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Fisher ... Larsen ... School ... Giambra ...Rivera ... Naples ... Marinelli ... Amherst et al. ... (3/18/2003)

Reporter’s Notebook

STRONG SELLS: JOEL GIAMBRA Move over New York City Councilmember Charles Barron, you’ve got some more competition for the “Moron of the Millennium” title. Joel Giambra, the Erie County executive, recently said he transferred his children from public schools in Buffalo to a Christian school in the suburbs because they were afraid of the black kids. What? Then Giambra added insult to injury by refusing for days to apologize for the racially insensitive comment. And this guy wants to be governor? Politics (NY).com

 Is veteran local AFL-CIO head John Kaczorowski about
to pull a Chuck Swanick? This is a question being
asked by many as rumors spread that this avid Democrat
is seeking the GOP nod in his expected race against
Cheektowaga Democratic Supervisor Dennis Gabryszak.
Reportedly, Kaczorowski is planing to run both in the
Dem Primary in September for the Sup chair and also in
the general election as the Republican standard
bearer.
   
Whether Kaczorowski wins or loses, of course, this
would be welcome news to County Executive Giambra
since it would strengthen the GOP ticket he will be
heading. Some knowledgeable sources are telling us
that the Western New York labor head honcho has
already approached King Joel about this possibility.
Of course, if true, this would be a strange
development indeed in view of the poisonous
relationship that has existed between labor and the
Giambra Administration for the last three years.
   
The question is: How will Kaczorowski’s fellow labor
leaders react to such a move including prominent
princes of the local labor movement such as Mark
Jones, John Orlando, and Mark Kirsch?
   
In any case, all Buffalo AFL-CIO Council Officers and
executive board members have been invited to a meeting
“re: Area Labor Leaders position/support
for…Kaczorowski’s run for the office of Supervisor of
the Town of Cheektowga this year.”
   
The get together is set for this Wednesday from 2:00
pm to 3:00 pm at the International Union of Operating
Engineers, Local 17 headquarters in West Seneca.
Buffalo AFL-CIO Council Treasurer Jones is the host.
   
Of course, it won’t be as easy as it was in the past
to dabble in incumbent challenging in Cheektowaga this
year. That’s because the formerly rival Gabryszak
faction of the Cheek party has kissed and made up with
the faction backing Councilman Billy Rogowski. The
result is a united front which now has both groups
supporting Rogowski for Town Clerk and  Gabryszak for
reelection along with Councilman Jeff Swiatek, Tom
Johnson, and former County Parks Commissioner Jimmy
Jankowiak for new terms on the Town Board. Also slated
for united reelection support are Town Justice Tom
Kolbert, Highway Superintendent Chris Kowal, and of
course, Mr. Cheektowaga himself, County Legislator Ray
Dusza.
   
Reportedly, Kaczorowski is doing all he can to upset
this love fest by trying to entice action Town Clerk
Mary Holtz to run for a full term in the job she now
holds. Previously, Rogowski had won her support by
promising to rehire her in her old job of Deputy Clerk
once he wins in November as expected.
   
Speaking of labor leaders entering the political
fray, we are told that Building Trades Union power Dan
Boody is seriously considering a run for the County
Leg against incumbent Jeanne Chase. True he doesn’t
live in her southtowns district right now, But, that
could change very soon.
   
Getting back to Chairman Swanick, whose name we took
in vain at the top of this piece, reportedly his
Benedict Arnold act isn’t going over very well in his
Tonawanda stomping grounds. Our spies tell us that  he
was booed lustily not long ago during an appearance at
the Tonawanda City Hall. Meanwhile, Republican
strategist Kevin Hardwick, whom politicsWNY.com supports, is seriously considering challenging him in the GOP primary…And Tonawanda Democratic Chairman Dan Crangle has lined up a strong
opponent to run against Chuckie Swiss Cheese in the
general election. But, so far he won’t say who.
   
In other news on the primary scene, former County
Legislator Bill Pauly, now a full time educator
again, is reportedly thinking of mounting a primary
challenge of his own to the woman who beat him the
last time around, Elise Cusack. With Dan Ward waiting
on the winner on the Democratic line. Dan hopes to get 
the IP third line as well.
   
Continuing on the subject of challengers, we hear
that Jimmy Keane has all but made up his mind to run
as the Democratic candidate for Erie County Executive.
We’re told that the AFL-CIO has already given the
former Deputy CE its endorsement.



"White Pen & Paper ... Black Eraser"

by Joseph Illuzzi

Imagine being born into a wealthy family ... Having everything life could offer ... Then all of the sudden its all gone for one reason or another ... You realize your parents never prepared you for the culture shock of having to make a living on your own ... You lack the  skills as a result of not having the appropriate educational background to move fluidly from an environment of relative stability to one of uncertainty ... Thus you find yourself with no money, no job, no prospects.

Now if you are white & living in Erie County in the 60's & 70's you probably would not have to deal with these kinds of issues & this metaphor would be lost on you ... But if you are Black & lived in Buffalo you most certainly were/are confronted with these issues!

After Bethlehem Steel et al. began downsizing, eventually closing its doors,  heavy industry, the resulting well paying  jobs,  for the most part became part of the history & folklore of this County/City ... Blacks, in the main, woke up & realized something was wrong. Whites seemed to be moving into other areas of employment with little or no difficulty ... Whites were able to maintain a reasonable standard of living ... While Blacks found themselves in the social & economic abyss, a real conundrum.

