Jan 15

2023

Monday Morning Read

Jim Heaney's recommended reading leads off with a couple of pieces on Martin Luther King Jr. that might make you think. He also points to stories about the WNY connection to pathological liar turned Congressman George Santos.

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On this day celebrating, celebrating the birthday, and life, if Martin Luther King Jr., allow me to share a couple of relevant links: historians discuss little known facts about MLK, and  America’s embrace of the man wasn’t always the case.

Good reporting by Jerry Zremski of The Buffalo News in detailing the role Big Dog Strategies, a local political consulting firm, played in the election of pathological liar turned Congressman George Santos. Santos, the subject of intense criticism and growing number of investigations, paid Big Dog at least $147,000, much of it on direct mail flyers that presumably contained some of the lies he spun to get himself elected. Big Dog is headed by Chris Grant, a former Chris Collins minion. He was unapologetic about his role. The New York Times followed up with an investigation into the candidate that found his lies were an open secret among select Republicans during the campaign and that Big Dog had been alerted to them about the time it took Santos on as a client.

I was heartened to read that Sean Ryan has been selected to head the state Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business. He’s one of the few electeds I know of who has his head screwed on straight when it comes to subsidies, which all too often are an invitation to waste.

Reinvent Albany has summarized a report issued by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli that details just how much state authorities are costing taxpayers. Which is to say, a lot. Among the report’s findings: state and local authorities – there are 1,178 of them – hold $329 billion in public debt, which amounts to 97 percent of the state’s total. Authorities, unlike state government, can issue bonds without going to referendum. The report goes on to note that many authorities want for transparency and accountability. In other words, they’re shadow governments that spend a lot of our money.

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Let’s go back to Tesla for a minute. The Intercept obtained video of a Thanksgiving Day pile up in San Francisco caused when a Tesla car in self-driving model stopped abruptly in a tunnel. Nine people were injured. It could have been worse. Crashes involving the company’s self-driving cars have been involved in at least 10 fatalities across the country. Work at Tesla’s plant in Buffalo includes data entry into the software that helps pilot the self-driving cars.

Two stories from The Washington Post, if you can get past its paywall: antisemitism is on the rise across the United States and House Republicans are contemplating rewriting history by expunging Trump’s two impeachments.

Two related climate stories: The last eight years are the warmest on record globally, and Exxon’s models accurately predicted global warming as far back as the ‘70s, but that didn’t stop the company from denying the science in the pursuit of profit.

Further evidence we are a sports addicted society: 94 of the 100 most watched television programs of last year were sporting events. Most of them were football games.

Just how cold-hearted is the National Football League? ESPN reports that the league would have continued the Bills-Bengals game after Damar Hamlin was carted off the field, but for an insistence by the two teams that play be suspended for the night.

RIP, Jeff Beck.