Categories for Outrages & Insights

Dec 1

2021

Darth Vader is eyeing The Buffalo News

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The past decade have been tough times for The Buffalo News.  Declining circulation. Smaller profits. Deep cuts in the newsroom staff, resulting in less local news coverage. Things may soon become much more difficult. Alden Global Capital, regarded as the Darth Vader of newspaper chains, has made an offer to buy Lee Enterprises, whose holdings include The News. Alden announced its intentions last week and Lee responded as you would expect to what is clearly a hostile takeover attempt. No matter, the vultures are circling. Chains in general are bad for daily newspapers. Alden is the worst of them. “Every[...]

Posted 12 months ago

Nov 13

2021

Envisioning a thriving WNY

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Editor’s note: A version of this column appeared in Buffalo Spree. My wife recently told me of an acquaintance who was moving to California. My response: Who would want to move to California? The land of forest fires, droughts and water shortages? The same could be said of much of the West and Southwest. It’s not uninhabitable – yet – but give it another generation and you’re likely to see an out-migration. That represents an opportunity for cities around the Great Lakes, including Buffalo and Western New York.  We’ll never run out of water. Massive forest fires? Nah. Ditto for[...]

Posted 1 year ago

Sep 20

2021

A platform for mayor

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Editor’s note: A version of this column appears in the current issue of Buffalo Spree. Buffalo voters face a stark choice in November: Byron Brown or India Walton? A lot will be said between now and election day and some of it may actually involve proposals to improve the city. To prime the pump for an issues-focused campaign, allow me to offer an eight-point plan for revitalizing Buffalo. The candidates are free to borrow generously. Here goes: Poverty: Buffalo remains one of the poorest cities of its size in the nation. About one-third of residents, and close to half its[...]

Posted 1 year ago

Jun 28

2021

Brown goes on the attack

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Byron Brown announced Monday he’s staying in the race for mayor as a write-in candidate, and the manner in which he did so indicates we’re in for an ugly, divisive campaign. Without mentioning her by name, he repeatedly denounced India Walton as a “radical socialist,” unfit to succeed him. “People are fearful about the future of the city,” he said at a late afternoon press conference. “They do not want a radical socialist occupying the mayor’s office.” Brown gave a powerful speech, polished and delivered with zeal, far from the halting, monotone addresses we’re used to. I guess it took[...]

Posted 1 year ago

Apr 28

2021

Byron Brown’s sorry track record

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India Walton is running for mayor, seeking to dethrone Byron Brown, who is seeking a record fifth term. She is far from the ideal candidate, lacking experience in government you’d like to see in a candidate seeking executive office. I mean, it’s one thing to be an inexperienced legislative backbencher, another to be managing a city with a $500 million budget and a workforce of nearly 2,700. Walton, then, is a bit of an unknown. On the other hand, we know all about Brown.  Consider his sorry track record:  Mismanagement of city finances: Brown inherited a hard control board that[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Apr 1

2021

The worst governments, agencies in WNY

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Western New York is saddled with a lot of bad governmental bodies and departments in need of reform. Some cost a lot of money in the form of high taxes, others are simply ineffective, and still more are outright corrupt. There are some 105 units of local government in Erie and Niagara counties — that is, cities, towns, villages and school districts. And countless other departments, authorities, taxing districts and the like. With apologies to David Letterman’s late, great Top Ten list, here’s my take on the worst of the worst, with the list getting progressively worse as you read[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Dec 27

2020

Politics after Trump

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Donald Trump’s presidency is about to be past tense. What should our post-Trump politics look like? Joe Biden hopes it’s a time of healing. Conciliation is in his blood and I won’t blame him for trying. But good luck with that. More than 70 million Americans voted for Trump and I question if there’s more than a sliver that can be persuaded. Most of the Republican base is some combination of gullible, bigoted, woefully misinformed or hardcore one-issue voters, starting with abortion. (I almost feel sorry for traditional conservatives; relatively few of their values have been reflected in Trump’s policies.)[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Nov 23

2020

Brown’s prospects for a 5th term as mayor

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Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a column that published in the current issue of Buffalo Spree. It wasn’t long after Byron Brown was re-elected to a fourth term that talk started circulating around City Hall of a “Drive for Five.” As in, a fifth term. Talk quieted down, at least until the mayor held a fundraiser Oct. 5 at 500 Pearl Street, owned by none other than Carl Paladino’s Ellicott Development. Tickets started at $600, and a table of 10 cost $10,000 and came with a half-hour of schmooze time with Brown. Does the fundraiser signal the[...]

Posted 2 years ago