The reasons: While both Blacks & whites  were working at Bethlehem et al. times were good ... There existed 'economies of scale'  in both the white & Black districts of the City ... No one was paying attention because everyone had a job. But Blacks realized in a very short period of time, after things changed, there was one unique difference, among many differences between them & their white counterparts, schools!

The schools in the Masten. Fillmore, Ellicott Districts, were in no way equivalent to the schools in the Delaware, North, South, & Lovejoy Districts. The teachers in the classrooms seemed not to be the equivalent or as focused as those in the white districts. The school buildings in the Black Districts always were in a state of disrepair. The manor in which supplies, e.g. text books, were distributed seemed to favor the white districts. Thus the great revelation. There was a great divide between the Black & white experience in the classrooms of the Buffalo School District.

Blacks, in great numbers, in fact were/are an uneducated, underclass, in the City of Buffalo & Erie County. Not only not educated on the same level as whites but relegated to specific geographical areas of the City with little ability to move up & out especially in the 50's & 60's ... Blacks certainly did  not move to Amherst or Cheektowaga. As a matter of fact there were signs put up ... "No Niggers Allowed" ... I believe that sign was  posted at Pineridge & Genesee in Cheektowaga.

This of course led to the great social upheaval in the late 60's; rioting in the streets etc..  However, while Blacks around the country seemed, on the surface, to become more socio-economically mobile, in Buffalo & Erie County the Black circumstance remained stagnant ... Blacks remained an uneducated, underclass ... Here it is 2003 ... Buffalo & Erie County is the fourth most segregated County & City in the Nation.

Now the result of all of this is many Blacks in the city were/are unemployed.  The lot of a Black child was & remains severely impeded.  Not only by the social upheaval in the home, but the political climate, & the failure of the Black leadership during this era.  

White Democratic politicians found race an avenue for election & reelection in Buffalo.  Black leaders told their constituents to vote one way, Democratic. The reason Black leaders told their constituents to vote one way? ... Black leaders found, at the time, they could be elected & reelected as well, number one ... Number two: Get wealthy pimping all of the poverty programs of the late 60's & 70's.

The ramifications:  Blacks  remained an underclass & unless things change dramatically in our attitudes, the body politic, esp. the classroom, the Black experience in Buffalo & Erie County would not & did not change. Albeit, there are obvious marginal improvements in the lives of Blacks in the City/County.

This is to say: Things are changing but the results of decades long socio-economic disparity remain the same for many if not most Blacks living in Buffalo & Erie County. 

Also, there remains very serious issues for administrators in the Buffalo School District & teachers in the classroom via discipline & performance etc.. Part of the lingering problem is during the 60's, 70's, & 80's, most teachers in the classroom were middle class, white, & female, not trained to deal with children with such horrific discipline problems. 

Problems manifested as a result of the changing dynamics in the home, i.e. single unemployed parents, drugs, crime, & the resulting violence ... Not to mention teen pregnancy & infant mortality. This behavior in the aggregate found its way into the classroom. To this very day the denial of the reality of these issues by media & many of our private sector & political  leaders is also a problem that weighs heavily on our ability to redress these issues.

The fact is 26% of the adult population, Blacks & Hispanics for the most part,  in Buffalo do not have  high school diplomas. The illiteracy numbers among all minorities in the City is very troubling. Unless we deal with this phenomena things will never change.

Just stop & think ... Ask yourself why are taxes so high in NYS & Erie County ... The answer is quite simple because we are paying for our sins of the past, reparations?  ... Not as a result of slavery but our benign neglect of a race of people, esp. children in Buffalo & Erie County, over the last decades... Thus our welfare costs, Medicaid, cost to taxpayers to build & maintain prisons etc. Every cent we pay in taxes one way or another, except for the obvious, goes directly to the Masten, Fillmore, now Niagara, & Ellicott Districts for one entitlement or another.

So lets fast forward  to CE Joel Giambra & the Choice Conference ... Yes, the issue is not Joel Giambra,  but the quality of education for all of our children in the Buffalo School District.  The ability of parents to seek & find the appropriate learning environment for their children without having to bus them from one end of town to another.

Paradoxically, however inadvertently, Giambra subliminally brought home the reason why things were/are & will remain so bad for the Black child  growing up in Buffalo & Erie County, "FEAR" ... Of what we are ... In conflict with what we are not ... Call this behavior what you will ... I call it RACISM!


Email: "Them Are Fightin Words, Son"
... The IlluzziLetter.com (local, on-line political talk) recently featured a lengthy diatribe by a one Michael I. Niman, who refers to the Bush Administration as a regime, “since the term ‘government’ usually refers to an elected body”, the Salvation Army as a homophobic hate group, and he asserts,  “The U.S. was founded not as a Christian nation...but as a pluralistic nation whose strengths lie in its diversity.” As it turns out, Mr. Niman is a new professor at Medaille College. Surprise, surprise.

Revising history seems to have become a national pastime for our ivory tower “intellectuals”, and bashing the Constitution with their constitutionally protected right of free speech is routine. The sad part is, he's probably teaching his own students similar untruths and disregard for the law.

