Categories for Outrages & Insights

Nov 4

2020

Sizing up election results, locally and nationally

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I’m not old enough to remember the Kennedy-Nixon cliffhanger of 1960. Bush-Gore, yes. But as a stomach churner, nothing comes close to the ongoing Biden-Trump election. I think most Democrats and Republicans can agree with that – if nothing else. With that said, let me offer some random notes: It’s mostly overlooked, but worth noting, that Biden won the national popular vote. Just like Hillary Clinton four years ago. And Al Gore back in 2000. The margin of victory for the Democratic candidates this time around is about 3.2 million votes as of this writing. Just saying. Turnout nationally was[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Oct 12

2020

Chris Jacobs: Trumpster or moderate?

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Editor’s note: This column originally published in Buffalo Spree. Chris Jacobs used to be a moderate Republican who Democrats could think about voting for. No more. Not if you go by his words. The moderate Chris Jacobs made a deal with the devil in accepting the endorsement of Donald Trump during his successful special election campaign for Congress. There was clearly a quid pro quo: Trump endorses Jacobs, who in turn supports the president, no matter how outrageous his policies or behavior. Jacobs underscored his fealty to Trump during an interview with me a couple of weeks after he took[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Aug 27

2020

WNY has a long road back from the coronavirus

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These are tough times, as tough times go. And they’re not going away anytime soon.  The COVID-19 pandemic remains a dual threat, to both public health and economic well being of the county, Buffalo and Western New York included.  While the coronavirus is under control locally, at least compared with much of the rest of the country, it’s going to be a fact of life for quite some time. Yes, there’s talk of a vaccine, perhaps by the end of the year. But vaccines typically take five to 10 years to develop and test before they’re safe for widespread public[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Aug 23

2020

Buffalo Billion audit: shock and ugh

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The audit released Friday by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli told us a lot of things we already knew or strongly suspected: the Cuomo administration failed to assess the value of high-tech projects like the Tesla plant in South Buffalo both before and after the investment of tax dollars, and largely kept the public and press in the dark in between. But the audit added a lot of detail and included some new eye-popping findings, two in particular: The Tesla project fell way short — way, way short, actually — of the state’s desired return on investment. The audit said Empire[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Aug 9

2020

Buffalo schools struggled with distance learning

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This story began in April with a handful of simple questions: How many Buffalo school students are participating in distance learning? How many hours a day are they engaged in learning? And how much are they really learning? They were obvious and reasonable questions. So we posed them to the folks who run the school system. Their response: hysterics and stonewalling.  We then turned to teachers, who, in often heartfelt terms, described their experiences working with students since schools shut their doors the middle of March because of the pandemic. Their experiences varied, but on balance they said distance learning[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Jul 20

2020

The roots, and consequences, of WNY’s racism

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Note: This column originally appeared in Buffalo Spree. Our nation has a lot of work ahead of it if it is to address the structural racism laid bare by COVID-19, the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed. Buffalo and Western New York have an even heavier lift. Much of the initial focus has been on reform of the Buffalo Police Department, and that’s certainly a good place to start. But the region’s problems run deeper – much deeper. They begin with segregation, which, going back generations, has advantaged whites at the expense of blacks in any number[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Jul 5

2020

News outlets struggling to varying degrees

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The state of local news media in Western New York was in a precarious position before anyone heard of COVID-19. Now that the virus has wreaked its havoc on both public health and the economy, the situation is that much more concerning. The problems of The Buffalo News have been well documented previously in this column: smaller staff, less news coverage, shrinking circulation, much thinner profit margins, now in the hands of a chain carrying more than a half-billion-dollars of debt. Yet, The News continues to make money – or was, prior to the pandemic – and puts out a[...]

Posted 2 years ago

Jun 8

2020

What police reform should look like

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The focus of protests in Buffalo the past week has sharpened: reform the Buffalo Police Department. A coalition of activists have put 13 demands in front of Mayor Byron Brown, some more achievable than others. Protestors have also raised the issue of Sheriff Tim Howard’s deadly management of county jails, where 30 inmates have died on his watch. Here’s my two cents on where to go from here. The big picture: We have a big problem with the actions and attitude of law enforcement in Western New York. It’s not a matter of a few bad apples — there are[...]

Posted 2 years ago