Mar 12


Monday Morning Read

Abuse of prisoners continues at Erie County jails. And the culprits continue to get away with it, even when captured on video.

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Tim Howard’s management of the county’s two jails was a nightmare; more than 30 prisoner deaths during his tenure attests to that. There’s a new sheriff in town, in the person of John Garcia, but it appears it’s business as usual. The Buffalo News had to go to court to obtain video footage of Correctional Officer Daniel Piwowarczyka kicking a handcuffed prisoner in the head. Garcia tried to block release claiming – get this – he wanted to protect the privacy of the prisoner. The story pointed out that no fewer than a dozen correctional officers were in the vicinity of the assault, but none mentioned the kick in their reports. Ah, yes, the Blue Wall of Silence. An internal investigation cleared Piwowarczyka and District Attorney John Flynn declined to prosecute, despite what the video revealed. That’s what happens when you entrust law enforcement to investigate itself.

A city of good neighbors? Complaints of housing discrimination locally have doubled since 2020.

National Fuel has employed scare tactics via a robocall campaign in an effort to thwart Gov. Kathy Hochul’s climate change initiative, New York Focus reports. National Fuel, based here in WNY, is, of course, in the fossil fuel business.

Hochul wants to increase subsidies to film and television producers. In response, Reinvent Albany released research that purports to show how wasteful the subsidies are. One example: current subsidies generate 27 cents in benefits for every $1 in tax breaks. Another example: subsidies work out to $66,819 per full-time job equivalent.

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Camden, New Jersey, has a good idea: require companies receiving subsidies to specify how many local residents they employ. The city’s disclosure requirements revealed that few residents got jobs as a result of tax breaks.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has called on Tesla to stop with the union busting at its South Buffalo plant.

Things are bad at The Buffalo News; they’re worse at papers with the misfortune of being owned by the Gannett chain, including the Democrat and Chronicle down the road in Rochester. Employment throughout the chain since late 2019 has fallen from 25,000 to 11,200. Ouch.

Reform-minded prosecutors are under assault from the right, as reported by The Intercept. So are programs that promote diversity, equity and inclusion, according to The Center for Public Integrity. (Martin Luther King once said the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice: I’m not sure that holds true today.)

What we eat – and more specifically, how our food is produced – is bad for the climate. Reports from Wired and The Guardian tell the tale, and what can be done about it. Elsewhere on the food front, the growing use of artificial sweeteners – they’re even making their way into pediatric products – is bad for you. Like, really bad.

The Elvis Presley franchise pulls in over $100 million a year in sales – and that’s not counting record sales. It’s one reason why the fight over his estate has gotten ugly in the wake of the death of his daughter, Lisa Marie. Oh, for better times.

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