Mr. Niman need only read the Constitution, Art. II, Sec. I establishing the electoral college, & briefly view the multitude of historical documents & quotes of the founders, to render his arguments null & void. At a minimum, he might read the New England Primer, the grammar school textbook that taught scripture & biblical values in America’s public schools for over 100 years. But while we pray that he receive wisdom in his weakness, he will likely continue to prey upon our greatest strength ~ Jesus Christ.

Advisory
to anyone attending Medaille: Get out, or get in, that you may “know thine enemy”. Let us know if you’d like a copy, complete with one keen observer’s rebuttal. Note: Niman’s not the enemy - only his thinking is.

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason people of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here." ~Patrick Henry

“...it does not require a majority to prevail, butrather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” ~Samuel Adams"


"Michael Niman, The Left just hates it when we're effective. Oh for the good old days of the 60s when they could trash and burn anything they wanted and the three major networks would just give the little darlings pass. Sorry, sir. Those days are long gone. You can't make every effort to take this country down with impunity any more. Too bad, so sad.  A Freeper who loves gettin under your skin." AMF






Not everyone looks at Joel Giambra and
sees either a messiah or a future Governor of the
State of New York or as a white knight like Mr Larsen.
While branding Prince Joel’s recent “black kids”
flap as “unfathomable…He needs to
apologize,” Fisher points to yet another apparent
piece of fall out from the Giambra family’s
mysterious Waterfront Academy Bay of Pigs.
   
“As part of the settlement with the city that turned
E.J. Meyer Hospital into ECMC, Erie County was
supposed to provide a nurse for every Buffalo public
school,” Fisher points out. “Well, the agreement was
never really fulfilled and then two years ago we
decided to begin Phase I of the project by placing 20
full time nurses in the Buffalo schools. But, the
Giambra Administration has simply refused to implement
the program without offering any explanation.
   
“At first the County Executive had expressed support
for the program. And, then right around the time when
he pulled his children out of the Buffalo public
schools and put them into a private school, his
administration suddenly lost interest in supplying
nurses for the city’s school kids. The interesting
thing about it is that the cost of the program is
mostly reimbursable. I believe that the formula
involves the state picking up two thirds of the cost
while the county would pay one third. Right now only
one Buffalo school has a nurse while the
administration is talking about some plan to put LPNs
in some of the schools…Meanwhile the suburban schools
all have nurses.”
   
The sad part of it, Fisher contends, is that the
Giambra U turn on health care for urban school
children comes at a time when childhood ailments
amongst city kids from asthma to stress disorders are
on the rise.
   
Then there’s the budget controversy. Where Larsen
sees the second coming of a fiscal Nirvana, Fisher
sees a financial disaster in which the Gorski
Administration’s deep reserves and tobacco settlement
windfall has turned into a county government that is
hemorrhaging money from all pores, with no end in
sight.
   
“Borrowing is way up for capital projects,” Fisher
charges. “The County Executive has about 100 of his
appointees driving county cars, about twice the number
who should have them according to Comptroller Naples.
It’s a bad situation.”
       
So does this all mean that Fisher will be happy
to leave county service when her term is up at the end
of this year?
   
“I think I will want to do some different things
rather than getting back into politics,” she replies.
“But, I still believe that wonderful opportunities
exist for us to support and improve our cultural
institutions, enhance cultural tourism and make our
community a better place in which to live.”

 

 

Despite County Comptroller Nancy Naples’ warning that
“the county’s cash liquidity position is not as
favorable as it was a few years ago,” leading to the
need for County operations to be “closely monitoried
at all times,” GOP Legislator Dale Larsen isn’t at all
worried. In fact he argues that Erie County is in
“good fiscal shape” with no reason in the world for
anyone to fret.
   
“Other counties might to facing difficult times
fiscally but not Erie County because we are applying
sound fiscal policies,” the new Chairman of the County
Leg’s Finance Committee insists. “We’re  the only
county in the State of New York that can say that. In
fact, Erie County is serving as a model for other
counties throughout the state.”
   
While some have expressed concern over what they feel
is excessive use of Tobacco Settlement funds to plug
holes in the latest Giambra budget, Larsen argues that
the tobacco dough is simply being used to “do some
things that were neglected in the past.”
   
A good example, in his view, is the Giambracrat
decision to use $20 million in tobacco money to turn
up the heat on this year’s spring road repairs.
   
“Don’t forget, we have school buses using our roads
all the time,” Larsen reminds us. “It’s very important
that we maintain our infrastructure. All you have to
do is look at the 32% property tax decrease we passed
or the Town of Lancaster/Village of Lancaster police
merger to see that we Republicans are getting things
done.”


Email: "Mr. Illuzzi, I am so thrilled to see that we finally have a real owner for our Buffalo Sabres. I read your letters every day and I have to tip my hat to you and your staff - you guys seemed to have the "inside scoop" on this breaking story before anyone else in the so called major media. Congratulations on your great news gathering!

I hope Mr. Golisano and his advisors read your site... because in recent weeks you offered two articles which are important to the success of the arena and the team:

1) First, Assemblyman Brian Higgins and his plans and vision for the development of the waterfront. We need to get things going in the outer and inner harbor NOW, not 10 years from now. HSBC Arena is a centerpiece of all the action, and the success of waterfront development will mean good things for the success of the arena.

2) Second, our two celebrity super fans from Buffalo, Andrew Kulyk and Peter Farrell and their "Ultimate Sports Road Trip". After reading about them in your column, I went to check out their site. One need only to go to www.thesportsroadtrip.com to know that these guys know what they are talking about. Mr. Golisano spoke at length about enhancing the fan experience... who better to consult with than two guys who have literally seen it all at every arena and stadium across the continent???

