money offshore and, ‘Oh, I’m an American.’ He’s not an American anymore. He’s a fucking two-faced cock-sucker that shipped the x-ray division over to China last week.” 

Paladino is on a kick to grow his power statewide, and I don’t recall him using such colorful terminology on the record when dealing with local or regional matters. Part of me thinks it’s too bad, because that sort of language is seldom appropriate, but never more so than when talking about our local political establishment. 

5. Thursday in at the Square will be permanently moving from Lafayette Square to Canal Side.  More room, nice location, something to do by the water – everybody wins. 

6. Adding to the groups the Republican Presidential nominee is happy to alienate and offend, the homophobic National Organization for Marriage endorses Mitt Romney for President. NOM’s Twitter account was hacked yesterday, with hilarious results. 

7. I just saw the first pro-Romney SuperPAC ad on Channel 4, from the “Restore our Future” PAC, so named because apparently Kenyan Indo-Muslim Socialist Usurper N0bama has taken it away. 

8. The right wing hates not only Obamacare, but also Social Security. The 2008 financial meltdown apparently taught them nothing at all.

9. Turns out, James O’Keefe’s and Hannah Giles’  prostitution “sting” of ACORN wasn’t too far off the mark – problem is, Andrew Breitbart was the pimp, and O’Keefe and Giles were the whores

10. Here is Anderson Cooper putting himself on the Ridiculist after yesterday’s giggling fit over Dyngus Day. 

 

http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=us/2012/04/12/ac-ridiculist-giggle-fit-2.cnn

It’s nice when people can have a sense of humor. 

Today's Things

1. The best thing to come out of yesterday’s Anderson Cooper / Dyngus Day flap? The Buffalo Outrage Twitter account. Check it out next time Buffalo gets indignant over real and imagined slights from national figures. 

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/BuffaloOutrage/status/190103345762025472″]

I’d like to note that the point I made in my post about it yesterday – about my misgivings over the geography of the Dyngus Day festivities – was underscored by the fact that the Dyngus Day organizers held their faux-anger-at-Anderson press conference at Redlinski’s, which is not in the Broadway Market anymore, but instead located on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga. I was pleased that the organizers didn’t overdo the outrage, and instead took it all in good humor and invited Cooper to the 2013 festivities. 

As for the geography, upon some reflection, I do enjoy the use of the Central Terminal as Buffalo’s unofficial convention center – the convention center that is architecturally gorgeous and begging to be used. But parading through a devastated community that hasn’t been Polish for decades still seems borderline insulting, and that’s what I object to. If Polonia is so great, why’d all the Poles move? 

2. What happens when a cow walks into the road and causes an accident – can the cow’s owner be held liable for negligently allowing the cow to roam around freely? Not in New York, and the Third Department’s Appellate Division took an unusual step and referred a case to the Court of Appeals, asking the state’s highest court to change the law. 

3. George Zimmerman, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was charged yesterday with 2nd degree murder. The case is rapidly becoming something of a circus, complete with the involvement of despicable judgment debtor Al Sharpton. At its core, however, the question of whether Zimmerman’s killing of Martin was justified is one a jury should decide – not the police.  In Florida, 2nd degree murder does not require premeditation; instead, a person is guilty if he commits a homicide, “with a depraved mind showing no regard for human life“. To my mind, when Zimmerman made the decision to exit his car to chase Martin – who was not committing any crime – he forfeited any right to a self-defense justification. Being black, wearing a hoodie, and looking at the overzealous neighborhood watch guy funny don’t justify homicide.  

Either way, both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman deserve this to be a fair trial by an impartial judge and jury. 

4. Last week, Capital New York’s Reid Pillifant published excerpts from an interview he conducted with Gingrich supporter Carl Paladino. Some key passages from the pride of Buffalo: 

“Unlike these other pussies that are saying, ‘Oh, we don’t want to have a brokered convention, oh’—they’re a bunch of pussies, OK? Those are the ones that are the establishment boys that think they’re still viable with the people. They’re not viable with the people anymore. Those are the control boys. All they’re about is keeping the status quo and the status quo is not real anymore for the Republican rank and file nationally.”

and 

Paladino also criticized Romney for his offshore investments, which the Washington Post reported yesterday still aren’t fully known, because the campaign is utilizing an obscure exception in federal ethics laws.

“Yes, he may be doing it in the letter of the law, in hiding his money overseas, to not pay taxes to the government that he now wants to run,” Paladino said. “Sounds sort of like [Jeff] Immelt at G.E., you know, they hold all that money offshore and, ‘Oh, I’m an American.’ He’s not an American anymore. He’s a fucking two-faced cock-sucker that shipped the x-ray division over to China last week.” 

Paladino is on a kick to grow his power statewide, and I don’t recall him using such colorful terminology on the record when dealing with local or regional matters. Part of me thinks it’s too bad, because that sort of language is seldom appropriate, but never more so than when talking about our local political establishment. 

5. Thursday in at the Square will be permanently moving from Lafayette Square to Canal Side.  More room, nice location, something to do by the water – everybody wins. 

6. Adding to the groups the Republican Presidential nominee is happy to alienate and offend, the homophobic National Organization for Marriage endorses Mitt Romney for President. NOM’s Twitter account was hacked yesterday, with hilarious results. 

7. I just saw the first pro-Romney SuperPAC ad on Channel 4, from the “Restore our Future” PAC, so named because apparently Kenyan Indo-Muslim Socialist Usurper N0bama has taken it away. 

8. The right wing hates not only Obamacare, but also Social Security. The 2008 financial meltdown apparently taught them nothing at all.

9. Turns out, James O’Keefe’s and Hannah Giles’  prostitution “sting” of ACORN wasn’t too far off the mark – problem is, Andrew Breitbart was the pimp, and O’Keefe and Giles were the whores

10. Here is Anderson Cooper putting himself on the Ridiculist after yesterday’s giggling fit over Dyngus Day. 

 

It’s nice when people can have a sense of humor. 

Collins and His Car

The best thing about being rid of Chris Collins in elected office is that his daily fits of pique are now just comical. Collins is a millionaire – he can very well pay to remove county equipment from his personal car, but he amazingly demands the county pay for it. The equipment – lights and a radio that Collins had installed because he chose to do so – belongs to the county, and Collins can either have the county remove it for him or he can remove it himself. But because emergency services is now run by a guy he fired, he doesn’t want them touching his car.

The county never should have, however, withheld Collins’ paycheck – it’s against the law to do that, and it’s right that this was undone. So, the ball is in Collins’ court. He can take his car to a mechanic, park in a handicapped spot, and have it removed himself at his own expense. He can ask the county to pay for the removal, or he can perhaps write it off as a business expense, like he does the mileage he so proudly proclaims he never asked the county to reimburse.

ID-Nay

As futile as it may have been, this simple act by new County Executive Poloncarz – a no vote on the county IDA, which is quick to hand out free money to its good friends for upscale housing – is ground-shaking.

For all the Republicans’ talk about how awful it is to redistribute wealth, they’re completely fine with it when the redistribution is going their way.

The jig is up.

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