Please pass along this message to Messrs Golisano, Pigeon, Quinn and Monsouri... please take the time to get Assemblyman Higgins, Mr. Kulyk and Mr. Farrell on your team. You don't need high priced consultants when you have this kind of expertise right here waiting in the wings!

Keep up the good work Mr. Illuzzi! Alex Bednarski West Seneca

PS --- where the ^%$**%$##@^#@ were Giambra and Masiello at the conference?  Their absence spoke volumes. 


ILLUZZI : I BELIEVE IT WAS A FUNDAMENTAL ERROR IN JUDGEMENT & PROTOCOL NOT TO HAVE THE CE & MAYOR PRESENT AT THE CEREMONY.

 
Giambra, Naples Announce Reengineering Government Study Recommendations
"Reengineering the way Erie County government conducts its day-to-day business is vital to our region's future success," says Giambra.

     Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra and Erie County Comptroller Nancy A. Naples today announced the recommendations outlined in the Lumsden & McCormick, LLP (L&M) and the Center for Governmental Research, Inc. (CGR) study entitled: Operational Study of Certain Functions of Government for Erie County.

     In October 2001, the firms were tasked with identifying opportunities to achieve service and efficiency improvements through the reengineering of various functions and departments of Erie County Government.

     Giambra and Naples noted that 6 major recommendations are announced:

  1. Centralized Accounting - centralize management of all accounting staff and pool the talents and skills of the staff;
  2. Purchase Card - adopt the use of purchase cards, not merely as a convenience, but as a method of eliminating the processing of thousands of unnecessary invoices from the County's system;
  3. Payroll - unify all payroll personnel under a centralized management structure;
  4. Fleet Management - create a Department of Fleet Management. The department would make both purchase and maintenance decisions. Consolidate fleet maintenance into 3 to 5 garages, for more efficient use of mechanics;
  5. Public Facilities - create a Department of Public Facilities by merging the Department of Public Works, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Erie County Sewer Division; and
  6. Homeland Security - create an Erie County Department of Homeland Security by merging the County's Department of Emergency Services with Central Police Services. Savings include $100,000 per year.

                        
Giambra and Naples further noted that five out of six of the recommendations are in the process of being implemented. A purchase card pilot program has been implemented and will be adopted countywide at the completion of the pilot program. Centralized accounting is being pursued by the Comptroller's Office. Payroll consolidation is being developed and will be implemented by the end of the year. A fleet manager for both light and heavy vehicles has been hired. Once the Regional Public Safety Campus is built in downtown Buffalo, the two public safety departments will merge and be housed in the public safety campus.

     Both elected officials agree and have pledged to take a good hard look at the possibility of creating a Public Facilities Department.

     "Reengineering the way Erie County government conducts its day-to-day business is vital to our region's future success," said Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra. "I'd like to thank my partner for change Comptroller Nancy Naples for lending her assistance and expertise to this project. Now, more than ever, we have a responsibility to county taxpayers to save money and reduce taxes."

     "The recommendations in this report are realistic and doable, " said Comptroller Nancy A. Naples. "We're anxious to implement and realize the benefits and savings," she concluded.

 

Powerful labor leader es with Silver over Pataki


By JOEL STASHENKO
Associated Press Writer

 This time, labor leader Dennis Rivera's endorsement is not going to Gov. George Pataki.

Rivera, president of the politically powerful Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, said Friday he is backing Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's borrowing proposal to produce budget gap-closing funds for the state instead of a rival plan put forward by Republican Pataki.

Pataki, endorsed for re-election last year by Rivera's medical industry workers' union, wants the state to borrow up to $4.2 billion against future revenues from New York's settlement with big tobacco companies.

By issuing bonds guaranteed to investors by a dependable revenue stream, such as a portion of state income or sales tax income, the state could save more than $1 billion in interest costs over issuing the tobacco bonds, Silver said.

The dispute has moved to the forefront of the fiscal debate between Pataki and the state Legislature. The state must close a budget gap of about $2.5 billion by March 31, the end of the current fiscal year, and is facing a revenue gap of $9 billion or more in the new 2003-04 fiscal year.

According to Pataki, the tobacco money is needed to both close the current-year gap and to avoid a cash-flow crisis early in the next fiscal year.

Rivera said the Assembly borrowing approach would protect the tobacco settlement money, which he called a crucial source of funding for such programs as Child Health Plus and the EPIC prescription drug program for lower-income senior citizens. Members of Rivera's union also benefit from programs funded by the tobacco settlement.

Rivera said Silver's plan is a "responsible, less costly alternative that would accomplish the same goal" as Pataki's plan "while insuring that quality health care is there for our children and grandchildren."

Pataki's approach would "jeopardize a stable, long term funding stream" for public health programs in New York state, according to Rivera.

Silver spokeswoman Eileen Larrabee on Friday said members of Rivera's union recognize "that bonding against money intended for health care is a wrong choice."

"They must also see the value in our alternative plan, which provides for a shorter-term loan, more security and a savings of $1.1 billion for the state," she said.

On Thursday, Silver continued to criticize the tobacco bonding, calling it "too expensive" and "too risky."

"Just because other states, such as California, have made this mistake doesn't mean we should," the Manhattan Democrat said.

Pataki has argued that issuing revenue-backed bonds would imperil the gains the state has made since he took office in 1995 to improve New York's credit rating.

"The governor's tobacco securitization plan, which is similar to plans adopted across the country, is the most fiscally responsible course of action and will allow the state to meet all its obligations in spite of the tremendous challenges that we face," Kevin Quinn, a spokesman for Pataki's Budget Division, said Friday.

Quinn also said the Pataki plan provides for funding for Family Health Plus, Child Health Plus and EPIC and "will not in any way jeopardize health care programs."

Rivera's members benefited from a multibillion dollar health care financing bill approved early in 2002 by Pataki and legislative leaders. Soon afterward, Local 1199 endorsed Pataki in what was a coup for the Republican incumbent since the union had traditionally backed Democratic candidates. Rivera is a former member of the Democratic National Committee.

Rivera's union is also part of a coalition running TV ads critical of other aspects of Pataki's budget plan.

In other fiscal-related news:

_Erie County Executive Joel Giambra said he was quitting the state Association of Counties, the chief lobbying group in Albany for county governments, because the group failed to endorse his proposal to ease county Medicaid costs. Giambra wants the state to take over counties' share of Medicaid expenses by using revenues from a 1-cent increase in the state's sales tax.

Giambra said the association is not being realistic in its effort to win Medicaid relief for counties if it fails to offer a revenue source to finance that.

 

Photograph of Congresswoman Slaughter 

SLAUGHTER DEMANDS MORE FUNDING FOR WESTERN NEW YORK’S FIRST RESPONDERS

Buffalo, NY - U.S. Representative Louise M. Slaughter, a senior member of the Select House Committee on Homeland Security, today joined local law enforcement and elected officials to demand more funding for first responders in Western New York and across the nation.

"Our police officers, firefighters and medics are on the front lines of the war on terrorism, especially here along the northern border," said Rep. Slaughter. "Denying them the funding they need puts them - and our national security - in needless jeopardy."

Rep. Slaughter expressed outrage at the Administration’s history of denying adequate funding to first responders. In FY 2003, the White House asked for $3.5 billion in "new" funding for first responders. However, analysis showed this $3.5 billion was created by taking money away from other existing law enforcement programs, including the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, the Justice Department’s Office of Domestic Preparedness, and grants to firefighters. The FY 2004 budget appears to be headed in the same direction, with the Administration asking for the same $3.5 billion while cutting federal assistance to state and local law enforcement.

"As a member of the new Homeland Security Committee, I will fight for more funding for our first responders as the budget works its way through Congress," said Rep. Slaughter. "It is shameful that the White House is forcing these national heroes to beg their government for adequate funding."

In addition to sitting on the Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Slaughter has introduced legislation that would help protect the northern border by establishing the position of Northern Border Coordinator in the Department of Homeland Security. Rep. Slaughter also recently joined the Congressional E-911 Caucus, which will focus on improving 911 infrastructure and the ability to trace 911 calls from cell phones.

Rep. Slaughter was joined today at the Buffalo Police District B Station by Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello, Buffalo Police Chief Larry Ramunno, Police Fire Chief Calvin Worthy, and representatives from the offices of Erie County Executive Joel Giambra and Erie County Sheriff Pat Gallivan.

U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter released the following statement on the announcement that Paychex Inc. CEO Tom Golisano will acquire the Buffalo Sabres hockey team:

"I am delighted with today’s announcement that Tom Golisano will be the new owner of the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo has scored a major win with this agreement. I have every confidence that Tom will make this community proud, and will be faithful to his commitment to keeping the Sabres in Western New York.

"Tom will bring sharp business acumen and a strong community service ethic to his ownership of the Sabres. I look forward to working with him to make the Sabres an integral part of the renewal of downtown Buffalo and the revitalization of the economy in Western New York."



Top leaders accuse each other of trying to shut down government

By ALICIA CHANG

 A directive from Gov. George Pataki's budget director for state agencies to cut nonessential spending signals the Republican governor's willingness to shut down government, the Democratic speaker of the state Assembly charged Wednesday.

Pataki quickly fired back that it's Speaker Sheldon Silver, not the governor, who is trying to bring government to a standstill.

In his latest attack on Pataki's spending plan that proposes to make deep cuts to education and health care, Silver compared Pataki to a "kid" shooting basketball in the park who decides to go home after disagreeing with the referee's call.

 "It's clear the governor is threatening to close down our government to get his way on (tobacco) securitization, to get his way on drastic health care cuts, to get his way on his wrong choices," Silver told more than a thousand banner-waving health care workers gathered in Albany for their state government lobbying day.

Pataki countered that he's been seeking authorization from the Legislature for more than three months to borrow up to $4.2 billion against the money due New York through its settlement with big tobacco companies to avoid cash flow problems over the next few months.

"It's becoming more and more obvious that the speaker wants to shut down the government in order to force a massive tax increase on hardworking New Yorkers," Pataki said. "In the process, he is threatening the orderly function of government. ... The speaker must stop the finger pointing and start negotiations in good faith."

The state is trying to plug an $11.5 billion revenue shortfall over the last 2{ weeks of this fiscal year and in fiscal 2003-04. Pataki blames the gap on the national recession and the economic damage done by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.

Silver has balked at Pataki's tobacco bonding proposal and instead, came up with his own shorter-term borrowing plan that he said would be cheaper in the long run.

Kevin Quinn, a spokesman for Pataki's Budget Division, maintained that Pataki's tobacco plan is fiscally responsible and that Silver's alternative would jeopardize the state's credit rating and ultimately may hurt taxpayers.

The Republican-controlled state Senate is backing Pataki's tobacco bonding plan.

Last week, a memo sent by Budget Director Carole Stone to agency managers asked them to expand efforts to get employees to voluntarily reduce work schedules and to cut costs by reducing nonessential travel, overtime and even cell phone use. She also said agencies should be prepared to suspend contracts for construction, goods and services as of March 31 since the state won't have a new budget and any money to spend.

Such extreme austerity moves have not been seen in New York since the early 1990s, when the state faced a budget crisis under former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Silver also promised health care workers Wednesday to restore some of Pataki's proposed cuts to health care, but was short on details on how he would accomplish that. His counterpart in the Legislature, Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, also vowed to fund health care.

In other budget-related news Wednesday:

 _State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, a Democrat, said the state is facing a revenue shortfall closer to $12 billion in the current fiscal year and next year.

He also said he was trying to craft a plan that would lessen the impact of a big increase in state and local taxpayer contributions to the public employee retirement fund while at the same time strengthening the $98 billion fund. Hevesi said he wasn't ready yet to go into the details of a solution to what he called a "very complex substantive problem and a very complex political problem."

Governments are scheduled to make a $2 billion payment this December as their share of pension contributions, or more than $1 billion more than they were told last summer by former Comptroller H. Carl McCall to budget for. Pataki has asked Hevesi, sole trustees of the pension fund, to let governments stretch their payments out over five years.

PoliticsWNY.com lfWell! its official ... Tom Golisano will be the next owner of the Buffalo Sabres. No surprise here! ... PoliticsWNY.com informed its readers the Golisano interest was real; that was in September ... We told you from day one Mark Hamister's bid was reliant on massive taxpayer subsidy ... We told you Mark Hamister would be unsuccessful, he was in over his head ... We told you the best hope  of retaining the team is Tom Golisano ... Yet certain politicians, the business community, media (Especially the Buffalo News), except WGR 550 & WBEN 930, insulted & vilified this man.  We told you it was our belief Tom Golisano would be the next owner of the Buffalo Sabres ... Tom Golisano et al. made the announcement today ... Congratulations!

 

Ellie Perkins will be missed!

By Glenn Gramigna   
    There are probably few experiences more devastating
than to turn on the 11 pm news and find out that one
of your best friends, the most caring, skillful,
loving person you know, has been brutally killed…and
at the hands of her own son.
    Yet, this was what happened to me tonight when I
learned that 54 year old Ellie Perkins, loving wife,
devoted mother, accomplished artist, successful
businesswoman, and spiritual counselor,...had been
stabbed to death in their Amherst home by her 28 year
old son Jeremy, a sufferer from the unspeakably
destructive disease of schizophrenia.
    At first you simply can’t believe it…Surely she must
have only been injured. There’s got to be some hope of
recovery…But, there is none.
    The only thing to be done now is to make sure that
the true story of Ellie’s life isn’t lost amidst all
the horror of this profoundly deranged act.
    First of all, it should be said that this
unfathomable tragedy represents the temporary end of
one of the great love stories of all time, between
Ellie and her husband of 30 years, Don. Despite three
decades together, they still loved each other like
newlyweds. One can only imagine the pain being felt
right now by him and their beautiful daughter,
Danielle.
    Also, people should know that Ellie Perkins was a
gentle, courageous, compassionate, funny, lighthearted
and very idealistic person who believed that people’s
past traumas and upsets could and should be dealt with
through spiritual means, never through the use of
drugs or duress.
    At the same time, she was also an effective
businesswoman who built a profitable enterprise over a
25 or more year period by selling her hand painted
glass art paintings at local malls, at the Renaissance
Fair, and even over the internet.
    However, I feel that she would want to be remembered
more than anything for her work as a spiritual
counselor. She believed that people were basically
good and could be helped to smile and prosper again by
learning to become more aware of their spiritual
essence, by becoming more aware of the infinite love
with which they were created.
    She lived those beliefs and, in her own way, she
couragously died upholding them. The thoughts and
prayers of everyone who knows the Perkins family are
with them tonight.


For  my friend Glenn

"The Anchor Holds"

I have been young but I am older now
And there has been beauty these eyes have seen.

But it was in the night through the storms of my life
Oh thats's where God proved His love to me

The anchor holds though the ship is battered.

The anchor holds though the sails are torn.

I have fallen on my knees as I faced the raging seas

But the anchor holds in spite of the storm.


Email: "Joe, A comment on Joel Giambra's decision to withdraw Erie County from membership with the New York State Association of Counties... How typical of Joel.

He doesn't like that the New York State Association of Counties, an advocacy organization representing the 57 counties and the City of New York in Albany, is not backing his plan to impose on the residents of Erie County a 9% sales tax. So what does King Joel do?

He withdraws Erie County from the association. How selfish.  How stupid.

Given our state's economic and fiscal crisis (a crisis, by the way, that Carl McCall addressed in his campaign with a written, detailed plan whereas George Pataki did not speak about it at all), you would think Erie County would be working and utilizing every possible mechanism to help ourselves -- including the association.

But Joel, piqued that the association does not support his 9% sales tax, has rejected the association's help.

Joel justified the decision by saying he already has a pipeline to Albany insiders and that he can find ways to better spend the $43,000 in annual dues.

I guess that means his not-so-covert campaign to become lieutenant governor and his 4-year-long effort to give his family members' jobs with Erie County government will continue...  All the while, our County continues to slide."





STATEMENT FROM CHIEF ECONOMIST STEPHEN KAGANN

Subject: New Employment Data

New employment data for the month of January 2003 show the New York economy performing in line with the nation. Private jobs were down 29,100 or 0.4 percent from January 2002; national private employment was down 0.3 percent.

The New York results were restrained by the continuing effects of September 11th on New York City where private employment declined 37,000 or 1.2 percent. Outside the city, the State gained 7,900 jobs, a gain of 0.2 percent -- outpacing the nation which declined 0.3 percent.

From January 2002 to January 2003, the upstate economy led the state with gains of 7,000 private sector jobs or 0.3 percent. The suburbs followed with an increase of 900 private sector jobs, an increase of 0.1 percent.

Among the upstate regions, strong private job gains were recorded in Utica-Rome, Syracuse, Albany, Dutchess and the North Country. Losses occurred in Rochester, Buffalo and the Southern Tier.

These divergent results were confirmed by the January 2003 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate which registered 6.3 percent, down from 6.4 percent in December 2002. The rate in New York City was 8.6 percent in January 2003, up from 8.5 percent in December 2002. The rate in the rest of the state improved to 4.7 percent in January from 5.0 percent in December. The U.S. rate for January was 5.7 percent.

Revised data for 2001 and 2002 show the job impact of September 11th was more severe than previously estimated. On a quarterly basis, private jobs were down 1.0 percent in the third quarter of 2001, 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2001 and 3.5 percent in the first quarter of 2002. The rate of loss diminished to 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002. The improving trend continues into 2003 when the loss, as noted above, diminished further to 0.4 percent.






“As Chief Fiscal Officer, I am seriously concerned
about how the County’s financial position may be
adversely impacted by current economic conditions as
well as upcoming budgets that will be adopted by the
state and federal governments,” declared County
Comptroller Nancy Naples in a March 3 letter to County
Executive Giambra and the “Honorable Members” of the
Erie County Legislature.
   
She added that she wanted to “alert you to the fact
that it is now more important than ever to ensure that
County operations are closely monitored at all times
and that the results of such monitoring are made
available to appropriate county officials.”
   
Naples also declared that “Immediate steps should be
taken to exercise tight controls over all
non-essential spending and the Administration and the
Legislature should be prepared to amend the recently
adopted 2003 budget.”
   
Erie County’s CFO specifically criticized the fact
that the Giambra Administrtion has been both “untimely
and incomplete” in issuing monthly Budget Monitoring
Reports” which allow members of the Legislature as
well as the Comptroller’s Office to keep track of how
the County is doing financially.
   
“Please note, the last BMR issued for the 2002 fiscal
year was on December 18 and covered the period that
ended September 30, 2002,” said Naples. “This BMR did
not include a year-end forecast (as required). In
fact, the entire 2002 calendar year has passed without
any year-end forecast…The financial risks are too
great to not disclose fully all information needed to
properly manage County operations.”
   
 

While the Giambra Administration has offered little
or no response to the Comptroller’s grave warnings,
one county official who is heeding Naples’ call is
Tonawanda Legislator Lynn Marinelli. While the
Giambracrats continue to dole out tobacco money like
it’s going out of style, Marinelli wonders why the
brakes aren’t being put down on unnecessary county
spending.
   
“Where has all the money gone,” she asks. “Well,
let’s see. We have three new buildings owned by the
county now. The money needed to build the public
safety campus has been bonded. The County is moving to
take over regional assets like Kleinhans and the Zoo
and Shea’s, which I can understand that these are
assets that all of us use. So why should just the City
be paying for them? But, the question is: What ever
happened to living within our means. That’s something
I was taught to do from the time I was very young.”
   
Instead of fiscal conservatism, Marinelli is worried
that the solution being offered by Giambra is a tax
hike that both she and her constituents strongly
oppose.
   
“I’m totally against any increase in the sales tax
because it would hurt economic growth here in Erie
County and because taxes are high enough as it is,”
she declares. “Instead of any tax increase, which is
totally out of the question. What we need to do is
look at our spending. Why do all these county
officials have all these county cars, many more than
the number of officials the Comptroller has said
should have them?
   
“I can understand the County Executive and the County
Sheriff having cars, but there are just too many who
do. And, what about all the cell phones used by county
employees that are being paid for by all of us. I have
a cell phone and I know how much I pay. So this is
another area that should be looked at.”
   
What about the argument made by King Joel and his
court that since  interest rates are so low, this is
the time to spend, spend, spend?
   
“If I wanted to adopt that philosophy to my home
budget, I would end up taking advantage of every
credit card offer I get in the mail and I’d be broke
very quickly,” Marinelli replies. “With all the fiscal
pressures we are facing, we need to be much more
careful in terms of the way we spend our money
because, don’t forget, we have to balance our budgets
every year. We can’t just run deficits like the
federal government.”


Email: Dear Editor,

      Our country was built on principles of equality for every citizen.  For generations, mass media has ensured us that all of us have the same rights and responsibilities in our society.  Yet more and more political power goes to wealthy individuals.  Our U.S. Senate has become the elite circle of rich and famous policy-makers. It is a known fact that the U.S. Senate has a higher concentration of multimillionaires over any other place on Earth.  The question is:

"How can we trust people whose wealth separates them from ninety-eight percent of Americans?  Do they understand our needs?  Desires? The proceedings of our daily lives? Most-likely not! Do we have a chance to live in a society where people like I am are trying to bring a different opinion to our country's politics? As I see it - we don't.

Middle-class people such as myself don't have money to run multi-million-dollar campaigns and, generally, we don't have political support from major or even minor parties, once again due to the lack of funds.  Most importantly, YOU, the MEDIA don't acknowledge us to be worthy of your TV, or even newspaper coverage.

Wait, but what happens if one of us slaps a celebrity in the face; or God forbid, we put on a shirt with a provocative message?  Of course our faces will be all over TV screens and on the front pages of your newspapers.  Long after an incident like this happens, you will still be printing articles about us in other sections of your dailies.

So what does it take to get your attention? What needs to be done for you to understand that we also have an opinion on certain subjects and we represent nearly all of the people of the United States? Today, as never before, we must realize that career politicians and wealthy congressmen not always represent the wishes of the American public. Many of these politicians, as soon as they reach certain positions in terms or personal wealth and political power, forget that they were elected by the PEOPLE to represent THE PEOPLE, not just to fulfill their personal ambitions. 

In addition, I'm asking you to uphold the principles of equality and fairness that were always at the cornerstone of our country's foundation.  We must work together to give every qualified citizen an opportunity to fulfill their constitutional right to be an elected official in public office.

Sincerely,

Michael Roth
Planning to run for the U.S. Senate seat in the State of New York in 2004.
MikeRoth2004.ORG 2127 East 24 Street Brooklyn, NY 11229




Village & Town leaders appeal for HELP!

To our Federal and WNY State Representatives:

We are writing you on behalf of the Towns of Amherst, Elma, Grand Island, Hamburg, Clarence, Lancaster, Orchard Park, Cheektowaga and other Towns in Erie County whose homeowners have been seriously affected or could potentially be affected by unstable soil and soil subsidence problems.

As you may be aware, property owners in Amherst, Grand Island and possibly other communities are currently facing huge financial burdens as a result of foundation damage caused by soil subsidence. According to a recent article in The Buffalo News, the unstable and potentially unstable soils extend "from Grand Island to Newstead and into parts of Lancaster and Cheektowaga, as well as South Niagara County."

These damages range from a few thousand dollars per domicile to one hundred thousand dollars. Insurance companies do not insure against soil subsidence and construction companies insist they have no liability.

The upstate Western New York region never benefited from the earlier economic "recovery" enjoyed by much of the rest of the State. Now that we are facing even more difficult times, the negative impact of these subsidence issues on our housing stock threatens to destabilize already threatened local economies.

As Towns, we cannot afford to provide financial aid to homeowners to help with what is becoming an increasing problem as housing stock ages. Some legal opinions indicate that it is not even possible for us to establish local programs.

Therefore, we are asking you to establish a joint Federal and State subsidized program to provide grants to help affected homeowners, and if this is not possible, to establish a program to provide interest free loans to property owners suffering foundation damage due to unstable soils and/or soil subsidence.

We thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. We look forward to hearing from you, and arranging a joint meeting to further discuss this issue.

Dear County Executive Giambra:

We are writing you on behalf of the Towns of Amherst, Elma, Cheektowaga, Grand Island, Hamburg, Clarence, Aurora, Lancaster, Orchard Park and other Towns in Erie County whose homeowners have been seriously affected or could potentially be affected by unstable soil and soil subsidence problems.

As you may be aware, property owners in Amherst, Grand Island and possibly other communities are currently facing huge financial burdens as a result of foundation damage caused by soil subsidence. According to a recent article in The Buffalo News, the unstable and potentially unstable soils extend "from Grand Island to Newstead and into parts of Lancaster and Cheektowaga, as well as South Niagara County."

These damages range from a few thousand dollars per domicile to one hundred thousand dollars. Insurance companies do not insure against soil subsidence and construction companies insist they have no liability.

The Erie County Soil Survey compiled in 1975 addresses the issue of surface soil but did not analyze the deeper soil to determine if the soils were potentially problematic for holding structures. Since soil instability and subsidence issues are now affecting multiple towns with the probability of additional towns becoming impacted, it is reasonable for the County to conduct this study regionally instead of having Towns attempt to conduct it piecemeal.

This has been a difficult financial year for localities without promise of respite in the near future, as towns, we are financially limited in our ability to underwrite the cost of this study which is necessary to define the scope of the problem.

Therefore, we are asking you to provide the funds for a regional study with the Army Corps of Engineers to determine the sufficiency of the soils and to identify potentially problematic soils so that structures can be designed that are appropriate for the conditions.

We thank you in advance for your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing from you, and arranging a joint meeting to further discuss this issue.

Sincerely, Susan J. Grelick, Amherst Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak, Cheektowaga Supervisor Kathleen H. Hallock, Clarence Supervisor Peter A. McMahon, Grand Island Supervisor Robert H. Giza, Lancaster Supervisor Toni Marinaccio Cudney, Orchard Park Supervisor Patrick H. Hoak, Hamburg Supervisor John E. Dudek, Elma Supervisor Thomas E. Cotton, Aurora Supervisor




 

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